Iceland, is a mountainous island nation in the north Atlantic Ocean, located between Europe and North America. Though not part of the continental mainland, the country is considered Nordic European. The name of the country—Iceland—may not be that appropriate: although 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, it has a surprisingly mild climate and countless geothermal hot-spots and hot springs. The native spelling (“Ísland”) is appropriate in English as well. Tipping isn’t done in Iceland and driving off-road is illegal and destroys the nature.
1. Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park (pronounced “THING-vet-lihr”) – National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site 30-50km (20-30 mi) east of Reykjavík. Interesting for a number of reasons: Not only is it the original site of the longest running parliament in the world (the name literally means ‘parliamentary fields’), it’s also where the North-American and European continental shelf plates are being torn apart.
Jökulsárlón (The Jökulsár Lagoon) – This majestic glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland is located near Höfn on Route 1. Breiðamerkurjökull glacier retreated very quickly from 1920 to 1965 leaving this breathtaking lagoon, which is up to 190m deep. Ice breaks off from the glacier keeping the lagoon stocked with icebergs all year round. The James Bond film Die Another Day was filmed here in 2002.
Mývatn (MEE-fatn) – A lake region near Akureyri in the North of Iceland, Mývatn has an unearthly appearance owing to special types of volcanic craters throughout the lake. There are plenty of activities in this area: Smajfall (desert where sulphuric steam comes out of the ground) and Dimmuborgir (aka The Black City aka The Gates of Hell). The lake was formed during a massive eruption 2300 years ago. Today the area is best known for the huge numbers of birds that visit in the summer, and for the weird and inspiring volcanic features that surround the lake. The name “Mývatn” is derived from the vast numbers of midges that gather at the lake and are sure to leave an impression on all who visit!
4. Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park (VAT-nah-yer-CUDDLE) – Iceland’s newest national park was founded on 7 June 2008 and includes the former Skaftafell and Jokulsargljufur National Parks. Vatnajökull National Park is Europe’s largest national park at 12,000km², covering about 12 percent of the surface of Iceland. The park is home to Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur, largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and Europe’s largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, Dettifoss.
5. Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon (BLAU-ah LONE-eeth) Famous outdoor pool and health centre. The spa is in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, south-western Iceland. It is situated approximately 13km (8 mi) from the Keflavík International Airport and 39km (24 mi) from Reykjavík. This geothermal spa in the middle of a lava field with its milky blue water is quite surreal. Pre-booking is required and shall be done well in advance to be sure to get your requested time slot.