Friday, 27 July 2018

Exploring Laugavegur Street Shopping in Reykjavik

Retail therapy is a very real thing. Sometimes when we are feeling down, lethargic, tired, or merely bored, shopping can provide a great distraction and a sense of freedom. While it certainly doesn’t help your bank account, it will undoubtedly reinvigorate your day. One of my favorite places to shop is on Reykjavik’s famous shopping street: Laugavegur. This thoroughfare in Reykjavik is filled to the brim with quaint and exciting stores in which you could spend hours getting lost finding the perfect garment, gift, or music album. Here are some of my favorite stores to shop at off on Laugavegur street in Reykjavik.

Laugavegur is Reykjavik's main shopping street

Visit Sputnik to find that Vintage Flavor 


Have you heard? Its been all over the news. Vintage is very “in” right now. Just kidding, when are vintage garments not fashionable. Located at 28b Laugavegur street, Spuutnik has been Reyjkavik’s premier vintage store for close to 25 years, and for a good reason. This place has everything you need to set your wardrobe apart from everyone else’s.

Looking for a big furry coat a-la Penny Lane from the movie Almost Famous? They probably have it. Need a pair of trendy high-waisted denim jeans to channel your inner 90s kid? They definitely have them. The point I am trying to make is that they have everything that your little fashionista heart could desire. In the last few years their prices have been steadily climbing, but can you really put a price on looking good. I know I can’t.

Verslun Gudsteins Eyjolfssonar 


Gentlemen, do you fear your wardrobe is lacking? Are you still rocking that University licensed t-shirt with the ramen noodle stains? If this applies to you, I have a pro-tip for you: step up your wardrobe. The ladies in your life will take notice, so will everyone else around you. Sometimes a guy's wardrobe needs some fresh blood, and Verslun Gudsteins Eyjolfssonar sure can help.

While their prices aren't exactly cheap, their clothes are worth every penny. The store is family run and operated, and has been since its inception around the turn of the 20th century. In 1929, they moved the store to Reykjavik and have never looked back. This family business sources and crafts some of the best materials this side of Milan for their garments. While the prices aren’t exactly low, they try to keep them as fair as possible. But this raises the question: can you put an amount on looking good? Say no, and head to 34 Laugavegur street. You will enter a boy, and leave a sharply dressed man who could rival Don Draper.

Reykjavik's Laugavegur street is home to Verslun Gudsteins Eyjolfssonar men's store

Smekkleysa 


What about the rest of us who are already sharply dressed, on-trend, and have mounting credit card debt from the impressive clothing collection we have cultivated over the years? Um, by the way, definitely not speaking about myself. Wink wink, cough, cough. If music and gifts are more your thing, then head down to Smekkleysa on 35 Laugavegur street.

Smekkleysa’s is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, as they are a bastion of music and art from the alternative culture. Even if that isn’t your style, you should still check out their store. It’s quite an experience. Translating into English as “Bad Taste",  this shop has tons of hidden gems and an incredible history associated with the store. Check out their official website to see their manifesto and their close relationship with Icelandic superstar Björk.

Mal og Menning 


I have been told that I am somewhat of a bookworm, so what would this list be without my favorite bookstore in all of Iceland: Mal og Menning. This shop and cafe combo has been continuously running since 1940, so it is safe to say that they know what they are doing when it comes to running a successful bookstore. Especially since Iceland is one of the most well-read nations in the world. Did you know that in Iceland one out of twelve inhabitants will publish something in their lifetime? Crazy right?

Mal og Menning has an eclectic collection of both domestic and international titles, and you can find some fascinating written works there. If you still don’t believe me, the store was ranked one of the top 12 bookstores in the world. The world as a whole. The whole thing. You can do way worse than that. Stop in, find an interesting book, and then head upstairs to the cafe to crack open some pages while you escape the hustle and bustle of the streets below.

Mal og Menning is a popular bookstore on Reykjavik's Laugavegur shopping street

Geisladiskabud Valda


The last official store on my quick list is for all the gamers in the world. Video games have become ubiquitous in our society. It seems like every other post on social media is a post about the game Fortnite. I don’t understand it, I don’t get it, but I do know that the game is causing people around the world to do silly dances. And that, I can support that. So this one is for you guys, dance right into Geisladiskabud Valda and you won’t regret it.

