Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ice Climbing in Iceland

If you are in Iceland for a trip, it is quite difficult not to notice the asset of the country that is, glacier that extends to 4,500 square miles.

Ice Climbing in Iceland

Every year, ice climbing on these magnificent glaciers is being observed, particularly on the Svínafellsjökull and Sólheimajökull, which are located in the southern part of Iceland. In these locations, day trips are being offered from Skaftafell and Reykjavík.

Ice Climbing in Iceland

If ice climbing is not your forte, you may choose a better alternative, that is, hiking trips which can be availed of at the Vatnajökull glaciers (East), as well as the Snæfellsjökull glaciers (West). In all cases, ice climbing and glacier walking should never be attempted without the guidance of a professional guide. Walking tours on the glacier are often combined with other types of tours such as glacier lagoon boating, as well as jeep safaris.

Ice Climbing in Iceland

In winter time, when the waterfalls freeze, the place just turns into an endless winter wonderland where the place for playing grows ever wider along with the possibilities that can be enjoyed in the area.

Ice Climbing in Iceland

By taking advantage of one of the guided tours offered, you will get a chance to see first-hand, some untamed nature of Iceland. These different tours may be availed of depending on difficulty and expertise. Ice axes, as well as crampons, are readily available; however it is still recommended that you bring along with you waterproof trousers, light sweater, quick dry trousers, gloves, a hat and jacket. Additionally, you may find hiking boots for rent in the area.

Ice Climbing in Iceland

Among the most popular tours are the ones in Sólheimajökull, Skaftafell, Snæfellsjökull, and Svínafellsjökull.

Ice Climbing in Iceland

Ice climbing is a type of outdoor activity that is readily available all throughout the year in Iceland. When availing of a tour, you will receive a brief explanation to what ice climbing is, and get the opportunity to master some stints in ice climbing. There is no doubt that in no time, you will become a very good climber.

Mike, Iceland24
© 2014 Iceland24, October 2014

Monday, 20 October 2014

Christmas in Iceland

Iceland is a special place with an array of holiday traditions that are as unique as the island its self.

Christmas in Iceland

In Iceland, the Christmas festivities start on December 24th and last for 12 nights until January the 6th. In many northern countries, Christmas has its roots in ancient traditions connected to the winter solstice. Former non-Christian cultures celebrated ‘Yule’ on the shortest day of the year, which is also very close to the traditional Christmas season. Many of the early traditions surrounding Yule are a mystery to us today, but what hasn’t changed much over the centuries is the food and drink! Feasting and ale were the order of the day with Icelandic Chieftains inciting scores Yule drinking fests.

Christmas in Iceland

After Christianity became the prevalent religion, the pagan Nordic traditions were replaced by celebrations of the birth of Christ. Christianity had long since been adopted in Rome, the prevailing power of the day. Celebrations of Christmas replaced pagan holidays in many places thanks to Rome’s influence. The 13 day celebrations began in the 4th and 5th Centuries. Most Christian nations celebrated Christ’s birth on Dec. 25th and his baptism on Jan. 6th along with the adoration of the Wise Men.

Christmas in Iceland

While the holiday many be 13 days long and includes many beloved and time-honored traditions, to some getting ready for the festivities is just as much of a tradition at that time of year. For hundreds of years people have been caught up in Christmas preparations the week before the holiday kicks-off. The Icelandic people would traditionally refer to this time as ‘Fast Advent’. This name arose because of the old Christian practice of fasting before Christmas.

Just as one would leading up to Easter, Icelanders would restrict their diet in the weeks before Christmas, often eating no meat during this time. The term Advent comes straight from the Latin word ‘adventus’, which means ‘to arrive’. In many Christian cultures, Advent is a time to prepare both your spirit and your home preparations for the arrival of Christmas. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas is a time for spiritual reflection and for hard work and everyone pitches in to make Christmas memorable. In modern times the popularity and love of Christmas has meant that people often start their Christmas preparations long before Advent arrives. However, Advent is still a special time, when we rush and plan and cook and decorate, all to get ready for a season of togetherness when we spend time with those we love.

Christmas in Iceland

Modern Icelandic Christmas may differ from the traditions of old, but the amount of time and preparation that is put into the festivities has certainly not decreased! In modern Iceland, before the bells ring in the Christmas celebrations, from cards and gifts to new Christmas clothes, a good Christmas cleaning and decorations for the house, everyone pitches into to make a festive holiday season. Thirteen days before Christmas children leave their shoes by their window to be filled by the Yule lads (the Icelandic version of Father Christmas/Santa Claus) on his visit. Like in the feast days of old, Christmas food is an essential part of any celebration. When Christmas Eve arrives and all the preparation is finally done, Icelanders settle in for 12 spectacular days and nights of parties and entertainment.

Christmas in Iceland


There is no shortage of food to be found at the Laugarvegur shopping district. With a wide array of pubs, restaurants and clubs, you appetite for Christmas cuisine is sure to be satisfied along with your desire for a night on the town.  The center also provides for a relaxing setting after a day of shopping or sightseeing.

