Tuesday, 26 September 2017

December in Iceland. What to do?

It is difficult to choose the right time to go to Iceland, because each month and each season has its charm. The month of December is one of the most obscure in Iceland. There are very few "daytime" hours but there is a warm feeling with Icelanders busy preparing for the Christmas holidays. December oscillates between two atmospheres, both dark and luminous at the same time.

December in Iceland. What to do?

Temperatures for the month of December average around 0 ° C. It is the lack of brightness that seems to thwart Icelanders and travelers! In winter, roads and trails that lead to the highlands are inaccessible, and only road number one is always open – only in principle however, because sometimes a section of this road closes for a few hours if there is too much snow or a storm.

December in Iceland. What to do?

Don't worry though, the activities in winter remain numerous, and the landscape covered with white gives Icelandic towns and villages a charming air. Snow scooters, sled dogs, excursions to the northern lights, walks in the city or in the countryside and discovery of the cultural life are all possible choices at this time of year. If you like skiing, it is also a very good time to come to Iceland!

December in Iceland. What to do?

We can not repeat it enough: go to the pool! It is a wonderful way to experience the joys of bathing and to get acquainted with the Icelandic way of life. Can we imagine a better life than basking in a bath at 40 ° C, surrounded by snow and darkness? If you prefer a more luxurious experience, the Blue Lagoon or the Mývatn baths are a good idea to have a good time while bathing.

December in Iceland. What to do?

Christmas preparations are in full swing in December; Decorations are everywhere (including cemeteries), Christmas markets, Christmas concerts, special events - Icelandic cities are bustling with festive activities for the whole family. From the 15th of December, all the shops remain open until 10pm, and sometimes 11pm on 23rd December – go through the streets of the Icelandic capital that evening if you want to see the crowds! In Dimmuborgir, in the north of Iceland, you can visit the Icelandic Christmas Fathers (there are thirteen), every weekend in December.

December in Iceland. What to do?

Starting from December 1st in Reykjavík, ice-skating is possible in Ingólfstorg in the city centre. Visit the Christmas wonderland at the town hall, or discover the Icelandic traditions at the Árbær Museum, the Botanical Gardens or the Zoo. This year, Sigur Rós will perform four exceptional concerts in Harpa, and will organize other events for six days between Christmas and New Year.

December in Iceland. What to do?

Whether you are in town or in the country, New Year's Eve is a real show! Icelanders buy dozens of fireworks that they fire from their garden or from the street all night until about midnight. To prepare for this crazy evening, you can run the ten-kilometre run of New Year's Eve during the day.

December is also an ideal month to discover the Northern Lights, which can be admired in Iceland from September to April. Check out our article on the Northern Lights to familiarize yourself with the best conditions for observing and photographing them.

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Iceland with children. Travel tips!

Iceland is a very child-friendly country, and your little munchkins will no doubt be welcomed everywhere in Iceland. Whether in cafés, museums or the hairdressers, there is often a play area for children. Here are some ideas and tips to take care of your children during your holiday in Iceland.

Iceland with children. Travel tips!

The swimming pools are real institutions in Iceland, and this is a must for your trip. There are hundreds of pools of all shapes and sizes, all outdoors, and the water temperature varies between 28 and 42 degrees depending on the pools. It is an activity that will delight the youngest and the oldest - it is not uncommon, in summer, to see babies of only a few months bobbing in the water. Bathtubs, changing rooms and high chairs are provided to make your life easier in the showers and changing rooms.

Iceland with children. Travel tips!

It is better to stick to the municipal swimming pools with your young children as there are no activities or games at the blue lagoon and other natural baths like Jarðböðin við Mývatn or Laugarvatn Fontana so they are better for teenagers or young adults.

"Paying" activities such as visiting museums are generally suitable for children, and there are often interactive activities during visits that can easily keep them occupied. Whale watching is a fun activity for older children - The excursions are rather long and will seem endless for the younger ones. If you are not sure if your children will have the patience you can try a one and a half hour express tour, but this is only possible from the capital, Reykjavik.

Iceland with children. Travel tips!

In Iceland, your children are unlikely to be abducted - babies are often seen sleeping outside the cafes in their prams. The big danger in Iceland comes from nature, and you have to be careful during your wanderings. The "nature" activities must be adapted to the age and interests of your children.

Some places require a lot of walking or are not very safe for young children. Geysir is an exciting place for children, but you have to be careful that they do not pass the barriers or have fun dipping their hands in the boiling waters of the site.

Iceland with children. Travel tips!

