Have you noticed? Travel’s back and Iceland’s the ideal post-pandemic holiday destination. For some of us, it’s been a while since we took a foreign vacation and if we’re a little rusty, travelling somewhere as welcoming as Iceland might be just the ticket. Let us make the case for why now is the best time to fly to Iceland – we’re sure we can convince you.
Northern Lights dancing over Kirkjufell mountain
This might be your last chance for a while to dodge the worst of the summer crowds
Tourist numbers are rising. According to an Íslandsbanki report published in February 2022, just short of 700,000 tourists visited Iceland in 2021, which though considerably up in 2020, still represents only around a third of the 2019 total of just under 2 million visitors. They reckon that somewhere in the region of 1.2 million people will visit in 2022, the majority of them in summer. Their projection for 2023 is about 1.5 million tourists.
The Blue Lagoon is the most popular tourist activity in Iceland
But here’s the rub: Iceland in summer 2019 felt crowded. That shouldn’t come as a shock. Iceland under blue skies when the weather’s warm and sunny is magical. It’s just that everyone knows that and so the price of accommodation increases, things like car hire and tours get booked up much more quickly and the car parks of popular visitor attractions fill up more quickly. In short, if you know you want to come, do it now before the rush.
There’s a new airline to try
Who doesn't love travelling?
If you are sold on the idea of visiting Iceland, then there’s good news on the airline front. Alongside existing low-cost carriers like EasyJet, you’ll find a new airline: Play. It offers a wide range of routes to European destinations such as Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna and Brussels (and even more that don’t begin with the letter b, like London and Paris). It’s also recently dipped a toe into the North American market, serving places like New York, Boston and even Orlando. While we’re on the subject of the US, Icelandair is offering a tempting stopover package which enables visitors to fly from North America to Europe or vice versa and spend 1-7 days in Iceland for the same fare.
Lonely Planet reckon you should come
Each year, Lonely Planet publishes a series of eagerly anticipated lists under the umbrella heading Best in Travel. They suggest which places they consider to be the hottest destinations for the upcoming year. As they can choose from anywhere in the world, to secure a place on one of those lists – country, city or region – is a pretty impressive achievement. So we were delighted to see that not only did the Westfjords make the Best Regions for 2022 list, it came in at Number 1! It’s the first time an Icelandic destination has featured on the list since West Iceland made it to Number 2 in 2016.
Taking in the beauty of Dynjandi Waterfall in the Westfjords
The Westfjords remain one of Iceland’s most overlooked regions, but that’s set to change. Road improvements have made driving around the Westfjords much easier and now they’re dubbing it Ring Road 2. The region offers exceptional beaches such as Rauðasandur, incredible nature-based opportunities including the bird cliffs at Látrabjarg and Arctic foxes in Hornstrandir, as well as quirky museums such as the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. Get there before word gets out.
Check out some new and nearly new attractions
North Iceland gets another fabulous spa to add to GeoSea which opened in Húsavík in August 2018. Forest Lagoon, also known as Skógarböðin, is set to open in Vaðlaskógur forest near Akureyri in late spring 2022. We anticipate it will be every bit as luxurious as competitors such as the Blue Lagoon on Reykjanes and Sky Lagoon in Reykjavik. Another North Iceland visitor attraction that’s just getting going is the Eurovision Museum in Húsavík. Capitalising on the interest generated by the 2020 Will Ferrell movie and of course Daði Freyr & Gagnamagnið’s superb performance at the 2021 contest, it promises to be a lot of fun.
And it’s not all happening up north. In the capital, Perlan added not one but two ziplines to the many activities it has for visitors. Now you can take in the view over Reykjavik in a more thrilling fashion. Over in Reykjanes, not far from Keflavik Airport, Fagradalsfjall volcano famously kicked off in March 2021. During the eruption, jaw-dropping fountains of lava and ashy smoke were ejected into the air and rivers of magma crept down through the Geldingadalur valley as an awestruck crowd looked on. Though the eruption finally wound down in September of the same year, the lava field it created remains a spectacular place for hikers to explore.
Fagradalsfjall Volcano erupting
Over the last decade, Iceland has earned its place as one of the world’s most exciting holiday destinations. While the pandemic knocked the wind out of its sails for a while, the country has now dropped all COVID restrictions and is well and truly open for business. All the old reasons why people loved Iceland still hold true. There are countless breathtaking waterfalls, beautiful valleys, magnificent glaciers and unspoilt beaches, not to mention plenty of opportunities to get up close to wildlife. The culture’s unique and fascinating, with longstanding traditions such as the réttir (sheep roundup) where you’ll not only be invited to watch but also to join in. Meanwhile, in Reykjavik, there’s plenty of lively nightlife and the country’s highest concentration of restaurants and cafés to enjoy.
It’s not really a case of persuading you why now is the best time to fly to Iceland. Instead we’ll simply ask: when are you coming over?
Looking for the best Iceland itineraries? Here are some of our favourites:
Around Iceland in 10 Days
My Own Self-Drive
Waterfalls, Geysers & Glacier Lagoon