Best Place to See Northern Lights

Best Places to View Northern Lights

Below you will find information on some great places in Iceland for viewing the northern lights. These are not only great places to see the lights but also feature many activities and natural sights. When planning a trip to Iceland it’s important to research what kind of things you would like to do and the places to see. The northern lights can only be seen in the winter, when it’s completely dark with clear skies. There are many nights where visibility is low so make sure you have other items on your bucket list and take in as much of the country as you can. The northern lights are a natural phenomenon, so a bonus to your trip.

Hotel Rangá – the best place to see Northern Lights

Hotel Rangá is one of the most renowned hotels in Iceland for seeing the northern lights. It was the first hotel in the country to offer a northern lights wakeup call service to its guests so they could pull their parkas over their pyjamas if the Aurora made an appearance. In addition to their comfortable and luxurious rooms, the location on the south coast is in close proximity to natural wonders like Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, the Reynisfjara black sand beach and basalt columns, and the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Hotel Rangá makes for a great place to see the beautiful dancing northern lights.

Hotel Glymur with its amazing village suites

Hotel Glymur is a friendly hotel with a beautiful village suites. It’s located in majestic Hvalfjörður (“Whale Fjord”) just north-west of Reykjavík, and has breathtaking scenery. It has a lovely relaxed atmosphere and a great restaurant that offers everything a hungry stomach needs. The six village suites are uniquely designed villas, each with an open-concept kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, leather sofas, large screen TV, dining table, amazing art pieces and can cater for 4-6 people. With its remote natural location, it’s a fantastic place to see the northern lights without going too far from the city.

Hotel Gullfoss – next to the famous waterfall

Hotel Gullfoss is located right in the heart of the Golden Circle, next to the amazing and famous Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) waterfall. One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland—and even the whole world!—it is stunning to see all year round. When the sun is shining on it, there is often a golden rainbow over it that gives the falls their name. During the winter a stay at the hotel is truly magical, with no urban lights around one can walk out into the darkness, or lounge in a hot tub, and gaze at the starry sky and watch the northern lights dance totally undisturbed. You can even get great photos of the lights dancing over the waterfall, capturing two of Iceland’s most famous sights together.

Great hot tubs for Northern Lights viewing

With less than 100 inhabitants, Drangsnes is the ultimate spot for seclusion and solitude for viewing the lights. You can lay in the seaside hot tubs waiting for the auroras to show up over the tiny fishing village, indulge your inner nature-lover by exploring the surrounding area, and go mingle with the locals at the Malarhorn café. When the northern lights do come out here, there isn’t anything or anyone to disturb your enjoyment.


Where To See The Northern Lights

Where Can We See The Northern lights?

This is understandably one of the most common question people ask when they are looking for information about the Aurora. Naturally it’s important to find out where it’s possible to see the Northern Lights before you start making detailed travel plans.

When Is The Best Time To See The Aurora?

The Northern Lights season starts every year in September and is until mid-April. There isn’t one particular month better than the other, the lights are hard to predict or plan for and the weather can prove challenging. That said, if you have a clear sky and can see the stars then you might be in for a good viewing.

One of the most important factors is the length of your stay as each day increases your chances of seeing the beautiful lights. We usually advise people to stay here for at least 4 days as the lights are often active for 2 – 3 days and then low for 4 – 5 days.

Iceland is an ideal place to hunt for the Northern Lights. In order to get the best viewing, go outside the city and away from the artificial lights. Often you don’t have to go far, just away from the lights as they often hinder you from seeing the Aurora Borealis.

Self-Drive v Guided Tour

Another common question we often get is whether we recommend a self-drive, guided tours from Reykjavík or a combination of both.

The main advantage of booking a tour is that your guide knows the forecast and has access to much more information so there’s a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights. If the forecast isn’t looking good by 6pm, they send a cancelation message and you’ll have another chance the following night. They provide the transport and know the roads so take you to the right spots.

In the winter, roads conditions can be icy and not ideal, so we don’t advise self-driving unless drivers are familiar with snowy and icy roads.

Road more on Driving In Iceland.

It is common for people to opt for both, tours and self-drive. It all depends on what each person is comfortable with. We recommend that you spend a few nights out in the countryside if you stay in Iceland for more than 5 days. You don’t need to go far out the city to be in with a chance to see the dancing Aurora. If the sky is clear of clouds then head down to Grotto and wait patiently.

If you have a car, drive out of the city and away from the light pollution to areas like Grotta, Mosfellsbaer, Seltjarnarnes and Perlan, where you can easily park.

Further afield, head to Thingvellir National Park near the Golden Circle to be surrounded by nature for a vast open sky ready for the nights display. Threngsli, Seljavallalaug Pool, Vík, Eldborgahraun, Djúpavík, Látrabjarg in the Westfjords, Ásbyrgi Canyon, Hvammsfjordur, Jokulsarlon, East fjords, Hvitserkur, Siglufjordur, Reynisvatn, Öskjuhlid, Borgarholt in Kopavogur and Kirkjufell.

Understanding The Northern Lights Forecast

There are a few things you need to consider when you take a look at the forecast. Firstly, look for the white areas on the map, these show clear sky (so a low cloud coverage). Secondly, in the top right corner you will see a scale which shows numbers and indicates to a moderate, active or high performance of the Northern Lights. Finally, the weather in Iceland changes constantly so it’s important to check the forecast regularly during your stay, especially if you are doing a self-drive so see where to drive to.

When you go on a bus or superjeep tour, the drivers know where to hunt for the lights each night. Also keep in mind that even though the forecast says low, go outside and hunt for the lights if the sky is clear, they tend to show up without any notice.

The Northern Lights Forecast


The Golden Circle in Iceland

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The Golden Circle is the most popular touristic route in Iceland. Most travelers want to go around the Golden Circle loop but there is always this classic travel dilemma in this; how to enjoy the trip, get most out of it without sacrificing the budget and with limited time. So often suggestion is to join a tour (e.g. Golden Circle ), though there are several but just minimal problems with this idea; that there are so many tour packages available, promises different kinds of experiences, some pricey, some with reasonable price, some overcrowded, some in small group and the time period can be too short that it is even shorter than the time planned for you to roam around. Those are the things you must face when choosing tour packages, the selection so broad you will need some huge amount of time weighing which is most suitable one, you’re lucky if you stumble in some local’s site that happens to offer free travel planning and will choose the right tour package for. Yes, some locals do that to help promote tourism in their country. Another way to go around the famous Golden Circle route is to drive around it by yourself. You would need to rent a car, turn on your reliable GPS or you do it the traditional way by using a map and looking at the signs. The Golden Circle is not far from Reykjavik and it is conveniently located to where a quick snap drive will take you to each destination. A day or a full afternoon is not quite enough but the Golden Circle is absolutely amazing that every second you spend in it will be worth it. So no matter how limited your time will be, you will not get disappointed because in every turn you make, there are magnificent sights and wonders of nature. When you have visited the sites on the Golden Circle route you will understand why it is one of the most popular routes in Iceland. The Golden Circle covers about 300 km from Reykjavik going to the central Iceland and back. There are three primary destinations or stops on the route and they are the Þingvellir National Park, the geothermal area Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall or the Golden Waterfall. The loop will continue passing or having stops at Kerið volcano crater, Hveragerði greenhouse village, Skálholt church, and Nesjavellir or Hellisheidarvirkjun power plant. Depending on the time you have. You can also stop at the small villages by the sea, like Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri, and enjoy a lovely lobster feast.

Exploring Golden Circle Iceland

First Stop: Þingvellir National Park

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Þingvellir National Park, the first stop of the Golden Circle Iceland route, is full of history, culture and geological significance. The site of the rift valley marks the crest of the large Mid-ocean ridge or better known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge or MAR, this is the constructive plate boundary at the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It actually separates the Eurasian and the North American Plates. Every year the plates drift about 2 cm apart that builds up tension and can be felt every ten years in the earth mass above creating cracks and fissures in Þingvellir and thinking that this is Iceland, every crack created by natural phenomena is considered another nature’s gift for the locals. The largest crack that started in a deep cave underwater is the Silfra fissure. This is located at the rim of the largest natural lake in Iceland, Þingvallavatn Lake. This is also called the diver’s paradise or the ultimate dream because literally the scuba divers are swimming between two continents and the clear water that makes the wonders underwater visibly possible allures them to swim deeply and explore broadly. Plus the feeling of weightlessness when diving in Silfra is like being in space without getting into a space ship, most of the feedbacks are “as close to a spacewalk as one can get without being in space”. You can also add this activity when visiting Golden Circle because just looking at the picture won’t justify the real experience. If you are kind of afraid to dive deep, you can also snorkel, as this is one of the most popular activities when passing by Silfra.
What makes Þingvellir National Park important when we talk about history is the Parliament or Alþingi which was established in 930 at Þingvellir. The park was founded to protect the remains of the parliament. The new parliament is now in Reykjavik, it’s been moved in 1798, but not really open to the public. Þingvellir National Park is also the first national park in Iceland.

Exploring Golden Circle Iceland

Second Stop: Geysir

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Geysir, the home of the sprouting hot spring; The Great Geysir. This is like the Old faithful in California but The Great Geysir erupts higher than it. The level of the sprouting water is about 70 meters high; it even reached the height of 170 metres in 1845. The activities of The Great Geysir vary from time to time, during the old days, the interval per eruption is 30 minutes, and it is now down to only 3 times a day. But when you get to catch the erupting Geysir, it would be the greatest experience, just be sure to bring along your waterproof camera to capture that remarkable moment.
Geysir geothermal field contributes with the applauses that the Golden Circle receives as it has these otherworldly-like features. Geysir, Þykkvuhverir is a group of hot springs scattered in the geothermal field of Geysir. The hot springs are: Spring Gey 1, located at the corner between the trail and highway 35; Sóði (messy spring), located a little bit north of spring Gey 1; Spouting spring Gey 2, situated a little further to the north; The handsome Spring or Smiður (the smith) is located in the north; Cistern spring is just beyond Smiður; Tröllaauga (trolls eye), just along the trails; Proceeding north is the unnamed spring Gey 3; Gey 4 is just behind Gey 3; A mud pot Vigdísarhver is seen from the north; Àlfaauga is located close to the trails; Litli Strokkur can be seen northernmost part of Þykkvuhverir; Þvottahver, Sísjóðandi and Móri is not inside the fence you have to leave the fenced area at Geysir Centre; Neighboring spring east of Sísjóðandi have two pools the Strokkur and Óþerrishola; And Þvottahver (laundry spring) is quite close to the highway 35. Yes there are quite so many springs and it is merely difficult to remember their names but they’re all stunningly beautiful and visiting the geothermal area is quite as rewarding as you would ever think. In actual visit of the Golden Circle at the Geysir geothermal field you can use the location stated above to distinguish which is which.

The Golden Circle Iceland: Geysir Geothermal Field

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Geysir Geothermal Field of the Golden Circle have so much to offer, you can spend time in the Geothermal area and roam around to get the most of it. Besides, The Great Geysir and the numerous hot springs, you can find Blesi, where you can bathe in a blue spring, a pail like shaped spring called Fata and Konungshver (the royal spring) a little to the northwest and above Blesi. Seidir, Litli-Geysir and Oþerrishola are once the principal springs of the area but now can only be induced by soap. And finally just near Geysir geothermal field is hyperactive Strokkur which erupts every five minutes or so. This geyser is so unpredictable, at first you can spot it as a churning pool and without any notice it would burst out water.

Exploring Golden Circle Iceland

Third Stop: Gullfoss Waterfalls

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The main event of the Golden Circle is the Golden falls of the Gullfoss as it is popularly named. This is the crowned jewel of the Golden Circle, one of the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland. From the parking lot to where you will enter the great Golden falls you can feel the anticipation. From there you will take a short walk to a cliff where you can witness the magnificent waterfalls. Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls but flows as one. The upper water flows down 11 meters and the lower one 21 meters to three steps of lava formation created during the interglacial period. It is like the water disappears down to nowhere as the water flow an average rate of 109 cubic meters per second. Recorded heaviest floods are about 2000 cubic meters per second. In summer, the flow if 130 cubic meters per second that is about 3 seconds to fill a building of 10 floors. You can hear the powerful gush of water even from afar signals that the Gullfoss is at its best work. Capturing the Gullfoss by camera cannot even define how magnificent this waterfall is but it is worth the try for remembrance that you have been in Europe’s most beautiful waterfalls. It would be a big mistake not to put Gullfoss into your itinerary when visiting Iceland or the Golden Circle for that matter.

Exploring Golden Circle Iceland

Fourth Stop: Kerid

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The next stop would be Kerid. This is a volcanic crater lake and it is the one that has the most visibly intact caldera. The volcanic rock in the area is mostly composed of red rather than black so it has this Mars-like feature. This is rather a pretty cool volcanic crater and stopping by to check it out is worth it, definitely! The moss around it makes the perfect crater’s symmetry with blue water makes is more attractive.
Huge number of tourists passes through or by Hveragerði every year, and like a magnet, it drives people to explore the place everytime. Located just 45 km from Reykjavik, this place also has numerous hot springs and steams that rises out of the ground can be seen all over the place. Without a doubt, by Hveragerði is one treasured gem South Iceland holds. You can enjoy a natural clay foot bath, and after you can soak your feet in one of the hot springs. It is rewarding. One joke about the hot springs is that you can cook an egg, and then yourself. Hike a bit and you will enjoy a nice bath at the natural heated pool in valley of Reykjadalur. This town isn’t only known by its geothermal activities or hot springs and mud pots but because of its greenhouses. They are heated by the geothermal water from the volcanic hot springs. This is the hotbed of most of Icelandic horticulture, the green part of the Golden Circle.

