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The waters around Iceland are home to more than 20 species of whales, so it is not surprising that it is Europe's capital of whale watching. On a boat trip from Reykjavik, you are almost guaranteed to see Minke whales, beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises, as well as adorable puffins. Better yet, take an expedition voyage around the island and spot various whales from onboard - you might even see a massive humpback.
Although the Icelandic horses are kept in semi-wild conditions, they don't really classify as wildlife. Descended from stock that the Vikings originally brought to the island, the small sturdy horses are known for their spirit, endurance and unusual fifth gait. At one time, the Icelandic horse was one of the main tourist attractions of Iceland!
11% of Iceland's landmass is covered in glaciers, the largest of which is the Vatnajokull covering the greater part of the south and central highlands. Discover the glaciers for yourself on an excursion by snow mobile or by foot. Perhaps the most visually impressive, the Jokulsarlon glacial lake is full of looming icebergs and is genuinely otherworldly.
Whatever time of year you decide to visit Iceland there is always something magical in the air and a lot of that has to do with the light. In the wintertime, experience the incredible Northern Lights as they dance their way across the sky, while in summer the Midnight Sun allows for hours of activities well into the evening.
Although small for a capital city with only 200,000 people, Reykjavik oozes cool, in a laid back way. For such a small population, Iceland produces a huge amount of music and theatre, both of which you can experience in abundance in the city. Plus, with an emphasis on the freshest produce, Icelandic chefs are at the forefront of modern Nordic cuisine, combining traditional smoking and preparation methods with inventive twists.
In Iceland you can sometimes feel as though you have been transported to another world. From volcanic fjords to eerie treeless stretches of land, it's not hard to understand why fairytales and legends of monsters, goblins, elves and fairy folk dominate the particularly deserted stretches of land.
Not exactly somewhere you think of going for a beach holiday, the beaches of Iceland may be too cold to swim in but they are still well worth a visit. The black pebble beach of Reynisfjara is particularly impressive near Vik village but by far the mot impressive black beach is Breidamerkursandur, in the south east. Visit this beach at dusk or dawn and it will appear to be sparkling with diamonds of all shapes - due to a nearby fjord, icebergs break up and ice diamonds adorn the shore year round.
The nearby hell-fire furnace of Krafla heats up the water in this area, creating many natural hot springs and interesting shapes and colours in surrounding rock formations. One such formation, Dimmuborgir (meaning Black Forts) resembles the ruins of what has been dubbed a demon city.
The three most popular natural destinations in Iceland are an easy loop drive from Reykavik and are known as the Golden Circle. You can do it in one day, or extend it on one of our great itineraries to really make the most of the big three and the incredible sights in between.
Only a 45 minute drive from Reykjavik for those on a self drive holiday, this national park is not only incredibly beautiful but also of supreme historical and geological significance. Site of the first meeting of Iceland's parliament in 930 CE, it contains Iceland's largest lake, and the meeting of the American and European tectonic plates. In fact, adventurous souls can scuba dive through the glacial waters of the Silfra fissures, where the two plates have rent apart.
Here, the water thunders down a wide curved three step stair case then plunges into a crevice 32m in depth. Not only is the sound deafening but there is an interesting story to learn about how it earned its protected status... Make sure you investigate when you are there!
Home to the geyser that gives us the name, Geysir, this impressive area is well worth your time. Although Geysir no longer erupts due to a past earthquake, the Strokkur geyser nearby erupts every five to ten minutes, shooting water 30m up into the air!