Iceland is the perfect location for whale watching. The cold waters off the coast play host to a diverse marine life. During the summer months in particular, Iceland's shores become a veritable feeding ground for multiple species of large marine mammals, giving visitors a chance to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Iceland is the hiker's paradise. More than half of the country lies above 400 meters (1300 feet) and the landscape is extraordinarily diverse, with large areas covered with colorful mountains, lava fields, glaciers, hot springs, lakes and black sands. The rugged nature has been shaped by the elements to form a majestic scenery unlike any other place in the world.
Iceland is known as one of the best places in the world for birdwatching. A large number of birds make their home along Iceland's coast, including some of the largest colonies in the world for certain types of sea fowl. Iceland's wetlands are also a conducive habitat for many species of birds.
The extreme dark of the Icelandic winter has a few perks. Between September and April, Iceland is treated to a magnificent natural display: the phenomenon of aurora borealis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. This is what we commonly call the Northern Lights.
The Icelandic horse is a unique breed of smallish horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that it is descendent from an ancient breed of horses that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation.
Due to its position on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, Iceland is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world. Its unique geological conditions make for some awe-inspiring rock formations, both beneath the surface as well as above it. Various tube caves—formed by magma flowing underneath the earth's surface after lava has solidified overhead—can safely be explored through guided excursions year-round.
The local natural wonder that is perhaps most ingrained in the fabric of Icelandic culture is the bounty of geothermal energy, the naturally heated water that powers our lives and heats our homes, baths and pools, public as well as private. And as unlikely as it may sound, Reykjavík sports its own geothermal beach, with white sands and warm ocean water.
When making a trip to Iceland, it is hard not to pay special attention to the country's namesake—namely, its 4,500 square miles of glacier. Ice climbing on Iceland's glaciers is practiced year-round and takes place mainly on the Sólheimajökull and Svínafellsjökull glaciers in the south of Iceland.
Travelling around Iceland on two wheels is both challenging and rewarding. There is no better way to experience the beauty of Iceland than from the saddle of your bicycle. Many bike enthusiasts come to Iceland to enjoy the Ring Road, the well-known highway number 1, that runs around the country. Others choose more difficult paths into the highlands.
Because Quality Matters
cVAKINN is the official quality and environmental system within Icelandic tourism. Only companies that maintain the highest standards in all aspects of business practices and meet a comprehensive assessment criteria have earned the right to carry VAKINN – Iceland tourism's official quality and environment label.
The quality system is divided into two categories, star grading system for accommodation and
other tourism services.
VAKINN is run by the Icelandic Tourist Board which has led the project in close cooperation with The Icelandic Travel Industry Association, Innovation Center Iceland and the Icelandic Tourism Association.