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Extensive travel and tourism guide for Iceland, Europe

keflavikurflugvollur - South-Iceland

Southwest and South Iceland put you straight in touch with the twin delights of nature and culture, right on the capital´s doorstep. In less than an hour you´re in the heart of completely different worlds - though you could spend weeks exploring them to the full. The whole region is easy for travelling on a wide range of organized tours as well as by ordinary car.

Rugged and moss-grown lava fields, some only a few centuries old, greet visitors arriving at Keflavík Airport and spread right across the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula.

Coupled with its interesting shores, bird life and whale watching opportunities, southwest Iceland makes an ideal place for a day tour from Reykjavík or on a stopover, for visitors who don´t have time to explore the region in depth.

Geothermal activity is also very much in evidence, in natural hot springs such as Krýsuvík and especially at the Blue Lagoon spa, on of Iceland´s top favourites with visitors.

South Iceland offers a variety of day tours from the capital too, and its "Golden Circle" is a real must for sightseers. its centerpiece is Þingvellir national park, a masterpiece of nature and also known as Iceland´s national shrine for its unique historical role. Other Golden Circle highlights include the mighty Gullfoss ("Golden Falls") and the geothermal fields of Geysir which have given the world the word "geyser" to describe spouting springs, plus views af active volcano Mt. Hekla on the way.

Off the south coast, Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands) are reachable by ferry (3 hours) or plane (20 minutes by scheduled propjet from Reykjavík, only 6 minutes by small plane from the south coast). Ideal for either a day-trip or a longer stay, Vestmannaeyjar is a particular favourite with bird watchers. Charming villages on the south coast include Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki with their beautifully preserved old houses, and Vík, the base for cruises through the "natural doorway" through Dyrhólaey cliff.

History and heritage are everywhere in south Iceland, too, spanning the whole range from the Saga Age farm at Stöng and the Njál´s Saga Exhibition Centre at Hvolsvöllur, to the old bishop´s seat of Skálholt and the regional folk museum at Skógar, probably the most comprehensive of its kind in the country.

At the region´s eastern boundary, the Lakagígar crater series inland from Kirkjubæjarklaustur deserves an admiring but respectful look - it produced the largest lava flow ever witnessed in historical times anywhere in the world, during the Skaftá eruption of 1783.

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