Thursday, 15 November 2018

7-Day South Iceland Itinerary | Day 1: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Sólheimasandur

If you're visiting Iceland, you’re most likely going to do a 5-day or 7-day itinerary. Some people are lucky and have more time. But for the majority of people, this trip of a lifetime is going to be relatively short. And a week in Iceland is better than nothing, right? I really do recommend longer than seven days to really get to know the country, but if you’re pressed for time then it’s best to focus on driving around one region. The following itinerary focuses on Iceland’s South Coast, which is where most visitors spend their time. The first part is a 5-day itinerary for just the outdoor pursuits of the South Coast. This is for those especially short on time. It leaves out the sights closest to Reykjavik, which I highly recommend adding. Including the additional two days will also allow you to explore Reykjavik and environs.

Seljalandsfoss is a must on any 5-day or 7-day itinerary in South Iceland

Day One: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Sólheimasandur


We start off our South Iceland itinerary with some of Iceland’s most breathtaking waterfalls and the haunting plane wreck site at Sólheimasandur beach. After leaving either Reykjavik itself or the Keflavik International Airport, head east along Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1). It’s a nice 80-mile (128 km) drive that takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete. Give yourself an extra 15-30 minutes in winter or with other less than ideal weather conditions. Turn left onto Thórsmörkvegur and follow it for a little bit until you reach the parking lot on your right. Seljalandsfoss will also be on your right.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall


As you approach this waterfall, you’ll be hit by the sound of gushing water and the smell of damp grass. Be sure to bring a sturdy rain jacket and waterproof protective gear for your camera. You’ll also want to wear a good pair of waterproof hiking boots as the rocks and hiking path around the cascade can be quite slippery. Seljalandsfoss has a reputation as being the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. In fact, it has the nickname “The Beauty” as compared to Dettifoss waterfall, known as “The Beast. When approaching Seljalandsfoss from the front, you may be wondering what makes it so special. Sure, the cascade has a long, elegant drop...but doesn’t every waterfall? As you get closer, however, you’ll see that behind the falls there is a small cave. There’s a small trail to follow that leads around and behind the waterfall and its rocky arch.

After you’ve walked around, taken pictures, and enjoyed the impressive views, it’s time to head off to our second waterfall of the day: Skógafoss. You’ll drive back toward the main highway. When the road splits, you’ll need to go left and continue onward in the direction of Vík. A little less than 30 minutes up the road (about 18 miles or 29 km) is the turnoff for Skógafoss. There’s a red and white sign on your left that points the way.

Majestic Skógafoss waterfall on South Iceland 5-day or 7-day itinerary


Skógafoss Waterfall


One of the coolest things about this majestic waterfall is that you can walk right up to it. Be prepared to get soaked, however. The waterfall’s sprays travel quite the distance from their source. Approach the 197-foot (60-meter) drop if you dare. If you didn’t pack your raincoat and waterproof clothing you can still stand back and enjoy the single and double rainbows this waterfall is so well known for. This is a great place to take kids as it’s not as treacherous as Seljalandsfoss.

Sólheimasandur Beach Douglas DC-3 Plane Wreck Site


In the fall of 1973, a US Navy aircraft crash-landed on the shores of Sólheimasandur beach in South Iceland after the engines iced up. Thankfully, all of the crew members survived. There’s was a bit of a dispute about whose job it was to clean up the wreckage (Iceland’s government refused) so the plane was abandoned. All that remains is the plane's fuselage and part of the cockpit. The missing wings and tail have been lost to time. You'll need to park in the parking area and then walk for about an hour to reach the crash site. You can actually go inside the plane to take photos. Once you are done exploring, walk around the area to see the black sand beaches. Head to Vik for the evening and enjoy dinner there.

Sólheimasandur crash site is the final stop on our 7-day South Iceland itinerary

7-Day South Iceland Itinerary | Day 1: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Sólheimasandur


Next up, we’ll continue on our South Iceland itinerary by visiting Vik and Reynisfjara peninsula along with the wonders of Vatnajökull National Park, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and Diamond Beach. Then we’ll finish up with some time in Reykjavik, a visit to the Blue Lagoon, and a trip around the Golden Circle route. There’s a lot to do, so get plenty of rest.

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Wednesday, 14 November 2018

How Dark is Iceland in the Winter?

