The Icelandic nature is magnificent: glaciers, huge waterfalls, big rivers and mountains everywhere. Iceland is made for activity and outdoor tourism. You can go river rafting, horseback riding, dog-sledding, whale watching, swimming in the wonderful hot springs and lagoons, enjoy adventurous hiking, or simply walking and driving in the mountains in and around Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
Icelanders are outdoor enthusiasts. Mountain hiking is a national hobby and is one of the ways we Icelanders use to keep fit. Many Icelanders go to the mountains after work and during the weekdays. Every summer a substantial part of the Icelandic population goes on mountain hikes, a one day hike or several days' hike on one of our country’s fantastic trails. The options are many, so why not? Mountain running is popular too. Icelanders organize marathons, super-marathons and 3, 5 or 7 mountain runs besides traditional marathons. The climate is fantastic for running and jogging, the temperature is usually not warmer than 15-20°C (around 59-68°F) with nice cool wind and sometimes - of course - rain.
My favourite activity is hiking. I love spending my time in the peaceful atmosphere of the mountains in and around Reykjavik. My favourite hiking destinations are Mt Esja, the city mountain of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, sacred Mt Helgafell (both mountains are among the most popular hiking mountains in Iceland) and hiking to Fimmvörduhals, a trail between glaciers Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull on the south coast of Iceland.
While hiking you get connected to the land. On mountains you can both look AND touch the land. You get firsthand knowledge of the land you are traveling in. You can see and feel what kind of a nature the country has, get to know the herbs and plants and see what they look like, meet the people, listen to interesting information and folk tales and get to know how the Icelandic people has survived in this country. In earlier days they had to use their imagination to spin stories and of course those stories were staged in the Icelandic nature.
Besides the mountains, four parts of Iceland are my favourites: the South Coast, Reykjanes Peninsula, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (one day drive) and the North-Eastern part of Iceland. Here are my reasons:
On the South Coast there are some of the biggest glaciers in Iceland, some of the world's best known and most active volcanoes, Iceland's most wonderful waterfalls and even a possibility to sail among icebergs on a glacial lagoon. Nothing can top this.
The Atlantic Ridge comes out of the ocean in Reykjanes Peninsula. There are geothermal areas, volcanoes and craters, lava fields, the Blue Lagoon, the former US base, Keflavik - the rock and roll town in Iceland and the bridge between the two continents - Europe and America.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula has the fantastic National Park with the glacier Snaefellsjokull (with its entrance to the centre of the earth), sand beaches, lava fields, interesting fishing towns and different rock formations.
The northeast of Iceland is famous for its fantastic beauty with Lake Myvatn and geothermal area, glacial river Jokulsa a Fjollum, Asbyrgi park and the black dessert on the way from the northern part to the eastern part of Iceland. The North-eastern part of Iceland is a favourite of mine - not only because it is so beautiful and famous but for sentimental reasons. My mother's family is from this part of the country and I spent my childhood summers on their farm.
I hope this has given you some idea of Iceland, why your should visit this remote island in the middle of the North-Atlantic and what to do up there. See you soon!
Thank you Guðrún; your insight to this remote and beautiful nation is invaluable! If you are a traveler planning a trip to Iceland, or even just thinking of planning a trip to Iceland, consider starting a conversation with Guðrún. You can find her here: Guðrún's Guide Page.