Iceland is an extraordinary country with a total population of just 337,000 people. It is experiencing a huge boom in tourism and is now a popular cruise destination. I recently spent a few days there and here are just some of the wonderful things I encountered.
- Iceland has dozens of stunning waterfalls, but the most breathtaking of all is Gullfoss (pictured above). Beautiful, powerful and every time you take a step you uncover a new facet that demands a photograph. In the north of the country is Godafoss Waterfall – scene of an historic event. When the lawspeaker Porgir made Christianity the official religion, he threw his Norse god statues into its raging waters.
- Icelandic Horses are a sturdy, stocky breed closely related to Shetland ponies. They have two unique gaits: the tolt, which is slow and smooth, and the more lively flying pace. You can see these gorgeous animals everywhere and horse riding is incredibly popular with both locals and visitors. There are horse trails beside many of the roads.
- In the centre of Reykjavik you can visit the excavated remains of a great hall from a Viking settlement. Above ground, the colourful streets of the city are filled with brightly painted wooden buildings. The atmosphere is relaxed, lively and trendy.
- Most of the people once lived in small turf houses. The living roof helped to provide warmth and insulation. You can visit an original cottage near Akureyri, and the technology is even being adopted in some modern homes.
- Icelandic sheep are sturdy and energetic and are used to provide both wool and meat. There are not many fences, so they are free to wander and get rounded up a few times a year. You will see small numbers of them everywhere in the countryside, and they are almost as cute as the horses. You will also have no trouble finding hand-made sweaters and other knitwear to take home as a souvenir.
- Have you ever wanted to see a split in the Earth? You can visit Thingvellir National Park, just a short distance from Reykjavik. Feel overawed as you stroll along the length of a massive geothermal fault separating the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This is where the Althing, the national assembly, would meet every year from AD 930. The site was also featured in an episode of Game of Thrones.
- Most buildings are heated by cheap hot water pumped from thermal springs. Due to the unlimited geothermal resources, electricity is the only thing in Iceland that isn’t expensive.
- Iceland has two extraordinary modern churches designed by Gudjon Samuelsson. The one in Akureyri has two huge spires and Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik almost looks like a spaceship. Catch the elevator to the top for a panoramic view of the capital city.
- Ever wanted to see steam rising up from the ground or gaze at a geyser? You can find those features everywhere in Iceland, and at the Geysir Geothermal Area, there are dozens of steaming hot springs. The Strokkur Geyser shoots up a wall of steam every few minutes.
- If you love beautiful fjords, there are plenty of those to explore. The government has built barriers above some of the villages to reduce the impact of avalanches.
- People in Iceland love swimming and many small villages have their own thermally heated swimming pools. There are numerous hot springs that give visitors an unforgettable swimming experience, including the famous Blue Lagoon.
- 11% of Iceland is covered in glaciers, just waiting to be explored by keen adventurers who want to try snowmobiling, hiking or ice climbing. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are twenty-two active volcanoes and many more dormant ones.
Have you been to Iceland yet? Tell me about your trip.
Thank you for stopping by. I’m an author who loves writing thrillers, and you can find out more about my books HERE. My latest release DEAD DRY HEART has been receiving great reviews at Amazon and Goodreads.
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