Monday, 16 April 2018

Why Iceland's ice caves and lava tubes should be your next otherworldly adventure

There are more than 2,000 caves listed in the country with several more being discovered each year. It's an increasingly popular activity in Iceland - so popular that not only is it possible to visit dozens of natural caves (lava or ice), but it is also possible to access an ice tunnel under the Langjökull glacier that has been created artificially by man.

Blue crystal ice cave in Iceland

Here are some caves to explore and some tips to make the most of your expedition!

Iceland's Lava Caves

Leiðarendi Cave, literally 'the end of the road', is 30 minutes from Reykjavik; it is certainly the most popular cave in Iceland, and the most accessible. It is a 900-meter-long lava tube (2,953 feet) that formed over 2,000 years ago. Today, you can visit this cave with a guide. Access is relatively easy and several companies offer excursions to Leiðarendi. While some emphasize the scientific and recreational side of lava caves, others put more emphasis on adventure and physical activity. It's up to you to see what suits you best!

Multicolored Thrihnukagigur Magma Chamber in Iceland

Lofthellir is a 3,500-year-old lava cave that extends for 370 meters (1,214 feet) and features glacial formations that will leave you in awe. You can choose to start this tour from Akureyri or Lake Mývatn. More information can be sound in the local tourist office in Akureyri. Discovered in 1907, the Cave of Gjábakkahellir, 'cave of the little girl', is a 364-meter lava tube (1,194) located in Þingvellir National Park. It's a relatively easy cave to access and has all the typical features of a lava cave. The stalactites are particularly impressive. Inside the cave, there are many rocks on the ground making mobility difficult; you have to walk, crawl and climb to get around!

Man in Icelandic cave with headlamp

There are dozens of lava caves around Iceland that you can visit with a guide. Be prepared to find yourself in total darkness, except for the headlamps that your guide will provide you with. Take note: the caves tend to be very humid, so it's better to bring along waterproof clothing and shoes for this type of excursion.

Iceland's Glaciers and Ice Caves

Depending on weather conditions, ice caves can usually be visited from mid-November to mid-March. Often referred to as crystal caves, they are located near the Langjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers.

Ice cave detail at Iceland's Vatnajökull Glacier

Outside these dates, the cellars are dangerous because they can collapse, so it's not possible to visit them. Vatnajökull Glacier is a 4-5 hour drive from the capital Reykjavik and Langjökull is about 2-2.5 hours away by car. It's a very popular activity and if you intend to explore an ice cave, reserve your trip as early as possible. Visits are often fully booked several months in advance.

You must always be accompanied by a sworn guide to go into an ice cave. Glaciers are dangerous places, dotted with crevasses, and only an experienced guide will be able to shepherd you safely through.

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Friday, 13 April 2018

What to Expect During July in Iceland

Iceland in July is great for a variety of reasons. The rough weather and precarious driving conditions of winter have given way to never-ending days of sunshine and access to almost all of the country’s roads, parks and places of interest. The country comes alive with festivals, concerts, outdoor activities, and more. You can go hiking, bird watching, whale watching, explore the fjords, go camping, and go for days on end without seeing the sun set.

Sunset and waterfall at  Kirkjufell mountain during July in Iceland

Things to Do - Festivals

The month of July sees several different music festivals. The Eistnaflug Music Festival in Neskaupsstaður (East Iceland) features three days of non-stop partying for rock and heavy metal fans. By contrast, you can hear traditional Icelandic and Scandinavian music at the Folk Music Festival in Siglufjordur (North Iceland). Medieval enthusiasts are able to relive the olden days at the Gásir Trading Weekend (North Iceland). These are in addition the LungA Art Festival in Seydisfjordur (East Iceland), the Kexport outdoor concerts in Reykjavik (West Iceland) and the Bræðslan Music Festival (East Iceland).

Revelers celebrating during an Icelandic music festival in July

Places to Visit

Reykjavik is Iceland's largest city as well as its capital. Famous for its nightlife and proximity to the Blue Lagoon, it should be your first stop on your Icelandic trip. You’ll really get a feel for how people live because even though it's a capital city, it's not overwhelming. Another great stop off is the capital of the North, Akureyri. As Iceland's second largest city, this makes a great jumping off point for outdoor activities such as whale watching or skiing during the winter months.

Natural Wonders

Iceland is known for its natural beauty. From the Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull National Parks to Europe's most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, you will be awed by the array of things to see and do. After you’ve explored to your heart's content, it's time to head toward the fjordlands. Whether you decide to head for the Eastfjords, the Westfjords, or the Northfjords, you're sure to be blown away by the great views and beautiful landscapes. The Icelandic Highlands have reopened as well. So rent that four-by-four and go on an adventure.


