3. Get Front-Row Seats to Nature's Fireworks
The aurora borealis is visible in Iceland from late autumn to early spring, and you'll get cut-rate admission to this spectacular natural light show if you book your trip for December. Hotel rates during the winter holidays are typically 40 to 50 percent less than what they are during the high season in July, and flights can be as low as $650 round-trip from New York to Reykjavik, says Jay Johnson at Tafari Travel (a member of the Virtuoso
network of over 330 high-end international travel agencies). He sent a group to Iceland last year for the holidays, and he says they enjoyed the trip so much that they're returning with friends this year. To avoid light pollution, Johnson recommends spending at least one night at a hotel outside of Reykjavik, like Hotel Rangá
, which has three naturally heated outdoor hot tubs with a clear view of the sky. The lights have been increasingly visible since 2009, and scientists are predicting that this "Age of Aurora" will peak in the spring of 2014.