Opened in 1998, these have a seemingly bottomless bag of visual media goodies! Looking for an obscure show that ran for two seasons? They probably have it. Looking for a VHS copy of your favorite childhood movie? They've probably got it somewhere. The store is filled with stacks upon stacks of DVDs, CDs, VHS, cassettes, video games, vinyl, and much much more. This is the perfect place to get yourself an exciting souvenir from Iceland, and maybe the perfect gift for a friend.

Laugavegur Street Shopping in Reykjavik 


Iceland is known for its natural beauty. Heck, we remind people to death about it. Every once in a while though, we as humans just need creature comforts. Sometimes hiking just doesn’t sound as appealing as finding that perfect vintage jacket, or hunting down an obscure movie you have always wanted to own. If you need a break from the great outdoors and want to do some retail therapy head to Laugavegur street and apologize in advance to your savings account. Happy hunting!

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Responsible Tourism In Iceland

Travel is the best way to gain a new perspective and to become a more cultured individual. Why do you think James Bond is so cool? He travels all the time, duh! Well, and he is a spy, so, I guess that helps too. And he dresses well, is well spoken, and handsome. Sorry, I am getting sidetracked. Traveling and engaging in tourism is a good thing, but you don't want to be the clueless tourist. Iceland is a country that is facing challenges with its ever-growing influx of tourists. If you are headed to our Nordic wonderland, you may be unaware of some key insights on how to best support our tourism in a responsible and sustainable way. So let's make sure that on your next trip to Iceland you are well equipped on how to be a responsible tourist.

Tourist in blue jacket looking out over Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Get Out! Of Reykjavik 


The title is overly dramatic, and I am half joking. However, if you are visiting Iceland, I would urge you to explore all that Iceland has to offer, and that means leaving the comfy confines of Reykjavik. Visitors to Iceland tend to come to the capital city, rent an Airbnb, stay awhile, and then leave. This is not good for either you or Iceland. While we do encourage you to stay in Reykjavik, it is paramount for the most optimal Icelandic experience to visit some of the smaller villages and towns during your trip.

You may be thinking, “Why would I leave the creature comforts of Reykjavik to stay in a rustic village?” The answer is simple: many of the smaller villages and towns are struggling to cope with the exponential growth in the tourism markets. Now more than ever, people are flocking to the larger towns and cities to find work and chase the proverbial paycheck. This greatly saddens us. Those smaller towns and villages are a direct link to our storied past. If they disappear, then is Iceland really…Iceland?

Take A Guided Tour


Living in the digital age means that we have seemingly access to unlimited information at our fingertips. Taking a self-guided tour has never been easier. However, I would only opt for this in moderation. I know that Iceland is an expensive country (all of Scandinavia for that matter is pretty pricey), however, if it fits your budget go on a certified tour. This can be within the city limits or out into the countryside. Going on a tour has many benefits that you probably were unaware of.

First, no matter how much information you dig up on the internet, having local guide can provide you with critical insights about Iceland you would have never been able to find yourself. We live and breathe everything Iceland. A guide can show you all of the best local locations, and steer you clear of any shops or stores that are looking to take any available money from unassuming tourists.

Tourist overlooking Askja calder

Second, going on a guided tour (especially in the backcountry) is safer, and much more efficient. Regarding safety, Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world with regards to crime. However, the environment and landscape here can be quite unforgiving. Deciding to go it alone, even if you are a skilled outdoorsman, is never a good idea. Expertly trained and experienced tour guides can steer you clear of any unforeseen danger that you may not have been aware of. Also, a tour guide can bring you right to the heart of the action; whether you are in a town or in a lava field, they will escort you to your destination quickly and hassle-free.

Avoid Peak Season 


I am going to let you in on a secret. Are you ready? You promise to keep it between us? Ok, good. Well, here’s the thing: you don’t have to visit Iceland during the busy season to have an incredible experience. Actually, by visiting us at the busiest time of the year contributes to a growing problem in Iceland: overtourism. Overtourism, simply put, is when tourists flock to one specific location at the same time and inundate the area. The economic windfall that accompanies it is beneficial to the economy, but it places a lot of stress on the country as a whole. I would recommend visiting us when it is traditionally slower. If you are scratching your head, and still confused, I’ll explain.

