By Cassie Shortsleeve. Photos: Getty.
This month, Condé Nast Traveler unveiled a package of stories highlighting emerging destinations—places that are just making their way onto travelers' radars. A few years ago, Iceland could easily have been considered one of those, but today, the Nordic country has more tourists than residents. There's just one little caveat: The country's tourism boom is overwhelmingly focused on Reykjavik, the country's capital. But that may not be for long.
As Adweek reports, Iceland's tourism board has gotten creative, crafting marketing strategies to divert wide-eyed travelers to less-traveled parts of the country. That's to take nothing away from the postcard-worthy capital, Reykjavik, where the sky-colored waters of Blue Lagoon are only a few minutes away, or the boon to the local economy both $99 flights from the U.S. and Icelandair's stopover program have provided.
But this year, tourism group Promote Iceland has launched "Iceland Academy," a series of videos hosted by locals promoting more out-there destinations in entertaining ways. One video, for example, is titled "How to Avoid Hot Tub Awkwardness," useful info even if you're not in Iceland.
The country's hoping the program will change not only where travelers go, but how, and when they travel. The tourism board reports tourists still seek Instagram-able views, but also cultural experiences, like exploring Friðheimar, a farm that’s responsible for 18 percent of Iceland’s tomatoes (it's cooler than a tomato farm sounds). Overnight trips are also more popular in summer months, so the country is trying to boost winter trips, according to Adweek.
While national tourism boards frequently try to get visitors to explore outside capital cities, in this case, going outside Reykjavik brings you to ski country, quiet fishing towns, and natural wonders (sans the crowds). For your next Nordic trip, consider these areas.
- Bláskógabyggð: About 25 miles southwest of Reykjavík, Thingvellir National Park’s flat landscape makes for some of the best viewing of the Northern Lights’ green glow.
- Akureyri: Iceland’s second-biggest city is just a 45-minute flight north from Reykjavik—and it’s home to some super-luxe Airbnb cottages. A must-do: At Akureyri Golf Club, you can tee off into the early morning hours in June and July when the sun doesn't really set.
- Siglufjörður: Iceland’s ski country at the Arctic’s edge looks like a snow globe. Siglufjörður, an isolated town dotted with pastel homes, is a hot ticket for skiers (and heli-skiers).
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula: A 2.5-hour drive northwest of Reykjavik, Snæfellsnes Peninsula boasts seaside expanses, dormant volcanoes, glaciers, and wild horses. Do lunch at the luxurious hotel, Búðir, which has one of Iceland’s best restaurants (and killer views of the Snaefellsjökull glacier).
Now you just need to keep your eyes peeled for a flight deal to Iceland.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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