Waterfalls are often easy to reach, but can also be dangerous; Gullfoss, Goðafoss, Dettifoss and other sites are slippery and unsafe. The same is true for the promontories like Dyrhólaey or Látrabjarg - small people (and big) should be wary and not approach too close to the edge. And for the volcanoes that can be visited -Kerið is quite dangerous and going around Krafla in northern Iceland is not suitable for young children.

Iceland with children. Travel tips!

Some beaches are calm and peaceful, and some Icelandic children even enjoy bathing in the summer; However, others are known to be extremely windy and dangerous, especially Reynisfjara in the south of the island. Never let your children get too close to the water.

As for the best places to sleep with your family and whether it is wiser to stay at a hotel or rent a campervan...we will come back to that topic again!

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Monday, 11 September 2017

5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland

During the long Icelandic winter nights, you can see in the sky the aurora borealis, a natural phenomenon that turns darkness into a spectacle of colors, and even if the Northern Lights are mostly green, you will be able to see red, violet or other colors.

5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland

First, to see the aurora borealis, it must be a dark night, with a clear sky and the solar activity intense. There is no chance to see the aurora from May to August, then, because the Icelandic nights are not dark at this time of the year. December is a good "season" for a chance to observe them, as there are very few daylight hours that month.

To find out if the sky is clear (and where) you can check out the Icelandic weather report on the website: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/cloudcover/. To see if solar activity is enough to see the Northern Lights, the same site makes forecasts for the coming week, but we recommend you not to rely on the reports for more than a few hours before your trip: http: // en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/

5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland

There are no rules for the Northern Lights. They can occur anywhere, at any time, and last a few minutes or hours. There is no secret when observing the aurora borealis, but your chance in the countryside increases because it is darker there. I happened to see a strong green solar flare just above Tjörnin in the centre of Reykjavík. It is possible to see them over the city lights, but nothing beats the sight of the Northern Lights over a farm in the middle of nowhere. Jökulsárlón has become a very popular destination for photographers and aurora hunters who hope to take the perfect shot of the aurora and its reflection on the river ice and iceberg below.

5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland

Know that your photos of the aurora will surely look brighter than with the naked eye because a camera can capture more efficiently the light streaming from a solar flare. Do not forget your tripod if you want to photograph the northern lights because the exposure time should be several seconds.

You can choose to rent a car and go independently on a northern lights hunt at night, or book a tourist agency that can organize excursions for a few hours at a low cost, or for longer stays, especially for photographers. Both, Independence or guided tours have their advantages and disadvantages, but tourism professionals know the best places and offer tips to see the Northern Lights successfully. And if you did not get to see them on your trip, almost all companies offer you to join the second trip for free the next day.

5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland

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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Tips for your winter trip to Iceland

Plan

Prepare your trip conscientiously. Inquire about Iceland, weather conditions, activities not to be missed in winter and learn as much as you can about your destination. A well-prepared trip will avoid unpleasant surprises upon arrival. If you are going during the holidays, be aware that business hours may be shorter around Christmas and New year’s.

Tips for your winter trip to Iceland

Flexibility

Despite all the care you have taken to prepare your trip and fine-tune your itinerary, Iceland, especially in the winter, is unpredictable! You must be ready, especially as the weather can be erratic. A snowstorm may prevent you from continuing your way, causing delays that can last hours or days. It is not uncommon for roads to be blocked due to hazardous weather. Ideally, your itinerary should be flexible with back up plans, if conditions warrant.

Tips for your winter trip to Iceland

Security

Always check road conditions on the website of the Icelandic Road Administration, www.road.is . Road conditions can change very quickly, and an open road can become closed in a matter of hours. If you are driving on a road that is becoming more heavy with snow and you don’t see any other traffic, it is possible that you are on a route that has been closed due to the weather conditions. Turn around and check the road conditions if you can. Some vehicles may display a sign that says "ófært" or unable, to inform others on the road of the situation.

Tips for your winter trip to Iceland

Familiarize yourself with emergency numbers and sites to know. Check the websites and social networks often to keep you informed of any weather alerts, avalanches or other:

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http://safetravel.is created by the Icelandic Lifeguard Association
Http://en.vedur.is
Http://www.road.is
@safeiniceland

Dress up!

This seems likely to be obvious, but make sure you are adequately equipped when traveling in winter. Warm, waterproof but breathable clothing is essential. Hats and gloves are absolutely essential, as well as good shoes.

Tips for your winter trip to Iceland

Enjoy!

After considering all our tips, enjoy your stay! Winter is a season full of wonders. Lounging in a hot spring, joining an excursion to admire the Northern Lights, skiing in one of the many Icelandic ski resorts, there is plenty to do.

