11 incredible Iceland hotels with magnificent views of otherworldly landscapes

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the best hotels iceland

  • Iceland is open to vaccinated travelers or anyone with proof of previous infection or negative test.
  • Many hotels also require proof of vaccination but are open to travelers.
  • The best hotels in Iceland range from a high-end hostel in Reykjavik to a luxury lodge in the south.

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There are few places on earth that capture the imagination quite like Iceland. Known as the land of fire and ice, the country’s ethereal moon-like landscapes, extreme forces of nature, and abundance of design-forward, eco-friendly hotels have helped fuel its popularity.

As of publishing, Iceland is open to travelers and does not require a quarantine upon arrival, however, you do need to take a COVID test (free of charge) upon arrival and before reentry to the US.

“I think travelers can expect a country that is open for tourism and excited for visitors,” Reykjavik local and fellow travel writer Michelle Spinei told me. “In the past year, we’ve had some great destinations open like the Sky Lagoon, which is the newest geothermal spa near Reykjavik, and of course, there is an active volcanic eruption ongoing in the Geldingadalur valley, which is incredible to see in person.”

If you’re eager to get out into the world again, you can’t do much better than Iceland. These are the best hotels in Iceland for every traveler and budget.

Here are the best hotels in Iceland, sorted by price from low to high.

Kex Hostel Iceland

Kex Hostel Iceland

Book Kex Hostel Iceland

Don’t be scared of the word hostel. This isn’t the kind of gritty place you stayed while studying abroad. We included it because it’s no secret that traveling to Iceland can be a pricey proposition, so for a budget-friendly option, you can’t do much better than Kex Hostel.

Set along the harbor just a hop and a skip from downtown Reykjavik, Kex, which is Icelandic for biscuit, pays homage to its roots as a former biscuit factory and is as quaint and cozy as it is bursting with local kitsch and ephemera. 

Kex has all the trappings of a modern hotel with a ground-floor library and event space that is a great place to kick back with an Icelandic beer and a good book.

There’s a variety of room types to choose from including private rooms, family-friendly suites, and dormitory-style bunk rooms. Some higher-end rooms even offer views over Mount Esna in the distance, and there are also women-only dorms available upon request. 

Whether you’re solo, traveling with a group, or as a family, this is a great all-around option for the price.

Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik

Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik

Book Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel

Set in a historic building in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel has been a longtime staple for its modern meets Scandi-style digs right in the heart of the action.

Surrounded by a variety of popular bars and restaurants along nearby Laugavegur Street, the main artery of the city, this is a great spot for business travelers stopping over for a night on the town or anyone looking to be centrally located.

The hotel’s meeting rooms and 24-hour business center make this a smart option for those traveling for business or on a quick layover.

Many of the 88 recently renovated rooms also come with a desk and office chair set up as well. Rooms run on the spacious side, especially compared to other hotels in town.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel Búdir

Hotel Búdir

Book Hotel Búdir

Located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland, Hotel Búdir is without a doubt one of the country’s most enchanting locales.

Surrounded by nothing by sea and lava fields, the hotel’s on-site restaurant is not only lauded as one of the best in the country, but with a three and five-course tasting menu, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience well worth making the trek west for. 

The lodge’s vibe strives for rustic elegance and is achieved through scores of antique prints and vintage decor scattered throughout the property. With 28-rooms that include a mix of Queen rooms, loft rooms, standard rooms, and one master suite, there’s no shortage of panoramic views from ocean or lava fields to glaciers. A popular spot for weddings and a favorite for couples looking for a romantic getaway, some rooms come with your own soaking tub.

The hotel is also a great jumping-off point for seeing another one of Iceland’s most popular attractions: the Northern Lights, which can be viewed right outside the hotel with a warm cup of cocoa in hand (weather and season permitting). The hotel can also help arrange helicopter sightseeing trips such as glacier hikes and whale watching.

Canopy By Hilton Reykjavik City Centre

Canopy By Hilton Reykjavik City Centre

Book Canopy By Hilton Reykjavik City Centre

If you’re looking to stay right in the center of the city, Canopy By Hilton Reykjavik City Centre is an affiliate of Icelandair hotels and is a self-proclaimed lifestyle boutique in town, which means it has a robust collection of local art, cultural events, an overall convivial vibe, and inviting interior spaces.

Just steps away from shops, bars, and restaurants, the hotel opened in 2016 and is a short walk from the Reykjavik harbor and Harpa Concert Hall.

Canopy’s signature Just Right Rooms each come with their proprietary Canopy memory foam beds,  and the hotel’s layout is unique in that it is set across a series of connected houses. 

Accommodations range from a mix of twin rooms and lofts up to King premium suites and every room is designed with a modern-meets minimalist Icelandic aesthetic in mind. The real piece de resistance (and perennial guest favorite) are the signature Canopy Bed’s which were designed just for the hotel in the promise of a great night’s sleep.

The warm and inviting lobby area and living room space is a great place to sip craft beer or cocktails and admire the local artwork. The hotel also offers a nightly happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. where guests can enjoy small bites and cocktails at the central bistro and bar.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Siglo Hotel

Siglo Hotel

Book Siglo Hotel

Set in the charming seaside village of Sigllufjörður in northern Iceland, Siglo Hotel sits neatly along a colorful marina. 

Once dubbed ‘the herring capital of the world,’ today this quaint village and hotel are a great place to kick back and embrace a slower pace of Icelandic life. There’s still a herring and fishing museum in town if you’re keen on learning a bit about the local culture.