Blue waters at Dynjandi waterfall in July

The Weather

The official summer months in Iceland are June, July, and August but May and September are also quite nice. The country’s climate benefits from Gulf Stream currents, which provide it with temperate summers. We specifically recommend going to Iceland in July because there is better weather than in June but fewer crowds than in August. While July is one of the warmest months in Iceland, be advised: it's not exactly bikini weather. The average monthly temperature is about 10 °C (50 °F) and the maximum will hover around 20 °C (68 °F). In other words, perfect for whale watching...not so perfect for joining the whales in the water. Unless you happen to be a member of your local Polar Bear Club of course. In that case, hop on in.

Iceland's colorful midnight sun over a field in July

It’s worth noting that you can’t see the Northern Lights during this time of year. The beloved Midnight Sun that prevents you from ever having to worry about seeing darkness also prevents you from seeing the Aurora Borealis. If you want to see the sky lit up at night with colors, it’s best to go when it gets dark at night. Any time before mid-April or after mid-September is your safest bet. So it looks like you just might have to come back! And after falling in love with Icelandd during your summer trip, we have no doubt that you will.

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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Travel Essentials: clothes you should pack for your trip to Iceland

Packing is an easy and enjoyable task! Said no one ever. It can be even more complicated if you are traveling to a country whose weather is nothing but changeable and unsteady. So what should you pack for your Icelandic trip? We totally understand that it is hard to know because you can actually have four seasons in just one day. In this post, we will try to give you some basic guidelines that can be useful, whatever time of year or season it is.

Checklist notepad to write what to pack for a vacation in Iceland

Seasons in Iceland change, but not dramatically. Be relieved, there are two basic constants in the Icelandic weather: wind and rain. Now we have somewhere to start from! You should always take into account that regardless of the season, Iceland is windy and humid, hence the importance of having the right clothes in your suitcase. Being cold and soaked is not a good idea at all when trying to have the time of your life in a foreign country.

The best advice we can give to any traveler is: learn the layering technique. Let’s get nerdy with my "Three-Layer Theory": We need to keep our body warm and dry, so the first step would be avoiding condensation from our own sweat. As you will be hiking, walking and simply doing some light or heavy physical activity, your body temperature will rise and you will sweat. Taking off your coat when it is windy and rainy outside is not a good idea unless you want to catch a cold and ruin your Nordic vacation.

Therefore, for your first layer, you should pack clothing made of synthetic fabric as it repels rather than absorbs water. It is also lightweight and dries faster. Forget about using cotton thermal underwear as they will get damp easily, stick to synthetic underwear, leggings and gloves.

Suitcase bursting with winter clothes for the Icelandic weather

For the second part of our Iceland survival layering theory, our main objective is to create an isolating layer. This one will not directly warm us up but it will prevent the loss of body heat, which is so important for those frosty northern nights. Here, we should choose isolating materials such as polyester or wool. This will apply to your fleece jacket, hiking pants, beanies, and socks.

The final third layer will be a protecting one. As we mentioned before, Iceland is humid, rainy and windy. If you get wet and the air is blowing, the wind chill factor can affect you considerably. This last layer must be waterproof, wind-cheating and breathable. So be sure to pack a windbreaker jacket, softshell coat and waterproof pants.

It may sound like a lot but if you purchase the right type of clothing, it's not really that much and definitely worth the investment. If it happens to be a sunnier day, you can just take off some pieces of clothing. And in case the weather worsens, then you will have a way to stay warm and dry. That is why we recommend this type of outwear. You will be able to fully adapt to the changing Icelandic weather, whatever the season it is.

Young woman thinking on what to pack for her Icelandic trip

If you are coming during the summer season, then a great tip is to bring an eye mask. In summer, we have the midnight sun, this means that the sun never sets and nights are bright instead of dark. Having an eye mask will definitely help you get to sleep at the right time. A full night of rest is also necessary to recharge your batteries.

Now you have everything you need to enjoy this fantastic trip! pack u
p and get ready for what
Iceland has to offer!
Now you have everything you need to enjoy this fantastic trip! Pack up and get ready for everything Iceland has to offer!

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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Reykjavik Nightlife and Best Bars for a Saturday Night

You've heard the stories. People in Europe like to party, and Iceland is no exception. As the country's capital, Reykjavik has plenty to do during a Friday or Saturday night out. The proximity of its bars and restaurants to one another makes it easy to have a night on the town and then wander home on foot. So if you're wondering “Where is the party in Reykjavik on the weekend?”, then read on. We’ve got you covered with where you should go, what you should do, and what you should wear.

What to Expect During a Saturday Night in Reykjavik

Nightlife in Reykjavik has a lot going for it. Everything is within walking distance because it's located in one central area. Most of the bars and restaurants are concentrated around Laugavegur street, Hverfisgata street and further down from the main drag, Bankastræti street and Austurstræti street. The word “stræti” means “street” in Icelandic. Another bonus: you almost never have to pay to get in. You'll never really wait in line and if you do, it's not for very long. In addition to being kind and friendly, Icelanders are very practical. They know it's cold outside.

