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Until recently Iceland occupied the fringes of European travel. Known for its mind-bending landscapes, it was popular with young hipsters, attracted by Reykjavik’s quirky creativity and party vibe. Then the financial crisis sent the local currency into free fall, quickly followed by a volcanic eruption of Krakatoan proportions, which grounded Europe’s aviation industry. Suddenly, Icelandic tourism took off like a geyser, (the word geyser actually comes from Iceland's Great Geysir, discovered in 1294) Attracted by lower prices and explosive scenery, international visitors have grown steadily ever since. So Iceland, the land of ice and fire, is so cool it’s hot, yet as the global economy picks up, prices are on their way back, so it might pay to get in quick.
Much of Iceland is still taking shape before your very eyes – raw, dramatic landscapes born from volcanic eruptions and carved out by glaciers. Other parts have hardly changed since the first Viking settlers saw them more than 1,100 years ago. Highlights include the iceberg-strewn Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon and Skaftafell National Park. The bird sanctuary of Lake Mývatn is surrounded by lava formations, volcanoes, hot springs and craters. Dettifoss is Iceland's biggest waterfall, while the Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is beautiful and majestic. The national park of Thingvellir was the setting for the Althing, the world’s oldest national parliament, dating from 930.
In terms of music, Iceland has everything from pop to classical, opera, rock and musical. The hip Icelandic capital, Reykjavik is awash with cafes, restaurants, clubs, and pubs. Iceland also has a long history, and is rich in culture, so there are numerous museums, focusing on a wide variety of themes.
Travel back to the axe-wielding age at the Icelandic Saga Centre, which tells the story of Viking settlement in Iceland - all set to a blood-curdling soundtrack of plunder, shrieks and clashing swords. Looking for something more serene? Iceland is among the best destinations worldwide for whale watching. See them alive and frolicking, basking in their beauty and gentle nature.
Av temp: 7˚C45˚F
Av temp: 13˚C55˚F
Av temp: 7˚C45˚F
Av temp: 2˚C36˚F
London GMT - 1hr
When to go: While not offering the highest in temperatures, Iceland thrives on presenting clear skies year round.
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