3 of the best cool climate destinations to visit this summer
Sunrise and sunset are consistently magnificent on Iceland’s west coast during the summer. In Reykjavik, the capital, the sun sets around midnight on June 21, creating a gold and pink blaze, then lingers just below the horizon before rising a few hours later. While four days might be enough time to overnight at the following destinations on charter, you may find that you, too, would prefer to linger and let the night sky show and the country’s activities enchant you for a week or more.
Begin in Reykjavik, in the southwest, where by day you can soak in a geothermal open-air pool, bike along the city’s coastline and visit nearby Hafnarfjördður (home of the “hidden folk” - elves, dwarfs and other mystical beings) and then spend the bright night partying in the city’s bars, pubs and clubs. Alternatively, head inland to Thingvellir, don a dry suit and drop into the Silfra freshwater fissure, the narrowest section of a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents. While underwater, you can touch two continental plates at the same time, putting it at the top of many people's diving bucket list.
At dawn, cruise north around the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Grundarfjörður, home to Kirkjufell Mountain (which recently starred alongside Ben Stiller in the 2013 film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”). Scale this striking mountain with a guide, wander around the Viking village in the center of town, visit a puffin colony on a nearby island and then tour the mystical, 4,744-foot Snæfellsjökull glacier.
Continuing north, pause in Ísafjörður, a fishing port and the largest town on the dramatic Westfjords peninsula. Participate in a 10K or half marathon during the Runners’ Festival in July, play a game of golf amid the mountain scenery or head to the valleys of Tungudalur and Engidalur to photograph waterfalls, hike or ski.
Finally, cruise east to energetic Akureyri, where you can absorb the sun drenched scenery, including the spectacular, 100-foot-wide Goðafoss waterfall and, afterward, grab an icy treat from local favourite Brynja, which makes its ice cream with milk instead of cream.
From June 22 to 25, play round-the-clock golf at The Arctic Open Golf Championship, a 36-hole tournament held at the Akureyri Golf Club.
On the menu
The menu at Reykjavik’s Dill Restaurant is subject to change, but might feature cured cod with parsley, watercress and cod cream; Arctic char with sunchokes and spruce; dried catfish with burnt butter; reindeer with beetroot skins; and beetroot with meringue and crowberries. Five or seven courses are available.
Unless you’re soaking in a geothermal pool, you’re unlikely to feel the heat in Iceland. In Reykjavik, in the south, July’s average high temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while in Akureyri, in the north, it’s a few degrees cooler.