Many people have exaggerated or untrue ideas about certain things in Iceland. One is the cold. Yes, we have our fair share of icy, snowy weather, but it’s no worse than in places like New York. Maybe it’s because the winter in Iceland lasts longer than in other places? Another big one is the number of daylight hours during the colder months. So how dark is Iceland in winter? We all know that with daylight savings time and shorter days in general, December, January, and February don’t see much light. Iceland’s northern latitude and proximity to the Arctic Circle make this even more pronounced. But that doesn’t mean it’s dark all the time! I guess the reasoning goes that if there is nearly 24-hour sun in the summer, the same must be true for darkness in the winter. Not true. Daylight is reduced, but not as drastically as you might think.

Iceland's winter darkness depends on civil twilight

What is Considered Winter in Iceland?


First things first, let’s discuss winter in Iceland. In many parts of the world, most people consider winter to be the colder months of December, January, and February with autumn and spring falling on either side. Iceland actually experiences frigid temperatures from October to March or April. As a result, we consider this period to be “winter”. Not only is it the low season for tourism, but it also shares winter characteristics like reduced daylight hours.

Shorter Days and Longer Nights


The good news is that Iceland is not entirely dark in winter. During the period surrounding the winter solstice and consequently, the shortest day of the year, Iceland’s minimum daylight is around four hours per day. I know this isn’t much, but as you move away from the shortest day of the year, you’ll have five, six, and seven-hour days. November sees days with up to eight hours. October starts off with a whopping 11 hours per day of sunlight. So as you can see, it varies.

Here’s a useful list of sunrise and sunset times along with daylight hours. It will give you a better idea of how dark it gets in Iceland during the winter months of October, November, December, January, February, March.

Iceland has reduced daylight in winter but it's not completely dark

Sunrise and Sunset Times in Winter Along With Hours of Daylight 


These are the sunrise and sunset times in Iceland in the winter according to timeanddate.com’s Reykjavik forecast. Other parts of the country may be different and the north, close to the Arctic Circle, will be more extreme.

Beginning of October - Sunrise: 7:36 am | Sunset: 6:56 pm (11 hours 20 minutes)
Beginning of November - Sunrise: 9:10 am | Sunset: 5:10 pm (8 hours)
Beginning of December - Sunrise: 10:45 am | Sunset: 3:47 pm (5 hours)
Beginning of January - Sunrise: 11:19 am | Sunset: 3:43 pm (4 hours and 23 minutes)
Beginning of February - Sunrise: 10:09 | Sunset: 5:14 pm (7 hours and 5 minutes)
Beginning of March - Sunrise: 8:36 am | Sunset: 6:45 pm (10 hours and 8 minutes)

But sunrise and sunset times aren’t the whole story. To get the full picture of the actual amount of light that you have on a basis, you need to take civil twilight into account.

What On Earth is Civil Twilight?


If you’ve never heard of it before, civil twilight is something that’s going to make you very happy. Essentially you’ve got more hours of light in the day than you think. The way that it works is that instead of looking at strict sunrise and sunset times, you’ve actually got more time of actual brightness. If the sun officially rises at 10:45 am, for example, civil twilight might be at 9:30 am. So instead of the pitch black and complete darkness of night, you’ve actually got some light in the sky. This is especially true if you are driving east, the direction from which the sun rises. And naturally, the dawn light increases as you inch closer to sunrise. The same goes for the evening. Dusk might last 20, 30, 40 minutes, or even an hour after the sun has officially set.

Icelandic town with daylight in winter after the sunset

How Does Darkness in Iceland Affect My Travel Plans and Activities? 


At the end of the day, what most people want to know is how darkness in Iceland will affect the tours they book and their travel itinerary. If you’re worried that shorter days will negatively impact your trip, don’t worry. With a bit of planning, you’ll be able to fit in plenty of activities. Not as many as during the Midnight Sun of course, but definitely enough.

Take advantage of civil twilight (and maybe a little before) to drive to the day’s first destination. One of the many great things about Iceland is that driving distances are short. Leaving an hour beforehand means you’ll get there right when the sun rises and be ready to face the day. The same goes for driving after sunset. Some people don’t like driving at night, especially on the icy conditions of Iceland’s roads. To be honest, I don’t blame them. But driving when the sky is still lit up is not nearly as bad. And if you are driving west, north, or south, it’s great.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving in the dark, you can always book an excursion and leave the driving to the professionals. They are familiar with driving times and distances and know what to expect from civil twilight. You’ll be in good hands.

