Transport yourself to a magical place boasting rich culture and stunning landscapes untouched by modern influence. Starting this September, getting there from Tampa will be easier than ever before, with two weekly non-stop flights to The Land of Fire and Ice.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
The nation’s relative isolation has allowed for the preservation of its unique history. Many Icelanders continue to uphold and honor their vibrant Viking roots with traditional seasonal festivals and a steady belief in Nordic folklore. (Watch out for elves!) But don’t think this nod to the past means the country is lacking in modern luxuries. The capital city of Reykjavík (pronounced Rey-kyuh-vik) is famous for its vivacious nightlife and boldly contemporary music and arts scenes, making it the very epicenter of Iceland’s tourism trade. If a more rural, rustic experience is just your speed, then explore the northwest corner of the country, the Westfjords (pronounced West-fē-ords). Sometimes referred to as the nation’s best-kept secret, the Westfjords won’t be for long as more travelers discover the spectacle of this true Icelandic wilderness.WHERE TO STAY
No matter how you prefer to travel, Iceland has a variety of accommodations to fit your needs. Closer to the city you’ll find hotels and apartments for rent, running the gamut from opulent to modest. Cruising the coast is another option—to see the sights while enjoying the amenities aboard a luxury liner. Or immerse yourself in nature and get the full Icelandic experience with a farm holiday or family camping excursion. Traveling on a budget and feeling a bit venturesome? Consider a hostel; it’s a terrific way to meet other travelers from all parts of the globe while saving a pretty penny.
WHEN TO GO
Each season offers its own treasures, with a world of delights to discover. Lush greens and vibrant blossoms are what you’ll find in the late summer months. Iceland’s frigid climate takes a break this time of year, offering longer days and more refreshing temperatures. It is the time of the midnight sun. One downside, unfortunately, is the crowds. Like most places, summer is peak tourist season. Catch the tail end of the rush and visit in early autumn instead. The colorfully-tinged landscape and clear skies are the perfect setting for hiking the breathtaking mountains, volcanoes and valley systems. Experience the Reykjavík International Film Festival in late September or the Airwaves Festival in early November for a closer look into the contemporary cultural scene. Alternatively, experience the land as it awakens from its chilly hibernation in late spring, before the summer hustle and bustle begins. Winter is only for those ready to brave the bracing cold. While you will be dazzled by the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky, you’ll also enjoy thinner crowds and less expensive rates across the board.