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Winter in Iceland

Maybe it’s the name, but Iceland in the dead of winter doesn’t instantly appeal to those who don’t like the cold.  So we packed our swimsuit and snorkel and set out to put the record straight.

At wintertime, Iceland becomes dreamy. Snowy landscapes, stunning Northern light displays, fewer travellers and lower prices mean we think you should be thinking December not August for the short 5-hour flight from the East Coast to Reykjavik. It’s not even that cold, by Thor.

The days might by short but the night is alive with the Northern Lights. I suggest heading out of Reykjavik to Hotel Ranga or the ION Hotel. Both provide optimal viewing conditions for the lights. In every sense: I spent a few happy hours lounging in a hot tub at the ION while watching the green lights dance above. The apparition of the lights being somewhat unpredictable, the hotel even offers an ‘Aurora wake up call’ so you can sleep soundly until they start to show, knowing you’re not missing out.

If total seclusion is what you’re after then head up to Midgard, a cabin in the middle of nowhere  accessible only by super jeep, and where you can spend your days messing around with snowmobiles and snow kites, and trying your hand at ice-fishing and ‘learning basic survival skills’. At night it’s just you, the celestial light show, and a sense of having really gotten away from it all.

For something totally unique, in September and October you can spend the night in a century old lighthouse at the iconic Dyrholaey on the southernmost tip of the Icelandic Coast. The spectacular views over the North-Atlantic and the black sand beaches are unrivalled.

Wherever you go, don’t forget a swim suit. Dotted across Iceland are hundreds of volcanic hot springs, including the famous Blue Lagoon. The chill of the winter air quickly fades away as you relax into the warmth with a cool beer in hand, or maybe even a frozen drink from the swim-up bar. The water is that balmy.

And what about the snorkel? Well, there may be snow on the ground but with a cosy dry-suit you can still go floating in the waters of the Silfra Tectonic Fissure, the gap between the North American and European tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park, which boasts the clearest waters on the planet (here’s why).

You’ll want to visit soon because over the past couple of years we’ve seen strong solar activity, however astrophysicists are anticipating that this will begin to fade in 2017. Now is the perfect time to catch these dancing lights during peak viewing conditions.

Victoria Marsh aint’ afraid of a little cold, nor a little swim-up bar or hot-tub-with-a-view for that matter. Email her directly here to ask her how to pronounce Bjarnagjá.

Spend the night in a century old lighthouse at the iconic Dyrholaey on the southernmost tip of the Icelandic Coast

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