ABTA have named their travel hotspots for 2009. This month, we’re bringing you bitesized guides to our top choices. This week we continue our series with Iceland.
Iceland has felt the economic downturn more keenly than most and although it’s not the bargain basement destination touted by some, it’s certainly cheaper than it was. If you’ve always wanted to go – now’s the time.
Icelandair flies from London Heathrow and Manchester. Its Glasgow service is suspended until late August 2009. Iceland Express flies from London Gatwick from 1 May (from £69 one-way).
One of nature’s most awesome spectacles, the Northern Lights are visible from September to March. The ever-shifting, glowing patterns of light that twist and turn restlessly in the sky are created by electrically charged particles that make the thin air shine like a fluorescent light.
The Golden Circle is home to Thingvellir, the site of the old Icelandic parliament; Gullfoss, the country’s most famous waterfall, which tumbles some 30m (98ft) down into a narrow canyon; and Geysir, the original spouting hot spring.
This spectacular setting of rugged coastline, known as the Westfjords, is home to some of the most isolated villages in the country. Latrabjarg, the westernmost point of Europe, is the largest known bird cliff on earth at 400m (1,312ft) high.
Landmannalaugar is the pearl of the central highlands. This eerily colourful landscape of green, yellow, red and orange rhyolite hills is dotted with many hot pools and streams, making this a definite must for walkers and artists alike.
The milky turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon are perfect for a long soak. Located in a lunar-like landscape of lava fields, the lagoon is renowned for its health benefits and mineral-rich, geothermal seawater, which have made it one of the most visited locations in Iceland.
The waters around Iceland are some of the best in the world to spot a variety of cetaceans. Minke, blue, sei, fin, humpback and sperm whales are frequently sighted just off the coast.
Stroll along one of the black sand beaches on the south coast near Vik, then check out the excellent folk museum in the tiny village of Skogar.
Sample some of the superb food Iceland has to offer in one of Reykjavík’s many excellent restaurants. Try award-winning Sjavarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar) for its inventive and daring cooking.
Next week…bitesized guide to Cuba.