11 Best Countries For Americans To Hit By The End Of 2016
Why you should go: If you’ve seen Game of Thrones then you’ve seen scenic chunks of the actual “Land of Fire and Ice” (not even kidding here) playing the Vale and the land beyond the Wall. Folks are so stoked about visiting GoT filming locations that tourism in Iceland has more than doubled since the show premiered in 2011, to 1.2 million visitors annually. But here’s the thing: the whole country looks like a GoT filming location. Driving Ring Rd, circling the perimeter of the island, is just one astoundingly, breathtakingly beautiful sight after another and it never stops. Also, the country’s a cakewalk for English-only American tourists to navigate – seriously, parts of Canada feel more foreign than even Iceland’s most remote villages – and you don’t even have to convert your cash.
Why you should go right now: Iceland was getting hot even before The Little Island That Could cleaned up in the Euro Cup so nicely. Flights have been expanding thanks to Icelandair, which has been offering extended multi-day layovers in Reykjavik en route to other European countries for a while now, and to WOW air, which has been expanding service in the States like crazy, most recently adding LAX and SFO to its departure airports. (A warning: you get what you pay for with WOW – it’s Europe’s answer to Spirit Airlines – so keep your travel plans flexible and avoid layovers.) The country’s getting its beer scene cranked up after a long-held effective prohibition that ended only in 1989; drop by bars like Skuli Craft Bar, Micro Bar, and Mikkeller & Friends, and do get a swig of the local spirit Brennivin.
Do keep in mind that the whole country’s still pretty expensive, Reykjavik in particular. Even with a favorable exchange rate, that 39-ISK burger still works out to a $32 lunch, and that’s pretty standard. While hotel rooms are also pricey, Airbnbs are abundant and affordable (and great for groups, since two-bedroom apartments are pretty common). Get in on that action quick, though, ’cause it’s not going to stay that way for long.