Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Iceland Country Profile and FAQs

Iceland is a country that has appeared on many people’s radars in the last few years. Its success as a tourism destination has created a significant amount of interest in the country. Despite the exponential growth in visitors, many people still know relatively little about Iceland. With curiosity about the country increasing, we thought it would be nice to write an article addressing people's most frequently asked questions about the tiny Nordic nation.

Iceland FAQ - The most frequently asked questions

Quick Overview 

Capital: Reykjavik
Population: 337,780 (2018)
Language: Icelandic
Currency: Icelandic krona ($1 USD = 107 krona)
Nickname: The Land of Fire and Ice

Where is Iceland on the map? 

Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean just below (and in some parts, touching) the Arctic Circle. The island is located between Greenland and the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden. When looking at a map, it lies northwest of Scotland in the United Kingdom.

Iceland on the map

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

This is not a question with a completely straightforward answer. While the high season typically runs during June, July and August, things start moving around April and don’t really wind down until September or October. Yes, the weather is warmer in the summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only time to visit. And just to clarify, you cannot see the Northern Lights all year long (if you were planning your visit around that). Be sure to visit from mid-September to mid-March if you want to see the Aurora Borealis.

What are the top activities and things to do in Iceland? 

Iceland has a wide variety of things to do throughout the year and what you choose to do depends on the time of year you go. Popular activities during the colder, darker months of fall and winter include watching the Northern Lights and exploring the country’s glaciers. When things warm up, you can enjoy the Midnight Sun, go puffin watching or whale watching, and take part in the country’s many festivals. The country’s natural wonders are also a big draw, with waterfalls, volcanoes, geysers, natural parks, black sand beaches, hiking, geothermal hot springs, and much more on deck to keep you busy.

Hiking in a glacier cave in Iceland

Other Interesting Facts about Iceland

The country is very modern. Its capital, Reykjavik, runs entirely on geothermal power. Iceland is also very politically forward-thinking. The small Nordic island is home to the world’s oldest parliament and the world’s first directly democratically elected female president. Did you know Iceland was such a leader in politics? Lastly, Iceland has the world’s northernmost capital city, Reykjavik.

Now that you know a little bit more about Iceland, it's time to start planning your trip.

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Monday, 16 July 2018

What to Do in Reykjavik

Iceland’s capital city is a vibrant town with colorful houses and an even more exciting nightlife. But what is there to do in Reykjavík during the day? The vast majority of the island’s travelers fly into and out of Keflavík airport, so a stop in Reykjavík is pretty much mandatory during your trip to Iceland. Once you’ve figured out your accommodation and where you’re going to eat, it’s time to decide what to see and do. Here’s are some ideas for sightseeing in Reykjavík.

The Sun Voyager Statue in Reykjavik is a point of interest

Sun Voyager Statue 

This beautiful steel sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason sits on the water’s edge along one of Reykjavík’s waterfront paths. While the Sun Voyager resembles a Viking ship, it’s actually a tribute to the sun. The sculpture was created in 1990 and is an especially lovely place to photograph at sunset.

Hallgrímskirkja Church

This Lutheran parish is the largest church in the country and one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. Made out of concrete, the structure’s unique silhouette and architecture bear a striking resemblance to the outline of a pipe organ. This holy place is also home to The Klaisorgan, which is the largest concert organ in the country.

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik during Iceland's famous Midnight Sun

Laugavegur Street

Laugavegur is Reykjavík’s main shopping street as well as the epicenter of its famous nightlife. You’ll find many cool vintage boutiques, quirky shops and even bakeries (for that mid-shopping snack) along this popular thoroughfare. Discover Icelandic fashion between stops at noodle shops and bookstores.

Walk around to see the colorful houses

Iceland is known for its creativity and avant-garde style (think Björk). This is also evident in the colorful buildings and street art in Reykjavík. While the sky may sometimes get dreary, the facades of the building are anything but. With shades of vermillion, lemon and cerulean, Reykjavík’s houses and their cheery colors are something to appreciate during your time in the Icelandic capital.

Reykavik's Harpa Concert Hall at dusk is a popular sightseeing attraction

Harpa Music Hall

Reykjavík’s Harpa Music Hall serves double duty as both a concert hall and a conference center. Inaugurated in 2011, this beautiful glass building’s architecture was inspired by Iceland’s landscapes. The glass facade pays homage to the basalt columns in parts of the country like Reynisfjara peninsula near Vík's black sand beaches.

The Reykjavík Art Museum

This museum features modern and contemporary art from both Icelandic and international artists. Icelandic artists Erró, Kjarval and Ásmundur Sveinsson are frequently on display. The museum also takes pride in the number of cultural and educational activities that take place here. Throughout the year there are over 100 lectures, events, seminars, and more at the space.

What to Do in Reykjavik

Being in Iceland’s capital city will no doubt be one of the highlights of your trip. We want some of these sightseeing ideas will jumpstart your visit. Whether you are in town for a couple of days or a more extended stay, we hope our list of what to do in Reykjavik helps.

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Friday, 13 July 2018

Reykjavik's Best Craft Beer and Microbreweries

Did you know that beer was banned in Iceland until 1989? Strange but true. While many people couldn’t imagine daily or weekly life without these tasty drops, Icelanders had to do without for several decades. Well, they are making up for lost times. A healthy microbrewery culture has sprung up all around the island, and craft beers have become all the rage in Reykjavik. Let’s learn a little bit about these types of breweries and some of Reykjavik’s most popular spots.

Reykjavik's microbreweries and craft beer scene are extremely popular

The Growing Popularity of Microbreweries in Iceland

Craft beer is something that has been around for a long time and has experienced an explosion in popularity in the last five or six years. This trend has not missed Iceland, and you will find lots of microbreweries producing some really great Icelandic craft beer.

There are three craft beer bars in downtown Reykjavik that are sometimes referred to as the “Holy Trinity” for craft beer enthusiasts. These three establishments are MicroBar, Skúli Craftsbar, and Mikkeller & Friends.


This is one of the oldest and probably best-known craft beer bars in Reykjavik. It regularly tops the to-do list of anyone exploring the city’s famous nightlife. They offer a top-notch selection of bottled craft beer as well as beer on tap. Try the tasting tray to get a wide selection of what they have to offer. You can get beer from Gæðingur brewery here.

