If you’re looking for a snowy break, but you’re not into downhill skiing, here is a selection of winter holidays that might fit the bill, which appeared in the Times earlier this month.times-winter-breaks-1-jpeg times-winter-breaks-2-jpeg times-winter-breaks-3-jpeg

 

 

 

 

Well, thank goodness Bardarbunga volcano is easier to pronounce than Eyjafjallaj√∂kull. (Although for the latter, just trying downing a few neat whiskys and saying “I’ve a fetlar yoghurt” and you’ll be, erm, about 1/5th of the way there, and give Icelanders a good laugh).

Iceland is a convenient, if somewhat pricey*, place for a weekend away from Britain with flights from a number of airports including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Bristol and Edinburgh. And really, not much further from the States, if you live on the east coast. (*Food = more expensive than in the UK; but petrol is cheaper than here).

But it’s quirky, has unbelievable scenery, a cool population that speaks fluent English to an embarrassing degree, and in Reykjavik a party scene that punches way above its weight. If you’re lucky you might get warm days if you go June-August, although on my visits there always seems to be a wind howling. As one local told me “really, we just have one season – Autumn”. So wrap up.

My recent trip had me spend a night in Reykjavik (at the Hotel Klettur) and, to be honest, I was glad to leave town. For me, Iceland is all about the glorious countryside – the ugly, functional Lego block and tin-walled buildings of the capital leave me rather cold.

We then went onto the Hotel Ion (about an hour outside Reykjavik – liked it, despite mysterious additions to our final bill; loved the outdoor hot tub) and Hotel Ranga (a little further – somewhat bleak setting, but warm and friendly inside, great food, new astronomical observatory and well away from light pollution on nights when the Northern Lights light up the sky), stopping at Thingvellir, snorkelling between European and North American tectonic plates at Silfra (have to be honest: not sure one hour to get kitted up, with only 20 minutes in the water was really worth it, but I’m sure plenty of people think differently – and maybe I was just grumpy because my hands were freezing in the water), and then exploring waterfalls at Gullfoss, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss (which you can walk behind). No sign of those Northern Lights but not quite into the season yet – but if they are about, Iceland is as good a place as any to spot them.

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Blue Lagoon (tip: buy your tickets online beforehand, or, on busy days, you’ll be waiting forever in the queue to get in).

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Trying for that Sigur Ros album-cover look at Skogafoss

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Just me, some grass and a few ponies

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The cathedral in Reykjavik

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Another traffic jam in Iceland

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Hotel Ion

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Skogafoss

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In Iceland horse is on the menu: apparently the only people who get upset are the Brits. Was never really sure if the many ponies we saw dotted around the countryside were for riding or eating.

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Gullfoss

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Seljalandsfoss

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Hotel Ranga

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My fellow travellers for the weekend, Henry and Erika from NYC, at Gullfoss

Thanks to Discover the World for getting me there. More info on Iceland at www.visiticeland.com

Photos are copyright of Erika Rose and William Hide and may not be borrowed or used without prior permission.