A Visitor’s Guide To Iceland
Iceland is a country that is generally considered to be a part of Europe, but in terms of its geographic location it is actually an island that is to be found in the Northern Atlantic between Europe and North America. The cultural heritage of the country is largely Scandinavian, as it was first settled by Norse raiders in the tenth century. Despite being called Iceland, only around ten per cent of its territory is actually covered in glaciers, and in many places the volcanic activity around the island means that it feels distinctly warmer.
While the US State Department does warn its citizens to be vigilant when traveling abroad, it does state that there are very few threats in terms of crime or terrorism when visiting Iceland.
The Top Sights To Visit In Iceland
Blue Lagoon – This beautiful area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, with spectacular blue waters contrasting with the volcanic rock surrounding the lagoon, and the warm mineral water is fed into the lagoon for people to swim and relax in, while the site also has a spa.
Reykjavik – The capital city of Iceland is one of its most popular places to visit, and is the world’s northernmost capital, offering a colorful and interesting place to explore that enjoys lovely mountain views in the daytime and wonderful night life too.
Thingvellir National Park – This attractive part of the country is a lovely area that has been important both for its historic and natural features, and visitors can explore several hiking trails and enjoy some spectacular scuba diving between two tectonic plates in Lake Silfra.
The Northern Lights – Also known as aurora borealis, the northern lights are a stunning light show in the sky that is sometimes seen in Iceland, although to get the best view it is best to get away from the lights of towns and villages, and also to look up when there is no moon in the sky.
Gullfoss – This is a spectacular series of waterfalls that flows over three small steps before crashing into a narrow crevice around thirty two meters deep, making this particular part of the Hvita River one of the most popular tourist sites in the country.
Jokulsarlon – This large glacial lake is a lovely place to visit with some beautiful small chunks of the glacier often seen floating in the lake, and it is possible to take boat tours of this lake which has appeared in movies such as the James Bond film ‘A View To A Kill’.
Landmannalaugar – The historic volcanic activity in this region has meant that there are several different types of rocks that can be seen in these mountains, and as well as the scenery visitors can also enjoy some great hiking routes, with the Blue Peak trek being one of the most popular.
Vatnajokull National Park – The Vatnajokull glacier is the largest in the country covering around eight per cent of Iceland’s territory, and is popular among hikers and climbers, with several visitor centers that are open during the summer.
Husavik – The picturesque town of Husavik is located on Iceland’s north coast, and as well as showing off traditional Icelandic architecture, it is also a great place from which to enjoy whale watching tours during the summer months.
Hofn – Located in the south east of the country, this attractive little town has beautiful views over the Vatnajokull glacier, and has the interesting Hofn Glacier Museum, along with the annual Lobster Festival which is a popular event with plenty of activities and chances to sample local food and drink
Where To Stay In Iceland
Grand Hotel Reykjavik – This attractive hotel is one of the most modern buildings in the city, and offers guests attractive rooms with plenty of space and lovely bathrooms, along with facilities like a sauna, jacuzzi and modern fitness center.
4th Floor Hotel – A good choice for those who are looking for a central location in Reykjavik on a budget, this stylish hotel offers well decorated accommodation that is comfortable and welcoming, with sleek bathrooms.
Hotel Keflavik – The real attraction of this hotel really become apparent once you get inside, and with a nice restaurant, sauna and fitness center, guests can also enjoy the well designed rooms with pleasant ornaments and art and attractive bathrooms.
Hotel A10 – This great hotel is just a short walk from the coast, and offers simple and affordable accommodation that is comfortable and welcoming with a sleek attractive design and nice bathrooms.
Kea Hotel – Enjoying a great location in the town with some nice sea views, the hotel offers comfortable rooms featuring luxurious bathrooms, and has access to a lovely restaurant and nicely decorated communal areas.
Gula Villan Guesthouse – Just a short distance from the coast and the main sights of the town, this guesthouse offers visitors warm comfortable rooms that are a great base from which to explore.
Hafnarnes Hotel – This attractive hotel is a great base from which to explore the town of Hofn, with affordable and comfortable rooms in a quiet location just outside the town center, with some spectacular views over the glacier to enjoy.
Country Hotel Smyrlabjorg – This lovely country hotel is just a short drive from Hofn, and offers guests a wonderful location in the Icelandic countryside boasting charming rooms that are comfortable with nice bathrooms.
Because of its relatively isolated location, Iceland had to produce all of its own food for the majority of its existence, meaning that the cuisine has a big emphasis on fish, dairy and lamb. One of the most common meals in the country is Hangikjot, which is smoked lamb that is boiled and then served with vegetables such as peas and potatoes in a bechamel sauce. Another common meal for visitors and residents is Thorramatur, which is a plate of traditional Icelandic foods such as lamb and mutton, liver sausages, Hakarl and other preserved meats that are served with a traditional dark rye bread
One of the most interesting tastes that is worth trying in Iceland is Hakarl, which is a decaying shark meat that is first allowed to ferment for up to three months, and then hung to dry for several months. This unique dish is certainly an acquired taste that is popular in Iceland, with a strong fishy flavor and a pungent scent.
Currency And Visa
Iceland is a country that is part of the Schengen Agreement that includes many different European countries, meaning that those visiting the countries in this area for under ninety days do not need to arrange a visa in advance. The local currency is the Icelandic Krona, which visitors from the United States will usually be able to exchange with US Dollars at a rate of around 122 Krona per US Dollar.