The Iceland Stopover: Geysers, low-cost airfares, and more

In the last year or so, I’ve seen a number of my friends venture to Iceland. The unique culture, incredible geysers, and surprisingly hospitable climate are certainly all factors that draw people to this European nation which sits in the North Atlantic. However, one unique thing about Iceland that many have come to experience in recent years is the advent of something called the Iceland Stopover.

What is the Iceland Stopover?

Though Iceland has always been somewhat of an interesting locale for Americans to visit, it has become increasingly visited during recent years. Part of that, certainly, is due to the Icleandic government attempting to boost tourism (albeit this has caused some problems, according to the country’s inhabitants). Yet also playing a role is the increased utilization of Iceland as a stopover destination for passengers traveling to Europe.

For a number of years, Icelandair has provided convenient one-stop service between North America and Europe through Reykjavik, the Icelandic capitol. In addition to giving holidaymakers an option to visit Iceland, this was a particularly prudent move when traveling transatlantic on nonstop flights was incredibly expensive, as these one-stop hops could often be cheaper than their non stop counterparts. However, the real impact has been felt since WOW Air’s launch in 2012 (and that carrier’s own introduction of a stopover option). Couple that with a general downward trend in airline ticket prices, and the “Iceland stopover” has become increasingly popular in the last half-decade or so.

Take a look at the image below. As you can see, there are a number of low-cost European destinations available from Boston when taking WOW through Iceland.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Of course, this doesn’t make the Iceland stopover preferable for all. For one, carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle have come in and disrupted a variety of transatlantic markets with ridiculous sub-$300 round trip fares — for non-stop flights. Moreover, a number of legacy carriers have posted some pretty incredible deals as well, so the impetus is on WOW and Icelandair to continue to make the case for the viability of the stopover.

That said, it would appear that some still posses a strong desire to visit this North Atlantic outpost. Anecdotally speaking, the daughter of one of my father’s friends recently utilized the Iceland stopover en route to Ireland. While she spent an enjoyable week in the latter, she wished she had spent the majority of her vacation time in Iceland. Additionally, with the aforementioned attempts to boost tourism, Iceland is gaining more and more notoriety, and will likely be a desirable place to visit — whether for a stopover or a vacation in its own right — for years to come.