Although conventional wisdom would suggest that Iceland inherited its name because of its climate, many people are surprised to find that this island is remarkably warm for its latitude. Indeed, thanks to the Gulf Stream, in winter, this breathtaking Nordic nation is often significantly milder than many locations much further south in Europe or North America, and only a few degrees colder, on average, than much of the UK.
Iceland is known for its substantial puffin population, and is home to numerous volcanoes that are now the source of more than 80% of the country's energy. In June and July, the north of the country receives constant daylight, which inspires many residents to partake in some midnight golf, even when the weather is less than ideal.
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The most northerly capital city in the world, Reykjavík was established in the late-18th century and is internationally renowned for its very high quality of life. If you're interested in learning about Icelandic history, spend some time at the National Museum, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 and tells the story of the country's origins and the island's Viking roots.
See the iconic Perland landmark with its superb revolving restaurant and enormous dome, and observe The Sun Voyager, a unique stainless steel dreamboat designed by the eminent Icelandic sculptor Jón Gunnar Árnason. Reykjavík is also celebrated for its vibrant nightlife, and boasts dozens of bustling bars, many of which do not become busy until the early hours, during weekends.
Visit the awe-inspiring Dynjandi waterfalls, then head to the Gullfoss, another enormous waterfall and canyon that is part of the acclaimed Golden Circle, a favoured route for hiking holidays in Iceland. Another attraction that should be on your must-see list is the Blue Lagoon, an extraordinary geothermal spa that is less than an hour's drive from the capital and maintains an average water temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.
When dining in Reykjavik, you can enjoy some delicious Scandinavian, fusion and Japanese cuisine at the Fiskmarkadurinn - The Fish Market, other wonderful seafood dishes at Resto, or some fabulous Bistro-themed dishes at Kaffivagninn. Other highly rated restaurants include the seafood-themed Noa restaurant in Akureyri, the Thai-inspired Thai Keflavik restaurant in Keflavik, and the Scandinavian- and international-themed Grimsborgir Restaurant in Selfoss.
Popular, high-end accommodation establishments include the chic Apotek Hotel and Kvosin Downtown Hotel in Reykjavik, and the charming Hotel Ranga in Hella. More budget-friendly places to stay include the boutique Fosshotel Eastfjords, Reykjavik's Kriunes Hotel, and the conveniently located Icelandair Hotel Akureyri in Akureyri.