I admit, I would much rather travel, pretty much anywhere, off season, but Iceland……in February? Iceland has been on my bucket list for many years. February is not necessarily the month that I would choose for a trip to the land of fire and ice, but I am so glad that it happened that way! You must be there in the winter to see the northern lights, there is traditional lobster soup or lamb stew to keep you warm and there are virtually no crowds!
Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with around 300,000 total population, two thirds of whom live in the capital city of Reykjavík. Reykjavik is small by most US standards, but has an amazing array of interesting components. The beautiful Harpa Concert Hall can be seen throughout the city, a ‘honeycomb’ structure, with a steel framework and geometric shaped glass panels of different colors. The Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church dominates the city skyline and if you climb to the top, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the city. The touristy area of the city is very small and consists mostly of the harbor area and Laugavegur street, with a variety of stores and restaurants.
As nice as Reykjavik is, you can’t visit Iceland without seeing some of the amazing natural wonders. Many are quite accessible, like the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, which is a great stop between Reykjavik and the main international airport, Keflavik. Its waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur and a dip in the lagoon is reputed to cure a multitude of ailments. The Golden Circle tour is also easily accessible. You can do this on your own with a rental car or take one of the many excursions offered by various companies. It’s a great overview and visits a geyser, waterfall and volcanic crater among other sites.
If you have a bit more time and curiosity, there are fantastic tours offered by local companies that let you enjoy sights and activities unique to Iceland. One of my favorites was riding the Icelandic horses. Not a rider? Don’t worry, me neither. The staff at ishestar just outside Reykjavik was professional and skilled. I’m not sure I could handle the 8 day cross-country ride, but our 2 hour morning ride was fantastic! The Super Jeep adventure is also amazing. We took a full day tour to frozen waterfalls, an incredible lava tube and even had a drive on the ice cap. Although we did see semi wild horses (they belong to someone but run free most of the time), there are very few wild animals in the country, they are limited to Arctic Fox, mink, mice, rats, rabbits and reindeer. Polar bears occasionally visit the island, traveling on icebergs from Greenland, but we didn’t see any!
I loved Iceland and I know you will too. Iceland can be incorporated into any European tour by taking advantage of Icelandair’s Reykjavik stopover. There is no additional airfare for making a stop in Iceland for up to 7 days. Add Iceland to your next tour, summer or winter!