We’re calling it: there’s no place on earth as breathtaking as Iceland. From the Blue Lagoon, glaciers, rolling greenery and waterfalls to the truly magical Northern Lights, Iceland’s natural wonders are so visually cinematic that they border on the fantastical—so much so that blockbuster fantasies like Star Wars, Interstellar and Game of Thrones are regularly filmed here. And with Iceland’s reinvigorated tourism boom heralding a new wave of luxury accommodation options and world-class restaurants, there’s really no better time to visit. Here are our top picks to help you plan your trip.
The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon
This brand new, ultra-modern hotel looks like a set from a James Bond film. The four-part sustainable complex is complete with suites overlooking water and volcanic landscapes, a subterranean spa and top-tier dining options. The best part? It has its own private lagoon access, which means guests can experience the magic of the Blue Lagoon away from the thousands of stopover tourists accessing the public area.
Reykjavík is where you’ll fly in and out, and we recommend staying in town for a night to sample the city’s exemplary food and bar scene. Fish Market is an excellent choice for trying the local cuisine, with adventurous menu items such as minke whale and smoked puffin breast offered alongside more familiar seafood plates. For a more laid-back dining experience, head to Nora Magasin, a quirky gastropub with beautiful bistro food and a great cocktail selection. Need a brunch spot? Our top recommendation is the cozy Bergsson Mathús, which serves breakfast plates made with locally sourced produce.
The Northern Lights
One of Iceland’s biggest draws is the famous Northern Lights, which are visible from September through April, dependent on weather. Given that seeing them is not a sure thing, make sure to schedule in other natural wonders including the aforementioned Blue Lagoon the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Thingvellir National Park, and the many majestic waterfalls scattered across the island. For the adrenaline junkie, heli-skiing and snowboarding runs with up to 3,000 foot vertical drops are offered from February until June.