The aroma coming from Reykjavik on Dec. 23 is sure to be a strong attraction for all fish lovers. The traditional skate parties are held yearly the day before Christmas Eve, when the natives cook this special north Atlantic species of ray fish. Most restaurants in Reykjavik offer skate at this time of year, but skate is a particular specialty of Saegreifinn seafood restaurant, which we highly recommend. The smell might take some getting used to, but the party should not be missed.

Baked goods are a specialty of an Icelandic Christmas. Laufabrauð, a uniquely shaped deep-fried wheat bread, is an Icelandic delicacy that should not be missed at Christmas time and is best eaten with a little butter. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, why not try some of the traditional Icelandic Christmas cookies, baked with love by the locals.

Christmas in Iceland


Perfect for some last minute or after-Christmas shopping, Reykjavik boasts Europe’s largest shopping mall! Smaralind is just a short bus or taxi ride from our hostel. Smaralind’s prices are competitive with European prices, and in many, if not most cases you can find a terrific deal.

Kringlan shopping center, like Smaralind, is located in relatively close our hostel. Kringlan is regarded as Iceland’s first modern shopping mall. Even though this indoor shopping center has been open for 25 years, it has modern amenities and trendy places to shop.

Christmas in Iceland

The closest and most convenient shopping is located in the Laugarvegur shopping district, less than five minute walk from our hostel. At Christmas time, this district lights up the dark northern days with twinkling lights and festive decorations, setting a romantic scene in late November and December. The snow is the final finishing touch to make this area into the perfect winter wonder land. Come and experience the magic of an Icelandic Christmas with your loved ones and have a holiday season that you’ll never forget.

Christmas in Iceland: a holiday season as unique as Iceland itself!

Rachel, Iceland24
© 2014 Iceland24, October 2014

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Itinerary Ideas: Iceland in Winter - 6 Days itinerary trip in Iceland during Winter

When visiting in winter (or really October through April), you’ll want to be conscious of two factors that can affect where you go: the weather and the shorter hours of daylight. You can easily get around in winter near Reykjavík without a 4WD vehicle, but some areas of the Ring Road will be more difficult to manage.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

You’ll also need to travel at a slower pace, especially when the days are at their shortest (around mid-December). Unless you plan to rent a 4WD vehicle, your best bet is probably to stay near the capital. Luckily, there is plenty to see and do in and around Reykjavik to keep you busy for 10 days.

We recommend you to read our latest article about driving in Iceland.

Plan on 2-3 days for sightseeing and shopping around the city, then budget 4-6 days for day trips like cave exploring, ATV driving, glacier walking, snorkeling, horseback riding, dog sledding, and venturing as far as Vik.

View Larger Map

Save one day for the Golden Circle tour; if you have time and are so inclined, you can even take a day trip by plane to Akureyri or Isafjordur with AirIceland.

6 days trip in winter based in Reykjavík

Day 1. 

Once you’ve settled in, I recommend you start by getting your bearings, and there’s no better way to do that than to head up to the observation deck of Hallgrimskirkja, or “the big white church” as many people refer to it. You’ll see it from nearly anywhere in town and as long as you can find your way from there to  your hotel, you’ll never be lost in Reykjavik. You can go inside the church and take the elevator to the top for the best view in the city.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

Afterwards, you can stroll down to the Solfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture on the waterfront and then continue down to the harbor, where you can have lunch at Icelandic Fish and Chips, or warm up with a hot bowl of lobster soup at Sægreifinn (Seabaron).

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

From there you can walk through the heart of downtown, past the Parliament building and around to the Radhus, the City Hall, to see a giant topographical map of Iceland. Swing around the Tjornin pond, past the Prime Minister’s office, and up Bankastraeti, which turns into Laugavegur, the main shopping street.  If you wants to pick up something to make for dinner, stop at the Bonus grocery store.

Day 2. 

Today is a great day to get in some outdoor activity. Arrange to go snorkeling in some of the clearest water in the world at Silfra in Thingvellir (wrapped up in a surprisingly warm dry suit to survive the frigid water temps) or go riding on an Icelandic horse.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

Tour companies will take care of all the details, including pick up and drop off, and many tours can be combined to maximize time. For example, you could arrange to go horseback riding and combine that with a trip to the Blue Lagoon or to Geysir and Gullfoss, two of the country’s most popular attractions.

Day 3. 

If you’ve made some friends at your guesthouse or are traveling with a few other people, split the cost of a car rental and drive to the Golden Circle attractions. With even one other person, the $100 US cost of renting an automatic transmission car (including insurance) would work out better than spending 9800 ISK (about $89 US) for a tour of the Golden Circle.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

The roads along the route are fairly well-maintained and unless a storm comes up, the drive would be no worse than driving anywhere in the US in winter. Plus, a car allows the freedom to stop as often as you’d like and detour when you want.

After a day of exploring, treat yourself to a splurge dinner, before hitting some of the clubs for the Friday night runtur.  I highly recommend Fishmarket, an upscale restaurant that serves Icelandic specialties with an Asian twist – I loved the grilled king crab claws with chili may (3900 ISK, about $35 US)  or the 6900 ISK langoustine from Vestmannaeyjar. If that’s too rich for you, there are plenty of cheap eats, like Tapas Barinn, where you can sample smaller portions at smaller prices.

