Spouting springs, expansive lava fields, glaciers, fluvio-glacial plains and bountiful waterfalls are some of the natural wonders that continue to amaze visitors to Iceland.
Playing golf on any of Iceland’s 64 courses is a wonderful way to enjoy Iceland’s great outdoors. In addition to playing golf, there is a variety of other exciting activities on offer such as horse riding, whale watching and dog sledding. Fine dining at one of Iceland’s coveted restaurants is just the perfect way to round off a great day.
Iceland is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Of the 320,000 inhabitants living in Iceland, approximately two-thirds live in and around Reykjavik, the capital. The country covers 103,000 km² (40,000 sq. miles), which translates to only 3 people sharing the space of one square kilometre. In comparison, 250 people in the United Kingdom share one square kilometre, and nearly 500 do so in the Netherlands.
Vatnajokull glacier is Europe’s largest glacier. In 2008, it was incorporated into the new Vatnajokull National Park, the largest National Park in Europe. A visit to one of several glaciers in Iceland is a popular activity, and the glaciers can be enjoyed in a modified 4×4 or on foot, wearing crampons.
Hikers love the country for its unspoilt nature, its sweeping views and geothermal pools in which to rest during or after a hike. There are a great number of marked and unmarked routes traversing Iceland’s most precious and pristine wilderness areas such as Landmannalaugar.
The Iceland horse was originally brought to Iceland from Norway by the Nordic settlers in the 9th century. Today, it is a unique breed and is the only horse in the world with five gaits, including the rare but extremely comfortable tolt. An ever-growing number of visitors enjoy riding the Iceland horse during their stay.
Whale watching has become one of the most popular activities of visitors during their stay. In 2007, over 100,000 people enjoyed whale watching, sighting whales such as the minke, sei, humpback and killer whales, not to forget the world’s largest mammal, the blue whale.
Dog sledding on Myrdalsjokull glacier is a great way to experience Iceland’s glaciers at a close range. Using the same Greenland Husky dogs that pulled Angelina Jolie in the successful Hollywood film Tomb Raider is a great way to experience one of Iceland’s glaciers.
Bird watching in Iceland is second to none. A great number of seabirds characterise the bird fauna in Iceland. This comes as no surprise since the country is located right in the middle of the bountiful Atlantic Ocean and is endowed with a 5000-kilometre (3000-mile) coastline. The puffin is the most popular bird in Iceland, of which there are ten million. Other birds of interest to ornithologists and bird-watching enthusiasts include the arctic tern, the white-tailed eagle, the harlequin and barrow’s golden eye ducks.
Icelandic cuisine is renowned for its fresh local ingredients. The Atlantic Ocean is a treasure trove of fresh fish, providing several different kinds of fish and lobster. The unpolluted Iceland countryside provides farm produce such as beef and lamb. The Iceland culinary team, as well as individual chefs from Iceland, have enjoyed an outstanding success in international competitions such as the coveted Bocuse d’Or. Icelandic chefs preside over the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) from 2008–2012.