How Dark is Iceland in the Winter?


With the sun rising as late as 11:30 am and then setting just four hours later at 3:30 pm, it’s easy to see why people think Iceland does not get many hours of daylight in winter. This is the worst case scenario though, and most of the winter season isn’t so severe. If you’re really worried about the lack of daylight affecting your winter trip to Iceland, try to go closer to the beginning or the end of the season. And take advantage of civil twilight. We Icelanders certainly do!

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Monday, 12 November 2018

Speaking Icelandic: Useful and Funny Phrases

One of the best ways to get to know a country’s culture is to study its language. The words people use in Iceland and our colorful, funny expressions give you a small peek into the mind of the typical Icelander. What I’m talking about goes beyond the simple greetings and everyday expressions for travelers like “hallo” (hello), “takk” (thank you), and “gaman að kynnast þér” (nice to meet you). I want you to do more than just get by. Now don’t get scared; I’m not asking you to master the Icelandic language! Germanic languages can be a little tricky, and I’m sure the fact that we’ve got some funny symbols and letters might be a little intimidating. But there are just some expressions that I think you might find culturally interesting and perhaps they’ll even give you a little chuckle. Let’s dive in and learn some useful and funny phrases in Icelandic.

Man contemplating funny and useful expressions in Icelandic

I Will Find You on a Beach (Ég mun finna þig í fjöru) 


This is perhaps my favorite unusual saying in Icelandic. Lest you think all Icelanders are sweet, innocent, mild-mannered Nordic folk, let me relieve you of that illusion. We descended from the Vikings! And just like anyone else, we get mad! Except when we get angry, we threaten our newly-formed enemies with a vow to track them down and strike when they are least expecting it. If someone tells you “Ég mun finna þig í fjöru“, you must never ever let your guard down. And keep that in mind next time you see a sweet-looking, little old lady wandering the streets of Reykjavik. You know she’s found a few people on a beach. Maybe she’s on her way there now.

Correct usage: Hey! You just cut in front of me in line at Sandholt Bakery and bought the last croissant. I WILL FIND YOU ON A BEACH! *Shakes fist angrily*.

Icelanders will find you on a beach

You are such a latte-drinking wool scarf (Þú ert nú meiri lattelepjandi lopatrefillinn) 


It’s pretty safe to say that people who live in large cities have nicknames for people who live in the country and vice versa. Iceland is no different, and there’s a phrase in Icelandic similar to calling someone a city slicker. Being a “latte-drinking wool scarf” is reserved for people who live in Reykjavik’s city center and is a derogatory term. The negative connotation comes from the idea that we sit around in our posh wool scarves sipping lattes all day like total snobs. To be fair, I do like doing both of those things, but I have other hobbies as well.

Correct usage: Berglind and Leif came to visit me at the farm this weekend, and neither knew how to ride a horse. They’re such latte-drinking wool scarves! *Eye roll*.

It’s Window Weather (Gluggaveður) 


Much like the word “window shopping” reflects any culture obsessed with buying things (and sometimes things they can’t afford), this expression comes from a land where we frequently experience weather that is quite nice to look at but not so great to be in. Whether it’s a gentle snowfall during the holidays or a stormy, rainy fall afternoon, sometimes it’s just nice to be inside where it’s warm and dry while admiring the weather from afar. Bonus points if you’ve got a blanket and a hot drink in your hand.

Gluggaveður is the common Icelandic expression for window weather

Correct usage: Is your Netflix subscription up to date? There’s a winter storm headed from Vik to Reykjavik this weekend, and it looks like we’re in for some window weather.

Speaking Icelandic: Useful and Funny Phrases 


There are plenty of little gems like these in Icelandic. Master these first three, and you are well on your way to impressing your new friends in Iceland. And if you really want to blow them away, learn how to pronounce (or just how to spell) Eyjafjallajökull. If that slightly complicated name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s the volcano in southern Iceland that wreaked havoc back in 2010. With your newly-learned Icelandic language skills, you are ready to go to Iceland and blend in with the locals. All it takes is a little practice, as and as we say in Iceland, “No one becomes a bishop without a beating” (Enginn verður óbarinn biskup). That roughly means “you have to work toward your goals and be ready to face the challenges along the way”. Good luck!

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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. 

