Enter your Located in the North Atlantic in between Greenland and Scandinavia, Iceland delivers a lot of brilliance on the lovely and traditional fronts. You'll marvel in the sublime landforms with this geologically restless area, from otherworldly glacial lakes and pure sea cliffs to steaming hot springs and moonscape lava fields. The administrative centre of Reykjavík,the country's main downtown heart, is renowned because of its spectacular coastal location and remarkably vibrant nightlife. Reykjavík's museums, restaurants, and pleasant, fun-loving people are their particular excellent attractions, but yet you even have several celebrated sites across the area to check out. These include the peaceful Blue Lagoon resort (a steaming geothermal paradise), the iceberg dotted Jökulsárlón sea, gargantuan waterfalls like Gullfoss and Dettifoss, plus some of the world's greatest perches for watching the Northern Lights.
Guide to Iceland
Where to go and what to see
Iceland has a concentrated tourist season, peaking from mid-June through August. Many Icelanders believe the summer tourists don't understand what they're missing. Iceland offers plenty to do in spring, autumn, even winter, and prices are dramatically lower for car rentals, airfares, and accommodations. Icelanders are keen Christmas celebrators, and the Aurora Borealis is remarkably vivid in winter. Most off season visitors join city culture, and use Reykjavík as a home base and nightlife with activities including horseback riding, snowmobiling, and visiting spas.
Northern Lights: aurora borealis -- A brilliantly hued fog creeps across the night sky, shape shifts into a solid red and green swirl stretching out from horizon to horizon, then suddenly breaks into tons of daggers of light, piercing downward until they seem within reach. Iceland is an excellent area to do so because huge spaces between towns and the little population allow it to be easy to escape light pollution, even close to Reykjavík if you haven't seen this phenomenon before. If you will need a lift to a more likely Northern Lights sighting than your hotel in the centre of town, the tourist information office that is closest will have the ability to provide details of tours. Northern Lights tours run from mid-March to mid-April when they're best seen, but there are normally a couple of sightings up to early May, and occasionally even as early as late August; only keep an eye out. Aurora borealis occurs when World's energy particles intercept magnetic field from the sun, which ionize atoms in the upper atmosphere. This is why solar activity is a great predictor of the intensity and duration of these auroral displays.
Most tours and adventure trips to Iceland's most celebrated natural attractions finish after September. Roads in the hinterlands are generally closed from October to mid-May, and some do not open until early July. Precipitation increases in September, peaking from October through February, and regular storms and driving rain are enough to dissuade many would-be winter adventurers.
The tourist high season corresponds with holiday time for Icelanders, but things do not shut down the way they do in, say, France. Icelanders work longer hours than most Europeans, and seasonal service occupations are filled by vacationing pupils. Some cultural institutions (theatre, symphony, opera) take the summer off, while most museums outside Reykjavík are only open in summer. Artwork and cultural festivals are also clustered in summer, except in Reykjavík, where they gravitate to the "shoulder" seasons (Apr-May and Sept-Oct).
Consider also that the number of daytime hours can have unanticipated physical and emotional effects, in timing your visit. In early summer there is never complete darkness and the sun stays low to the horizon, creating a continuous play of shadow and color. Spring and fall daylight hours are approximately the same as in North America or Europe. Days in midwinter have only 4 or 5 hours of sunshine. These changes are more extreme in the northern area of the nation.
(New York's winter lows are normally lower than Reykjavík's.) Icelandic weather is unusually volatile, yet. The Gulf Stream brings light Atlantic air in contact with colder Arctic atmosphere, resulting in often sudden weather shifts, fog, driving wind and rain, and overcast skies. You could well run into four seasons in 1 day.
Iceland's precipitation peaks in October to February, and is lowest in June and May. Western and Southern parts of the isle receive the most rain. For English-language forecasts or further information on regional weather, contact the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
The Huge Round-Up-Visitors in early September-especially experienced horseback riders - can discover exquisite and remote backcountry while participating in an age old Icelandic farming rite: the autumn sheep round up, or réttir. Hundreds of thousands of Icelandic sheep spend the summer grazing in highland pastures. Before winter sets in, local groups of farmers spend up to a week herding them. Women have joined in, although this was the job of a guy. Once their earmarks pen and sorted the flocks, the farming communities let their hair down for dancing, singing, and drinking into the night. Many disjunct villagers met their spouses during these events.
