Wednesday, 18 April 2012 2:22 PM
The Icelandic capital Reykjavik is a fascinating city to visit, but one of the reasons why it is so appealing for people seeking winter breaks in Europe is the wealth of exciting things to see and do within easy reach of the metropolis.
Here are just three fantastic excursions you can enjoy while exploring all that Reykjavik has to offer.
The Blue Lagoon
Located close to Keflavik International Airport and just a 40-minute drive outside the city is the Blue Lagoon. This natural pool is heated by geothermal activity and is a wonderful place to relax and let the stresses and strains of daily life melt away. If you have planned an active winter break, you may decide to pay the Blue Lagoon a visit towards the end of your trip, so you can soothe any aching muscles.
There is much more to the lagoon than its mineral-rich waters alone, as there is an outdoor spa located on its shores. Some of the treatments available can even take place in the water for a truly unique experience. Massages, skin-cleansing treatments, manicures and pedicures are among the things on offer here, so you can leave feeling wonderfully refreshed and revitalised.
The Northern Lights
Winter is the best time of the year to visit Reykjavik if you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, as the Northern Lights are also known. This amazing natural spectacle is visible in Iceland between September and April, with the most impressive displays usually taking place at around midnight.
To get the clearest views of the phenomenon, it is well worth heading out of the city - even though it can be seen here - as urban light pollution will not interfere with the lights' vibrancy. You will need a cloudless sky in order to see the Aurora Borealis, while sub-zero temperatures tend to make the colours more spectacular and the light brighter.
Booking Northern Lights breaks with an experienced operator is the best way to ensure you have the highest chance of seeing nature's show in all its glory. Companies that regularly run tours from Reykjavik to see the lights will be able to take you to the most advantageous viewing points. However, you need to be aware poor weather can prevent you from seeing the Aurora Borealis, so check the forecasts in advance of your trip to choose the best day for your excursion.
Eyjafjallajokull glacier and volcano
The Eyjafjallajokull stratavolcano is covered by a large glacier, which is well worth exploring on foot to get a true appreciation of the magnificence of its ice structures. Taking a guided walk into the ice fields is fascinating, as you will be shown amazing sculptures and deep ravines as you traverse the glacier using specialist equipment such as crampons.
The Eyjafjallajokull volcano massif is situated in the south of the country and as the ice from the glacier has receded over the years, it has left behind some stunning waterfalls and dramatic rock formations. The Skogafoss Waterfall is just one such example and you will be struck by the sight of the torrent of water pouring over the cliff into a deep pool below. When the sun is at the right angle, a rainbow will be created around the base of the falls, adding to the beauty of the location.