Exploring Golden Circle Iceland

Optional Stop: Skálholt church

skaholt

You might have heard about the Skálholt church once in your life or if you didn’t, this is your chance to learn about the church and its significance to the country. The ancient seat of the Icelandic bishops and the center of culture and education for centuries is this church. Though this church has been reconstructed and the remains of the old church are now kept in the National Museum in Reykjavik, which is also worth a visit, the place where the reconstructed church stands holds historic traces and ruins of a fortress is still visible. A monument stands on its spot this was the place where the last catholic bishop and his two sons were beheaded. Yes it may sound gruesome but as respect the place it well preserved. The stained and windows are hand crafted by two Icelandic female artists.

Exploring Golden Circle Iceland

Optional Stop: Nesjavellir or Hellisheidarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant

hellisheidi

The last stop on the Golden Circle Iceland route would be Nesjavellir or Hellisheidarvirkjun geothermal power plant. This is where you can fully understand how energy is supplied all throughout the city and its neighboring towns. Hellisheidarvirkjun (or Hellisheidi) heat and power plant is the largest power plant in Iceland and the second largest geothermal power station in the whole world. The power plant’s visitor center displays geothermal energy exhibition and explains how it sustains to flow out energy in Iceland. The exhibition is an informative presentation with multimedia shows to let the audience learn about green energy and how it can possibly be a global energy source. The second largest geothermal plant in Iceland is Nesjavellir and it is about 11 km away from Hellisheidi.
Exploring the Golden Circle can be a long drive and process but with its excellent places, the trip would be more that you ever dreamed of. The best Golden Circle Iceland route to take can be either head clockwise or counter clockwise, either way, you’ll find yourself into exceptional places. In every turn you can have plethora of photographic opportunities to capture. You couldn't get enough of the scenery of the Golden Circle Iceland.


10 Sights to Visit in Reykjavik

Even though Reykjavik isn’t a very big city, it has a lot to offer and there are many lovely sites to visit. We’ve put together a list of our top ten sites to visit in Reykjavik – but of course there’s much more to see and do in Icelands capital.

1. Hallgrimskirkja Church

One of the most iconic buildings in Reykjavik is Hallgrimskirkja church. You can see it almost wherever you are and it is amongst the highest buildings in Iceland. You can go up the steeple and enjoy the magnificent view over the city and surrounding coastline. The church itself is beautiful and the organ is a work of art.

2. Perlan (The Pearl)

Perlan (The Pearl) stands out for its unique and modern architecture. Up on the fourth level there is a 360 degree viewing platform where you can get the best panoramic views of Reykjavík. When the sun sets, it’s a spectacular spot for the Northern Lights in winter if the forecast is looking good. You can also dine at the Perlan Restaurant and enjoy a view across the whole city. Visit the newly opened Glacier and Ice Cave Exhibition to learn about the Wonders of Iceland.

3. Tjörnin (The Pond)

Tjörnin or The Pond, is located in the city centre of Reykjavik. The birds on the Pond give the city a lively charm. You can take a walk around the Pond to see the sculptures set amongst the park grounds and enjoy the sunset. In winter the pond freezes over and people go ice skating on it. Hot geothermal waters are pumped into a small section of the pond where ducks and swans gathers. It’s ok to feed the duck in winter but please refrain from doing this in the summer time.

4. The Parliament

The Parliament, Althingi was founded at Thingvellir back in 930 up until 1799 when it was discontinued for some decades. Althingi is one of the oldest extant parliamentary institutions in the world. These days

In 1844 Althingi was relocated to the capital city and has be held here in Reykjavik ever since. The role of the Parliament has changed over the years but its main function today is to discuss and pass legislation. With 63 members voted by the public, they are refered to as ‘thingmenn’ which means People of the Althingi or Parliament.

The parliament is located in the heart of Reykjavik, in Austurvollur square. This square is the place to be in the summer time as the sun in shining and people gather on the grass. There are many nice restaurants to dine outside and enjoy the sun. At the centre of the square stands a statue of Jón Sigurðsson, the renowned figure who led Iceland to independence.

5. Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall is one of Reykjavik’s most unique buildings. It was designed by a Danish firm in co-operation with the Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson. Harpa stand at the edge of Reykjaviks Harbour and is Icelands biggest concert hall suitable for a broad range of concerts and cultural events.

The interior and exterior are both stunning but the interior is worth a visit and walk around. There’s a nice café on the ground floor and a restaurant on the top floor. There are guided tours on offer and some great short cinematography shows worth looking into.

In winter the glazed facade is eliminated with a magical light show representing the Northern Lights.

6. The Old Harbour

The old harbour is the first lasting harbour of Reykjavik and an area of great history. On the eastern pier you will find galleries, excellent restaurants, cafés and more. You will also find numerous whale watching companies willing to take you out to sea on unforgettable excursions. The atmosphere at the old harbour is friendly, the sea air is fresh, and there’s plenty of interesting activities to check out such as the Maritime Museum.

7. The Sun Voyager

The Sun Voyager is a beautiful sculpture on the coastline, a short walk from Harpa Concert Hall. The sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, serves as a reminder of the Icelanders history and heritage when the first Viking settlers sailed to Iceland. Designed as an ode to the sun symbolising freedom, progress, the promise of undiscovered territory and a dream of hope. The Sun Voyager is a lovely sculpture that has become one of Reykjaviks symbols.

8. City Hall

With an impressive modern design, the building sits right on the northern shore of Lake Tjörnin, The Pond. The building is also open to visitors, providing internet access and an information desk, exhibition halls and a cafe. Sit in the café and enjoy the magnificent view over the Pond, admire the birdlife through the huge class windows. Visit the galleries to admire one of the steady streams of new and exciting exhibitions. Make sure to have a look at the 3D map of Iceland in the entrance.

9. The Seaside

Wherever you are in Reykjavik you are never far from the sea and it’s refreshing to take a walk along the coastline. Ægissíða is a great place to walk. you might even see a seal swimming in the ocean. Grótta is another great place for a walk along the rocky coastline or black sand beach. The lighthouse is fun to walk out to but beware and check for high tide so you don’t get stuck. There is also a very small but cute geothermal pool where locals sit in and watch the sunset. Grotta is also a good place to check for Northern Lights at night.

10. Kolaportið Flea Market

At Kolaportið Flea Market you can find almost anything. An indoor flea market so no need to think about the weather. It’s open during weekends from 11:00 – 17:00 and is fun to visit. The atmosphere is unique and the old industrial building is usually filled with people hunting for books or antiques, grocery shopping, selling old garments, buying music and DVD’s, or digging through piles of stuff in search of hidden treasures. We recommend bringing cash as the majority of stalls are unable to accept card. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon in Reykjavik.


Winter Wonderland

Up until quite recently, winter tourism in Iceland was almost unheard of. Most people thought the only time to pay us a visit was during the summer for the midnight sun. Now that some of the low cost airlines have started to fly in and out of Iceland, things have changed and more people are now discovering our magical winters too. Even though the winter is very dark and the weather can be wild, there is nothing quite like experiencing this country under the night sky, with northern lights dancing above you. It really is a winter wonderland.

There are dozens of fantastic things to do and places to see during winter. It’s important to plan ahead to make sure you can fit everything from your bucket list into your time in Iceland. We’ve put together some great lesser-known options for a winter trip that are sure to give you the best experience possible.

Multi-Day Super-Jeep Tour

For a truly unforgettable trip where you’ll be fully taken care of, a multi-day cross-country trip by 4×4 is a great adventure to take. You’ll experience every terrain Iceland has, from lunar lava fields to black sand beaches, cold glacial mountains to hot springs.

Typically lasting from 2 to 6 days (but can be longer upon request), this kind of tour is perfect for a small group of travellers who want to see as much as possible in an intimate time. Tour groups usually being 4 to 6 people and we use our own super jeeps and drivers.

Our expert tour guides have extensive knowledge and all the qualifications for your adventures in the country. These tours can also be arranged to take a variety of routes, depending on what sights you are interested in; Westfjords, south coast, highlands, etc. Private tours are great for flexibility. Contact us to find out more.

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon & South Coast

The glacial lagoon,Jokulsarlon, on Icelands south coast is a place that truly has to be seen to be believed. No matter how beautiful a photograph you take, nothing compares to standing on its shore and taking it all in.

The lagoon is where icebergs, broken off from the great Vatnajokull glacier, float out into the Atlantic ocean. There is no better time to see it than in the depths of winter, when the icebergs are at their biggest and more dramatic.

Jokulsarlon is about a 7 hours drive from Reykjavik and makes a great 2 day trip, either by guided tour or self-driven. On the way to the lagoon, you will pass Seljalandsfoss waterfall where you can walk behind the waterfall, the beautiful Skogafoss waterfall, Reynisfjara black sand beach with its great basalt columns, and the site of the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Time your arrival at Jokulsarlon right and you might get to see the northern lights reflect off the lagoon, surrounded by icebergs and seals playing. After you can stay in a number of lovely country hotels or guest houses in the region before returning to the capital the following day. We can help you book the perfect tour.

Lake Mývatn Winter Garden

Located in Icelands northeast highlands, this beautiful lake town is perfect to visit during the winter when its mild and peaceful.

The northern winters are lovely and scenic, Lake Mývatn in particular has some of the best natural sights and its remote location makes it perfect for looking for the northern lights. There is the great lava rock forest Dimmuborgir which was formed from an ancient volcanic eruption. Also make sure to check out the active hot spring field Hverir, the Lofthellir cave, Ludentarborgir crater rows, and of course, the lake itself!

Here you can also enjoy a soak at the Mývatn Nature Baths, the Blue Lagoon of the north, located up on a hill overlooking the lake. You can take a gourmet tour of the region trying all the local produce and visit the many farms of the area to taste real Icelandic country life.

Lake Mývatn is also known for being the mythical home of our thirteen Christmas elves, so it’s perfect for a great yuletide getaway.

Getting Up On A Glacier

What could be better on a visit to Iceland than getting up close and personal with the glaciers that give us our name?

Going for a snowmobile ride on the second largest glacier, Langjokull (“long glacier”) is a thrilling adventure that will leave you with lifelong memories. Langjokull is located just a few hours out of Reykjavík and so makes for a great day trip. You need no prior snowmobiling experience and it’s family friendly, those without drivers licenses can be passengers. Snowmobiling trips can be tied into many other adventure packages or spend the evening on a hunt for northern lights.

If you want to get up on a glacier but snowmobiling isn’t for you, go for a climb instead on the Solheimajokull glacier on the south coast of Iceland. The trained guides provide all the gear and advice for trekking on the glacier. You’ll get a hiking experience like no other.

Surrounded by beautiful blue coloured ice, you’ll really feel Icelands magic. This glacier is also just a few hours from Reykjavik so can be easily combined with many other activities and tours. It’s always an option for a day out in winter as we can build it into your upcoming vacation.

Going Down Into The Depths

While it’s really popular to climb to the highest peaks of the country to see Iceland from above, what lies below is not to be missed. The island is a geological marvel at every level and sometimes the best way to experience it is to go right inside it. There are several magnificent caves located right near Reykjavik that amateur speleologists can easily descend at any time of the year. Head to the Arnarker cave, Leidarendi cave or Thrihnukagigur crater to go down and experience the inside of this rocky island.

If you like water more than rocks, you’re in luck too. Head to the continental rift in the historic Thingvellir national park to go snorkelling in the Silfra river. This runs right between the North American and European tectonic plate divide. You’ll be provided with a dry suit and all the equipment by local guides who will take you on a gentle paddle through the place where the country splits into two continents. That is definitely something to check off your bucket list.

Welcome To Our Winter Wonderland!


Crossing the Bridge that Connects Two Continents

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Have you ever wondered how it is like to cross one continent to another in just few minutes? I am not talking about getting on a plane and flying across the continents but as simple as just crossing a footbridge. Yes it is possible and we aren’t bluffing. Just drive about 7 kilometers south of 101 Hafnir by road 425 and you’ll get to cross into two continents. The Mid Atlantic Ridge is one of the world’s major plate boundaries and this is where the lava-scarred Reykjanes peninsula is situated. The great force that is under the gaping rifts of the Eurasian and American tectonic plates is the reason why the two continents are continuously drifting apart about two centimeters away from each other per year. As the tension of the two plates diverging the results are visible on the surface causing cracks, gaps and fissures, the stress on the tension created by this natural changes are soon to make a great impact in Iceland but the Icelanders aren’t worried at all. Instead, they accepts the changes freely and even make a good thing out of them like the silfra fissure and this huge gap which they built a bridge at, making the natural changes or nature stress into something that we should look forward to visit each time we are in Iceland.

across-the-continents

The bridge is not just a symbol that the Eurasian and American plates meets, or the better phrase now is departs from each other, but also the symbol of connection between the two continents. Crossing the bridge is like feeling the connection between the two continents, they might soon be far away from each other, but at this moment, there is still a little bridge connecting them.

