Discover Iceland Before Your Actual Visit

10:20 PM

Iceland, the name alone easily brings pictures to my mind of a place perpetually covered in ice. To many, that may sound very limiting when it comes to possibilities of having an enjoyable time in a foreign land. I've learned many years ago not to rely on assumptions, perceptions, and generalizations, lest it leads to forever losing the chance of discovering something incredible. 


This is especially true in making decisions about places to visit. Iceland is a particularly interesting study of misconceptions. There is a story about the origin of the names of Iceland and Greenland. Supposedly, the Vikings who discovered Iceland found it so beautiful and unique that they named it as such to discourage other settlers from coming to the island. The story goes further to say that they also decided to name the neighboring land which is mostly of ice, Greenland, to completely mislead competitor-settlers.
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If we are to check a map of these two countries, this story will appear to be believable when we see a "green" Iceland and an "icy white" Greenland. Before we settle for this switch story, let us consider the other version as provided by historians and scientists. The truth is sought to be explained by Norse custom and the shifting global climate. 

Vikings name things as they see it so accounts shows that the first Norse explorer who reached Iceland saw snow. Erik the Red who was banished from Iceland after killing three people in a feud discovered Greenland at a time when it had a warmer climate, thus green. The name choice is also being described as a medieval version of a marketing scheme to encourage people to settle in the land. The shift in temperature resulted to what appears to be a switch in the actual description of each land. 

Not All Ice

So now that it's settled that Iceland is not all ice, let's find out more about this country. Its climate varies depending on what part of the island one is in. The Central Highlands are the coldest part of the country while the most arid are the low-lying inland areas. The south coast is generally warmer and snowfall in winter is more common in the north.



Best Time to Visit

July and August are said to be the best months to visit Iceland specially for hikers. Generally though, summer time is ideal as weather is milder and days are longer. Rainfall is usually experienced from October to February. Snow is observed from December to March, January proving to be the whitest month.



People and Culture 

Iceland is considered one of the friendliest countries to visitors. Common courtesy is expected in interacting with locals and other visitors. The country is known for its strong support for gender equality. The official language is Icelandic but most Icelanders speak good English. Other main foreign languages include Danish, Norwegian, Swedish French, German, and Spanish.



Attractions


It is a fact that one of the main reasons why travelers choose to visit a foreign country is the attractions offered. Iceland offers many and this is why it is experiencing an influx of visitors for the past years to the present. 

Extraordinary Landscape

Iceland's landscape is as varied as its climate. Known for having Europe's largest glacier, it also boasts of great falls and fjords. This is where travelers get to experience hot springs, lava landscapes, and steaming fields.  Its rivers and falls are tapped for hydroelectricity, making them not only beautiful but also useful and beneficial for its people. Mountain ranges abound to keep the most prolific mountain climber quite busy. 



Irresistible Natural Display

The location of Iceland makes it perfect for seeing the Northern lights or aurora borealis. From September to mid April, people get the chance to witness for themselves these celestial wonders. This advantage remains to be one of the main reasons for travelers wanting to visit the country.



Must-See Geysers

The vision of a column of hot water and steam ejecting from a vent n the earth's surface cannot be seen everywhere. Iceland has the recognition of having the oldest known geyser in the planet, the Geysir. It is located in Iceland's Haukadalur Valley and was first discovered in 1294. 



Captivating Whale-Watching

Whale-watching has become a major tourism industry in Iceland. This is one of the countries that are able to offer this attraction. Visitors are allowed to observe whales in their natural habitat while not posing any harm to them. Travelers can find a whale watching tour in Iceland to ensure that one can see these magnificent creatures up close.



Legendary Icelandic Horses

While travelers wouldn't usually go on a long trip to see an animal, the Icelandic horse is an exceptional breed that represents the true Icelandic nature of pureness, uniqueness, and genuineness, and is worth the effort. The breed is often mentioned in historical records and literature. It is small, usually pony-sized and is the only horse breed in the country. Importation of horses is not allowed while those that have been exported are not allowed back, thus preserving the breed.



My Say

Why would I want to visit Iceland? Let me provide three reasons out of many.

1. Safety 

Crime against tourists is almost non-existent. That is very comforting as it does not only speak of the level of security in place by the government but also the attitude of locals to visitors. Knowing that one is secure in traveling to a country makes the trip more enjoyable.

2. Health

Pollution is not an issue because of the use of geothermal and hydroelectric power. Tap water is safe to drink. It always makes sense to check if there is any health alert in any travel destination. Upon latest checking, there is no health notice currently in effect in Iceland. 

3. Beauty

With all the attractions I mentioned above, need I say more? I may have not listed all but there is definitely more. 

That said, Iceland is definitely a must-visit for my whole family


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