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Iceland The Globe Travel Guide
© David Williams

Reykjavík: visiting the city and taking trips from it


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The geyser Strokkur erupts frequently, providing a wonderful spectacle for all photographers.
The Blue Lagoon in Reykjanes, where the warm water attracts hordes of swimmers and others who want only to laze about.
The glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón, one of Iceland`s most beautiful places.

The "Golden Circle" is the classic one-day tour named after the country`s most beautiful waterfall, Gullfoss. This name means "golden falls" as it usually sports a rainbow when the sun is shining. Thingvellir, which is beside the lake of Thingvallavatn, is also visited. The country`s parliament was established there in 930, a spectacular setting below the 50m-wide gorge of Almannagjá which is widening by two centimetres a year as the European and American continents drift away from each other. The tour`s other major attraction is Geysir, the (now dormant) waterspout after which all geysers are named. Beside it is Strokkur, which sends a column of warm water ten to twenty metres into the air every few minutes.

The "Blue Lagoon" is one of the country`s most recent (and most bizarre) attractions and is actually a pool of (slightly salty) run-off water from a geothermal power station. It is wonderfully warm, bright blue in colour (due to solid particles suspended in it) and is known to give relief to people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The lagoon is on Reykjanes peninsula and only a short distance from the country`s international airport at Keflavík. Tours to the "Blue Lagoon" often visit Krísuvík, where there are mudpools and steam vents.

Despite its name, only 11% of the country is covered with ice but Vatnajökull is the world`s third-largest ice-cap, after Antarctica and Greenland. From Reykjavík, it is possible to fly to Höfn (on the east coast) and then take a bus to Skálafellsjökull, a valley glacier that descends from Vatnajökull. The route is up a narrow mountain track with lots of hairpin bends — no wonder a four-wheel drive bus is used! Once at the glacier, a snowcat takes you to a high vantage point from which you can gaze over the glacier and down to the sea; you can also ride on a skidoo and hurtle yourself over the snow at 50kmph (thoroughly recommended!). In the afternoon, the bus goes to the glacial lake of Jökulsárlón where a small boat plies its way past massive icebergs that have calved off the glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. Once you`ve experienced all this snow and ice you`ll be ready for Laugardalur`s hot-pots!

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