About 275,000 people live in Iceland, and half of them appear to have won beauty contests. That may explain why David Bowie hangs here, and why Jerry Seinfeld has made the flight. You can explore vast glaciers by snowmobile and climb one of the fifteen active volcanoes, but it’s the legendary nightlife – not the landscape – that’s turned Reykjavik into a prime party destination for young Americans. Night here can last from 3:30 p.m. until ten the next morning, so begin your evening with some of the world’s finest fish at one of the city’s celebrated restaurants, which include Vid Tjörnina and Lækjarbrekka. Then head for the Kaffibarinn, a tightly packed club owned by a local screen heartthrob. You’ll find that Icelanders are serious drinkers (one of the preferred beverages is Brennivín, a local gin known by its nickname, “black death”), so don’t even try to compete with the home team. The people here are as friendly as they are beautiful, and all speak better English than you do when you’re drunk. By 4 a.m., half the crowd at the Kaffibarinn will have reconvened at the Spotlight, a dance club that also caters to the local gay and lesbian population. After the sun comes up, submerge yourself in the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal spring. A swim in these waters will cure any hangover. And the adjoining Hotel Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to crash until nightfall.
DETAILS Hotel Blue Lagoon (011-354-426-8650; rooms start at $100); Vid Tjörnina (011-354-551-8666; entrées, $13 to $35); Lækjarbrekka (011-354-551-4430; entrées, $22 to $52). Icelandair (800-223-5500); Icelandic Tourist Board (885-9700; www.goiceland.org).