Five cocktails on a bar on Laugavegur street

While it’s always best to check, dress codes are almost non-existent unless it’s a really upscale place. You can wear what you like, which is great for backpackers or people traveling on a budget. Like many cities in Europe, the party in Reykjavik goes into the wee hours. Many bars and clubs stay open until 4:30 or 5:30 in the morning.

Where to Go for Reykjavik Nightlife

Once you get your dancing shoes on, it's time to head on down to Laugavegur. In addition to being the center of Reykjavik’s nocturnal activities, it's also the city’s main shopping area. Bar crawling is extremely popular as people rarely stay in the same place all night. As you make your way from establishment to establishment, you'll discover many different types of bars. From Bar Ananas (the tropical Banana Bar) to Lebowski's movie-themed bar, you’ll want to explore the various themes and decor. Some of the unusual interiors might even end up in one of your Instagram stories!

People partying in Reykjavik on a Saturday night

When you get a case of the munchies, make a beeline for the food carts.The famous hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur make a great late-night snack. Lobster Hut is also a favorite to satisfy cravings for Scandinavian comfort food. For those looking for greasier fare, be on the lookout for chips shops. Who doesn’t love a late-night french fry run on the weekend? You can also scout for a convenience store to pop into to pick up a bag of Doritos or package of Oreos.

Best Bars in Reykjavik

Known as KB, the legendary Kaffibarinn Bar features electronic music and alternative tunes. The bar is co-owned by Blur’s Damon Albarn and is Reykjavik’s most popular hangout.

The French-themed Le Chateau des Dix Gouttes lounge bar serves double duty. During the day it’s a mild-mannered basement café known as Tiu Dropar (Ten Drops). At night it is magically transformed into an elegant wine bar that also serves cheese plates, waffles, and a selection of charcuterie. You can also sample the blend of blueberries, crowberries, rhubarb, and Icelandic herbs known as Kvöldsól, a delicious Icelandic wine.

Line of wine bottles at Reykjavik wine bar

Beer lovers will want to check out one of Reykjavik’s best microbreweriesMicro Bar. Other popular venues are Kex Bar, the bar housed in an abandoned biscuit factory and Gallery Bar, where you can get your daily art fix along with quality cocktails. Gaukurinn is one of many gay-friendly bars and clubs in Reykjavik such as Club Kiki’s.

Whatever you decide to do, your weekend plans are sure to be great! Saturday nights in Reykjavik are a time to have fun, get warm and meet new people. So get out there and get your party on.

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Friday, 6 April 2018

Best Things to Do in Dalvik

Iceland is known for its striking natural beauty. Its seaside towns and fishing villages look like something straight out of a postcard. With a population of approximately 1,400 inhabitants, Dalvík is the quintessential small Icelandic harbor town. The small municipality, whose name means “valley bay”, is the perfect stop while traveling in Dalvíkurbyggð in northern Iceland. We decided to compile a short list of the best things to do in Dalvík to help you get the most out of your trip. Keep reading to find out just what makes this little corner of the world so special.

Gísli, Eiríkur, Helgi Café 

This coffee shop (kaffihús in Icelandic) is a favorite in town. The owners Heiður and Bjarni are extremely hospitable hosts and will make you feel right at home. They own the hostel across the street, so they know how it’s done. They and their children are a fixture on the local scene and Bjarni is famous for his storytelling. The quirky decor and stunning views of the sea from upstairs make this a rustic find that captures the feeling of traveling in Iceland. You can get the Icelandic coffeehouse staples of coffee, tea and beer or even take the chill off while sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Our recommendation from the menu is its tasty, warming fish soup. It comes with a choice of three different homemade breads and is probably some of the best food in Iceland. Sounds yummy, right?

Three friends drink coffee at a café in Dalvik, Iceland

Byggðasafnið Hvoll Folk Museum

Learn about the culture and heritage of Dalvík by visiting this unusual collection of objects and artifacts. Many items in Dalvík’s folk museum will surprise you; is that a stuffed polar bear over there? Nevertheless, you’ll find it fascinating to see odds and ends from Iceland’s cultural patrimony. Of special note are the rooms which tell the story of Jóhann K. Pétursson. He was known as The Icelandic Giant and was Iceland’s Tallest Man. Measuring 2.34m (7ft 8in), you can see why much shorter Icelanders were fascinated by him.

Winter Activities - Skiing and Snowboarding in Dalvík

Located in northern Iceland’s Svarfadardalur Valley, Dalvík is a prime destination for skiers, snowboarders and other winter sports enthusiasts. The Dalvík Ski Area on Böggvisstaðafjall mountain has top-rate facilities and is considered one of the best skiing areas in the country. There are 5km (3mi) of slopes available, including a 1,200m (3,937ft) floodlit run. You’ll also find bunny slopes for the less seasoned skiers in the family. The new snow production system also keeps the fresh powder coming. You couldn’t ask for better snow conditions. Here's another bonus: the ski resort is within walking distance of the town. It’s easy to see why one of the best things to do in Dalvík are winter activities.

