Iceland is a land of extremes with thundering waterfalls, dramatic geysers, active volcanoes as well as endless deserts, thermal pools and of course, the Northern Lights. It’s also the home of the Vikings. Where else can you go whale watching and then relax in a warming outdoor spa? Come along and find out. Skall!
Iceland is situated right on the edge of the Arctic in the North Atlantic Ocean. It sits between Europe and North America. It’s perhaps most famous for its geysers (hot water springs that shoot high up into the air), boiling mud pools as well as its volcanoes, mountains and amazing scenery. Most people think of Iceland as a very cold place (the name sort of gives that impression) but Iceland’s summers are surprisingly warm, lush and green.
There’s plenty of things to do and see. From challenging walks up mountains and glaciers, a visit to the famous lava fields in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, there really is something for everyone. It’s also one of the best places on earth to see minkes and humpback whales and has one of the largest collections of puffins anywhere on Earth. The food’s pretty good too. There’s lots of lamb, potatoes, hot dogs (pylsur) and fish and of course sea food – it is an island nation after all! You can find cod, haddock, skate, lobster and salmon at very reasonable prices all over Iceland. Perhaps lesser known is that the Icelanders eat whale meat and even fermented shark! Minke meat is pretty common and can be seared, skewered or cooked over a BBQ. Apparently it tastes like a combination of beef and tuna. The national drink is skyr – a drink of skimmed milk and bacteria culture. It’s consumed morning, noon and night by all.
Iceland used to be one of Europe’s most expensive countries, but it has suffered along with a lot of European countries from the economic downturn. Iceland found things very tough after the global crisis and the fall of the krona. The advantage for visitors is that Iceland is now cheaper that it’s been for years so there’s never been a better time to plan a trip to Iceland.
Getting about isn’t a problem either. The Icelanders are a well organised and stoical people. Their transport system works very well and the (long) roads are well maintained.
The capital city is Reykjavik – the world’s most northerly Capital. Reykjavik is a city with a lot to offer. It’s set right amongst the mountains and the ocean but it also has restaurants and bars a plenty as well as some amazing museums and galleries. It’s a happening place with a stylish young crowd and it’s also got a great music scene. Other cities worth a visit include Akureyri and Husavik.
In June in Iceland the sun only sets for a very short time each night and it never gets properly dark – hence you can see the “midnight sun”. By contrast in December, there are twenty hours of darkness.
At a glance facts
- Language: Icelandic
- Population: 337,780 (2018) – the most sparsely populated country in Europe
- International dialling code: + 354
- Timezone: GMT (and no changes all year)
So you’d like to study in Iceland? Then go here for more information.
Europe, member of the EEA