Thursday, 27 August 2015

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Located in western Iceland, the small town of Stykkisholmur has become a very popular tourist destination. The town has a number of attractions that make it a major draw, but it is the conservation of heritage and its efforts to be environmentally aware that are among the major elements that pull people in.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

The growing number of people arriving in the town means that the tourism operators and restaurants have had to adjust the length of their season. They are also now working hard to deliver a wider selection of local products, including food, and arts and crafts.

Things to do

Beautiful views and incredible wildlife can be found at the Snæfellsnes peninsula and Breiðafjörður bay. Taking a boat out to the islands of Breiðafjörður is a great idea for bird watchers, especially those hoping for a glimpse of the white-tailed eagle.

Súgandisey is an island that is now connected to the mainland, with a path that leads up to a 100-year old lighthouse and the romantic Love Nest. That spot offers fantastic views over Breiðafjörður and the islands, and is also where the Ferry Baldur docks.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Sæferðir / Seatours Iceland is a great spot for bird watching and getting back to nature. Taking a boat out to the Snaefellsnes peninsula is a great way to see it all. You will encounter an incredible variety of birds, from puffins and cormorants, all the way up to the magnificent white-tailed eagle.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

The basalt forms of the islands are spectacular, and you can also get a taste of sea urchins and scallops fresh out of the water. Trips run twice daily from June 1st to August 31st, and there are often tours available out of season, too. All you need to know can be found at www.seatours.is

The ferry Baldur sails twice daily in the summer months from Breiðafjörður bay to Brjánslækur, making a stop at the island of Flatey along the way. The old village on the island has been lovingly restored over the past few years, and now has a restaurant, camp site, and sleeping bag accommodation.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Dried fish is made by Friðborg at Hamraenda 3 in Stykkishólmur, and can be purchased in a number of different stores. If you want to visit the plant where it is produced, tours can be organized by calling: 898-8516

Norska húsið (the Norwegian House). The government of Snæfellsnes operates this local folk and culture museum, and frequently has exhibitions on display. Daily opening hours are 11:00 to 17:00 and costs IKR 700 for adults and IKR 300 for children.Tel: 438-1640, norskhus@simnet.is

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Swimming pool. Geothermal waters were discovered near Stykkishólmur in 1996, and they are believed to have many health benefits. The swimming pool opened in 1999, and now the water is used to heat houses in the area, too.(Tel: 433-8150)

Campsite 

Aðalgötu 27
IS-340 Stykkishólmi
Tel: 438 1075 / 849 8435
Mail: mostri@stykk.is

The campsite is in a perfect location, sitting next to the Víkurvöllur golf course, whilst also just a 5 minute walk from amenities such as shopping, dining, and the swimming pool. The fee to stay at the camp site can be paid at the Club house/Tourist Information Center. The camp site opens on May 15th through August 31st and has wireless access throughout.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Kolla, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Rent a car in Iceland: Car Comparison by price in Iceland + Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland

If you’re planning to tour Iceland by car, then Iceland car rentals provide the cheapest and best way to explore the vast island. With public transportation being scarce outside major cities like Reykjavík, renting a car becomes the cheaper and most viable option for tourists to explore the island fully. Though it may seem expensive initially, it is much cheaper and less strenuous than having to purchase a car or travel by bus. With plenty of car rental companies in Iceland at your disposal, you will never fail to get a deal that suits your budget. 

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

The wide array of vehicles available for hire also makes it possible for you to get a car that can take you almost anywhere on the island from SUVs, four wheel cars, luxury cars, 4×4 rental cars and jeeps just to mention a few. In this article, we give you some tips on picking an Iceland car rental provider as well as taking a look at some of the best car rental companies on the island. 

CAR COMPARISON BY PRICE
November 7th to November 15th - 2015 (8 days)

Option A - New cars:

HERTZ
Toyota Aygo                                 451€
Toyota Rav4                                 862€

AUTO ICELAND
Toyota Aygo                                 392€
Dacia Duster 4x4                         590€

EUROPCAR
Hyundai i10:                                 617€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             1.050€

REYKJAVÍK CARS *                  BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (2nd place)
Hyundai i10:                                    240€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:                489€ 

AVIS
Hyundai i10:                               412€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             766€

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (1st place)
Kia Rio Diesel:                            369€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       483€
*prices with all insurances included


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Option B - Old cars:

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent old models)
Hyundai i10:                                240€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                      479€

SS CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                  315€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                          534€

SADCARS
Toyota Yaris                                 359€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                           659€

ICELAND CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                260€
Toyota Rav4                                490€

GEYSIR
Hyundai i20:                                336€
Hyundai Tucson:                         564€

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Renting a car is really the best and only way to see the country so be sure to factor it into your budget. We went there thinking we would just take a bus to other areas -wrong. The only buses that exists outside the capital city of Reykjavik are tour buses. So technically you can take a bus but you will pay for it because it will be part of an organized tours and it will add up fast. If you are traveling with another person a car is the cheapest way to see the country. Plus, driving in Iceland is very easy and there isn’t much traffic.

