Thursday, 19 January 2017

Grenivík. Hiking in northern Iceland

Grenivík is a small fishing village of about 300 inhabitants located in the Eyjafjörður fjord in northern Iceland. Its main activity remains fishing, but the village also has a small pharmaceutical industry. Given its size and geographical location, Grenivík is a quiet and uncrowded village, but the surrounding countryside is well known for its hiking trails. From Grenivík you can reach the Flateyjarskagi Peninsula.

Grenivík. Hiking in northern Iceland

Mountain Kaldbakur, 1173 meters in height, is right next to the village and will delight fans of walking, as there are several paths leading to the top. An easier alternative is the path that leads to Þengilhöfði, a small mountain 260 meters high just south of Grenivík. For more challenging alternatives you can go to the top of the Blámannshattur and Laufáshnjúkur mountains that are in the area. The ancient sites of Fjörðurnar and Látraströnd, a series of fjords in the region, are also good places to walk, and are becoming more and more popular with travellers looking for a bit of peace away from the most popular tourist sites. You can avail of the snow cat services of Kaldbasferðir to go to the top of the Kalbakur mountain, and those of Fjörðungar to walk around Fjörðurnar and Látraströnd.

Grenivík. Hiking in northern Iceland

Near the village of Grenivík, the historic site of Laufás is open to travellers to learn about the Icelandic nineteenth-century lifestyle. Several small peat houses have been preserved and transformed into a museum. Laufás also has a beautiful little Icelandic chapel, built in 1865.

Other activities are available in the region; Pólar Hestar organises horseback excursions from Grýtubakki; You can go fishing in the rivers Fnjóská and Fjarðará in the Hvalvatnsfjörður Fjord. Every year in July, you can attend Grenivíkurgleðin, a series of outdoor concerts. The Museum of Fishing is open every day from the 15th of June to the 15th of August and will introduce you to the history of the region. Jónsabúð, the village shop, serves as a petrol station, café, restaurant and tourist office. Grenivík also has a campsite, a Hleskógar guesthouse and, of course, a municipal swimming pool.

Grenivík. Hiking in northern Iceland

If you arrive from Akureyri, go east and follow Route 1 for about fifteen kilometres and then turn left onto Route 83; Grenivík is about 20 kilometres from this intersection. If you are coming from the east (Mývatn), turn at the junction of roads 1 and 835, about fifteen kilometres after the Goðafoss waterfall.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

More and more people are booking flights to Iceland due to the attractive prices offered by airlines, however, once they get there they realise that their spending costs are high. Is it possible to travel to Iceland on a small budget?

The answer is mixed. Yes, we can travel to Iceland "cheaply", but it involves a lot of organisation and flexibility - if you want to participate in excursions, go to the highlands, hike on a glacier, fly over a volcano and stay in a hotel, your trip will end up being expensive. There is no secret, it is not possible to see and do everything on a tight budget, but with planning, you can still see and do quite a lot.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

The popularity of Iceland has led many airlines to offer direct flights, and more and more low-cost carriers are available: Wow air from Europe and North America, EasyJet or Transavia (subsidiary Air France). By booking in advance, you can find very good deals. The Icelandic airline, Icelandair, also has occasional flash deals where you can book a round trip to Iceland for less than 250 euros.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

On-site car rental is a good way to travel -this is certainly not cheap, but it gives you a flexibility that you will not get with public transport; for example, car rental may suit families or groups more as they will spend more on bus fares collectively to travel from place to place. Moreover, domestic flights are incredibly expensive. If you are travelling alone, consider getting a bus passport, or try to find fellow travellers to rent a car together. The carpooling website samferda.is can also be a good idea.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

Accommodation is certainly expensive in Iceland. Travel out of the high tourist season (June-August) to get lower prices, use airbnb, save a few euro by staying in a guesthouse with shared bathroom facilities, camp if you are travelling in the summer time, or try Couchsurfing - even though this is difficult in Iceland. The hostels have fairly reasonable prices but it is imperative to book several months in advance if you go in the summer.

Forget the traditional restaurants and opt to eat out in a cafe where you can avail of various lunch offers. Expect to pay around 15 euros for soup or salad. Eating out is an expensive element of travelling in Iceland. If it is possible to prepare your own food, do it and you will save a lot of money.

Tips for travelling on a budget in Iceland

Going on tours can be difficult if your budget is tight, even if some agencies have quite competitive prices. But do not worry - Iceland is full of wonders, whether your wallet is empty or full.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Monday, 16 January 2017

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

Day 1 - Take a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir, the capital town of the east. After settling in to your chosen accommodation, Visit the small town centre and check if the Sláturhúsið cultural centre is having an exhibition or an event that day. Treat yourself to a dip at the municipal swimming pool and soak up the Icelandic atmosphere - it will immediately put you in a good mood for the rest of your stay!

