What Makes Iceland So Unique - Why You Should Visit Iceland
Iceland is a Nordic country on the continental plate between America and Europe. Two thirds of the Icelandic population live in the capital city, Reykjavik, making it the most sparsely populated country in the whole of Europe.
Isn't Iceland, well, just ice?
Contrary to what people may think, Iceland isn't covered in ice. Yes, they have their fair share of glaciers and snowy weather, but Iceland is full of green. It is said that the Vikings switched the names of Iceland and Greenland to confuse their enemies.
Iceland's Infamous Weather:
A popular saying amongst the locals in Iceland is "if you don't like the weather, just wait another five minutes," and it's true, the weather is constantly changing. They can have rain, wind, snow and sun all before it's time for lunch.
In the summer - that's right, Iceland does have a summer! - temperatures don't usually exceed 15 degrees Celsius, but that doesn't stop Icelanders going out in their shorts and sandals. During the summer months (June-August) they also have almost twenty-four hour daylight, due to being so northerly.
The winter isn't as bad as people would think. The temperature doesn't often drop below -5 degrees Celsius, but the most infuriating thing to the Icelandic people is just the changeability of the weather, and the wind. The wind can be very harsh and bitter, no matter the time of year.
What's so amazing about Iceland is that within a matter of minutes (okay, maybe an hour) you can encounter volcanoes, geysirs, glaciers, lava fields, mountains, beautiful waterfalls and the Aurora Borealis (if you're lucky).
Iceland has so much hot water that they use it to power Reykjavik and other smaller towns. It's a great natural resource to have! They use it for, not only their hot water, but for heating and their electricity too.
The Icelandic language also has a hint of unqiueness to it - as it is the closest language to what the Vikings used. It differs from the other Nordic languages and is supposedly one of the most difficult languages to learn as a non-native.
The Aurora Borealis
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is a natural phenomenon (and in my personal opinion, the most magnificent) - a light display in the sky. The Aurora occurs when solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles collide with the high altitudes of the atmosphere. They can be seen anywhere between the months of September and April, but it has been known to show itself during August before now. It doesn't have to be cold to see the Northern Lights, but the skies do need to be clear. The most common colours of the Aurora are green and a pinky purple, but blue and red do occur as well.
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in Iceland - and for very good reason! It is approximately 300 km, starting from Reykjavik, and making a full circle back, through central Iceland.
The main attractions on The Golden Circle are:
- Þingvellir National Park
This is a UNESCO heritage park, and one Icelanders are very proud of. Here you can walk through the Rift Valley, made by the Eurasian and American continental plate pulling away from each other. The President of Iceland's summer house is also here too - not a bad little getaway!
- Gulfoss Waterfall
Meaning the "golden waterfall", Gulfoss is an impressive site. You can walk right down by the waterfall (if it's not too snowy or foggy) and hear the story of how a young woman saved the waterfall from being taken from the Iceland people.
- Geysir Hot Springs / Haukadalur
Strokkur, the most famous geysir, and how all geysirs got their name, is one of the few geysirs that still explodes and shoots up into the air every 5-10 minutes. A must see!
This is a little village (full of greenhouses) which experienced a big earthquake (and hundreds of little ones on a daily basis) back in 2008. They have a centre there which shows the impact the earthquake had - the locals left the ground how it was when the earthquake tore it open and have security camera footage from a shop during the shake.
- Hellisheidarvirkjun Geothermal Plant
This is where you can see some of the huge pipes that take the hot water and turn it into energy they can use.