With one of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet, Iceland is perfect for fording rivers, climbing mountains, dipping in hot springs, and gazing upon arched waterfalls that cut through mountains. At just under 40,000 square miles, the land of fire and ice beneath the Arctic Circle is geologically and volcanically active. Thanks to its abundance of geothermal energy, the country runs almost completely on renewable power. Iceland’s robust fishing industry and the biotechnology, finance and manufacturing sector make it one of the most developed and wealthiest nations in the world. With a temperate ocean climate, cool summers and mild winters, Iceland is a year-round destination to fly to in a private jet. Just keep in mind that its northern latitude lends itself endless summer days and winters with about three hours of daylight.
ION Luxury Adventure Hotel
Located within the Golden Circle, just 40 minutes from Reykjavík by car, the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel overlooks the rugged landscapes of Nesjavellir near Þingvellir National Park. The hotel rises from the landscape on stilts, giving it an out-of-this-world look. Inside, you’ll find luxurious accommodations with Scandinavian-inspired décor. Amenities include an outdoor hot tub filled with water from a hot spring and the Northern Lights Bar, which has oversized picture windows that are perfect for viewing an aurora borealis dance in the sky.
Established in 1944, Hótel Kea in the heart of Akureyri is steps away from area attractions, shops, and recreational activities. The hotel offers exquisite day tours, such as whale watching, cave explorations, lava walks, northern-light-related excursions, gold days, rafting expeditions, husky sled tours, and waterfall tours. Be sure to eat at the in-house Mulaberg Bistro & Bar, which is known for its delicious local cuisine.
Icelandic cuisine has a rich history rooted in Scandinavian traditions and Nordic culture. Historical events give the country’s fare special significance, such as the Little Ice Age and Reformation, and many of the flavors in traditional dishes originate from time-tested preservation methods.
Rangá Restaurant at the luxury Hotel Rangá in south Iceland graces you with a pastoral scene that stars the bountiful Rangá River and Hekla volcano. Dishes feature local seasonal produce. Owner Friðrík loves to treat diners to a full VIP experience. The salmon sous vide is a guest favorite. The famous Christmas Buffet is available in November and December.
If you can look past its humble exterior, Fjöruborðið in Stokkseyri will reward you with seafood that’s so delicious that you will completely ignore your surroundings. The lobster, which “makes appointments with mermaids and landlubbers,” is the star on the menu. Ask for a side of vegetables with couscous with your lobster tail for a hearty meal.
Watch the Northern Lights
Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle makes it the ideal place to watch the effect of electrons colliding with the Earth’s upper atmosphere in response to solar winds. When the solar activity picks up, it makes for a dazzling natural light show. Keep in mind that if you travel to Iceland during the summer, your chances of seeing an aurora are slim because of the never-ending days. The cool, clear nights between September and April are the best for viewing the spectacular northern lights.
To see some of the best that Iceland has to offer, tour the country’s Golden Circle. Attractions include the ever-widening rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates at Thingvellir that cause the country to grow by 2 centimeters annually, Gullfoss waterfall, geysers at Geysir, and Althing, the site of the world’s first parliament.