The ultimate stopover: soaking up Iceland’s glorious coastline

There's more to Iceland than ash clouds and cold weather. Gunnar Garfors looks at what the country has to offer the traveller in transit.

Source: Gunnar Garfors

 

Icelandair offers competitive airfares between European and American cities. The catch? You will need to change planes at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) in Iceland. But is that such a bad thing?

Not if you schedule your connection to allow at least four hours between flights. This will give you enough time to jump in a taxi or hire a car and discover one of the world’s wildest and most beautiful coastlines.

Iceland is one of my favourite countries, with its incredible scenery, geysers, hot springs, seafood restaurants and vibrant nightlife in the capital, Reykjavík.

You don’t need to venture far from the airport to enjoy some of the wildest and most breathtaking coastal spots on earth.

Reykjanesviti: Iceland’s oldest lighthouse

Just 18 miles (30kms) from the airport – on roads guaranteed to be free of traffic – lies Iceland’s oldest lighthouse, perched on a hill.

The lighthouse was originally built in 1878 but was destroyed in an earthquake in 1986, and rebuilt in 1929.  Source: borkur.net/Flickr

More impressive though, is the coastline itself. The cliffs generate ideal wind conditions for playful seagulls and provide a wonderful backdrop with extraordinarily beautiful views out to sea, and a few small islands off the coast.

Feeling the sea spray on your face is refreshing and the experience certainly beats time spent in every airport lounge I have been to. Don’t expect Wi-Fi though.

Source: The Blue Lagoon

A much more well-known but also very touristy attraction is The Blue Lagoon: an outdoor geothermal spa where you can bathe in warm, mineral-rich waters that reach a temperature of close to 40 degrees Celcius. You can also float up to the bar in the lagoon and order a drink or enjoy a spa treatment. The Blue Lagoon is roughly a 20 minute drive from Keflavík International Airport, or you can hop on a bus to the spa from the airport.

If you want to visit both The Blue Lagoon and Reykjanesviti, I would recommend allowing at least four hours between flights.  A stop at The Blue Lagoon can easily take a couple of hours if you want to take advantage of the spa treatments.

A couple of hours do not do justice to this country of Viking ancestry, so if you can, make more of it.

Click here for Icelandair’s schedule

EasyJet, Iceland Express, Norwegian, SAS, Primera Air and WOW Air also serve Iceland from other European destinations.

Go before prices rise

The cost of visiting Iceland is likely to rise next year if the country’s government goes ahead with proposals to triple VAT on restaurant meals, tourist attractions and accommodation (including hotels). It would mean a rise in VAT from seven to 25.5%, from May 2013.

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