Skis resting on a mountain top in Dalvík

Outdoor Activities - Bird Watching and Hiking in Dalvík

Proximity to the mountains makes hiking and bird watching extremely popular. One of the best things to do in Dalvík is packing a lunch from the Samkaup-Úrval (the town’s central supermarket) and head for the hills. In late May and June, all the migrant birds have arrived and this is prime time for birding. You can even shout the famous Icelandic phrase “Lóan er komin!” (the Golden Plover has arrived!) and really impress people with your knowledge of Icelandic bird species. The saying is also used to convey that winter is over and all is well in the world.

Outdoor Activities - Whale Watching

The diversity of Iceland's flora and fauna is one of the first things that will catch your attention when you are traveling here. As an island nation, the country’s plethora of marine life is especially striking. The Atlantic puffins who return to land to form breeding colonies are a favorite for spectators. Icelandic waters are home to seven species of dolphins, including the beautiful black and white orca. And yes, that’s no typo. Killer whales are actually dolphins.

humpack-whale-breaching-dalvik-iceland

But one of the best things to do in Dalvík is to look for the ocean’s largest mammals submerged beneath the surface of the icy waters. Dalvík’s location on the eastern part of the Tröllaskagi Peninsula makes it the perfect departure point for a whale watching excursion. Imagine seeing one of these magnificent creatures jumping out of the Norwegian sea and splashing down! Were you able to tell if it was a blue whale, a humpback whale or a minke whale?

Summer Activities - Fiskidagurinn Mikli Fish Festival

All the fish you can eat for free? Yes, please! This daylong summer festival features a free seafood buffet and everyone is invited. The local fishing industry sponsors this day by the harbor in order to enjoy the fare Iceland is so well known for. If you happen to find yourself traveling around northern Iceland’s Tröllaskagi Peninsula during the 1st or 2nd weekend in August, check the festival calendar. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the summer.

Man grilling fish and making a sandwich in Dalvík

Whatever time of year you decide to visit, you’ll find lots of activities awaiting you in Dalvík. The seaside town is located only a 35-minute drive from Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri. It makes a great stop off on your trip around North Iceland. And remember to pack well! Iceland's climate requires planning and you want to make sure you have the trip of a lifetime, regardless of when you go.

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Thursday, 5 April 2018

Your Unforgettable Trip to Iceland in June

It's difficult to choose the right time to go to Iceland. Each month and each season have their own distinct charm. You may want to consider going to Iceland in June. This is the perfect month to discover the island, which really starts to awaken in the summer. There are wonderful flora and fauna to discover as well as numerous festivals and sporting events taking place.

Iceland's Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in June

The end of Spring is the beginning of a really beautiful season and the light in Nordic countries is endless. Nights are non-existent at this time of year in Iceland. This means that you can explore without paying attention to the time or worry about it getting dark. Sunset just never comes! The average temperature at this time of year is 9 °C (48 °F), and it rarely rains in June. Although if you know Iceland a little, you'll know not to trust the averages!

If the winter weather has been sufficiently mild, the roads and paths leading to the Icelandic Highlands open in mid-to-late June. You’ll be able to venture out and discover Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk, Laki or Askja, provided you have a suitable vehicle. The fjords of the west are also easily accessible in June. They are the perfect destination if you are looking for both mild weather and a peaceful, quiet place. Most travelers visit southern Iceland or eventually tour the island, but few venture into this magnificent peninsula. If you want to visit Iceland in the summer but the number of tourists puts you off, the western fjords are for you!

Volcanic mountain over a green fjord during June in Iceland

June 17th is an Icelandic national holiday and is celebrated in every town and village. Guided tours, free concerts and exhibitions are all on the program for this special day. In Akureyri, northern Iceland, concerts are held for the whole family around the main square. There are also attractions at the Botanical Garden. In Reykjavik, the festivities take place in Austurvollur Square with the appearance of the Fjallkona. She is a mountain woman, who is the human figure that embodies Iceland. Wild, beautiful and independent, the lady of the mountains has read a poem each year on this day since the independence of the country in 1944.

If you are athletic, the month of June is for you, especially if you like cycling. Three races in the south of Iceland are right up your alley. The Blue Lagoon Challenge, the Wow Cyclotron and the Kexreið create a trifecta of summertime racing. If you prefer running, don’t miss the Midnight Sun Run, the Colour Run or the Mount Esja Ultra. This run is the Esja marathon.

