By Joanna Neve
Known as ‘the land of fire and ice’, Iceland is filled with contrasts. In the winter it’s a harsh land of long nights and bitter cold wind, but facing the elements is worth it – there aren’t many places in the world where you can watch volcanoes erupt in the snow!
HOW TO GET A VISA
To go to Iceland, you’ll need a Tourist Schengen Visa, which will allow you to enter for up to 90 days. Head to the Icelanders embassy in Cairo at least 2 weeks before your holiday to fill out some paperwork and provide the documents needed (which are listed on the Schengen visa information website). You’ll also need two recent photos and a valid passport.
WHAT TO WEAR
Iceland is incredibly cold in winter, with temperatures fluctuating between -2°C and 4°C. Make sure to pack a whole winter outfit and if you don’t have one, buy one. A hat, gloves, multiple scarves, a high-quality coat and thermal layers are a must.
STAY IN THE CAPITAL
- Most people travelling to Iceland choose to stay in its stunning capital, Reykjavik. It’s not hard to see why when the city has dozens of amazing restaurants as well as the Perlan Museum, where you can enjoy a cocktail with a panoramic view of the city from their observation deck.
- Public transport is also very accessible in Reykjavik, which is why it’s so popular.
TOP 5 DAY TRIPS FROM REYJAVIK
From Reyjavik there are dozens of activities you can easily do on a day trip. We’ve worked hard to narrow it down to just 5:
- The Blue Lagoon Spa is a must-visit for anyone visiting Iceland. Book in for massages, holistic treatments and take a dip in the world-famous blue lagoon itself. The high silica content is thought to be very good for your skin but make sure to run into the lagoon fast, as the outside temperature is freezing!
- Head to one of the most impressive natural attractions in the world – Strokkur Geyser. Wait for the ground to begin to rumble and then you’ll know that it’s about to erupt. Reaching several feet in height, words can’t really describe how incredible this natural phenomenon is.
- Off the beaten path, Myrdalsjokull is Iceland’s 4th largest glacier. If you leave early enough, you’ll have time not only to admire this gigantic glacier, but to take a hiking tour on it too. Strap on a pair of crampons and off you go!
- Pack a camera and spend the day touring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Home to some of the most iconic landscapes in all of Europe, you won’t be disappointed. Take pictures of quaint fishing villages in the snow, Ytri Tunga’s large colony of seals or one of the region’s many volcanic craters. There’s more than enough to fill an entire day here.
- If you’ve got a serious amount of cash, book a helicopter ride with Norðurflug Helicopter. This company offers day-tours over the top of some of Iceland’s most explosive volcanoes, like the Holuhraun eruption which covers the size of Manhattan Island in New York. With large glass windows, a panoramic view is guaranteed.
NORTHERN LIGHTS WATCHING
Every tourist visiting Iceland wants to catch a glimpse of the iconic northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. Sadly, as a natural phenomenon, sighting them is never guaranteed.That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help increase your chances:
- Head away from the city. Bright lights make it hard to see the aurora borealis, so moving away from urban areas can help to eliminate background light, increasing your chances.
- Watch the forecast. There are aurora forecast websites specially designed to help you track the probability of seeing the northern lights on a given night. While some is down to luck, this can help you to choose the best day to book a tour.
- Go at the right time of year. November-December is one of the best times to spot the northern lights in Iceland, so booking your holiday during these months is a good idea.
- Book a tour. In Reykjavik you will find a number of companies offering night-time northern lights tours. Special guides are able to take you to hidden picturesque locations like waterfalls. A few companies even offer northern lights viewing by boat – a really unique experience.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME ACCOMODATION
For a truly breathtaking experience, book a night in an igloo style bubble pod. This very Icelandic accommodation is perfect for a romantic night in, as the clear top means you can see the northern lights from the comfort of your own bed and many places offer activities as part of your stay, like a traditional Icelandic horse ride for two.