To look back on Grapevine’s year in travel, we decided to first go the empirical populism route, and drew up a list of the most clicked, liked and read stories we published in 2016.
The first noticeable pattern was that our darling readers—you guys! Hi!—had a strong interest in Iceland’s smaller towns. A photo gallery of Iceland’s “second city” of Akureyri was the single most-read piece at grapevine.is, followed closely by articles from the “drive-through towns” series, which included Borganes, Akranes, and Hafnarfjörður. It’s a nice reminder that off-the-beaten-track towns have a lot to offer. And you won’t find out their secrets on Tripadvisor—you have to go there, explore, and find them for yourself.
That said, Iceland’s blockbuster attractions also had an understandable draw. An account of a trip to Katla, the volcano under Myrdalsjökull, during a suspected imminent eruption, made the top five. The Vatnajökull ice caves did too, having gone from being a custom trip mainly requested by photographers to having busloads of tourists roll up every day. Our writer said “Inside, we found that surprising, unusual blue colour, with the ice illuminated by the light from outside. We had to crawl on all fours to get to the main chamber, where we met another group of tourists. After a while, they left, leaving us to get these shots of the frozen beauty of the cave.”
The extreme weather of Iceland also holds a particular fascination. Whether a step-by-step account of the many picturesque stops dotted around the Snæfellsnes peninsula and Snæfellsjökull glacier, or a gallery documenting a snow-drenched, wind-whipped road trip along the southern coast, the upside of the difficult and unrelenting winter conditions is that they also create a certain severe beauty. The same was true of articles documenting life on the islands surrounding Iceland, whether the northernmost settlement of Grímsey, or the southernmost point of Vestmannaeyjar.
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