10 photos explaining why the world is so in love with Iceland

CC BY 2.0 TreeHugger

No passport required for this armchair traveler’s trip to the land of fire and ice.

According to the Icelandic Tourist Board (otherwise known as Ferðamálastofa), the number of tourists visiting the land of fire and ice was 189,796 in 1995; 30 years later, Iceland welcomed 1,289,140 visitors. The numbers for 2016 are expected to shoot through the roof.

So why the big draw to this tiny Nordic island nation? National Geographic reckons that it’s kind of a Goldilocks situation:

A 2013 tourism report showed that as global incomes have risen, people with newly disposable incomes have been attracted to places that are far, but not too far, exotic, but not Antarctica, and yet still economically and politically stable. Add a unique but not punishing climate, and ecotourism features like the stunning aurora borealis and the opportunity to literally walk between two continents – North America and Europe – and you get a recipe for tourism that speaks to millions, if not billions, of people.

Add to that a 1000-year history – but one that doesn’t come with, say, a mad crush of people taking selfies with the Mona Lisa – and what we have is a perfect destination that is loaded with charm but still feels fresh.

But aside from all of that, the place is just gorgeous. It’s a feast of natural wonders; it has the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is rugged and graceful, wild and serene. Economists and tourism experts can posit all kinds of theories about why Iceland has become the travel world’s darling, but we think we can sum it up with the following.

1. Icelandic horses

2. Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls

3. Waterfalls with bonus rainbows

4. Ice caves!

5. Geysers

6. Glacier lagoons

7. Volcanic drama

8. Aurora Borealis extraordinaire

9. Old-school turf houses

Icelandjackmac34/Public Domain

10. Volcanoes with rainbows

Right? And these are just a few of the reasons that Iceland has taken the world by storm.

See more to love here:
Icelandic turf houses are old-school green with a Viking twist (photos)
The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve

And how could we forget! Lessons in living with less on Iceland's Laugavegurinn hiking trail

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