One Of The Many Reasons We’re Dreaming About Iceland Right Now

While the European Union is considering a ban on travelers from the US, it hasn’t stopped many Americans from dreaming about a vacation in Europe—especially Iceland, which has become a hot spot in recent years. With its inviting thermal baths, dramatic glaciers, active volcanoes and spectacular waterfalls, the country has captivated visitors and even led to some issues with over-tourism.

But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s been a silver lining, if you can call it that. The country—which is usually packed at this time of year—is empty and visitors practically have the place to themselves, even notoriously crowded spots like the famous geothermal Blue Lagoon Spa, which reopened last week. Of course, we know that an empty Iceland won’t last forever, but with news emerging of a sexy new development on the horizon, it got us excited to hop on a flight and take a socially distanced vacation in the era of under-tourism.

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Behold the Sky Lagoon, which will be set in Kársnes Harbour just outside Reykjavik. Set to rival the legendary Blue Lagoon, the new manmade geothermal spa will have views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Northern Lights, plus a 230-foot infinity edge that blends into the ocean. Its sleek design is inspired by traditional local houses made from turf, and it will offer restorative spa-like rituals rooted in Icelandic tradition. And that’s not all—there’s also a cold pool, a sauna, an in-lagoon bar, dining and shopping.

The lagoon is the brainchild of hospitality company Pursuit, which runs distinctive travel experiences around the country. It will open in spring 2021.

Pursuit is also the mastermind behind Iceland’s newest attraction, a ride that will have you soaring over the country called FlyOver Iceland. Similar to the legendary Soarin’ ride at EPCOT in Walt Disney World, FlyOver uses state-of-the-art technology, special effects (wind, mist, scents) and motion to create the feeling of being whisked on an exhilarating journey across Iceland.

We’re also excited about the new tours from Hidden Iceland, a tour operator that has been implementing health-and-safety measures on small group trips by keeping groups small and using vehicles that allow for social distancing. Private tours are also possible. 

While travel to Iceland might be impacted by the EU’s soon-to-be-announced travel ban, the country has been successfully handling tourism in the era of coronavirus. On June 15, Iceland started new rules to make sure that every traveler to the country is healthy, with strict COVID-19 testing procedures and a two-week quarantine for those who refuse to get tested or provide evidence of a negative test. Once you are in the country you need to download a COVID-19 tracing app, too, but are effectively free to roam.

“With virtually no new cases in the country it could be a great place for the first trip of the year once everyone is planning to travel again,” says Ryan Connolly of Hidden Iceland, pointing out that Iceland makes sense for post-COVID travel due to its low population density (around 330,000 people in a country the size of Belgium) and an uncultivated outdoor landscape.

As of June 1, there were only two active cases of coronavirus in Iceland, and in total the island has registered just 1,838 cases and 10 deaths.

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