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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 - 2019 (8 days)

Option A - New cars:

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY 2019 (1st place)
Toyota Aygo / Kia Picanto:          429€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       778€
*prices with all insurance included


REYKJAVÍK CARS                    BEST COMPANY 2019 (2nd place)
Hyundai i10:                                344€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       652€

HERTZ
Toyota Aygo:                                860€
Toyota Rav4:                               1.503€

REYKJAVÍK AUTO                     BEST COMPANY 2019 (3rd place)
Renault Clio:                                349€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                        662€

EUROPCAR
Hyundai i10:                                 720€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             1.190€

AVIS
Hyundai i10:                                  719€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                      1.083€


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Option B - Older cars:

CARS REYKJAVÍK                     
Toyota Yaris                                 379€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                          710€

SS CAR RENTAL
Toyota Yaris:                                  547€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                           858€

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent older models)
Hyundai i10:                                357€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                       634€

KEFLAVIK CARS
Toyota Yaris                                 402€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                          784€

ICELAND CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                503€
Toyota Rav4                                 848€

GEYSIR
Hyundai i20:                                480€
Hyundai Tucson:                          790€

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. We were w,rong. 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 volcanoes), 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 price of your 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.


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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
Check weather forecast.
Carpooling in Iceland.
Map of Iceland.

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Kolla, Iceland24
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Friday, 9 November 2018

All You Need to Know About Renting Camping Gear in Reykjavik

Camping is one of the best ways to see Iceland and save money, especially during the high season of summer. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come every year to get back to the elements and enjoy time in nature. Whether you’ve decided to rent a car, motorhome, or campervan, doing some form of camping in Iceland is a great idea all around. While it's possible to bring your own gear, the majority of people actually rent the camping equipment for their trip. This may come as a surprise if you’ve never done it, but I can assure you that it’s perfectly normal. So normal in fact, there are multiple locales where you can rent camping gear all over the island. We’ve got a list of some of the best places to rent camping equipment in Reykjavik as well as things to keep in mind and the benefits of renting gear.

Best camping equipment rental and gear stores in Reykjavik

Renting Gear Versus Bringing Your Own 


The first question that comes to mind is why you should rent camping equipment instead of bringing your own. It’s true that there is something to be said about having your tried and tested gear with you on your Iceland camping trip. But something important to keep in mind is that many things are different in Iceland, especially weather conditions. The same tent that has served you faithfully on numerous backpacking trips to the mountains may be ill-suited for the snow, sleet, hail, winds, and rain of small, stormy island such as Iceland. Unless you already own an all season tent made from durable materials, it’s likely that you’ll need something sturdier to brave the elements here.

Another thing to factor in when deciding whether to rent or buy your camping equipment for Iceland is how much it’s going to cost to bring everything with you. Extra luggage fees combined with the hassle of lugging bulky tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, camping stoves, and other camping equipment around the airport are enough to turn off any seasoned traveler. Save yourself the stress of wrangling with your gear by just renting it at a store and throwing it in your rental vehicle.

Things to Keep in Mind 


As we mentioned above, Iceland has extreme weather conditions. Only the most durable and well-built equipment will do when spending time in such an extreme environment. For example, your tentpoles should be made out of materials like super strong aluminum. Tent floors should be extremely well-insulated in addition to placing tarp underneath. Not only are you trying to keep out the cold and frost, but also the dampness that can seep in from the grass and dirt below. Wind is another thing to be aware of. Iceland gets very windy, and if you don’t have strong tent spikes driven into the ground, you can easily get blown away.

Rent a tent in Reykjavik and wake up to beautiful view of a waterfall

Top Camping Equipment Rental Stores in Reykjavik 


So where can you rent camping gear once you arrive in Iceland? Reykjavik has several different options for all different budgets and camping styles from budget to top quality. These stores are filled with friendly, helpful staff members who are experts at helping you pick out just the right camping equipment to meet your needs. They know how to use their years of experience and general knowledge of Iceland to give you the best advice possible.

Iceland Camping Equipment Rental 


Website: https://www.iceland-camping-equipment.com/
Address: Barónsstígur 5, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Phone: +354 647 0569

This is probably one of the best (if not the best) camping equipment rental stores in Reykjavik. Their wide variety of products include the standard tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves, and gas canisters. You can also get more modern camping convenience like GPS, portable Wifi. They even offer maps. Take a look at their online store to see the huge selection of products and pre-order anything you think you’ll need.