The fun thing about crossing the bridge is that you get to take home a personalized certificate at the Reykjanes Information Center. This is to certify that you have crossed the two continents and a reminder of the great experience you have encountered here. Afterall, crossing the bridge that connects the two continents is quite an adventure.

Here is a map to help you with crossing the bridge that connect Eurasian and American continent.


Best ski resorts in Iceland

Skiing in Iceland

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Iceland is a land where winter adventures are at its finest. For those who wants to experience the fullest of their vacation, a combination of fun and excitement as well as relaxation and adventures, Iceland is an ideal destination. In Iceland you can find many great skiing resorts and each place has different functions and special features, but all do have in common to be a good place for winter fun and northern lights hunting.

Bláfjöll

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Bláfjöll skiing area is probably the most talked about recreational place in Iceland. It is one of the best skiing areas and it is only within a 30 minute drive from Reykjavik. Since 1968, Bláfjöll Recreation and Ski Center has been considered the largest skiing area in Iceland. It has 11 lifts with 2 chair lifts and three lifts that are located in different areas of Bláfjöll. The lifts capacity is about 8,000 people per hour. Safety comes first in this Skiing Center as all the major slopes are well illuminated. They have service centers that can assist you in any of your needs as well as will be most glad to give you skiing lessons during weekends or you can request the friendly staff and book beforehand. They also offer equipments for rent. There are lodges owned by skiing clubs, the Ármann, Breiðablik and Fram, which can accommodate at least 100 skiers overnight. The ski season falls between mid of November up for the whole month of May and opening hours are both on weekdays and weekends, as long as weather allows.

Böggvisstaðafall in Dalvík

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If you wanted to stay in a pleasant but not too rowded ski resort, then Dalvík Ski Resort would be a perfect choice. The town of Dalvík has produced successful ski athletes that have joined the Olympics, European Cups, World Cups and World Championships, not to mention the other international and national competitions that they have grabbed victory from. These are; Daníel Hilmarsson, Sveinn Brynjólfsson and Björgvin Björgvinsson. The Dalvík Ski Resort has direct access to 7 individual pistes which can be reached by three ski lifts. The lifts can carry up to 3,200 people per hour. Dalvík is a lovely village on the north coast of Iceland, about 30 – 40 minute drive from Akureyri.

Hlíðarfjall, Akureyri

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Hlíðarfjall in Akureyri is on the north coast of Iceland. It is a great spot for all skiers from beginners to professionals. The slopes are well lit and cross-country skiing is also permitted. It has facilities such as toilets, cafeteria and shops, mountain restaurants and a ski lodge for those skiers who want to stay overnight. Akureyri, the second city in Iceland, has a vast entertainment from symphony orchestra to art museums, so after your skiing ventures you can visit the places in the city too. The resort’s operation is from; mid of December to last week of April and is open on weekdays and weekends, as long as weather allows. You can take a Ski bus from the airport to reach The Hlíðarfjall Resort.

Húsavík Skiing Area

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Just situated near the town, Húsavík Skiing Area offers excellent cross-country skiing. There are different slopes for each required skill level of skiers at the Húsavík Mountain, from the lower slopes to steep and most challenging courses. The ski lift is located at Skálamelur just few steps from the town. Húsavík is a lovely town on the northern coast where you can find all sorts of activities, such as whale watching and it´s also an ideal place for the Northern lights.

Siglufjörður Skiing Area

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Siglufjörður skiing area has been considered one of the best skiing areas in Iceland because of its ski slopes. There are three lifts available which carry skiers up reaching the slopes. The two disc lifts are combined about 1500 meters in length. The other lift is the highest, that vertically rises about 180 meters and can carry approximately 550 skiers per hour. The peak of the lift reaches about 650m above sea level. There is a ski lodge with great amenities for overnight skiers.

Skálafell Skiing Area

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You can reach the Skálafell Skiing Area within an hour drive from Reykjavik. This is the best ski area for beginners as the slopes are not that steep and some locals offer skiing lessons to get beginners on their feet.

It goes without saying that the above mentioned ski resorts are open when weather allows as the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable. The resorts are one of the best you can find and enjoying a day in the mountains on a lovely sunny winter day, is heavenly!


Fantasy World

Iceland is a Magical Place

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Welcome to Winter Wonderland! Usually when someone mentions Iceland, there are two things that comes to mind. Snow and Volcanoes. When you look closer to their culture and the whole country, it might change your whole perspective, that there is something in their box than just large masses of snow and volcanoes. Icelanders being the most hospitable people in the world, eclectic cosmopolitan, informative museums, historical buildings, old fashioned villages, perfect man-made lagoons, impressive green fields (or white), the Northern Lights, magnificent volcanoes, stunning geysers, enchanting waterfalls, thousand of bird species, elves, trolls and fairies. Yes, you read that right! Mythical creatures. Up until now Icelanders still live in a fantasy world. Well, it does makes sense because of the spellbinding scenery around Iceland, but what is amazing is that they even have laws, schools, events and more, all related to their belief in the unseen. Some folks take elves and other mythical creatures seriously, some just doesn’t talk about them at all, and others may not even care. There are some roads that have detours just not to pass where the mythical creatures lives, even the engineers tend to bypass that area, and believe it or not, there is also a school that offers elf courses. Though you may neither find it online if you google it, nor the main tourism office staff knows about this, you can take classes to learn all about it. Yes, despite of the Icelanders being religious and modern, there are still lots of believers out there. Iceland is indeed a fantasy world not only because of their beliefs, but the place itself is out of this world. It is like another dimension. Even HBO agrees to this when they filmed some of the parts of “The Game of Thrones” in Iceland. It is such a magical place!

Iceland is magical and out of this world

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Some may find Iceland rather to be an icy wasteland, with just a few hours of sunshine during winter or the cost of living is unreasonable. These individuals are probably just some people who haven’t smelled the fresh air in Iceland or haven’t tasted Iceland’s naturally purified tap water or haven’t seen the Icelanders glow and beauty yet.

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What are the great finds it Iceland that makes it a fantasy world? Well, we can start with the Blue Lagoon, where you can soak yourself into a wonderful misty geothermal spa. The mix of seawater and geothermal water from a geothermal plant has great rejuvenating powers that can soothe your muscles and can be a great therapy for any skin diseases. Though there is neither magic happening here nor any work of elves, it is purely scientific. If you are thirsty, you can just take a glass of water, open their faucets and enjoy the pure water. Again, it’s not magical but this time, it’s pure nature. Then you can go visit their museums full of antique artifacts which can tell the whole history of Iceland. Yeah, I know still no magic. And at nighttime, visit the city of Reykjavik where there are parties and events everywhere. After you have had enough with parties and drinking coffees, you can go hiking or swimming on the best spots around Iceland. Go see the glaciers and geysers and soak yourself again in their hot springs. You can experience nature tripping at its best. Visit their magnificent churches and chapels. Okay, I know, you are waiting for the magical part. During winter, you can have a front row chair of the most captivating Northern Lights. “This may be magical but still it’s the work of nature”, you might say. But don’t you get it? The whole experience in Iceland is magical and out of this world. Iceland offers so much that your weeks of visits would not even comply.


The best types of food in Iceland

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When someone talks about food, you will instantly say “Mmmmm…. Tasty!” When visiting Iceland, you can be sure you´ll find good and healthy food. Many of the dishes are traditional and have been around for ages, like the Icelandic meat soup. You will find all sorts of international restaurants in Iceland, such as Indian, Italian and Sushi places, but we recommend you try out some of the Icelandic ones as the food there is first class. Don´t forget to shop like a local at the supermarket and grab some skyr and flatbrauð. It doesn´t matter what time of the year you are in Iceland, you can always be sure that your taste buds will be pleased! Now let us make your mouth water with the most delightful food in Iceland.

Hangikjöt (Smoked Lamb)

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The Icelandic lamb meat is to die for because of its very distinct flavor. The lambs were grown the traditional way of just letting them free for them to eat on fresh grasses, plants and herbs. When it’s time for them to be plated, the farmers smoke the meat in old fashioned way. Birch and / or dried sheep dung is used to smoke the meat bringing its flavor to the fullest. The smoked lamb is one of Icelander´s Christmas delicacies. Icelanders also eat a lot of fresh lamb meat which is one of the best you will ever taste. So, as long as you aren´t a vegetarian, it´s a must to try Icelandic lamb when you visit Iceland.

Skyr

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Skyr is famous in Iceland. It’s a cultured dairy product similar to its cousin the strained yogurt. Traditionally, it is made out of raw milk but now they have altered the production by using pasteurized skimmed milk. It has slightly sour taste and sweetness. You can get them plain or with flavors like vanilla, blueberries and strawberries. Skyr is rich in protein and calcium which makes it more special. You can also get so-called skyr drinks with different kinds of flavours. Icelanders eat much of skyr - as a desert, in smoothies, between meals, even for breakfast.

Icelandic fish

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Fishing is one of the best activity in Iceland because first of all there are plenty of them to catch, second is that you can eat them by the traditional Icelandic method of preparing. One type is saltfiskur (Bacalao, which means salted fish). In preparation of the fish, it has to be dried and salted. Another type of fish preparation or method of preserving is harðfiskur (Stockfish - see picture above), this is the process of cold air drying and the cold air bacteria will do the job in fermenting the fish. Then of course there is a variety of fresh fish eaten in Iceland, prepared in many different ways - boiled, oven baked or pan fried. Icelandic fish is fresh and delicious!

Kjötsúpa (Icelandic meat soup)

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Kjötsúpa (Icelandic meat soup) is a traditional lamb dish in Iceland. The meat (the tough ones or you can use any part of the lamb) is slow cooked and is mixed with herbs, onion and root vegetables and served with rice barley or rolled oats. An easy dish to make but nevertheless a delicious one.

“Ein með öllu”

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“Ein með öllu” means “Give me one with the works”. By works means the iconic Icelandic hot dog (hot dogs made from lambs). Pylsa or pulsa (whatever you want to call it because both of them would mean “hot dog” in Icelandic) served in a bun and topped with ketchup and mustard, plus fried and raw onions, and the famous remoulade sauce(mayonnaise and coleslaw or relish). This can be brought at any stands in Iceland but one that serves the most lined up and the tastiest is Bæjarins bestu in Reykjavik (opposite the Kolaportið flee market).

Icelandic chocolate

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Icelandic chocolate is know for its taste. Many different kinds of chocolates and sweets are available, such as Nóa kropp, Rís and Hraun, not to mention Nóa konfekt assortated chocolates are a must at every Icelandic household for Christmas. During Easter everyone gets a chocolate Easter egg with a little note (a saying) inside. Everyone can for sure find their favorite Icelandic chocolate!

Icelandic beer

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Icelanders produce their own beer and in the past years, many new brands have entered the market. The Icelandic beer is made out of Icelandic ingredients and as the Icelandic water is so pure and fresh, the local beer is very good and worth tasting!

Icelandic flatbrauð

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The Icelandic flatbrauð (flat bread) has been around for ages and is always popular among all age groups. You eat it with butter and if you want to take it all the way, put a slice of smoked lamb on it. You can buy different kinds of flatbrauð in every supermarket and we recommend you try it at least once.

Other delicacies

The list of Icelandic delicacies is endless but to give you a few more ideas to taste and try, we recommend Malt (drink), kleina (similar to a deep fried bread), vöffla with jam and cream, and Icelandic ice cream.


Akureyri: The bustling city of North Iceland

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Iceland is a relatively small country with a population that doesn´t reach 400.000 people. However, while it’s not as overpopulated or popular as other countries, most travelers agree that it is one of the most fantastical places to visit. While most people travel towards the south where the nations capital is located, it is the northern areas of Iceland that truly capture its splendor. One of these places is the lovely cosmopolitan city of Akureyri. the so-called capital of northern Iceland.

At a glance, Akureyri seems like a place transported from the Swiss Alps. Set at the head of Eyjafjordur Fjord, a long fjord which is one of the most beautiful fjords in Iceland, Akureyri is an ideal base where one can load up with supplies to begin an incredible journey through Iceland's most beautiful wonders such as waterfalls, volcanic areas and canyons. Snowcapped peaks rise behind the town, while flower boxes, lush gardens and towering trees fill the town in summer with a whimsical atmosphere probably because its only 60 miles away from the North Pole. During winter, Akureyri is a true skiing paradise and a great place to experience the winter time in Iceland. To get to Akureyri we suggest simply to do get some self-drive packages like this one.

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Akureyri is a bustling, cosmopolitan town considered as Iceland’s second-largest city. It has a population of 15,000 which for other countries is a decent number for a small town but in Iceland it is considered a good population for a city. While Akureyri doesn’t have the same sthe ophistication of the nation’s capital it more than makes up for it because of its charm. It has a fine selection of shops, cafes, restaurants and museums that travelers can leisurely visit without being hurried off towards the next destination by an irate tour guide.