7 TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND

Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore Iceland (it’s tough to beat hitch hiking) but it doesn’t have to blow your budget. With public transportation being non-existent outside of the larger cities, like Reykjavik, renting a car gives you the freedom at a fraction of the cost when compared to the sightseeing tours sold at tourist information centers.

Below are seven ways to save money on your Iceland car rental:

Don’t buy it: You don’t need theft insurance for the vehicle. According to our agent, car thefts in Iceland are rare and he actually told us not to bother with any of the additional insurance (yes, they have insurance for ash from the volcano) either, so we didn’t. 

Go online: The best deals can be found online for Iceland car rentals. By booking online, you will find a better deal than renting directly from a tourist center in Iceland. Some online companies even offer discounts if you book online therefore you will be able to save a lot by booking online. There are a variety of car rental companies on the island so take your time and visit their websites, compare prices, and look at their packages and whether or not they offer discounts for booking online. By doing this, you will be able to get a good deal at a pocket friendly price. 

Pick up at Keflavik International Airport: Because the airport is located about an hour from Reykjavik, you will have to spend €15 – €20 each way to get to and from the airport. So, you might as well just rent your car from the airport and roll your shuttle bus fees into the car rental. 


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Get to know your vehicle: The longer you keep the rental car the cheaper it becomes.

Petrol Blues: When considering renting a car be sure to factor in the cost of gas. In Europe, petrol is sold by the liter not the gallon; therefore, expect to pay about $5 per gallon. 

Choose Your Rental Dates Wisely: Sept. 1 in Iceland signals the beginning of the low season, which runs until May 31. Renting a car in Iceland becomes even cheaper during that time. And by cheaper I mean €35/day vs. €85/day – it’s a HUGE price difference. 

Consider your budget: Look for a car rental company that falls within your budget. Remember you do not have to spend a fortune on car rental therefore try to get a car rental service that will leave you with some cash to spend on the road.


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

DRIVING IN ICELAND

Driving Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to find out how to drive in this country. We know that the landscapes are beautiful, which naturally draws the driver’s attention away from the road. But in order to reach your destination safely, you must keep your full attention on driving.

-The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/hr.
-The speed limit is often 60 km/hr on thruways, but in residential areas it is usually only 30 km/hr.
-The main rule in rural areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/hr, and paved roads 90 km/hr.
-Signs indicate if other speed limits apply.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

HIGHLAND DRIVING

Driving in the Icelandic highland is quite different from driving in the lowland. The conditions can change fast due to weather, rain and even sometimes snow. Therefore roads can be closed and rivers can be too big to cross. Before you start your travel you should get information about the area as well as leave your travel plan with someone who can check up on you if needed.

You can make your travel plan here:

-Start by checking if the area you are going to visit is open
-Get as much information about the area as you can
-Information centers, rangers and hut wardens can help you get the information needed
-Are you sure that you have the experience and knowledge needed to go the highland?
-If you are driving be on a 4x4 jeep, other cars will only get you into trouble
-If you are no sure how to cross a river skip it or wait for the next car to assist you over

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

ILLEGAL OFF-ROAD DRIVING

When the fact that the country lies right below the Arctic Circle is taken into consideration, along with the fact that the growing season is short, it is apparent that the environment can take many years, decades or even centuries to recover. For example, many people don't realise that by uprooting or driving on moss, damage is caused that can take at least a decade or, more likely, some hundreds of years to mend – and we're not even talking about the highlands where the summer is much shorter.

Whilst travelling around the country, the highest respect for the Icelandic environment must be shown. It's good to remember to take nothing besides photographs and leave nothing behind except footprints.

-Check out the road map and see where the roads and trails are.
-Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centres, and from rangers or staff.
-Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information, at visitor centres or here.