Bike race in Iceland in June

For the those who love the sea, the Sea Festival was made just for you. It takes place in Reykjavik’s Grandi district and in all coastal towns and villages in Iceland. Started in 1938, this festival pays tribute to the sea and sailors. While it's not quite warm enough to swim, it’s a great opportunity to find out more about Icelandic marine culture. If you prefer Viking history, go to the Viking festival of Hafnafjörður. You’re in for a full day of handicrafts, storytelling, archery, and sword fighting!

Finally, for music lovers, the Secret Solstice Festival is an event not to be missed. The festival has steadily gained popularity since its inception in 2014. In 2017 the site will be even bigger and will include a small children’s village. The festival takes place in the Laugardalur Valley in Reykjavik for three days. Some artists who have performed since 2014 are Massive Attack, Wu-Tang Clan, Radiohead and Of Monsters and Men. This year, the Foo Fighters and Prodigy are headlining, as well as many popular Icelandic groups. Summer just doesn't get any better than music festivals!

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Fun Things to Do Near Keflavik Airport

As the country’s main hub for international transportation as well being the largest airport in Iceland, the award-winning Keflavík International Airport (KEF) sees many visitors come and go. It is a modern space which is compact, and luckily for travelers, relatively easy to navigate. For many, the Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport, is simply a 24-hour stopover on their way to their final destination. For others, it's the beginning of their trip to Iceland. Either way, you might find yourself with some extra time while flying into or out of Keflavík Airport. Be sure to check out these fun things to do on a layover in Keflavik.

Watching Planes Take Off From Keflavik Airport

City Tour of Reykjavik

If you have 12 hours free so close to Reykjavik, why not make the most of your layover by going out to see the city itself? The Icelandic capital sits on the beautiful Faxa Bay and is the country’s cultural and economic center. The city is known for its colorful houses, and you can easily make your way around by foot. Take photos while oohing and ahhing at all the different variations of vermillion, emerald, and cobalt. For those interested in Viking culture, you’ll want to visit the 871 Settlement Museum. You can learn about the history of Iceland through a series of interactive exhibits. Another favorite stop off is the Hallgrímskirkja church.

Reykjavik's Faxa Bay at Night

There is a large variety of options for food in Iceland, and many people who live in Reykjavik recommend a restaurant called Fish (yes, that’s really its name). Just ask anyone to direct you to the Bonus supermarket and it’s located directly across the street. You can also go sample Iceland’s unofficial national food: hot dogs. Head to the iconic hot dog stand Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (which roughly translates to “best dogs in town”) and order one in Icelandic with everything “ein með öllu”. Or you can order a “Clinton”, which is one with only mustard. That’s how former president Bill Clinton had his when he visited the famous stand back in 2004.

Icelandic Hot Dogs Close to Keflavik Airport

The Blue Lagoon

One of the best ways to rejuvenate after a long flight is to have a soak in the restorative waters of Iceland’s world-renowned geothermal baths. While the entry ticket can be a bit pricey (35€ or $50USD), it’s definitely worth it. As you watch the steam rising gently from the silica-filled, bright turquoise water, you’ll feel your stress melting away. There are plenty of options for going to and from the airport via bus, and since it’s only about 20km (13mi) away, why not go dip your toes into the Blue Lagoon? Buy your ticket advance so you can skip the lines and head straight to the changing rooms. Relaxation awaits you!

Bathers soaking in the Blue Lagoon on a Day Trip from Keflavik Airport

The Golden Circle

Further afield is the collection of natural wonders known as the Golden Circle. The gushing geysers at Geysir, cascading waterfalls at Gullfoss, and tectonic plates at Pingvellir (anglicized as Thingvellir) are just a taste of the diverse landscapes you are sure to encounter in and around Reykjavik. You can rent a car or hire a tour for a one-day excursion. Pingvellir National Park lies about 40km (25mi) northeast of the capital and here’s a word of warning for those who decide to go by camper or car: Make sure you pay the ISK500 ($5USD) parking fee as the guard will go around checking every single vehicle!

Tectonic Plates in Pingvellir National Park

This by no means covers everything there is to see and do close to Reykjavik and Keflavik airport. If you do only have a day to explore the areas in and around the Nordic capital, these suggestions are a good place to start. You’ll love the hospitality and friendliness of the people you meet and if you’re lucky, make like one of the locals and order one with everything at Iceland’s most famous hot dog stand.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Three Unmissable Experiences on Your Trip to North Iceland

Known as the land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is a Nordic island nation filled with natural wonders. From bubbling hot springs to slowly-moving glaciers, flowing lava fields and bursting volcanoes to majestic waterfalls and gurgling geysers, you can see why this land of contrasts is a nature lover's paradise. In addition to its wild, dramatic landscapes, the country is also quite modern. Did you know that the cosmopolitan capital city of Reykjavik runs completely on geothermal power? And while Reykjavik along with its Viking history museums and modern art are definitely a must-do on your Icelandic itinerary, making it your only stop would cause you miss out on a lot. Many of the country's most spectacular attractions lay further north, so if you’ve got three days to spare, be sure to check out these awesome things to do in North Iceland.