Reykjavik's microbreweries and craft beer scene are extremely popular

Skúli Craftsbar

If you’re looking to try beers from Iceland’s Borg brewery, then this is your place. Skúli Craftsbar is one the classier options for craft beer in Reykjavik. They offer a happy hour from 2pm to 7pm, it’s also a great place to start any night (or afternoon) out. Be sure to try the Bríó, which is a Pilsner, and the Úlfur, which is an Indian Pale Ale. Those looking for a little more adventure with their brew can ask for a Leifur (named after Leif Erikson). This pale ale has a unique touch due to the Arctic thyme they add during the brewing process.

Mikkeller & Friends

This Reykjavik favorite has a great ambience and unique decor. You’ll love spending your time at this local hangout where your biggest problem will be which fantastic beer to choose. While spending time exploring Iceland’s craft beer culture, you’ll definitely want to stop here to try the Sur Citra, made with citrus fruit peels.

Reykjavik's microbreweries have lots of different craft beer on tap

Bryggjan Brugghús

Another popular option on the microbrewery scene is Bryggjan Brugghús. This craft beer bar actually makes their own brews. They also make the experience complete with live music and great food. Additionally, they offer beer tours and beer tastings. Come to visit Reykjavik’s newest microbar and you won’t regret it.

You’re sure to love the Icelandic capital's microbrewery culture and the fantastic selection of craft beers. Let us know your favorites!

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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Iceland’s August Festivals and Celebrations

Summer is chock-full of events and festivals. It is a time to unwind and enjoy the weather, especially in Iceland. During the summer we are inundated with sunlight (more than almost anywhere else) and try and to take full advantage of it. This summer there is a whole host of fun activities and festivals happening all across Iceland. These can range from one-day events to 3-day camping festivals. Here is a quick sneak peek at the festivals and events in Iceland during August.

View of Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall during August in Iceland

Merchant's Day Festivals

On the first Monday in August, Icelandic communities celebrate and enjoy Merchant’s Day. This holiday is equivalent to a bank holiday, and we tend to enjoy it to the fullest. The weekend before Merchant’s Day is crazy. Every community has their own festivities, and the biggest ones are able to draw in thousands of visitors. The most popular of these festivals are Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival in the Westman Islands, the Innipúkinn Festival in Reykjavik, and the Neistaflug ('Flying Sparks') festival in Neskaupstadur.

Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival in the Westman Islands

The Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival is one of the largest and most popular festivals in Iceland. Each year, the population of the Westman Islands quadruples in size for three days, and thousands enjoy live music, beer, and nature to the fullest. The festival was initially a family festival that began in the late 1800s, and since then it has evolved into another beast entirely. The festival has left its humble roots and is much more of an adult festival. The music has changed as well. Some of Iceland's most popular acts make their way through this venue, and at this point, it is almost a rite of passage. The festival culminates in a massive fireworks display with the festival goers joining in unison to sing along.

Summer fireworks display at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in August

The Innipúkinn Festival in Reykjavík 

The Innipúkinn Festival is held yearly in Reykjavik, and like the Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival, it attracts the best musicians from across Iceland. This festival differs from its Westman Islands' cousin in that it is not a camping festival. This is a relief for any would-be germaphobes or those of you who can’t live without wifi. The festival is sure to be a good time as it always has incredible acts and events to celebrate Merchant’s Day.

Neistaflug ('Flying Sparks') Festival in Neskaupstadur

This festival is celebrated in the same vein as the Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival because it started around the same time and it was initially a family festival. This is still very much a family festival, and the lineup of music is filled with burgeoning Icelandic musicians. Not much information has been released yet, but it definitely will be a spectacle.

Other Festivals in Iceland in August 

Music festivals aside, there are many different events and festivals taking place in Iceland during August. Every year, Iceland has its Gay Pride Festival in Reykjavik. The turnout is in the thousands, and it is a fun, friendly festival where every race, gender, and creed come together in solidarity for the LGBT community. It is an event that highlights the year.

On August 11th there will also be the annual fireworks show at Jökulsárlón. This is sure to illuminate your life because the massive fireworks display contrasts the icy blue glaciers surrounding the lake. It is one of the most spectacular events of the year.

Gay Pride Festival in August in Reykjavik

Lastly, is the yearly Fish Festival in Dalvík. The 10th through the 12th of August will be the yummiest event of the year. Every August the families of Davík prepare fish and different local foods to bring to the town festival. The best part is that its free for everyone! If you are in the area and hungry, make sure you stop in!

Events and Festivals in Iceland During August

No matter what festival you choose to go to this August in Iceland, remember to have fun. August means the end of summer and the beginning of fall. For a lot of Iceland, this time signals the last time the weather will be decent till next spring. If you are in Iceland during August remember to investigate the festivals taking place in the towns you are visiting, because there are sure to be a few!

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Sustainable Tourism in Iceland

Tourism is the economic lifeblood for many countries around the world, and Iceland is no exception. With the massive influx of tourists growing each year, now more than ever it is paramount that tourists practice sustainable tourism in Iceland. The topic of sustainable tourism may sound a bit bland or dry at first glance. In fact, it is a fascinating practice which more people should implement in their daily lives. Sustainable tourism at its very core has three driving principles: leaving a place in better condition than when you arrived, driving profits generated from tourism back into preserving the environment and making sure that tourists not only indulge in novelty but also learn while appreciating the culture that they are visiting.

Sustainable tourism in Iceland means respecting plants and wildlife

The idea may be relatively new, but it is now more critical than ever that tourists adopt this new maxim surrounding travel. As the planet faces new environmental challenges, so too must we rise to the occasion and overcome them. Iceland is especially unique given its proximity to the Arctic Circle. The drastic rise of seawater can be seen no more apparent than throughout Iceland’s famous glacial fjords. They have seen a steady decline in their frozen structures, while simultaneously the oceans have risen.

The Future and Sustainable Tourism in Iceland

The warming of the planet is playing a massive role in changing Iceland’s culture and economy. Much of the country's economic strength is driven by both tourism and the fishing industry. It has a cyclical effect when tourism moves from the tourism mentioned above to mass tourism. Mass tourism is when people come to a new destination with no background on the culture, history, or environment, and only come to sightsee. While other cities and countries can get away with this, it is in Iceland’s best interest to promote sustainable tourism as much as possible. The effects caused by mass tourism are felt in real time here.

