FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Experience Iceland’s Wild Landscape

Feb 28, 2014
2014 / March 2014

Sunlight blankets Iceland nearly 24 hours a day from mid-May to mid-August, ushering in the “midnight sun” season of perpetual light. The sun sets briefly to shower the midnight hours with a twinkling dusk. In sharp contrast, in the middle of winter Iceland sees a scant four to five hours of light per day. This makes for an intriguing travel experience in which tours leave at midnight during the summer while winter ushers in twilight tourism. Regardless of the season, Iceland is an ideal destination for a change of pace or a long-overdue reunion with friends. When business brings you to Iceland, bring your buddies with you.

Get the adrenaline pumping while exploring the depths of Thrihnukagigur Volcano with Inside the Volcano Tour. It’s the only place on the planet where you can cozy up inside a real magma chamber. The volcano erupted some 4,000 years ago and is considered dormant. Only locals can pronounce its tongue-twisting name meaning “Three Peaks Crater.”

The tour recommends visitors arrive moderately fit for the 45- to 50-minute hike to the crater. Though the ascent is relatively flat, its uneven footing can be difficult to maneuver. From there, all you need is the guts to descend the 400 feet to the bottom of the crater via an open cable lift. The ominous ride is a great way to bond with your friends as you stand in awe of the chamber below. Though most excursions depart during the day, the company adds on special after-hours tours for midnight descents, perfect for after the work day ends. Tours usually book up fast and typically operate from mid-May until the end of September.

For a gentler excursion, head to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, which earns its reputation as a unique, firstclass spa experience. Guests glide through the outdoor saltwater geothermal spa lined with dark lava rock. Wooden boxes situated throughout the lagoon house fresh silica mud to slather on damp skin while bobbing along in the 104-degree water. While a spa day may traditionally cater to women, just as many men lather up in the lagoon’s white mud to unwind.

Massages infused with the lagoon’s essential oils are available in 30- to 60-minute durations. Private or group massages can be performed right in the water or with a menu of silica massages for the legs and back. And if you’re passing through Iceland with a long layover, hop on a bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon with Reykjavík Excursions and spend your downtime indulging. The staff is accustomed to weary travelers and offers regular airport transfers and easy luggage storage.

Visibility for the Northern Lights peaks in Iceland between December and February, but they can be viewed as early as October and as late as April. Of course, as with any natural phenomenon, you might not see the lights at all despite the season and leave without the dazzling experience.

Tourists have mixed feelings about standing around in the cold night hoping to catch a glimpse of the dancing lights. If your group votes to give it a go, make the most of your evening with a tour that can at least ensure some luxury. On Reykjavík Excursions’ Warm Baths & Cool Lights! tour, start by relaxing in Laugarvatn Fontana´s open-air geothermal baths. After a local buffet, move to nearby spots to see the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights & Lobster tour takes guests to a black-sand beach for aurora borealis watching before heading to a local restaurant for lobster.

Iceland Luxury Tours specializes in private Super Jeep tours throughout Iceland. They can also assist with accommodations and excursions with other companies. Popular trips include visits to the Golden Circle (featuring some of Iceland’s bestknown natural phenomena) and boat rides at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Jökulsárlón, dotted with oversized, drifting ice blocks, attracts tourists looking for up-close-and-personal glacier excursions. Iceland Luxury Tours also offers some flexibility to combine group tours with activities like helicopter flights and ice climbing for the more adventurous.

Join Goecco Eco Adventures for an evening hike through scenic mountains and lava fields. Pack up your friends and leave Reykjavík at the end of the business day to spend six or seven hours hiking and stopping for a dip at warm river spots. Icelandic snacks, local drinks and flavorful stories are served while you relax. Regardless of the shape your friends are in, the duration of the hike isn’t cause for intimidation. Required hiking level is easy, and hikes are generally downhill for roughly four miles. Summer departures usually run from the beginning of May to mid-September.

Expert guides can also arrange for private tours or customize an adventure to suit your needs. Call during winter months about snowmobile tours. Super Jeep tours, winter wonderland tours and free tours of Reykjavík are also available.

Húsavík has quietly grown into Iceland’s premier whale watching capital, with 11 different species making frequent visits during summer months, perfect for a day free of business obligations. Hop on a 20-ton oak schooner with North Sailing for a Whale, Puffins and Sails tour. The company isn’t simply focused on captivating whale-watching tours but also on preserving Icelandic oak fishing boats. Their first boat, the Knörrinn, was saved from destruction and turned into a gliding tour boat. Today, all of its vessels are traditional fishing boats, and the crowning jewels are the Haukur and Hildur. The company says these two-masted schooners are the only two of their kind in Iceland.