Every room at this family-owned hotel offers views over the marina and mountains. Classic Rooms all the way up to Deluxe Suites are spacious and come appointed with local art. Each room offers the choice of a balcony or picture window, either of which is a great place to sit and enjoy the slow pace of village life.

While you’ll feel right at home here, Siglo is an excellent springboard for hiking or skiing at Skardsdalur ski resort. The restaurant on property is also a popular spot for locals and visitors and you don’t want to miss the signature dishes including a local salted cod and lamb.

The hotel’s outdoor spa that includes a hot tub and sauna, which is one of the best reasons to stay here. Soak in the hot spring to end your day in a way that is uniquely Iceland.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Ion Adventure Hotel

Ion Adventure Hotel

Book Ion Adventure Hotel

Less than an hour outside of Reykjavik, Ion Adventure Hotel is located just a few miles short of Iceland’s picturesque Thingvellir National Park.

It makes a striking first impression, perfectly positioned off the popular Golden Circle (or Ring Road) route in a remote locale amongst lava fields. As such, the hotel offers it a great jumping-off point for exploring some of Iceland’s most beautiful landscapes and natural scenery.

A member of Marriott’s Design Hotels, there are dramatic views through floor-to-ceiling windows in the Junior Thermal Suites, and rooms come stocked with fair trade organic linens and hypoallergenic beds. Natural decor and design elements are woven throughout all 45-rooms, and this eco-friendly property has been designed to maximize the area’s natural surroundings.

Ideal for adventure seekers and intrepid travelers in particular., the staff also helps organize tours from horseback riding and snorkeling to snowmobiling and cave luging.

Ion is also home to an award-winning Northern Lights bar, Silfra Restaurant, that serves new Nordic cuisine. An all-natural Lava Spa and yoga classes rounds out an an adventure you won’t want to miss.

Hotel Geysir

Hotel Geysir

Book Hotel Geysir

Haukadalur Valley and geyser are a permanent fixture along Iceland’s iconic Golden Circle route, and if you’re looking for something within close proximity, Hotel Geysir is a great choice.

The hotel offers a mix of 77 modern rooms and suites, some of which come with floor-to-ceiling windows and many offer views over the valley and geyser below. 

Also on property, Geysir Restaurant offers a feast of Icelandic and international dishes, as well as a newly opened restaurant that caters to vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diners.

Within walking distance is the excellent geothermal Geysir Store, which is chock full of souvenirs, crafts, and those famous (and itchy) Icelandic wool sweaters. The hotel’s garden and rooftop terrace offer incredible views and private dining experiences, which can be booked through the hotel.

Umi Hotel

Umi Hotel

Book Umi Hotel

An excellent launch pad for exploring the beauty that abounds in Southern Iceland, Umi Hotel is an elegant 28 room, family-owned boutique that is truly out of this world.

Set along a river in the countryside near the base of Eyjafjallajökull volcano, just a couple miles off the Ring Road, this gorgeous abode offers some of the most spectacular scenery and stays you’re likely to come across.

The hotel takes advantage of its incredible oceanfront setting and room types include either a double or twin with mountain or ocean views, along with tons of natural light as well as a walk-in shower or tub. Superior Rooms come with a Nespresso Machine, Marshall Speaker, and slippers, too.

The Restaurant affords incredible views over the Westman Islands and breathtaking southern coastline along with locally inspired dishes.

Don’t miss a chance to take a drive 30 minutes south where you’ll find yourself in the quaint seaside village of Vik. A popular filming location for “Game of Thrones,” spend some time exploring the volcanic black sand beach before tucking in for lunch in a local cafe. 

When you get back to home base, Breki, Umi’s adorable resident dog will be waiting to greet you.

Hotel Ranga

Hotel Ranga North America master suite

Book Hotel Ranga

Set 60 miles south of Reykjavik along Iceland’s south coast, Hotel Ranga‘s romantic countryside location is is well-placed to explore the country’s myriad of natural wonders. This cabin-in-the-woods-themed lodge is close to gushing waterfalls, highlands, volcanoes, and hot springs.

Take a tour over the astonishing technicolor mountains of Landmannalaugar, cruise along beautiful black sand beaches, or explore a nearby ice cave, all of which can be arranged through the hotel.

After a day of activities, there’s no place better to relax than in one of the hotel’s 52 rooms and suites. The log cabin style decor will make you feel at home and for something truly special, consider booking one of the master suites, each of which are themed after one of the seven continents from Africa to Antarctica. Whatever you do, don’t miss a chance to soak in one of the hotel’s geothermal heated outdoor hot tubs.

At night, nosh on gourmet Icelandic delicacies at Restaurant Ranga, which is considered one of the best spots for high-end Nordic fare in all of Iceland.

Situated under South Iceland’s clear dark skies, the hotel is a great place for a shot at seeing the Northern Lights. There is even a resident astronomer and observatory with telescopes to enhance your stargazing experience. For the total package, check out the “When in Iceland” deal, which includes a stay in the Icelandic Suite along with other local goodies, including your own woolen sweater to take home.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Silica Hotel

Silica Hotel Lava Deluxe Room courtesy of Blue Lagoon Iceland

Book Silica Hotel

There’s a reason why the Blue Lagoon is perpetually ranked as one of Iceland’s most popular locales, and if you’re looking to max out on your geothermal spa time, Silica Hotel is a great option.

A 10-minute walk away to the Blue Lagoon, Silica offers a mix of 25 spacious rooms and suites are tucked along Iceland’s iconic moon-like landscape and have been tastefully designed with Nordic minimalism in mind that reflects the natural beauty of surrounding lava fields.