The future isn’t as dull and grim as I am making it out to be. Here, in Iceland, we are adopting the sustainable tourism method to ensure that the future generation of travelers and tourists can experience the wonder and majesty that is Iceland’s untouched landscapes. You don’t need to have a degree in environmental studies or sociology to practice sustainable tourism. Here are some quick tips to help you keep Iceland beautiful for both residents and visitors alike.

Research your Iceland trip before you go to learn about sustainable tourism

Do Research About Iceland Before Your Trip

Sustainable tourism is not only about keeping the environment intact, but also respecting the culture which you are visiting. The responsibility doesn’t fall solely on the traveler, and the host community must also be accepting and welcoming. This tacit agreement is unspoken and generally regarded as standard practice no matter where you travel. But, to get a sense of the culture, you are going to have to do a little research. Learning about a place before your visit shouldn’t feel like homework. Instead, it should get you excited for your trip!

Respect the Rules of the Country's Parks

I am a firm believer that rules are meant to be broken, except when it comes to the environment. The environment is too precious and fragile to break any rules with. It seems that we, as humans, have been breaking the rules for a while with regards to the environment. It is proving to have catastrophic ramifications. If the park signs say, “Don’t feed the animals,” please don’t feed the animals. Whatever the rule is, make sure to follow it. They are there for a reason. So try to be respectful and be a considerate, conscientious traveler.

Follow the rules in Thingvellier National Park

Waste Consciousness

My father used to say during a hiking or camping trip, “leave it better than you found it.” I never knew it until recently, but he was teaching me about sustainable tourism. This should be a no-brainer, yet some people completely disregard the environment and leave a mess after they are done enjoying it. Be aware of the things you bring in with you, and what you are leaving behind. Unless it is in your stomach or on your person, you should aim to take everything that you brought into an environmental area out with you. It is common sense, but you would be surprised how many people cannot follow this simple rule.

Final Thoughts on Sustainable Tourism in Iceland

Listed above are some easy and simple ways to make sure that you are the best tourist you can be during your trip to Iceland. These guidelines shouldn’t be exclusively practiced in Iceland. No matter where you go, whether it be travel or the daily commute, you should try to be respectful and aware of the effect you may have on your surroundings. Iceland is a prime example of a country whose future and livelihood depend on the willingness of its visitors to adopt sustainable tourism. This type of tourism is integral to ensuring the survival of our very fragile, magnificent planet. Remember: be aware of your actions, be mindful of the culture that you are visiting, and follow the rules. If you complete these three simple steps, you are on your way to becoming a model tourist!

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Friday, 6 July 2018

Iceland in Summer

Summer is a great time to visit Iceland. The country has shaken off the cold of winter and now the whole island comes alive. From hiking and other outdoor activities to summer festivals and the Midnight Sun, let’s talk about why summer is the best time of year to visit Iceland. If you come to the small Nordic island during the months of June, July or August you will surely not be disappointed.

Seljalandfoss in the distance with yellow wildflowers during Iceland in the summer

But first, let’s talk a little bit about the weather in Iceland during the summer months. When most people think of summer, they picture sweltering heat, tank tops, flip-flops, and swimming pools where they can take a dip to cool off. While these images are lovely, they don’t exactly convey the reality of Icelandic weather. Summer temperatures in Iceland have been known to reach a high of around 15 °C (59 °F), not exactly a heat wave. And because the weather is so unpredictable in Iceland, there have even been snowstorms in June! So make sure you pack the right clothes for your trip to Iceland.

Now that you’ve been warned about Icelandic weather, let’s take a look at some of the fun things you can do on the island during the summer months.

Summer Festivals in Iceland

A complete list of festivals and activities throughout the year can be found here on the official Iceland tourism website. It’s organized by month and each event has a short description and lists the website if you’d like to learn more.

Whale Watching and Puffin Watching 

Iceland is fortunate to be home to many different species of animals that you won’t find in many places. Booking excursions to view some of the islands flora and fauna in their natural habitat is a popular activity. Whether hopping on a boat to go whale watching or seeing the famous Icelandic puffins return home to form colonies and mate, animal lovers have a lot of options in Iceland.

Whale breaching off the coast of Húsavik in the summer

Hiking Landmannalaugar and other parts of the country 

Iceland’s famous Laugavegur Trail takes hikers from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk and back. You’ll see rolling green hills, colorful volcanic rock and black lava fields along this diverse route. For the especially adventurous, there are races through the countryside. Sign up for the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon if you'd like to join your fellow runners in taking on the Icelandic landscapes.

Visit Iceland’s Highlands 

During most of the year, the roads that access the inner parts of the country (F-Roads) are closed. They open up around the 2nd or 3rd week of June and provide an extra layer of adventure to your travels in Iceland. Please note, in order to drive on F-Roads and access Iceland’s Highlands, a 4x4 vehicle is mandatory.

Blahver at Hveravellir in Iceland's Highlands during the summer

Take a dip in one of the country’s many geothermal baths

While you can do this year round, it’s definitely easier to run around in your swimsuit when temperatures aren’t below freezing. And because the daylight hours are longer in summer, that gives you more time to spend at those roadside hot pots or geothermal hot springs you find along the way.

Whichever option you decide to choose, know that Iceland in the summer is when the country is at its best. You’ll find friendly people, lots of activities, and you are sure to have a good time. Tell us about your adventures and let us know your favorite things to do in Iceland during the summer.

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

History of the Icelandic Language

We’ll be the first ones to admit it. The Icelandic language is not one of the bigger, more popular languages like English, Spanish or French. Many language learning apps like Babbel and Duolingo don’t even offer it (but Mango Languages does!). With many people not knowing where Iceland is, and even fewer knowing what language they speak in Iceland, this comes as no surprise.

Language books for learning English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese

With a population of just under 340,000, Iceland is a small country, so we completely get the lack of demand for Icelandic language classes. That being said, Icelandic is just like the Nordic island itself: small but mighty! The common tongue has a fascinating history. Did you know that Icelandic children can read the old Viking Sagas in their original Old Norse? How cool is that? Let’s learn more about the history of the Icelandic language and its origins.

