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Relax in Reykjavik

Relax in Reykjavik with Glaciers, Geysers and Geothermal Attractions

Unless you originate from New Zealand, geothermal attractions are likely to be a fascinating novelty. A short visit to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a great way to see geysers, thermal pools and smoldering volcanoes by day, and the chance to participate in amazing nightlife after dark.

If you're up for it, swap your pounds for Icelandic krona, book a 3 hour flight to Reykjavik, and send a silent thank you to the T2UK tax fairy for making this fun trip possible!

 

Reykjavik

This quirky capital city is a colourful waterfront city with scenic views of Mt Esja (pronounced eh-shyuh). Concrete houses make up for their unimaginative architectural style by sporting colourful roofs in vibrant reds, blues and green.

One of the first things you'll notice is the fresh air. All the houses, businesses and even the pavements are warmed by unlimited heat sourced from the hot springs. This means there's no air pollution, no smoke and definitely no dirty coal-burning power stations to worry about. The only downside is the slight whiff of sulphur in the bathroom when you run a shower.

As well as offering fantastic shopping, Reykjavik city centre has some interesting museums and the landmark Hallgrimskirkja. You can look around the church for free, but there's a small fee for climbing the tower to enjoy the superb views of the city and bay.

 

Sleep, Eat and Drink in Reykjavik

Such a one-of-a-kind destination deserves a quirky place to lay your head. The Kex Hostel offers accommodation within the old biscuit factory (Kex is Icelandic for biscuit!) The décor is borderline salvage/retro with industrial undertones. On the plus side, it has a café/bar serving hot drinks and biscuits, of course, and there's a heated outdoor patio, Wi-Fi and gym.

Outside the city, try booking a night in a cosy A-frame mountain hut at Kerlingartjoll. It's a great base for hiking, close to Iceland's largest geothermal area. Cabins include double beds, bathrooms and kitchens along with a hot pool for socialising.

There are plenty of international restaurants in Reykjavik, but if you want to try some of the local delicacies you'll find Minke whale, puffin, smoked sheep's head and even rotten shark on the menu. The best way to try these cultural treats is with the "Jar Menu" at places such as Tapas Barinn and Tapas Husio where small tastes of these unique foods are served in small jars.

Since the collapse of the Icelandic krona, you'll find your money goes a long way in what is reputedly an expensive tourist destination. Beer, wine and spirits in Iceland are more expensive than in the UK, but less expensive than Dubai, so overall not too shocking. You may want to pace yourself if you join the "runtur", the raucous all-night pub crawl that takes place from midnight to 5am on weekends around Laugavegur.

If you see strange lights in the sky, it's probably not the drink but the fabulous Aurora Borealis. This natural phenomenon is caused by electrons colliding with air particles to create dancing red, green and purple lights flashing across the night sky like a demented disco.

 

Geysers, Trolls and Waterfalls on the Golden Circle Tour

Book yourself a place on a guided Golden Circle Tour and you'll have the most fun seeing the main geothermal sights around Reykjavik. Trolls, elves and hidden folk are a very real part of the Icelandic culture and make for a very entertaining commentary from your guide!

The tour includes the UNESCO Thingvellir National Park which spans the ever-shifting tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia. Fissures and cracks can be seen in this unusual landscape along with the country's largest lake. You'll be entertained by stunning geysers such as Strokkur which blows steam and hot water spray 100 feet into the air every four minutes.

Along with steaming geothermal pools and hot springs, the tour includes another unmissable highlight - the Gullfoss waterfall. It is so large and impressive that it creates rainbows in the spray on a sunny day.

Other tours can take you to see a Viking Longhouse, hike a glacier, or tour the geothermal power plant, depending upon your particular interests.

 

Blue Lagoon

One final unique experience just outside Reykjavik is the massive Blue Lagoon. The geothermal spa waters of this surreal spa maintain a steamy 40°C (104°F), so do pack your swimwear. Surrounded by black lava rocks, the milky aquamarine waters provide a warming spa experience even when air temperatures are well below freezing. There's a swim-up bar, steam rooms and saunas making this a truly unique place to wallow in the mineral-laden spa waters and muse over the amazing sights that Iceland has to offer.

 

Tip: Pick up duty-free alcohol on arrival in Reflavik Airport and save around 30% compared to Vinbudin, the state-run liquor stores! 

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