But perhaps the most standout feature of this hotel, and the main reason for booking, is the use of a private geothermal lagoon that is only available to guests of the hotel. Also, there is an added bonus that staying here grants you free and premium entry to the Blue Lagoon, which is a major value, and convenience.

For a more indulgent experience, The Retreat at The Blue Lagoon is also here, with 62 suites and exclusive access to the Blue Lagoon. Starting rates are a bit prohibitive at $1,366 so if you’re looking for something a little more cost-effective, Silica Hotel a reasonable option and offers the best of both worlds.

Deplar Farm

Deplar Farm

Book Deplar Farm

Located along northern Iceland’s Troll Peninsula, Deplar Farm is a splurge but combines world-class food, lodging, and five-star all-inclusive service along with guided outdoor activities for guests of all ages.

A former sheep farm that was transformed in 2016 as one of the most (if not the most) exclusive hotel stays in Iceland, Deplar, is a 28,000-square foot lodge that offers 13 Scandinavian style suites.

There is an indoor-outdoor geothermal pool (and pool bar,) sauna and steam room, indoor-outdoor hot tubs, media room, spa facility with two flotation tanks and three treatment rooms, two heli-pads, bar and lounge, gym and yoga room and outdoor deck.

Equal parts luxury and adventure, off property there’s no shortage of amazing things to do. From Heli-skiing and salmon fishing, your personal concierge is always on-hand to ensure your needs are met.

This five-star lodge is also available for private buyouts of up to 16 guests.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

FAQ: Iceland hotels

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?

December through March is considered the best time to see the Northern lights. 

Where should I stay to see the northern lights?

To see the Northern Lights, be sure to stay far away from cities or towns or anywhere where there will be light pollution and more cloud coverage, as these can obscure the view. There are plenty of tour companies and hotels that offer Northern Light’s tours, just make sure to inquire and book in advance. Most of them will also offer a second chance to see them if they don’t make an appearance during your initial tour.

How do I find Iceland hotels with hot springs?

Geothermal hot springs are ubiquitous across all of Iceland. The most popular hot springs are, of course, found at the Blue Lagoon. But if you’re looking for a hotel with hot springs, you’ll notice we included two on this list that offers hot springs as an amenity.

Additionally, TripAdvisor lists some of the top-rated properties that have their own hot springs.

How expensive are hotels in Iceland?

Like most things in Iceland, hotels in Iceland can be very expensive. According to an article in Iceland Magazine, hotels, food, and alcohol tend to run around 66% higher than the European average. This is due largely to import costs, but it’s important to know so you can budget and plan accordingly.

Additionally, the tourist influx has brought with it an overhaul of new hotels in recent years, and while it’s important to note that traveling to Iceland can be expensive, there’s a wide array of hotels at every price point that has helped level the playing field for today’s traveler.

For hotels, we’ve included typical starting and peak prices. If you plan to visit in summer, when the weather is milder and the roads are safest, you will see higher prices. Shoulder seasons like spring and fall will be cheaper and still have mostly accessible weather to travel the island. 

When should I go to Iceland?

There’s never a bad time to go to Iceland depending on what you want to see and experience.

However, if you’re keen on seeing the Northern Lights, your best bet is booking a trip between mid to late October through early March. Just note, it’s never a guarantee that you will see them and weather conditions change on a dime in Iceland. Winter also sees harsher weather, and if might be more difficult to drive around the island if that’s something you want to do. 

June and July are considered the best time to visit weather-wise, especially if you plan to drive the entire island. Summer is also the best time for whale watching, hiking, biking, and camping.

What is the best area to stay in Iceland?

For first-timers visiting Iceland, a stop at the Blue Lagoon followed by a day or two in Reykjavik is a great place to start.

Southern Iceland and the popular Route 1, or Ring Road, is also considered a relative rite of passage that’s a great way to visit some of the county’s most beautiful natural wonders and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  

What is the best area to stay in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik is not only Iceland’s capital, but it also boasts an eclectic music and nightlife scene. That said, the town itself is very walkable and any of the hotels listed within this article are highly recommended, depending on your budget.

What are current Iceland travel restrictions?

Iceland travel restrictions are subject to change on June 15, but at present, passengers traveling to Iceland need to pre-register via Iceland’s official government website. Vaccinated travelers and anyone previously infected with COVID-19 must show proof of their vaccine certificate and do not need to take a COVID test prior to traveling.

Vaccinated travelers are still required to take a test upon arrival (free of charge). Unvaccinated passengers from low risk countries (including the US) are permitted to travel as long as they adhere to testing and quarantine regulations. You can find more information about current rules and travel restrictions here.

While border requirements are subject to change by June 15, it’s expected that if anything, restrictions will only be loosened. It’s also important to follow government guidelines, which you can find here, as well as driving conditions around the island which you can find here

More of the best hotels in Europe

Andronis Hotels suites in Santorini.
A suite at the Andronis Hotel in Santorini, Greece.

Read the original article on Business Insider

European countries will soon accept vaccinated US travelers. Here are the documents you’ll need and how to know when it’s safe.

airport mask
A federal police officer checks the document of a passenger at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

  • EU representatives voted Wednesday to allow fully vaccinated US travelers to visit soon.
  • Americans will need to prove they’ve had their shots, but the specific rules may vary by country.
  • Greece and Iceland, among the few countries already open to US tourists, are accepting CDC cards.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hold on to your vaccination cards: European Union representatives agreed on Wednesday that Americans who have been fully immunized should be allowed to visit the EU’s 27 member nations. They won’t have to show a negative COVID-19 test result or quarantine upon arrival, NBC News reported. Children may also be able to accompany their vaccinated parents abroad, regardless of their own vaccination status – provided that they have a negative coronavirus test.

