Sunday, 25 September 2016

Northern Lights in Iceland - Best Tips to see Northern Lights

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that can paint the night sky with unearthly, surreal color. To observers at far-northern latitudes, they're a frequent occurrence, but many who live in more temperate climates have never seen them, even though they're sometimes seen as far south as 35 degrees north latitude.

Northern Lights in Iceland

And the ideal place to see Northern Lights is Iceland: Astronomers are predicting that the Northern Lights will be some of the brightest in decades over the next few years due to a peak in the solar cycle, so now is the time to visit.

Planning to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

There is no guarantee to see the Northern Lights, even if you are in the best areas. However, a bit of planning will radically increase your chances.  In Iceland, good periods are between from late August to mid April.

1. Darkness is required.
2. The time between 6pm and 4am is the most intense period of the day.  The highest probability within this timespan is between 10 and 11pm.
3. Clear skies. The weather is probably the most important success factor (up to 80% of all clear nights).
4. The colder the temperature, the brighter the show.

Northern Lights in Iceland

Aurora Forecast

The spectacle of Aurora Borealis requires dark and partly clear skies. Cloud cover forecast is given for the next few days, in maps where white means clear skies. Aurora Forecast from the Icelandic Met Office here.

The information on the page will update accordingly, see the small frames above and to the right.
Northern Lights in Iceland
Photography

Taking good pictures of the Northern Lights is very difficult, since they're fast-moving, often faint and against a pitch-dark background, all of which befuddles consumer point-and-shoots. Here's what you need for a sporting chance:

- A camera that supports manual exposure (5 to 40 seconds).
- A fast lens (aperture f/2.8 or better)
- Fast film (800 ASA or better), or equivalent ISO setting on a digital camera.
- A tripod to hold the long exposure
- Cable release or self-timer to trigger shots without stirring the camera

Northern Lights in Iceland

As you can imagine, one of the questions we get asked most in wintertime is how, when and where you can see the Northern Lights in Iceland. We really hope you will be able to try out the Northern Lights hunting adventure of your own (you don't need to pay a "Northern Lights Tour", do it yourself!).


Experience a wonder of nature in Iceland!
Best regards from Reykjavík

Berglind Rós, Iceland24

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Iceland: The country of ice cream

Iceland is not only known for its glaciers (Snæfellsjökull, Vatnajökull), but also for its ice cream. In any season or weather situation, the locals consume large quantities of ice cream of many kinds. The ice cream shop is the only place in Iceland where you’ll find a queue on a Friday night at 22 hours. Below is a brief overview of the best places to eat ice cream in Iceland!

Iceland: The country of ice cream

Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, in the district of the same name, is considered by many as the best ice cream shop in Reykjavík. It offers a milk-based ice cream, and you can choose three flavours per ice cream from a vast range such as chocolate, strawberry, banana, kiwi, chocolate-chip, blueberries, to name a few. The result is delicious and is called Þeyttingur. You will also find a selection of more traditional ice creams such as vanilla ice cream surrounded by a chocolate glazed "clown" for children, ice cream with chocolate sauce (hot or cold), ice cream with licorice (licorice another popular treat in Iceland) and so on …

Iceland: The country of ice cream

Other Ice cream shops available in Reykjavík are Yoyo, known for its frozen yogurts, and Valdís, known for its original flavours (e.g. peanut flavor).

Iceland: The country of ice cream

The Brynja Akureyri ice cream shop, located in the old city, ranks as one of the best in Iceland. But be careful, however, when choosing the size of the Icelandic ice cream; "medium" for an Icelander is considered  "huge" for a foreign traveller ... In Akureyri’s city centre, it’s possible to find an ice cream shop on the street, Geislagata, and some cafes that also offer frozen desserts, and ice cream served in a cone (í brauði) or cardboard container (í lassi).

Iceland: The country of ice cream

You will find ice cream in all petrol stations or kiosks (sjóppur) around the country. Some farms also make homemade ice creams, such as Holtsel in Eyjafjörður, Erpsstaðir near Snaefellsnes peninsula, Efstidalur near the Golden Circle and Brunhóll near Vatnajökull. Brunhóll calls their ice cream Jöklaís, which translates  “glacier ice."

