Iceland - a vast Nordic island located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - is known to be the most sparsely populated country in all of Europe, with a rough and unique geography featuring geologically-active areas, endless lava fields, misty mountains and pure glacial rivers steaming with salmon and trout.
In many ways Iceland is a filmmaker's and photographer's paradise. People only need to visit once, and they fall in love with the country. In recent year several major Hollywood productions have shot in Iceland using the beautiful landscapes and scenic backdrops for their movies.
Some of the more well-known productions include: HBO's popular Medieval fantasy TV series Game Of Thrones, the adventure film by Ben Stiller titled The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Tom Cruise's Oblivion, and latest the high-profile Hollywood feature Noah directed by Darren Aronofsky. The story of Noah (played by Russell Crowe), is a story about a man who is suffering from visions of a forthcoming apocalyptic flood. He starts acting on the belief that he is doing what God wants him to do and he begins to construct an enormous ark so that he can save as much life as possible in the wake of the world's new beginning.
The story of Noah proved to fit perfectly within the Icelandic landscapes, so most of the film was subsequently shot in Iceland in all kinds of rough weather. However, Iceland features a lot more than the endless landscapes shown in the big budget Hollywood productions. Iceland has some of the best salmon fishing in the world, some of the purest drinking water, and a rich wildlife including whales, seals, rare birds such as eagles, but also northern lights in the winter and sun almost all 24 hours a day during summer. It is truly a photographer's paradise.
However, Iceland caters to all kinds of visitors and especially foodies with an urge to try some of the best lamb or fish in the world should also find themselves busy when in Iceland. Trying the healthy dinner recipes that the country has to offer is truly a unique experience. But not only does Iceland feature great meets, it also has a variety of healthy vegetarian recipes to sample mainly in the capital Reykjavik.
The top three main attractions of Iceland include:
The Blue Lagoon - an outdoor spa of geothermal water that originates from 2,000 meters below the surface. Here freshwater and seawater combine at high temperatures. It is then harnessed through drilling holes at a local geothermal power plant, in order to make electricity and hot water for nearby communities. It is truly a unique place on earth and a trip to Iceland would not be complete without visiting the Blue Lagoon.
Thingvellir - a beautiful national park less than one hours drive from Reykjavik. Thingvellir is a site of major historical, cultural, and geological importance to Iceland. Because of this, it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations. First and foremost it is the site of a rift valley that clearly marks the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is in fact one of the few places on earth at which such a sight is clearly visible. However, it is also home to a vast wild life and the Thinvallavatn, which is the largest natural lake in all of Iceland.
The Glacial lake of Jökulsárlón - is a huge glacial lake in the southeast of Iceland. It is on the edge of one of the main national parks of the country and a very dramatic sight to most visitors. Originally the glacier in the area developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic ocean. This very unique lake has hence grown to it's present size due to the melting ice. At this point in time it is deepest lake in Iceland and is at the same time considered to be one of the natural wonders of Iceland.
Julie Karla is a well-known gastronome and international food journalist and founder of Karla's Nordic Kitchen, and creator of the healthy carrot cake recipe based on Nordic ingredients.