Iceland is not a destination. It is an adventure. Travel to Iceland to experience the stunning Icelandic nature, the beauty of the rugged landscape and the creativity of the Icelandic people. One of Iceland’s best kept secrets is undoubtedly the country’s north-west corner, usually known as the Westfjords. Isolation has preserved the region in relatively unspoiled wilderness. Largely uninhabited, Iceland’s Westfjords are frequently distinguished by travel guides as a destination of excellence, and are a must-see for any serious explorer.
Iceland’s south coast is home to some of the country’s most visited tourist attractions. The coastline itself is renowned for its beauty, and the towns along the coast are famous for their fresh seafood.
The Reykjanes peninsula is a geothermal wonder, where lighthouses outnumber villages. Besides hosting the Keflavík International Airport and, just a few minutes away, the spectacular Blue Lagoon, the Reykjanes peninsula is a destination in its own right.
With a population of 120,000, Reykjavík is not a whirlwind metropolis. Few skyscrapers grace the skyline, traffic jams are rare and faces are familiar. But don’t be deceived—a steady beat of energy and events keeps the city alive and pulsing with excitement.
Sunny days feel like spontaneous holidays in Reykjavík. Sunbathers and picnickers fill Austurvöllur, the green square in front of Parliament; locals and tourists alike stroll up and down Laugavegur, the main drag, shopping, stopping for coffee, and people watching. The thirsty jockey for sparse outdoor seating at bars as happy hour rolls around. Crooning buskers line the sidewalk; performance artists stage surprise acts; maybe a marching band appears from the ether. Anything can happen.
For centuries, the interior of Iceland was virtually inaccessible, for years at a time playing host only to outlaws in hiding. Via the mountain roads Kjölur and Sprengisandur, the untouched wilderness of Iceland’s mountainous centre is now open to the general public—for cautious exploration by foot or 4×4 vehicles—in the summer months. Surrounded by obsidian and colorful rhyolite mountains, visitors can bathe in natural hot rivers in the geothermal area of Landmannalaugar. From there, the Laugavegur trail leads to the woodland nature reserve Þórsmörk—a hidden valley surrounded by mountains, glaciers and glacial rivers—that serves as a popular base camp for hikers who intend to reach the surrounding highland mountains.
The north of Iceland truly is a land of contrasts. Its long valleys and peninsulas are interspersed with mountains, lava fields and smooth hills carved out by rivers. The deep and numerous indentations in the coast of the North are at times lush with vegetation, at others barren. As one nears the Arctic Circle in the northern latitudes, the midnight sun is invariably awe-inspiring.