Iceland literally bursts with natural attractions; active volcanoes, geysers and thermal pools hint at the explosive force here whilst great glaciers continue to carve and sculpt the dramatic landscape and the Northern Lights put on a surreal show in the skies above. [See Iceland itinerary ideas]
Reykjavik, the world's most northerly capital, is a cultural powerhouse, with art galleries, museums and a coffee culture to rival anywhere. At night the city jumps to a vibrant music scene whilst on weekends the locals maintain the tradition of the runtur, the legendary Icelandic pub-crawl.
Outside the capital, the Blue Lagoon, set amidst a black lava field in the heart of the volcanic wilderness is a popular attraction for people who want to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters.
To see the main sights take a tour of the Golden Circle, which encompasses the gushing pools of Geysir, the giant double waterfall of Gulfoss and the rugged rift valley at Pingvellir, site of the ancient parliament, the Althing.
The more adventurous should travel to the western fjords to stand on Europe's most westerly point and see sea birds in vast numbers. Cruise to the Westman Islands to find puffins though. Walkers should take the opportunity to trek on Vatnajokull, Europe's largest ice cap, although a skidoo safari here or dogsled trips on the icecaps at Myrdalsjokull are marginally less taxing.
When to go
Weather in Iceland is very unpredictable. Blue and sunny days can turn grey and foggy in a very short time, so if you're trekking, be prepared for all types of weather and take a map and a compass.
The high season runs between June and August when, at times, it's light for 24 hours of the day, which improves the local mood no end. Warmer weather opens up mountain roads and trails that are closed during the winter months and Icelanders leave the towns and head from the countryside homes and lakeside cabins.
The winter months, October to April, are dark and can be bitterly cold. Heavy snow closes interior roads and blizzards and whiteouts can occur. Though technically the low season, some visitors are happy to brave the bad weather in the hope of a clear night and a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Capital - Reykjavik
Size - 103,000 sq km
Language - Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German
Population - 315,281
Religion - Lutheran Church of Iceland (official), Roman Catholic, Reykjavik Free Church, Hafnarfijorour Free Church
Currency - Icelandic króna
Time zone - GMT +0
Flight time from the UK - 2.5 hours
Late January to early February - Þorrablót, Viking mid-winter feast
February - Winter Lights festival
March - Beer Day, celbration of the day in 1989 when prohibition in Iceland was overturned
April - Sumardagurinn Fyrsti, celebration of the first day of summer
May - Rekjavik Arts Festival
June - Sjómannadagurinn, Seafarers' Day
July - Listasumar á Akureyri, ten week summer arts festival in the nothern capital of Akureyri
August - Reykjavik Jazz Festival
September - Reykjavik Film Festival
October - Iceland Airways, festival dedicated to new music
November - Dagar Myrkurs, celebration of the onset of winter in East Iceland
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Passports must be valid for the full duration of your stay and for at least three months beyond the proposed stay.
The Iceladic króna (kr) is the official currency. Coins come in denominations 1kr, 5kr, 10kr, 100 kr; notes in denominations of 500kr, 1000kr, 2000kr and 5000kr.
ATMs are available at all times of the day in Rekjavik. Withdraw cash before leaving the capital as access to cash machines in more rural areas may be limited. There will likely be a small charge for foreign transactions, but exchange rates at ATMs are generally as good as you'll find anywhere else. Be sure to notify your bank of your travels to avoid them from blocking your card when an international transaction is made. Credit and bankcards are accepted at most shops, hotels, bars and restaurants.