Iceland is a wonderful Nordic country. It is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. The nearest neighboring country is Greenland, just 286 km (180 miles) away, followed by the Faroe Islands 420 km (260 miles), Scotland 795 km (495 miles), and Norway 950 km (590 miles).
Iceland is the second largest island in Europe, following Great Britain, and the 18th largest island in the world. The island itself stretches across 103,000 km2 (40,000 square miles), which is about the same size as Hungary and Portugal, or Kentucky and Virginia. 80% of Iceland is uninhabited.
Iceland has a long coastline. The total coastline is 4,970 km.
Iceland is one of the youngest landmasses on the planet – formed about 25 million years ago. That is the reason that Iceland is the home to some of the world's most active volcanoes. The Iceland’s landmass is still growing by about 5 cm per year.
In 870, Swedish Viking explorer Gardar Svavarsson was the first to arrive in Iceland. He sailed around Iceland and confirmed that it is an island. Gardar Svavarsson stayed over winter and built a house in Husavik.
In 874, the Norwegian-Norse chieftain Ingolfr Arnarson built his town in present-day Reykjavik in 874. Ingolfr was followed by many other emigrant settlers, largely Scandinavians and their slaves, many of whom were Irish or Scottish.
Before 1944, Iceland was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In the 1944 referendum, Icelandic people chose to establish their own republic. Since then, Iceland became an independent republic.
Reykjavik, the Story of Fire and Ice
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle - Geysir Geothermal Area
The Golden Circle - Gullfoss Waterful
The Golden Circle - Pingvellir National Park
Pingvellir - The First Parliament in the World
Viking Longhouse at Hofsstadir
The Vikings discovered Iceland and started to settle there from 870. They lived in a kind of unique house called “Longhouse”. In Hofsstadir, a short drive from Reykyavik city center, the second longest Viking Longhouse in Iceland was discovered and unearthed in 1986.
The Viking Longhouse at Hofsstadir is about 30 meters by 8 meters on the outside, and the floor area is about 170 m². This was the household of a farmer on a large scale. According to study, this size of Viking Longhouse could house about 20 to 30 people including slaves and laborers.
In the Hofsstadir Viking Longhouse, a total about 300 valuable items from the Viking ages were unearthed.
Hofdi House, built in 1909, is considered to be one of the most beautiful and historically significant buildings in Reykjavik.
Hofdi House was initially the house of the French consul in Iceland. Now it is owned by the City of Reykjavik and is used for official receptions and meetings.
The most famous event happened in Hofdi House is the 1986 summit meeting of the U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbatsjov, a historical event that eventually marked the end of the Cold War.
The other renowned guests of the Hofdi House include the Queen of England, Winston Churchill and Marlene Dietrich, the world famous German actress and singer.
Reykjavik Old Harbor
Reykjavik Old Harbor is becoming a new, exciting, cozy and vibrant quarter of Reykjavik City.
In the Reykjavik Old Harbor area, you will find the awarding winning new concert hall, the fantastic Viking Maritime Musuem, the modern Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina.
In addition, you will find great food, fancy shops, best coffee and cakes in the busy and energetic Reykjavik Old Harbor community.
Blue Lagoon, the World Famous Geothermal Spa
Blue Lagoon is a “Must do” in Iceland. The huge geothermal lake is regarded as one of the best spas in the world.
Blue Lagoon is 39 kilometers (24 miles) away from Reykjavik and 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from Keflavik International Airport. It is a short drive of about 50 minutes from Reykjavik.
Blue Lagoon Spa has rich minerals like Silica (SiO2) and Sodium (Na) etc. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F).
The Blue Lagoon Spa, the Blue Lagoon Clinic, and all the Blue Lagoon facilities, are designed by Sigridur Sigporsdottir from Basalt Architects. The concept of the unique design is to protect the environment and respect its geological history. Pure Icelandic materials from moss and stones characterize the design. The designer wants to emphasize the relationship between nature and the man-made.
In Blue Lagoon Spa, large amounts of Iceland lava rocks are used. More than 70 000 pieces of lava stones are used in the lava wall which connects the building to the natural rocks surrounding the bathing lagoon.
Facilities and Services in Blue Lagoon
Silica Mud Mask
You can apply as much as the Silica Mud Mask to your face and body. Leave it on for at least 5 minutes before you wash it off. When you wash it off, you will feel a significant difference in the softness of your skin.
Sauna and Steam Rooms
The Blue Lagoon sauna and steam baths are a unique. They are carved into the lava rock.
The powerful man-made waterfall helps your sore shoulders and stiff muscles.
The relaxation area, next to the changing room doors, offers comfortable seating and soothing music to relax to. It also has an amazing view, looking out across the lagoon.
You are floating in the soothing warmth of a wonder of the world. Your massage – deep, relaxing, and conducted with Blue Lagoon mineral massage oil – is a wonder unto itself. This in-water experience, the Relaxing Massage, is the foundation of all other Blue Lagoon massages and treatments.