The new travel guidelines are expected to be formally approved by the European Council later this week, meaning travel from the US to Europe could be possible this summer.

It’s likely that Americans will need to show government-issued vaccine certificates to visit most European countries. For now, neither EU nor US officials have specified whether people will need to show the white vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other documentation.

Lisa Lee, a public-health expert at Virginia Tech, said European countries will probably have patchwork of different rules for US travelers.

“Some have said they’re only going to accept electronic [vaccine records] so it can be verified,” Lee told Insider. “Other people are afraid that the CDC cards are too prone to fraud and they won’t accept the paper cards.”

In an interview with Ouest France, French President Emmanuel Macron said foreign tourists could visit France with a “health pass” starting June 9. Macron didn’t expand on what that pass would look like, though.

Spain’s tourism secretary, meanwhile, has said the country is prepared to let travelers return in June – as long as visitors show proof they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from COVID-19.

“One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, told The New York Times in April, referring to the European Medicines Agency. The EMA has authorized all three vaccines used in the US: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Already, a few European countries – including Greece and Iceland – are allowing visitors from the US. Their policies could offer a hint at what to expect from other nations moving forward.

The US still doesn’t recommend travel to Europe

A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.
A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan Airport in Boston in March 2020.

The CDC currently recommends avoiding all international travel to European countries, with the exception of Iceland and the UK. (The agency says Americans can travel there for essential visits only.) Similarly, the US is denying entry to visitors from the EU or UK unless they’re US citizens.

The Biden administration hasn’t said whether it will remove these restrictions in the near future, but travel and aviation groups are pushing the US government to open its borders to more countries, with testing requirements in place.

For now, the US also requires fully vaccinated Americans to test negative before reentering the country.

Lee said this policy helps protect the population from highly transmissible variants that are more prevalent in other countries and might evade protection from vaccines.

“These vaccines are incredibly effective, but they’re not 100% – and they’re certainly not 100% or as effective against strains that we don’t know about yet that might be developing through transmission, so it’s still a good time to be somewhat cautious,” she said.

Greece and Iceland are accepting CDC cards as proof of vaccination

tourist greece
Tourists wear face masks at the the Akropolis in Athens, Greece on November 2, 2020.

As of April 19, Greece is welcoming US travelers with a few stipulations: Visitors are asked to fill out a locator form at least one day before entering or leaving the country. Americans must also provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated – a CDC card is sufficient – or present a negative PCR test.

US travelers don’t need to quarantine under this policy, a change that came with the new rule. Previously, Americans entering Greece had to isolate for a week. If a person tests positive upon arrival, however, they’ll be transported to a hotel, where Greek authorities will confirm the test results and ask them to stay inside for 10 days.

US travelers to Iceland can also avoid the nation’s mandatory quarantine by presenting a CDC card that shows they are fully vaccinated. Alternatively, a person can provide proof that they’ve had COVID-19 already – either through a positive PCR or antibody test result.

iceland tourists
Tourists walk in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 3, 2020.

But those going to Iceland still need to take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, then wait at their accommodation until the results are back (which can take up to 24 hours). Hotels in Iceland may ask to see your CDC vaccination card as well.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro aren’t requiring US travelers to quarantine, either, if they show proof of vaccination. Italy is similarly allowing American visitors to bypass quarantine requirements with a negative COVID-19 test.

UK residents have been able to travel internationally since May 17 – but Americans who want to visit the UK must still present a negative COVID-19 test, quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, and get tested twice during their visit.

Travel requirements aside, an international trip brings risks

airport travel
A traveler wears a face mask at Los Angeles International Airport on January 25, 2021.

Just because a country is accepting US travelers doesn’t mean a visit is low-risk. For Americans trying to decide whether to travel or where to go, Lee recommended that fully vaccinated people look at two key metrics: low levels of transmission and case numbers that are declining day over day.

“If you look at Portugal, for example, the incidence is a lot lower than Spain and they’re right next to each other,” Lee said.

On average, Spain is recording nearly 102 daily cases per 1 million people, while Portugal is recording around 39 daily cases per 1 million people. The CDC defines low transmission as fewer than 5 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over the prior 28 days, and moderate transmission as fewer than 50 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over 28 days.

If you’re looking to lower your risk of infection, choose less crowded locales where you’re unlikely to bump into people who haven’t been vaccinated. Opt out of large events like concerts or soccer matches, too.

london UK reopening
Outdoor dining in London on April 18, 2021.

“If you’re planning a trip to the countryside, that’s a very different calculus than if you’re planning a trip to the middle of a bustling city,” Lee said.

Of course, outbreaks can also change course quickly, so a country that looks safe now may have high levels of transmission in three months.

“Check the requirements frequently, right up until the departure date, as every country’s policies are going to be changing in response to the way the epidemic evolves,” Lee said.

The website Skyscanner offers real-time updates on countries’ travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Make sure to prepare the necessary documentation for each country you plan to visit.

“You don’t want to get from one place to another and discover, ‘Oh, whoops, they need this piece of paper or that piece of software and I don’t have that,'” Lee said.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on May 2, 2021.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Delta and United are now offering flights to all of the European tourist countries welcoming vaccinated Americans

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.

  • Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have added flights to the three mainstream European countries open to Americans: Iceland, Croatia, and Greece.
  • All three countries are welcoming US tourists with proof of vaccination, with some also allowing for just a negative COVID-19 test.
  • American Airlines hasn’t been as nimble, focusing more on South America and only launching flights to Greece and Israel for the summer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Europe is once again just a flight away for many Americans.