Akureyri is considered as a cultural capital for the prescence of quite a number of museums. The city is also the birth place of Matthias Jochumsson, a native poet and Jon Sveinson who was a children’s book author. One of Akureyri’s most peculiar aspect is the warm climate which is ironic for travelers since it is just a stone’s throw away from the arctic circle. The summer temperature is set at 20° C which citizens from Reykjavik always takes advantage of during the weekends. The temperature is so perfect that the Botanical Gardens is the city’s best known attraction.It hosts over 2,000 species of native and non-native plants which flourish without the aid of a green house. Akureyri is a hotspot during the summer with its lively festivals, and it also boasts of Iceland’s best winter skiing during the winter. Akureyri is a popular weekend destination for Icelanders, both during summer and winter.

History of Akureyri

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The name of Akureyri has its origin in local folklore wherein the name originates from a cornfield that was thought to have existed in a sheltered location within one of the water systems in the neighboring farms. It was first mentioned in a criminal trial in 1562, when a woman bedded a man without a marriage certificate. In 1778 the first residential house was built and in 1786 it became the certified trading post for the first time in its history . during that time it only has about 12 residents, however it continued to grow in its size.

Adventures in Akureyri

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There are many festivals in Akureyri specially during the summer months which locals and visitors always look forward to. There are though prime tourist destinations for adventures seeking excitement. One of the most beloved activity in Iceland is hiking and Akureyri has a perfect spot for it.

Mt Súlur is a pleasant and invigorating hike which starts at Súluvegur, then a left turn off Þingvallastræti just before the Glerá bridge and up towards Glerádalur valley until hikers reach the summit of Mt Súlur which is 1144 m high. The whole hike takes seven hours to complete so tourists are advised to bring lots of water and emergency supplies and rations. Aside from the rigorous hiking opportunities, Akureyri also has ski resorts, art museums, golf courses, river rafting, sea angling and wildlife shows which feature whale watching and wild horse sightings. Do not forget the amazing Northern lights shows during winter, which will leave no one disappointed. Small towns and beautiful natural treasures are close to Akureyri which can make a nice day tour in summer and half day tour in winter as the daylight hours aren´t that many during winter season Please also make sure to check the weather forecast before you head out of town as well as road conditions as roads can be slippery / with heavy snow during winter.

Akureyri is a spectacular place which combines the throbbing pulse of city life and the untamed beat of the wilderness. It is a must stop destination for people who want to experience the best of both worlds.


Iceland: An undiscovered surfing paradise

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Surfing isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they talk about Iceland. Bjork, the northern lights, snow or even SigurRos might be their first few thoughts but it rarely is ever surfing. Looking for surf spots in Iceland can prove to be a challenge for the unprepared, so here’s a good tip for those who want to surf in Iceland: Head over to Reykjavik.

In Haffjordur, 7 miles off of Reykjavik you will find a great shop for your surfing needs. Whether you’re looking to rent surfing gear or purchase them, JadarSport is the shop to visit. You can find surfing gear for sale and hire, as well as other sporting goods such as skateboarding gear. From there, you can then head on to Thorli beach in Thorlakshofn, which is a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik. There, a beach that’s mostly black sand and dunes can be found, and the place offers a favorable conditions for surfing. The reef, which is a few miles off the beach, is also great for surfing. This is especially for those who prefer reefs over the beach.

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The thing to note when planning to surf in this area is that it will be cold, so it would be best to pick the right gear to make the surfing trip a comfortable and an enjoyable one. 6 mm suits, gloves and boots would be preferable. Surfers who dislike crowds when surfing are sure to find this place enjoyable. With there being very few people in Iceland who surf, even with all of them surfing at the same time, there will be a lot of coastline for each one to enjoy for themselves.

With the characteristics of the point break, surfers can enjoy a continuous volley of waves coming in, one after another. However, these waters aren’t necessarily just for surfing. Though not really used by the locals for such activities, a lot of water sports can actually be nice to do in these waters, such as kayaking and wake boarding, just to name a few.

Suffice to say, the most probable reason why there aren’t that many surfers in Iceland is because of the waters’ temperature. A lot of surfers look for warmer waters to surf in, but there are those who don’t mind the cold, as long as they can get awesome surf. For the latter, this place can very well be paradise. For those who aren’t very fond of cold waters, it would be wise to visit Iceland during the late summer to autumn, where water temperatures go up to 10c. For those who want to surf to their heart’s content regardless of water temperatures, visiting Iceland during the spring to summer seasons would be a treat. It never gets too dark during this period, no matter what time of day it is. Surfers can practically surf anytime they want, even at 2:00 in the morning.

Useful information

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There are a few things that surfers should keep in mind though, before heading over to Iceland to surf. One is, it can be relatively expensive to fly surfboards over. Also, unlike other established surfing destinations, there aren’t many surf shops around Iceland to rent or purchase surfing gear from. Heading over to JadarSport might be one of the surest ways to secure surfing gear in the country. Flying to the country with a surfboard in tow could cost the average person an arm and a leg, so renting gear locally is the only real option for tourists. The waters of Iceland, though they may appeal to seasoned surfers, may not be ideal for beginners, however. While the waves can be rather tame at times around the beach breaks, the general characteristics of the waves in Icelandic waters are for those who already know their way around tough waves, and not for those who are still learning.

Overall, a visit to Iceland would be worth the expense. Aside from the world-class waves that the waters produce, there are also tons of sights and sounds to enjoy while touring. The drinking scene is lively during the weekends, and the likes of the northern lights are just a sample of what beauty nature has bestowed upon this country. For those looking for a fun-packed surfing vacation and don’t mind cold waters, Iceland is definitely one of the best places in the world to visit.


Best places to swim in Iceland

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There are several things to do in Iceland and one of the most popular or should we say habitual things that the locals and the tourists do is swimming. Due to abundance geothermal water in Iceland, the locals made it to the point that they can utilize the naturally warm water and well, their spare time. In Iceland are plenty of swimming pools, hot tubs, thermal beaches, hot springs, lake shores, you name it! Let us check on the best swimming and soaking spots around Iceland.

Nautholsvík Geothermal Beach, Reykjavik

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Ah yes, white sandy beach, a rectangular hot pool, café, hot pots… these are the relaxing things you can experience at Nautholsvík Geothermal Beach. You should be brave with the sea since the air temperature doesn’t often rises above 15°C, though this is a warm temperature for locals. If you don´t fell like jumping into the cold sea, you can soak in the hot tub and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the beach. The beach itself is child friendly with a sandbox-ship, a slide and more. Sailing clubs are in the area that are open during the summer. Nauthóll café is just above the beach where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee and enjoy the view.

Laugardalslaug, Reykjavik

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This is a local swimming pool where fun for the whole family is awaiting. With a very large slide and different pools and tubs with lots of gaming entertainment inside. All these at the reach of your pocket. You can blend in with the locals and during summer the pool is one of the most visited pools in Reykjavik. If you fancy working out, a first class gym is in the same building, and if you are in the mood for being pampered, you can visit the spa.

The Blue Lagoon

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The famous Blue Lagoon is a massive geothermal spa in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula. About 40 minutes drive from Reykjavík (around 15 min from Keflavik airport) and you can swim in warm waters. The Blue Lagoon is a luxurious spa known for its healing powers. You can enjoy the day and relax at the spa, have a drink at the bar located in the Lagoon, enjoy a massage and relax to the fullest. Definitely one of the best places on earth!

Landmannalaugar

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Landmannalaugar is a unique place. The landscape is almost unreal with a scenery so rugged and astonishing. The “Farmer’s Hot Bathing Pool” as the locals call it is a natural bath. The water leaks out from under the edge of a fifteenth-century magma stream where is blended impeccably with a cold spring and the spot where they meet has the right temperature for soaking your body in with. An experience you don´t want to miss!

Snorralaug, Reykholt

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Snorralaug at Reykholt is actually Snorri’s hot tub back in 1180’s. Snorri Sturluson was a poet and a writer known by his works such as the author of -Norse Sagas, The Prose Edda (tales from Norse mythology), Heimskringla (Orb of the World), St. Olaf’s Saga, and Egil’s Saga. It is believed that he often bathe in the Snorralaug and assassinated in an underground tunnel near the hot pool (but don’t worry there isn’t any ghost or remnants!) Reykholt is a lovely place to visit and Snorralaug is one of many places in the area worth visiting. Please note though that you aren´t allowed to bathe in this one. However it is an historic place that should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

Grettislaug

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This is another historical pool. Grettir, the infamous outlaw but once a hero, from the Grettis Saga had bathes and settled in this place thus, where the name Grettislaug is derived from. It is a circular natural pool in Drangey where you can ponder on the history of Iceland.

Leirubakki, Hekla

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This is what the early people in the ninth century feared the most. The Hekla, a great volcano, was believed to be the gateway to hell since it tended to erupt regularly during those times. Everything around it was devastating. But now, this is a little paradise, where you find a circular sunken pool located at the foot of Hekla and is lined with cuts of lava stones.

Jarðböðin við Mývatn

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This is a nature bath with colorful and steaming hills. It is less crowded than the similar place, Blue Lagoon but the relaxation and experience is no less. Both spas can give you an amazing experience. The natural spa at Mývatn is known to be good for your skin, not to mention your physical well being after soaking and relaxing in this geothermal wonder.

Seltjarnarnes Swimming Pool

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The Seltjarnanes swimming pool is one of a kind in the way that it has salted water. The kids pool is nicely warm with a small slide and a fountain, while the large pool is ideal for swimming. There is a large slide that is always popular with kids and then there are 5 hot tubs to relax in plus a steam room. One of many great pools in the Reykjavik area.

Other interesting options

Vatnaveröld. Vatnaveröld - or the World of Waters - is located in Keflavík, close to the international airport. Unlike most pools in Iceland, it is both indoors and outdoors and a heaven for kids who like slides and other water fun. It is a great way to spend the morning or afternoon if you are in the area.

The swimming pool at Hofsós The swimming pool at Hofsós is one of a kind. It is on the edge by the sea where you can relax and enjoy a magnificent view of the ocean and surroundings. Don´t miss it if you are driving on the northern coast!

The swimming pool at Dalvík Dalvík is a charming village not very far from Akureyri on the northern coast. The pool there is known for its friendly atmosphere and it is a complete relaxation to be there surrounded by the mountains and nature.

The Secret Lagoon The Secret Lagoon - or Hvammslaug as it is known to the locals - is a natural lagoon in the nature. In the evenings throughout the year you can join a tour either to enjoy the midnight sun or to hunt for the northern lights while you float listening to the music of SigurRós in underwater speakers. A unique experience you shouldn´t miss!

Drangsnes. The hot tubs at Drangsnes have been very popular for the past years. The hot tubs are located by the beach where you can relax and admire the view! You will also find a nice pool in the area if you want to go for a swim.


5 best coffee houses in Reykjavik

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Iceland is known best known for several things: Nature Experience, Religion Sanctuary, Culture Rich, Nightlife, and Hospitable Locals. But what people aren’t really familiar with is that in Iceland the locals have the most crave for coffee. While Starbucks is the biggest coffee name in around the globe, it's certainly not one of the game in town because in Reykjavík there isn’t any Starbucks, but anyone visiting Reykjavík deserves a proper cup of coffee and to help you find your way to the best coffee in Reykjavík, here are the top 5 coffee shops. You cannot get better coffee than you can at these places and almost all of these places are distinctly Reykjavík.

MOKKA

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Guðmundur Baldvinsson and Guðný Guðjónsdóttir made a risk in business venture back in 1958 when they first opened the probably the first coffee shop in Reykjavík. At the beginning of the venture, locals cannot ponder the idea of having a coffeehouse when they could just brew and make coffee right at home and well not to spend so much money on a cup of coffee. But as the business was establishing their point, it has been creating solace for coffee lovers who also love to drink their coffee with their friends or colleagues. Artist, writers and philosophers were supporting the idea of the business and they made Mokka as their meeting place. That time the place was appreciated and until today, locals and tourist cannot deny the wonderful smell of coffee, chocolate, and waffles that come from the most adored coffee shop.

KAFFITAR BANKASTRÆTI

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Aðalheiður Héðinsdóttir decided to follow the lead but making its name at the same time by introducing high quality coffee to its costumers. The coffee they use here is locally manufactured but with distinctive high quality. The owner hired and trained its baritas so they can offer great service as well. Kaffitár doesn’t only offer coffee but also offers great tasting sandwiches, cakes and pastries to partner your cup of coffee with. This place is always full especially if you want to visit it during the rush hour, you’ll have to sit by the window facing Bankastræti, but hey, this is actually the best area since you can watch people and the Bankastræti on the large window.

REYKJAVIK ROASTERS / KAFFISMIÐJA ÍSLANDS

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If you talk about high quality coffee, then Reykjavík Roasters or was formerly known as Kaffismiðja Íslands is definitely the place where you could experience the highest quality specialty coffee in Reykjavík. In business for five years now, the place serve locally grown coffee as well as imported ones from Columbia and the recently introduced imported coffee from Nicaragua. You can relax and enjoy your coffee with its cozy yet raw ambiance. They can even let you choose how your coffee be brewed between their three different brewing method.