Gangleri Outfitters 


Website: http://www.outfitters.is/
Address: Hverfisgata 82, Reykjavik 101, Iceland
Phone: +354 583 2222

You’ll see lots of positive word of mouth online about Gangleri Outfitters, another top camping gear rental store in Reykjavik. They too have an extensive product selection and offer items both on sale and for rent. It’s a smaller store than Iceland Camping Equipment Rental, but they still have a lot. You can even get some high-quality snowshoes and hiking boots in case you don’t have a pair from back home.

Some of Reykjavik's top camping equipment rental stores also sell hiking boots

Rent-a-Tent 


Website: http://www.rentatent.is/ 
Address: Smiðjuvegur 6, Rauð gata, 200 Kópavogur, Iceland
Phone: +354 848 5805

The name says it all. Tents are what they love, and tents are what they do best. This is your no-frills, one-stop shop to get the basics covered for your camping trip. They offer slightly lower prices on some items and are located just outside of Reykjavik. You’ll want to pick up your car rental at Keflavik and then head to the small town of Kópavogur.

Fjallakofinn 


Website: https://www.fjallakofinn.is
Address: Laugavegur 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Phone: +354 510 9511

Fjallakofinn or “mountain hut” in Icelandic, is a higher end camping equipment rental store. They offer not only camping equipment and accessories but clothing as well. Their store on Reykjavik’s chic Laugavegur street is home to items for skiing and snowboarding as well as basic thermal pieces. If you’re looking for a camping gear specific store, this may not be your best bet as the other three stores I mentioned have a much greater selection. But if you’re looking for more select pieces and high-quality winter clothing, this could be a good option.

All You Need to Know About Renting Camping Gear in Reykjavik 


Hopefully, this has helped you get a better handle on where to go and what to look for when renting camping gear in Reykjavik. I really do encourage you to go this route when camping in Iceland. You’ll save time and money and have just the right equipment for your trip. The stores pride themselves on the high quality of their inventory, so they are sure to have just what you need in stock. Let us know how it goes!

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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Campervan Rental Guide

There’s nothing better than hitting the open road with friends or family. All you need is a full tank of gas, some road trip playlists on your phone or iPod, and a GPS to guide you on your way. Renting a campervan in Iceland and driving around the country’s Ring Road is one of the best ways to experience this type of once in a lifetime trip. So what factors should you take into account when renting a campervan? What amenities come standard? What are the best campervan rental companies in Iceland? Let’s look at what it means to rent a campervan so we can start planning an unforgettable journey around the small, Nordic island.

Man admiring scenery from his Iceland camper van rental

The Difference Between a Campervan and a Motorhome 


So what is a campervan exactly? To be perfectly honest, some people think it’s the same as a motorhome. This is not surprising given the overlap of many characteristics. While both are considered RVs (recreational vehicles), campervans are smaller, stripped down versions of a motorhome. Larger motorhomes have luxurious amenities such as a full dining table, a kitchen with food prep area and sink, and bathrooms with a toilet and shower. It’s an actual home on wheels. Some, but not all, campervans can have a few of these features.

Campervans are a no-frills, scaled-down version of this. They are vans (think the classic VW) that have been retrofitted to include sleeping arrangements in the rear. You essentially drive during the day and then head to the back of the vehicle when it’s time to sleep. Some campervans have sleeping arrangements that double as living areas during the day. Some are beds and nothing more.

The entire cabin is heated, so you’ll stay nice and toasty overnight while you are tucked in. Campervans are perfect for young people with a sense of adventure. You have the freedom that comes from not driving around a cumbersome motorhome and can stop anytime you like. Models like the VW California are especially popular for roaming around the country. Visitors who travel this way often choose to park at a campsite overnight.

Blue camper van with pop up tent

Campervan Features 


Campervans in Iceland come standard with heating and some with 12V power outlets or sockets. Check to see the number of outlets and if you need an adapter, invertor or additional inputs in order to have compatibility with 220V devices. Heating is usually provided by a battery that is separate from the one powering the engine. These Webasto heaters are recharged while the engine is on. You’ll need to drive for at least three hours per day to ensure that your battery doesn’t die in the middle of the night. You may also want to consider renting a portable Wifi router if you’d like to have access to the internet. Enquire with your campervan rental company about renting Wifi equipment.

Lastly, if you’ve decided to turn your trip into a camping trip, check the availability of a campervan with a pop-up tent on the roof. You’ll get the full camping experience without the hassle of setting up a tent at the campsite.