Anyone who has heard or read Icelandic can attest that it looks like some sort of Germanic language. They are absolutely right. Modern Icelandic descends from the North Germanic/Scandinavian branch of proto-Germanic, a language spoken as early as 500 BC. Eventually, this branch evolved into dialects like proto-Norse. Proto-Norse slowly became Old Norse, which was the language spoken by the Vikings around 800 AD.

Viking ships sailing to settle Iceland

So what does all of this have to do with Iceland? Well as everyone knows, Vikings were active in modern-day Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In the late 9th century, Vikings began to settle in Iceland. They brought with them their customs, their culture, and yes, their language. The Icelandic spoken by people in Iceland today derives directly from Old Norse, as do fellow Scandinavian languages Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Faroese. But there’s something about Icelandic that gives in an extra special place among its Scandinavian linguistic brethren.

What makes the Icelandic language special

Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean situated just below the Arctic Circle. When you look at Iceland on a map, it seems pretty lonely. But this isolation did have a linguistic benefit. Iceland’s location prevented its language from being too diluted or influenced by languages of nearby countries. As a result, Icelandic is the North Germanic language that most closely resembles the Old Norse spoken over a thousand years ago. The Viking Sagas and Eddas written around 800 years ago can still be read today because the language really has not changed that much. Not even English can say that!

Viking Sagas and Eddas written in Old Norse

The Icelandic Alphabet

Additionally, due to the language having its roots in Old Norse, the Icelandic alphabet has some characters that do not exist in the traditional Roman alphabet. Some letters that are not derived from Latin script are edh (Ð), thor (Þ) and ash (Æ). Don’t let these unfamiliar letters and spellings scare you though. Edh and thor are similar to the two ways of pronouncing TH in English (words like “this” or “thin”). Now that you are a linguistics expert, you can go out and spread the word. In Iceland they speak Icelandic, the cool language inherited from the Vikings.

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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Driving in Iceland - How long does it take to get to the country's main attractions?

When planning a road trip to Iceland, you might find yourself looking at the Ring Road or Iceland’s attractions on a map and wondering exactly how long it will take to get to each place. Whether planning your itinerary for five days, seven days or more, it’s smart to ask yourself this, despite the fact that Google Maps already tells you approximate times and distances. The reason is that depending on the weather and season, the drive from Reykjavik to Vatnajökull can take as little as four hours or as many as seven. Crazy, right? But with the constantly changing weather, road conditions in Iceland are completely unpredictable, so it’s best to have a general idea. Don’t worry, your favorite Iceland travel blog is here to help. We’re going to tell you how long it takes to drive around Iceland as well as the times and distances between Iceland’s must-sees.

View from car of Iceland's Ring Road with mountains in the distance

So let’s get right to it! What are Iceland’s most famous place to visit and how long does it take to drive to them? We’re going to assume that you’re coming from Reykjavik since that is where the majority of our visitors fly into.

Driving Around Iceland’s Ring Road

First and foremost, let’s talk about Iceland’s Ring Road. The circular route measures 1,332 km (828 mi) and if you drive around it without making any stops, it will take you at least 12-13 hours (assuming a speed of around 100km per hour). You didn’t come to Iceland to spend the whole time driving in a circle though, so of course, you’re not just going to see how quickly you can complete the Ring Road. It’s not a race! There will be stops along the way to visit national parks, snap photos of waterfalls, and take a dip in roadside hot pots and hot springs. You also have to plan for inclement weather and other unexpected surprises such as sheep blocking your way, so we think 16-18 hours is a much more realistic estimate for driving around Iceland’s Ring Road.

Driving to the Blue Lagoon

This turquoise blue wonder, with its healing, silica-infused waters lies 50km (31mi) southeast of Reykjavik. It takes about 40 minutes to drive there but in the winter or in unpredictable weather, allow yourself 50 minutes.

Volcanic rocks, walkway and bathers at Iceland's Blue Lagoon

Driving to Golden Circle

The Golden Circle isn’t actually a destination but rather a collection of three different places of interest. If you look at the Golden Circle on a map, you’ll see it’s not a circle at all! If you drive the route in a straight line, you come to Thingvellir National Park after about an hour. Continue and you’ll reach Geysir after another 40 minutes. 10-15 minutes further up the road from Geysir is Gullfoss waterfall. The total distance is 109km (68mi). But driving back the way you came would be boring, right?

What gives the Golden Circle its “circular” name is that most people swing by Hveragerdi and Reykjadalur hot spring area on their way back to Reykjavik. The geothermal zone is located about 40 minutes from Iceland’s capital city. In total, it takes about 3.5 to four hours to complete the Golden Circle in the summer and around 5 in the winter. This obviously doesn’t include the time you stop in each location.

Driving Times to Iceland’s Major Attractions on Iceland’s South Coast

While not everyone has time to drive around the entire island, most visitors to Iceland do take time to explore the country’s south coast. This route takes you from Reykjavik all the way to Vatnajökull National Park. The park is also home to the breathtaking Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The southern coast of Iceland is home to some of the country’s most iconic attractions, including Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the black sand, volcanic beaches of Vík.

Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss

It takes about 1.5 - 2 hours to drive to the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall from Reykjavik. You may also want to go further along the route to take in Skógafoss waterfall which is about an extra half hour away. Seljalandsfoss is 121km (75mi) from the capital and visiting Skógafoss adds another 29 km (18 mi) to your trip. It’s possible to do both on a day trip from Reykjavik.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall at sunset

Driving from Reykjavik to Vík

The 179km (111 mi) journey from Reykjavik to Vik takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. During the winter give yourself an extra hour. You may want to take even longer, as both Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls are on the way from Reykjavík to Vík. They definitely warrant a stop on your Icelandic itinerary and if you’ve got the time, why not?

Driving from Reykjavik to Vatnajökull 

Vatnajökull National Park is huge, so the driving times we state are to get to the edges of the park. Should you decide to drive directly to Vatnajökull from Reykjavik without stopping at Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss or Vík it will take 4-6 hours to make the 322km (200mi) drive. In the winter when conditions are worse, give yourself 5-7 hours. We realize two hours is quite a margin of difference, but because of how long the road is and factors like how often you prefer to stop and for how long. We don’t want to tell you 4-5 hours when really it will take 6-7 depending on the circumstances. It’s up to you, the weather, and the sheep.