Hvitserkur Rock Seen From Fjord in North Iceland

Dettifoss Waterfall

With a height of over 44 meters (144 feet) and spanning 100 meters (328 feet) across, you can definitely see why Dettifoss Waterfall is affectionately known as “the Beast”. Set against a rocky backdrop, the seemingly never-ending flow of water crashes down so strongly that the mist from its spray can be seen several miles away. Located in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, this mighty powerhouse is reputedly Europe's most powerful waterfall. As you explore northern Iceland’s Diamond Circle route around Húsavík and Lake Mývatn, the Dettifoss Falls will certainly be one of the highlights of your trip.

Dettifoss Waterfall in North Iceland at Sunset

Whale Watching Off The Icelandic Coast

What is that you see over there? Emerging from the depths of the icy blue waters of the Norwegian Sea are the gentle beasts that call these waters home. The anticipation of spotting one of the large numbers of species such as humpback whales, blue whales, and minke is sure to bring out the kid in you. As they leap up and come crashing down, let’s hope you don't get sprayed! One of the best places for spotting whales in Iceland is in the northern part of the country, with Húsavík, Eyjafjörður, and Skjálfandi being great jumping-off points. Proximity to sheltered bays along with calm seas and good weather make conditions ideal for a summertime boat ride in one of Iceland's famed oakwood sailing boats. You might even spot a friendly family of dolphins poking their heads out of the surface of the water to say hello.

Whale Jumping Out of the Water in North Iceland

The Aurora Borealis

No article about North Iceland would be complete without at least a mention of the spectacular Northern Lights because they are...well...spectacular. The streaks of luminous greens, teals, and turquoises lighting up a blue or purple sky will leave you breathless. Pictures can never truly capture the otherworldly beauty of this nighttime light show, so it's best to see it with your own eyes. You’ll have your best shot at viewing this natural phenomenon during high season, which runs from September to April. While it can be seen on clear nights from towns in northern Iceland such as Akureyri, a better viewing point would be from the mountains, where low light pollution makes viewing conditions ideal. Be sure to pack those coats!

Green Northern Lights Over Rocks in North Iceland

We’ve only touched the surface as there is so much to see and do in North Iceland. In addition to these suggestions, make sure you also take a hike in one of the national parks that Iceland is famous for, check out the Drangajökull glacier, which is the northernmost glacier in Iceland and land of the midnight sun, take a dip in one of the country's many geothermal baths, and have a short stay in the capital of the north, the port town of Akureyri. This lovely urban center on the water makes a great base camp from which to explore the northern part of Iceland.

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Sunday, 11 March 2018

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

Since the economic crisis in Iceland in 2008 when the value of the Icelandic money weakened, Iceland became a more affordable place for travelers, pushing thousands of people to come to see why Iceland is the amazing country of which everyone speaks. A vast majority of travelers rent cars and go around the island, so we thought a little guide on service stations and gasoline in Iceland would be rather helpful.

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

You can find service stations throughout the country, except in the highlands of Iceland. Check your route and be prepared, you should not be driving more than 250 kilometers without finding a petrol station on your way. N1, Olis, Atlantsolia, Skeljungur are all service stations in Iceland spread around the country; their prices vary, gasoline and diesel are much less expensive in winter, below 200 crowns per liter (1.40 €). In the summer season, you have to pay around 250 kroner (€ 1.80) per liter. You can keep track of prices on this website: www.bensinverd.is

In some gas stations, especially in the Reykjavík, you pay one price for filling your gas tank yourself and a bit more if you wish to have an employee do it for you. Some service stations are automatic -those at Atlantsolia, for example, all are, and will only accept debit or credit cards. To use these automated stations, insert your credit card into the machine provided, type your code if necessary ( not always), then the maximum amount you wish to pay for gasoline or diesel for your car. The machine will return your card at the time. Fill your tank, and when you reach the maximum amount, the pump will stop (it will stop before full if done). To print the ticket, you have to insert your credit card again into the machine.

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

You can also buy pre-paid cards with the amount of your choice, but make sure the petrol station you have chosen is available on the roads on your route. Usually, in your rented car, you have a map that shows where the gas stations are located all over the country, but the pre-paid card doesn't specify which.

Petrol Station at Modrudalur

In Iceland, petrol stations are also places to hang out with friends; providing groceries, fast food restaurants, hot drinks, similar to the atmosphere at the Icelandic pool, people meet there to chat, eat ice cream ... In the larger service stations, you will have several fast-food chains available, a grocery store, a small souvenir shop and even an information point.

