Friday, 15 January 2016

Iceland

See the lights and sights ofextraordinary Iceland

Written by Wendy Gomersall
With its amazing lava fields and geysers, bubbling mud pots and glaciers, waterfalls and blue thermal baths, Iceland has to be one of the most fascinating places on Earth to visit. Following the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 and the subsequent ash-cloud problems, interest in the picturesque island and the number of tourists have rocketed. To cope with the additional visitors, there are new hotels, new attractions and, this coming summer, a new flight from the UK direct to a different side of Iceland.

travel-590-2Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital

The traditional route is via the airport at Keflavik, where you pick up a hire car on arrival to help you get around. Do stop off at the world-famous Blue Lagoon on the way from, or back to, the airport for a wallow in the lovely warm thermal waters – you can even have an underwater massage, a wonderfully relaxing experience.

Most first-time visitors spend a couple of nights in Reykjavik, the capital, for its museums, shops and restaurants. Icelandic musttries include smoked lamb, salt fish and Arctic char.

travel-590-3Gullfoss waterfall

From Reykjavik, the so-called Golden Circle of attractions is easily accessible, including the impressive Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Strokkur geysers and Thingvellir National Park and lake. Further afield, new attractions include the world’s largest man-made ice cave, allowing visitors to take a trip deep into Langjökull glacier.

Meanwhile, newer accommodation not far from Reykjavik includes the 43-room ION Luxury Adventure Hotel. It has a great spa with giant outdoor hot tub, and staff can also help to arrange activities such as hiking, swimming in hot springs, horse riding and glacier tours.

travel-590-4Go whale watching

If you’re planning a return trip or longer visit, however, the good news is that Iceland expert Discover the World is launching its own direct flight from Gatwick to Egilsstadir in the heart of the East Fjords, which will run from May to September. The region offers experiences for those who enjoy outdoors activities, from hiking and super-jeep safaris to the edge of the Vatnajökull icecap, to sea kayaking and other adventures. Husavik in the north is also the hub for whale watching. And, of course, there’s a great chance to see the unforgettable Northern Lights here.

Discover the World’s programme also has a number of self-drive itineraries and escorted tours.

Getting there Discover the World offers tailor-made holidays to Iceland. A three-night, selfdrive break costs from £739 per person, including flights, B&B at ION Luxury Adventure Hotel – www.ioniceland.is – and hire car. A three-night Fjord Escape to Egilsstadir costs from £565 per person. 01737-214291, www.discover-theworld.co.uk
 
Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk .
Prices correct at time of going to press.


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