The elusive Northern Lights continue to tease us with the prospect of an appearance through 2014-2015. The 11 year cycle of the sun is still peaking meaning more sunspots are visible on the sun and in turn more solar flare energy is being released into space – the perfect recipe for Aurora activity. Scientists put this down to a double peak phenomenon which bodes well for those hoping to catch a glimpse of this amazing natural wonder. Iceland is an ideal Northern Lights hunting destination, as the only place in the world where the lights can be seen throughout the whole country.
One of the best known places to view the Aurora Borealis in their full glory is the remote yet luxurious Hotel Ranga. This itinerary combines a stay here with two nights in the nation's vibrant capital, Reykjavik.
It is also often possible to view the Northern Lights from the city. If the weather conditions are favourable and local authorities state there is a good chance of a display we can have you collected from your hotel in downtown Reykjavik and driven outside the city to whichever spot local experts deem best for enjoying the display without the city's light pollution.
A visit to Iceland makes for a special experience, and this fascinating country is closer to the UK than you might think: the flight is only three hours from Heathrow to Keflavik, and downtown Reykjavik is only 45 minutes from the airport. We can help arrange a stay of any length and with a full range of different activities, so why not ask us to tailor make an itinerary to suit your interests.
This sample itinerary based between the sumptuous art deco Hotel Borg in Reykjavik and the tranquil Hotel Ranga in the South would include some fantastic activities and opportunities to see some unforgettable sights.
On arrival in Reykjavik take some time to get your bearings and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the city's top restaurants. Iceland is famous for its fresh fish and organic lamb. Those feeling brave could even try puffin or the traditional delicacy of rotten shark meat!
The rest of the day could be spent at your leisure exploring the designer boutiques, art galleries and museums downtown.
The following day visit the 'Golden Circle' a route around the glaciers and waterfalls of the volcanically active area east of the city which shows you the best this natural wilderness has to offer. The tour starts at Thingvellir National Park, where two tectonic plates meet, and continues to Gullfoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, before going on to Geysir, home of the original geysers which still shoot water high into the air at regular intervals. You will be escorted on the trip by a private driver/ guide in a specially modified 4x4 vehicle, allowing access to some of the country's most remote areas. The more adventurous can also experience snowmobiling on either the Langjökull or Mýrdalsjökull glaciers.
The second part of your stay would offer the chance to enjoy the hospitality of the Hotel Ranga, a luxurious boutique hotel in a tranquil spot in a remote area an hour and a half away from the capital.
The location of the hotel makes it ideal for viewing the Northern Lights: in fact it is known as one of the best places in the world for the study of this phenomenon. The staff at Ranga can tell you everything you need to know about the Aurora Borealis, and, if requested, will even wake you up if there is a particularly spectacular display!
External lighting is carefully controlled, so you can even enjoy the views from the geothermally heated Jacuzzis behind the hotel.
There is a huge range of activities on offer at Hotel Ranga, from hiking, fishing and horse riding to a spectacular helicopter flight over smoking volcanic craters and beaches composed of black sand. A guided visit to Thorsmork National Park can be organised as can trips to the nearby waterfalls and glaciers.
Alternatively why not continue across Iceland's south coast to see some of the country's most treasured sights: walk behind the 65 metre high Skogafoss waterfall and hike on the rugged Solheimajokull glacier. We can even include a caving experience through the hidden worlds below the lava fields before you return by superjeep over black volcanic sand dunes.
Finally, on the way back to the airport we suggest a visit to the Blue Lagoon, a huge natural geothermal spa where you can immerse yourself in health-giving silica-enriched waters or treat yourself to a little pampering before returning home.
Call the European Escapes team to tailor-make your own unforgettable Northern Lights experience.
|Stay||Location / Route||Overnight|
|Fly London to Reykjavik (Keflavik)||Day flight|
||Reykjavík, Iceland||Hotel Borg|
||Southern Iceland, Iceland||Hotel Ranga|
|Fly Reykjavik (Keflavik) to London||Day flight|
When to travel
Nordic climate - May, June and July are the driest months of the year. Mid-June to August is high season, but most highland tours don’t operate until July because of snow. At other times, many tourist facilities outside Reykjavík are closed. For a chance to see the Northern Lights travel between December and April and for whale-watching, the spring and summer are best.
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Location and directions
Reykjavík & South Iceland
This itinerary is based in the South Western corner of Iceland, with stays in its capital Reykjavik and in the remote Hotel Ranga in Southern Iceland.
How to get there
There are flights to Keflavik airport every day from Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as flights from Scotland with Icelandair. Iceland is a great place to stop for a few days on the way to the Eastern United States too. From the airport it's a short (45-minute) drive to the small city of Reykjavik.