US airlines were quick to adjust their route maps when coronavirus pandemic travel patterns shifted towards domestic destinations. And with Europe gradually opening up to American tourists, airlines are making similar adjustments to accommodate the international jet set.

Delta Air Lines announced its latest international route between New York and Dubrovnik, Croatia, scheduled to start on July 2. Flights will operate four-times-weekly with departures from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and return flights from Dubrovnik Airport on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

It’s Delta’s first and only route to the Southern European country, which has seen newfound interest from Americans as vaccinated travelers, as well as those presenting a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery, will be able to enter the country. Croatia is situated on the Adriatic Sea and boasts countless historical towns and villages on its over 1,000 miles of coastline.

United Airlines will also serve Croatia with flights between Newark and Dubrovnik launching on July 8. The three-times-weekly flights from Newark Liberty International Airport depart on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and return from Dubrovnik Airport on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.

Both airlines will use Boeing 767-300ER wide-body aircraft on their respective routes to Dubrovnik.

Croatia also borders Montenegro, another European country open to vaccinated Americans, according to the US Embassy in Montenegro. Dubrovnik itself is only 25 miles from the border with Montenegro and US citizens need only present proof of recent vaccination or recovery, or a negative COVID-19 test less than 72 hours old, when entering.

Delta and United have been the most eager to serve the reopening European continent, and have also launched flights to Iceland and Greece, the two other mainstream European tourist countries opening to Americans.

Iceland will be served by United this summer from Newark, starting June 3, and Chicago, starting July 1. Delta serves the Land of Fire and Ice via Reykjavik from New York and begins flights from Boston and Minneapolis on May 20 and May 27, respectively.

Greece, also welcoming vaccinated Americans or those with a negative COVID-19 test, is also served by the two airlines.

United will fly to Athens from Washington, DC starting July 1 and resume its Newark-Athens route on June 3. Delta will similarly resume its New York-Athens route on May 28 and launch a new route between Athens and Atlanta starting July 2.

American Airlines has been less nimble than its competitors on Europe’s reopening, focusing instead on the Americas. Some additions east of the Prime Meridian have been the New York-Athens route starting on June 3, Miami-Tel Aviv route starting on June 4, and New York-Tel Aviv route that launched on May 6.

While Greece is opening its doors to all vaccinated or COVID-19-negative Americans, however, Israel is being more restrictive with its opening and is only slated to welcome vaccinated group tours on May 23 but not individual tourists yet.

Read More: Qatar Airways chief strategy officer reveals how airplane diplomacy let the airline add new destinations to its route map and earned international praise during COVID-19

South America has been American’s main focus with new flights to cities in Chile, Colombia, and Brazil starting this year. American has not yet relaunched flights to Iceland or Croatia, despite serving both countries prior to the pandemic.

But American could soon shift to Europe as more countries welcome US citizens. For now, airlines can rejoice that European route launches are once again common after more than a year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Europe may allow vaccinated US travelers this summer. Here are the documents you’ll need and how to know when it’s safe.

airport mask
A federal police officer checks the document of a passenger who landed from Prague at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

  • European countries could accept fully vaccinated US travelers this summer.
  • Americans would need to prove they’ve had their shots, but the specific rules may vary by country.
  • Greece and Iceland, among the few countries already open to US tourists, are accepting CDC cards.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hold on to your vaccination cards: Americans who have been fully immunized could be allowed to travel to Europe this summer, the president of the European Commission recently told The New York Times.

While the European Union hasn’t yet announced the formal requirements to enter its 27 member nations, it’s likely that Americans will need government-issued vaccine certificates. For now, neither EU nor US officials have specified whether people will need to show the white vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other documentation.

Lisa Lee, a public-health expert at Virginia Tech, said European countries will probably have patchwork of different rules for US travelers.

“Some have said they’re only going to accept electronic [vaccine records] so it can be verified,” Lee told Insider. “Other people are afraid that the CDC cards are too prone to fraud and they won’t accept the paper cards.”

In an interview with Ouest France, French President Emmanuel Macron said foreign tourists could visit France with a “health pass” starting June 9. Macron didn’t expand on what that pass would look like, though. Spain’s tourism secretary, meanwhile, said this week that the country is prepared to let travelers back in in June – as long as visitors show proof they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from COVID-19. And UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this month that British people could start traveling internationally on May 17.

“One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, told The Times, referring to the European Medicines Agency. The EMA has authorized all three vaccines used in the US: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Already, a few European countries – including Greece and Iceland – are allowing visitors from the US. Their policies could offer a hint at what to expect from other nations moving forward.

The US still doesn’t recommend travel to Europe

A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.
A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.

The CDC currently recommends avoiding all international travel to European countries, with the exception of Iceland. (The agency says Americans can travel there for essential visits only.) Similarly, the US is denying entry to visitors from the EU or UK unless they’re US citizens.

The Biden administration hasn’t said whether it will remove these restrictions in the near future, but travel and aviation groups are pushing the US government to open its borders to more countries, with testing requirements in place.

For now, the US also requires fully vaccinated Americans to test negative before reentering the country.

Lee said this policy helps protect the population from highly transmissible coronavirus variants that are more prevalent in other countries and might evade protection from vaccines.

“These vaccines are incredibly effective, but they’re not 100% – and they’re certainly not 100% or as effective against strains that we don’t know about yet that might be developing through transmission, so it’s still a good time to be somewhat cautious,” she said.

Greece and Iceland are accepting CDC cards as proof of vaccination

tourist greece
Tourists wear face masks at the the Akropolis in Athens, Greece on November 2, 2020.