Iceland is busiest in July and August. These months provide the best weather for tourists, and traditionally it is when people opt to take their summer vacations. However, if you have ever been to Reykjavik in mid-July you know, it can be a bit of a nightmare. The streets are packed with wayward tourists who want to stop every 3 meters to take a photo. Don’t get me wrong, we love having you. But, here’s a good example: imagine instead of your friends sporadically visiting your home every once in a while, they all showed up (anyone who has ever been to your home) all at once. It would be stressful, right? I personally recommend coming in late September or early October.

Visiting us right after peak season (busiest time of year for tourism) will pay huge dividends for your Icelandic getaway. There are infinitely fewer tourists, the costs of rental cars, hotels, and Airbnb accommodation plummets, and we are generally more relaxed. You will have a chance to see the unspoiled beauty Iceland has to offer without having to wade through droves of curious tourists. Also, in the summer it is impossible to catch the northern lights. Late September, early October, is the optimal time to come and see them. I’d wager a bet and say that you would trade some warm weather to see nature’s most magnificent light show.

Iceland's Northern Lights in the tourism off-season

Being A Travel Savvy Tourist in Iceland


These are but a few of the tips that I would offer anyone coming to visit quaint Nordic island nation. There is plenty more that you can do to curb overtourism and ensure that your trip goes as smooth as possible for both you and the inhabitants of the island. A significant thing to keep in mind is to be respectful towards our people and the environment. It is easy to forget this especially since you are not from here. But remember: the way you act and behave will have lasting effects; we will be here even after you leave. That being said, we love having visitors. We adore being able to give you insights into our culture, food, language, and lifestyle.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Rent a car in Iceland: Car Comparison by price in Iceland + Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland

If you’re planning to tour Iceland by car, then Iceland car rentals provide the cheapest and best way to explore the vast island. With public transportation being scarce outside major cities like Reykjavík, renting a car becomes the cheaper and most viable option for tourists to explore the island fully. Though it may seem expensive initially, it is much cheaper and less strenuous than having to purchase a car or travel by bus. With plenty of car rental companies in Iceland at your disposal, you will never fail to get a deal that suits your budget. 

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

The wide array of vehicles available for hire also makes it possible for you to get a car that can take you almost anywhere on the island from SUVs, four-wheel cars, luxury cars, 4×4 rental cars and jeeps just to mention a few. In this article, we give you some tips on picking an Iceland car rental provider as well as taking a look at some of the best car rental companies on the island. 

CAR COMPARISON BY PRICE
July 11th to July 19th - 2018 (8 days)

Option A - New cars:

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY 2018 (1st place)
Kia Rio Diesel:                            652€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       999€
*prices with all insurances included

HERTZ
Toyota Aygo:                                956€
Toyota Rav4:                               1.903€

REYKJAVÍK AUTO                     BEST COMPANY 2018 (3rd place)
Renault Clio:                                539€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                        917€

EUROPCAR
Hyundai i10:                                 962€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             1.671€

REYKJAVÍK CARS                    BEST COMPANY 2018 (2nd place)
Hyundai i10:                                  528€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:              1.008€ 

AVIS
Hyundai i10:                                  719€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:              1.206€


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Option B - Old cars:

CARS REYKJAVÍK                     
Toyota Yaris                                 460€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                          890€

SS CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                  650€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                         1.143€

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent old models)
Hyundai i10:                                490€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                      990€

KEFLAVIK CARS
Toyota Yaris                                 750€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                          1.323€

ICELAND CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                871€
Toyota Rav4                               1.658€

GEYSIR
Hyundai i20:                                854€
Hyundai Tucson:                        1.430€

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Renting a car is really the best and only way to see the country so be sure to factor it into your budget. We went there thinking we would just take a bus to other areas -wrong. The only buses that exist outside the capital city of Reykjavik are tour buses. So technically you can take a bus but you will pay for it because it will be part of an organized tour and it will add up fast. If you are travelling with another person a car is the cheapest way to see the country. Plus, driving in Iceland is very easy and there isn’t much traffic.