North Sailing’s two-masted schooner Haukur © North Sailing

North Sailing’s two-masted schooner Haukur © North Sailing

Another popular choice is Gentle Giants. The tour company boasts five generations of family in Skjálfandi Bay and claims an impressive 98 percent success rate for whale spotting. If you and your friends can’t decide between a land or a sea excursion, opt for both with a Whales & Horses tour. Explore the nearby countryside on horseback before or after whale watching. The staff provides overalls and raincoats upon request for whale watching. You can also ask for a private tour or a customized itinerary tailored to meet your group’s preferences.

Get dressed up and head out for a cultural experience with a show at the Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre. Perfect to escape a chilly night, shows range from the Iceland Symphony Orchestra to Big Band Christmas concerts and chamber music. But the real draw to Harpa is its award-winning building and glass façade overlooking the old harbor. Guided tours last 45 minutes, with special itineraries for professional groups like architects and designers. Performance aficionados can take a backstage tour of the venue where artists like Björk performed.

Looking for an easy walk with friends through Iceland’s countryside? Head to Thingvellir National Park. The historic grounds became Iceland’s first national park in 1928 and an official UNESCO site in 2004. Its winding history stretches back to Althing, an open-air assembly where Icelandic representatives gathered from 930 to 1798. The region of Thingveillir became the grounds for chieftain clan gatherings, which included markets, storytelling and tournaments. The area is the geologic meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. High rock walls, a gorge and rolling landscape can be explored on foot. Bring a picnic and settle in by the Öxará Waterfall.

Adventurous groups can suit up and check out Thingvellir’s Silfra, regarded as one of the top dive sites in the world. This freshwater fissure rests between the North American and Eurasian continents and dares divers and snorkelers to touch both continents at once. The Sport Diving School of Iceland arranges Silfra tours from the first of May through September and picks up visitors at their hotels in Reykjavík. The dive center also arranges tours to Strýtan, a geothermal chimney; and Garður, at the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula and in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Treasure hunters can ask about the El Grillo tour to see the British oil tanker that sank during World War II in the fjord Seyðisfjörður.

North Sailing’s horseback riding tour © North Sailing

North Sailing’s horseback riding tour © North Sailing

Iceland Info to Go

The modern Keflavík International Airport (KEF) optimizes travel time by trying to group departing and arriving flights around the same time. While this means long lines at airport security and bustling restaurants, it also means quiet and empty terminals on longer layovers. Iceland’s FlyBus ($22 or $40 round-trip) leaves 35 to 40 minutes after flight arrivals. Teenagers are half-price and children under 11 free with a paying adult. Rides to Reykjavík take roughly 45 minutes to the BSI Bus Terminal with transfers to major hotels. Airport taxis A-Stöðin or Hreyfill Bæjarleiðir are available for an average of $120 directly to and from Leifur Eiríksson Air Terminal.

Where to Stay in Iceland

HÓTEL GRÍMSBORGIR Enjoy a deluxe apartment with four bedrooms, a kitchen and outdoor hot tub located alongside Iceland’s largest freshwater river near the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park. Ásborgir 30, Selfoss $$

HOTEL HOLT An upscale, family-run hotel with 41 guestrooms features sparkling views over Reykjavík. In 2010, the chef of the hotel’s renowned Gallery Restaurant cooked at Fimmvörðuháls volcano using lava as an oven. Bergstadastraeti 37-101, Reykjavík $$$

HOTEL RANGÁ The only 4-star resort in South Iceland, this countryside hotel about 60 miles east of Reykjavík resembles a sprawling, modern log cabin with 51 guestrooms and suites plus a riverside restaurant. Sudurlandsvegur, 851 Hella $$$$

Restaurants in Iceland

FJÖRUBORĐIĐ Located on the shores of Stokkseyri, Fjöruborðið attracts locals from around the country craving lobster dishes and soups. A nearby marquee hosts festivals and concerts. Eyrarbraut 3A, Stokkseyri $$$$

FRIĐRIK V Choose from three- or five-course surprise tasting menus focusing on slow-food cooking. A trained staff carefully explains each dish. Hope for the skyr brûlée or lobster bisque. Laugavegur 60, Reykjavík $$$

GRILLMARKAĐURINN This cozy restaurant prides itself on both its farmers and chefs, joining forces for a rotating seasonal menu. Look for veggies, minke whale steak, fried mushrooms or vegetarian peanut steak. Lækjargata 2A, Reykjavík $$$$

Read more about Iceland’s hidden people.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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