Iceland--land of fire and ice.
Iceland is glorious both summer and winter. Rent a car, hit the ring road. 300,000 or so people with over two-thirds living in the capital of Reykjavik. The rest of the country is served by one, two-lane ring road--and it's not fully paved. A land of farms, sheep run free in the summers and present an interesting problem on the highway. Tiny villages at the end of endless fjords. The island country is 99% energy self-sufficient with hundreds of waterfalls large and small, geothermal springs that bubble up everywhere and streams run hot. Even small farms have their own electrical turbines set in the local waterfall and thermal heat for their homes and greenhouses.
Iceland is a technology hub with a highly educated and very liberal population. English is widely spoken, especially in Reykjavik, and the internet reaches even the smallest villages and farms. It is extremely safe and easy for a tourist to rent a car and travel throughout the country alone, staying in guest houses in tiny villages and on the farms. Don't miss the glorious, all glass opera house (Harpa) in Reykjavik. Two hours from Europe by plane, magnificent talent, operas, rock--see it all. We go at least once each visit.
Summers are mild and the population hits the road--along with you and the sheep. Icebergs still roll in the surf on the black sand beaches. Public swimming pools and hot tubs are warmed 24/7 by thermal springs. Guest houses abound.
Winters are glorious--and very unpredictable. Icelanders say wait 10 minutes or drive 10 kilometers and the weather will change--radically and rapidly. And we certainly found that to be so. We helped locals dig out of snow drifts on the highway on more than one occasion--we never got stuck. The wind blows, but the wind stops and amazing, clear, blue, clean skies pop up for a day--or two. It is still very easy and safe to rent a car and drive yourself--just be prudent and watch the sky! At night, you have a good chance to see the Northern Lights. Oh, and carry a shovel or two. in the car--just in case you need to be a good neighbor along the way.
Definitely put this on your easy-to-do bucket list. It is not a cheap place to visit, but well worth saving for the trip. Stay off tourist buses, drive yourself, do the whole island in the summer, and go in the winter as well. I will go back again and again.