7 TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND

Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore Iceland (it’s tough to beat hitchhiking) but it doesn’t have to blow your budget. With public transportation being non-existent outside of the larger cities, like Reykjavik, renting a car gives you the freedom at a fraction of the cost when compared to the sightseeing tours sold at tourist information centres.

Below are seven ways to save money on your Iceland car rental:

Don’t buy it: You don’t need theft insurance for the vehicle. According to our agent, car thefts in Iceland are rare and he actually told us not to bother with any of the additional insurance (yes, they have insurance for ash from the volcano) either, so we didn’t. 

Go online: The best deals can be found online for Iceland car rentals. By booking online, you will find a better deal than renting directly from a tourist centre in Iceland. Some online companies even offer discounts if you book online, therefore, you will be able to save a lot by booking online. There are a variety of car rental companies on the island so take your time and visit their websites, compare prices, and look at their packages and whether or not they offer discounts for booking online. By doing this, you will be able to get a good deal at a pocket-friendly price. 

Pick up at Keflavik International Airport: Because the airport is located about an hour from Reykjavik, you will have to spend €15 – €20 each way to get to and from the airport. So, you might as well just rent your car from the airport and roll your shuttle bus fees into the car rental. 


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Get to know your vehicle: The longer you keep the rental car the cheaper it becomes.

Petrol Blues: When considering renting a car be sure to factor in the cost of gas. In Europe, petrol is sold by the litre, not the gallon; therefore, expect to pay about $5 per gallon. 

Choose Your Rental Dates Wisely: Sept. 1 in Iceland signals the beginning of the low season, which runs until May 31. Renting a car in Iceland becomes even cheaper at that time. And by cheaper I mean €35/day vs. €85/day – it’s a HUGE price difference. 

Consider your budget: Look for a car rental company that falls within your budget. Remember you do not have to spend a fortune on car rental, therefore, try to get a car rental service that will leave you with some cash to spend on the road.


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

DRIVING IN ICELAND

Driving Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to find out how to drive in this country. We know that the landscapes are beautiful, which naturally draws the driver’s attention away from the road. But in order to reach your destination safely, you must keep your full attention on driving.

-The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/hr.
-The speed limit is often 60 km/hr on thruways, but in residential areas, it is usually only 30 km/hr.
-The main rule in rural areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/hr, and paved roads 90 km/hr.
-Signs indicate if other speed limits apply.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

HIGHLAND DRIVING

Driving in the Icelandic highland is quite different from driving in the lowland. The conditions can change fast due to weather, rain and even sometimes snow. Therefore roads can be closed and rivers can be too big to cross. Before you start your travel you should get information about the area as well as leave your travel plan with someone who can check up on you if needed.

You can make your travel plan here:

-Start by checking if the area you are going to visit is open
-Get as much information about the area as you can
-Information centres, rangers and hut wardens can help you get the information needed
-Are you sure that you have the experience and knowledge needed to go the highland?
-If you are driving be on a 4x4 jeep, other cars will only get you into trouble
-If you are not sure how to cross a river skip it or wait for the next car to assist you over

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

ILLEGAL OFF-ROAD DRIVING

When the fact that the country lies right below the Arctic Circle is taken into consideration, along with the fact that the growing season is short, it is apparent that the environment can take many years, decades or even centuries to recover. For example, many people don't realise that by uprooting or driving on moss, the damage is caused that can take at least a decade or, more likely, some hundreds of years to mend – and we're not even talking about the highlands where the summer is much shorter.

Whilst travelling around the country, the highest respect for the Icelandic environment must be shown. It's good to remember to take nothing besides photographs and leave nothing behind except footprints.

-Check out the roadmap and see where the roads and trails are.
-Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centres, and from rangers or staff.
-Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information, at visitor centres or here.

While on your trip around the country you’ll quickly see that in many places, road ruts and paths have formed from other people. Often they are closed off with nothing more than a row of small rocks. Don’t be caught in the pitfall of following those paths; only stay on roads and marked trails. Instead, think about the damage off-road driving has caused, take photos and educate friends and acquaintances. See how long such damage takes to heal. Notice that ruts don’t just look ugly; they draw in water and thereby cause even further damage, leading to erosion of soil and vegetation. Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any farther by driving. That’s the only right thing do. Besides, you can easily expect a sky-high fine or prison term for offences.

