When people mention Iceland, the first things that generally come to mind are mountains, volcanos, geysers and breathtakingly stunning landscapes.
Oh, they’re all included in the price of a plane ticket (assuming you can rent a car, a guide or take a tour that will get them to you). But, having lived in Iceland since July of 2020, I get a sense there’s another side of Iceland that will have some appeal to those willing to travel this spring and thereafter.
And by peaceful, I don’t necessarily mean “quiet”. I mean, rather, that Iceland works and is more than ready to accommodate its next visitors.
While it will take some time for Iceland’s tourism industry to recover, the country is emerging from the worst of COVID-19 relative to other destinations.
Never a big package-tourism place, Iceland has a great base of small hotels and rental properties (many optimistically called “summer houses”).
Many summer houses are secluded and have scenic views and built in hot tubs, some using Iceland’s famous geothermally heated water. Most have fully equipped kitchens. As seclusion in Iceland does not mean being completely cut off, Iceland’s well-supplied supermarkets are rarely more than a half an hour-hour drive away.
Town life, and the comings and goings in Iceland’s university-town-sized capital of Reykjavik, has remained active throughout the pandemic – with restaurants and cinemas remaining open, and with the local geothermal spa/swimming pools fully operational in most towns across the country.
Reykjavik has an easy feel to it at the moment. No crowds, plenty of dining choices, a selection of small museums and local sights. A brief drive of 15-20 minutes outside the city or its suburbs situates you in sweeping seascapes, lunar landscapes, silent volcanos and steaming geothermal zones. To make the most of your Reykjavik area experience, the services of local experts like Iceland Unwrapped are invaluable now because many sites and locations have closed or are changing hands as the recovery gathers pace.
The mercurial national currency, the Icelandic Krona, is also the most tourist-friendly it’s been in years, bringing prices down to levels comparable to larger cities in North America and Europe, excepting of course the nation’s pricey if diversely supplied chain of state liquor stores.
To be sure, you can come to Iceland and be blown away by the scenery. But travelers seeking peace, quiet, comfort and space will be pleased by a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. 2021 will be a good time to come.
Mike Klein is Principal of Changing The Terms, a Reykjavik-based business communication consultancy. A US native, Mike has lived in Iceland since 2020 and has also resided in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. He is the former Europe – Middle East – Africa chair of IABC, a leading global communication association. He is particularly fond of Icelandic cod and the Gull brand of Icelandic lager, and is married to Helga Stina, founder of Iceland Unwrapped.