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Iceland Offers A Rest, Whether Staying Or Passing Through

Moyan Brenn
Walking through a rainbow at Skogafoss waterfall, in Iceland.

One of the casualties of the global economic crisis late last decade was Iceland's economy. Unemployment soared, banks toppled and protests ensued.

And then came tourism.

It wasn’t a silver bullet, but it helped bring Iceland’s economy back from the brink. The island nation’s popularity among global travelers is on the rise.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says it’s a beautiful place and it’s easy to spend some time there.

A Week Between Flights

Besides being a destination in its own right, Iceland is a great layover on flights between the United States and Europe. And Iceland Air makes it easier – allowing layovers as fast as a matter of hours, and as long as 7 days, if you so choose.

Credit Chris Ford / Flickr
The Blue Lagoon isn't far from the airport, and is a good place to unwind on a long layover.

  “You can get off the plane, catch a bus that goes to the Blue Lagoon, soak for a couple hours, and get back on your flight to Amsterdam,” Brumley said.

Or, you build in a few extra days and stay a while.

Food and People

Iceland’s food offerings run the gamut. You can get shrimp, lobster, haddock, herring, and plaice. Lamb and puffin are also served here. So is whale, although its place on menus is increasingly controversial. Opponents of commercial whaling point out that a large percentage of whale caught for food in Iceland is served to tourists. They urge tourists not to eat it.

Brumley says Icelanders are considered “the Alaskans of the Mid-Atlantic.”

“They’re self sufficient, they have a quirky sense of humor, and the landscape is beautiful,” Brumley said. “You can be on a black sand beach one moment, and within 15 or 20 minutes, be standing on a glacier.”

Iceland Air

Iceland Air offers departures from SeaTac. It’s more than 7 hours nonstop to Reykjavik. Pack a lunch. It’s a no-frills airline.

“You’ll probably be paying for your drinks and meals across,” Brumley said. “But who cares? You’re getting a great stopover, experiencing a whole other culture. It’s a great destination.”


Going Places is KPLU's weekly exploration of travel topics, from world destinations to nearby getaways to travel tips. Travel expert Matthew Brumley is the founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which provides small group travel to destinations around the world for clients including KPLU. Let us know your thoughts, or suggest future segments, in the comments below.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.