Best Campervan Rental Companies in Iceland 


Iceland’s popularity as a tourism destination has exploded exponentially in the last ten years. As a result, the rental market for cars, campervans, and motorhomes is a bit oversaturated. There are many different companies jostling for your attention. So how do you choose among the many options available? One way is through word of mouth. Google Reviews has a listing of all the major players in the campervan rental space in Iceland. You can see how many five-star reviews each company has received and read what their customers have to say. To help you, we’ve narrowed it down to a few companies that have an excellent reputation, good word of mouth, outstanding customer service, and positive chatter on travel forums.

Iceland camper van rental interior bed

In no particular order, here are our top six campervan rental companies in Iceland.

Campervan Iceland

Not only do they offer the best prices on campervans in Iceland, but their clients also praise them the high level of customer service they provide. This is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for an established company with a great reputation and even better prices. You can even rent a VW California and ride around the island in style.
Website: https://www.campervaniceland.com/

GO Campers 

GO Campers also offers competitive pricing and has a wide range of vehicles. Their fleet features campers that sleep up to five people. They offer friendly and helpful customer service.
Website: http://www.gocampers.is/

Camper Rental Iceland 

The clients of this company have had tons of positive experiences, and many of them are looking forward to returning to Iceland. While they haven’t racked tons of reviews yet, the ones they do have are great. We are big fans of buying local, and this family-operated company can help you plan the trip of your dreams.
Website: https://www.camperrentaliceland.com/

Camp Easy

This family-run company has been around a long time. They focus on their clients and produce custom-built campers. Their camper designs are original, drawing upon their knowledge of Iceland, and focus on high-quality interiors.
Website: https://www.campeasy.com/ 


Happy Campers

This is another family-run campervan rental company in Iceland. Like most businesses here, they offer discounts during the low season. If you’re looking to save money, come between the months of October and November and book with any of these companies.
Website: https://happycampers.is/

Campers Reykjavik

This company is known for having the smaller vehicles you might associate with campervan rental. Normally fit for just two or three people, these adventure mobiles are just right for that dream road trip in Iceland. They understand travelers and want to make sure you have a fantastic time here.
Website: https://www.campersreykjavik.com/

Campervan Rental Guide 

So now you’re ready! Find the campervan that suits your needs, book it, and start planning your Icelandic itinerary. There’s a wide selection of vehicles available, so see which one fits your budget and desires. Happy driving!

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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

4 Best Cafés in Reykjavik - Warm Up When It's Cold Outside

The cold has arrived in Reykjavik, and with it, one of my favorite pastimes. Relaxing in a café with a mug of something piping hot in your hands as you let the aroma waft towards your nose is probably one of the best feelings on earth. Compound this with frigid temperatures outside and a rainy or snowy backdrop through the window and you’ve got all the makings of the perfect fall or winter day. So if you happen to find yourself in Iceland’s capital and are looking for the perfect spot to chill out and get warm, we’re here to help. Café culture is thriving in Iceland, and these are some of my favorite places to get coffee, tea, and other warm beverages. Enjoy exploring Reykjavik’s best cafés and let us know which ones you like best.

Friends enjoying coffee in one of Reykjavik's best cafés

Reykjavik's Best Cafés - Kaffitár 

Address: Bankastræti 8, 101 Reykjavík

This eco-conscious café not only strives to take care of the planet, but they also aim to be experts in all things coffee-related. The staff is made up of passionate individuals who have received training in the different types of ways to roast the beans, the nuances of blending and combining flavors, and of course how to make the perfect coffee drink, ranging from Americano to double espresso. You’ll also get a special treat with the patterns, swirls, and designs they create with the milk foam on their cappuccinos. They are such pros that one of their own, head barista Khadija Ósk, competed in the 2018 World Barista Championships in Amsterdam.

Reykjavik's Best Cafés - Café Haiti

Address: Geirsgata 7b, 101 Reykjavík

Entrepreneur and Reykjavik’s "Coffee Queen" Elda Thorisson-Faurelien came to Iceland in 2007 with two kilos of roasted coffee, 20 kilos of raw coffee beans, and a dream. She quickly set up shop, bringing along her extensive knowledge and background with coffee. After growing up on her father’s coffee plantation in Haiti and learning all about java from a young age, she made the move to Iceland and has been bringing Haitian-influenced brews to the masses on the small Nordic island ever since. She offers freshly roasted coffee from both her home country and Guatemala, along with an assortment of homemade cakes, soups, and creole fare. If you’re looking for coffee with a complex character and brewed with love, Cafe Haiti is the place for you.

