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Iceland Travel & Holiday Tips
 
 
 

General

Only the coastal regions of Iceland are inhabited. Probably the best way to enjoy the tourist attractions is to take one of the coach tours arranged all over the island and use the coastal towns as a base. The main fjord areas are in the far northwest and southeast while along the southern coastline are sandy beaches, farmlands, waterfalls and glaciers. The central region consists of spectacular highland plateau, volcanoes, glaciers and mountains. Waterfalls abound in Iceland and, with the many glacial streams and rivers in the country, are among the largest in Europe. Gullfoss (Golden Fall) near Geysir, is one of the prime tourist destinations.

Reykjavík

Reykjavík is the world’s most northerly capital. The city was named after a geothermal stream and actually means ‘Smoky Bay’. It is set on a broad bay, surrounded by mountains, and is in an area of geothermal hot springs providing it with a natural central heating system and pollution-free environment. The city has a wonderful mix of natural beauty and lively sophistication. There are plenty of parks and wild outdoor areas for hiking, walking and exploring, but enough nightlife, shopping and museums to keep the chic city-dweller happy. Reykjavík is a busy city of around 100,000 inhabitants, with a combination of old-fashioned wooden architecture and modern buildings. There are many nightclubs, cafes, art galleries and museums as well as numerous bookshops selling books in English, German and Icelandic. Icelanders are said to be among the most prolific readers and writers in the world, and literature plays an important part in Icelandic culture and history. The Icelandic Sagas, the oldest of which was written in AD 930 as a chronicle of Iceland’s history, are still very much alive in Iceland today. The language used over 1000 years ago in the sagas remains virtually unchanged.

Walking distances are short downtown, and everything worth seeing outside the city centre can be quickly and conveniently reached by bus. With its long, easy-going main street and large Kringlan mall, Iceland capital is a great place to shop too with a bonus of tax-free shopping for visitors. Be on the lookout not just for souvenirs (especially woolens and handicrafts) but also for stylish consumer goods and designer labels at competitive prices.

A full range of accommodations is available in Reykjavik, from international-standard hotels with good conference facilities, through smaller hotels and cozy guesthouses, to a campsite in the city biggest park.

But the capital area is more than just Reykjavik. Adjoining it is the town of Kopavogur, with its new concert hall, art museum, and splendid sport and leisure facilities. A little farther down the road, the town of Hafnarfjordur nestles in a lava field and offers tourists both traditional and offbeat attractions. It including Viking feasts, elf-spotting tours, whale watching and horseback riding

Southern Iceland

50km outside Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon is a unique natural pool of mineral-rich geothermal water located in the middle of a lava field in the Icelandic wilderness. Known for its special properties and beneficial effect on the skin, the warm waters of the lagoon are one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. Another natural spring is Krysuvik.

Flights can be booked to visit the Westmann Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) off the south coast, and Heimaey. This is a great place for birdwatchers. There are also trips to the hot springs and geysers close to the capital. Also to be found in the south of Iceland is þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss (Golden Falls) and Geysir, with its geothermal fields and views of the active volcano Mount Hekla. There are also charming villages in the south, such as Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki, where visitors can see beautifully preserved old houses and the village of Vik, which is a base for cruises through Dyrholaey cliff. A number of companies operate daily excursions from Reykjavík throughout the southwestern part of Iceland as well as city sightseeing tours and special itineraries. For further details, contact the Icelandic Tourist Board

The Western Fjords

There are coach trips from Reykjavík to visit the small fishing villages and towns along the fjords in the northwest: Holmavik, Isafjördur, Kroksfardarnes, Korksfjaroarnes and Orlygshofn. This area of Iceland is full of lava formations and geothermal activity. There is some fine woodland, lakes and rivers, as well as breathtaking chasms and waterfalls, overlooked by glaciers. Iceland’s highest waterfall, Glymir, is found here. A replica Viking Age farmstead is located in Eiriksstaoir – birthplace of Leif the Lucky, who discovered America in AD 1000. Isafjörður is the region’s main town and it has plenty of social and cultural facilities, as well as being a starting point for tours of the region. Travelling around this area, the road takes you over mountain passes between each new fjord, stopping at Iceland’s only whaling station, the Museum of Farm Implements and Fishing Equipment between Orlygshofn and Isafjörður and the Dynjandi Waterfall. Accommodation on these trips is in community centers and schools for those with sleeping bags


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