What did the first Vikings think when they saw the first rocks of Iceland lying before them from their ships more than 1100 years ago? They could hardly have guessed what was hidden behind the barren coastline. Anyone who visits the geysers and glaciers, the spectacular waterfalls and cooled lava flows today can well understand why they suspected the home of elves, dwarfs and trolls here. Even today, about half of the Icelandic population still believes in the existence of magical creatures and sees in many boulders elf houses or trolls that were surprised by the sunrise and thus petrified.
If you want to explore Iceland's wild beauty on foot, it is best to plan a lot of time for taking pictures. Shorter day trips to waterfalls or lonely lakes often offer an impressive variety of landscapes, but for many hikers it is trekking tours of several days like the Laugavegur that make the Iceland trip an unforgettable experience.
Those who prefer to sit in the bicycle saddle can brace themselves against the wind on the well-developed ring road near the coast or venture up to one of the pistes through the highlands inland by touring bike. A new perspective opens up to those who discover the island on guided tours from the back of an Icelandic horse. Whether on foot or in the saddle - at the end of an eventful tour through the Icelandic wilderness, bathing in one of the country's hot springs is particularly good.
The main season for outdoor athletes in Iceland is the summer, when all paths are easily accessible and the average temperatures are usually around 10 degrees. But winter is also becoming more and more popular with travellers. So close to the Arctic Circle it is then only a few hours a day bright, until the dawn bathes the country in a mystical light. Even the most visited sights in summer, like the famous geysers, are often deserted and look completely different when covered in snow. In the evening, with a little luck, a very special natural spectacle presents itself in all its glory: northern lights illuminate the Icelandic night sky in dramatic colours.
A proper trip to Iceland includes not only the country but also the people. This is best found in the capital Reykjavík, where more than a third of Iceland's 330,000 inhabitants live. Colourful cafés are lined up here with cosy fish restaurants, while numerous museums with many testimonies from the Viking era can often be found in the immediate vicinity to exciting modern architecture. Reykjavík is also a good base for excursions to the famous Blaue Lagune thermal spa or a whale watching tour out to the North Atlantic.