***Reykjavik – quirky and reasonably interesting, with a colourful Viking history, clean air and little crime. Excellent, if expensive nightlife, but rather dull modernist architecture occasionally enlivened by graffiti. Reykjavik Photos
***South – the country’s most popular region for tourism containing two of its most famous attractions – Gulfoss fall and Strokkur geyser. Situated near to Reykjavik.
**West – some good features all within reasonable distance of Reykjavik, with Snaefell’s extinct volcano forming the most northerly part of the touristy Golden Triangle.
**North East – one of the better regions for things to see; the distance from Reykjavik keeps the rampaging hordes away.
*South East – this holds the southern flanks of Iceland’s largest ice cap Vatnajokull. It is also home to the country’s most excitable volcano, Lakr.
South West – the Reykjanes ‘Steamy’ Peninsula is home to the most northerly city in Europe, Reykjavik but is otherwise rather barren.
West Fjords – one of the most rugged regions of Iceland with many fjords and steep mountains. Excellent for bird life due to extensive cliffs.
North – one of the least interesting parts of the country with few attractions, though popular with bird watchers.
East – quiet with few tourists, but still very accessible and with relatively good weather. Boat arrivals from Europe often start here.
Central Highlands – an uninhabited wilderness area with mountains and glaciers as well as lava fields and geothermal sites but popular for glacier hiking, snowmobile tours, iceberg strewn Jokulsarlon Lake views and tours.
Third Thursday in April: First Day of Summer ‘Sumardagurinn Fyrsti’, mild partying and a carnival in Reykjavik.
First week in June: Sailor’s Day ‘Sjomannadagurinn’, watery competitions and partying in coastal villages.
June 17: Independence Day, mainly in Reykjavik, costumes, parades, street performers etc.
Beginning of August: Verslunarmannahelgi, camp based partying in Iceland’s car accessible scenic spots; extreme drinking and mayhem.
Self Driving, preferably in a 4WD vehicle, is a lot of fun outside winter and navigation is easy as you basically stick to the asphalt and circular Route 1, passing by stunning views of smoking volcanoes, snowy mountain peaks, mounds of mossy lava rocks, bubbling hot springs, black sand beaches, waterfalls, massive seabird colonies and much more. T
he trick is to take trips off the main road when things look interesting and that’s why you need 4WD. Once offroad start to look for walks, long or short. Taking a week would be about right. See below ‘Domestic Transport‘ for rental advice.
Walking and Hiking: pretty much everywhere is walkable with lots of interesting geological features but heavily leaning towards bleak and barren.
Nightlife: unbridled boozing and dancing in the clubs of Reykjavik, with live music also on tap.
Horse Trekking: local ponies are cute and calm, so trek into the wilderness regions on one.
Whale Watching: whales and dolphins can be seen, though mainly just the Minkes.
Rafting: widely available though naturally the water is extremely cold.
Geothermal Bathing: natural and man made pools (spas) – but geothermally supplied water – indoors and out. These are curative and social for most Icelanders.
Different pools have different curative powers – including arthritis, asthma and eczema.
Reykjavik’s outdoor Blue Lagoon is #1, rich in skin-healing properties such as salts, algae and silica.
Snowmobiles/skidoos: Spectacular scooter trails and tours in the Highlands just about all year.
Bird watching: varieties of ducks, puffins and other sea birds visible in the north, NE and SW.
Fishing: pricey salmon and trout fishing. Possible but not great.
Mountain Biking: Not good as the weather will deter most due to erratic winds and rain, with lava dust storms when dry. And if that’s not enough rocks are thrown up by passing traffic.
Climbing: lots of rock but quite flakey. Great glacier crossings and ice climbing.
Skiing: December – April, but if you want to ski for real why pay ridiculous prices for these second rate pistes?
Kronur is the local currency and you may need a fair amount for a week’s trip. Credit cards are commonly used, Traveller’s Cheques OK and ATMs plentiful in urban areas. Tipping is not necessary.