We should all set a good example. Together we share the responsibility of ensuring that everyone gets the chance of enjoying a pristine natural environment for years to come.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

CROSSING A RIVER

One thing is for sure when you go hiking in Iceland and that’s what you’ll not get far without coming to the first stream. Usually, they’re little brooks, which are good to get a fresh drink from. On the other hand, they can be large rivers and you will need to wade them, in which case you should bear some things in mind:

-Rivers often have less volume earlier in the day, so organising hiking trips accordingly is not a bad idea.
-Look around for suitable locations to ford. Be aware that places that are good for crossing with jeeps are seldom good for crossing on foot.
-Look for meanders in the river which are places where there are loose gravel and sand and the current dies down as the river expands.
-Meanders are usually the best location you’ll find for fording a river through the river may be wider there.
-Preferably wade the river with two or three other people at a time by clasping arms together at the elbows.
-Loosen any straps on backpacks and be sure not to have anything tied tight that could complicate things if you or someone else might fall.
-It’s best to have special wading shoes as it is not wise to cross barefoot - this can increase the likelihood of a fall.
-Before fording, it’s smart to decide on a spot farther down the river where everyone will go to if someone might unfortunately fall.
-If you fall, roll onto your back, keep your feet in front of you and trudge to the place - or near to it - that was previously decided upon.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

When planning your hiking trip get information about rivers, if they are possible to cross on foot and then what time is best and etc. Never cross a river unless you are 100% sure of how to do it and feel safe doing it.

Helpful Tips on 4x4 Driving in Iceland

If you have plans to visit Iceland's countryside then you should also pick a 4x4 vehicle since you will most likely be driving on some gravel roads. And should you go off the beaten path to visit the Iceland highland then you are sure to encounter some F-roads that are only drivable by larger 4x4.

Iceland gravel roads. All major roads in Iceland are paved. But keep in mind that of 13.000 km total roads in Iceland only about 5.000 is paved with asphalt.

Most gravel roads are not difficult to drive on or dangerous, you just need to keep special attention while driving and make sure you are not going to fast. These roads are often narrow and many bridges only have one lane. You are also likely to meet some sheep and Icelandic horses so make sure you are paying attention.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

List of the most popular F-roads

Here is a list of the most popular F-roads in Iceland and average opening times:
F-RoadNameAvg. opening date
F206 Lakagígar June 12th
F208 Fjallabaksleið nyrðri
(Landmannalaugar and Eldgjá)
June 12th
F225 Landmannaleið, Landmannalaugar June 15th
F35 Kjölur (Hveravellir) June 11th
F26 Sprengisandur June 27th
F88 Askja June 20th
F902 Kverkfjöll June 19th
F52 Uxahryggir June 5th
F550 Kaldidalur June 13th

Driving in snow and difficult weather conditions

Make sure you are always driving according to road and weather conditions. If there is snow and the roads are slippery make sure to take it slow and drive safe. If you are driving outside of populated areas make sure to find out the conditions of the roads on your route. You should also check out the weather forecast.

Check road conditions in Iceland here:
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/the-entire-country/island1e.html

Check weather forecast here:
http://en.vedur.is

Carpooling in Iceland:
http://samferda.is

Map of Iceland:
http://atlas.lmi.is/kortasja_en/

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Kolla, Iceland24
© 2017 Iceland24

The Pros and Cons of Tourism In Iceland

Our world is continually becoming more and more globalized, and Iceland is no exception. In fact, Iceland is reaping the benefits of globalization through tourism. Tourism in Iceland has exploded in recent years, with the number of annual foreign visitors having doubled in the last six years. But, this raises an important question, “Will we run out of hot dogs with all of these foreign invaders coming to our shores?!”. That was a joke, I was joking. The real question is, “Is the increase in tourism really the best thing for Iceland?”. Let us examine the pros and cons of tourism in Iceland.

