The Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is home to some stunning geographical contrasts. It has a number of the world’s active volcanoes and also some of the largest glaciers.
1. The country was actually discovered by the Vikings of Norway by accident. And Iceland is one of the last countries where human civilization came, making it a young country so to speak.
2. With the Vikings cam a lot more to this country, such as the folklores of trolls, elves and other mystical beings.
3. Since the time of the Vikings people here have swam in the hot springs. You can literally swim in the open throughout the year.
4. The Icelandic language has been preserved almost entirely in its original form, so, the locals can actually very comfortably read thousand year old relics and scriptures!
5. More than half the population lives in Reykjavik! Yes, 60% of the population resides in the capital city itself.
6. Almost the entire electricity of the country is produced using renewable energy sources. Iceland is high ranked amongst some of the most eco-friendly countries in the world. Solheimer is the country’s first eco-friendly village. The practices of Hof has also been adopted, i.e., the practice of eco-friendly turf houses, amidst numerable eco-friendly steps taken by the country.
7. Amongst other cool things about Iceland is the fact that the practice of reading has been around since the 13th century itself and one in every 10 Icelanders is likely to publish a book!
8. March 1st is celebrated as Beer Day! No silly, not just because they love beer but because from 1915 onwards the country had a 74 years long ban on the alcoholic beverage which then came to be done away with a referendum.
9. Vatnajökull is Europe’s largest glacier at 7,900 sq. km. and it is found in this country. One would expect so after all the country is 11% made up of glaciers! 269 of these have even been named to this day. There are also 125 volcanoes. At the same time there are hardly any forests. Thus, the country is named the land of Fire and Ice.
11. There are only two places in the world where the tectonic plates meet above the Earth’s surface. One is in Africa, the other is of course in Iceland. At the Þingvellir National Park the Eurasian and North American plates jut out from the surface, moving 2 centimetres apart annually.
12. Animal lovers you will be delighted to learn that the Icelandic horses (unique to the country and the only form of horse breed found there) can grow long hair in winters and short hair in summers! An ability humans could well use, me thinks. :p
13. There is no concept of surnames in the country. There is a national naming system as per which the child’s father’s name (or in some cases the mother’s name) is combined with daughter or son and thus you land at your surname.
1. Solar particles interact with the Earth’s Magnetic Field and give us the natural phenomena called Aurora Borealis or as more popularly known, the Northern Lights. While sighting in the country can be expected from September to March but it is never a sure shot guarantee. That said when in Iceland how can you at least not make the attempt! While a major part of the country gives opportunities to spot them, the Westfjords and North Iceland have longer periods of darkness and are thus expected to probably give a better shot.
2. When in Iceland how could you possibly not do an ice cave tour? While there are many popular options, the Katla Ice Cave is a breath-taking one and highly recommended.
3. Tour the Golden Circle as it comprises some of Iceland’s best gems: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. The national park is the only UNESCO site on the mainland. The historic site sits between rocky cliffs and fissures. While the church, stone shelters, museum and ruins showcase its historic significance the canyon and tectonic plates add to its scenic value. The Geysir is one of the most popular attractions in the circle. The lively Strokkur, exploding geyers and boiling mud pits make it a must visit. Strokkur sprouts water about 100ft into the air every few minutes!
4. Visit the Thingvellir National Park, not just to see the tectonic plates but to actually snorkel or dive between them! How many people in the world can actually say that?!
5. And if that gets your adventurous self excited then go ahead try another pretty unique and exhilarating activity – a glacier hike. Sólheimajökull Glacier hike is a good option for beginners and nevertheless an exciting option too.
6. And if you’re looking to hike up between lava fields and volcanoes too, then Landmannalaugar is your pick for its landscapes.
7. Wildlife lovers must visit the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Adventurers seek this out because they can hike here and completely immerse themselves in nature. The region is remote, so, unlike other tourist locations, the travellers must be self-reliant here. The only way to travel here is by boat. Its beauty lies in its wide fields, seasonal ice cover and extensive cliffs. The landscape here looks dramatic and you will want to just sit down and gaze into it for as long as you can.
8. The country is home to a number of picturesque waterfalls. A number of pretty waterfalls can be seen along the Golden Circle, make way to Haifoss and Bruarfoss to give your heart to Iceland!
9. Relax yourself by immersing into Iceland’s many geothermal pools. Blue Lagoon is considered to be one of the most popular ones. The milky white water looks other-worldly. It is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula known for their volcanoes and barren landscapes. The water is rich with minerals, making it not only relaxing but also nourishing and adding to the attraction of this spa.
10. Sitting next to the Diamond Beach, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is regarded as the crown jewel of Iceland’s nature. This is a glacier lagoon filled with icebergs. And the name denotes just that as Jokulsarlon means “Glacier’s River Lagoon”. The icebergs here are over thousand years old. They glisten and give the illusion of diamonds in the lagoon. The lagoon intersects with the ocean which is thus credited to its unique shade of water.
How to Reach:
Fly from India to Iceland with 2 or sometimes even more layovers. The layovers are generally either in Dubai, Budapest, Romania, etc.