Photo by Patrick MorieartyPhoto by Patrick Moriearty

TAKE A BATH THE NATURAL WAY

Iceland’s geothermal activity means that the whole country is dotted with naturally heated rivers and hot tubs. Strip off and hop in! A personal favourite is the hot river at Hveragerði, a short drive from the capital. A brief but stunning hike into the hills brings you to a place where two hot and cold springs naturally meet, resulting in clear, bath temperature water. Perfect on a cold winter’s day.

GO WHALE WATCHING Ægisgardur 7 101 Reykjavík, +354 555 3565

Elding Whale Watching, based in Reykjavík’s Old Harbour, offers a 95% success rate (when success is spotting a whale) on its trips. Each vessel has a resident marine biologist who educates passengers about whales and other environmental issues as they travel, and the organisation is one of few to have been given the international ‘Blue Flag’ award for sustainability in 2007. Whale season is in late Autumn; this is when sightings are the best.

HOLIDAY LIKE A LOCAL AND HIRE A TRADITIONAL LOG CABIN

All over Iceland you will see signs offering holiday cottages for hire, some in comically remote places. However, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – a long weekend spent away from it all can be a magical experience. Try and find somewhere with its own geothermal hot tub, and fill up the car with supplies. Few things can match soaking with your friends and a few drinks under the Northern Lights.

Photo by Patrick Moriearty

SADDLE UP! Völlum – 810 Hveragerði +354 480 4800

Icelandic horses are really cute, but you mustn’t tell them that. They are a short and stocky breed (they stand just a little higher than most ponies) and are covered in coarse fur to protect them from the elements. Icelandic horses are world-renowned for their good temper and easiness to ride, and an increasing number of tourists travel to the country to find out for themselves. Eldhestar, a 30-minute drive from Reykjavík, has been offering quality horse riding tours for over 30 years and operates a strict environmental policy.

THE STRYTA IN EYJAFJÖRÐUR Strytan Dive Center, Huldugil 25, 600 Alcureyn +354 862 2949

Take the plunge and escape for a night or two to The Stryta in Eyjafjörður, which is the only geothermal cone in the world that you can scuba dive into. If you are a qualified diver you can go on diving tour to the Silfra Rift in the Þingvellir National Park, between the American and Eurasian continents. You will be astounded by the visibility of the crystal clear water (which you can drink) between the tectonic plates and by how cold you are – the water temperature is almost freezing between 2-4 °C.

Photos by Patrick Moriearty

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