Iceland is a beautiful faraway country that is very often hiding from our view. But why? This beautiful country is not so far away from us and not as cold as it initially seems.

But first things first. Let’s start with the fact that Iceland is an island in the North part part of the Atlantic Ocean that still pleases its inhabitants with its restless temper. The thing is, that the process of its development is happening now, that’s why it is rich with volcanoes and geysers.

The island is quite desolated since it is located far from all the other countries and continents, that’s why sometimes it is called the “Atlantic retreatant. Perhaps that is why Iceland slips away from the majority of people.

The country itself is quite unusual. On the one hand, it is washed by the warm Gulf Stream, and on the other hand, it is full of ice, which creates its unique and special character. The country of ice and geysers – this is all Iceland.

Its unique climate creates environmental conditions with very interesting and unusual places appeared, where you can rest, relax and enjoy the beauty of landscapes. And I will tell you about these landscapes.

Let’s start with the fact that in Iceland there is a lot of ice and snow that are transformed into the water by heat. And there is nothing unusual in it, but here, in this very country, special landscape is formed under the influence of ice and river steams and it attracts the attention. Here there is a lot of caves, hollows, and even glaciers themselves are full of crevices which tourists like to get into. Moreover, the country may boast with its waterfalls the number of which is much bigger than, for example, in European countries.

The most beautiful is the Golden waterfall (Gullfoss in Icelandic). It gained its name for a reason. Waters of this huge waterfall fall down from a precipice and under the sunlight it seems that golden and flaming river bursts out from the shores. Hundreds of tourists come here every year to enjoy the truly wonderful scenery of how golden sparks sparkle and flicker in water. Besides, Gullfoss is always included into any trip and country excursion.

The second place that is worth to be visited is the national park Vatnajökull. Of course, the name is quite difficult, but the beauty of this place will make you forget about any name, believe me. Besides, this is the hugest park not only in the whole Iceland but also in all Europe! The total area is over 12 thousand square kilometers. The park was created not so long ago – in 2008, and combines several elder parks.

So what beautiful is in here? Everything! Here you may find blue ice that gives you a thrill, deep dark lakes and wild nature not touched by human presence – everything your soul longs for if you like nature, forceful and really wild. And if you also like to swim and take photos, you’ll surely love it here. The most of photos of Iceland are done at Vatnajökull.

Here there are many excursions to the glacier, all conditions for rest, meals and even living. You will be able to try canoeing, climb up the Bergmann mountain, take a tour on a snowmobile, sailing-ship and then rest at a cozy and warm house or a hostel enjoying hot and flavoured tea and beauty around you.

I cannot help remembering one more beautiful place for a rest in nature. Thingvellir (Þingvellir) is a valley that is significant for all Icelanders. Here in 930 the first parliament named Althing (Alþingi) was established. Even today a lot of people visit what had left of this place because true Iceland appeared here, the country that exists till now.

And besides all of this, it is a wonderful green park that cannot be left unnoticed. If you have seen photos of beautiful small houses covered with greens up to the tops, be aware that this is Thingvellir.

Iceland geysers
Taken by Wikimedia Commons user M. Brenn. [CC BY-SA 2.0].
Geysers are the real face of this cold country. But is it so cold as it seems if really hot blood rages in it? Very hot blood.

The Geyser Valley, or Haukadalur, is a resort place for many tourists. Here you may find both small geysers and simple warm streams and really hot and huge geysers that burst out and throw the stream of boiling water full of sulphur into the air. Here is an advice: do not get very close to them, as such water may really hurt you.

The most popular geyser is the big Geysir or Stóri Geysir (this strange Icelandic language). The second in popularity is Strokkur that is a bit smaller than its big brother. Hot water and steam sometimes get up into the air up to 30 meters and in unique days even up to 60 meters – this is the power these “hot guys” use to burst out water.

Interesting fact: did you know that Icelanders use water from geysers not only for looking on it but also for the advantage for themselves? The most of Iceland houses are warmed by this water.

Unique event for Northern countries, Aurora Borealis, is the most beautiful here even though it may be seen in other places, for example, in Estonia or Finland. Yes, it is seen here and both locals, very friendly on their nature, and visitors from all over the world may enjoy its beauty very often.

In long, dark, northern nights, the sky is filled with the magnificent light with green, blue and golden colors that reflect on the white snow surface. You may see this event from any place on the island. The only thing you need is to find a hideaway, far away from street lights, and get soft blanket and warm tea.

So why Aurora Borealis is so special here? And where else will you be able to see the exciting Polar light in the dark sky and red streams of volcanic lava bursting out of the ground? I think, nowhere.

Yes, everything may happen, just do not be afraid.

And have you ever seen the desert? I think, yes. Even if not the real one, but on the photos surely: yellow and hot and resembling the illimitable ocean.

And can you imagine the limitless, long and wide black desert under the cold sky? What if I tell you, that you will be able to find crystal-clear rivers and deep lakes in this black desert?

This is true. Iceland, the land of glaciers and geysers, has many volcanoes; acting ones that sometimes like to scare everybody with loud noise and rumble. Their activity had led to the desolation of island’s center and because of them it is full of ashes that create this beauty. The huge black desert full of river veins with mountains on the background will not leave you indifferent.

And these are not all beauties of this country. Iceland is the real treasure for those who are able to love nature, cold air and beauty. Friendly and nice Icelanders are always glad to show this all, support and help you if necessary.

The country of contrasts – warm of geysers and cold of glaciers, green valleys and black desert, will stay in your memory forever.


This article was originally written by Polina Mironchuk in Russian for our Russian-language sister site Vezdebrod. It was translated into English by the indispensable Marina Simochkina. If you’re interested, check out the original (in Russian) here »

For more on Iceland, see the Iceland destination guide »

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