When we gather our precious annual leave to escape our beloved city for a while, most of us head to warmer climes in a bid to look less like the walking dead. But, if you’re lucky enough to have some spare holiday left before April 2013, choosing to explore a winter wonderland instead may just change your life.
At the beginning of this year, I put Iceland on my travel wishlist. Ten months and as many countries later, I’m still pining for glittering glaciers, dog sled rides and cosy night caps.
Iceland oozes the cool factor in more ways than one. The relatively small capital of Reykjavik has some big parties. Locals love everything from karaoke to house music and revellers party until the sun comes up (not that you can rely on the sun setting or rising when you’re this far north).
Food-wise, all the favourites can be found here, including a fantastic fusion sushi place called Fish Company. Icelandic ingredients such as thyme, rhubarb and skyr (a dairy product similar to yoghurt) feature in a worldly menu that also boasts Tahitian vanilla beans, Indian dates, New Zealand kaffir lime, and Spanish serrano ham. To try traditional Icelandic food including homemade soups, breads and cakes while enjoying a fantastic view, head to Café Loki.
Reykjavik is surrounded by sea, and the northern waterfront is popular with joggers, roller bladers and anyone in need of a leisurely stroll with jaw-dropping views of Mt Esja. Here, visitors gather for a snapshot with the huge steel Viking ship sculpture by artist Jon Gunnar Arnason.
So, basing it on food, culture and the lovely people, Iceland really isn’t as isolated as it looks. In fact Reykjavik is only 1175 miles from London, about the same distance away as Sicily.
This winter, the famous Northern Lights will be the brightest they have been for 50 years due to the solar-maximum cycle. It’s natural phenomenon that takes place in a fleeting moment and unlike Victoria Falls or the Grand Canyon, there’s no guarantee it’ll be there when you arrive. It’s worth hiring an expert guide to increase your chances of seeing it.
Seeing the Northern Lights takes patience and thermal underwear. But, for those lucky few, the truck/snow mobile/trek will be a distant memory once the show starts.
Iceland Air offers a Northern Lights City Breaks including flights from £299.
For Northern Lights sighting tips, start here.
Image courtesy of Flickr.