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.
Take a whale watching cruise - Holidays in Iceland will be heaven for nature lovers, especially if you're keen on majestic cetaceans like minke, humpback, or even killer whales. From April through October, boats leave Reykjavik and Akureyri, providing gasp-inducing sights of these marine marvels on almost every voyage.
Saddle up for a horseback tour - Back on dry land, forget about 4x4s or wearing out your hiking boots: Iceland is best seen from the back of a horse or pony. Take a ride through wildflower fields, black volcanic beaches, and along wild fjords, to really get a feel for Iceland's unique environment (and make a new friend at the same time).
Guzzle some gourmet cuisine in [a href=""https://www.lastminute.com/holidays/iceland/reykjavik""]Reykjavik[/a] - - Iceland's capital is famous as a culinary destination. Benefiting from seafood fresh from the Atlantic, locally-reared meat and game, the city's chefs have crafted an outstandinng dining scene. From moose carpaccio to minke whale steaks, you'll find irresistible dishes that aren't available anywhere else.
National parks in Iceland
Iceland is famous for its natural landscapes. Even if you’re staying in the city, you’ll be sure to see some amazing scenery. But the best way to take in country’s beauty is with an Iceland national park holiday. The country has three national parks, including Thingvellir - home to the world’s oldest parliament - and Snæfellsjökull, which includes fascinating sights like volcanoes and black sandy beaches. Perhaps the most spectacular though is Vatnajökull, which takes its name from a vast glacier at its heart, and covers more than 10% of Iceland’s total landmass – making it the second largest national park in Europe.
Top sights in Iceland
Vatnajokull - Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajokull is a whole lot more than a slab of slow-moving ice. Tour mesmerising ice caves, rev up for snowmobile treks, and see the ""diamond beach"" with its tiny icebergs. It's ano wonder the glacier has been used in films like Interstellar.
Skogafoss - Plunging 60 metres from a glacial plateau, Skogafoss is probably the most spectacular waterfall in Iceland. In a country packed with memorable cascades, that's saying something. It's a visual and sonic experience to remember at all times, but visit when the sun shines and you'll witness the waterfall's famous double-rainbow effect. It's unforgettable (and extremely shareable on social media).
Westfjords - Located on a peninsular to the west of the island, the Westfjords is a self-contained array of natural attractions. In summer, you can swim at Rauðasandur beach, take a dip at Krossholt hot springs, or see the vast seabird colonies at Látrabjarg cliffs. The recreated Viking village at Þingeyri is a fascinating window into the past, while the area's capital Ísafjörður is a bewitching historical port with direct access to the desolate but beautiful Hornstrandir nature reserve.
Visit the awe-inspiring Dynjandi waterfalls;
Gullfoss, another enormous waterfall and canyon that is part of the acclaimed Golden Circle, a favoured route for hiking.
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.
Best time of the year to visit Iceland
If you're considering visiting Iceland with your family, summer is probably the best time to visit. The warmest weather for holidays in Iceland generally arrives in July and August, as well as long daylight hours. Both months are great for horse riding or waterfall excursions. However, if you're after cheap holidays in Iceland, off-season breaks are preferable. Try booking from January to May for cut-price accommodation. And if you want a romantic break, Christmas is an option, too. Sure, it's cold, but Reykjavik caters for a festive crowd with ice skating, markets, and exceptional food.
How to get to Iceland
Iceland is separated from the UK by 850 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, so there's only really one travel option: flying. Fortunately, flights arrive at Keflavik Airport from Edinburgh, Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Luton and Glasgow all year-round. Flights take around 3 hours 15 minutes, and when you book Iceland holidays deals can keep travel and accommodation costs low. So it's an easy destination to reach. Even better, there's no time difference between the UK and Iceland.
Iceland is known for
Seafaring Vikings, bloody sagas, the Northern Lights, cosy sweaters, the music of Bjork, courageous footballers - Iceland means a lot of things to different people. But the nation is probably most famous among travellers due to its exquisite coastline, glaciers, and waterfalls, as well as its thermal pools, and almost treeless, otherworldy environment. Nowadays, you can add in a globally-respected food culture and a cosmopolitan culture which makes every visitor feel right at home. So it's a destination with plenty to offer, that's for sure.