Tourist hiker enjoy mountain views in Iceland

Pros of Tourism in Iceland 


The tourism boom in recent years came at an optimal time. Iceland was in dire straights after the economic collapse in 2008. Suddenly, our country was inundated with curious travelers who had heard about Iceland’s natural beauty. Money started flowing in, and the economy began to recover. This trend has continued steadily, thanks in large part to the continued growth of the tourism sector. And, as of now, the pros of our tourism boom have been welcomed.

Our capital, Reykjavik has reaped the lions share of the benefits of this boom. More and more visitors come each year and choose to stay in the capital. Restaurants, inns, and shops have all seen a massive increase in revenue with the influx of hungry, curious, and wealthy travelers. Not only has our economy benefited from these travelers, but people have come and learned more about our culture and history.

Icelandic culture has primarily been insular, in that, not many people (not as many, rather) have historically made the pilgrimage to our tiny island nation. We have a rich and robust history that spans back a thousand years. By having foreigners learn more about our history, we, in turn, learn more about the world. It is a symbiotic relationship. We have traditionally been a highly educated society, but there is no better way to grow than to gain an outside perspective. Friendly tourists give us an insight into their way of thinking, and they learn from us. By being so closely tied to nature, we are incredibly grounded and humble. This sharing of culture only helps us develop more and more.

Young man speaking to two young women on the streets of Reykjavik

The Cons of Tourism in Iceland


 Every story has two sides to it, and while the benefits of tourism have been welcomed, they present some pressing challenges for our people moving forward. Any society that has relied solely on tourism has traditionally faced difficult obstacles moving forward. When foreign visitors and foreign money drive entire economies, things can become very tricky very quickly. Not only that, but we risk losing so much more than our economy.

One aspect that has been hit particularly hard by the tourism boom has been the outlying small villages and towns of Iceland. Due to the massive influx of money and opportunities coming into Reykjavik, residents from smaller towns and villages have found it more finically viable to pursue careers in tourism closer to the capital. This poses a threat to the unique culture that is cultivated in the countryside. Family is hugely important to us, and when money overtakes tradition those cultural values (especially the emphasis on the family unit) rapidly erode.

The biggest threat, to me, comes in the form of protecting our beautiful countryside. Tourists flock to Iceland in droves to experience the fantastic spectacle that is our naturally occurring, rare, unique geographical features. Our glaciers, forests, waterfalls, and lava fields have all had more outside visitors than any time in our storied history. While most tourists are respectful of our land, some are not. There are those who treat it like their personal playground. Litter poses a massive threat to both flora and fauna of Iceland. Not only that, but some visitors will gladly go into protected areas to take photos, while totally disregarding signage that warns of essential breeding grounds for local species or unstable surfaces which are dangerous.

Trash and plastic bottles on an Icelandic beach

Tourism Moving Forward 


When examining any situation, it is paramount to explore the negatives and positives. I often have this problem when enjoying food. What are the positives and negatives of enjoying lamb stew three times a week? The positives are that it is tasty and delicious and I am filled with warmth and happiness. The negatives are that one shouldn’t eat lamb stew three times a week year-round because they will more closely resemble a whale and not a human. Also, it is just not a good dietary practice. This is meant to be humorous, but there is some validity in applying it to the tourism question we are examining.

While tourism generates wealth and provides us with an outside perspective, it needs to be managed with moderation. If we became a tourism-driven economy and society we would undoubtedly reap financial benefits, but what would we lose? We lose our culture, our values, and most importantly the land that we hold so dear to our hearts. Treat tourism like lamb stew: it can be delicious and tasty, but you can’t have it for dinner every night. Moderation, as with all things in life, is critical. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

What To Do In Iceland in August

Whether you live here year round, or you are just visiting, August is indeed the perfect time to experience everything that Iceland has to offer. The closing of summer may bring a tear to your eye (I know I am shaking with fear at just the thought of winter), so why not enjoy it to the fullest. Let's go over the best activities in Iceland during August.

Vik's black sand beaches during sunset in August in Iceland

But First… Icelandic Weather During August


August is one of the warmer months here in Iceland. July and August usually compete for the warmest month of the year. Warm for Iceland is between 13 to 20 degrees Celsius (55-70 Fahrenheit) Not only is it warm, but it is also sunny. If you are Icelandic, you may be scoffing to yourself right now, because sunny is an understatement. In August you can expect between 17 and 14 hours of daylight. For most people, that's a lot. More than a lot actually. That's a ton! So, pack accordingly.