Barista preparing coffee in one of Reykjavik's best coffee shops

Reykjavik's Best Cafés - Mokka-Kaffi 

Address: Skólavörðustígur 3A, 101 Reykjavík

Mokka is a Reykjavik institution and holds the distinct honor of operating the first espresso machine in the city. The bold interior and classic decor give the coffee shop a distinct feel that is both old school and welcoming. The dreamy smells that greet you as you walk in the door are a mix of roasted coffee beans and tasty treats. On an artistic note, the cafe has also doubled as an art gallery since its opening in 1958.

Reykjavik's Best Cafés - Café Babalú 

Address: Skolavoerdustigur 22a, 101 Reykjavik
This colorful, eclectic café features kitschy decor that is as unique as the coffee is tasty. With knick-knacks like ceramic teapots, wooden roosters, and various currencies hanging from the ceiling like prayer flags, you’ll feel as if you’ve wandered into a coffee-slinging vintage store. Rest assured, the baristas at Babalú will take good care of you during your visit. Grab the coffee, tea, or hot chocolate of your choice along with one of their signature giant chocolate chip cookies (yum!) and find a spot one of their comfy couches. They’ve also got vegan and vegetarian food and dessert options. It’s the perfect way to spend a cozy afternoon in Reykjavik and escape winter’s wrath.

Milk foam designs at one of Reykjavik's best cafés

Reykjavik's Best Cafés - Warm Up When It's Cold Outside 


So there you have it. Whether you’re hoping to find a frothy cup of hot cocoa, fresh green tea, or a nice strong brew of a Colombian or Brazilian roast, there’s something for everyone in Iceland’s capital. These are by no means all of the coffee shops and cafés in Reykjavik but are definitely an excellent place to start. Other great options are Reykjavik Roasters, Stofan Café, Grái Kötturinn, and Kattakaffihúsið (the Reykjavik Cat Café) among others. Let’s us know how your search for the perfect cup of coffee goes and if you have any recommendations to add to this list.

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Monday, 5 November 2018

Iceland News: Icelandair to Acquire Wow Air

In breaking news out of Iceland, national airline Icelandair is in the process of acquiring low-cost carrier WOW air. The young airline has faced financial hardships as of late despite its popularity and viral marketing campaigns. Their telltale bright purple color has become a trademark for both the company’s planes and their bicycle ride-sharing service seen around Reykjavik, WOW Citybike. They will now reside under the umbrella of Icelandair after all of the company’s shares are acquired. It is still unknown how many of the company’s 36 national and international destinations will continue after the stock purchase. WOW air flies mainly to North America and Europe from Iceland.

Plane on tarmac. WOW air will be acquired by Icelandair

WOW Air’s Background and Viral Marketing Strategies 


Founded in 2011 by Skúli Mogensen with its hub at Keflavik International Airport, WOW air quickly gained popularity due to their distinctive branding and creative marketing campaigns. Budget-conscious travelers went crazy for the $99 one-way fares that the company introduced back in 2017 and brought back in 2018. They also generated a ton of buzz with their 2018 online guerilla marketing campaign to find digital travel guides. New Yorkers Brad and Rob were the two lucky brand ambassadors chosen from tens of thousands of applicants for the “World’s Best Summer Job".

In spite of the excitement surrounding the company and yearly growth, it seems it was just not sustainable. The company has been experiencing some financial trouble lately, and Icelandair decided to swoop in and take advantage of the opportunity presented. As Icelandair’s leading domestic competition, the time was right for WOW air to come under the umbrella of the Icelandair Group and bring their respective strengths together in order to become stronger as one while remaining serious players in the market for international flights.

Woman working on transatlantic flight from Iceland to North America

How the Acquisition Benefits Both Wow Air and Icelandair 


In the words of Bogi Nils Bogason, Interim President & CEO of the Icelandair Group: "WOW air has in recent years built a strong brand and enjoyed great success in the company‘s markets to and from Iceland and across the Atlantic. There are many opportunities for synergies with the two companies, but they will continue to operate under their own brands and operating approvals. The tourism industry is one of the cornerstones of the Icelandic economy, and it is important that flights to and from Iceland will remain frequent".