Day 4.

Assuming you stayed out a little late last night and want to take it easy on Saturday, you should stick around Reykjavik. Relax in one of the public swimming pools, ride a bike around the city if the weather is nice, or do some shopping at the weekend Kolaportið flea market near the harbor.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

If you are in the market for an Icelandic sweater, get one here for much cheaper than in the souvenir shops. If you have some cash to burn, stock up on stylish outdoor gear at 66° North or head to the Kringlan shopping center. If it’s Wednesday, today is the best day to visit the Culture House as there is no admission charge on Wednesdays.

Day 5.

You need to get a Car rental in Iceland and drive to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Jökulsárlón is today one of Iceland's best known and most popular natural wonders, and for a good reason. A magnificent view welcomes you as you arrive there and it's almost like stepping into a fairy tale landscape.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the Icelandic glaciers. The lagoon now stands 1.5 kilometres away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2. It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland at over 248 metres depth as glacial retreat extended its boundaries.

Day 6.

Most flights back to the US leave between 3pm and 5pm; Keflavik Airport is small and the security line moves pretty fast so you don’t need to get there much more than 90 minutes before your flight, which leaves plenty of time left in the morning to explore more of Reykjavik or schedule once last excursion. If you haven’t yet visited the Blue Lagoon, go today on your way to the airport.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

The Flybus picks up at the BSI bus terminal, an easy 10-15 minute walk from the city center, and goes right to the Blue Lagoon. If you takes the 11am bus to the Blue Lagoon, you’ll arrive by 11:45, and will have over two hours to soak before boarding the 2:15pm bus to Keflavik, which arrives with 2.5 hours to spare before a 5pm flight.

This leaves plenty of time to have a snack, turn in any receipts for duty-free shopping to get a tax refund, exchange any remaining kronur for dollars, and relax before the flight home.

Do not forget to search for the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights appear from September to March, and though sightings are never guaranteed, there are many tour companies who will drive you to a viewing point and provide warm gear, hot drinks, and even dinner, while you wait for the lights to dance overhead. But you don’t have to pony up for a tour though. In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to leave the city, as the lights can often be seen from Reykjavik.

Iceland in winter - Winter Travel Guide Iceland

Berglind Rós, Iceland24
October 2014

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tourist Caught Speeding - Speed tickets in Iceland

A tourist was caught speeding 60 kilometers over the limit along Reykjanesbraut, the road to Keflavík International Airport, earlier this week.

Speed tickets in Iceland

The speed limit in the area, and the maximum speed limit in Iceland is 90 km/hr (55 mph) but the man was driving 150 km/hr (95 mph).

A total of 11 people were caught speeding in the Suðurnes region where Keflavík Airport is located this week, visir website reports.

Speed tickets in Iceland

The police in Selfoss also stopped a tourist on the mountain pass Hellisheiði, between Reykjavík and Hveragerði, for speeding 168 km/h (105 miles/h) in a 90 km/h zone last monday. The speed limit outside of urban areas in Iceland is generally 90km/h (55miles/h).

The driver was issued a ISK 112,000 (USD 1000, EUR 770) on-the-spot fine. The man will also be banned from driving for three months.

Speed tickets in Iceland

There have been several cases of tourists being booked for driving much faster than the speed limit in recent months.

Speed limits and tickets in Iceland

The general rule is that 90 km/hour is the maximum speed you can drive at outside of towns and villages in Iceland in perfect circumstances on tarmac and without a carriage. On unpaved roads the speed limit is 80 km/hour Nowhere in Iceland are you allowed to drive faster than that. Somewhere the speed limit can be lower if the circumstances call for it such as steep mountain roads or sharp turns. There are usually plenty of signs that tell you the maximum speed so not knowing is really not an excuse.

The table below tells you how the speeding ticket system in Iceland is built up. The yellow line represent the speed limit on any given road and the pink line represent the actual speed the driver is caught driving at. The numbers in the other boxes represent the fine in thousands (ISK) + the months the license is suspended. We don’t know if the Icelandic police has jurisdiction to suspend foreign licenses but they can and will give out tickets.

Speed tickets in Iceland

How do you get a ticket?

As you may have noticed if you have driven around Iceland there are not a lot of police around. There are plenty of speed cameras though and even thought there are big signs that tell you that they are there, somehow people don’t slow down and end up getting a ticket.

Also, even though there are not a lot of police around they do lurk around and show up when you least expect it. Certain counties are notorious for very efficient speed control and the police knows exactly where to hide so you won’t figure out they are there until it’s too late.

We’ve also heard, and we don’t know if this is true or not, that they just love to bust tourists in rental cars.

Speed tickets in Iceland

But nobody told me I got a ticket when I dropped off my rental car, that must mean I’m in the clear, right?

Wrong. It always takes the authorities some time to process the ticket and then it takes the car rental agency time to put two and two together and figure out who was driving the car when the ticket was issued. What’s more, some car rental agencies will charge you a processing charge on top of the actual ticket.

Speed tickets in Iceland

Soure: Icelandreview
Iceland24, October 2014