1Reykjavik: The city of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital and home to most of the country’s inhabitants, is most visitors’ first stop in the country, and serves as an excellent home base for exploring the surrounding landscape. A walking or biking tour will set your bearings in a city that not only boasts a rich maritime history, but is also dotted with colorful buildings and plentiful local parks; whereas on the culinary side, a beer- and food-tasting tour will get you acquainted with the tastes of Iceland. And the nightlife is legendary, and weekend partying can go on until the early morning hours. With the city as a base, visitors can take a whale-watching cruise of the bay to look for minke and humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and porpoises. And a tour of the Golden Circle tour is a must-do, as it covers three main locations: the canyon left by the drifting Eurasian and North American plates at Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Strokkur Geysir and hot springs. Just a 40-minute drive southwest of the city, the Blue Lagoon spa is another well-known geothermal spot that can be experienced on its own, or on a tour combining other Icelandic hot spots. Into the heart of Iceland, glaciers—such as the impressive Langjökull—await. And out in the countryside, night brings the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, one of nature’s most spectacular light shows—plan a trip for September to mid-April for your best chance of a sighting.

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