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

Day 2 - The next day, take a trip to Djúpivogur, make a short detour to admire the cascade of Hengifoss and monastic ruins of Skriðuklaustur. Continue until Stöðvarfjörður, a small village at the foot of the mountain Hellufjall, which is 850 meters high. Formerly an important place for fishing, the town has been converted into a haven for travellers and artists - a fish factory of 2800 square meters has been transformed into a cultural and artistic centre. The area around the valley of Jafnadalur is perfect for walking. Fáskrúðsfjörður is a small town with 700 inhabitants and very strong historical links to France. French sailors represented a part of the Fáskrúðsfjörður society in the 20th century and this heritage is still visible today. To the east of the town, several waterfalls hide along the road; the most popular is certainly Gilsárfoss because you can walk behind the waterfall. The walk along the Gilsá River takes about a quarter of an hour.

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

Day 3 - Head to Reyðarfjörður, a village known for its skiing and winter sports. There is a path you can take from the centre of the village, that follows the river, which will take you to the War Museum; It mainly traces the occupation of eastern Iceland during the Second World War. If you continue your journey after the museum you will come to the beautiful little waterfall Búðarárfoss and pretty Svínadalur Valley. You can also explore the gorges of the Geithúsaá river, or climb the mountain of Grænafell. The village of Eskifjörður is known for its rare collection of pebbles and large rocks of Iceland, which you can visit at Sören and Sigurborg. Another interesting visit of the region is the former spar mine Helgustaðanáma, one of the best known in the world at the time and now a protected site. Neskaupstaður in Nordfjordur, is the largest town of the area, with about 1500 inhabitants. It was built around the old farm "Nes" which was the home to Erik the red. Neskaupstaður is also sadly known for its avalanches, which killed twelve people in 1974. Today you can visit the structures that are supposed to prevent any avalanches from causing harm or damage. These structures are located at the top of the town, where you can also enjoy a spectacular view of the fjord.

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

Day 4 - Gerpir, gets its name from the 661 meters high mountain, which is the oldest in Iceland. It is a real paradise for hikers, kayak enthusiasts and nature lovers, we advise you to spend the day there and discover its natural treasures. The association Ferðafélag Fjarðamanna has made great efforts to create marked trails in the region. You can find a detailed map of the walks and hikes available in Gerpir at the tourist offices and shops in the area.

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

Day 5 - The small village of Brekkuþorp, more commonly known as Mjóifjörður, has about 30 inhabitants. You can admire the magnificent waterfalls of Klifbrekkufossar and visit Mjoeyri Beach, which is known for being the last place of execution in Iceland. At the end of the Mjóifjörður Fjord you will find the most eastern point of the country, Dalantagi. The view from the end of the world is breath-taking, with two lighthouses within visibility. The oldest is made of basalt and was built in 1895; The second one dates back to 1908 and is still in operation today. Well known for its charming wooden houses, Seyðisfjörður Is especially popular for its bustling artistic activity. The Skaftfell Visual Arts Centre offers year-round exhibitions and events.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

Located about 200 km from Reykjavik, Vatnsnes is a peninsula in northern Iceland, home to Iceland's largest seal colony. The main town of the peninsula, Hvammstangi, which has a population of 600 inhabitants, is located six kilometers from the main road (Route 1), and in addition to an obligatory visit to the seal center, you can enjoy one of the restaurants, a stay at a guesthouses, a visit to a store or the pool. The Seal Center is open from 9 am to 7 pm from June to August, from 9 am to 4 pm in May and September and from 10 am to 3 pm the rest of the year. The entrance fee is 950 kronur (about 7 euros).

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

Route 711 goes around the peninsula along the coast, but it's almost entirely a track road, with only a small part of it paved. The peninsula is surrounded by the bay of Húnaflói, also know as the "bay of the bears" because several polar bears have come ashore here in the past. The main viewpoints of Vatnsnes are Borgarvirki, Hvítserkur, Illugastaðir and Kolugljúfur, a very scenic canyon with beautiful waterfalls.

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

Borgarvirki is a volcanic plug that was used as a fortress in the Sagas; Located at 177 meters in height, it dominates the region. Stairs lead to the top of this natural fortress, but the road is full of pebbles and slippery - though, if you reach the summit, a magnificent view awaits you.

Hvitserkur is a basalt formation 15 meters high, which has two holes at its base and resembles a dragon drinking water. Legend has it that Hvítserkur is a petrified troll. There is a small car park and picnic area at Ósar, where you can leave your vehicle and go by foot on the walking path to reach Hvítserkur. If you would like to view it from the top, there is a path available from the beach, in the summertime watch out for the Arctic tern, as there are many of these birds in the area at this time.

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

The best viewpoints for observing seals are Hindisvík, Ósar, Svalbarð, Illugastaðir and Hvítserkur. The best time to observe seals is two hours after low tide, and the chances of seeing them are especially high if the weather is mild. Every year in July, you can participate with some of the Illugastaðir locals, in the counting of seals. It is also a nice place for a coffee and something to eat.

The Vatnsnes Peninsula - Seals in the north of Iceland

The old farm of Geitafell is also worth seeing on the peninsula; today it is a small museum located in the middle of nowhere, with a tower worthy of a castle, which you can visit from May to September.

Iceland24 
© All rights reserved

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Summer in Iceland. Travelling tips

WHEN?