LITLI BÓNDABÆRINN

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Now if you want your coffee the green way or commonly called organic way, then visit David’s Litli Bóndabærinn! The owner, David also made a huge leap in opening this coffeeshop because the assurance of acceptance in change for coffee houses can be a little tricky. But he did manage to pull costumers in with his tasty organic coffee. And not only does the place serve locally made organic coffee but also delicious food as well like sweet potatoes or veggie sausage rolls and his famous lamb filled pasties which are to die for.

STOFAN

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The name means living room, and by its name came the whole concept of the coffee house. It has plush couches and sitting chairs which makes you feel like you are just at your own living room. The place is so inviting and comfortable, probably the most comfortable coffeehouse in the city. They offer, tea as well, cakes and pastries, and other snacks to dig your teeth with. At night, you can enjoy the finest selection of local beers and Irish coffee, since during the night, the cushy coffee shop transforms into a cozy bar.


The Big Fish Day

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Food is the only constant thing travelers always remember in their travels, and frankly food is something that people will always look forward to whenever they go. In Iceland there is an exotic array of food for all sorts of travelers. There are comforting rich foods that warm the insides of your heart and strange weird foods that causes shivers down your soul. Iceland has something truly spectacular that happens during the summer season which everyone locals and visitors alike get to enjoy which are food festivals that occur in certain days of the year. These festivals boast Iceland’s playful spirit and fun-loving nature. The best part is that these festivals are free which means visitors can gorge themselves with food without having to pay a single cent. One of Iceland’s most sought after food festival takes place in Dalvíkurbyggð during the summer seasons.

Dalvíkurbyggð is a small fishing town in northern Iceland. The town has a community of 2100 people and is located 45 km north of Akureyri, which is the northern capital. It is a charming place with spectacular mountains and breathtaking view. Like most of Iceland’s communities, the town relies on fishing and fish product processing for their income. That is one of the main reasons why the town decided eight years ago to host a grand event wherein fish producers of the area invite locals and other guests to take part in a sea food buffet that lasts for eight hours with the post buffet celebration throughout the night.

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The feast is held the second weekend in August wherein fish producers gather all their best produce and start a blazing gourmet cook-out reminiscent of those great southern barbecues but instead of meat, fish is the main ingredient! Small fish, medium fish, big fish, ugly fish, as long as it has fins and gills it goes to the grill. The locals decorate their houses and gardens to create the perfect atmosphere.

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The first sign of the start of the feast begins at a quarter past eight where locals light candles to signal guests that the first course is ready. The first course is a thick, flavorful fish soup made with cream and seasoned with curry. Visitors would go towards the homes and gardens where the soup is served. It is a mesmerizing thing to watch locals allowing people from all walks off life to enter their homes without reservations, serving them food which they made with smiles on their faces. After everyone has had their fill of soup, the barbecue begins. The barbecue is composed of 12 grill stations with 20 gas burners, 8 meters long. Visitors can watch locals grill fish such as haddock, cod, salmon, red fish, salt cod and cat fish marinated with different herbs and sauces, and served in different styles. The courses come with bread and beverages which ranges from sodas, water, juices, and beer.

Aside from the diverse variety of food, there is also a huge display of entertainment that changes every year. From fish exhibitions with a detailed summary of fish species at the ford, art shows showcasing Icelandic art, street performances and of course music.

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For the past eight years a total of 200,00 guests both local Icelanders and tourists have participated in this gourmet feast. While most visitors are Icelandic, a total of 40,000 people which is 1/8 of Iceland’s population make the annual pilgrimage. From this humble beginnings The Great Fish Day has been attracting a large number of tourists from Britain and Europe and other parts of the world.

It’s a fascinating display of expansive community pride, where people come together in mutual trust. Visitors are treated with respect which they reciprocate with gratitude, the vicinity is not riddled with violence, theft or even petty desecration caused by littering. Travelers who would like to experience genuine Icelandic hospitality should visit Iceland during the summer to witness this grand event. It is a truly spectacular display of generosity from a country that does not even reach 400.000 people.


The best secret places in Iceland - top 20

The country sitting at the top of Europe is better known as “Iceland – the ultimate back-of-the-beyond place”. However, not many people know of exactly where they can go and enjoy the beauty of Iceland farthest from other tourists as they move around this extraordinary place. Also, knowing where some of Iceland’s gems that are slightly off the beaten track are is utterly essential. So where do you find the answer to these queries? Here is where you want to be. As of now, there are numerous amazing destinations in Iceland that are yet to be discovered or simple out-of-the-way. We have put together a list of 20 such unseen Icelandic charms.

1. Tjöruhúsið restaurant.

Tjöruhúsið restaurant is a simple yet elegant, countryside restaurant located in Ísafjörður in the Westfjords. The restaurant is only operational during Summer Season and Easter – that means you only have so much time to go and indulge in some of Iceland’s finest seafood cuisine! The restaurant’s interior is gorgeous. They have got wooden benches so that you get to know exactly who you are seated next to. You can enjoy an “a la carte” lunch and/or a dinner buffet. The best thing about this place is that you will always, and I mean ALWAYS fish that is freshly caught. I think I should mention here that we do not have any sort of link with the team that runs this place; the comments on their Facebook pages and online reviews proof their greatness and quality.

2. Holuhraun lava.

The most recent addition to the spectacular Icelandic landscape is the freshly formed lava-flow mountain at Holuhraun, where a huge volcanic eruption took place from August 2014 to February 2015. The area is very much in the middle of nowhere and you will need a good 4WD to get to it – but cheer up! You will be able to feel the tranquil warm ground and see nature like you’ve never seen it before! Before you go there though make sure to check the forecast and read this article here on driving in Iceland!

3. Víknaslóðir hiking trails

The far East of Iceland, the region around Borgarfjörður Eystri (where the much awaited music festival – Bræðslan - is held each July) holds one of Iceland’s greatest hiking areas: Víknaslóðir. Víknaslóðir translates to ‘Trails of the inlets’ and a 5-10 day hike around the area is something that should be on your list. The hike from Borgarfjörður Eystri down to Seyðisfjörður is usually done in 4 days and is 55 km long (similar to Iceland’s most famous hike, the Laugavegurinn). As you hike, you will be delighted to see gorgeous mountain views, valleys and fjords. Possibly the most outstanding attraction in the area is Stórurð, a beautiful blue lake covered with huge rock boulders. Don´t go hiking there alone though, it is best to participate in a guided tour with an experienced guide!

If you are to visit any of these locations, you are advised to have a good 4WD because you are going to be driving on unpaved gravel roads or even roads on mountains, and better safe than sorry! It is also recommended you get full insurances before you set out for your adventure. And remember to always wear your seat belts! And never forget that it off road driving is strictly prohibited!!

4. Hofsós pool.

This little town on the Tröllaskagi peninsula in the Northern area of Iceland (the peninsula that’s just besides Akureyri) has Iceland’s most beautiful and scenic infinity pool in its hillside. This pool is definitely worth the detour if you are on a self-drive tour.

5. Glymur waterfall.

When the tunnel through Hvalfjörður opened back in the year 1998, the distance from Reykjavík to Borgarnes was significantly reduced by roughly one hour, as people don’t have to drive Hvalfjörður fjord (Whale fjord) any more. Which lead to little, if not zero people driving this gorgeous fjord. Also, at the very bottom of the fjord, you will find a trail leading to Iceland’s highest waterfall (198m): Glymur (Echo).

The hike up there is alluring and rather easy, walking you through luscious, green mossy cliffs towards the waterfall and it only takes around 2-3 hours to get up there. Be careful though, don´t leave a trail in the moss and please respect the nature.

6. Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Possibly the most unreachable part of Iceland is Hornstrandir, the Northernmost tip of the Westfjords. You will find that there are literally no roads leading there, and so, you have the option to either hike with a guide for a week from the end of the road, near Krossnes, or take a boat from Ísafjörður. Either way, this is going to be one long journey. Additionally, you will not find any stores or villages, so it is suggested you stay prepared at all times with enough food and camping gear (in case you plan on staying there for a while) to help you last. Hornstrandir NATURE RESERVE is where Iceland’s largest arctic fox colony subsists, so do not miss out on an opportunity to spot some beautiful foxes!

7. Grótta

Located in the western region of Reykjavík (in Seltjarnarnes) is an area called Grótta. This place is actually a nature reserve owing to the abundance of bird life. If you are looking for someplace to watch the sunset as it shines over Faxaflói bay, Grótta is the place to be. To add an even more enchanting effect to your experience, amongst the rocks is also a small, man-made, yet as beautiful as it gets hot pool for you to dip your feet in and relax as you appreciate the beauty of the nature. (This one might just be another one of the “hidden gems”, it is close to one of the little huts by the seaside). Furthermore, there is a beautiful lighthouse which, however, is only accessible at the times tide is low. For the duration of low tide, you will be having around 6 hours to go back and forth, or else you are very likely to getting jammed by the lighthouse. Also, you must know that there is little or no access to the lighthouse from the 1st of May to the 30th of June because the nesting season lasts during this time. At other times, the lighthouse is all yours to enjoy! Last but not least, if you need a place close to the center during winter with little light pollution to hunt for the aurora, Grótta is a good place to visit.

8. Siglufjörður village

Siglufjörður village is delightful little town, that once was the world’s biggest herring fishing capital. This town is located at the northernmost tip of Tröllaskagi peninsula. (Not too far from Hofsós pool). The town snuggles in a small creek and is enclosed within mountains on three sides. You must also go to the Herring Era Museum that reconstructs the life of the town through some well-construct buildings on the main street of the town. The location is, to some extent difficult to get to, giving you that feeling of being at the end of the world, even though it’s only an hour long drive from Akureyri In the area you will also find many lovely small towns and villages, you can visit islands in the fjords and enjoy the stunning and beautiful scenery.

9. Kjölur highland road

During summer, once the highland roads have been opened, driving the road named Kjölur (only for 4WD!) will be one trip you’ll remember. On your way you can do one of two things: either make a stop at Kerlingarfjöll (Hag’s Mountains) or Hveravellir (Hot Spring Fields) – or even both, if you like. The road is number 35, the exact same road that Gullfoss waterfall is located on. This road connects the North and the South of the country and lies amid Langjökull glaceier and Hofsjökull glacier. The highlands in between are sandy yet filled with hot springs, yes you can even bathe in some of them, and these also offer some tremendous hiking trails. Once again we can´t emphasize enough how important it is that you don´t do any off road driving and ruin the beautiful nature!!

10. Stakkholtsgjá canyon

Not far off Þórsmörk is this magnificent canyon called the Stakkholtsgjá canyon. What’s great about this one is that if you hike it for around 2 hours, you will get to a waterfall deep inside it. It is a fairly easy hike and is one that is suitable for the whole family, adults and children alike. At the point where there are around 100 meters left to the bottom of the canyon, it splits into two parts and you will need to push your way through a river to reach the waterfall at the end.

11. Vesturdalur valley

A lot of people go to see the Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss waterfall and even Ásbyrgi – however, if you are in this area, you ought to visit Rauðhólar and Hljóðaklettar in Vesturdalur. Not far from Ásbyrgi canyon, this is only a 15 minute drive from it on road number 85 towards Húsavík village. Hljóðaklettar (Sound Rocks) are basalt columns in just about every shape and size, twisting and turning to each and every direction possible. Rauðhólar (Red Hills) are beautiful, colorful hills of mainly the colors black and yellow, but mainly fiery red. There aren’t many places in Iceland where you can find colors as rich in the landscape as you will here.

Whether you choose to see this wonderful area by booking a tour or driving on your own vehicle please, you won´t be disappointed with the views. Just remember - no off road driving!!

12. Seljavallalaug pool

In the South of Iceland is this not-so-remote-anymore unseen treasure, namely, the Seljavallalaug pool. Even though driving the South coast is common amongst most sightseers, yet no bus tours will take you to this destination. Seljavallalaug pool stands as the oldest among the pools that are still around in Iceland, and surprisingly is one of the few that remain in good shape. This one even has a changing room so you needn’t worry about that; there are still no showers though. All you need to bring along is just your swimsuit, towel – and of course your manners. The place allows you to enjoy the quietness of nature without charging you for it; so respect that and try not to spoil this picturesque piece of nature. The Seljavallalaug pool is found between the well-known waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. As a consequence, pretty much the only way to get there is by your own car and then hiking for around 15 to 20 minutes. If you are driving from Reykjavík, take a left towards Seljavellir right before reaching Skógafoss. It’s then just a simple 15 minute walk and you’re there!

13. Friðheimar tomato farm

If you are driving across the Golden Circle on your own vehicle, be sure to stop and check out this organic tomato farm in Reykholt called Friðheimar. This family run tomato and cucumber farm is not just a farm, it is a restaurant! Since they are willing to use up all of their yield, these guys use their scratched tomatoes which have all the same flavor yet apparently aren’t suitable for supermarkets, to make tomato soup to be served for lunch. If you are a tomato lover, this is your place to be! At Friðheimar, you can devour the Schnapps served in a tomato, tomato ice-cream (it will have you licking your fingers!) and tomato chutney and obviously a Bloody or a Virgin Mary. You can also find homemade bread here, the cinnamon flavored is especially a must try, and also the cucumber salsa that comes with the soup, YUM! Soup and bread (free refills, hurrah!), together with fresh basil, cucumber salsa, sour cream and butter! This restaurant has a very friendly, stress-free, airy and warm atmosphere. Warm specifically because tomatoes must be kept in a warm climate and should be exposed to a lot of light. If you want to take a good look around the place, a tour of the tomato farm is within your reach.

