Seeing everything but dry weather in Iceland

May 5, 2004
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Seeing everything but dry weather in Iceland
Question: I am going to Iceland the last week of March. What can I expect? How long will daylight last? More importantly, I will be there for only five days — what would I be crazy to miss?

New York, NY

Reykjavík harbor welcomes visitors
into a real-life Legoland

Adventure Adviser: In Iceland, when it comes to weather, they use a variation of a famous saying: "If you don't like the weather now, wait five minutes — it will probably get worse."

The warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the prevailing south-westerly winds from the Atlantic combine to give the southern and western coasts of Iceland balmier temperatures than those of NYC.

The bummer is this weather pattern is combined with cold polar seas and mountainous coastlines that form condensation and rain, rain, rain! Luckily, however, March isn't one of the highest rainfall months, averaging 3 inches of rain and temperatures in the mid-30s to mid-40s.

The first thing not to miss, which you obviously won't if you plan on spending any time in Reykjavík, are the crayon-colored homes in the capital city. With all the rain, Icelanders must feel the need to brighten the landscape with buckets and buckets of paint.

You'll find many of the rooftops in Reyjavík are a brilliant shade of red, eggplant, lemon, or green. As far as great outdoor activities, no matter which direction you travel from Reyjavík you'll find fjords, lava fields, hot springs galore, and colossal waterfalls.

One thing not to miss is the hot water of the Blue Lagoon just outside the small fishing town of Grindavík on the western end of the Reykjanes Peninsula. When they named this the "Blue Lagoon" they weren't kidding. The waters look like that new icy-blue drink from Gatorade.

If you have a substantial travel budget, you may also want to check out the Myrdalsjökull ice cap. Iceland's fourth-largest glacier also has the distinction of having a very destructive volcano underneath it. Though it rarely blows, the past geologic activity has created a scenic wonder with raging waterfalls, lush green hills, and ice caps that are skiable all summer long.

As for nightlife in Reyjavík, you can't miss the spaghetti-strap-black-dress crowd at the Café Sólon Islandus, the more laid-back Kaffibrennslan where you can literally sing "99 Bottles of Beer" and you still won't hit their entire beer selection, or the Kffibarinn, where crowds are still waiting to get in after midnight. One thing to remember: The party isn't over until 3 or 4 a.m., so pace yourself.

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