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Iceland vs Portugal

Exodus Edits: Portugal vs Iceland

Portugal vs Iceland

If like us, your eyes have been glued on the website for the release of green list countries, you’ll be happy to see that both Portugal and Iceland have made the cut*. So, when do we go? If Portugal’s sun-drenched Costa Verde is calling you back or the thought of trekking across epic, other-worldly glaciers sounds like your idea of a good time, we urge you to read on. From treks towards Iceland’s bubbling geysers and frozen waterfalls to kitesurfing and SUP lessons across Portugal’s shimmering coastline, it’s easy to see that these polar-opposite destinations cater to different types of adventurers. So, which one would make you pack your bags faster? Spoiler: there’s no wrong answer.

Winter temps vs Balmy nights

Average temperatures hover between a chilly 2°C (36 F) - 7°C (45 F) in October and continue to drop further during the winter months, so it’s fair to say Iceland is no place for beach bums, but with all that epic winter scenery that looks as if it was plucked straight from Game of Thrones, whose complaining? Shaped by a millennium of volcanic activity and extreme weather conditions, Iceland’s shimmering ice caves, steaming geysers, turquoise crater lakes and milky blue lagoons are worth sticking around in the cold for – especially when you can dunk yourself in their geothermal baths afterwards. But, if the sound of this is making your fingers numb, why not head to Portugal instead, where the summers are balmy and the heat edges into autumn with average temperatures sitting at a comfortable 22°C in October – did somebody say sundowners?

Bubbling Geysers vs Sandy Sundowners

On our Aurora & Adventure in Iceland trip, we get to see the mother of all geysers, known as the Great Geysir in southwestern Iceland, which they say gave all other geysers in the world their name. Situated along the Golden Circle in the Huakadalur Valley, the Great Geysir is on a bit of a hiatus, but its neighbouring geyser, the mighty Strokkur continues to erupt every 4-10 minutes. With blasting water reaching heights of up to forty metres it’s one of the world’s finest nature’s shows you definitely don’t want to miss.

In Portugal, there’s no explosive water – unless it’s coming from a beer can. After a rigorous 70km cycle up Monte de Santa Luzia, you’ll get some time to unwind at FeelViana. Whether you’re looking to take an invigorating yoga class, a sports massage, spa treatment, or toasting your cycling efforts with friends by sharing a couple of cold bottles of Sagres on Cabedelo Beach, our Digital Detox in Portugal is the perfect remedy after lockdown lifts.

Glacier treks vs Surfing

If you’re itching to put on a helmet, pick up an ice axe and get kitted out with crampons to see some of Iceland’s most eye-catching glaciers, we feel you – which is why we’ve included this in our trip. After hunting down the spectacular Skogarfoss and Kvernufoss waterfalls, you’ll head on an adrenaline-pumping, David-Attenborough-esque glacier walk past towering rock formations and cobalt blue glaciers. And if that’s not enough for the gram, your adventure continues on an Icelandic ATV that takes you hurtling over black volcanic sands to an abandoned wreck of a 1973 US Navy plane – epic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Iceland may have its glacier hikes but in Portugal, it’s all about the surf. Wakesurfing, wakeboarding, SUP tours, you name it – the locals have probably tried it, and now it's your turn. Spend the morning hitting the waves in Cabedelo with your wet suit and board and in the afternoon, take a SUP lesson and river tour in FeelViana’s very own wake park on the left bank of the Lima River. With a pretty consistent surf from offshore winds blowing in from the east and pleasant temperatures all year round, you’ll soon see Portugal’s the perfect place to hone your water sports skills.

Geothermal baths vs waterfall dips

After your gruelling glacier walks, crater hikes and remote ATV tours, why not soothe those achy limbs in one of Iceland’s stunning geothermal baths? On our Aurora & Adventure in Iceland trip, you’ll get to go for a relaxing dip in Krauma’s natural baths at Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring, where, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can switch from cold to hot baths to jumpstart your circulation! The trip ends with an insta-worthy pitstop to the famous Blue Lagoon. Surrounded by moss-dusted black lava, take a delightful dip in the cloudy blue waters and plaster yourself with its nourishing silica mud masks, Iceland’s most raved-about natural skincare treatment. 

In Portugal’s heady temperatures, the last thing you’re looking for is a steaming thermal pool. Instead, after your challenging 70km bike ride that allows you to take in impressive coastal views and panoramas of the lush Lima Valley, why not head for a refreshingly dip in one of Portugal’s spectacular waterfalls as you ride through Serra d’Arga? Imagine jumping in and cooling down after a tough cycle amidst the pine forests in a shimmering turquoise lagoon – no, this isn’t a Herbal Essences commercial, but it comes pretty close.

If this blog has inspired you to think about your next getaway once lockdown eases, check out our other adventures by clicking here.

*Green list destinations are correct at the time of writing, to find out more information on the UK government’s current list of green list countries click here, or sign up for our Wish List to get notified when your chosen destination is open for travel.

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