Skiing is Iceland’s most popular winter sport.
Ski resorts offering both cross country skiing and downhill skiing
can be found throughout the country. Many Alpine style resorts are
situated near Akureyri (Hlítharfjall), Ísafjörður
and Reykjavík (Bláfjöll).
These resorts are equipped with typical lifts and
facilities. Several good ski slopes are just 30 minutes drive from
Reykjavík. The main skiing season is generally from January
until May or June. Summer skiing is achievable on the glaciers.
Myrdalsjókull also has a ski lift which is open throughout
summer. Equipment hire is accessible in resorts.
Bathing, and even covering yourself with the mineral rich
mud is possible in the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavík,
heated by geothermal springs. The Blue Lagoon is situated in the
middle of a lava field in the Icelandic wilderness and is known
for its special properties and beneficial effect on the skin. The
warm waters of the lagoon, approximately 35 °C (90 °F) all
year round, are 1 of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions.
A further natural spring is Krysuvik. Most cities
and towns have outdoor and indoor pools filled with water from natural
hot springs (water temperature in the pools averages around 29 °C
/ 85 °F). Numerous places also have saunas, jacuzzis and hot
pots with water temperatures of up to 44 °C / 112 °F.
Play golf during the Midnight Sun period (end of
May to the beginning of August), there is something supreme about
playing golf at 3.00 am when the sun is still high in the sky. The
Akureyri Golf Club in the north hosts the yearly Arctic Open International
Golf Tournament, a competition at the end of June which climaxes
with a tee off at midnight continuing until the early morning hours.
Bird watching in the Westmann Islands is particularly
good for spotting seabirds as well as being home to the world’s
largest puffin population. Lake Myvatn in northern Iceland is apparently
the most fertile spot on the globe at that latitude and is also
a favourite breeding ground for several species of birdlife, particularly
Southern Iceland is famous
for its great skua colony living on the sands. Latrabjarg in the
Western Fjords is the largest bird cliff in the world, where the
biggest colony of Razorbills in the world can be found. There are
safari and Puffin Island tours run from Reykjavík harbour.
On Skjalfandi Bay lies the town of Husavik, which is becoming Europe’s
major whale watching centre. Tours to other spots around
the coast are largely available. Minke, humpback and killer whales,
seals and dolphins can be seen.
When the Vikings created Iceland’s (and the world’s)
1st Parliament in 930, 1 of their acts was to prohibit further import
of horses. Over 10 centuries later, the Icelandic horse breed remains
pure. This small but sturdy and sure-footed horse is known for its
friendliness and willingness to carry riders over even the roughest
terrain. Horses are available for hire near most
towns, with experienced guides if necessary.
Take a safari in the mountainous interior of the Central
Highlands in particularly constructed overland buses. These
are camping tours, and tents are supplied. Sleeping bags can be
rented or bought. Visitors are recommended to take hiking shoes,
warm clothing, rubber boots and swimsuits for bathing in the warm
pools. The tours go through lava beds, sandy deserts and barren
wilderness, passing glacial lakes with floating icebergs, mountain
ranges, cvast icefields, glaciers, revasses and extinct volcanoes,
plus Skaftafell National Park. Tours range from all in package tours
or a 1 or 2 day trip.