Perfect Time of Year for A Driving Tour 


With the warm weather and the extra daylight, it is the perfect time to go out and explore everything that Iceland has to offer. There is no better way to do this than taking a self-driving tour. Iceland has one of the easiest and most thrilling driving routes in the world, The Golden Circle Route, and the Ring Road. Both are exceptionally fun and take you to the best natural attractions Iceland has to offer.

The Golden Circle is the most accessible route and can be completed in about a day's worth of driving. It is 300 km (186 mi) in total distance, and you visit the most sought out sites in Iceland. Travelers will set out from Reykjavik and head into central Iceland. Favorite stops along the way are Strokkur Geyser, Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Kerid Crater Lake. You could spend about a day at each location, but if you are pressed for time, you can do it in a day.

The Ring Road route is much more intense. It will take you about 10 days to complete, and you circumnavigate Iceland. The route also allows travelers to conveniently stop at the most popular sites and attractions in the country. This option will take much more planning to complete, but it when you finish you have completed the trip of a lifetime. Completing this journey is definitely better in the summer with the added sunlight and warmer weather. Trust me: driving in the north of Iceland during winter is not for the faint of heart.

Take a summer road trip around Iceland's Ring Road this August

Visit the Blue Lagoon 


One of Iceland’s biggest draws is the Blue Lagoon geothermal hot spring. Every year, thousands of visitors travel to Iceland to pump up their Instagram game and relax at this beautiful spa. August’s added sunlight and temperate climate make it one of the better times to visit Iceland’s prominent hot spring. Only a 50-minute drive from Reykjavik, escape the city and relax in the healing blue waters of the lagoon.

August Festivals in Iceland 


August is definitely the time for festivals in Iceland. The entire country celebrates the closing of summer with a bang. Here in Iceland, we really take advantage of every last drop of sunlight by partying one last time before fall. The most popular festivals here are Merchant’s Day Festivals. Merchant’s Day is an Icelandic bank holiday on the first Monday of August. The weekend preceding it is one for festivals throughout the country. The most popular of these are the Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival in the Westman Islands, the Innipukinn Festival in Reykjavik, and the Mýrarboltinn in Ísafjörður. Foreigners are likely confused by the Icelandic names here, so I am going to break it down for you.

The Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum Festival, or “The Festival of the Nation” is the biggest festival regarding camping festivals. Hosted in the Westman Islands, thousands come to see Iceland’s biggest musical acts take the stage. Within one weekend the population of the Westman Islands quadruples in size. It is crazy. The festival started in the 1800s and was initially geared towards families. Now, it isn’t the most family friendly. If you were looking for a wild time, and a true Icelandic experience buy a ticket, rent a tent, and get ready for a crazy weekend.

Festival crowd in Iceland during August

If you are more of a homebody, then the Innipukinn Festival in Reykjavik is more your speed. Innipukinn loosely translates to "homebody," and it honors its name by being mostly events held indoors. Like The Festival of the Nation in the Westman Islands, this festival has an impressive lineup year in and year out. Innipukinn hosts tons of venues, food booths, and activities throughout the city. So, if you are in Reykjavik and looking to stay close to home, this is a good bet for a great time.

Lastly, interested in something slightly different? Ever heard of the Swamp Soccer? No?! Well, you are about to! Every August Iceland hosts the European Swap Soccer Championships. Every year hundreds of people make their way to Ísafjörður, Iceland to see the top two swamp soccer teams take the field to play the world's most beautiful (and dirtiest) game. It is a sight to behold, and it is definitely out of the ordinary. Take a risk and make your way to Ísafjörður if you want to experience something truly unique.

