Tourists are flocking to Iceland in record numbers. Summer is brief and cool just beyond the Arctic Circle, with the warmest month’s average temperature reaching barely 10 degrees Celsius. So don’t expect good weather here; it rains frequently even in the summer, and the wind blows everywhere. While the majority of people come to see the “country of fire and ice,” as Iceland is commonly characterized, the island has its own life for the rest of the year.
But winter is very long in Iceland, unlike in summer. Viking Flóki Vilgerdarson himself, who was probably the first to arrive in Iceland and then overwinter there, gave the new country the name Iceland, ie an icy country. And he was right, Iceland is very inhospitable in the winter. Iceland with a rough and rough face, without summer tourist pretense.
While Iceland is more or less freezing during the winter, it is still alive in the capital of Iceland. Although Reykjavík has just over 100,000 inhabitants, it boasts a very lively and distinctive culture. In the center of the city there is a water reservoir Tjörnin, in the vicinity of which local ducks like to walk, especially in front of the neighboring Icelandic National Bank.
Hringvegur Road 1, also known as the Ring Road, runs around the island. This road has a completely irreplaceable function for transport around the island. Although this 1350-kilometer-long circuit is completely paved, an off-road vehicle is certainly more suitable for winter transport.
If there is anything really typical for Iceland, it is hot springs. Hot springs are scattered throughout the island. A visit to one of the pools powered by hot water is the order of the day for Icelanders. In Iceland, where alcohol is expensive, it is common to go to the boiling spas with neighbors.
Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull
The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano was not particularly surprising to Icelandic volcanologists. Thanks to a modern monitoring system that recorded numerous earthquakes in the area, they suspected the eruption of the volcano several months in advance. All the more surprising were the consequences of this relatively small eruption, which subsequently collapsed air traffic over Europe.
The absence of the sun on the Snaefelsness peninsula is unimaginable for us. During the Icelandic winter, the sun is very low only above the southern horizon, so that not a single ray of sunshine falls on the northern side of the mountainous peninsula. In the local fishing villages such as Ólafsvík, the first spring touch of the sun is properly celebrated.
The use of geothermal energy knows no bounds in Iceland. The heat extracted from the earth is commonly used here to generate electricity. Thanks to this clean energy source and the absence of any industry, Iceland has one of the cleanest atmospheres on Earth. In addition to electricity production, geothermal heat is also used to heat households or greenhouses for growing vegetables. In Reykjavik, Laugavegur even has heated sidewalks, so they don’t have to clear snow in winter.
The largest and administrative city in the north of the island is the city of Akureyri. High on a hill, the city is dominated by Akureyrarkirkja Church, which, like the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík, is a proud work of architect Gudjón Samúelsson. Although the city is less than 100 kilometers from the Arctic Circle, we can even find a botanical garden, which is certainly one of the northernmost in the world.
Iceland is a land of waterfalls. There are a really large number of them on the island. Most of them excel especially in their size and volume of flowing water, others in shape or overall integration into the surrounding landscape. One of the most famous and beautiful Icelandic waterfalls is the 60-meter-high Skogafoss in the “warmer” south of Iceland, in front of which a beautiful rainbow often forms.