Saturday, 26 November 2016

Skagafjörður and Sauðárkrókur

Skagafjörður is a fjord and bay in the north of Iceland, about 40 kilometers long and fifteen kilometers wide, located west of the peninsula Tröllaskagi. The entire region has 4,500 inhabitants, and it is one of the most prosperous places for agriculture in Iceland; mainly sheep and cattle farming, even though the bay is very well known for its horse breeding –you could say that it is the only municipality in Iceland where you find more horses than men. 

Skagafjörður and Sauðárkrókur

This is the perfect place to stay with local families and learn about the lifestyle of  today´s Icelandic farmers. Many young people come from abroad to stay for a few months and get experience working on an Icelandic farm.

Whether you enjoy rafting on the glacial rivers, spectating the magical northern lights, horse riding amongst breathtaking landscapes, relaxing in hot springs or going by helicopter to the top of the Tröllaskagi mountains and skiing, Skagafjörður offers a variety of activities for every season. 

Skagafjörður and Sauðárkrókur

Skagafjörður is also an area rich in history and many historic sites can be visited. Horse riding and rafting on the Jökulsá glacial river are two of most typical and unforgettable activities the region has to offer. If you are planning a trip, the website of the town is full of great holiday ideas and activities to suit a wide range of tastes.

There are currently more than 4,400 people living in the region, with the majority living in the town of Sauðárkrókur. Since the late nineteenth century the town has gradually grown to become a prosperous place where agriculture, fisheries, tourism and services unite to serve the 2,600 residents who live there and the thousands of visitors who come each year. 

In Sauðárkrókur you will find everything you need including supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses, museums, sports amenities, a hospital and a pool.

Skagafjörður and Sauðárkrókur

The museum of popular culture, Minjahúsið, which is also where you can find the tourist office, consists of four studios ,each providing some history and images from the city‘s past. The area is also one of the few places in Iceland where there have been sightings of polar bears. 

Since 1874, going to the theater is a popular activity in Sauðárkrókur, and locals gather regularly to attend performances, plays, dances or other cultural events related to this art. Sæluvika (Happy week) in Skagafjörður is a nationally regarded arts and culture festival with lots of history and tradition. Sæluvika occurs at the end of April /beginning of May, and the people of Skagafjörður offer a huge amount of cultural activities over the whole week. It is a good way to learn about Icelandic culture in a fun and entertaining way.

Skagafjörður and Sauðárkrókur


For breathtaking views of Sauðárkrókur and the Skagafjörður fjord, you can go to Nafir which are huge rocks that overlook the city. East of Sauðárkrókur, you will find the beach Borgarsandur that spans almost four kilometers, and to the south, on the shores of lakesand Áshildarholtsvatn and Miklavatn, you can admire the hundreds of birds that inhabit the area in summer.

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Húsavík at 66 Degrees North

Húsavik is a small town with 2500 inhabitants located in the north of Iceland. According to the “Book of Settlements”(Landnámabók), Húsavík was the first settlement in Iceland colonised by Scandinavia. This small town today lives mainly from tourism and fishing.

The wooden church of Húsavík is a little architectural gem from 1907. In winter, you can go skiing in Húsavík and also experience the Northern Lights. In any season, you can visit the museums in town, the most popular being the Whale Museum. There’s also the Museum of Exploration.

Húsavík at 66 Degrees North

The famous Icelandic Phallological Museum (a collection of more than two hundred penises from varies mammals) was born in Húsavík, then in the height of its popularity was transferred to Reykjavík in 2013. The Fjúk Art Centre offers exhibitions and artist residencies. Hotels, guesthouses, shops, cafes and restaurants scatter around the small town. Húsavík is neither large nor the most entertaining town in Iceland, but it is a rather charming little place and deserves to be known.

Húsivík town holds an annual festival called Mærudagar, on the last weekend of July; the city divides into three areas and each area with a different colour. The people take great pleasure in decorating their neighbourhood with flags, banners and balloons pink, green and orange. 

Húsavík at 66 Degrees North

It is a festival that brings together the people of Húsavík and  those who have connections there. One can enjoy a varied musical program, and other attractions take place near the port. In 2016, the festival will have its 22nd anniversary leaving the little town buzzing for days, like in the years before.

In Húsavík, best known as the European capital of whale watching,  you can whale watch from May to October, and take a boat starting from Húsavík where you can delightfully sail around the beautiful bay of Skjálfandi. There is so much to see! In particular,  you can observe Lundey Island (Puffin Island) where thousands of birds find refuge every summer.

Húsavík at 66 Degrees North

If you come from the east and Myvatn, Husavik can be reached on the road number 85, much of which is missing asphalt. If you arrive from the west and Akureyri, you will cross the valley to join Kaldakinn on road number 85. Just before reaching Húsavík town,  you will find a hot water bath installed by residents( initially built to relieve a skin infection).  Around Husavik, there are many fantastic places to visit: Myvatn, Asbyrgi, Dettifoss to name a few.

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Monday, 21 November 2016

Six waterfalls in southern Iceland

Gullfoss

Gullfoss, the golden waterfall, is without a doubt the most famous waterfall in Iceland. Located on the famous Golden Circle where you'll find Geysir and the Thingvellir National Park, these natural beauties are a must visit in the south of Iceland. The waterfall is 32 meters high, and the surrounding canyon reaches 70 meters high. Gullfoss waterfall is on the white river Hvítá, which is powered by the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjokull. 

