Iceland tourism continues to pick up the pace

For those in the know, Iceland has been an appealing destination for years.

For those in the know, Iceland has been an appealing destination for years. Its culture, history, landscape and friendly people make for a great vacation spot. The country offers a distinct contrast between vast uninhabited stretches of stunning natural beauty and the bustling urban life in the capital. Now, however, the secret of the country's charm is out. Tourism to Iceland is increasing, led by U.S. citizens flying into and out of Reykjavik, according to a new report.

According to a story from Turisti.is, translated by Skift.com, tourism to Iceland is skyrocketing. In 2014, the number of visitors to the country rose by 24 percent, totaling 300 percent of the country's population. Last month, tourists increased by 36 percent year-over-year, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board. U.S. citizens make up for most of this increase, and Turisti.is thinks it knows why: Flights from Keflavik Airport to the U.S. rose by 47 percent in May. 

"In May last year Icelandair was the only airline offering flights from Iceland to the U.S. and they had 218 departures to their U.S. destinations during that month," Kristjan Sigurjonsson, publisher of Turisti.is, said. "Now we had Delta and WOW air operating as well."

Iceland gains recognition as an ideal destination

Recently, Fodor's published a list of places to visit this summer, and Iceland was near the top. The publication extolled the virtues of the country's outdoor activities, like swimming and horseback riding, and the long summer days that give visitors such a long time to enjoy them. It also mentioned the many restaurants, hotels and natural features that draw people to Iceland. The increasing availability of flights to enjoy the country combined with its appeal overall may be set to create even more of a tourist boom.

Get off the beaten path

If you want to see Iceland, consider doing it in a way most tourists won't. Taking a cruise instead of flying into the capital and staying there will give you a broader view of the country - one even the most dedicated tourists may not have seen before. As Reykjavik is the population center of Iceland, it's easy not to leave it. However, there are charming towns along the coast that you shouldn't miss, as well as plenty of history, mythology and folklore to get to know that is a little more apparent outside the city.