August In Iceland


Whatever you end up doing during August, even if you aren’t coming to visit us in Iceland (you can’t see, but I am tearing up right now thinking about you not coming to see us!) make sure you enjoy the last days of summer. It is a great time to enjoy good food, great music, and spend time with friends and family. I would hope though that you make your way to Iceland for an extraordinary time.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Monday, 23 July 2018

Typical Foods in Iceland and Icelandic Cuisine

Somehow, someway, Icelandic food has gotten a bad reputation. I won't stand for it anymore! It's not fair! People all around the world think our diets solely consist of Svið (boiled sheep's head) and fermented shark. Iceland is full of tasty foods, and yet I mainly meet tourists who convey their hesitancy to eat our most common foods. I am here to tell you that we have many delicious meals. And I have proof! Here is a list of typical foods found in Iceland.

Dried fish and charcoal bread are typical Icelandic cuisine

Skyr - Iceland’s Superfood


Skyr isn’t exactly yogurt, and yet it isn’t exactly cheese. Most people when they first try it say that it has the consistency of yogurt, but its taste is much milder. Icelanders eat skyr at all times of the day, but it is definitely a favorite breakfast dish. You usually eat skyr with berries or milk at breakfast, but you can even make smoothies out of it! The superfood is filled with healthy proteins and vitamins and has virtually no carbs or fats.

The world is slowly but surely becoming obsessed with our dairy product, but it isn’t a new phenomenon. Skyr has been around for hundreds of years. Maybe that's why Icelandic folk are often regarded as the best looking and strongest people in the world.  You wish I were joking but look at Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson aka the Mountain from Game of Thrones.

Slow Roasted Lamb - Iceland’s Savory Treat


Iceland is known for having heavenly lamb dishes, and the reasons are based in history. When our ancestors first came to Iceland’s shores, they let their sheep roam free. That tradition, combined with the fact that the sheep here have had an all natural diet for hundreds of years, yields savory, soft, succulent lamb. Icelandic lamb is considered gourmet by many countries' standards. We really only eat lamb for Christmas dinner, or for celebrations. However, if you are visiting, and you have a craving for lamb, worry not! Most restaurants have a lamb dish offered on their dinner menu!

Roasted lamb is a traditional Icelandic food

Harðfiskur - Iceland’s Dried Fish 


Harðfiskur is one of the few culinary relics that people today still enjoy (not many people in Iceland are still raving about fermented shark). For hundreds of years, we have been drying fish and eating it with most meals. It is technically considered a jerky, but you can spread butter on it like toast! I know what you are thinking: fish toast, that sounds...fishy. On paper, it doesn’t seem appetizing, but we love it here. Not only is it a great snack, but like skyr, it is packed full of protein and vitamins.

Rúgbrauð - Iceland’s Hotspring Bread 


Rúgbrauð is a traditional dark rye bread that utilizes Iceland’s geothermal heat in its formation. For centuries we have cooked the dough using the natural warmth that comes from surrounding hot springs. Basically, it is super yummy magic bread that comes from the ground. How cool is that! The bread doesn’t have a crust, can be kept for a very long time, and is extremely sweet. No wonder our forefathers created it. Our notoriously harsh winters make challenging to keep foods fresh. If you have never tried it, it is delightful. I would recommend a hefty slathering of butter with it.

Rúgbrauð or Icelandic rye bread is a traditional food in Iceland

Icelandic Fish 


This category is not specific due to the sheer volume of fish that we are fortunate to have in Iceland. Iceland has over 300 species of saltwater fish and several freshwater salmon varieties. It is dealer’s choice when it comes to choosing a fresh fish option.

You may have heard that Iceland prides itself in being extremely eco-friendly, and that characteristic shows itself in our food. Our fish have an abundance of natural flavor due to the lack of pollution in our waters. I would argue that the fish in Iceland is probably some of the freshest in the world. If you had one fish to choose to eat during your visit to Iceland, I would recommend either cod or salmon. They are probably the two most common fish options we have here.

Typical Foods in Iceland and Icelandic Cuisine


I hope after reading this post, you no longer think that Iceland is all boiled sheep's head and whale blubber. It is true that our more traditional dishes are not the most appetizing for tourists, but if you are visiting, I would have to recommend that you try one of the traditional recipes. To truly get a sense for the culture you need to step out of comfort zone and try something you may never try again. Everyday Icelanders though, we eat fish, hot dogs, ice cream, skyr, lamb much more often than we do the antiquated dishes from our distant past!

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

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.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

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.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

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.

MicroBar 


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!

Iceland24
© All rights reserved