This year has proved a positive one for tourism to Iceland, with the popularity of the country continuing to increase, and year-on-year UK visitor numbers up by 28%.
With new openings, increased flight routes and tours uncovering lesser known areas, 2016 is predicted to be another tourism booming year according to the tourist board.
Highlights include a new Northern Lights 'bubble', which introduces a novel way to see the mystical green lights; a direct flight to the wilder east of the country; and evening whale watching tours under the midnight sun.
Launching on January 9, the new Northern Lights 'Bubble' is a bubble-shaped room located 70km north of Reykjavik and features a transparent roof in a rural area free from light pollution. Overnight stays cost from £99 per night and guests bookings made before the launch date will receive a free bottle of Santero Prosecco Champagne to enjoy under the lights. Visit www.buubble.com for more details.
In terms of accessibility, WOW air has added flights to Iceland from Bristol; Discover The World has introduced a new summer route to the east of Iceland; and Icelandair is to launch a new year-round service from Aberdeen to Reykjavik commencing in March next year.
This is in addition to easyJet’s expansion of its Iceland network last month with a twice-weekly Stansted route, plus British Airways’ route from Heathrow to Reykjavik for the winter 2015/16 schedule.
In terms of new tours being offered in the destination, sea adventure company Special Tours will be offering customers an evening whale-watching tour during the summer of 2016, taking advantage of the longer summer days facilitated by the midnight sun. Prices start from £48. See www.specialtours.is for details.
Meanwhile, Iceland Traveller is introducing a new foodie tour with a departure date of August 22, 2016 and costing from £1,395 including seven nights' breakfast accommodation, a professional guide, all transport, entrance fees, activities and most lunches with flights at an additional cost. See www.icelandtraveller.co.uk
Adventure tour operator, Mountaineers of Iceland, has also announced that it is adding a new fleet of monster trucks for 2016, enabling visitors to explore further into the Icelandic highlands (www.mountaineers.is), while Icelandic Farm Holidays gives visitors the chance to hike and explore inside both volcanoes and glaciers, as well as exploring the black sandy beaches, waterfalls, lava flows and icebergs off the coast. A 15-day trip costs from £1,925 per person including car hire, a ferry trip to the Vestman Islands, admission to a range of attractions and a boat tour on the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Visit www.farmholidays.is/tours for details.