Tips for your winter trip to Iceland

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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja (73 meters high) is the tallest church in Iceland and is located in central Reykjavik. The architect Guðjón Samuelsson was commissioned in 1937 to design Hallgrímskirkja, but the construction work didn’t begin until 1945 and ended 36 years later in 1986. It was designed to resemble the basalt lava flows in the Icelandic landscape. The church tower gives a magnificent view over Reykjavik city. Hallgrímskirkja is also well-known for its 5275 piped organ of the famous German brand, Orgelbau Klais.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The Water Library (Vatnasafn) displays a permanent installation that was designed by the American artist, Roni Horn in the old library in the coastal town, Stykkishólmur. On the main floor, a large room offers breathtaking views overlooking the sea and town and holds 24 glass columns containing water collected from some major glaciers around Iceland.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The new church of Stykkishólmur is a concrete building that was built in 1990. It stands on a promontory overlooking the town and can hold nearly 300 people. It was designed by the architect Jón Haraldsson and the church altar was painted by Kristín Gunnlaugsdottir. The church has excellent acoustics and hosts many concerts annually.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The gigantic sculpture Tvísöngur in Seyðisfjörður, east Iceland, was sculpted by the German artist, Lukas Kühne. Tvísöngur consists of five interconnected cement domes that resonate sound when the wind blows through them, creating a five-tone harmony (a musical tradition unique to Iceland).

Perlan is situated on the hill Öskjuhlíð, and serves as a hot water reserve to Reykjavík city, and is also a building that houses exhibitions, concerts, shops and restaurants. Perlan (25 meters high) is clearly recognisable on the Reykjavik skyline for its glass dome-shaped roof that offers stunning views of the Icelandic capital.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

Skriðuklaustur is an old manor farm in the valley Fljótsdalur, in the east of Iceland, which was once a monastery from 1493 to 1552. In 1939, the writer Gunnar Gunnarsson bought the property and asked the German architect Fritz Höger to build a large house near the ruins of the cloister. When the writer moved to Reykjavík in 1948, he donated the house and land to the Icelandic nation. In 2000, the building became a cultural and historical centre open to visitors every summer.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The bizarre house of Icelandic film director, Hrafn Gunnlaugsson (located at Laugarnestangi 65, Reykjavík) is open for guided tours. With thirteen gates, this property is an array of strange works of art and sculptures made from metal, stones, rocks and recycled materials.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

Þorri is the Icelandic pagan name given to the fourth month (thirteenth week) of winter on the old Norse calendar. Þorrablót begins on a Friday between January 19th to February 25 and is a winter celebration in honour of Þór, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. The tradition faded when Iceland converted to Christianity around the year 1000, but then years later in 1873, Icelandic students living in Denmark revived this tradition, celebrating Þorri on January 24 in the Danish capital. The following year, Þorri was celebrated in Akureyri, North Iceland, then the rest of Iceland followed suit and ever since Þorri (Þorrablót) is celebrated annually all over Iceland.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

The first day of Þorri is called "Bóndadagur" or "the day of the peasant" dedicated to men. That day, women do something special for their husbands/boyfriends like offering gifts or bringing them out for a delicious breakfast. Þorri ends with Konudagur, "women's day", about a month after the start of Þorri when it's the men's turn to do something special for the ladies.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

The main celebration, known as the Þorrablót, "the Þorri festival" mostly involves eating traditional Icelandic food. On the dinner table during the festival, you can find everyday Icelandic food such as smoked or salted mutton, herring, rye bread and dried fish (harðfískur). But, there are also other foods served during Þorrablót that you'd rarely see on the typical Icelandic dinner table; once I ate at a farm where I was served sheep's head for lunch.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

At the Þorri festival, you'll find sheep head (SVID), block sheep's head (svíðasulta), shark gamy, stomach of mutton filled with blood (blóðmör), ram's testicles (hrútspungar) - or if you're extremely lucky, sour rams testicles (sour hrútspungar) yum yum!. The food is hearty and rich in protein! However, if nothing seems appetising, there are usually accompanying mashed turnips, and alcohol flows freely, including the famous "Black Death", Brennivín.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

If you get an invite to a Þorrablót party, and you don't speak Icelandic, no worries, one sentence will suffice: nei, takk ;) And if you feel adventurous about tasting Þorrablót and didn't get a Þorrablót party invitation, Icelandic traditional restaurants offer þorramatur. Besides, rumour has it this celebration was revived primarily through a greedy restaurateur.

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