Ísbílinn is a truck that supplies farms in the countryside with all kinds of ice cream treasures, a great invention and treat for anyone living in rural parts of Iceland. In the summer time, ísbílinn ( translates "ice car") also stops in major towns and announces its presence with music playing over its speaker -the international signal for the ice cream van. In winter, the mobile ice cream trucks are confined to small towns and remote valleys.

Iceland: The country of ice cream


Monday, 5 September 2016

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, is the major highway in Iceland connecting most of the towns, including Reykjavík, the capital and only city. It is 830 miles long (1330 km) and goes through the fjords, mountains, plateaus and flat land. Because Route 1 is the only road connecting east to west in Iceland, travelers should take precautions when crossing the country.

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

Marketers in Reykjanes, Snæfellsnes, the Westfjords and the far northeast of Iceland often complain that sticking to the ring road means you miss some of the country’s greatest pearls – and that is undeniably true. On the other hand, you also drive right through some of the country’s greatest pearls and it is an excellent first-time introduction to Iceland before you return to the country again, and again (hopefully).

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

The many amazing highlights of the ring road experience include some of the biggest towns in the country, some of the most sought-after waterfalls in Europe, the Eyjafjallajökull and Vatnajökull glaciers, the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon…and that’s just on the south coast alone!

There are already articles about the major attractions in South Iceland, East Iceland, North Iceland and West Iceland on this site, so we won’t dwell on them too much here. Suffice is to say simply that you won’t run short of things to see and do.

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

The Route 1 ring road around Iceland is 1,339 kilometres long, which makes it ideal for exploring slowly over the course of a week – or even longer. But the relaxed driving schedule also makes it easy to add in one or all of the missing areas mentioned above (like the Westfjords or Snæfellsnes) to increase the length of your journey and see more, erm, sights along the way.

The same is very much true if you want to roam off Route 1 and explore the East Fjords, and if you want to save a thousand krónur by taking the beautiful old Hvalfjörður road instead of the much shorter tunnel.

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

Route 1 is considered the national highway and it is used by lorries carrying freight almost every day of the year. This means snow ploughing is top priority in the winter and the road will be open when others may be closed. Of course extreme weather can shut even Route 1 for short periods, so it is always best to check the road conditions before you set off. There are no such concerns in the summer though (stated with at least 90% certainty).

The road was finally completed in 1976 and these days most, although not all, of it is paved. The small remaining sections in the East are gravel. The speed limit is 90 km/h (80 on gravel) and the police are extremely hot on dishing out speeding tickets. Apparently about half of tickets issued are to foreign tourists, and they even chase speeders by helicopter, believe it or not...

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

Example: 8/9/10 Days Round Trip in Iceland

Day 1: Reykjavík - Hvalfjördur - Borgarnes - Hraunfossar - Bifröst - Hvammstangi (sleep around this city)
(+1/2/3/4 days Westfjords)
Day 2: Blönduós - Glaumbaer - Hófsos - Öxnadalur - Akureyri - Godafoss - Mývatn (sleep around the lake)
Day 3: Mývatn - Detifoss - Egilsstadir (sleep at Egilsstadir)
(+1/2 days Mývatn + Askja)
Day 4: Egilsstadir - Hengifoss - East fiords - Fáskrúdsfjördur - Hvalnes - Stafafell - Stokksnes - Höfn (sleep at Höfn)
Day 5: Höfn - Jökursárlon - Skaftafell (Sjónarnipa, Svartifoss) - Vík - Reynisfjara - Dyrhólaey - (sleep around Vík)
Day 6: Vík - Skogafoss - Seljalansfoss - Golden Circle (sleep around Fluðir)
(+1/2/3 days at Landmannalaugar)
Day 7: Fluðir - Krýsuvík - Blue Lagoon - Reykjavík (sleep at Reykjavík)
Day 8: at Reykjavík, shopping etc...

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

This classic 10 days round trip brings you along the Ring Road as well as other roads looping out from the Ring Road. You will see the City of Reykjavik, do the Golden Circle, see hot springs, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Skaftafell nature resort in Vatnajokull National Park, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, the East Fjords, impressive Dettifoss Waterfall, the towns of Husavik and Akureyri, and much more.

The Ring Road in Iceland (Route 1)

Berglind Rós, Iceland24
January 2015