Think of Iceland and there are several familiar associations: hip Reykjavík, the beautiful therapeutic Blue Lagoon, or perhaps musical exports Björk or Sigur Rós. But this land of boiling mud pools, spurting geysers, glaciers and waterfalls is also an adventure playground. Its breathtaking landscape is an inspiration to artists and photographers. Iceland is the least densely populated country in Europe, with a pure, unpolluted and truly magical landscape. Iceland’s summers are surprisingly warm, lush and green, with days lengthening until midsummer, when the sun dips down to the horizon but never sets. During winter you can marvel at the amazing, undulating green, blue, yellow and pink lights of the aurora in the night sky, and the winters are not as cold as you might imagine.
Icelanders are proud of their Viking blood and many continue holding old Norse beliefs; a majority of Icelanders won’t rule out the existence of elves. While holding history close, the country is socially progressive and equality oriented. Much of Iceland’s power and heat is generated naturally as Iceland is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and waterfalls that provide hydroelectric power. 90% of Icelandic houses are heated by hot springs, which are also used for the greenhouses where Icelandic bananas are grown.
The capital city Reykjavik, where 80 per cent of the population live, is small but still has galleries, museums and theatres enough to support a vibrant and sophisticated artistic culture. Annual festivals, special exhibitions and stage productions mean that the cultural calendar is always full and there is always plenty for the visitor to enjoy. It also has the reputation of being one of Europe’s “hottest” cities at night, with an active music scene and famous nightlife.