Iceland is known as the ‘land of fire and ice’, thanks to its dramatic spouting geysers, elusive Northern Lights and naturally hot lagoons. But natural beauty aside, there’s plenty to see and do in the capital city Reykjavik, as well as horse treks, boat trips and bike rides – whoever you travel with.
Eat like a local by seeking out Icelandic delicacies. Look for hverabrauð (‘hot springs bread’) which is a dark, rye-like bread cooked using the heat from a natural spring over many hours. For dessert try skyr, a type of soft cheese similar to yogurt with a slightly sour taste. It’s wonderful with Icelandic blueberries – especially when you consider that it’s naturally low in fat, full of protein and rich in calcium.
No trip to Iceland would be complete without seeing the Northern Lights. Floating Tours take you by jeep out to a secret lagoon where you can float in the warm water, listen to Icelandic music, and hopefully see the sky turn shades of green, pink and blue. To stand the best chance of seeing them, don’t visit from April-September when it’s too light. Tours take six hours including travel.
- If you’re a solo traveller, please inform Floating Tours when you book. Tours cost 26,900kr per adult. To book, call 00 354 7734444 or visit www.floatingtours.com
With your partner
The surrounding wetlands around Lake Mývatn in the north of the country are a haven for wildfowl. There’s even a sweet museum dedicated to our feathered friends. The Sigurgeirs Bird Museum has taxidermy specimens of breeding birds, as well as interactive guides and telescopes.
- Entrance is 1,000kr for adults, 500kr for children. Call 00 354 4644477 or visit www.fuglasafn.is
Warm yourself up whatever the weather with a trip to Mývatn Nature Baths. A naturally-warm (36-40°C) outdoor pool, it’s open daily all year-round. Aside from the health benefits of the sulphurous water (thought to help with respiratory problems) you can indulge in an in-water massage. Just remember to store any jewellery in the changing room lockers, as the water can blacken brass and silver. And if you forget anything, towels, dressing gowns and even bathing costumes are available to rent.
- Tickets start at 3,000kr for adults. Massages start from 4,000kr. Call 00 354 4644411 or visit www.jardbodin.is/en
With the grandchildren
For a cosy stay, take them to the family-friendly Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura. There are all sorts of activities to enjoy, including a bedtime story session on Thursday nights. Guests can snuggle up in their pyjamas and listen to Icelandic folk tales while sipping hot chocolate.
- Visit www.icelandairhotels.com
Get to know Iceland’s capital city by hiring bikes – or even take a cycling tour. Reykjavik Bike Tours will accommodate even the youngest of cyclists (they will pace a tour around its slowest member) and can lend various accessories such as helmets. You can even rent a tandem. For a longer day, there are tours combining van travel and cycling which take in local waterfalls and the coastline.
- Prices start at 3,500kr. Call 00 354 6948956, or visit www.icelandbike.com
Animal lovers will adore Iceland’s native horses – especially this small, friendly breed at Ishestar Riding Centre in Hafnarfjörður, six miles south of Reykjavik. Young riders can sit on a calm horse for a 30-minute hack while novice riders can be led on a lead rein. Confident, older riders can enjoy a three-hour trek through lava fields with spectacular views guaranteed. There are also other animals to meet from dogs to rabbits. B Tour costs 8,650kr, children’s rides cost 6,830kr. To book call 00 354 5557000 or visit www.ishestar.is
One of the best ways to experience rural Iceland (rugged landscapes, multitudes of birds and – fingers crossed – the Northern Lights) is to escape into the countryside. If you’re in a small group, one fun way to do this is by hiring a car and staying in a self-catered cottage out in the wilds. Iceland Farm Holidays has rental properties across the country, but we’ve heard that the small cottages at the Fagrahlíð farm in the south are highly-recommended for their views of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier.
- For more information call 00 354 5702700 or visit www.farmholidays.is/accommodation
Around 19 miles from the farm cottages are the incredible seljalandsfoss waterfalls with their striking 200ft drop. If you tread carefully – and don’t mind getting drizzled – you can even follow a trail to walk behind the falls, for a once-in-a-lifetime perspective.Travel south to the Landeyjahöfn ferry terminal and take a boat trip to the Westman Islands. There’s lots to see and do, but our favourite is the native puffins. Or take a natural history tour, a boat ride or horse trek, go swimming, or visit the museum.
- For more information visit www.visitwestmanislands.com
We’ve included the dialling code from the UK to Iceland if you want to book ahead of your trip. Remember international call charges apply. Calls from mobiles may be much higher. Exchange rate for Icelandic Kroner at time of printing, £1=204kr
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