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Ten reasons for Iceland

On December 10, 2022, the European Film Awards will be presented in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik – Europe’s equivalent to the Oscars. We take this as an opportunity to show you the highlights of the country.

The Vatnajoekull in Iceland

Spectacular nature

Iceland is a country of contrasts, breathtakingly beautiful, and with extraordinary natural phenomena. Deserts, volcanoes, valleys, fjords, glaciers, and many other landscape formations alternate here. A quarter of the country consists of volcanoes, and twelve percent is covered with glaciers. Only one percent of the island area is forested.

Eyjafjallajökull volcano spews lava.

Active volcanoes

In 2010, Iceland gained worldwide fame with the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull (picture): on the one hand because of its unpronounceable name, which moderators and reporters struggled with, on the other hand, because its ash cloud paralyzed air traffic in Europe. Iceland is the largest volcanic island in the world. There are around 130 volcanoes, about 30 of which are classified as potentially active.

Iceland glacier with lake

white giants

Many volcanoes in Iceland hide under huge masses of ice. The largest glacier, Vatnajökull alone has an area of ​​1200 soccer fields! A tour over the ice is impressive, but you should only venture into the snow desert with the help of professionals because the ice is alive – new crevices and cracks quickly appear.

Iceland Gullfoss waterfall and rainbow

Roaring waterfalls

The meltwater from the glaciers finds its way to the coast in numerous rivers and falls down hundreds of waterfalls, some with incredible force like Gullfoss, the golden waterfall. The dimensions of this waterfall can be clearly seen by the tourists who can be seen very small on the plateau on the left side of the picture.

Iceland geyser Strokkur in winter

Bubbling geysers

The water piles up into a ball and explodes: a 30-meter-high column of boiling hot water shoots up. Every few minutes the famous geyser Strokkur (butter churn) erupts and amazes the surrounding tourists with its tremendous power. It is located in the Haukadalur hot spring area in the southwest of the country.

People swim in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Hot Springs

There are hot springs not only in Haukadalur, they are spread all over the island and are partly used as hot pots and thermal baths. The most famous spring is located between Keflavik Airport and the capital Reykjavik: the Blue Lagoon – a geothermally heated pool with naturally blue, mineral-rich water. A bath has a positive effect on skin diseases.

Reykjavik in Iceland

Lively city life

… that’s not what Iceland is known for, you tend to think of quiet natural landscapes. In fact, there are only around 380,000 people living in the whole of Iceland. More than half of them, around 200,000, populate the capital Reykjavik (Bay of Smoke) and the surrounding area. Accordingly, there is a lot on offer here, especially on Laugavegur Street, the urban center and nightlife area of ​​Reykjavik.

Icelandic horse in Iceland

Robust horses

Back to nature: it is best explored by jeep, on foot, or on horseback. The Icelandic horses play a big role on the island. They are not only a means of transportation but also a source of income, because the robust breed has many fans. In summer the animals live freely in the highlands. Only in autumn are they driven back into the valley – and that is a huge spectacle.  

A tourist taps her finger on the nose of Hraunkarl in Iceland

Mythical natural figures

Anyone who travels through Iceland’s fascinating nature quickly understands why many residents believe in elves and trolls. There are even inventories of living nature spirits and maps of the abodes of elves and dwarves. Roads must be built around such places. Is the rock in the picture a troll too? In any case, he has a name: Hraunkarl.  

Aurora Borealis over Iceland

Luminous night sky

It never really gets dark in Iceland in summer, but hardly any light in winter. But you can see the northern lights in the dark – best between the beginning of October and the end of March. Then the veils of light (called aurora borealis) magically shine in the night sky.

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