Martin goes to Iceland

Iceland's profile as a tourist destination has been growing rapidly over the last few years. Ironically the volcanic ash cloud that grounded so many flights in April 2010 helped put them on the radar of many people looking to go somewhere different. So, when I was given the chance to go there in September on a familiarisation trip I jumped at the chance.

Reykjavik has become a popular city break as the amount of flights has increased and the cost brought down accordingly. It’s a fun place to stay and many of the best known sights such as Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur Geysir and Langjokull Glacier can be reached from there on a day tour. Some of the best whale watching trips go out from the harbour at Reykjavik offering an excellent chance of seeing both whales and dolphins as well as evening trips to see the Northern Lights.

We were lucky enough to have five nights in the country which meant four full days sight–seeing. That may seem a lot but I would urge anybody to go for longer. We saw the South West corner and left all too aware of what more there was to see along the South coast, up in the West Fjords and for those with even longer, the remote East and North coasts.

The other decision is when to go? If asked, Icelanders will say all year round as each season offers something different. Spring and summer means longer days and are the best time for seabirds and whales (apart from orcas which are usually seen in the winter). September is the beginning of the Northern Lights season, we saw them on each of our last three evenings (sorry, trying not to be smug but they were fantastic). For many people though, the winter is when this land of snow and ice is at its best and most unique. Be warned though, they do get a bit of weather but that almost seems part of the experience.

There are also many ways to enjoy Iceland. We were lucky enough to be the guests of Superjeep. Their vehicles can go where others can't and it's great fun doing so. The guides are a huge part of the experience too and a chance to get to know the human side of Iceland. Many people choose to hire a car which allows you to stop and photograph at will. Alternatively, there are escorted tours. Or, why not do a combination of these?

There are various activities for those who want them such as hiking, fishing, birdwatching and horse–riding. However, there are some attractions now that may be uniquely Icelandic. Visiting the glacier has been transformed as an activity by a tunnel bored down into it allowing you to walk inside it. Furthermore to get to the tunnel entrance you can go by snow mobile if you choose. When I return I want to go down in a cage into the heart of the Thrihnukagigur Volcano or snorkel in between the tectonic plates. There are various spas using natural hot springs to be enjoyed including the famous Blue Lagoon, but also some smaller and less touristy offerings.

Iceland has increasingly featured in films and music videos, most notably in recent times in Game of Thrones which has in turn generated some visitors. If you want to see what life is really like “north of the Wall” then this is the place to be. I confess I did miss out on a waterfall in order to see the Entrance to the Vale.

I confess I went with few expectations as to the cuisine in the way I might of say, France or Italy. So, it is all the nicer to report back that the food was superb. Sea food and lamb are the specialties but everything we had was excellent. Yes, alcohol is expensive but not prohibitively so for a glass or two.

All in all a fantastic destination that left me wanting more. To be continued….

I travelled courtesy of ITC/Regent Holidays, Super Jeep and various hotels. Many thanks to all of them for a great trip.

For more information or to book a city break, northern lights trip, group tour or fly drive please contact Martin on 01473 610666 or email

Waterfalls, glaciers, puffins, whales, rainbows and the Northern Lights...

Iceland City Breaks:

Enjoy a 3 night city break in Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital, from £495 per person...

Iceland Northern Lights Holidays: Experience the Northern Lights from £685 per person...
Iceland Group Tours: Take the stress out of your journey with someone else at the wheel from £875 per person...
Iceland Fly Drive Holidays: Discover Iceland's natural beauty at your own pace from £685 per person....


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