Iceland, the land of fire and ice, has become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years due to its spectacular natural features, which includes glaciers, hot thermal springs, active volcanoes, geysers, snow-capped mountains and vast lava deserts. Iceland is one of the few countries where you can enjoy fine wines and dining followed by a spot of whale watching. Other activities include adventure sports such as river-rafting and snow scootering.
Warm Gulf Streams keep southern Iceland warmer than some central European countries. The average summer temperature is about 14C, with winter temperatures on average just below freezing. It rains a lot but is rarely torrential. Beware of avalanches in uninhabited areas.
Iceland has the oldest surviving parliament in the world, the Althing, founded in 930 but has no army or military defence force.
Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean just south of the Arctic Circle and north west of Scotland. It is the world's 18th largest island, and Europe's 2nd largest island after Great Britain. Its language culture and economy have strong links to Scandinavian neighbours Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Most of the country's popular tourist areas are in the south of the island near Reykjavik, in the region known as The Golden Circle.
Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, has also developed a formidable reputation as a party capital. The city is also crammed with some fine museums and galleries. Reykjavik also has a well-deserved reputation for being the cleanest city in Europe and the standard of living is one of the highest in the world. The city may be small, but it is full of interesting attractions from galleries and museums to thermal bathing spots. The name means smoky the smoke is not smog. It's steam rising from the underground springs that warm the city.
Large open-air museum tracing the development of society in Reykjavik and Iceland from their beginnings to the present day. There are over 27 buildings in the museum.
Extensive range of modern and more established Icelandic and foreign art. The Museum also houses the Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum, the Kjarval Collection, the Erró Collection, the Architectural Museum and the Reykjavík Municipal Art Collection.
Huge and extremely popular volcanically-heated swimming pool. Geothermal swimming pools play a major part in Icelandic social life.
Just outside Reykjavik offering stunning views over the city. The climb to the summit is fairly easy.
A five-minute boat trip from northern Reykjavik. Videy is a wild island paradise of birds and flowers. Includes the oldest stone building in Iceland built for the High Sheriff in 1752.
A striking building part observatory, part restaurant, part conference centre and visitor attraction. Provides great views from the revolving gourmet restaurant Reykjavik's most famous landmark.
The Mývatn region was set aside as a conservation area in I974. It is one of the most geologically active and stunningly beautiful areas in Iceland with bubbling mud flats, volcanic craters, newborn lava fields and diverse birdlife. The Waterfall Of The Gods is one of Europe's most powerful waterfalls at 163 metres.
A nature paradise brimming with wildlife. Back in November 1963, a fresh volcano broke through the water, creating the world's youngest island, Surtsey.
The awe inspiring Snaefellsnes peninsula is a magical landscape with many lava caves, waterfalls and hot springs. The Peninsula is home to fishing towns and farms. The vast Snaefellsjokull glacier is visible from Reykjavik even though it is 60 miles away.
Thingvellir is the original home of Iceland's parliament, the Althing, established in AD930. The parliament met here to resolve conflicts and make laws for more than 300 years. Also home to Thingvallavtn, Finland's largest natural lake, and the Thingvellir National Park.
Blue-green algae and white Silica mud form a natural sediment on the bottom of the lagoon creating a stunning aquamarine blue. This man made lagoon has a water temperature of 40C and is thought to have healing powers.
An area of boiling sulphurous landscape near Reykjavik containing steaming vents and hot and cold springs. The Great Geyser was once the greatest natural attraction in Iceland with an 80 metre high eruption. Today, it lies dormant and has done so since 1916. Strokkur Geyser nearby can be relied upon though. It erupts every five to ten minutes and the spout reaches up to 20 meters high.
Vidimyri is considered to be one of the finest examples of Icelandic architecture. Built in 1834 it is one of the six turf churches that are still standing in Iceland. It has been preserved as a monument and still functions as a parish church.
Icelandair provides direct flights to Europe and the USA. Iceland Express is a cheaper alternative. Ferries from Hanstholm in northern Denmark run from late May to early September. You can travel in Iceland via long distance bus lines, which are comprehensive, as well as numerous ferry services connecting ports. Car and bicycle hire is available. Local transport consists of taxis and buses. Iceland has no railways and its highway system is Europe's least developed.