You can drop by at opening hours. However, at times these guys get huge groups, and so, it is recommended you call ahead and get more info on the timings.

14. Gljúfrabúi waterfall

This one is not to be missed. Located right next to Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the south of Iceland, Gljúfrabúi waterfall is only a 5 minute walk away from Seljalandsfoss, near a farm.
If you are willing to see the waterfall, you might need to walk through a little cave entrance formed from a couple of rocks, and then you will find yourself capable of standing right beneath the waterfall…so don’t forget your raincoat! Things will get messy. You can definitely go there on a regular south coast tour, although no south coast tours mark it as a stop for the tourists, but since Seljalandsfoss is always a major stop, it is still possible for you to get there. Nevertheless, you must keep a check on time when you take a detour.

15. Hvítserkur rock formation

The eye-catching rock formation that is known as Hvítserkur stands on its own just outside the coastline in Húnafjörður fjord situated in the North-West of Iceland. It is really just a little indirect route from the main ring road of Iceland, in between Reykir and Blönduós. In order to get there, you will have to drive road 711 from the ring road. (Take a left turn when you’re coming from Reykjavík, and a right turn if you’re coming from Akureyri). Unfortunately, there aren’t many tours going to this place, so you’ll either have to drive your own car or rent one.

16. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Close to the ring road is the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. The pronunciation is a real hard nut to crack; I remember this one time I heard a tourist refer to it as Sweet Ass Mossy Canyon, which I must say is an almost precise description of the place. The exact translation, however, is ‘Feather River Canyon’ and this one stands as one of the most striking canyons of Iceland. Even though you will have to build up the energy and courage to hike up it, but the stunning scenery is going to be worth it! It's also breathtaking during the winters:
In order to reach it, you will have to drive towards Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a lovely village on the south-east coast. If you are on the route from Reykjavík, the canyon should be on your left hand side just before you reach Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Church Town Convent).

17. Þjórsárdalur valley and the waterfalls

One breathtaking view. Þjórsárdalur valley is alive with amazing waterfalls that are overlooked by the flocks of tourists. The waterfall inside Gjáin canyon is one of these (the canyon is wonderful too by itself). Háifoss waterfall (Iceland’s second highest waterfall, 122 meters tall) and Granni waterfall that’s a stone throw away are also veiled treasures of Iceland. Next is the waterfall Hjálp that’s a little further down the valley. Last of all is Þjófafoss (Thief waterfall) that is situated on the other side of the mountain Búrfell.

What’s good is that all of these waterfalls are in the same area, and so can be reached easily. Roads 32 and 26, a 2-3 hour drive from Reykjavík will take you there.

18. Rauðisandur beach

As you might already know, Iceland is very popular for its black sandy beaches – but there are also a lot of white beaches in the country – plus this red one in the Westfjords. The color can even play a trick on your eyes! It may seem white, orange, yellow or very red, depending on the nature and intensity of the daylight.

To be frank, there is not much there to see besides the sand – so if you want to go to a totally peaceful and serene beach, one where there are no vendors or shops to disturb you, then you can go alone, for a walk here. If 10 km of just sand isn’t doing quite the work for you, you can even travel a little more and go to Látrabjarg cliff, and walk amongst thousands of puffins during the summer. The most convenient way to get to Rauðisandur is either by driving all of the Westfjords, or by taking the ferry Baldur from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur and drive from there. There is a chance that the area may not be accessible during wintertime. Also, it is a 4WD will be a wise choice.

19. Flatey island

A visit to Flatey island (Flat island) is somewhat going to take you back in time, it will take you back to the place Iceland was in the 1900’s. This little island in Breiðafjörður bay has occasional occupancy. During the summertime, it gets buzzing, particularly with shutterbugs – while in wintertime, perhaps only 5 people dwell there. When I say 'A little busy', I mean a few dozen people - or maybe a 100, but that’s it. It may come off as a shocker but many concerts are held in the island from time to time, these are some things that take place almost every week of the summer. There is one road on the island, but no vehicles are permitted (it is only 2km long and a few hundred meters wide) and up until now, there was no cell phone reception in the island. Walk around the island, have a peek into the congregation perhaps and the small library, relax as you watch the sea and the birds flying in the vast horizon over you, clear your head, unwind, greet the friendly elves and don't pass up on the fish of the day at Hótel Flatey. In order to get there, you must take the ferry Baldur from Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, or from Brjánslækur in the Westfjords. In the event that you are driving around Iceland, you can leave your car at the ferry and they will deliver your car at the other end of the bay (in either Stykkishólmur or Brjánslækur) where you can pick it up later in the day or even after a few days provided that you decide to spend a little more time on the island. From Stykkishólmur it's 1,5 hours on the ferry, from Brjánslækur it's 1 hour on the ferry.

20. Þakgil camping ground

Þakgil, Roof Canyon, is an astounding camping ground located in the south of Iceland. This area being not far from the village Vík, is easily accessible if (in case you are heading east from Vik) you make a turn left after about 6 km from leaving Vík. Drive along that road for almost 14 km, past some abandoned Game of Thrones set until you reach a sumptuous green flat valley bounded by small rivers and rocky mountains. The area is covered and protected from the wind and there is also a cave to dine inside! You might just have to be riding your own car to get there.


Borgarnes: A quaint little town filled with rich history

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The beauty of travelling to strange and foreign lands is that you start to appreciate the tranquil beauty of small towns. While yes, having awesome adventures in large cities all over the world is exciting. After some fashion they become just over-hyped places filled with a large amount of people. That is why visiting rural areas offer a break from all the excitement yet still offer a chance for adventure.

In Iceland there are a lot of small towns that offer a glimpse of rural life in a place where technology has not yet fully engulfed. One of the most idyllic places to visit is the small town of Borganes.

The town of Borgarnes

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Borgarnes is a picturesque town in the middle of the Borgarfjörður region. It has a population of only 2000 and is 70 kilometers west of Reykjavík or 38 kilometres from Akranes if you travel across the Ringroad. The town is ideally located because it enjoys a mesmerizing view of the glaciers Eirksjökull and Langjökull as it reaches out into the fjord.

Considered as the principle town of Borgarfjörður since the late 19th century it provides the region with the necessities which its citizens need in their daily lives. Because of the powerful tidal currents in the fjord, Borgarnes does not depend on fishing for its livelihood unlike the other costal settlements. Instead it became a service centre for dairy farmers who utilizes the towns slaughter houses and roads for their income.

History of the town

The town hosts a remarkable history and origin. Originally before it was named after the peninsula on which it is situated it was once called Digranes, which according to the Egill’s Saga was the place where the coffin of Kveld-Ulfur was washed ashore. Skallagrmur and one of his companions made their home on Digranes and became Borgarnes first inhabitants. Aside from becoming Borgarnes first settlers, Skallagrmur Kveldlfsson was the father of Egill Skallagrmsson a renown pirate, thug and poet and hero in the Egill’s Saga.

Attractions and Features

Today the history of Borgarnes is featured in the Settlement Centre of Iceland which was opened in 2006. Located in the town’s oldest building. The settlement of Iceland hosts the entire history of Iceland and its birth as a nation.

The centre holds two very important exhibits that tourists can view all year-round. The first is the detailed history of Iceland which is presented using various state-of-the-art videos and images as well as historical records and artefacts. The exhibit recreates an adventurous insight on how the earliest societies developed from its settlement to the establishment of the Alþingi. The second exhibit is located in the centre’s basement, wherein the centre recreates the entire Egill’s Saga which is dedicated to Egill Skallagrímsson. the exhibit features his life story and his legacy which visitors can watch with amusement. Or listen to with audio guides which are available in different languages.

Aside from the centre visitors can also take part in an organized tour held by the settlement centre during the summer months. The tour offers travellers a chance to visit historical sites mentioned in the Egill’s Saga which is a unique way of immersing oneself with Icelandic history and tradition. Tourists can also have the option of visiting the botanic public park Skallagrímsgarður, after the end of the tour, to pay respects to the place where Skallagrímur himself was laid to rest. Another fascinating place to visit is the European centre for research in medieval literature which is located in Snorrastofa in Reykholt. An institution dedicated to Snorri Sturluson, a prolific writer, historian and chieftain.

The town of Borgarnes is truly a fascinating place where history has been made and is still cherished until today, visitors will leave the town with their minds filled with visions of Vikings, poets, pirates and kings. It is a grand adventure that takes you back in time in a town that is slowly moving forward.


Flatey in Breiðafjörður

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Flatey island is a legendary island and it is like a utopia where everything you see is simple but perfect. No cars, no unwanted noises harmony all over the place. Spending some time mingling with the locals and exploring the whole place can make your stay in Iceland rewarding.

About Flatey

Flatey island is a legendary island and it is like a utopia where everything you see is simple but perfect. No cars, no unwanted noises harmony all over the place. Spending some time mingling with the locals and exploring the whole place can make your stay in Iceland rewarding. A peaceful and simple Island is what Flatey is. Located in the northwestern part of Iceland this island is actually believed to be a huge glacier form to be an island during the Ice Age. The Island measures about 2 kilometers long and about one kilometer wide. Commonly called as “flat island” since most of its area is flat and there are hardly any hills. During summer you can see at lots of people visiting the island but during winter the maximum is five people. The only point where there were 120 people who lived in Flatey was in 1942 that left in 1967 to live in the villages nearby the island was left alone for so many years. But despite of this, the buildings were preserved and still you can visit them up to this day.

History of Flatey

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In the late 19th century, Flatey was known to be the center of the cultural and artistic center in Iceland. There was once a monastery which was founded in 1172 and is proudly located at the highest point of the island; this has been the guide of knowledge of the locals. There are only a few buildings built in Flatey and it includes a schoolhouse that was built in 1929, a church but has been closed in 1884, a lighthouse uprooted in 1913 and renovated in 1963 and a radiotelegraph which was constructed in 1931. The church at Brettingsstaðir in Flateyjardalur valley was taken apart and moved in Flatey to be preserved in 1960. Samper, a painter, painted the interior of the church with scenes of the simple island life. Right next to the church is an old library established in 1864 and the home of the “Flateyjarbók” the largest medieval Icelandic manuscript. The village houses were repainted and restored and now became summer houses of some few lucky owners. They now call it the “old village” The beautifully kept old houses are charming and the whole place looks like a movie set. And it was actually used in some movies, one of the most notable was “The Honor of the House” which was based on the novel by the Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness.

Daily life

The village at Flatey with its colourful houses.
The village at Flatey with its colourful houses.

The locals way of living in Flatey is somewhat astonishing since they have preserved the simplicity of the island. They tend sheep to be slaughtered in the mainland, cows for milking, some hens and such, fishing due to the fact that Skjálfandi bay is generous of cod and lumpfish, and since Flatey have rich soil, so locals are into agriculture as well. When you are looking for a simple life then Flatey is the best place to start with.

The island which is far away from the cities bright lights and noises has been the habitat of great flocks of different bird species. There are at least 37 species of birds in the island during their breeding season, one of the species is the famous puffins. This is what the tourist most likes of in this island.

How to get to Flatey?

To get to Flatey will be with a ferry boat called Baldur. It has trips going there twice a day. You can camp in Flatey if you want to bring your tent with you but you can also stay at Hotel Flatey which is located at the very heart of the island. It has this classic Scandinavian style and the rooms were cozy with the most welcoming and the friendliest staff. It is actually one of the restored buildings and was restored to perfection! Well, what do you expect in Flatey? Nothing but perfection! Flatey is indeed a rare and special place that when you visit, you might not want to leave.


The Diamond Circle

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If you planned to head to the North Iceland instead of spending it in the South, the Diamond Circle is the route you need to take. It is around Husavik and Lake Myvatn.

There are four primary stops and they are; Husavik – the center of whale watching, Ásbyrgi Canyon – the horseshoe shaped canyon, Dettifoss Waterfall – considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe and Lake Myvatn – the eutrophic lake. There are optional stops as well like; Hljodaklettar – the Whispering Cliffs, Dimmuborgir – the Dark Castles, Namafjall – the hot springs, Grjótagjá Fissure – an extremely hot spring inside a cave, Myvatn Nature Bath – the blue water, Godafoss Waterfall – the waterfalls of the gods and Eider Falls – the small waterfall.

Either start the tour right from Akureyri or from Lake Myvatn or can either go clockwise or counterclockwise, the most wonderful places will not be altered in any way. The Diamond Circle can be explored thoroughly for 2-4 days where tourists can visit the hidden places and spend nights at Husavik or in Myvatn area. But for the short period it usually takes about 11-12 hours, highlighting the primary stops and some of the optional stops.

