Written by By Staff Writer

Larger than most Central American nations, Iceland is as attractive to vacationers as a cultural adventure with spectacular wildlife. From the crags of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier to the emerald seas of Iceland's northwest, the island is renowned for its visually arresting landscapes and towering volcanoes.

CNN Travel went to Iceland to experience the culture and nature of this island nation that is brimming with under-the-radar attractions that won't overwhelm visitors.

The country is also known for serving up warm and hospitable hospitality that speaks to Icelanders' ingenuity and adventurous spirit.

"It's one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can see the northern lights just about anywhere," said Iceland Tourism information manager Hallgrimur Nelson.

With travel times to and from Reykjavik listed in the 60-minute to three-hour range, there's no need to ponder the long-haul flights from the US. Here's how to beat the plane-size wait -- a yearlong journey in Iceland might be the gift that keeps on giving.