While on your trip around the country you’ll quickly see that in many places, road ruts and paths have formed from other people. Often they are closed off with nothing more than a row of small rocks. Don’t be caught in the pitfall of following those paths; only stay on roads and marked trails. Instead, think about the damage off-road driving has caused, take photos and educate friends and acquaintances. See how long such damage takes to heal. Notice that ruts don’t just look ugly; they draw in water and thereby cause even further damage, leading to erosion of soil and vegetation. Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any farther by driving. That’s the only right thing do. Besides, you can easily expect a sky-high fine or prison term for offences.

We should all set a good example. Together we share the responsibility of ensuring that everyone gets the chance of enjoying a pristine natural environment for years to come.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

CROSSING A RIVER

One thing is for sure when you go hiking in Iceland and that’s that you’ll not get far without coming to the first stream. Usually they’re little brooks, which are good to get a fresh drink from. On the other hand, they can be large rivers and you will need to wade them, in which case you should bear some things in mind:

-Rivers often have less volume earlier in the day, so organising hiking trips accordingly is not a bad idea.
-Look around for suitable locations to ford. Be aware that places that are good for crossing with jeeps are seldom good for crossing on foot.
-Look for meanders in the river which are places where there is loose gravel and sand and the current dies down as the river expands.
-Meanders are usually the best location you’ll find for fording a river though the river may be wider there.
-Preferably wade the river with two or three other people at a time by clasping arms together at the elbows.
-Loosen any straps on backpacks and be sure not to have anything tied tight that could complicate things if you or someone else might fall.
-It’s best to have special wading shoes as it is not wise to cross barefoot - this can increase the likelihood of a fall.
-Before fording, it’s smart to decide on a spot farther down the river where everyone will go to if someone might unfortunately fall.
-If you fall, roll onto your back, keep your feet in front of you and trudge to the place - or near to it - that was previously decided upon.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

When planning your hiking trip get information about rivers, if they are possible to cross on foot and then what time is best and etc. Never cross a river unless you are 100% sure of how to do it and feel safe doing it.

Helpful Tips on 4x4 Driving in Iceland

If you have plans to visit Iceland's country side then you should also pick a 4x4 vehicle since you will most likely be driving on some gravel roads. And should you go off the beaten path to visit the Iceland highland then you are sure to encounter some F-roads that are only driveble by larger 4x4.

Iceland gravel roadsAll major roads in Iceland are paved. But keep in mind that of 13.000 km total roads in Iceland only about 5.000 is paved with asfalt.

Most gravel roads are not difficult to drive on or dangerous, you just need to keep special attention while driving and make sure you are not going to fast. These roads are often narrow and many bridges only have one lane. You are also likely to meet some sheeps and Icelandic horses so make sure you are paying attention.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

List of the most popular F-roads

Here is a list of the most popular F-roads in Iceland and average opening times:
F-RoadNameAvg. opening date
F206 Lakagígar June 12th
F208 Fjallabaksleið nyrðri
(Landmannalaugar and Eldgjá)
June 12th
F225 Landmannaleið, Landmannalaugar June 15th
F35 Kjölur (Hveravellir) June 11th
F26 Sprengisandur June 27th
F88 Askja June 20th
F902 Kverkfjöll June 19th
F52 Uxahryggir June 5th
F550 Kaldidalur June 13th

Driving in snow and difficult weather conditions

Make sure you are always driving according to road and weather conditions. If there is snow and the roads are slippery make sure to take it slow and drive safe. If you are driving outsite of populated areas make sure to find out the conditions of the roads on your route. You should also check out the weather forecast.

Check road conditions in Iceland here:
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/the-entire-country/island1e.html

Check weather forecast here:
http://en.vedur.is

Carpooling in Iceland:
http://samferda.is

Map of Iceland:
http://atlas.lmi.is/kortasja_en/

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Kolla, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Iceland and the Viking Settlement

The term Viking is a word generally used to refer to the inhabitants of Nordic countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland during the Middle Ages (800-1100 AD) who led the Scandinavian Expansion.


Better known as the Viking Age (or Viking Age AD), this period has long been popularly associated with the bold explorations of the Viking people, but is also synonymous with looting, rampant piracy, pillaging and burning everything that stood in the Vikings’ way throughout civilized Europe.

However, these facts are now coming to be recognized as gross over-simplifications and generalizations. Today, new emphasis is being put on the achievements of the Viking Age in terms of Scandinavian art, craftsmanship, technology, marine exploration and trade development.

Viking expansion in the world

The origin of the word "Viking" is somewhat uncertain. It may be from Old Norse “vik” (a bay or cove) or the Old English "wic" (a trade agreement). Not all Scandinavians were Vikings or professional warriors and not all Vikings were pirates.