The first primary stop in the Diamond Circle: Husavik

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Husavik is known as the whale watching capital of Iceland. There are several species of whales spotted frequently visiting in the Skjalfandi (Shaky) bay. Over 23 species now recorded; among them are Humpback whale, Minke whale and Blue whale, their playful actions in the sea that give magnificent shows to the tourists making Husavik the most visited place when it comes to whales watching. White beak dolphins also often visit the bay; they come in groups and they are curious, cheerful as well. A whale museum is located in the downtown where tourists can learn more about the whales and their habitat.
As popular as whale watching, bird watching is also a popular activity in Husavik. When the allotted time to tour Diamond Circle is 4 days, spending some time in Husavik for a solemn bird watching can also be a rewarding experience.

The second primary stop in the Diamond Circle: Asbyrgi Canyon

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When you think about canyons, you can either be thinking about a weapon from the Pirates of the Caribbean or a dry area in an arid zone with boulders and cliffs. Asbyrgi Canyon isn’t a weapon, not even close, but it is with boulders and cliffs though it begs to differ from the other canyons out there. The place is bustling with wildlife and floras. Asbyrgi Canyon a part of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park is a solemn place, acts as a reserve for animals and plants and a retreat for people. A distinctive diamond in the Diamond Circle.

Because of its unique horse-like shape, it is believed to be a footprint of Sleipnir, a giant eight-legged horse that belongs to the Norse god Óðinn. The legend says that when the Norse gods and goddesses walked on Earth, Sleipnir stepped in a puddle of mud leaving its footprint behind. Though the actual scientific explanation of the Asbyrgi Canyon was; destructive floods from 3,000 years ago have effected the transformation of the area.

The third primary stop in the Diamond Circle: Dettifoss Waterfall

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Indeed the most powerful waterfall in Europe with its great volume of 500 cubic meters of water per second. Dettifoss waterfall is also the largest waterfall in Europe as it goes about 45 meters high and 100 meters wide. This justifies itself being the main attraction in the Diamond Circle.

An intermediate hiking trail measures about 34 kilometers go onwards from Dettifoss to Asbyrgi and is possible to have a stopover and camp in Vesturdalur. Many hikers take this trail as it can be hiked without supervision on good weather. Both Dettifoss and Asbyrgi is part of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.

Dettifoss is also very popular among in the big screen. Remember Sir Ridley Scott´s movie Prometheus? The opening scene where “the engineer”, the guy that looks like he has been sculpted from marbles did a shot in a raging waterfall, that waterfall isn’t at all made out of special effects but it is the live raging flow from Dettifoss.

As like on other Icelandic waterfalls, Dettifoss can be viewed as it is, no viewing deck or rails to hold onto. So keep in mind that no matter how heavenly it seems to be, falling on that powerful flow of water current can really get you into heaven or somewhere else… Getting in the edge of the cliff will not give anybody a nicer view of the waterfalls but will inherit risk instead.

The fourth primary stop in the Diamond Circle: Lake Myvatn

Lake-Myvatn

Foaming boiling mud pools, lunar-like volcanic landscape, wide lava fields, verdant reefs abounding with water birds and lakes filled with trouts and other Icelandic fishes. Those are the things you will expect in Lake Myvatn. The water in the lake is rich in minerals, making it fertile thus a perfect habitat for aquatic species, algae and moss.

Lake Myvatn was created from a massive eruption about 2300 years ago. Its name was derived by the large, swarming flies called Midges, Myvatn means midges. They somewhat leave an impression to those who visits the area. The biting midges do not carry any diseases, but the bites can trigger allergic reactions to some. Getting that insect repellant before exploring the place can be a great help.

From Lake Myvatn, near towns like Reykjahlíð and Skútustaðir are pleasant towns to spend nights. There are several hotels and guesthouses in the surrounding area. But if camping is on the list of what to do then Camping Myvatn in Reykjahlíð can be the perfect spot.
Getting around Myvatn can be done by hiking, biking and local trips available from Skútustaðir, Vogar and Reykjahlíð. There are tour packages that feature the Diamond Circle and taking advantage of that can be an option to explore the place but with limited time.

The optional stops in the Diamond Circle

You may notice that there are even more optional places to go prior to the four major stops in the Diamond Circle, mainly because North Iceland is full of great things and places. The North is not as crowded as South Iceland but still holds fascinating and breathtaking landscapes with that of the South Iceland. Comparing them can be somewhat useless since no matter where the wind blows, Iceland is full of nature’s gift. These optional stops can be done when the allotted time for the North Iceland tour is longer than one day. Getting to these places is worth it and can make the vacation more rewarding.

Hljodaklettar (The Whispering Cliffs)

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Hljodaklettar a part of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. Weird looking group of crater plugs, but with magnificent rendered basalt columns that create shapes and patterns. The formations of the crater plugs gives illusion like those of lion’s head, trolls and other shapes and creation anybody could imagine. It is one of the most interesting place to hike with all the legends and tall tales made from the early inhabitants that passed through the mouths and writings of the new generations. Trolls are often associated with the formations, especially the blocks of boulders in the south of Hljodaklettar where Karl the old man troll and Kerling the old lady troll that said to be petrified by the sunlight while returning back home in their cave home. As for its name “Whispering cliffs”, it is derived from the strange faint echo sounds of water flows like it was coming from the rocks. Depending on which angle, the acoustical sound grew loud or decreases.

In the north of Hljodaklettar, the remnants of craters can be seen they are called Raudholar of Jokulsargljufur. The rocks and rock formations are appearing in red. This is a popular hiking trail in Jokulsargljufur National Park and some say it has loss its quality over the years, though it still has the Mars-like atmosphere.

Dimmuborgir

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Although there are no castles around the place, the rock formations are similar to that of ancient castle ruins, hence the name. It is one of North Iceland’s popular tourists spot mainly because of the unusual patterns and various volcanic caves. One of the most known is Kirkjan ("the Church") a lava tube structure formed by a lave lake 2300 years ago.
And with every weird formation comes folklore. It has been said that the place is where hell and earth connects. Dimmuborgir is said to be where Satan has landed when he was cast out from heaven, which then gave the name Helvetes katakomber which means “The catacombs of hell” in Norwegian. True or not, this did not deter the tourists to visit the place.

Namafjall

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Located in Myvatn town, Namafjall is famous because of the rich geological activities that occur in the area. Fumaroles, boiling mud pools, steam from the ground and mud pots are the things to expect when visiting the place. It is scarce with pure water spring and only solfataras which means sulfurous mud springs flow from the earth. There are gigantic mud craters that look like craters from the moons’ surface. This is the desert part of the Diamond Circle.

Grjótagjá Fissure

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This has been one of the hottest in temperature hot spring in Iceland and the only hot spring inside a cave. Although, today the ceiling shows the tendency to collapse so it is not advisable to bathe inside the cave. It can be visited for photography purpose and the like.
Grjótagjá is also famous because this was used as a location for the third season of Game of Thrones in the episode Kissed by Fire.

Myvatn Nature Bath

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June 2004, The Myvatn Nature Baths has been opened to be a part of the tourist attraction in North Iceland. Often compared to the Blue Lagoon, this place is less crowded and more peaceful. It has all the services and the benefits from the byproduct of geothermal plant that contains minerals, silicates and geothermal micro-organisms and the warm soothing water. There is not a spa, but there are saunas, both dry and wet. The pool area is smaller than that in Blue Lagoon though, but since it is less crowded, the difference is not so noticeable once soaked in the water. Entrance fee is half of that with Blue Lagoon mainly because the place is almost half of Blue Lagoon. To sum it up, they are both great. Iceland gives you the benefit to bath in a medicinal geothermal pool from the South to North and that is the important thing experiencing Iceland’s finest in every corner.

Godafoss Waterfall

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Considered as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, Godafoss also holds a huge story which where it got its name from. In the early times of Iceland, the early inhabitants were worshipping Norse gods, but when Christianity arrived in the country everything changed. During the conversion of the Icelanders, Þorgeir Þorkelsson, the chieftain that time he threw all images of the Norse god into the falls to symbolize the wide conversion of all Icelanders to Christianity, hence the name.

The unique features of the Godafoss waterfall define why it is famous. The curve shape cliff on where the water flows down is downright fascinating.

Eider Falls

Though it might be small, this waterfall is nonetheless one of the beautiful waterfalls in North Iceland. It is located near the town proper of Husavik and one of the optional places to visit when taking the Diamond Circle route. Some people skip this wonderful place, having to miss the picturesque landscape of the waterfall.

Other places to visit

There are also museums that complete the Diamond Circle. They serve as a learning point for the tourists who want to know more about Icelandic culture and arts. The main museums are; Whale Museum , Húsavík Museum, Manarbakki Museum or Mana Museum, The Fossil Museum, Ystafell Transportation Museum, Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum and Turf House Museum. When visiting north and following the Diamond Circle route, giving a small time to spend in these museums can be worth it.

The Diamond Circle Map



Jokulsarlon

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Jokulsarlon is a place with the largest scale of glacial lakes and the deepest lake (about 814 feet) in Iceland. Jokulsarlon is located in the southeast part of Iceland, along the borders of the Vatnajökull National Park. It can be viewed from taking Route 1 just between Skaftafell and Höfn. This place has been the most famous tourist spot in Iceland since 1935 after the glacier began to move from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake expanded to 6.9 sq mi because of the melting of the glaciers. The lake is increasing at varying rates each decade. This now one of Iceland’s natural wonders.

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The first inhabitants settled in Iceland in 900 A.D., during that period, Breiðamerkurjökull glacier was 12 mi greater distance from the north to its present location. Between 1600 and 1900 A.D. was the period of the Little Ice Age, the temperature during that time was cooler that made the glaciers expanded more from the coast at Jokulsa River in up to 0.62 mi. When the temperature rises in 1920’s, a vast change began in the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, as the icebergs went caving and falling at a fast rate. The lagoon was beginning to take its shape around 1935. Icelanders are acknowledging the before stiff, lifeless mass of Ice forming a fascinating view.

Jokulsarlon has evolved from a big bulk of ice to a beautiful blue picturesque lagoon. The icebergs that cleave from the glacier border move towards the river and get rooted at the bottom. Even though the tide currents are strong being influenced by the wind, the icebergs just fluctuate keeping the roots intact. When they are small enough, that's when they float and drift to the sea. These icebergs appear either in smooth milky white or bright blue, depending on the amount of air trapped inside the ice that adds up to the enchantment of the lagoon. This has been the most photographed places in Iceland because of the magnificence that leaves you breathe less every photo capture of the lenses. There isn’t any ugly angle at all.

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Because of the spectacle demonstration of luminous blue icebergs, Jokulsarlon has been acknowledged by Hollywood as well. Remember the famous movies “007 James Bond: Die another Day and A View to Kill” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”? Most of the parts of those movies were set up in Jokulsarlon, Iceland. And who says bats can’t stand cold weather? The top-grossing movie “Batman Begins”, also had set here. Also if you talk about perfect set for Beowolf movie, Jokulsarlon is that place. Beowulf and Grendel movie has been shot here as well. And where better place to race with challenges than in Iceland? “Amazing Race”, the TV reality series, even had their fair share setting up the race in Jokulsarlon.

The wonderful features of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon are the melting icebergs that drifts to the sea, their shades are a vast interplay of light and crystals as some are milky white, some are clear and are great reflectors of different colors and some are bright blue color reflectors of the bottom of the sea. When the Aurora Borealis shows up in the sky from here, it is like seeing heaven extending in Jokulsarlon. Many fishes, seals and seagulls reside here as they have found their paradise and solace in this place as well. This place is truly a sanctuary for fishes, mammals and birds.

Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon Boat Tours:

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There are two types of boat tours in Jokulsarlon, the Amphibian boat tour and the Zodiac boat tour. The Amphibian boat tour takes about 30-40 minutes of guided tour. The tour guide will give you the facts and explain to you the geology and the factors that affect the lagoon. The boat is called Amphibian because it can be sailed in the water and can be drove by the shore because it has wheels on it. During the tour, you will sail along the huge and the small floating icebergs, you can even touch them and if the weather is good you might even spot seals. The Zodiac boat tour on the other hand, takes about an hour and a bit pricey because it can sail closer to the icebergs. Though children under the age of 10 aren’t allowed because of the risk involve.

Where to stay?

There are no sleeping camp of hotels in Jokulsarlon. However, you can stay at the nearest towns like Hofn and Skaftafell. The nearest hotels are; Hof 1 Hotel in Öræfasveit, Hali Country Hotel in Höfn í Hornafirði and Fosshotel Glacier in Skaftafell. Or you can also park your caravan with toilet in Jokulsarlon parking lot.

How to get there?

This place is easy to access as you can take the National Highway 1, when you are renting 4WD car, but you can always take the ever reliable and efficient buses in Reykjavik. Always bring with you waterproof winter coats and wear winter boots as well especially during winter as it can be very cold, windy and showers of rain and snow might be a surprise as well. Weather in Iceland is so unpredictable so when planning to go anywhere, make sure to be properly clothe and ready for the unexpected cry of the weather especially in Jokulsarlon or any similar areas.

Location Map: Jokulsarlon



Where to shop Vintage Stuff in Iceland?

