If you’re after natural drama, look no further than Iceland holidays. Volcanoes and glaciers dot this epic island’s surface, and North Atlantic waves scour its shores. Visitors are waking up to its unique culture and inspiring landscapes – showcased in numerous films and TV shows, including Game of Thrones.
Most holidays to Iceland start in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital, home to engaging museums and lively bars and cafés. Reykjavík is a good base for the Golden Circle – a famous itinerary that takes in cascading waterfalls, bubbling geysers and the world’s oldest parliament. South-east of here are some of the country’s most photogenic attractions (and there’s serious competition), including black sand beaches and Jökulsárlón, a lagoon of huge floating icebergs.
There’s plenty to see elsewhere. The beautiful, winding Westfjords are a favourite of intrepid visitors, while the north is home to Iceland’s relaxed second city, Akureyri, and the country’s finest scenery – vast fjords, snowy peaks and surreal lava fields. Further afield are the quiet Eastfjords and the remote Highlands – a vast wilderness in Iceland’s interior that’s accessible only in summer. Wherever you go, you’ll find delicious local produce (including lamb and seafood). You can hike, horse ride, kayak, explore glacial caves, seek out the Northern Lights and watch whales, though the grand scenery makes it easy to enjoy just staring out of your car window. If you look hard enough at these supercharged landscapes, you may even start to believe the local legends of trolls, ghosts and elves.
Around 21 June, the daylight seems to last forever. The country celebrates with music festivals and bonfires, and gazing out over the fjords at midnight is unforgettable.
Alcohol was prohibited in Iceland until 1 March 1989. Icelanders toast the anniversary of the ban’s end by quaffing plenty of beer – and you can join in.
There are few creatures more adorable than puffins. Millions of these plump birds, graceful in water and wobbly in the air, nest in Iceland between April and August.
Tour the Golden Circle
Iceland’s most famous itinerary can be done in a day, visiting the cliff-set amphitheatre where the world’s first parliament sat, a spectacular waterfall and several spouting geysers.
Relax in a natural spring
The photogenic Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most iconic hot spring, but there are places for a geothermal soak all over the country, some with fabulous views.
Walk the wilderness
From scenic strolls to epic multi-day hikes, not to mention whale watching, lava tunnels and mountain biking, Iceland’s magical wild places are ripe for exploration.