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

Useful links:

www.n1.is

www.atlantsolia.is

www.skeljungur.is

www.olis.is

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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

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

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

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

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

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

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

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

5 days in Eastern Iceland - Trip Report

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

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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Travelling in Iceland: guided or alone?

This is a question that travelers often ask ... how should I travel in Iceland? Alone or accompanied? Rent a car and go on a solo adventure or depend on a guide and an itinerary? Obviously, this is very individual, and the answer will depend on your interests and how you like to travel. Each of the options has advantages and disadvantages, and here are some ideas to take into account when preparing for your trip to Iceland.

Travelling in Iceland: guided or alone?

Accompanied travel

A trip to Iceland requires lots of planning and preparation, to make the most of your time there, including many reservations. On an organized tour, this is all taken care of for you; You can put your feet up and relax while the tour company takes care of the itinerary. With the growing tourism industry, you can join all kinds of accompanied trips, which suit your personality and desires. On a guided tour, you are sure not to miss stunning views or a hidden waterfall a few meters from the road. Accompanied trips follow a fixed route, but, spontaneous alterations may occur occasionally, depending on the guide, company or factors such as weather conditions. However, when you are traveling in a group, you will be expected to take part in the activities on the trip, whether you like it or not.

Travelling in Iceland: guided or alone?

If you have no experience of Iceland and want to go to the Highlands, it may be useful to go there accompanied by a professional. The same applies if you wish to hike on a glacier or enter an ice cave; For safety reasons we strongly advise you not to venture alone and always use a professional to guide you.

Independent Travel

You can stop where and when you want and spend your days at your own pace ... this is the biggest advantage of traveling independently. Iceland is a country that takes time to uncover and get in to the local culture. However, Iceland is very popular and finding accommodation during the high season can be difficult to find, unless you book months in advance. An independent trip needs to be well planned so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. And do not forget that in Iceland, especially in winter, unforeseen events are common: be prepared to modify your itinerary if necessary.

Travelling in Iceland: guided or alone?

The alternatives

A trip that is partly independent and partly guided can be a benficial way to discover Iceland and make the most of it. Depending on your budget, you can:

- hire a private guide to guide your group around the island.

- join an autotour and enjoy your freedom without the constraints of reservations and schedules.

- make an independent trip but use agency services for certain excursions.

Travelling in Iceland: guided or alone?

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Sunday, 28 January 2018

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

In February 2016, after an incident on the beach Reynisfjara in which a man died, the Ministry of Industries and Innovation, who are responsible for tourism, met to compile a list of the most dangerous 24 sites in Iceland. The most important safety measures are on sign posts in these places, but we've decided to give you some information to remember when you're visiting Iceland.

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

Arnarstapi

Around the pier at Arnarstapi, a small community on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, are giant columns of basalt and ravines surrounding the area, and we recommend you take extra caution while there. This place known for its exquisite beauty can be dangerous, with rocks and arches that can form a vacuum on both sides. However, while exercising caution, we advise you to walk the small 2Km trail along the sea that connects Arnarstapi and Hellnar - it's not to be missed!

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

Dettifoss

Dettifoss in the Vatnajökull National Park is located 308 meters above sea level in one of the canyons of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum; the source is the glacier Vatnajökull. Probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland, it is considered the most powerful in Europe; 100 meters wide, its 45 meters high and flows at an impressive speed. Do not risk your life for the photo of the century -Stay in walking distance from the waterfall.

Djúpalónssandur

Djúpalónssandur Beach is one of the most beautiful places on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. On this beach are the remains of a boat that was stranded there for many years, there are also big rocks that you can try to lift to test your strength, like the sailors of that time ( the heaviest rock is 154 kilos!). On Djúpalónssandur Beach the seas currents and waves can be extremely strong, and the sea depth increases very suddenly; a couple of tourists lost their lives in 2015, when a wave seemingly out of nowhere almost lead them to the depths.

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey promontory is 120 meters high and is the most southerly point of mainland Iceland, near the village of Vik. Landslides are frequent, and the Environment Agency of Iceland regularly closes certain areas to prevent accidents, Visitors can check the website to see which areas are closed. While visiting, please observe the possible barriers and do not get too close to the edge -the rocks could crumble from under your feet, and one can never be too careful...

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

Geysir

Geysir in the Haukadalur valley is probably the most famous Icelandic natural site and houses several geysers, the most known Strokkur, which flows several times per hour. The "flares" at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 meters in the air. Geysir can also be a dangerous place if you do not respect the barriers and pathways, as water and even the earth can have temperatures that exceed 100 degrees. The rope barriers standing around Geysir are there for a reason - obey them!