As of April 19, Greece is welcoming US travelers with a few stipulations: Visitors are asked to fill out a locator form at least one day before entering or leaving the country. Americans must also provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated – a CDC card is sufficient – or present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival.

US travelers don’t need to quarantine under this policy, a change that came with the new rule. Previously, Americans entering Greece had to isolate for a week. If a person tests positive upon arrival, however, they’ll be transported to a hotel, where Greek authorities will confirm the test results and ask them to stay inside for 10 days. After that, they can be released following a negative PCR test.

US travelers to Iceland can also avoid the nation’s mandatory quarantine by presenting a CDC card that shows they are fully vaccinated. Alternatively, a person can provide proof that they’ve had COVID-19 already – either through a positive PCR or antibody test result.

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Tourists walk in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 3, 2020.

But those going to Iceland still need to take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, then wait at their accommodation until the results are back (which can take up to 24 hours). Hotels in Iceland may ask to see your CDC vaccination card as well.

Croatia, Georgia, Montenegro aren’t requiring US travelers to quarantine, either, if they show proof of vaccination.

Travel requirements aside, an international trip brings risks

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A traveler wears a face mask at Los Angeles International Airport on January 25, 2021.

Just because a country is accepting US travelers doesn’t mean a visit is low-risk. For Americans trying to decide whether to travel or where to go, Lee recommended that fully vaccinated people look at two key metrics: low levels of transmission and case numbers that are declining day over day.

“If you look at Portugal, for example, the incidence is a lot lower than Spain and they’re right next to each other,” Lee said.

On average, Spain is recording nearly 180 daily cases per 1 million people, while Portugal is recording around 45 daily cases per 1 million people. The CDC defines low transmission as fewer than 5 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over the prior 28 days, and moderate transmission as fewer than 50 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over 28 days.

If you’re looking to lower your risk of infection, choose less crowded locales where you’re unlikely to bump into people who haven’t been vaccinated. Opt out of large events like concerts or soccer matches, too.

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Outdoor dining in London on April 18, 2021.

“If you’re planning a trip to the countryside, that’s a very different calculus than if you’re planning a trip to the middle of a bustling city,” Lee said.

Of course, outbreaks can also change course quickly, so a country that looks safe now may have high levels of transmission in three months.

“Check the requirements frequently, right up until the departure date, as every country’s policies are going to be changing in response to the way the epidemic evolves,” Lee said.

The website Skyscanner offers real-time updates on countries’ travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Make sure to prepare the necessary documentation for each country you plan to visit.

“You don’t want to get from one place to another and discover, ‘Oh, whoops, they need this piece of paper or that piece of software and I don’t have that,'” Lee said.

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United and Delta will offer daily flights to Iceland and Greece this summer, the first European destinations to open to vaccinated Americans

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Weekend hikers visit the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland.

  • United and Delta will offer seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece this summer.
  • Both countries are heavily dependent on tourism, and the EU is under pressure to reopen to travelers.
  • International travel was still down more than 75% in March compared with 2019, industry data show.

US tourists eager to go abroad will be able to visit three European destinations this summer, so long as they can prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Monday, United Airlines announced it would begin seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece beginning in July.

United’s move follows Delta’s announcement last month that it would offer daily service to Iceland from three US cities (Boston Logan, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airports) beginning in May, and Delta’s route map indicates flights from JFK to Athens will resume in June.

In addition, United will offer thrice-weekly routes to Croatia, reflecting an increase in search activity on its website over the past month, the company told Bloomberg. Each of the European routes are new for United and are as follows: Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland starting June 3; Washington-Athens, Greece starting July 1; and Newark to Dubrovnik, Croatia starting July 8.

Iceland is part of the Schengen zone of visa-free travel, but is not a member of the European Union, and is therefore exempt from the general restriction on visitors from outside the EU. Iceland Air recently warned international travelers that the country could not be used as a kind of backdoor to the continent, saying, “further travel from Iceland to the rest of Europe is currently not permitted for non-Schengen residents.”

Greece meanwhile just lifted its restrictions for travelers from the US who can provide a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test result. As an EU member, Greece’s move puts additional pressure on the bloc to reopen travel more broadly.

Both Greece and Iceland are heavily dependent on tourism dollars. Tourism constitutes roughly a tenth of Greece’s economy, and those revenues plummeted 80% as a result of the pandemic. In 2019, tourism represented 42% of Iceland’s economy. In an attempt to incentivize visitors, Iceland Air is promoting round-trip prices as low as $349 and waiving change fees to give flyers greater flexibility when traveling.

Data from an industry trade group shows international travel was still down more than 75% in March compared with 2019.

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Iceland is officially opening to vaccinated American tourists and its national airline is rushing to launch cheap flights from the US to attract visitors

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Iceland is opening to vaccinated American tourists.

  • Icelandair is rebuilding its US route network as Iceland opens to vaccinated tourists.
  • Regular flights to Boston, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C. are scheduled for May.
  • Americans need only their paper vaccination card to enter the country.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The summer of vaccinated travel now includes Iceland as a potential destination for Americans.

Starting April 6, vaccinated travelers from the US will be allowed into Iceland with just their paper vaccination certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the first European country to open its doors to Americans with no testing or quarantine required for visitors upon arrival, creating a potential boom for tourism and the country’s national airline.

Icelandair is already ramping up its US network by resuming regular service to five American cities in May, in addition to its current service to Boston. New York, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C. are slated to be the first to receive the non-stop flights again after a nearly year-long pause for many.

Birna Osk Einarsdottir, Icelandair’s chief commercial officer, is “optimistic,” that the airline will return to its full slate of planned US destinations for 2021 in June, just in time for the summer travel season. Service to Portland, Oregon has already been scheduled for July 1, and flights to destinations including Orlando, Florida are planned for the summer.