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Welcome to Vintage Town

When you visit Iceland and you come to wonder where all the best vintage shops are located, then you will never get to wonder again because in Iceland you will find what they call the vintage town where you can get all the precious little treasures. They have high quality second hand stores and those half and half (vintage with new creations) stores where you can shop and will not hurt your fashion sense. Ever noticed the Icelanders’ fashion? Yes some are kooky but you must admit they are classy. That is because they find old clothes and put them on in a highly fashionable way. They tend to mix match as they go on with their everyday life with their adorable outfits, and if you have seen someone wearing a victorian style dress, you are not seeing a ghost from the past, the dress is probably an antique one that has been reused for a fashion statement. And yes, they don’t look even a bit ridiculous, in fact, you will find them very stylish. So let us get you some new wardrobe, err… some vintage clothes to fit in with the Iceland fashion craze.

Let us start from where it all started, the Hlemmur. This is the easiest vintage clothe shop to spot as it is located where busses and cars pass by. Believe me,if you ask about Hlemmur to a local, you will certainly get an answer with directions right away. This shop is located at the Grand Central station in Reykjavik and you will have to get there early as many Icelanders and tourist often visits the place.

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Just across the street is Fatamarkaðurinn. In this shop, you can get vintage clothes and shoes at a very reasonable price. The store is not that alluring on the outside but don’t be fooled because once you are inside, manequins with high class vintage clothes are there to greet you. There are many goodies as you venture inside the store with friendly, not the manequins, but Icelanders to ready to assist you. They can even help you out if struggling from what fits your body frame. It’s like they know what you want even before you enter their shop.

Kassetta means (cassette tape), just walk a couple of blocks and you’ll reach the store. They have what we call the half and half and their clothes range doesn’t fall out of style as they tend to mix them with the latest fashion. It is like wearing something that is vintage but will still look like you came out of the latest edition of Vogue or something. They have things like lomo cameras which is so in with Instagram right now plus if you take a picture of yourself with it, it matches the vintage fashion you are wearing.

Finding where cute things are hidden? Besides the first three shops mentioned, Nostalgia is the best place for the title cutest. Even from the window, you can view the victorian style that is happening inside the store. It is indeed a very nice place both from the outside especially from the inside. You might want to check on your calendar if you are still on the same date as this shop will have to confuse you with its interior design as well as the clothes they display. The have Vinatage Kimonos which is their edge with all the vintage shops in the town.

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So women has their hands with their Audrey Hepburn fashion sense, how about making the men looks like they came out of the Gatsby movie? Yes Spuutnik is the mother of all vintage here in Iceland. As they have ranges of affordable yet so fashionable clothes from women to men to children’s clothes. They have shoes to match up with your selected clothes. You’ll go crazy wanting to buy everything in the store. Fatamarkaðurinn is their side project outlet so you can really get a good price here in Spuutnik as well. A must visit place.

And so second hand may not sound as appealing to anyone it would just maybe struck you and will get yourself rummaging on other vintage outlets. But let us give this a second thinking as The Red Cross (not the health and emergency care) will take you to a new perspective with second hand clothes. They have the most incredible collections of clothes vintage and hip. It has been handpicked by the shop as the selections of clothes are really great. You can’t spell ugly in this shop but all beauty. Even the prices are generally affordable. They give discounts as well. But if I were you, paying in full will not hurt besides, you got to be reminded that hey, it’s the Red Cross.

Dótturflélagið is talking lovely! As their collection of half and half are really are overloaded with character. The employees are very willing to assist you with their friendliest and most endearing kind of way. It is like visiting a garage sale of one of your bestfriends. Plus if you brought your kids with you, there is this corner for them to play while you get into the wonderful pieces and clothes they have. It’s a very nice place to visit especially when you are with your mom or daughter. After all, the place means The Daughter Company.

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Want to look fine? Like gorgeous fine? Are you going to a party where you need clothes to be formal at the same time to be a party dress? Don’t be left out as here in Rokk og Rosir you will find beautifully crafted clothes and girly vintage accessories. Although their prices are a bit higher than those other vintage shops, they have this sale going on oftentimes and if you get to avail it during your stay; you will be going home with a bag full of gorgeous looking dresses.

Then after strolling with all your bags full of vintages, you will find yourself in another interesting store, the Gyllti kötturinn. The designs in their collections are very worth the visit because if you think you’ve seen enough, wait till you reach this place. They have mixed of new, interesting designs and pure vintage which will make you want to spend few more hours to get through all of the stuffs and their shoes are way too lovely to be ignored.

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And last but definitely not the least is Kolaporið. Not only will you get the whole concept of vintage in here but the concept of Iceland is here. From food to things, the prices are incredibly affordable. Your whole day wouldn’t be enough to get through the exciting things you can find in here. There are not only vintage things but antiques as well. Worth your time, I should say. So if you are searching for those vintage clothes in Iceland, get your feet and eyes ready as you will be ending in a vault full of it.


The Secret Garden in Akureyri

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If you say Secret Garden then it must be so much of a magical and a wonderful place where different species of beautiful flowers bloom with butterflies and bees flying around in perfect harmony. The botanic garden in Akureyri isn’t really a secret but it does have these beautiful flowers where bees and butterflies are flying freely. The place is kind of magical because Iceland is known for places where lava fields, glaciers, caves, volcanoes and other unique not-from-this-world landscape.This garden brings out the perfect paradise or what we love to call “Ticket-back-to-Earth” feeling. You see, Iceland isn’t tropical like other islands in warm areas of the Earth. It is situated where Arctic climate makes everything fragile, especially the plants. Arctic vegetation usually grows relatively close to the ground. They are mostly dwarfs shrubs due to colder summer that cause the size, productivity, abundance and the variety of plants to decrease. That is why the botanic garden in Akureyri is very much of a magical place in the Arctic Zone because tall trees, variety of flowering plants and wild grasses are surviving the Arctic climate miraculously.

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The abundance of different variety of flower species in the garden is blooming beautifully.
garden in Akureyri.

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In 1912, the Public Park area was opened and the Botanical section was developed in 1957. For more than 100 years, the park and the garden have been the locals’ favorite getaway after the long dark nights of winter. The park has been expanded about three times since it was opened and now the area is almost 4 hectares.

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The goal of building a park and garden in Akureyri has always been to provide northern Iceland greens and the people recreation but it did more than that. Trees, shrubs, and perennials filled the entire area that made the park and garden comes in with multipurpose use. Not only will it be just for recreation or to beautify northern Iceland now but as nursery for hardy plants, seed-exchange, for education (botanists exhibits information about some plants and trees) and for people, especially the tourists to be aware how fragile Iceland is.

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The botanical garden has a wide variety of both local and foreign plants. There are new species that are added each year. The garden offers you a relaxing break from work, stress of daily life, because playing and just being in a peaceful public park that is not that crowded will definitely kick those stresses away. Where else would be the perfect place to spend time with your family but in the Public Park and botanic garden in Akureyri.

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This flower bed consists of almost 20 flower species.

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Did you notice how healthy the trees and shrubs grow in this area? it is amazing.

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Tall trees are proudly standing despite of the harsh Arctic climate in Iceland. The garden in Akureyri is indeed a paradise.

Map to the public park and botanic garden in Akureyri.


Geothermal pools that aren´t the Blue lagoon

When you hear mentioned "Iceland" and "geothermal pools", the Blue lagoon is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However there are many other sites where you can bathe and relax besides the Blue lagoon and are just as unique. Below are a few suggestions for you.

1. The Secret Lagoon

The Secret lagoon pool is the oldest pool in Iceland, made in 1891 and locals used to wash their clothes there and take baths. Today, the pool has recently been renovated and reopened and has become very popular. The wonderful and relaxing floating tours take place at the Secret lagoon. When you join a floating tour, you join a VIP group as the floaters have the pool to themselves after opening hours. In addition you also get other treats on the tours, like boiling eggs in a hot spring. You can read all about the floating here.                                                                                                              

2. Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is truly a place worth visiting. It is a hiking paradise with all its contrast. The area is famous for its unique landscape and relaxing hot springs. In summer you can do day tours to the area and enjoy a nice relaxing time in the hot springs before heading back to Reykjavik. In winter, it is not recommended to go to the area without a guided tour. With a guided tour in winter, you can experience true magic and hunt for the northern lights. You will definitely feel like you are alone in the world a the area is in the highlands and no villages, towns or city lights anywhere close.                                                                                                                          

3. Seljavallalaug

Seljavallalaug geothermal pool is on the south coast, located in Laugarárgil canyon. It is one of the oldest still-standing pools in Iceland and is popular among locals. The surroundings are beautiful and the river Laugará flows just next to the pool. One side of the pool is the raw mountainside where hot water drips down into the pool. The place is long renowned for its beauty and tranquility so, as you can imagine, it is a perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy the pure nature.                                                                                                                                                                                

4. Reykjadalur

Reykjadalur ", which means Steamy Valley, is a hot spring area like the name implies. Reykjadalur is located in the south of Iceland near the town of Hveragerði. Hveragerði is unique in the way that it is built on a geothermal hot spot. It is within an hour´s driving distance from Reykjavík so it is ideal to go there for the day. Hiking paths are around the town and they are popular among locals and visitors. Hveragerði is a lovely town with nice restaurants and many nice small towns can be found by the seaside. It is a perfect end to the day of hiking to relax in one of the nature pools in the area.                                                                                                           

5. Mývatn nature baths

The Mývatn nature baths are on the north coast. This hot pool has been made into a spa-like area with fantastic facilities and a sun patio where you can relax and get some tan during summer. Some say it is the Blue lagoon of the north coast. You can drive to lake Mývatn on a regular car, you might though want to have a 4x4 in winter! It is only a few hours drive from Akureyri and well worth visiting. The Mývatn area is a lovey place to visit so you can easily spend a couple of day there. Just imagine, relaxing in the lagoon and hunt for the northern lights in winter, perfect!                                                                                                                                                                                 

 


The Enchanting Town of Isafjordur

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Want to go for a walk as you explore the history, cultural heritage and the amazing environment that the coastal town of Isafjordur is rich of? Then you can come right in and explore the majestic town that is nestled between Glacier Mountains of Iceland’s Westfjords. There are many tour operators who offers a walk tour around the town as the tour guides are dressed in a 19th century costume, the guide will take you to the slopes above Isafjordur. But just along the way you can visit several historical houses as well as stores which reflect the huge respect of Icelandic seafaring and fishing. You will learn about many stories from the past and tall stories which the Icelanders believed in for centuries now. As the story goes along you will visit the authentic settings on where the certain folk stories events took place. The spectacular pristine nature is what will wrap up the walk on your chosen tour. The fjord and the surrounding valleys have these breathtaking views which will complete your entire tour with the Isafjordur walk. But visiting Isafjordur isn’t only meant for that tour. When you visit Isafjordur during winter, the whole place changes from sunny valley to whoville as the snow covers the houses but builds up warmth inside them. The mysterious northern lights will mystify you and the atmosphere you will be in during winter in Isafjordur will be pure magic.

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You want to see a really unique sight? Why the Dynjandi or Fjallfoss is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. It is made up of 7 waterfalls and each of them has its own name. The total height of the waterfalls is 100m and you can also camp near the waterfalls as there are several camp sites nearby.

What else should you do in Isafjordur?

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You can camp in town and be enticed with the fish stew that one of the town’s restaurants called Tjoruhusid has to offer.

You can go for a boat tour in Ísafjarðardjúp and get ready to capture the lively sea life along the Westfjords.

The bakery in Isafjordur called Gamla Bakariio is probably one of the best in Iceland. They serve the fresh baked tasty breads that you might really want to get your teeth to sink on.

As you go with the Isafjordur walk tour you can also request to visit Isafjordur Cultural house where you can learn history and culture further.

Visit the Maritime Museums like the Osvor and West fjords maritime Museum.

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Map of Isafjordur


Seal Watching

The Icelandic Seal Center

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When it comes to sea based amusement in Iceland, whale watching isn’t the only one which you will find entertaining, there is also seal watching and the adorable seals are just very easy to spot. If you want to know all about Iceland’s resident seals, then the best place to visit is The Icelandic Seal Center in Hvammstangi. The folks there really know what they are talking about from a certain breed to diseases to seal gestures. They are awesome! They can give you advices and get you acquainted with some people who offers tours that includes seal watching. They also have this museum where you can visit and read and look about facts and reals like stuffed seals and such.

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Seal watching is indeed a very fascinating experience and there are several places where these beautiful creatures can be found. Catching an excellent photo of them is relatively easy, that is because seals are very curious animals; they can pose with their cutest eyes right at your chosen angle.

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When you need to have this renewed perspective about life and nature, seal watching can be your ticket. It is an experience that will stick in your memory for a long time. Maybe it’s the seal’s eyes or their gestures or their cries. Nonetheless, seals are just too adorable to ignore.

Seal Watching at Vatnsnes Peninsula

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Vatnsnes Peninsula has the largest and most accessible seal sanctuary all over Iceland. Phoca vitulina, the most common seal breed are seen up close and personal in this area. There are also facilities for seal watching; Illugastaðir, Svalbarð and Ósar. The ring road round Vatnsnes is passable all year, despite the road that are mostly dirt roads, it is about 90 km.

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So this is another addition to your bucket list when you visit Iceland. And make sure you will bring a good lens camera before you go seal watching.