This magical 'Land of Fire and Ice' lies in the North Atlantic and is popular for city breaks and fly drives. 80% of Iceland is uninhabited. The landscape here is stark but stunning and the sheer number of lakes, rivers, glaciers and mountains makes this a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
Iceland is famously known for its volcanoes - some of the world's most active ones are here - this geological activity is responsible for Iceland's most dramatic features. Much of its terrain consists of plateaux, mountain peaks, and fertile lowlands, there are long, deep fjords and glaciers including Europe's largest, Vatnajökull. Waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes, black sand beaches, and steaming lava fields are in abundance.
The island owes its existence to a volcanic hotspot created by a fissure in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet. Even today the country is growing by about 2.5 cm per year, as it splits wider at the points where the two tectonic plates meet. The western part of Iceland, to the west of the volcanic zones, belongs to the North American plate and the eastern part to the Eurasian plate, which means that Iceland lies in two continents.
Over 90% of housing in Iceland is heated by natural geothermal heat - one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of energy in existence. Hot springs can be found almost everywhere, such as the famous Blue Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Baths - the high levels of minerals in the water are said to have a rejuvenating effect on the skin.
Northern Europe's first parliament was formed here in 930 AD. Thingvellir, the site of the Althing (parliament), is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Sessions were held at the location until 1798. It reconvened in Reykjavik in 1845 and remains there to this day apart from one special session at Thingvellir in 1944 which proclaimed the establishment of the Icelandic republic.
The Icelandic language closely resembles Old Norse once spoken across the Nordic countries. Throughout the centuries Iceland has developed a tradition for storytelling and literature, beginning with the esteemed Icelandic Sagas from the tenth and eleventh centuries. After being passed down orally for a couple of centuries, they were committed to paper in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. A strong literary tradition still thrives in modern Iceland and Icelandic authors publish more books per capita than in any other country in the world.
One of the lovely traditions in Iceland is 'Jolabokaflod'(Christmas book flood). Every Christmas Eve the Icelandic people give books to each other and spend the evening curled up with a good book!
Iceland also prides itself on a lively music scene and a burgeoning film industry.
The country has played host to dozens of Hollywood blockbusters including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Interstellar, Noah and Prometheus. It is currently best known for providing one of the backdrops to Game of Thrones and fans can join a popular Game of Thrones tour.
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Tours & Activities
4 days / 3 nights
Explore the world's most northerly capital city and go hunting for the Northern Lights!
7 nights/8 days
One of our most popular fly drives offers an incredible array of places to visit in just a week.
4 days/3 nights
A Private Journey to visit the most popular places in the south of Iceland.
9 nights/10 days
Lava fields, volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls and hot springs in abundance! Also available in winter (November-March)
7 nights/8 days
Iceland is magical in winter and, if conditions are favourable, you may be fortunate enough to see the Northern Lights dancing across the sky.
Hotels to visit
A Knowles, UK, Sept 2017