Weekend in Iceland
Getting Steamy in the Blue Lagoon.
By Everett Potter
There’s nothing quite like an active volcano to alert people of your existence. The eruptions of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland last spring severely disrupted air traffic in Europe and put this North Atlantic island at the center of the news. Indeed, on a flight from Geneva on Swiss last May, I peered out the window at the smoldering giant. It was a reminder that volcanoes are at the heart of this remarkable country, which lies only about five hours away from New York’s JFK.
With its hot springs, snow-covered mountains and lunar-looking rocks, Iceland offers one of the most dramatic natural landscapes on earth. Its capital city of Reykjavik appears to have been assembled from colored Lego blocks, seafood is the star of most menus, and the city offers up legendary weekend nightlife that goes way past dawn. Iceland’s much-discussed financial and government crisis and consequent currency devaluation has lowered its hefty prices, but it remains a place where you have to be wallet-wary. Still, for an exotic long weekend escape from the East Coast or the Midwest, it’s an exciting option.
Exotic Essential: A soak in the Blue Lagoon, located about 40 minutes southwest of the city. Iceland is known for geothermal springs and this is the most famous, a sulfurous lake covered with a thick mist.
Where to Stay: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, built in 2005 in restored historic buildings, is in the heart of the city, next to Parliament and close to many restaurants and bars. Doubles are available from $207, including breakfast.
Where to Eat: Fishmarket is the classic splurge, with trout, salmon and shrimp, as well as reindeer and puffin for the intrepid eater. About $65 per person before drinks. 3 Frakkar is also a place to try these Icelandic specialites, but dinner will run less, about $45 per person.
Getting There: Icelandair flies nonstop from New York, Boston, Orlando, Minneapolis and Seattle to Reykjavik.