A small island country in the north Atlantic Ocean north west of the British Isles on the edge of the Arctic. It is full of mountains, glaciers and geysers. Still being geologically active, the interior has several volcanoes, hot springs and pools. Iceland is a fabulous adventure holiday destination and if you are interested in outdoor life, hiking, photography and geology you will love it here!
Iceland is really popular at the moment and Christmas – New Year is pretty much booked up! If you are planning to travel in winter 2013-14 please book as far in advance as possible. Same goes for Northern Lights, book as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. There is a special Northern Lights winter week in Iceland with regular departures – contact me for a quote.
The capital and largest city is Reykjavik and where most of the population lives and this makes a great city break. Travellers from Norway are believed to be the earliest inhabitants with Norsemen settling in Iceland who brought people as slaves from Gaelic origin. Until fairly recent years most of Iceland relied on fishing and agriculture for their livelihood.
There are not many endemic mammals on Iceland, having been cut off from other land masses many ages ago, the Arctic Fox is thought to be the oldest mammal living there. Farming animals have been introduced and todays mammals includ the Icelandic sheep and horse. Wild mammals do still include the foxes and also mink, mice, rabbits and reindeer. There are Polar bears who visit from time to time but are not commonly seen, travelling through mainly on icebergs to Greenland!! Sea birds are plentiful including kittiwakes and puffins and there are several places you can take boat trips to islands and outer cliffs full of seabird colonies.
Two main attractions to visit Iceland for are the Northern Lights and Whale Watching. The lights can easilly be seen here in the dark Arctic winters and some itineraries include astronomers in their tours to examine the night skies in great detail. May to September is the best time to see whales.
Iceland, contrary to it’s name can have a fairly mild climate thanks to the Gulf Stream. To get the most of daylight hours, visit in June and July when the sun hardly disappears in the night and there is almost 24 hours daylight. For the Northern Lights, visit in the winter with November to February being the best months for sightings. If you want to enjoy birdwatching May and June are best and for botany any time from June to August.
Apart from the Northern Lights there are many excursions which can be enjoyed from a city break base in Reykjavik including the Blue Lagoon, Helicopter trips, Golden Circle Tour and the South Shore Adventure.
The Golden Circle Tour includes Gullfoss – Geysir – Thingvellir National Park, takes around 8 hours and operates year round, departing the city usually around 0900 daily. The day is spent encountering a cross-section of Iceland’s natural wonders, geology and history, making numerous stops along the way in order to experience Iceland’s nature up-close and personal. Locations visited: Hveragerdi Greenhouse Village. Iceland’s most famous and picturesque waterfall ‘Gullfoss’, known as ‘The Golden Falls’ – the Queen of Iceland’s waterfalls. After lunch (optional) continue to explore the nearby Geysir geothermal area, bubbling with activity, where hot springs are in abundance and the active Geysir ‘Strokkur’ spouts every 15 minutes. Visit the Geysir Museum (admission included), an informative, multimedia exhibition that vividly shows how the forces of nature shaped the country and its people down through the ages. Continue via Lake Laugarvatn to Thingvellir National Park, a place of great geological interest and the site of the ‘Althing’, Iceland’s oldest Parliament founded in 930.
The Blue Lagoon can be done as an all day excursion or on your way to the airport home maybe – pack your bags, leave the hotel and enjoy a wallow in the lagoon before boarding your transfer coach refreshed and relaxed! This is not a guided tour, it’s open year round and the vists last a minimum of four hours. This is your chance to enjoy a unique bathing experience! The Blue Lagoon is located South-West of Reykjavik near the fishing village of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. A high-temperature geothermal field supplies the hot water to the Reykjanes district and steam to run the power plant, and it is the mineral-rich overflow water from this operation that fills the Lagoon. The geothermal water is pumped up from 2,000 metres below the Earths surface. High levels of silica, minerals and algae give the Blue Lagoon its rich blue colour. It was in 1980 that people began to bathe in the Blue Lagoon and since then its popularity has continued to increase. Last year (2010) some 170.000 bathers enjoyed the Lagoons facilities. The new bathhouse and bathing facilities can accommodate 900 guests. Whether in the middle of winter surrounded by snow, or in the long summer daylight, the Lagoon is exciting, invigorating and superbly relaxing – an experience not to be missed!
If you would like a honeymoon or romantic getaway, particularly in the winter, I recommend Hotel Ranga which has outdoor geothermal hot tubs from where you can enjoy river views and sightings of the Northern Lights! Some rooms have jacuzzi bath tubs and the ‘themed suites’ represent the seven continents of the world.
Get in touch for a tailor made quote for a city break, adventure holiday or self drive. Iceland has something for everyone through the seasons and is a truly stunning country.
Testimonials from clients who travelled to Iceland:
We just returned from our second booking through Travel With Jules, where we visited Iceland and stayed in Reykjavik for a long weekend. Julie’s choice of hotel was centrally placed and great, the food in the many restaurants of the city was lovely – the best place was the Fish Market which was excellent. We had a fantastic time and I would like to return next time with my children. The Blue Lagoon trip was great as was the South Shore Adventure – turned into a real adventure, trying to cross a frozen river, getting stuck and having to be rescued – all great fun! Thank you Jules for organising another great trip … until the next one. - Andy and Carol
We would like to thank Julie for all her advice and assistance, and for the efficient way she pulled everything together for our honeymoon in Iceland. Her knowledge of the travel industry, her understanding of our needs and her friendly and professional approach made organising the trip an absolutely effortless affair, in startling contrast from the wedding organisation happening at the same time! – Alan and Claire
Iceland was amazing, the scenery was stunning and the geysers & glaciers took my breath away. I had a lovely time & met some nice people too. The only thing was that I wanted to stay for longer! Thank you for all your help, you made things so easy for me. I’ll be in touch for my next trip once I’ve saved some more money! Thanks again. (Kerrie travelled with a small group run by Explore) Best wishes Kerrie x
Kerrie Parfitt – Iceland (July 2012)
An activity week in Southern Iceland with snowshoeing and climbing in ice caves – maximises opportunity to see the Northern Lights.
Maximise the chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights in Iceland on this one week escorted winter tour including the specialist Northern Lights Academy.
Self drive holidays to Iceland – take to the roads and experience the national parks, seals, seabirds, whales and glaciers at your own pace! Wander the cliffs and beaches, marvel at waterfalls and stay in local farmhouses.
Northern Lights 2013 sightings should be some of the best for 50 years! Combine an Arctic adventure with this must see experience!