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

Goðafoss

Godafoss, "Waterfall of the Gods" on the number one road between Akureyri and Myvatn is located on the river Skjálfandafljót. This magnificent waterfall provided with a rich history is 12 meters high and 30 meters wide. In summer you can enjoy the waterfall almost without anxiety, provided of course remember you don't get too close. In winter, against the snow and ice covers the entire area around the waterfall and the visibility is not very good: difficult to calculate how near is reasonable to approach the waterfall. Also, the snow covers indication and safety ropes, and snow may also accumulate on the edge of the precipice where the waterfall empties, giving the impression of a "false floor" beneath your feet.

Top dangerous places in Iceland - What not to do in Iceland!

Grjótagjá and Stóragjá

Grjótagjá is a small lava cave near Lake Myvatn, home to a hot spring. In the eighteenth century, Jón Markusson the outlaw lived there and used the cave to wash. Until the 1970s, Grjótagjá was a favorite source for local bathing; then the 1984-1975 eruptions made the water too hot -it is now around 50 degrees. Grjótagjá's neighbor Stóragjá bath is a little less hot and serves the locals as well as travelers. Beware the water temperature in both caves are often confused; also, the rock ceiling may collapse. A sign outside the caves indicates that you can bath there - at your own risk!

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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

6 days itinerary trip in Iceland by Brooke (October 5th-10th)

In thanks for all of the tips I picked up from other travelers, here is brief trip report. Six of us were in Iceland on October 5-10, six days on the ground. We rented a van from Mike at Reykjavík Cars (www.reykjavikcars.com) and it worked out great.


He met us at airport, everything was incredibly convenient, even as I changed our car requirements as our group grew shortly before the trip.

Day one 

We landed in the morning, dumped the luggage at the Reykjavik Centrum Hotel, and set off on a self-led walking tour of sites in Reykjavik, including Hallgrimskirkja, the National Museum and the harbor area.


We had a tasty lunch of local fish at Icelandic Fish and Chips and took a rest. We had a truly outstanding dinner celebrating a 60th birthday at Grill Market. Service, led by waiter Yoel, was great.


The presentation of the food was lovely, food was delicious (fish, lamb, duck, veggie) and the special setting. When our staying/celebrating at the table was holding up other guests who needed to be seated, Yoel moved us into the bar area for complimentary coffee.

We then moved on for drinks at Loft Bar, properly recommended by Yoel as a good place for “older” folks.

Day two

We took on the Golden Circle, focusing on the traditional stops: Pingveller, Geysir and Gullfoss. I would say the waterfall was the most impressed spot for us.


That night we had dinner at a restaurant called Slippbarinn at the Marina Hotel that was recommended by a local contact; very nice, good food (we ate mostly fish) and nice atmosphere.


Since according to the websites and the hotel the solar activity forecast was promising, we took a Northern Lights drive back to Pingveller, but it was too overcast to see anything.

Day three

We set off on the Ringroad heading East - stopped at the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall, walked behind the waterfall which was nice, had lunch in Vik at a lovely café, Halldorskkaffi.


We stopped at the little museum/shop dedicated to the Eyafjallajokull earthquake and then onto the breathtaking Jokulsarlon and a boat trip on the iceberg lagoon.

We arrived at Hofn in time for sunset and had good fish and lobster dinners where we were staying at the Hotel Hofn.

Day four

We walked along coast, harbor and through town and then back on the Ringroad headed West. We stopped at Jokulsarlon to see the changes that take place from hour to hour and day to day, quite amazing and then down to the beack to see the smaller (and not so small) pieces of ice that washed up on the black sand shore.


It began to snow and rain, and we headed to Skaftafell National Park and took walk for around 2 KM to a glacier while it snowed. After lunch at truckstop we headed back towards Vik. It was raining in Vik so we took quick look at the black sand beach and the Rrenisdranger “Troll Rocks” and then onto the lovely Volcano Hotel where we were staying for the night.


We were having dinner in the hotel dining room and had finished eating before desert when another guest ran in at 8:30 told us that the Northern Lights were visible in the sky. We stood outside and watched the natural light show.


We felt really lucky to catch this phenomenon during our shot visit to Iceland. When we returned inside for desert, we had a really informative and lovely conversation (includes pictures) with the hotel owner Johan, about his experiences living in the region.

Day five 

In the morning we did a wonderful two hour glacier walk on Myrdalsjokull with Tomas from Arcanum. Continuing West, we stopped at the impressive Skogarfoss waterfall, climbed up the steep metal stairs to the top and then walked along the muddy path which produced additional views of beautiful waterfalls, communing with sheep and vistas.


We ate a fish and chips lunch at the restaurant near the waterfall and then headed to the lodge-like Hotel Ranga, outside of Hella. An upscale place, we took advantage of happy hour, the hot tub and a nice dinner in their dining room.

Day six

This was our departure day so we headed directly to the obligatory Blue Lagoon for a couple of hours and then lunch in their dining room.


From there it was to the airport and an end to a too short Icelandic holiday.

Thanks again to all for the ideas you shared that helped us construct our trip.

Brooke, October 2014
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