Some accompany in 4WD vehicles or on foot; others simply see and join the party, although most participants are seasoned riders. Visitors are welcome to participate in some local round ups, though don't expect nonstop excitement: The process could call for holding your place alone for hours in a chilly rain.
Round ups for free-roaming horses are in late September or early October, mostly in the north. Figure out which parts of the backcountry you had like to visit, then contact local tourist information offices, travel agencies, and farm lodgings for guidance. Regional sites posting réttir info include http://icelandvacationpackages.is/ and http://theicelandtours.com/. A drawn-out but incomplete list of places and dates is posted in August on site of the Farmers Association of Iceland; press the button at top to translate the page into English.
Tourists disappear just as abruptly in early September and arrive, so Icelanders compare them to flocks of migrating birds. Nonetheless, more and more visitors are coming for short holidays centered on Reykjavík, especially in the off season. Health spas and nightlife are major draws, and winter adventure travel- Jeep touring, glacier snowmobiling, and specially backcountry skiing - is catching on. With fewer tourists around, locals can be particularly hospitable and inviting. Costs are dramatically lower for airfares, accommodations, and car rentals, but don't anticipate cost rests from mid-December to mid-January.
Most museums outside Reykjavík shut down off season, while some Reykjavík cultural institutions- the Icelandic Opera -are just open season off. Visitors generally depend on rental cars to get around with fewer organized tours to choose from.
Icelandic winters are surprisingly reasonable but have just 4 to 6 hours of day. Obviously, determined by the weather, some off-season visitors may see only clouds.
The shoulder seasons- April to September and May to October-can be wonderful times to visit, though some destinations are inaccessible.
Off Season Outdoor Activities-Of special interest are jeep tours, dog sledding, fishing, glacier tours, hiking, horseback riding, airborne tours, pools and spas, and skiing and ski touring. Icelanders like to golf on snow covered classes, using bright orange balls.
Off Season Destinations
Nearby & Reykjavík -Reykjavík remains equally energetic year-round-after all, the weather has little impact on its allure. Cultural activities and nightlife reveal no indications of winter weariness, and Reykjavíkians still throng to their outdoor geothermal pools if their hair is gathered in by snow. See the Schedule of Events for Reykjavík's many off season festivals.
The capital is particularly exciting and heartwarming during the Christmas season. Each weekend, beginning in late November, the neighboring town of Hafnarfjörður hosts an intricate Christmas Village with caroling costumed elves, trinket stalls, and choirs. On New Year's Eve, many visitors shuttle to Reykjavík just to take part in the Bacchanalian celebrations.
Outside of summer, day tours from the capital are less changed but hardly in short supply. The popular Golden Circle tour runs year-round, and two of its main highlights-the Strokkur geyser and Gullfoss waterfall- are even more captivating in winter. Various firms also lead Northern Lights that are nightly tours in search of the Aurora Borealis. The Blue Lagoon spa in Reykjanes Peninsula is enchanting and odd with much fewer crowds, in wintertime.
Outside the Capitol Area-Compelling winter destinations outside Iceland's southwest corner are too numerous to list, but two regions deserve special mention: Lake Mývatn and West Iceland -Krafla Caldera in the north.
In the west, the wondrously diverse scenery of Snæfellsnes Peninsula makes for a fantastic road trip year-round, and Hótel Búðir, an idyllic holiday on the peninsula's south coast, is constantly open. The appealing Westfjords capital, Ísafjörður, is particularly buzzing during its Easter Week music and ski festivals. Two magnificent country getaways in the Westfjords remain open all year: the Heydalur Country Hotel, along Ísafjarðardjúp Bay, and Hótel Djúpavík on the entrancing Strandir Coast.
Akureyri, Iceland's northern capital, is alive and kicking in the off season, with the country's greatest ski slope Hlíðarfjall close by. Many winter visitors fly to Akureyri, rent a car, and spend a few days studying the myriad volcanic scenes of Mývatn and Krafla. The geothermally heated lagoon of Mývatn Nature Baths stays open, and Sel-Hótel Mývatn organizes Jeep and snowmobile excursions, horseback riding, and go cart joyrides on the lake. The cross-country skiing is fabulous from February ahead, and, in May and April, the lake twitches with bird watchers ushering in the tourist season, to find great offers take a look at Iceland Vacation Packages.