“The plan is, of course, to return to full strength as soon as possible in the US, our largest market, but realistically, it might take 2-3 years for the route network to be back to 2019 size,” Einarsdottir told Insider.

Pent-up demand also isn’t driving up Icelandair’s prices too high as the country reopens. A new fare sale is promising round-trip prices as low as $349 in a bid to quickly drum up tourism. The airline is also waiving change fees to give flyers greater flexibility when traveling.

Read More: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population – and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe

Iceland doesn’t currently require a “vaccine passport” for travel and travelers can enter with just their paper vaccination certificates. But some of Icelandair’s destination countries, including those in the EU, have expressed a desire to implement the standardized protocol and the airline is ready to begin accepting them.

“It would be extremely good for travel to restart if we could join forces in that and find a common mechanism for this,” Einarsdottir said.

The word is out about Iceland and its flag carrier isn’t the only airline trying to get tourists to visit the Land of Fire and Ice. Delta Air Lines is similarly restarting Iceland services on the heels of the country’s reopening. Existing routes to Reykjavik from New York and Minneapolis are scheduled to resume in May, along with a new route from Boston.

American travelers have successfully been entering the country since March 18, when Iceland first began accepting inculcated visitors. Andy Luten, one of the first American tourists to enter Iceland under the new rules, told Insider in March that entering the country was surprisingly easy, despite the ongoing pandemic.

But while vaccinated American visitors can visit with ease, Iceland won’t be the stepping stone to mainland Europe as it once was. American citizens without residency or citizenship in a Schengen Area country won’t be allowed to travel further into Europe than Iceland, at least until the US and European Union ease their mutual travel restrictions

“Until then – welcome to Iceland!” Einarsdottir said.

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Icelandair is warning travelers they can’t use the country as a backdoor into Europe

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Europe is not open to Americans.

  • Iceland is opening to vaccinated American tourists, one of the first European countries to do so.
  • Americans without residency in the Schengen Area, however, can’t travel onward to Europe.
  • Travel between Iceland and many European countries was once as easy as traveling between US states.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The nation of Iceland is opening to vaccinated American travelers but that’s as close to Western Europe as many US citizens will get, for now.

Icelandair, the country’s flag carrier airline, is warning Americans that they will not be allowed to fly the airline to other European nations from Iceland, even though Iceland is in the European free movement area known as the Schengen Area.

“Iceland is welcoming vaccinated visitors from outside the Schengen zone, but further travel from Iceland to the rest of Europe is currently not permitted for non-Schengen residents,” Icelandair’s website states.

There are some exceptions as Croatia remains open to Americans the arrive with a negative COVID-19 test, according to the US Embassy in Croatia, and Malta will let in Americans that have spent at least two weeks in an approved country, according to the US Embassy in Malta, of which Iceland is one.

The Schengen Area is the reason travelers can move between most European countries without going through border checks each time. Similar to going from state to state in the US, a traveler could theoretically drive from Portugal to Estonia’s border with Russia and not have to produce a passport when crossing the multiple national borders along the way.

Countries can, however, temporarily enact border controls in response to extraordinary circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic saw temporary border controls enacted across the continent as nations went under lockdown.

Iceland’s membership in Schengen has greatly benefited transatlantic travelers by reducing the time spent at passport control upon arrival in mainland Europe. Travelers from North America clear passport control at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport when bound for another Schengen country and their next flight is treated as a domestic flight.

So for vaccinated travelers wondering if they can enter Europe from Iceland, the answer is no. At least for now, Europe is largely closed to Americans as America is to Europeans.

Read the original article on Business Insider

One of the first American tourists back in Iceland reveals what he went through to enter the country under its new entry rules for vaccinated travelers

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Iceland is open to vaccinated Americans.

  • Iceland is now letting in vaccinated Americans as of March 18, and all that’s required is the paper card.
  • Andy Luten was one of the first American tourists to visit Iceland in over a year.
  • Luten described entering the country as “nonchalant” as he easily cleared Icelandic border control.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Just 45 minutes after he heard the news that Iceland was opening to Americans, Andy Luten had a ticket booked on one of the next flights to Reykjavik.

Iceland became one of the first European countries to open to US tourists when on March 18 it began allowing vaccinated travelers to enter the country. The rules, at first, were murky and many weren’t sure if the paper Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card given to Americans would be accepted as proof of vaccination to enter Iceland under the new rules.

But Luten took a microscope to the rules and was confident enough in its wording to book his last-minute ticket. The pandemic had largely grounded Luten, a client management director in the financial services industry and founder of Andy’s Travel Blog, who had been known for his sporadic trips to distant locales on short notice.

“I’m the guy who, once, I was making plans with some friends for a Friday night in like 2016 or something and well, the plans changed so, I’m going to Hong Kong,” Luten told Insider.

Luten hadn’t seriously considered international travel during the pandemic despite the options open to him and other Americans. A Texas resident, nearby Mexico had stayed open during the pandemic and even European countries like Croatia and Serbia had been letting in Americans.

“I love Croatia but for some reason, Iceland just felt right,” Luten said, noting his feel test had deterred him from booking international trips during the pandemic.

The first stop on Luten’s Icelandic adventure was Boston, where Icelandair has consolidated its US operations with two flights per week. All three major US international airlines and Icelandair had offered non-stop flights to Iceland from cities across the US before the pandemic, including Luten’s hometown of Dallas, but those had been scrapped once the borders closed.