In LAVA Restaurant, you can have a taste of the Iceland gourmets. The restaurant is built into a stunning lava cliff, with views over the lagoon. It is an unforgettable setting for a relaxed lunch, a family dinner or a romantic evening meal.
Silica Hotel (with private bathing lagoon)
Skin Care Products Shop
From here, you can buy Silica Mud Mask and other skin care products.
The Blue Flag
Blue Lagoon is proud to display The Blue Flag award. The Blue Flag is an environmental certification awarded to coastal or inland water environments that meet stringent quality standards.
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is one of the most popular tourist routes in southern Iceland, which covers the most exciting attractions of the country.
In the Colden Circle, you will see the famous Geysir geothermal area, the Gullfoss Waterfall, the UNESCO site Pingvellir National Park, the stunning Iceland natures, along the about 300 kilometres (190 miles) route.
The Golden Circle - Geysir Geothermal Area
The Geysir eothermal area is in South Iceland, near Laugarvatn Lake. It is named after the world biggest geyser – Geysir. The most exciting geyser is Strokkur. It shoots up a column of water up to 30 metres (98 ft.) into the air every 6-10 minutes.
The Golden Circle – Gullfoss Waterful
Gullfoss Waterful is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland. The three-step Gullfoss Waterfall is a part of the wide glacial Hvita River. The Hvita River runs southward, but turns sharply to the right at the Gullfoss Waterful area, and then the Hvita River falls into a 62 meter (105 ft) deep gorge. It feels that the Hvita River suddenly disappeared into the earth. The average amount of water running down the waterfall is 140 cubic metres (4,900 cu ft) per second in the summer and 80 cubic metres (2,800 cu ft) per second in the winter. The highest flood measured was 2,000 cubic metres (71,000 cu ft) per second.
The Golden Circle – Pingvellir National Park
The Pingvellir National Park is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The Pingvellir National Park area is not only geologically magnificent, also historically and culturally rich and spectacular.
Pingvellir - the First Parliament in the World
From 870, the Scandinavian Vikings and Scottish Celtic started to settle in Iceland. The settlement was generally peaceful. There was no king or a common leader in Iceland for centuries.
In 930, the settlers formed “the Alpingi” (the Assembly) in Pingvellir. The Alpingi was Iceland Commonwealth’s supreme legislative and judicial authority from 930 until 1271. The Alpingi also laid a solid foundation for a common cultural heritage and national identity.
The Alpingi in 930 was regarded as the “the first parliament in the world”. And that laid a foundation for establishing Iceland as one country under the same rules.
Pingvellir - the Boundary Between the Eurasian and North American Plates
The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults in Pingvellir. The Almannagja Canyon is one of the biggest cracks. This special geographic structure makes Pingvellir area a typical volcanic environment.
Whale Watching is an exciting and popular program in Iceland. Iceland is one of the most ideal places for whale watching activities.
In Iceland, you can watch a wide arrange of whales including: the minke whales, the white-beaked dolphins, humpback whales, killer whales, Orcas, fin whales and Blue whales etc. There are as many as 23 whale species that you could have the possibility to watch.
In the summer time, there is as high as 90% of the success rate on watching at least one type of whales. In some parts of Iceland, you can even watch whales from land.
Bjork Gudmundsdottir is a famous Icelandic singer, songwriter, actress, record producer and DJ. Several of Bjork's albums have reached the top 20 on the Billboard 200 chart which the most recent being her 2015 album Vulnicura.
Bjork has won five BRIT Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, one MOJO Award, three UK Music Video Awards, 21 Icelandic Music Awards.
Bjork won the 2010 Polar Music Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in recognition of her "deeply personal music and lyrics, her precise arrangements and her unique voice."
Bjork has been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards, one Academy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. She also won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in the film Dancer in the Dark.
In 2015, Bjork was included in Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Hafpor Julius Bjornsson – “the Mountain” in the HBO Series
Iceland is famous for beautiful women and strong men. Hafpor Julius Bjornsson is the strongest man in Iceland. He is an Icelandic professional strongman, actor, and former professional basketball player.
Hafpor Julius Bjornsson is best known for his role as Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Arnaldur Indridason – Famous Writer
Arnaldur Indridason is a very popular Icelandic writer of crime fiction.
Arnaldur Indridason's books have been published in 26 countries and translated into at least 24 languages, including English, Chinese, German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Greek, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, Spanish, Hungarian, Croatian, Romanian, Bulgarian, French, Serbian, Slovenian, Arabic, Russian and Turkish.
Eidur Smari Gudjohnsen
Eidur Smari Gudjohnsen is a great Icelandic professional footballer. He has played for Iceland National Team, English Premier League Club Chelsea, Barcelona of Spain Bolton Wanderers and Club Pune City of India etc. He was the captain of the Iceland national team until manager Olafur Johannesson took over the team. Throughout his professional career, Eidur Smari has scored over 150 goals in all competitions with his clubs and the national team.