Formed on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge less than 18 million years ago, Iceland remains a hot spot of geothermal activity with innumerable hot springs and geysers, as well as glacial rivers, thundering waterfalls and razor-sharp lava fields. The island has fewer than 330,000 inhabitants, and it is possible to drive for hours on the main 830-mile Ring Road without seeing a soul, although visitor numbers have surged since the economic downturn of 2008. Travelers invariably pass through Reykjavík, the capital, which is filled with colorful buildings and quirky modern designs. The principal reason for a visit to Iceland, however, is its great outdoors. From Reykjavík, three of the country’s most spectacular natural wonders can be visited easily in a day’s drive around the popular “Golden Circle.”

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