One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
I booked a Travelzoo Newsflash package to Iceland with the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. The natural phenomenon is at a peak year of its 11-year cycle, and the dates we booked near the spring equinox are one of the best times of year to see them. Although overcast skies meant we never saw the lights, we didn’t leave the country disappointed. The island, which is smaller than Tennessee, packs in tons of attractions and experiences, less than a six-hour flight from New York.
Iceland is ranked as the friendliest country for tourists by the World Economic Forum, and it’s also easy to navigate, with English prevalent alongside the local language. The biggest draws here are of the geothermal variety. Tour the geysers and waterfalls that dot the spectacular Golden Circle route, then unwind at the Blue Lagoon spa with vast geothermal pools. I booked an in-water massage, which, though very pricey, was worth it for the heavenly experience being massaged while submerged in warm waters with snowflakes falling around me.
The country is also a destination for adventurous foodies. Try the gag-inducing fermented shark for bragging rights, and then cleanse your palate with more appealing fare like minke whale, scallops, goose, cod and the world-famous Icelandic hot dog. Horse and puffin can also be sampled. I avoided eating those, but I did get to pet some of the shaggy native horses who were huddled by the fence during our Golden Circle tour. We washed down our meals with brews from the budding beer scene at Micro Bar and shots of pungent local liquors like Opal and Brennivin, a fluorescent-green, caraway-flavored schnapps nicknamed Black Death.
Although missing out on the lights was a disappointment, we were glad to have visited Iceland and now have even more reason to return.