Other trips from Reykjavik 

North of Iceland's capital lies Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which makes for a great Reykjavik day trip. At 150km (93 mi), it takes about three hours in the summer but in the winter give yourself three and a half. This little corner of the country has been described as the best of Iceland. You’ve got a volcano, a glacier, lava fields, and even a black pebble beach. It’s a veritable microcosm of everything the small Nordic nation has to offer.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Vikings in Iceland - Their History and Culture

We all have heard about Vikings. Thousands of legends and myths tell stories about the feared men from the North. From frightening stories about how vicious they were to how they were able to tame the seas while looking for new land. Many of these stories are true, but not all of them. Do you want to learn about the people that colonized Iceland? Then stick around because we are about to get historical up in here!

History teacher with books about Vikings

Where do Vikings originally come from?

Vikings came from the cold northern European region of Scandinavia. Even though nowadays we think of them as a whole, Viking tribes came from three different large territories. These were Denmark, Norway and Sweden; the Danish group being the largest one. Even though they had the same language and religion, their interests were a bit different.

The Danish tended to look for spoils in foreign lands, the Norwegians liked to find new places to live and the Swedes preferred exploring Russia and Western Europe. The word “Viking” in our modern language seems to derive from the old Scandinavian word “Vikingr,” and it described anyone who leaves their homeland in search of new lands and wealth. The verb “víking” means to travel or be a part of those adventures. To a certain extent, the word can also mean “pirate.” Modern Icelandic is something else inherited from the Vikings, but more on that later.

What did Vikings look like?

The image we have in our minds of Vikings is of tall, strong, blond people with horned helmets, long beards and menacing looks. Historians have already confirmed the horned helmet story is not true. It was a slanderous legend to depict them as demons and savage people.

Pillaging, vicious wildmen are what we associate with the Vikings

As far as looks are concerned, Vikings did have quite fair complexions, but there was some diversity. Not every Viking was blond-haired and blue-eyed. There were also Vikings with fair skin and dark hair. There were even a few redheads. Many people would be surprised to know that the average height of Vikings in the Middle Ages was 1.7 meters for men and 1.58 for women. This translates to roughly 5 foot 8 for men and 5 foot 2 for women. By today’s standards, this is not exactly tall, but back in the olden days, they were approximately 10 centimeters (4 inches) taller than their European neighbors.

What was Viking culture like?

The legacy of the Vikings continues to this day. They created an alphabet called “runes,” and they used it to described their world and their customs.

Before converting to Christianity, Vikings were pagan and had a large pantheon where the main god was Odin. They had two main groups of gods: The Vanir and the Aesir. Odin, Thor and Freyja belong to the Aesir and dwell in the Asgard, a place connected to earth. Most of the mythology and legends about gods, trolls, elves and magical creatures remains within Scandinavian countries. Vikings spoke old Norse and as they colonized other lands, new dialects were created. These dialects evolved into the modern languages we know today: Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese. From all of these languages, Icelandic is the one that remains closest to the original old Norse. But why? Well, let’s find out!

Scandinavian runes. Icelandic descended from Old Norse.

Vikings Settlements in Iceland 

The Vikings started their settlement of Iceland around the 874 AD. They discovered the island by mistake while trying to navigate to Scotland and the Faroese Islands. The Nordic island was then a migration point for thousands of Vikings, most of whom came from Norway with their slaves from Ireland and Scotland.

As Iceland is a remote island in the North Atlantic Ocean, the settled area remained isolated for thousands of years. Old Norse evolved into Icelandic, but due to the aforementioned isolation, Icelandic does not have a heavy influence from other foreign languages and remains close to its original roots. Nowadays, even Icelandic children can read the old Nordic sagas in their original language and can understand them. Amazing, right?

So now you know. Stop wearing those horned helmets on Halloween or Mardi Gras if you want to be historically accurate. Now that you are an expert on Vikings you'll need to live up to your title.

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Monday, 2 July 2018

Is Iceland a part of Scandinavia?

When we think about Iceland, many nicknames and thoughts come to our minds. Most people think about Vikings, fire, ice, volcanos and huge icebergs. But the “Scandinavian country” tag also comes up constantly. The thing is, do we really know what Scandinavian means or even implies? Why is Iceland a Scandinavian country? Most of us have a clear idea of what Scandinavia is supposed to be: Fjords, snow, Vikings, really fair people, heavy metal, Sauna, horses with a Justin Bieber-like bangs, Ikea, Santa’s homeland…etc. But the truth is not all of this stuff is from Scandinavia. Today we will try to clarify what Iceland and Scandinavia are.

Icelandic and Scandinavian Flags

Where exactly are the borders of Scandinavia? 

Scandinavia is a term that encompasses an area with common geography, cultural and linguistic background. In the strictest geographical sense, Scandinavia is only three countries (or to be precise, three kingdoms): Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The term is sometimes confusing as these nations received their nickname from the peninsula where they are located. Well, sort of. The Scandinavian peninsula lies between the northern Baltic Sea and the Norwegian Sea in northeast Europe. This region includes Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Finland but not Denmark. If that was not confusing enough, Russia and Finland are not Scandinavian countries though they are on the Scandinavian peninsula. That doesn't help clear up the confusion at all, does it?

As you can see, we cannot merely rely on the geographical limits as they do not coincide with the countries considered Scandinavian. So we need to add the cultural and linguistic angle to understand what Scandinavia really is.

Norwegian fjord with cruise

Cultural and linguistic background of Iceland and Scandinavia 

It seems that the word Scandinavian originated in the old Roman empire. Romans believed that the land up north Germany was an island and they called it Scania. Nowadays we know that Scania is not an island but Skåne, the southernmost tip of Sweden. The name slowly spread to the whole peninsula, but how come it ended up being a nickname for a few countries?

Scandinavian countries have ethnicity, language and culture in common. Countries considered Scandinavian come from a common Viking past. Norway, Sweden and Denmark where the home of the Vikings, who shared the same religion and language. Even though old Norse evolved into different modern languages, the common root is still there. That is why Russia and Finland are not considered Scandinavian even though they are a part of the Scandinavian peninsula.

