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Looking out of the aeroplane window as you come in to land at Keflavic airport, it's easy to see why Hollywood star Tom Cruise's sci-fi flick Oblivion was filmed in Iceland this summer.
The terrain below looks alien – barren, black lava fields and not a person, or building, in sight. Perfect to get away from it all on a romantic minibreak – in one of the most unique landscapes on earth.
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Until recently, Iceland was very much off the beaten track in terms of tourism. But a spike in visitors – thanks in part to the publicity generated by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 – has put this Northern country very much on the map. And for good reason!
Many people visit Iceland in summer, to experience the wonderful hiking, pony trekking and golfing on offer. But it's also the perfect place to enjoy a couples' winter trip full of adventure, icy landscapes and the chance to see the elusive Northern Lights.
What to do and where to go:
The Northern Lights
What could be more romantic than cuddling up with your partner under the most spectacular – and natural – light show in the world? Plenty of tour companies offer coach excursions out of the city to help you catch sight of the Aurora Borealis. Cross your fingers for clear skies, wrap up warm, and don't forget your camera.
No trip to Iceland is complete without a trip to the spectacular Blue Lagoon. Just catching a glimpse of the powder blue lagoon nestled in the black lava landscape is reason enough to visit – like much of the landscape in Iceland, it is almost other-worldly. But that's not all that's on offer here. The water is 37 degrees and perfect for lazing around in – a romantic hour, or three!, could be whiled away just relaxing and soaking up the tranquil atmosphere of the lagoon with your other half – and there's a full compliment of spa treatments on offer to boot, with products based on the minerals and clay found in the Blue Lagoon itself available to buy.
This is one for the adrenaline junkies. South Iceland Adventure offer tailor-made off-road jeep excursions taking in the best of Southern Iceland. Drive through fast-flowing rivers, up the side of volcanoes, and into the icy wilderness of the mountains, seeing spectacular waterfalls, black sand beaches, canyons and landscapes on the way. Siggy and his team will chat to you, find out what you want to see, and then adapt your itinerary accordingly – taking into account weather conditions every step of the way. The company also offer adventures including snowmobiling, caving, and helicopter action tours.
Reykjavic may be tiny – it has a population of just 120,000 – but it has more than its fair share of romantic restaurants and bars to while away the long, cold nights by candlelight. And, during the day, don't forget to get the lift to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church for 360 degree views of the capital.
Geysir Hot Springs
A trip to Geysir is like watching a geography lesson in real life, with natural springs bubbling away in the ground until the pressure becomes too much – and they explode in spectacular style. Strokkur explodes every five minutes or so but be careful not to stand downwind – the boiling water cools as it hits the air, but you'll still get drenched!
Where to stay:
For beautifully designed, stylish accommodation slap bang in the middle of Reykjavic try Center Hotel Thingholt, located just off Laugavegur, the city's main shopping street. And if you don't fancy going out on a Northern Lights tour, don't worry. The friendly staff will even call you in your room if the Aurora Borealis come out overnight.
If you're after a quiet, luxurious retreat, the Hotel Grimsborgir in Grímsnes, South Iceland, provides the perfect romantic getaway, just 45 minutes drive from Reykjavic. Sip champagne under the night sky – and hopefully the Northern Lights – in one of the cosy yet spacious apartments' outdoor hot tubs, and enjoy gourmet dining in the on-site restaurant, which uses fresh, local products to serve up top-notch meals including Icelandic delicacies.
How to get there: WOW air offer flights from London to Reykjavic from £69.
Who to contact: The helpful, friendly team at All Iceland know all there is to know about trips to Iceland. Based in London but run by Icelanders, this travel company can put together your dream itinerary and organize as much – or as little – of your holiday as you want, ensuring you're in safe hands every step of the way. Call the team on 0207 928 0946 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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