Home of the capital, Reykjavík and the majority of the island’s population
Sparsely populated, rugged geography
Snæfellsjökull glacier, the islands of Breiðafjörður and more
Dramatic lava fields, turbulent waterfalls
More fjords and the only international passenger ferry terminal
Home to the most popular tourist attractions, including the Golden Circle
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Cities and towns
- Reykjavik (REYG-ya-veeg) — the capital of Iceland and is the largest city
- Akureyri (Ahk-oo-rey-ree) — capital of the North and the largest town outside the Southwest
- Egilsstaðir (AY-yell-stath-er) — main town in the East, has some of the best weather Iceland has to offer
- Hafnarfjörður (HAP-nar-FYERTH-er) — cosy town on the outskirts of the capital region
- Höfn (HERP’n) — main town on the southeastern coast
- Húsavík (HOOS-ah-veek) — one of the world’s most reliable whale watching sites during the summer
- Keflavik (KEP-la-veek) — the location of the international airport, but also an interesting town in its own right
- Ísafjörður (EES-ah-FYERTH-er) — biggest town of the West fjords of Iceland
- Selfoss (SEL-fos) — South Iceland’s largest town, hub of the main agricultural region
- Stykkishólmur (STICK-is-hole-mur) — Main town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, gateway to the islands of Breiðafjörður
- Seyðisfjörður (SEY-ths-fjorth-ur) — A town and municipality in the Eastfjords of Iceland
- Vestmannaeyjar (Vest-manna-ayhjar) — A cluster of islands and town and municipality in the south of Iceland
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Polaroid artisan flannel, meh butcher tote bag McSweeney’s.
It’s a shame most visitors don’t stray far from the capital as some of the most memorable sights in Iceland are further afield. There are many excursions offered by tour companies, readily available from any of the main centres such as Reykjavík and Akureyri. They will fly you around and take you out to the glaciers and to the big volcanoes for a reasonable price. However, the cheapest option is to drive around with a rented car since none of these sites have entry fees.
- Þingvellir National Park (pronounced “THING-vet-lihr”) – National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site 30-50km (20-30 mi) east of Reykjavík. Interesting for a number of reasons: Not only is it the original site of the longest running parliament in the world (the name literally means ‘parliamentary fields’), it’s also where the North-American and European continental shelf plates are being torn apart.
- Vatnajökull National Park (VAT-nah-yer-CUDDLE) – Iceland’s newest national park was founded on 7 June 2008 and includes the former Skaftafell and Jokulsargljufur National Parks. Vatnajökull National Park is Europe’s largest national park at 12,000km², covering about 12 percent of the surface of Iceland. The park is home to Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur, largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and Europe’s largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, Dettifoss.
- Snæfellsjökull National Park (SNY-fetls-yer-CUDDLE) – Located on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, this park is home to the ice-covered volcanic crater that was the setting for Jules Verne’s book Journey to the Center of the Earth.
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