Six waterfalls in southern Iceland

Besides it being a beautiful natural site, Gullfoss also has a troubled history. In the early twentieth century, English investors wanted to buy Gulfoss, which then belonged to the farmer Tómas Tómasson, for use in the production of electricity. The farmer refused to sell Gullfoss but instead decided to rent the waterfall; his daughter Sigridur who loved Gullfoss did everything to cancel this contract, even threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if investors began to build near Gullfoss infrastructure. After years of legal battles, the rental contract was canceled. Sigridur is considered Iceland's first environmentalist. Tómas's son became the owner of the waterfall and sold it to the Icelandic government. In 1979, the waterfall became a nature reserve.

Seljalandfoss

Seljalandsfoss is a very famous waterfall in Iceland, situated on the road between Selfoss town and the Skógafoss waterfall. This cascade, born on Seljalandsá river forms a fall of 60 meters. Seljalandfoss is well-known in Iceland for being a unique waterfall because you can walk behind it.  

Six waterfalls in southern Iceland

A little further west, you can admire the waterfall Gljúfrabúi, also known as Glúfrafoss. You can access it from the farm Hamragarðar that is accessible from the road.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss is a well-known frequently visited waterfall situated on the Skóga river. Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland with a drop of 60 meters and is 25 metres wide. 

Six waterfalls in southern Iceland

According to local legend, the first Viking, who settled in the area, Thrasi Thorolfsson, hid treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. Legend says that local landowners found the treasure chest a few years later, but unable to grasp the ring on the side to open it, the treasure chest eventually disappeared.

Svartifoss

The waterfall, known for its long basalt columns, is in the Vatnajökull National Park. To get to the "black waterfall", you have to walk for 45minutes on a  well-marked easy path and along the way, you will find benches to rest. The return hike back is a little quicker because the road is downhill. 

Six waterfalls in southern Iceland

In winter, expect more time and be careful because the path is very slippery; we highly recommend you use crampons.

Háifoss

Waterfall Háifoss, the second largest in Iceland, is located near the Hekla volcano in southern Iceland, on Route 32. At the river Fossa, there is a drop of 122 meters. You can hike starting from the historical farm Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng, and after a three-hour walk, you will find the waterfall along the river.

Six waterfalls in southern Iceland

Safety information for Icelandic waterfall lovers

The summer of 2015 has seen a rise in tourism in Iceland, and an increase in incidences involving visitors unaware of the dangers of getting too close to the edge of steep waterfalls. Yes! Icelandic nature is powerful and energetic, but also, let’s not forget to respect that it’s sometimes fragile too. There is still little infrastructure around the waterfall sites listed above. Pathways and fences are few, so please be careful! And remember! “no fence” is not an invitation to get as near as you wish. At Gullfoss, some pathways don't include chains and barriers preventing access to the most dangerous areas near the waterfall. Take in the lovely view of course… but don't let the view take you!

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Four museums in Reykjavik not to be missed

Ljósmyndlistasafnið Reykjavíkur

The Reykjavík Museum of Photography is located on the top floor of the Grófarhús  building on Tryggvagata, which is also home to the city‘s public library. Admission is free and it is open every day from 12.00 to 19.00 (18.00 on Friday) and on weekends from 13.00 -17.00.

Founded in 1981, the museum boasts a collection of more than six million photographs, with both Icelandic and international photography, amateur and professional. There you can find portraits, press photos, commercial photography, and the museum also keeps family photo albums and private collections. The collection dates back from 1860 to present day. Each year, the museum organizes about a dozen exhibitions on different themes.

Four museums in Reykjavik not to be missed


Árbærsafn

Árbærsafn is a historic outdoor museum located in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík. The museum is made up of over twenty buildings that form a central square, a village and farm and it  aims to show the Icelandic way of life at different times. It was erected on the site of the former Árbær farm in 1957.

From the 1st of  June to the 31st of August, the museum is open daily, from 10 am to 5pm. During the rest of the year, it is possible to arrange private visits by appointment or there is the option of taking part in a tour, that takes place at at 1pm everyday. Admission is 1,500 kroner (11 euros) per person and free for children under 18 years of age. There are  many events held here during the year, such as the days of crafts, the annual exhibition of old vehicles or the Christmas exhibition.


Four museums in Reykjavik not to be missed

In summer, do not be surprised to see sheep and goats wander the gardens of the museum. There is also a souvenir shop, a charming café (home of Dillon) and a library on the premises.

Listasafnið Reykjavíkur

The city of Reykjavík Art Museum is located in three different buildings, scattered around the capital. Hafnarhus is in the city center, Kjarvalsstadir is located in Klambratún and Asmundarsafn park. The museum displays the work of the three most famous artists of Iceland; painters Erró and Kjarval, and the sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson. 

Four museums in Reykjavik not to be missed

There are also regular exhibitions, usually lasting three or four months from Icelandic and international artists. In all, the museum has a collection of 17,000 works, and also hosts conferences and events regularly. The museum is open all year from 10.00 to 17.00, and the entry cost is 1500 Kronur.

Nýlistasafnið


The museum of the performing arts, more known as NYLO is an organization run by artists. Founded in 1978 by two local artists, Niels Hafstein and Magnús Pálsson, the museum was created to provide a space where artists could discuss Icelandic cultural policies. 

Four museums in Reykjavik not to be missed

For the past 35 years, NYLO has been offering a varied artistic and cultural program and often non-mainstream, which includes performance, video sessions, concerts, poetry evenings and theater. NYLO is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 12.00 (13.00 on the weekends) to 17.00 and the entrance is free.

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