The causes of the Viking Age expansion are complex. Land scarcity in Scandinavia, improvement of the production of iron and the need for new markets were probably the principal reasons.

The first recorded Viking raid was an assault by sea in 793 AD by Norwegian Vikings on the holy island of Lindisfarne, off the northeast coast of England. The evidence indicates, however, that there was considerable migration of Vikings west across the North Sea and east across the Baltic long before that.


Swedish traders penetrated the interior of Russia, starting new trade routes through the Volga-Dnepr, founding cities like Kiev and Novgorod and opening the way to Constantinople and the exotic markets of Arabia and the Far East. In Constantinople, the Vikings formed the elite guard of the Byzantine emperors, the feared and famous Varangian Guard. Danish warriors fought in the cities of the Carolingian Empire in cities like Hamburg, Dorestad, Rouen, Paris, Nantes and Bordeaux, until in 911, one army arrived in northern France (now known as Normandy, "Land of the Northmen ") and settled there.

During the Viking Age, these brave men went through half the world in their open boats, greatly expanding their horizons. But having achieved much and reaching even remote locations, Vikings did not have staying power. With no reserves of wealth or political experience, they failed to achieve cohesion in Europe, or to effectively dominate the oldest, richest and most stable of those they attempted to invade.

Viking settlement in Iceland

Iceland was settled between 874 and 930 AD by the Norse settlers in search of new farmland. At that time, the weather in Iceland was warmer than it is now and the settlers and their animals thought they had found paradise, they began to be divided between them.


The first Viking to sight Iceland was Gardar Svavarsson, who had changed course while sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands due to harsh weather conditions. His reports led to the first attempts to settle on the island. The Norwegian chief, Ingólfur Arnarson, is usually considered the first settler who formed a permanent settlement on the island. He settled with his family around the year 874, at a place called Reykjavik (the present capital of the country).


Following Ingólfur, another group of Norwegians set sail on the North Atlantic in 874 with their families, livestock, slaves and possessions in an effort to escape the domination of the first Norwegian king, Harald I. They traveled about 1,000 km. in their drakkars to the island of Iceland.


According to the Icelandic sagas, these people were mainly of Norwegian origin, and to a lesser extent, of Irish and Scottish decent, namely Irish servants and slaves of Norwegian/Scottish chiefs. The Icelandic Age of Settlement (Icelandic: Landnámsöld) is believed to have lasted from 874-930, at which point the "Althing", the world's oldest parliamentary body, was founded.

The first settlers took huge territories were subdivided during the sixty years of "landnám" (settlement period). Some of the settlers with good social skills made smart partnerships and were made leaders. They represented groups of farmers in the "Althing" (Alzing).


Much of the knowledge about this time comes from the Icelandic sagas, a set of writings that not only document the settlement of Iceland but also the exploration of Greenland and the region of North America now called Newfoundland.

These sagas also tell us details about the daily life of the settlers and their descendants. Especially representative of the colonization of Greenland and America are the "Sagas of the Greenlanders" written in 1200 and the "Saga of Erik the Red" written in 1260.


Iceland is a key example of settlers moving to an uninhabited land and designing a new society. Written sources are useful, but do not tell us everything we need to know about the distribution of land, animals and trade to truly understand the inner workings of this unusual society.

The center of Viking settlement in Iceland - "Landnámssetur"

For lovers of Icelandic history and especially those interested in the history of the Viking settlement in this country, there is a place just an hour from Reykjavik, in Borgarnes on Highway 1 north, called "Landnámssetur Íslands" where two outstanding exhibitions can be found:

- The exhibition of Viking settlement.
- The first exhibition of the Viking and Icelandic poet, Egill Skallagrimsson.


After the visit to this place, travelers will be much more prepared for an informed and knowledgeable trip around Iceland.

It also has audio guides in 12 different languages, including English. The complete route for each exhibition will last about 30 minutes, after which you may understand many things and answer many questions that arise during your tour around Iceland.


This location also boasts a one of a kind restaurant with a unique stone-walled dining area.

Location and Information:

Brákarbraut 13-15310 Borgarnes
Tel: +354 437 1600 and +354 895 5460
Open all year from 10:00 to 21:00 except December 24, 25, 26, 31 and January 1.

Jóhanna
© 2015 by Iceland24

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Birdwatching in Iceland

Iceland is famous for a number of different things, but nature enthusiasts spend most of their focus on the birdwatching opportunities available there. Each year, millions of birds migrate to the island in the North Atlantic.

