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The best unknown vacation spot in Iceland


Are you visiting Iceland? Consider Hip, Wellness-Focused Reykjanes

It’s no surprise that Iceland continues to top travelers’ must-visit lists, especially during the summer months when hiking and camping are less strenuous with no snow and indulgent sunshine. The country is beautiful with volcanic rock formations resembling those of Mars, black sand beaches and a Happiness Index ranking that proves it’s still one of the least stressful places on earth.

But so much attention has been paid to the Golden Circle (a scenic route that circles the entire country) and Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, that tourists may overlook the gems of off-the-beaten-path destinations that deserve more than be visited. vacation routes.

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Nearby Reykjanes, Reykjavik’s little sister, captures the charm and otherworldly scenery of Iceland, but with less of the hustle and bustle of a tourist town. In fact, you can spend an entire week in the city with a personalized program for any kind of traveler, like riding the famous Icelandic horses for the adventurers or enjoying the Blue Lagoon spa treatments for the guys who appreciate being pampered.

Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t rule out Reykjanes on your next trip to Iceland, which is quickly emerging as one of the country’s most wellness-focused regions (and only a short flight from the East Coast via low-cost airlines like Play or Icelandair).

Traditional pool culture

One of Iceland’s most beloved traditions is to gather around the city’s pools to bathe and converse with the locals before starting the day. Whether you like your water hot, cold, or somewhere in between (a dunk in each type is said to boost your immune system), there’s a body of water for everyone and it’s packed with all the juicy gossip. . Hitting YMCA type pools is a custom that will make you not Feel like a tourist, but be sure to shower before entering if you want to avoid the looks of contempt and disgust from other bathers.

The diversity of outdoor activities

Traveling during the summer will sacrifice a view of Iceland’s famous Northern Lights, but outdoor activities in Reykjanes will showcase the surrounding beauty with mild temperatures and a light sea breeze as a backdrop. See historic sites like the Bridge Between Two Continents, a walkway over a major fissure that illustrates the divergent plate that likely connected Europe and North America. It’s also a short drive from the smoldering and active geothermal area of ​​Gunnuhver, which makes Yellowstone’s Old Faithful feel like an amateur hour compared to its impressive geysers.

For slightly more adventurous travelers, a volcano hike at Fagradalsfjall is an absolute must to view the jagged rock formations of lava that spewed and cooled just over a year ago. And if you have water on your brain, you can snorkel at nearby Lake Kleifarvatn to witness bubbly geothermal activity that looks like a poured glass of champagne.

One-of-a-kind spa experiences

Iceland has quietly established itself as an international beauty destination, joining the ranks of Korea, Italy, France and the United States in offering local treatments and products to encourage relaxation and youthfulness. Since we take our beauty routines seriously at AskMen (check out our 2022 Grooming Awards, which feature two island products), we’d be remiss not to recommend a stop at the famous Blue Lagoon. Lather up your face with its award-winning Silica Mud Mask, which deeply cleanses and strengthens the skin as you soak. You can also book a floating massage session at The Retreat Spa where therapists scrub your body while gently drifting you into a private pool. It’s an experience unlike anything you’ve felt before when you embrace your inner mermaid and let nature be your primary guide.

The local cuisine

Depending on who you ask, the perception of Icelandic cuisine can vary. But restaurants in Reykjanes thrive on local, usually ocean-derived ingredients that get from source to plate in just hours. Highlights include a stop at Villabar (formerly known as Pulsubarinn) for a famous Icelandic hot dog – crispy, comically long and topped with a sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep. Wash it down with a creatively brewed beer from Litla Brugghúsið and book dinner at El Faro, next to the lighthouse, which shines in its own way through Mediterranean-inspired dishes like a croqueta platter and patatas bravas, all two fried to golden perfection.

For traditional, decadent lobster soup that’s creamy and surprisingly herbaceous (it’s said to be Sigourney Weaver’s favourite!), head to the port of Bryggjan Grindavik or head to health-conscious Hjá Höllu for the finest cod on the island served with a savory peanut salsa and miso soy butter.

Of course, you should also indulge in more luxurious dining experiences at KEF Restaurant with wasabi mayo-stuffed beef carpaccio setting the tone, or wander to The Retreat at Blue Lagoon for a reservation at Moss or Lava. The former offers a tasting menu that showcases the best of Icelandic cuisine, from scallops in green curry to tender Icelandic lamb with peas.

Surprisingly luxurious accommodations

With so much to do and nearly 21 hours of daylight in the summer months, sleep is of the utmost importance.

Hotel Berg, just a short drive from Iceland’s Keflavik Airport, offers spacious, modern rooms and is located next to a sleepy, picturesque marina. It’s a great place to start and end your trip, especially with a rooftop jacuzzi to relieve aches and pains.

Silica Hotel and The Retreat at Blue Lagoon offer more luxurious options with ice-blue pools and rooms that access them directly. These private oases allow guests to have a more personalized experience with the hot springs by not having to walk through hordes of other tourists. The attention to detail, both in the simplistic design and construction, has also attracted big-name celebrities from around the world to savor the feeling of escapism and being “on another planet”.

And with the world in the state it is in right now, we could all use a little respite. Consider Reykjanes.

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