Trip-Spiration: 5 Reasons Iceland Should Be on Your Radar

Mar 3, 2018

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Everyone’s talking about Iceland these days, so although I’d been back in 2013, I wanted to return and explore more of the country. I thought maybe I was crazy to go in winter, but visiting over New Year’s Eve was actually the trip of a lifetime.

Here’s why Iceland should be on your radar any season.

1. It’s Cheap and Easy to Get There

WOW Air’s been expanding rapidly in the US, and even more routes are coming for 2018. As of April 26, WOW will offer its famous $99 one-way flights between New York-JFK and Reykjavik (KEF), as well as additional routes of out Newark (EWR).

[Update, 3/28/2019: WOW Air has ceased operations. Find our ongoing coverage of WOW Air’s collapse, and what affected passengers can do about it, here.]

Icelandair is also operating a number of new routes in 2018. The carrier will begin flying between Kansas City (MCI) and Reykjavik on May 25, 2018 (Kansas City’s first-ever nonstop transatlantic route), between Baltimore (BWI) and Reykjavik starting May 28, 2018, and between San Francisco (SFO) and Reykjavik starting June 1, 2018.

If you’d rather burn points instead of paying cash, the three major US carriers fly to Iceland seasonally — American Airlines is starting service from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) in June 2018, and United will fly from Newark starting in late May 2018. Delta flies year-round from New York and seasonally from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) as of May 26, 2018.

You can also use your points to stay, with Hilton, Club Carlson and Starwood properties in and around Reykjavik.

Photo by WOW Air.
Photo by WOW Air.

2. The Locals Are Fun and Quirky

Icelanders are loads of fun. There are only 330,000 of them in total, and they’re all sorts of quirky. Icelandic folklore is very much a part of the culture, complete with trolls and magical creatures. And among the uniquely local things that distinguish Iceland, there’s also an app that tells them if they are related, which can be useful when trying to date in the small Icelandic dating pool.

But all jokes aside, local are friendly, welcoming and interesting, so make sure to take time to chat. If you happen to go during a holiday, be ready for fireworks — Icelanders love to set them off for any reason, and especially on New Year’s Eve.

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - JANUARY 01: Fireworks go off outside Hallgrimskirkja for New Year on New Year's Eve in Reykjavik on January 1, 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Sophia Groves/Getty Images
Photo by Sophia Groves/Getty Images.

3. It’s Worth Freezing to See the Northern Lights

Although right now is the end of a 11-year downstream when it comes to the northern lights, it was still an incredible experience for me. It’s one of the best parts of going in the dead of winter, when it’s dark all the time — those are the ideal conditions for seeing this amazing phenomenon. It’s a way to feel connected with nature, and it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Image by TPG.

4. Summer’s Also Amazing

Although you might not catch the northern lights, visiting in the summer can also be just as wonderful. The first time I went to Iceland in the summer, I was able to do fun outdoor activities like horseback riding and hiking, with lots of daylight — and without all the heavy coats. Really, Iceland is a special experience in any season, so just go!

Rear view on two people on their horse back at Hvalfjörður in the West Region of Iceland
Horseback at Hvalfjörður. Image by TPG.

5. It’s Like Visiting Another Planet

I love traveling places where you feel completely transported to another place. I recently felt that way at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing, which made me feel like ancient Chinese royalty, in the Wadi Rum desert, which made me feel like a Martian, and in Iceland, where the craters, glaciers and volcanic rock made me feel as if I were on the moon! If you need a true escape, Iceland is a great place to really get away.

Featured image courtesy of Southern Lightscapes-Australia via Getty Images.

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