Reykjavik

There’s little that can’t be done in and around Reykjavik. Urban scampering leads you from cosy cafes to wool-packed shops full of blankets and jumpers. Music venues foster an intriguing scene, and art fills the streets, galleries and shoreline. In winter, souped up 4x4s get you across snow and ice filled tundras to ice caves, lava tunnels and waterfalls that mesmerise. Though, accessing the open plains on a traditional Icelandic horse has a certain air of authenticity that a monster truck can never really muster. In the seas? Big whales are regular visitors and tour operators get you as close as ethically possible.

Puffins add a splash of colour to nearby islands and the Northern Lights cast ethereal glows over the skies. It may be a land of fire and ice – but Reykjavik’s streets hold as many wonders. A punk museum wedged into a disused public loo might not be for everyone, but it does give a hint at the city’s sense of humour. Elsewhere, the colourful streets deliver a dose of a very different kind of architecture. Ancient Euro/Roman/Baroque stylings have been cast aside in favour of functional buildings. That’s not to say it’s bland. Just different. Which is, after all what we’re all here for. A change of scene. And that’s available in Reykjavik at every turn.

Cat lights on Reykjavik christmas tour

A walking tour of Reykjavik

Sure, you could navigate by yourself, but you’ll not get those insider snippets and local tales that often come bundled with a guided tour. Add in a theme – we’re thinking, food, craft beer, art – and you’re really starting to rack up moments you may never have found by yourself.

where to see whales reykjavik

Whale watching in Reykjavik

Whale watching in Reykjavik delivers on whales, wildlife and the chance to see the land of fire and ice from the water. Very much a win, win, win. And, with a little effort behind the wheel, you can even plot a road trip to the whale watching capital of the world.

Copenhagen

For the wanderluster who wants everything at their doorstep but isn’t so keen on spending hours travelling from location to location, there’s no better destination than Vancouver. The Canadian city has an abundance of rare wildlife, some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery and hiking trails on earth, and a thriving cultural scene that can go toe to toe with anything in the Old World. And that’s not mentioning the world class skiing facilities just ninety minutes away.

The great thing about the city is it so seamlessly blends everything you could want, while maintaining a high standard of, well, everything. It’s why you can eat at a world class restaurant on the same day you go whale spotting, or spend an afternoon taking in a serene hiking route and the evening strolling around thriving, historic Gastown. It’s also one of the only cities in the Western world where over half of the residents aren’t native English speakers (hence the varied culinary offerings). Vancouver is a city of extremes, definitely, but one that does them all so well you’ll be wondering why anybody ever leaves.