With its glaciers, hot thermal springs, spectacular geysers, active volcanoes, lava fields, stunning waterfalls and snow-capped mountains, Iceland is indeed the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.

No matter how much you hear about the awe-inspiring natural phenomena on this island on the edge of the Arctic circle, nothing can prepare you for the jaw-dropping spectacle that is Iceland. Dubbed “the Land of Fire and Ice”, this small island nation is characterised by contrasts and contradictions. Here you’ll feel the might of the earth still forming its extraordinary landscape; volcanoes grumble and spurt, lakes of mud boil and bump and glittering glaciers slice through the mountainside. It is a place where steaming geysers burst forth from icy glaciers, where molten hot lava spews out of icy snow-capped peaks, where the astonishing aurora borealis blazes across the night sky and where continuously dark winters are offset by summer’s magnificent midnight sun. All this can make us humble humans feel like insignificant, tiny specs in the mighty universe.

With the exception of Reykjavik, the country’s population centres are small, with diminutive towns, fishing villages, farms and minute hamlets clustered along the coastal fringes. The interior, meanwhile, remains totally uninhabited. What the Icelanders lack in numbers, they certainly make up for in warmth, quirkiness, and boundless creativity. Add to this, one of the highest standards of living on earth and you have, quite simply, one of the world’s most intriguing destinations.

Reykjavik is located on a bay, presided over by mighty mount Esja. Iceland’s sprawling capital city stands in stark contrast to the quiet fishing villages and minute hamlets found in this remarkable island nation. It is extremely progressive, yet proudly traditional; exceedingly remote, yet surprisingly cosmopolitan; inextricably tied to its natural landscape yet embracing of modern technology. The tiny city centre is characterised by an eclectic mix of brightly painted houses, elegant shops, stylish bars, and highbrow museums.

A slew of restaurants serves up a delicious range of culinary delights as well as an array of exotic treats such as pickled ram’s testicles and putrefied shark meat! Eating out can be sublime, expensive or just plain weird, for a number of reasons. One is that traditional Icelandic food can be rather strange. It is not eaten on a daily basis by its inhabitants, rather saved for special celebratory events, and can include putrefied rotten shark, boiled sheep’s head, dried fish slathered in butter and pickled rams’ testicles.

Fresh fish can be had all year round – Icelanders eat mostly haddock, cod, plaice, halibut, herring and shrimp, but Icelandic salmon, lobster and Arctic char are also very good. The lamb, which is reared locally, is free range, organic and extremely tasty. Make sure you try it at least once during your stay in Iceland. Take a shot of Brennivin, the nation’s vodka-like firewater.

Whether you plan on spending your time gallery-hopping while listening to Bjork on repeat, scuba diving between tectonic plates, or relaxing in the myriad geothermal pools, Iceland is the ultimate destination for pleasure seekers and adventure junkies alike.

Stunning waterfalls and snow-capped mountains, Iceland is indeed the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.


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