The Russian population is Slavic, and their language is an eastern Slavic one. In the case of Finland, their common tongue comes from the Uralic family, and they have a Finnic ethnicity that originated in the Baltic Sea. That is why they do not fall into the Scandinavian group. On the contrary, Denmark is not in the Scandinavian peninsula, but their people descend from the Vikings, and the Danish language is a North Germanic one that derived from old Norse. Now it finally makes sense!

Scandinavian Viking Ship

Where does Iceland fit into Scandinavia?

We have mentioned Norway, Sweden and Denmark but what about Iceland? Well as you should already know by now, Iceland is not in the Scandinavian peninsula. It is an island up in the North Atlantic Ocean, close to the North Pole. In the less strict sense of the definition of Scandinavia, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are part of the Scandinavian group.

Why is that? Well, these nations were colonized by Vikings that came all the way from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The language of both islands as well as their culture derived from the original Scandinavian nations. Both Islands have also been under the rule of the Norwegian and the Danish kingdoms so technically they share the same cultural and linguistic background that grants them access to this cool club.

Now that you know, you can forget about saunas, heavy metal and Santa’s house. Those aren't Scandinavian! But you can still thank the Finnish for giving Santa a place he can call home, of course. On the other hand, horses with fashionista bangs are from Iceland. You were right on that one!

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Friday, 29 June 2018

Do Icelanders Really Believe in Elves?

Have you ever heard the term “Huldufólk”? In Icelandic, it roughly translates to “hidden people”. Huldu relates to secrecy or things that are hidden and fólk are people. While you may not be familiar with this term, you most definitely heard another word for Huldufólk: elves. One of the questions we get most frequently from disbelieving tourists is if Icelanders really believe in elves. In short, yes. We’ll get into the specifics in a bit but the answer is a bit more nuanced. Let’s dig a little deeper into the story of Iceland’s elves and exactly what percentage of the population believes in their existence.

Do Icelanders really believe in elves like this one?

The origin of elves in Iceland dates back centuries. They have always been a part of Icelandic folklore and we Icelanders cherish our tales and stories. Our connection to the natural environment has let our imaginations run wild and like many cultures throughout history, we come up with our own interpretations to explain the world around us. Ancient Greeks believed lightning was caused by Zeus throwing his thunderbolts and Germans have wizards in the Black Forest and singing nymphs called Lorelei along the Rhine, so are elves really that far off the mark?

Stories of elves have been passed down orally for generations. The mythical creatures live in hidden dwellings and they often served as fables or warnings to children so that they did not end up as cautionary tales. Like everything our parents told us, we believe these stories for a long time. The warnings were a way to protect children from wandering too far, as many times the hidden people lived in dangerous places like lava fields or places with sharp rocks and crevices. It also taught us to respect the raw power of nature. And in a country filled with harsh elements such as glaciers, volcanoes and earthquakes, it’s no wonder these myths have sprung up.

Icelanders believe elves live in natural places like these lava fields

While you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Icelander who will tell you “Yes, I believe in elves! I saw one last week at Hellisgerdi Park!” the polls tell a different story. Hellisgerdi Park, by the way, is rumored to be the home of one of Iceland’s largest elf colonies. When Icelanders were asked if they believed in the existence of elves with a simple yes or no, many said no. But when given the option of “definitely”, “probably” or “possibly”, pollsters received far more yes answers than no. According to a 1998 survey, around 54.4% of those surveyed said they believed in at least the possibility that elves existed.

So what do you think? Is it possible that elves really do exist in Iceland? Or is half the country just off its rocker? Would you be interested in taking an elf-hunting excursion? Not real hunting of course, only elf-spotting. We are very peaceful in Iceland and respect all creatures, even ones that may or may not exist. But you never know. As many Icelanders say, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so who are we to say elves don't exist?

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Thursday, 28 June 2018

Tech For Travelers: Make Your Trips Less Stressful With These Gadgets

Welcome to the 21st century, everyone. We've got phones we can talk to, drones delivering pizzas and even self-driving cars cruising our neighborhoods snapping pics of unsuspecting pedestrians for Google Maps. All of this technology and more seems to have made our lives easier. But what about when traveling? No app is going to prevent the person in front of us on the plane from leaning their seat back or stop that child from whining back in row 18. That being said, there are some gadgets that can help to make our travels less stressful. Let's look at some tech for travelers.

Portable USB and power chargers are useful tech for travelers

High-Tech Travel Solutions 

Smart Luggage 

We've got everything from smartphones and smartwatches to smart refrigerators and even smart water, so you knew smart luggage was just around the corner. While smart luggage may not be quite as impressive as Apple's iPhone, it definitely has some extras that can make your travels go more smoothly. Smart luggage usually has some sort of charger for your phone built in as well as location tracking. They also frequently come with the ability to weigh your suitcase. This comes in especially handy for those like myself who tend to overpack and are pushing the edge with those weight limits.

DIY Smart Luggage 

But of course, all of these bells and whistles come with a price. Like any technological upgrade, the more you receive, the more expensive it gets. Suitcases are no different. And if one or all of the components breaks, you're back to square one. An alternative to smart luggage that many travelers choose is simply buy the elements separately and save their pennies in the process. There's also confusion about security screening processes at the airport because of the lithium-ion batteries many of these smart bags contain. You might save yourself a headache, and some money, by purchasing a USB battery pack, a small USB travel scale and a Bluetooth tracker. The tracker will link to an app that you download to your phone. With a do-it-yourself smart bag, you’ve got the same tech with less hassle.

Smart luggage in an airport

Portable Power Sources 

In addition to charging your phone, you'll most likely want to charge other devices as well. This is where portable a power source comes in. You can use an external battery pack to charge your electronics. Like most savvy travelers, you probably have several devices and corresponding adapters. This presents a problem when you are staying at lodging that has a limited amount of outlets, or you are sharing your space with someone else. To solve the issue, why not bring a portable surge protector to increase the number of outlets you have at your disposal? Some portable power outlets even come equipped with USB ports.