WOW air is also looking forward to the acquisition. Says Skúli Mogensen, CEO and founder of WOW air: "I am very proud of the success and development that we at WOW Air have enjoyed in the past few years, and I am thankful for the response we have received since our very first flight. We have created a strong team that has reached remarkable success and has been a pioneer in low-cost flights across the North-Atlantic. A new chapter now starts where WOW air gets an opportunity to grow and prosper with a strong backer like Icelandair Group that will strengthen the foundations of the company and strengthen its international competitiveness even further”.

White model plane on blue background. Icelandair is ready to acquire WOW air with a stock purchase after shareholder approval.

Iceland News: Icelandair to Acquire Wow Air


While the sale of shares has not been finalized yet, Icelandair Group is taking the final steps toward approval of the acquisition. The announcement came on Monday and still needs to be approved by the parent company’s shareholders, the Icelandic Competition Authorities, and must pass due diligence. These next steps are scheduled to happen within the next few days.

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Iceland's Weather in November

Are you planning a trip to Iceland in November? Or maybe you’re simply trying to decide on the best month to go. Either way, it helps to know the average temperatures, daylight hours, and what to expect in terms of rain and snow for what is one of the colder months in Iceland. You’ll need to dress warmly, that’s for sure. November is considered to be a winter month, as temperatures are already at or near freezing. You’ll also see snowfall towards the end of the month. This is a great time to visit because not only can you see Iceland’s famous Northern Lights, prices will also be lower than during the summer months.

Iceland's Northern Lights at Kirkjufell in November

Average November Temperatures in Iceland 


The cold has started creeping in, and temperatures began their descent back in October. By November, winter has officially arrived in Iceland (even though Christmas is still several weeks away)! The historical averages for this month usually have a high of 5 ºC (41 ºF) and a low of 0 or 1 ºC (32-34 ºF). Keep in mind that certain areas of the country are warmer than others. The South Coast is where you will find the warmest temperatures on the island. Regardless of where you go, you’ll need to bundle up. Some of Iceland’s coolest activities like glacier hikes and ice cave exploration are available at this time of year.

Daylight Hours In Iceland in November 


Iceland’s average daily sunshine slowly moves from eight hours a day at the beginning of the month to a mere five hours a day at the end. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll lose six minutes of daylight per day and you inch closer and closer toward the winter equinox. You’ll need to plan your itinerary of activities well, as you won’t have the endless days of summer’s midnight sun. Additionally, some people don’t enjoy driving at night. As exploring the island by car is the primary way of traveling around Iceland, sunrise and sunset times are something to keep in mind when planning your trip. If you plan on hiking or walking somewhere, such as the Eldborg crater or the Sólheimasandur plane crash site, be sure to factor in walking times to and from these popular attractions. The last thing you want is to be forced to walk back to your car on unmarked paths in the dark.

Sunset in Stokksnes, Iceland in November

Beginning of the Month 
Sunrise: 9:10 am (November 1st)
Sunset: 5:10 pm (November 1st)

Middle of the Month 
Sunrise: 9:56 am (November 15th)
Sunset: 4:27 pm (November 15th)

End of the Month 
Sunrise: 10:42 am (November 30th)
Sunset: 3:49 pm (November 30th)

Rainfall and Snowfall 


Iceland has rain all year along, especially during the months of September of October. Lucky for you, November is not as wet as these two months, but you should still bring a good rain jacket with you in your suitcase. Towards the end of the month, it starts to snow more frequently. Eventually, the country’s winding roads and breathtaking landscapes are blanketed in snow. You’ll want to bring plenty of layers in order to stay warm, whether rain, fog, snow, or sunshine. Iceland has been known to experience all four seasons in one day. You’d be surprised how quickly the weather can change, even within the span of an hour. As we say in Iceland, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a bit, and it will change.

Iceland has about ten days of precipitation per month, making it one of the drier months in the country. The average is 80 mm (3 inches) in some form of rain, snow, or sleet.

Icy November at Svartifoss in Skaftafell, Vatnajökull National Park

Iceland's Weather in November 


November is one of the best times of the year to visit Iceland. Not only can you see the Northern Lights, but prices are lower all over the country, and there are fewer tourists than in the summer. You’ll save both time and money, but the tradeoff is that you’ll have fewer hours of daylight to do all of the outdoor activities available. You’ll also want to make sure that you dress correctly as the island can get quite chilly in November. Follow our tips for what to pack and wear in the winter in Iceland, and you’ll be well on your way to the trip of a lifetime.

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