From new flight routes, hotel openings and cruise itineraries, to camping adventures and cycling marathons, 2017 looks to be an eventful year for Iceland.
Amongst the new adventures on offer, and for the first time, North Sailing will be inviting travellers to see the Northern lights during the darkest time of the year. Passengers can enjoy winter sailing on a traditional Icelandic oak boat as it departs from Húsavík harbour to Skjálfandi bay and, without the disturbance from the city lights, a chance to see the famous lights put on their best display.
Alternatively, Amazing North is a small family run tour operator that offers personal tours around North Iceland with a local expert in highly modified, carbon neutralised super jeeps. This year will also see the destination promoting its unfrequented northern region where travellers can experience whale-watching, gastronomy tours and waterfalls against a backdrop of Nordic beauty.
Also to the north, and taking in the picturesque city of Akureyri, new tour company Detours promises tourists that they can ‘Become a Local in an Hour’ with history, culture and unique views all offered using segway-style transport.
Continuing the excitement on two wheels, adventurous UK cyclists are encouraged to get on their bikes and join in the next annual WOW Cyclothon, one of the largest ultra-cycling competitions in the world which takes place under Iceland’s midnight sun from June 20-23. Starting in Reykjavik, the route steers participants past glaciers and waterfalls, along the coastline and past fjords, national parks and volcanoes. The non-stop relay race is the only one of its kind in the destination and is often completed by the winning team in less than 48 hours.
For travellers looking to immerse themselves into the wild, Iceland has more than 200 equipped campsites nestled in natural surroundings which are available to campers between June and August. Located in the town Hvolsvöllur, a new interactive adventure called LAVA has also opened to reveal the volcanic forces of nature that created Iceland. LAVA will provide visitors with a variety of learning experiences, as well as a 360-degree viewing platform that overlooks the volcanoes of Eyjafjallajökull, Katla and Hekla, along with the Westman Islands off the south coast.
For something a bit more soothing and built into an 800-year-old lava flow on the south shore of the Blue Lagoon, Lava Cove is a newly created subterranean spa designed for rejuvenation. Meanwhile, along the same spa lines - but offering a beauty treatment with a difference - travellers can relax in Kambala wood hot tubs filled with beer, water, hops and yeast when Iceland’s first beer spa opens in June. A treatment that is believed to be cleansing for the skin, guests are encouraged to leave their bodies coated in beer for a few hours before washing it off to maximise the benefits.
In terms of new flight routes, Belfast will become Icelandair‘s 44th scheduled destination with a full year-round service flying three times weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and operated by sister airline Air Iceland. Launching in June, the flight from Belfast to Reykjavik will also provide easy connections with the airline’s network of destinations in the US and Canada.