Checking in at Boston Logan International Airport was the first hurdle Luten had to clear. “I went to Logan and checked in with the [Icelandair agent] and when he was like ‘what’s your documentation getting you to Iceland,’ I just held up the CDC card,” Luten said.

It was the first time the agent had seen an American traveling with just the paper card. Icelandair couldn’t give Luten a definitive answer on whether the country would accept the card, with the agent simply stating, “as far as I know, it’s going to work.”

The first hurdle complete, Luten boarded the Boeing 767-300ER bound for the Land of Fire Ice and settled in for the quick five-hour journey to Europe, the first transatlantic journey he’d taken in over a year. Even if he didn’t get into Iceland, Luten explained, he’d at least have a story to tell about how he got kicked out of the country.

“The beautiful part about being a writer is that nothing really ends with you because you get to write about it,” Luten said, paraphrasing writer David Sedaris. “And I thought to myself, ‘if this works out, I’m going to end up in Iceland. If it doesn’t work out, I’m going to end up with a really good story.'”

Luten’s flight mate happened to be a former Icelandair executive that was similarly traveling with a CDC vaccination card. “You’ll be fine,” he told Luten.

Read More: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population – and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe

Landing at Keflavik International Airport, 30 miles from Reykjavik, was pretty routine, according to Luten, who had been to Iceland twice prior. Despite being a major transatlantic transit hub between North America and Europe, the airport is quite easy to navigate even for a first-time visitor.

Following the lead of his Icelandic speaking flight mate, Luten was guided to the line for vaccinated travelers and the only thing standing between him and Iceland was a border officer. Luten approached the desk and handed over his passport, vaccination card, and the barcode from a pre-registration that’s now required to enter Iceland.

Within minutes, Luten was granted access to the country, and going through passport control was easier than he could’ve expected with no vaccine passport required.

“It was the most nonchalant thing ever,” Luten said, “nobody asked me a single thing about anything.”

Once he was in the country, Luten didn’t have to submit to any additional testing or quarantine. The vaccination certificate was his golden ticket to explore Iceland.

Luten soon discovered that he had visited at the perfect time as a volcano erupted on the island shortly after his arrival. All the natural attractions that were once plagued by tourists were also empty, allowing Luten to chase Icelandic waterfalls at his leisure.

“From a tourism standpoint, there has never been a better time to go to Iceland than right now,” Luten said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Photos show crowds gathering in Iceland to witness long-dormant volcano eruption

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Weekend hikers took the opportunity Sunday to inspect the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland on March 19

  • A long-dormant volcano near Reykjavik in Iceland erupted slow-moving lava starting last week.
  • Crowds of visitors made the trek beginning last weekend to witness the molten lava.
  • This is the first time in 800 years the area has seen a volcanic eruption.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A long-dormant volcano that erupted about 25 miles from Reykjavik has continued to draw large crowds this week.

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People watch and take photos as lava flows from an eruption of a volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

The volcano is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, near Iceland’s capital city.

The area hasn’t seen a volcanic eruption in nearly 800 years, according to the Associated Press.

 

Lava first began to flow from the volcano Friday night, after tens of thousands of earthquakes were recorded in the area in recent weeks.

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Lava flows from an eruption of a volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

An increase in seismic activity is often a precursor to an impending eruption, Insider’s Joshua Zitser reported earlier this week. 

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said Saturday “lava fountains are small and lava flows are currently a very local hazard.”

 

The eruption is known as an effusive eruption, which is when magma rises through the surface and lava slowly flows out of the volcano’s fissures.

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Iceland’s latest volcano eruption is quickly attracting crowds of people hoping to get close to the gentle lava flows.

Effusive eruptions are different from explosive eruptions, which see magma torn apart as it rises to the surface, often sending up clouds of ash and disrupting air travel. 

This weekend’s eruption has not affected air travel or led to any reported injuries.

The eruption is not seen as a threat to towns nearby, according to the AP, and the steady flow of lava means people can get fairly close to the volcano without much risk — a move more and more visitors have been taking in recent days.

 

 

Police told residents living nearby to close their windows and stay indoors on Saturday, according to Al Jazeera. But that didn’t stop dozens of weekend hikers from taking in the sight.

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Sunday hikers look at the lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano some 40 km west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, on March 21, 2021.

According to the AP, Iceland’s civil protection officials were seen motioning some visitors away from the lava on Tuesday to make sure nobody got hurt. 

One of the officials told the outlet a person had tried to cook eggs and bacon on the lava but lava melted the pan.

 

Hikers’ parked cars stretched along the roadside.

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A long line of parked cars left along the roadside by hikers flocking to the area to get a look at the lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano some 40 km west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, on March 23, 2021

The eruption sent a red shimmer into the Icelandic sky Saturday night.

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A view of volcano eruption in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland on March 21, 2021.

According to the AP, the glow of the lava could be seen nearly 20 miles away from the outskirts of Reykjavik. 

The striking red glimmer could be seen rising behind the President of Iceland’s official residence in Reykjavik.

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The red shimmer from lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano rise behind the Bessastadir, the official residence of the President of Iceland seen from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik,

Those who got an up-close view of the flowing lava were amazed.

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Sunday hikers look at the lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano some 40 km west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, on March 21, 2021.

“I’ve been waiting for many years to see an eruption in Iceland,” Italian photographer Vincenzo Mazza told the AP. “I saw some eruptions in Italy, like Etna and Stromboli, but this is absolutely different.”

 

The end of the weekend didn’t deter visitors from streaming in to witness the natural beauty Monday and Tuesday.

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Weekend hikers took the opportunity Sunday to inspect the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland on March 19.

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