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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019

Hot springs, whale watching and winter sun - just some of the great things to see in Iceland

From the Blue Lagoon right up to the Haukadalur valley.

ICELAND IS EXPERIENCING a tourism revolution at the moment, as people flock from around the world to marvel at the island’s volcanic landscape, glaciers and wildlife.

It’s not all about the snow and mountains though – trendy new bars and restaurants are opening in Reykjavik all the time, plus festivals like Secret Solstice Festival and Airwaves attract thousands of music-lovers from all over the world.

Where else could you see one of the biggest bands in the world play a set at a summer festival with near 24-hour sunlight?

In fact, there’s a whole swathe of things you can ONLY do in Iceland. Here’s a quick run down of tours, trips and sights…

1. A dip with a difference

The Blue Lagoon is THE tourist attraction in Iceland, and if you’re visiting Reykjavik it should be near the top of your list. It’s just a short bus ride away from the city, and even closer to the airport.

A genuinely other-worldly experience, the geothermal waters are rich in mineral salts and fine silica mud. At 38 degrees, the temperature is perfect for bathing.

The lagoon has been developed for visitors in recent years, and the modern glass-panelled complex surrounding it has steam rooms, saunas and even a high-end restaurant. You can even grab a beer while you float in the steaming blue waters!

blue2 Source: Blue Lagoon

2. Get out into the wild

There are all manner of hot springs, waterfalls and volcanic landscapes within striking distance of the Reykjavik.

Much like our own Ring of Kerry, Iceland’s Golden Circle is gaining a reputation as one of Europe’s ‘must-do’ touring routes.

It includes the Gullfoss waterfall, the incredible Haukadalur valley and the world-famous geysers at, well, Geysir.

And if you’ve ever fancied a shot at snowmobiling – there are plenty of tour companies offering guided treks as part of wider day-trip packages.

ice1 Mountaineers of Iceland offer various options for Golden Circle trips and snowmobiling. Source: Mountaineers of Iceland

3.  Get on board 

If you feel like a break from the countryside, there are plenty of options for sea-based activities on offer at Reykjavik’s harbour.

Whale-watching is a family favourite around this time of year.

There’s a strong chance you’ll spot various species on your morning or day-long tour – and you’ll have another chance to marvel at the ice-capped mountains overlooking the city from across the bay, during the 30 minutes or so it takes to get to the whale-watching grounds.

Humpback whales off the coast of Reykjavik Source: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

4. Get to know the place

There are a number of ultra-modern museums that are well worth checking out around Reykjavik.

Considering the size of the country (total population around 320,000 people – about four Croke Parks) Iceland has a fascinating history. Norwegian fugitive Ingólfur Arnarson became the first official Icelander in AD 871, and the city of Reykjavik remained a small rural settlement for centuries.

The place has been booming since the middle of the 1900s however – and the city’s been experiencing a fresh surge of growth in the last few years in particular thanks to its growing reputation as an international tourist destination.

settle Get to know the city via the hi-tech displays and multimedia exhibits at Reykjavík 871±2: The Settlement Exhibition. Source: The Settlement Exhibition

5. Stay local

Make sure you book somewhere close to the action if you’re staying in Reykjavik.

The downtown area of world’s most northerly capital easily walkable – and, if you’re tired after a day’s hiking or sightseeing, there’s no shortage of bars and cafés to drop into to enjoy a few pints (or even sample the local schnapps, Brennivín).

If happen to like sunsets, you’re in luck – they last around four hours at this time of year, and the downtown bars stay busy well into the early hours as people enjoy the late-night sun.

Accommodation-wise, you can choose between anything from cheap-but-clean hostels to brand new five star luxury hotels.

hotel22 There are some great bay views on offer from the Hotel Klettur - just to the east of downtown. Source: Hotel Klettur

WOW air is the only airline to offer direct flights from Dublin to Reykjavik.  Prices from €69.99 including taxes and charges. WOW air also operates transatlantic connections from Dublin to six North American destinations, Boston, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington D.C via Reykjavik, and will fly Dublin to New York via Reykjavik from November. For more information on flights to Iceland and North America please visit www.wowair.ie.

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