Iceland - Why Visit?

Known as the “Land of Fire and Ice” for its extreme landscapes, Iceland is paradise for nature lovers and for anyone looking for adventure. Natural wonders include volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs, geysers, glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, mountains, rivers, icebergs and more. Due to the country’s unique geography, there is a strong bond between man and nature in Iceland and hiking, birdwatching, whale watching, ice climbing, and cycling are among favorite outdoor activities. Iceland is also a world-class arts and culture destination with an abundance of festivals throughout the country year-round, numerous museums dedicated to a variety of themes, and a rich literary heritage dating back to the 12th century.


Godafoss Falls

ICELAND IN A NUTSHELL

Formed about 25 million years ago, Iceland is one of the youngest landmasses on Earth, and consequently home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Stretching across 40,000 square miles, it is the second largest island in Europe, following Great Britain, and the 18th largest island in the world.


Settled in the late 9th century, Iceland has a current population of about 333,000 across its 40,000 square miles, making it the least populated country in Europe. Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest are home to over two-thirds of the country’s population, leaving many areas uninhabited.


While strongly rooted in customs and traditions, Iceland’s current society is both modern and progressive. Iceland continuously ranks at the top of measurements for quality of life, such as the United Nations Human Development Index, and it is considered to be one of greenest countries on the planet, due in large part to its vast renewable energy resources.

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NATURAL TREASURES

Iceland is famous for its views of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), among the most spectacular natural phenomena on earth, ideal for viewing between September and April. The phenomenon is caused by solar winds, which push electronic particles to collide with molecules of atmospheric gases that cause an emission of bright light.Travelers come from all over the world to view and photograph the array of light and colors that form a glow in the night sky in variations of green, purple, pink, yellow and blue.


Iceland is also home to three national parks – Thingvellir National Park, Vatnajökull National Park, and Snæfellsnes National Park – which showcase some of the country’s natural treasures.


Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is notable for its historical significance in Iceland as well as unique tectonic and volcanic environment. Visitors can see the continental drift between North American and Eurasian plates in the cracks and faults that traverse the region and can literally walk between two continents at Thingvellir.


Snæfellsjökull National Park was the first national park established in Iceland. Its main attraction is Snæfellsjökull Glacier, an active stratovolcano, which stands 1,446 meters high. Snæfellsjökull glacier is said to be one of the seven great energy centers of the earth, and has been attributed to various mysterious powers.


Vatnajökull – established in 2008 and the largest of Iceland’s three national parks covering 13 percent of the country (5,300 square miles) – offers visitors an opportunity to see the unique interplay between volcanoes and glaciers which earned Iceland its nickname, “The Land of Fire and Ice.” The Icelandic word jökull means glacier and the national park contains the largest glacier in the world outside the Arctics, named Vatnajökull.

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SELECTED UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN ICELAND

  • The volcanic island of Surtsey
  • Thingvellir National Park

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Iceland Map

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WHAT TO EXPECT IN ICELAND WITH TAUCK

  • A Tauck-exclusive lecturer onboard throughout your small ship cruise who will offer expert insights on Iceland’s unique geographical features and wildlife
  • A walk across the Arctic Circle on the island of Grímsey to see the Arctic terns and puffins who live there
  • Visit to landmark sites in Reykjavík including the National Museum
  • A tour of Iceland’s “Golden Circle,” encompassing the country’s “Big Three” landmark sites – Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur
  • Private visit to family-owned Vigur Island
  • A chance to take a dip in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon (schedule permitting)
  • Visit to the Viking Museum and to see the Viking ship, Islendingur
  • Going inside a fisherman’s hut at Ósvör Maritime Museum for a glimpse into the life of an Icelandic fisherman
  • City tour of Akureyri, nicknamed the Capital of North Iceland and an important port and fishing center
  • Exploring the countryside around Lake Mývatn, a national conservation area known for its large population of waterbirds, especially ducks
  • Day trip to Heimaey Island including a stop at Storhöfdi, home to puffins and an excellent vantage point for views of the island and glaciers of the mainland
  • Visit to a power plant to learn about Iceland’s clean energy solutions (schedule permitting)

Blue Lagoon

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