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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Iceland

Iceland Holidays

The Land of Fire and Ice comes complete with volcanoes, glaciers, and of course, the Northern Lights, Iceland is renowned for its natural wonders. Reykjavik, the island's capital by contrast is a bustling vibrant city, filled with restaurants, shops and spas, and has a chilled music and arts scene.

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Iceland, where the extraordinary becomes the ordinary

Maybe it's because of its stunning natural beauty, its shifting tectonic plates or its volcanic landscape but Iceland is a land of constant surprises. Look to the skies and you'll be able to see the Northern Lights, look to the ground and you'll notice geysers or even a geothermal field.

Perhaps it's not so unusual that the flamboyantly individual singer and musician, Bjork, comes from Iceland. After all, this is a country that was settled by the Norse and has retained its spirit of originality and rugged determination.

Where to stay in Iceland

Reykjavik
ReykjavikView on Map

The nation's capital is also its biggest hub of activity. The city is home to fantastic hotels, soothing spas, a busy harbour area and countless nightspots.

As well as the culture and community of the city, Reykjavik is a great base to explore the surrounding nature of Iceland. From Reykjavik you're encouraged to discover the waterfalls, caves and volcanoes that are all accessible via car hire, taxis or guided tours.

This city provides ideal opportunities to replenish your energy in a hot spring or spa before expelling it while hiking around the mountainous terrain.

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  • Icelandic Króna
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Overwhelmed by natural beauty

You may be overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of Iceland's natural beauty. Winter temperatures can reach as low as -30°C in the far north, but the heat from the island's natural thermal springs and its bursting geysers will keep you warm.

The Blue Lagoon thermal spa is less than a half hour drive away from Reykjavik. If you want to spend some time in its fantastically hot waters and take in some of the massage and other therapeutic treatments, you'll have to book in advance.

Exploring Iceland

There are regular tours that leave Reykjavik for other parts of the island so you can include some exciting activities in your Iceland holiday. Some package holidays even include excursions within the price, so be sure to check before booking.

Dettifoss, a six-hour drive away is home to the largest waterfall in Europe, and is also an excellent destination to catch nature's very own firework displays – the Northern Lights. In fact you can spot these heavenly light shows all around Iceland, though you have a better chance of seeing them in the countryside rather than the city.

Or you can try and feel the earth moving beneath your feet when you take a 35-minute drive away from Reykjavik and head out to Thingvellir National Park, where the planet's tectonic plates are very slowly moving apart. There are some extraordinary fissures, rifts and rivers in this unusual landscape.

If you're a golf player you can play at one of the world's most unusual courses by heading to the north of the island. Land of the Midnight Sun, is where you could play a couple of rounds in the middle of the night, thanks to Iceland's geographical position close to the Arctic Circle.

Small city with a big heart

Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, is where most of the package holidays to Iceland will take you. It may be small in size and in population but that's definitely a bonus. And the city still rocks, with activities ranging from the quirky to the traditional.

For examples of Icelandic artists head to Reykjavik Art Museum or the country's national gallery. Or simply wander around central Reykjavik – often referred to by its postcode as 101 – which is the place to spot the iconic, the unusual and the curious.

Given the early Norse love of literature, it's not surprising that Reykjavik is a UNESCO City of Literature. Be prepared to spot citizens reading their work, or that of others, on city benches or wherever they can find a perch.

Exciting nightlife

Whether you visit a nightclub, music venue or bar, be prepared to have an energetic night in Reykjavik – you probably won't reach your bed until the early hours of the following morning. Reykjavik has a flourishing night scene, mainly based around the 101 district.

Bjork was born in the city and much of the music echoes her distinctive, quirky vibe. Many bars don't open until midnight so you may want to catch a meal or snack to fortify yourself before the long night's pleasure ahead.

Food with a difference

The hotels that will give you a choice of international menu favourites, as well as being able to try the local cuisine. Indeed, when exploring Reykyavik, you'll see that restaurants cater for all kinds of flavours.

Iceland has a few dishes that are very local – shark, or hakarl, is just one example, though only at certain times of the year. In general lamb and seafood are popular, though if you want to try a drink with a difference, then Brennivin, or Black Death, packs a punch as it's a schnapps variant made from fermented potatoes and caraway seeds.

Plokkfiskur is boiled cod or haddock mashed with potatoes and a creamy sauce, which is entirely delicious. And if you haven't already tasted the local yogurt, then Skyr is what you're looking for.