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A mountainous island nation located between Europe and North America, Iceland is a country you might think as a land with eternal coldness with its proximity to the Arctic Circle, only to have that thought debunked. Surprisingly, only 10% of the country is covered by glaciers, and the remaining 90% receives a fair amount of tropical climate with countless geothermal hot spots. A stunningly beautiful place brimming with Nordic European beauty, you will be rewarded with breath-taking landscapes and pristine nature. Its vast desolated land will not make you feel secluded. Rather, it will make you feel at ease. And the hospitality of the people, a stark contrast to the country’s frigid climate, will make you feel warm. And despite nature’s odd way of discerning night from day, say for example, 20 hours of darkness during December and the famous Aurora Borealis also known as the Northern Lights, Iceland will boggle your mind and your expectations in ways you’ll never see.

You can simply stroll around in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, as the sights in the small city are just within walking distance. Reykjavik is the capital and largest city of Iceland, and is home to majority of Iceland’s inhabitants. You can while away time in some parks and open areas such as the Austurvöllur, a small park in the heart of the city. This is where the locals go to spend their free time. You have the option to dine in at one of the cafes in the north of the square, or you can lay a blanket and have a picnic on the grass. Nearby, the parliament and the national cathedral can also be reached. At night, a lively music scene can be heard in the centre of the city.

Located midway of Keflavik Airport and Reykjavík is the Blue Lagoon, a famous geothermal spa in Southwest Iceland. It is a product of nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Here, people take a dip to alleviate themselves of their skin diseases. Surprisingly, the water temperature averages 40°C and can be enjoyed any time of the year, despite freezing conditions.

Meanwhile in Southeast Iceland, the Vatnajökull glacier is worthy of seeing in the largest national park in Europe, the Vatnajökull National Park. The park is also home to Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur, as well as Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss.

Meanwhile in South Iceland, you can go visit the Þingvellir, the most popular national park in Iceland and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The geyser hot spring is also one of the most popular stops in Iceland. You can get close to the geysers without officials to tell you to back off. Strokkur, a fountain geyser in the geothermal area beside the Hvítá River, is one of Iceland’s most famous geysers. It erupts every five minutes and shoots up to 40 metres high.

How to get around within Iceland

Airport transport bus services called Airport Express and Flybus runs between the airport and Reykjavik bus terminal. To reach most cities in Iceland, you can opt to take a long distance bus station in Reykjavik, wherein various bus companies take plight. Note that taking a bus is more expensive than taking a plane, and that few routes are served more than once a day. Hitchhiking is also another good option. Don’t fret, for the country is deemed as the safest in the world to do this. People are quite warm and friendly and are more than willing enough to let you ride. However, low traffic in areas outside the capital makes hitch hiking a challenge. As well, don’t hitch hike upon night fall, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, since most of the drivers might have consumed copious amounts of alcohol.

How to get there

Keflavik International Airport is located southwest of the country, approximately 40 kilometres from Reykjavik. Wow Air, Delta Airlines, Germanwings, SAS, Niki, Air Berlin, and IcelandAir serves non-stop flights all over the world.  

Images by Flickr/moohaha

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