Block Out the Noise 

Whoever said bring in the noise bring in the funk clearly was not talking about sleeping in a hotel room or being at a noisy airport. For many, silence is a sanctuary. But it doesn't always come free or even cheap. If you have trouble falling asleep in new or semi-loud environments, it could be wise to invest in a small white noise machine or download an app to your phone. Noise canceling headphones could also be useful when trying to watch your favorite Netflix shows on the plane or while waiting to board your delayed flight. They help drown out sounds like engines, crying babies or those people behind you having a loud conversation.

Low-Tech Travel Solutions 

Earplugs, Sleep Mask, Neck Pillow 

I can't tell you how many times having one or all of these items on my travels has helped me immensely and saved my sanity. Whether traveling by plane or bus, being able to shut the world out and fall asleep will go a long way towards making sure that you are well rested when you arrive at your destination. Additionally, when staying at an Airbnb or other unknown entity, you never know what external circumstances will be like. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your sleep. Nobody wants to be grumpy the next day because they were in a bright room with noisy neighbors.

Man sleeping with sleep mask

Packing Cubes 

These little miracles are so handy; I don't know how we got along without them. There's nothing worse than rifling through your bag to find something and then having your clothes strewn everywhere. You have to repack your bag every single time rather than taking out only what you need. Packing cubes solve this problem by keeping everything separated, in their spot and easy to put back. Buy them if you haven't already.

Whether you decide to purchase a state-of-the-art pair of noise-canceling headphones or simply invest in a good pair of earplugs, we hope these suggestions of old and new technology will help you have a pleasant journey. Have a great trip!

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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Vatnajökull National Park: Home to Iceland’s Colossus of Ice

Iceland's beauty is vast and well-known. The land offers views that no one can find anywhere else on planet earth. Some spots even look like places we've only seen in outer space. The immensity of Iceland’s splendor is best on display at Vatnajökull National Park, a goliath of ice that has remained undisturbed for centuries. Welcome to the icy side of the Land of Fire and Ice.

Vatnajökull National Park's glacier and mountains

Vatnajökull National Park - A Bit of History 

The park lies on the eastern side of the island. It is so vast that it covers around 14% of Iceland’s territory. Vatnajökull is currently the second largest national park in Europe. Here, you can enjoy different types of landscapes and experience the force of rivers, geothermal activity and even volcanoes. The national park was established in 2008 as a method of protection of flora and fauna of this area. The park was divided into four different regions, each with their own management.

The park is named after Vatnajökull, an impressive glacier that takes up most of the park area. The glacier began its formation in the Ice age, around 3,000 years ago. It used to be even bigger, but it has since retreated to its current size.

As mentioned before, Iceland’s nickname is the Land of Fire and Ice, and by visiting Vatnajökull National Park, we understand why. Right below this behemoth of ice, there are a few active volcanoes: Esjufjöll, Grímsvötn, Kverkfjöll, Þórðarhyrna and Bárðarbunga. This last one erupted back in 2014. So the contrast of the white, spotless snow with the dark lava below is just stunning.

Skaftafell glacier in Iceland's Vatnajökull National Park

What to Visit at Iceland's Vatnajökull National Park

Being one of the largest national parks in Europe has a lot of advantages. One of them is the variety of the activities offered as well as the scenery. It is also home of the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

On the north side of the park, you can visit the famous Askja Caldera. The access to this area is quite complicated. So if you do not have enough experience with fording rivers and tough terrains, it's better to join a group excursion. Many companies offer daily tours with expert guides to the area. Close to Askja, you can also visit Viti crater. This crater has now become a bathing resort. Doesn't swimming inside a volcanic crater in geothermally heated water sound cool?

When heading eastwards, you can detour to Kringilsárrani. Here you will see the reindeers grazing freely. If you prefer a more adventurous activity, then why not visit an ice cave? You can do so at Eyjabakkajökull glacier. The caves are impressive and striking. You will be in awe while descending to the depths of the glacier through these ice tunnels.

If you are looking for hiking areas, then head south. Stafafellsfjöll mountain ridge offers great trails through the canyon. Öræfajökull volcano lies in this same area. It's the largest active volcano in Iceland.

The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is located in the southeast of Vatnajökull National Park

West Vatnajökull National Park has beautiful and otherworldly lava fields as well as famous craters such as Lakagígar. These natural wonders are the result of several eruptions of the Grímsvötn, the most active volcano in the island.

How to Reach Vatnajökull National Park

The park can be easily reached by taking route number 1. You can use a 2WD vehicle unless you take an F-Road. 4x4 vehicles are mandatory in Iceland when driving the inland F-Roads. How long the drive takes highly depends on which part of the park you are visiting. To get a rough idea, it takes 4-5 hours to get to Jökulsárlón from Reykjavik. The glacier lagoon is in the southeast region of the national park.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Explore Iceland in a Campervan or Motorhome This Summer

The great outdoors have attracted thrill seekers and adventurers since the beginning of time. As we have become more advanced so too has the camping experience. No longer are we stuck lugging around awkwardly shaped tent poles and backpacks bursting at the seams with equipment. This problem often plagues those who go backpacking or camping, especially in Iceland. The weather can turn in an instant, and being stuck outside in the rain while setting up a tent is nothing short of a nightmare. The modern outdoor enthusiast can choose a more straightforward route: an RV.

Dashboard of a motorhome rental in Iceland

Renting an RV to explore Iceland has never been easier. Besides offering a slew of creature comforts, they also provide a way to plan a highly customizable trip. Signing up for a shuttled tour is great if you are limited on both time and money. The drawback of this is that you are beholden to their schedule, their destinations, and the other tourists. Go off the beaten path and plan an adventure in Iceland that you will never forget.

Before we go any further, there are some important distinctions about RVs that need to be made. The first image that is conjured in most of our minds when we see or hear RV is a motorhome. Motorhomes are the largest and the most luxurious of RVs (recreation vehicles). They generally have full beds, bathrooms, kitchens, and are outfitted with a dizzying amount of electronics. Driving a motorhome can feel like operating a submarine. Which can be interesting, but there is a multitude of different RVs that are utilitarian in their design and much easier to manage.

Motorhome rental in Iceland and Scandinavia

The second most common RV to rent for a trip to Iceland is the camper van. Camper vans are repurposed vans that have been retrofitted with sleeping cots, kitchenettes, and small living spaces. They are the most cost-efficient option, along with rental cars, and backpacking coming in behind them. Although I would not recommend the latter. Stick to an RV, you won’t regret it.

