Two-thirds of Icelanders live in or around our capital city, Reykjavik. Out in the countryside, it’s a whole different world. The Icelandic countryside is vast, and often sparsely populated. But don’t be fooled by the low population count — there’s a lot to see beyond the capital. In the countryside, you’ll find winding fjords, black sand deserts, lush valleys, and striking stretches of tundra. For those looking for a calmer pace of life, there’s no better place to be.

Farms have been a vital part of Icelandic culture ever since Viking settlement, and rural homesteads still flourish in the country. Many of the farms (and the families who live in them) go back generations. Though an increasing number of Icelandic farmers grow hardy varieties of produce, one of the most common sights in the countryside is livestock: sheep, cows, and, of course, horses. Fishing communities are an equally ubiquitous part of the coastal areas. All towns and villages can be found near the edges of our island, away from the massive glaciers and inhospitable mountains that make up the highlands.

The countryside is a regular destination for weary cityfolk in search of some peace and quiet. The untouched landscape and breathtaking scenery make it a welcome antidote to metropolitan life. When driving through the country, you’re likely to see backpackers and horseback riders venturing out across lava fields or alongside tranquil streams. The elements are keenly felt out here, and the weather can be a challenge for the uninitiated. But Icelanders have been living in these areas for over a thousand years. By respecting nature and building strong communities, the Icelandic countryside remains a vibrant,