Birdwatching in Iceland

The most common birds that migrate there are from Western Europe, but there is also a nice selection of birds from North America and the Arctic. Bird lovers may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of more exotic species of birds who have been blown off course.

If you want to see this amazing selection of winged creatures, you have the advantage, as you can use jet instead of wing power to get there.

Birdwatching in Iceland

Even if no migratory species arrived in Iceland, there would still be some very interesting species to spy through your binoculars. The hardiest of all are those that fly in for winter. If you want to get your eyes on these feathered beauties, you’d better be prepared to pack your winter woolies.

You might think that spring and summer bird watching in Iceland is more acceptable because of the weather, but it actually has more to do with the stunning number of individual species that are on display. Many of them will be assembled on the nesting cliffs, which is among the most heavily populated in Europe. That large number of winged residents includes the world’s largest puffin colony.

Birdwatching in Iceland

The average birdwatcher will get amazing views, as you can get within a few meters of the puffins. The eider ducks are even more welcoming, but you may have to put up with an aerial assault from the Arctic terns who are not so happy to see their territory invaded by humans. You don’t even have to get out in the wild to see some great birds, as those that live in Reykjavic City will be more than happy to settle for a few pieces of bread form the tourists.

While this may all sound as though it’s for the novice birder, make no mistake, Iceland is a land where the serious birdwatchers come to play. Most of those folks make their trips in the summer months when the water birds are most active. Ducks, geese, and sea birds are plentiful, but the rarer species include the white tailed eagle and the gray falcon.

Birdwatching in Iceland

The warmer temperatures and the new forest growth over the last century has helped the number of bird species in Iceland really proliferate. Songbirds carried in on wild winds have found a home, with many new species now nesting in Iceland. Redwings, starlings, and the diminutive goldcrest are perfect examples.

The natives of Iceland love the changing of the seasons, and it is the arrival of specific bird species that often signals the changes. The golden plover makes its arrival in the early part of spring, and it is a joy to the residents when they see it arrive. Farmers may not hold ravens very dear to their hearts, but the other residents of Iceland welcome them in with open arms.

Birdwatching in Iceland

During the summer, the ravens will stick to the countryside, but as the weather starts to close in, they will head into the city and share the streets with the locals, as the black birds search for a few crumbs to sustain them.

Birdwatching in Iceland

Mike, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Hiking in Iceland - Iceland Hiking Experience

Iceland is a hikers dream. Majority of Iceland is above 1300 feet and the landscape is very diverse. Hikers find large areas full of beautiful mountains, lava fields, lakes, black sands, glaciers, and hot springs. There is no place in the world like Iceland since nature has shaped this unique location.

Hiking in Iceland - Iceland Hiking Experience

The Hiking Trails

The Hiking Trails found in Iceland are plentiful and diverse. Individual trails can be read about at tourist information centers located throughout the unique country. Additionally, there are mountain huts available, which allow hikers to book them so their hiking experience can be enhanced.

Most popular hiking trails in Iceland:

1. Landmannalaugar - Þórsmörk (Laugavegur hiking trail)
2. Herðubreiðarlindir-Svartárkot í Bárðardal, Öskjuvegurinn (the Askja hiking trail)
3. Snæfell - Lónsöræfi
4. Hveravellir - Hvítárnes (The old Kjalvegur hiking trail)
5. Skógar - Þórsmörk

Hiking in Iceland - Iceland Hiking Experience

Hiking Weather Conditions

During the summertime, it is common for hikers to come from all over to explore the country. The Laugavegur Trail is one of the more popular trails for both locals and tourists. Hikers love the trail because of the diverse landscapes, colorful mountains, rivers, lakes, hot springs, and glaciers that can be seen throughout the trail. Hiking the trail can be difficult if the weather conditions are extreme though. There are six huts along the trail and campsites are available too. Due to environmental concerns and the nature reserves camping in the wild is forbidden.

When in Iceland you have to hike the Laugavegur Trail!

Hiking in Iceland - Iceland Hiking Experience

Hiking Tours

If you prefer to be guided through the trails, there are organized hiking tours that you can book to explore the various hiking trails. During the winter months, day and weekend tours are recommended while in the summer months longer tours are recommended.

Hiking in Iceland - Iceland Hiking Experience

Alternatively, you have the option of going hiking by yourself. However, when hiking alone you need to make sure that you are cautious. You should have the proper clothing and accessories in addition to letting someone know which trail you plan to hike.

Hiking in Iceland - Iceland Hiking Experience

When planning to hike in Iceland visit Safetravel for safety information and to enter your travel plan so you are prepared in the event of an emergency.

Mike, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24