Camper vans and motorhomes are, in this writer's humble opinion, the most comfortable and reliable way to traverse Iceland’s rugged terrain. You can rent a car, but then you have to camp. And if we are all being honest with ourselves here, no one likes the hassle of setting up and breaking down a campsite. You save time and energy by renting an RV. Not only that, but you spend more time enjoying the great outdoors instead of struggling with it.

Iceland’s popularity has been exponentially exploding over the last decade, and as such, there are more and more companies to rent RVs from. Regarding renting a camper van, you can’t go wrong with Campervan Iceland or Happy Campers. Both are based out of Keflavík and offer a wide range of upgrades and financially attractive packages. It should be noted that Campervan Iceland also has some incredible motorhome packages for those willing to pay a little extra. Another motorhome rental company besides Campervan Iceland is Motorhome Iceland. Also based out of Keflavík, they offer 12 different camper van and motorhome options. The best part is that these companies have onsite support to help with any problems that may arise.

Customer service representative for a motohome rental company in Iceland

Camping in the traditional sense is slowly being phased out. With the world becoming increasingly connected, and sometimes more complicated, why not make things as easy as possible? Isn’t the reason for taking a trip to enjoy yourself? And the destinations that you have trekked to reach? Setting up the campsite of yesteryear can be burdensome and quite frankly is antiquated. Join us in the twenty-first century and rent an RV.

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Monday, 25 June 2018

Visiting Thingvellir National Park

Iceland is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. One of the most popular of these is exploring one of the country’s many national parks. Snaefellsjökull, Skaftafell and Vatnajökull National Parks are home to some spectacular glaciers, waterfalls and hiking trails. Another one of Iceland's most frequently visited national parks is Þingvellir (or the anglicised version, Thingvellir). Not only is it one of the three stops on Iceland’s famed Golden Circle route, but it also has a fascinating history concerning Iceland's government.

Silfra fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Thingvellir National Park - When to visit 

The most popular time of year to visit Thingvellir National Park is from May to September. Not only are there more hours of daylight, but the weather is more pleasant during this time of year. It's also fishing season on lake Þingvallavatn. During the summer months of June, July and August, the weather is especially lovely. You will also find many day tours running from Reykjavik. It's a bit colder in the winter, especially December January and February. Reduced daylight hours will not afford you as much time to see the park, so we recommend visiting during the warmer months.

Thingvellir National Park - How to Get There

Located about 28 mi (45 km) northeast of Reykjavik, there are several different roads that you can take to reach Thingvellir National Park. If you’re coming from Reykjavik, take Road 1 going north. Once you’ve driven through Mosfellsbær, take the first exit on the right in the roundabout. This exit will lead you to Road 36, which goes to Thingvellir.

When coming from other stops on the Golden Circle like Geysir and Gullfoss, you’ll need to take Road 35 which goes to Road 37 towards Laugarvatn. Once you’ve gotten to the roundabout just outside Laugarvatn, take the first exit to your right onto Road 365 and then Road 36 to Thingvellir.

Icelandic flag marking location of Althingi in Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park - What to See and Do

Besides fishing and hiking, you can also go horseback riding and diving at Thingvellir. Perhaps one of the most interesting activities at the park is the Silfra fissure. For those who don’t know, Iceland is literally splitting in two! The volcanic island sits atop the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are slowly moving apart. The result? A massive crack in the ground that is growing year after year. Seeing continental drift in action and up close is pretty cool. Just be sure you don’t fall!

Camping is another favorite activity in the park. You can camp in two different areas during high season, from the beginning of June to the end of September. Children under the age of 13 can camp for free, and a group of 10 or more adults receives a 15% discount when they pay in full. You’ll need to obtain camping and fishing permits from the Information Center when you arrive. Þingvallakirkja or “the church at Þingvellir” is also open daily from mid-May to early September.

Lastly, Iceland's Parliament or Althingi started here. It's the oldest Parliament in the world, dating back to 930 AD. You'll find this extremely important historical site in the park.

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Friday, 22 June 2018

Visit Iceland's Askja Volcano and Caldera

There’s just something about volcanoes that fascinates us. Maybe it’s the sheer power of their lava flows or the fact that they have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. It could also be the fact that the lurking giant could erupt at any moment. Regardless of your reason, if you are a fan of volcanoes, then you should definitely come to Iceland. It’s known as the Land of Fire and Ice in part due to the large number of volcanoes. One of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland is Askja along with its crater lakes and calderas.

Askja volcano and caldera in Iceland

Iceland has about 30 active volcanoes, and the one you may have heard of most recently is Eyjafjöll. Its eruption in 2010 grounded flights in European airspace for almost a week. But what about Askja? The name actually refers to zone with a volcanic mountain range located in Iceland’s Highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier. The area is famous for its calderas and volcanic crater lakes. A caldera is created when a volcano erupts, and it’s so powerful that the top of the magma chamber implodes. The volcano essentially collapses in on itself, which forms a crater.

Because Askja is in the Highlands, you can really only access it in the summer. The F-roads that lead inland are closed during the winter, so if you are planning a trip to this area make sure you come at the right time of year. Another important detail to keep in mind is that to access these F-roads, a 4x4 all-terrain vehicle is mandatory. If you’re taking a road trip around Iceland, you may not have rented one of these types of vehicles. Fear not, as there are a large number of companies and tour operators offering tours and excursions to Askja, Lake Myvatn and surrounding areas. You can also rent a jeep or go on a Super Jeep tour.

You can rent a Super Jeep or go on an excursion to visit Askja caldera and volcano

Close to Askja is Viti Crater, which is part of the Krafla volcano range. You can walk along the rim to look down at the turquoise blue water. The water is pretty warm as well (77 °F or 25 °C) so taking a swim is a favorite activity for families, hikers and others. It can be a bit difficult getting there as there are sharp rocks on the trail and descending to the crater itself can be a bit slippery. If you plan on hiking this route be sure to take good hiking boots and be very careful while trekking.

This makes a great destination for those looking to do something a little unusual during their trip to Iceland. Hiking through lava fields and swimming in blue-green calderas isn’t something you do every day. Experiences like this are what make trips to Iceland memorable, unique, and worth repeating.

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