It might be called the Isle of Ice, but Iceland has much more to offer than frozen rivers, lakes, and glaciers (though you will find many scattered across the country's 40,000 square miles). The island nation is home to some of the most diverse terrain per area in the world, featuring enough waterfalls, beaches, hot springs, warm rivers, glacial pools, and volcanoes to satiate any nature lover's palette.

But Iceland's wonder doesn't stop there. Part of the country's charm is its people, a warm and friendly population of 300,000 with roots in Scandinavia and Great Britain. Because of their proximity to the ocean (no one is farther than two hours from the water), Icelanders have an undying love and respect for the sea. Though tourism recently overtook fishing as the island's main industry, thick Merino wool sweaters and heaping plates of fresh fish argue that Iceland's roots will never stray far from the sea.

For years pegged as a layover for European-bound travelers, Iceland is just a five-hour flight from New York City and a seven-hour direct shot from Seattle. Next time you're looking to escape to Europe, don't overlook an extended stay in Iceland; adventure is closer than you think.

Need more reasons to visit? Check out The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, out on DVD and Blu-ray now.

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