Summer is a wonderful season in Iceland with 24 hour daylight from June until August. Many Icelanders use blackout curtains in this period in order to sleep, but for some it's just a matter of getting use to it. There is something gratifying about going to bed when it is still light -however, many travelers like to use eye masks. The season is short and in September, summer is over, although you may still get some beautiful days, if you´re lucky.

Summer in Iceland. Travelling tips

HOW?

Like the rest of the year, the weather can be unpredictable, and change very often. Average temperatures are around 10 degrees and rarely exceed 20 degrees. In some places, especially in the highlands, it can be very cold, even in summer; it´s a good idea to carry a good coat, gloves and hat in your suitcase,just to be on the safe side. Take light and comfortable clothing that you can put on and remove easily; it makes sense in the unreliable Icelandic weather to dress like an "onion" with several layers.

Summer in Iceland. Travelling tips

WHAT?

Camping, wearing shorts, climbing to the top of a mountain at three in the morning, do as much of the stuff you can‘t do in the winter! Enjoy the midnight sun from the north of Iceland, especially on the island of Grimsey. Walk and hike! Access to The highlands of Iceland is only available in high season, around early July to early September. It is not recommended to cross the highlands by rental car, but you can take a bus or enjoy guided tours.

Summer in Iceland. Travelling tips

Enjoy one of the many art and music festivals that take place around the country. In the summer there are many different festivals and events for everyone to enjoy. Some of the biggest days on the Icelandic event calender are: Marine Day (first weekend in June, all around Iceland), the national Day June 17th, St. John's Day, traders (first weekend August). There are also many festivals like the Secret Solstice (during the solstice in June, Reykjavík), Eistnaflug (Neskaupstaður, early July), Blue north (Ólafsfjörður early July) Folk Festival Siglufjörður (early July), family festival Hrísey (mid-July), Vopnafjörður Festival (late June-early July), steampunk Bíldudalur Festival (late June), Viking festival Gásir (July) Akureyravaka (anniversary of the city of Akureyri last weekend of August ), the feast of fish Dalvik (August), Gay pride and Culture night (Reykjavik, August), and so on ...

Summer in Iceland. Travelling tips

There is also a lot of animal life to appreciate! Puffins are easy to spot around the coastline as they make Iceland their home from May to mid August. Go whale watching in the south or the north of Iceland. Try to spot foxes or polar reindeer .. . Iceland is also a paradise for bird lovers.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Monday, 9 January 2017

Hiking in Iceland. The beautiful Thórsmörk

Thórsmörk (or Þórsmörk), a mountain ridge in southern Iceland is a beautiful area where you can thoroughly indulge in Icelandic nature. Enclosed on the south by the Krossá river and the north by the Þrönga and Markafljót rivers, this area is one of the favorite hiking trails in Iceland. The area with its lush vegetation is a nature reserve, and the climate tends to be milder there due to the glaciers surround the mountains. The weather is usually better in Thórsmörk than in the rest of southern Iceland.

Hiking in Iceland. The beautiful Thórsmörk

Thórsmörk offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and the valley offers numerous hiking opportunities. The most popular hikes are well marked, and the information is available about the most suitable hikes for your experience and desires. The administration of the Thórsmörk Reserve has published maps of hiking trails in the area. There's a stroll down the throat of the waterfall Stakkoltsgjá; a few hours walk on the Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers or a few days hike; there's something for everyone. Two of the greatest hiking trails start from Thórsmörk to Fimmvörðuháls and from Laugavegur to Landmannalaugar.

Hiking in Iceland. The beautiful Thórsmörk

The Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail connects to Thórsmörk Skogar; on this hike of thirty kilometers, you will discover the mountains beyond and the glacier Eyjafjallajökull volcano and volcanic craters formed by the last eruption in 2010. Walking can be tricky because the path is difficult, especially if the weather is acting up.

Hiking in Iceland. The beautiful Thórsmörk

The Laugavegur hiking trail stretches over 55 kilometers and links to Landmannalaugar Þórsmörk. Most hikers can walk this path over 3 to 5 days, starting from Landmannalaugar and finishing at Thórsmörk (the reverse is entirely possible).

From May 1st to October 15th, daily 4x4 buses run from the bus station BSI in Reykjavik to Thórsmörk. If you have a 2WD car, park your car at the N1 station in Hvolsvollur or near the waterfall Seljalandfoss and then take the bus from there to reach Thórsmörk. If you have a 4WD car, you can reach the F249 and drive about 25 kilometers before coming to the car park at the Krossa river, once there you can take the bus near the Volcano Huts. Do not attempt to cross the river with your vehicle!

Hiking in Iceland. The beautiful Thórsmörk

Whenever possible, we recommend you to visit Thórsmörk, Iceland, independently, if you can. However, the highlands of Iceland and the wilderness experiences are unique and can be intimidating! To thoroughly enjoy the Thórsmörk valley and its surroundings, you can join a guided tour led by a local expert you will be shown the Icelandic and your safety is guaranteed, also, the guide will teach you a lot about the history and geology of Iceland.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved