Monday, 29 October 2018

Godafoss: History of Iceland's Waterfall of the Gods

Iceland is unlike any place on earth. The country’s geology, language, history, and culture are unique. This is part of what makes it so special to visit. One the island’s more interesting sites is Godafoss waterfall. Not only is it one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, but it also holds the key to the country’s Christian roots and the story of how Iceland became a Christian nation. Its name means “waterfall of the gods” in Icelandic, so as you can imagine there is definitely quite the tale to be told here. Not only that, but the cascade forms a part of the larger Diamond Circle route in northeast Iceland. So let’s find out more about this magical place and how it ties into a major event Iceland’s 1,000-year plus history.

The Northern Lights over Iceland's Godafoss waterfall on the Diamond Circle

History of Godafoss Waterfall - From Paganism to Christianity


Godafoss is considered to the place where Iceland converted from its pagan roots to Christianity. Around a thousand years ago, Iceland was still a relatively new nation. The settlers who came in the late 800s AD brought their customs and Norse religion with them. In the year 1,000 AD there was a gathering of the island’s most powerful chieftains and lawmakers at the country’s Althingi (parliament) in Thingvellir National Park. The leaders had come together to decide whether or not they should continue with the old ways or embrace the “new religion” known as Christianity. A pagan priest by the name of Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði stepped in and brokered a compromise that left both sides happy. According to the Íslendingabók, pagans could still practice in private while the official state religion would be Christianity. Thanks to Ljósvetningagoði’s ingenuity, the country narrowly avoided a civil war.

According to legend, Þorgeir wanted to show his dedication to his new monotheistic god. When he returned home to Ljosavatn, he gathered all of his statues of Norse gods and tossed them into this waterfall. It was a gesture of faith and signaled an end to his pagan ways. His official conversion is what gives this stunning cascade its name.

A statue of the Norse god Odin to be thrown over Godafoss waterfall

How to Arrive at Godafoss 


Godafoss is considered one of the main stops on the Diamond Circle route and is located 30-40 minutes away from both Akureyri and Húsavík. Coming from Akureyri, you’ll simply follow Route 1 until it’s time to turn right onto the road that leads to Godafoss. From there it’s a short distance to the falls. When coming from Húsavík in the north, you’ll travel south on Route 845 until you connect with Route 1. Make a right and head west on the Ring Road towards to road that takes you to Godafoss.

About Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland 


The waterfall itself is quite magnificent. It flows from the river Skjálfandafljót and spans 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) across. Though its drop is short (around 12 meters or just under 40 feet), its majesty and ambiance are what make the waterfall truly remarkable. Its jewel-toned blue waters and rainbow-inducing spray can be seen from several different viewpoints and walking paths. The water source is the Skjalfandaljot, which a glacial river that runs through a 7,000-year-old lava field.

Stunning Godafoss waterfall at sunset

Godafoss: History of Iceland's Waterfall of the Gods 


Godafoss definitely needs to be a part of any trip to Iceland. The natural beauty that you find here is unparalleled. You’ll want to take lots of pictures of this horseshoe-shaped waterfall and bask in its grandness and wonder. Perhaps you’ll even be able to feel the power of the past events that happened here so long ago. They shaped Iceland’s history and continue to capture our imaginations.

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Friday, 26 October 2018

What To Pack For Iceland in the Winter

Jon Snow, a popular character on HBO’s hit television series Game of Thrones, famously said: “Winter is coming”. Don’t listen to Jon Snow; he knows nothing. Winter is actually already here, at least in Iceland. Many people who come to our small Nordic island decide to visit during winter, which is essentially October through April. Temperatures are notably lower than they were in the summer. If you’d like to know what weather to expect and what to pack and wear in Iceland during winter, then keep reading. There are definitely a few things you need to know about which layers to include on the packing list for your suitcase. You’ll be glad you heeded the advice for keeping warm.

Colorful pile of cozy sweaters to pack for Iceland

Iceland’s Winter Weather 


First things first. Just how cold does it get in Iceland in the winter? The mercury starts to drop in October and doesn’t really begin to rise again until April. It’s definitely cold but probably not the unbearable, don’t-leave-the-house freezing weather than many people anticipate. Average temperatures hover right around the freezing point for the most part. Highs range from the mid-30s to the mid-40s ºF (1 to 6 ºC), and lows can dip to the mid-to-high 20s ºF (-3 to -1 ºC). I know this is not warm, but winters are colder in places like Chicago, for example.

So now that you know what to expect with temperatures let's get to the real question at hand. How do you dress for maximum warmth in Iceland in winter? The answer lies in the four-layer rule. There are four distinct layers that are absolutely necessary to keep you comfortable and happy during your travels.

The Four-Layer Rule for Dressing in Iceland: Start With Your Base Layer 


The base layer is an extremely important part of your cold weather clothing arsenal for Iceland. Your thermal underwear or long underwear needs to be made up materials that both wick moisture away from the surface of your skin and trap that highly-prized body heat. Look for fabrics that achieve this dual purpose. The goal is to have warm, dry air floating between your bare skin and the first layer of clothing. Natural materials like silk or Merino wool make a great base layer as does polypropylene, which is synthetic material designed expressly for this purpose. Whatever you do, don’t use cotton. It will hold onto your sweat and have it cold against your skin. Brrrr! I’m getting chilly just thinking about it!

Surprised woman in winter clothes learning about the 4-layer rule for Iceland

Iceland’s Four-Layer Rule For Clothing: The Mid Layer 


Your mid layer is quite similar to your base layer. You want it to also absorb moisture so that it can take any dampness from the base layer and move it to the surface so it can evaporate. This is your second layer, and as such you also want it to keep the heat close to your body. I like to use fabrics such as wool or fleece for the shirts, jumpers, and pants for the mid layer of clothing.

Four Layers of Winter Clothing for Iceland: The Insulating Layer 


You’ve gotten garments for your first to layers that are designed to trap body heat and move moisture away from the skin. Now it’s time to insulate and keep all that heat inside so you stay warm and toasty. For your insulating layer, you’ll want to choose a jacket, coat, or even parka that has bulky, cold weather materials. Think goose down comforters or your favorite duvet. Again, you can go for natural or synthetic materials. A word to the wise though: be very careful with down. If it gets wet, it will not only lose its puffiness and cease to be warm, it will also take a very long time to dry out. You’ll be without an insulating later and just might have really difficult time with the cold. It’s better to choose specially designed synthetic fibers like Thinsulate or Holofill. Explorers in polar climates use these materials, so they should serve you well.

Handsome man wearing winter layers in Iceland

The Fourth and Final Layer: Your Shell Layer 


Your top layer needs to protect you from the elements of rain and snow. Otherwise, all the work that you’ve put in underneath will all be for nothing. Invest in a good rain jacket for your Iceland trip. Look for one that says waterproof rather than water resistant. You should also take a pair of waterproof hiking boots with you as well.

An additional word about wind. The initial temperatures we outlined above are going to feel significantly colder due to the wind chill factor. You’ll feel much warmer if you outer shell layer is not only waterproof but also has some sort of protection from the wind. A waterproof windshell is the best of both worlds when it comes to keeping you warm and dry.

What To Pack For Iceland in the Winter 


If you follow our suggestions for the four-layer rule while packing for Iceland, you’ll be protected from the elements and will be comfortable while traveling. Picking the right clothing items is one of the best things you can do for yourself before your trip. You’ll spend more time enjoying the country and less time cursing the dozens of sweaters you threw into your suitcase. None of them will do the trick, but layers will. Happy packing!

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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Stops on Iceland's Diamond Circle Route

Anyone visiting Iceland should include northeast Iceland’s Diamond Circle as part of their road trip itinerary. Located about halfway around the island on the country’s Ring Road, this route is the perfect place to take a few days and truly experience some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural wonders. As the home of both Dettifoss and Godafall waterfalls, the dried lava formations at Dimmuborgir, Krafla volcanic fields, Viti crater lake, Húsavik (the country’s whale watching capital), and much more, you definitely don’t want to miss everything that’s tucked away in this corner of Iceland.

Whale watching boat in Husavik on Iceland's Diamond Circle

Húsavík 


The first stop on most people’s tour of the Diamond Circle is usually Húsavik. The town of 2,182 rests on the shores of Skjálfandi bay. This is a popular spot for two reasons. First, it can serve a base for your travels around the Diamond Circle. You can stop either here or at Lake Mývatn as you make your way around the route. The second reason is that there are tons of different whale species that swim in and out of the bay. Whale watching excursions are popular for those hoping to catch a glimpse to the giant, gentle beasts.

Godafoss Waterfall 


Iceland’s “waterfall of the gods” has quite an interesting backstory related to the country’s conversion to Christianity. As the myth goes, in the year 1,000 AD all of the island’s chieftains gathered for their annual summit at the Althingi to discuss important governmental matters. One of the items on the docket was whether or not they should continue with their pagan Norse religion of old or embrace the “new” Christian religion that had been taken on by other Scandinavian countries. One of the main tribal leaders, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, decided to make Christianity the official religion of Iceland. Upon returning home, he dramatically took all of the pagan statues of the gods of his former religion and tossed them over the waterfall into the raging waters below.

Man admiring the Diamond Circle's Godafoss waterfall at sunset

The Area Around Lake Mývatn and Jarðböðin Nature Baths 


Lake Mývatn in and of itself is a place to spend a day. Between the lake, Grjótagjá cave the Hverir geothermal area, and the Viti crater in the Krafla volcanic crater, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied. Check out the article we wrote about visiting Lake Mývatn and its spectacular nature baths.

Dimmuborgir Lava Formations 


Iceland is a land shaped by fire and ice. Volcanoes have given Iceland much of its natural heritage, including its black sand beaches, geothermal hot springs, mountainous peaks and valleys. The explosions of red-hot, flowing lava has created some pretty spectacular scenery and the Dimmuborgir lava formation are a prime example of this. The naturally occurring volcanic rock formations here resemble crumbling castles. Dimmuborgir means “dark castle” or “dark fort”. Once you see these structures, you’ll understand why. The piled up, dried lava walls and arches bear a striking resemblance to a dark, deserted city. What’s more, unusual shapes such as swirls, honeycombs, and diagonal lines decorate this already mysterious natural wonder.

One of the unusual lava rock formations at Dimmuborgir


Dettifoss Waterfall 


Iceland’s mighty Dettifoss waterfall is known as The Beast. It’s the most powerful waterfall in Europe and will leave you feeling dwarfed by its size and might. This behemoth of a waterfall features staggering water flows of 6,816 cubic feet per second (193 m³/s). Film fans will also recognize the waterfall from the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

Stops on Iceland's Diamond Circle Route 


These aren’t the only places to visit on the Diamond Circle. The basalt rock formations at Vesturdalur valley, the horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi canyon, and the fossils that make up the high cliffs at Tjörnes peninsula are some of the highlights you’ll get to experience when you travel the Diamond Circle.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Visiting Lake Mývatn in the Diamond Circle

The Diamond Circle route is a popular tourist circuit in Northeast Iceland. It features some of the country's most well-known attractions and sights. From the beastly Dettifoss waterfall to the Krafla geothermal area and Viti volcanic crater lake near Askja, this is a part of the country that definitely merits your attention. We recommend spending several days here as there is so much to see and do in the area. Lake Mývatn is a volcanic lake known for its piercing sapphire blue waters and lava rock formations. You can spend an entire day just exploring the body of water and its environs. There are many different species of waterfowl, and the zone is a bit of a bird watcher’s paradise. The high season is May and June when migratory birds come to mate and nest.

Volcanic rock formations at Lake Mývatn volcanic lake

How To Arrive 


Driving on Route 1 (Iceland’s Ring Road) you’ll actually go straight past Lake Mývatn. In good weather, it takes about six to seven hours by car, so unfortunately, this isn’t really a day trip type of excursion.

Visitors should always start their visit to Lake Mývatn at the northeast corner. Here, you’ll find Reykjahlíð, a small village on the shores of the lake. There’s an information center for those traveling in the area. It’s a small village of 300 inhabitants, but you’ll find some basic amenities such as a gas station, a bank, a small hotel, and a supermarket. Everything to meet your needs.

The Volcanic Mývatn Nature Baths are like Reykjavik's Blue Lagoon


The Mývatn Nature Baths 


The Mývatn Nature Baths are right next to the village of Reykjahlíð and are the North’s answer to Reykjavik’s Blue Lagoon. You’ll have an authentic Icelandic geothermal spa bathing experience minus all of the crowds of the famous tourist trap.

Hverir Geothermal Area 


Further up the road from the Mývatn Nature Baths is the Hverir geothermal area. This alien-like, sulfur-filled, barren landscape is like nothing you’ve seen before. The hissing fumaroles and colorful, bubbling mud pools are out of this world. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another planet. The orange, red, and off-white terrain mixed with the blueish gray hue of the mud pots are something you won’t soon forget.

Hverir geothermal area is an alien-like, barren landscape with bubbling blue mud

Grjótagjá Cave 


Iceland is known for its natural beauty. In a land shaped by fire and ice, there are new surprises lurking around every corner. Grjótagjá is an underground volcanic cave with a grotto that is filled with geothermally heated water. Although you can no longer swim here, locals used to come here frequently to bathe. This cave is also quite famous. Game of Thrones fans will recognize it from season three. This is the place where Jon Snow and Ygritte made their love official. The hot spring features a fissure within the cave and a small blue lake. Get your cameras ready!

Visiting Lake Mývatn in the Diamond Circle 


These are just a few of the things to see and do around Lake Mývatn and the Diamond Circle. Rent a car and take a few days to explore the area, you’ll be glad you did. You can either base yourself in Húsavik (further north) or find accommodation in this area. When exploring the rest of the Diamond Circle, be sure to stop off at other attractions in the zone. The whale watching town of Húsavík, the mighty Dettifoss waterfall, the horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi canyon, mountainous Vesturdalur valley, the unusual formations at the Dimmuborgir Lava Fields, the Krafla volcanic fields and caldera, and the stunning Goðafoss waterfall should all be on your list of things to see and do.

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Friday, 19 October 2018

Driving in Iceland in Winter

Winter has steadily been growing as a popular season to visit Iceland. Tourists will find lower prices on just about everything. Car rental, accommodation, tours, and anything else you can imagine are up to 50% off. With all of these spectacular travel deals in an expensive country (plus the appearance of the Northern Lights), it's easy to see why the months of November through March could be among the best time of year to visit Iceland. That being said, traveling in Iceland in winter presents its own unique set of challenges (and I don't just mean black ice or snowy roads). The majority of people who come to our fair shores rent a car or an RV and take some sort of road trip around all or part of the Ring Road. Driving in Iceland is different than anywhere else, even places with a colder climate like Canada or other Scandinavian countries. So what should you expect and how should you prepare?

Rearview mirror of Ring Road in Iceland during winter road trip

Driving in Iceland in Winter - There’s a Storm A-Comin' 


Weather warnings are going to be your best friend when traveling in Iceland. It’s a small, stormy island and the winter storms here are no joke. Actually, the storms at any time of year here are no joke. And it’s not just your average run-of-the-mill winter snowstorm I’m talking about (which you shouldn’t be driving in any way). Iceland has also been blessed with hailstorms, sandstorms, and even ash storms. This potpourri of dangerous weather conditions can crop up at any time. Be prepared by heeding the warnings of the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. They will keep you up-to-date with storm advisories, weather warnings, and notifications of road closures due to inclement weather.

Weather (and therefore driving conditions) in Iceland can change very quickly. If you’ve decided to drive in a mild storm and see conditions worsening, head back whenever possible. Or better yet, don’t get caught in it all. You’ll be able to see what’s coming based on weather forecasts. Also, listen to the locals! It’s our island and we know it better than you do. When someone tells you not to travel, please take their advice. It’s better to wait a few days while you hang back in the comfort and safety of wherever you choose to stay than to venture out into a dangerous storm that’s brewing. Let the snowplows do their job and then head out on your merry way.

Iceland - Land of Fire, Ice, and Lots of Wind


Would you believe me if I told you that Iceland has experienced winds as strong as a Category 4 hurricane? Because it’s absolutely true. Back in 2015 a weather event classified as a “no travel” storm moved through South Iceland. News reports say that winds reached speeds up to 141 mph (226 km/h).

The aftermath of flipped, frozen and rear-ended vehicles due to the storm and low visibility in and around Vík was devastating. Rescue services had to send for more than 30 people, most of whom were tourists. Whether they were trying to make it back to Reykjavik in time to catch their flight (they missed it) or just thought the storm wouldn’t get that bad, these unfortunate visitors learned the hard way that it’s quite easy to get blown off the road or welded to the highway with ice during bad weather or a severe storm.

Snowy icy road while driving in Iceland in winter

Even if you're not driving in hurricane-strength winds, be very careful. You may not be used to maneuvering a vehicle in high winds. You'll be struggling with the steering wheel and doing your best just to stay on the road when the winds kick up. Check the wind speed forecasts before you set out and carefully watch the electronic boards that show wind speed an temperature. Pull over if things start taking a turn for the worse, windwise or weatherwise. And most importantly, take the weather warnings seriously. They are there to protect you.

Close Your Doors, Please! 


I have another essential tip for you. Don’t ever leave your doors ajar, not even for a moment. A strong, unexpected gust can come up quickly, bend your door backward, and dent it. Or worse, blow it off completely. You’ll be stuck paying for the damage to your car rental for something that could have very easily been avoided. If you have to get out of your car in high winds, do so using both hands.

Where You Can and Can’t Go 


F-Roads are closed in the winter, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. It’s wonderful to view the Northern Lights during the colder months, but if you’re hoping to visit Iceland’s Highlands, unfortunately, that’s not an option. Any and all mountain roads (F-Roads from “fjall” or “mountain” in Icelandic) that lead inland will not be accessible. This is done for safety as everything around you is either melting, freezing, or both. That being said, there is plenty to see and do staying off of Iceland’s F-roads (most of the country’s sights are located close to the Ring Road). As an added bonus, you don’t need to rent a 4x4 vehicle which is mandatory on mountain roads.

Winter Driving in Iceland - Gravel Roads and Speed Limits 


This goes without saying, but pay attention to the speed limit. And just because a sign says you can go 80 mph (129 kph) doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Iceland has a lot of gravel roads and unpaved roads (including along more remote stretches of the Ring Road). Things can change suddenly, and drivers without experience on these types of roads could run into trouble lose control of their car. Be smart, be safe, and slow down. You also need to keep your headlights on while driving, day or night.

Cars driving with their headlights on during the day during winter in Iceland

Driving in Iceland in Winter 


Winter is one of the best times to visit Iceland for a multitude of reasons. I hope I haven’t scared you too much with all of this talk of crazy snowstorms and gale force winds. Most people who come in the offseason love their time here. At the same time, it’s important to be prepared just in case you do encounter some bad weather or a winter storm. And speaking of storms, be sure to look for a vehicle rental that offers Sand and Ash Protection and Gravel Protection. While many people opt out of insurance on their car rentals, if you are driving in Iceland in winter, this could be a huge mistake. It’s best to protect yourself against unexpected elements with the right types of insurance. If you haven't figured it out by now, Iceland is special.

With all of that in mind, I guess the best advice I can give about winter driving in Iceland is just to listen and use common sense. Listen to the forecast to see if there’s an upcoming storm you should know about. Listen to the locals when they tell you not drive. And listen to yourself if the conditions around you are worsening and the little voice in your head tells you “maybe it’s time to head back”. Have a great time, think about all that money you’re saving by going during the low season, and drive safely.

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Thursday, 18 October 2018

Iceland Travel Spotlight: Vík

Many of the images captured of Iceland are of the country’s stunning landscapes. From Kirkjufell mountain in the northwest to Vatnajökull glacier in the southeast, there is no shortage of breathtaking locations on the small Nordic island. And when you see photos of otherworldly black sand beaches, imposing hexagonal basalt columns along the shore, and a remote white church with a red roof among a field of flowers, you're most likely looking at the lovely town of Vík í Mýrdal, more commonly known as Vík, and its environs. The picturesque seafront village lies in the heart of South Iceland and is a frequent stopover for visitors traveling along Iceland’s Ring Road. So what makes this area so unique? What are the things to see and do in Vik?

Black sand beaches and volcanic rock formations at Reynisfjara, Vik, South Iceland

How to Get to Vík


Traveling east from Reykjavik on Route 1, you’ll reach Vík after about 110 miles (180 km). Give yourself time to make the drive as you’ll pass both Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls along the way. You’ll probably want to stop for an hour or so at each one. According to Google Maps, the drive takes around two and a half hours. In winter, allow yourself additional time. A reasonable estimate when driving in Iceland is to add an extra 15 minutes to every hour when traveling in the winter. Once you’ve made your way to Vík, you can either check into your accommodation and relax or begin exploring some of the cool sights in the area. Resting near the foot Katla volcano and the glacier that covers it, Mýrdalsjökull, the geologically diverse zone has been shaped by both glacial and volcanic activity.

Sights in Vík - Reyniskirkja Church 


This is a very typical, Icelandic church. The quintessential architectural layout of the white wooden church and its colorful roof that has been painted red is quite representative of the small churches you will see dotting Iceland’s countryside. Built in 1929, the building overlooks both the town of Vik and the sea below. Be sure to stop by one of Iceland’s cutest churches for some great photo opportunities.

The red and white wooden church in Vik, built in 1929

Sights in Vík - Reynisfjara Beach 


The shores of Reynisfjara, close to Vík, are renowned for their volcanic black sand beaches. The dark pebbles and hexagonal basalt columns here are unlike anything else you have ever seen. Many draw the comparison to Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, but that doesn't quite do it justice. The beach’s black shores are so impressive that they doubled as the setting of Eastwatch By The Sea in Game of Thrones. There are also some pretty spectacular rock formations closeby at Reynisdrangar.


Sights in Vík - Reynisfjall Mountain 


The cliffs of Reynisfjall mountain form the striking backdrop to the natural wonders found at Reynisfjara Beach. You’ll also find colonies of Atlantic puffins here during their breeding season in the summer months. These adorable birds are a symbol of Iceland, so try to catch a glimpse of them when visiting Vík.

The famous volcanic arch at Dyrholaey peninsula in South Iceland

Sights in Vík - Dyrhólaey Peninsula 


West of Vík and Reynisfjara is the Dyrhólaey peninsula. Sights in the area include the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse and the large rock arch jutting off into the shores of the peninsula. Its name actually means “door hole” and boats can sail through the arch in calm seas. You’ll also be able to see puffins at this promontory point during mating season.


Iceland Travel Spotlight: Vík 


Whether visiting Vík on a day trip from Reykjavik or stopping here on a longer itinerary on Iceland’s Ring Road, this small town is sure to be a favorite during your trip to Iceland. Not only does it make a great jumping off point for exploring the surrounding areas, but you’re also close to the hiking trails at Landmannalaugar and the glacier at Vatnajökull National Park. Coming to Vík gives you the chance to get to know small-town Iceland while also providing outdoor adventure opportunities nearby.

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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Some DIY Game of Thrones Tour Filming Locations

Game of Thrones fans want to know everything about the show, including where it is filmed. More often than not, the answer to this question is: Iceland. In fact, some superfans have even come here searching out Game of Thrones tours for their favorite filming locations. But did you know you can actually do a Game of Thrones tour on your own? All the places seen on the show are accessible to the public. You just need to know where to go. Whether it’s scenes filmed north of the Wall with Wildlings or the Bloody Gate entrance to The Eyrie in eastern Westeros, you’ll find them in Iceland. Here are some of the filming locations for you to do a DIY Game of Thrones filming locations tour. This is for all you thronies who are hoping to spot Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen While visiting Game of Thrones locations in real life.

Game of Thrones fans will recognize Thingvellir as the filming location for the Eyrie and the Bloody Gate

First, you’ll want to make sure you’ve chosen the right vehicle for your trip. Also, make sure you’ve packed the right items to stay warm on your adventure. Now you’re ready to head off and explore some of the frozen landscapes made so popular by the HBO smash hit. Be forewarned: there are a couple of spoilers ahead if you’re not all caught up on season seven of GOT. Read on at your own peril if you're not up to date!

Kirkjufell - The Mountain Shaped Like an Arrowhead 


At the beginning of season seven, Sandor Clegane (also known as The Hound) peers into a fire. While gazing at the flames, he sees a vision of a “mountain shaped like an arrowhead” and the Army of the Dead marching past. Later in the season, Jon Snow and his band of men encounter Kirkjufell on their search for the Night King. They’re getting close and will soon face a battle of epic proportions. Not only is Kirkjufell unusually shaped, but it also has a beautiful waterfall in front of it. It’s the most photographed mountain in Iceland, and it’s easy to see why when looking at pictures.

Kirkjufell is the mountain shaped like an arrowhead from the Hound's vision in GOT season seven

Thingvellir National Park - Also Known as The Bloody Gate and The Vale of Erryn


Thingvellir National Park has special significance in Iceland due to its important role in the country’s history. It was here that Iceland’s (and the world's) first parliament convened in 930 AD. If you come here on your DIY Game of Thrones tour, you'll no doubt recognize it as the Vale of Arryn, and it's entrance, the Bloody Gate. All visitors to the Eyrie must first pass through this aptly named checkpoint.

And the stronghold of House Arryn isn't the only thing you'll find here. This was the filming location where The Hound roamed the Westerosi countryside with Arya Stark. It's also where he faced off with Brienne of Tarth during their legendary sword battle.

Vik - Eastwatch-by-the-Sea 


This seaside village in Southern Iceland is a must visit, regardless of whether or not you are a Game of Thrones fan. It's home to some pretty cool natural phenomena. Not only will you find volcanic black sand beaches here but also hexagonal basalt columns made from dried lava. You won't find them many places on Earth. The midnight hue of Vik's shores are the perfect setting of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. The Night’s Watch guards this Castle on the easternmost part of the wall. In the thrilling finale of season seven, this is where the Night King destroys the Wall with the breath of his icy dragon Viserion. The Whitewalkers breach the Wall and continue their deadly march into the southern part of Westeros.

Grjótagjá Cave - The Place Where Jon Snow and Ygritte Became More Than Friends


This small lava cave is close to Lake Mývatn and was popular among Icelanders for many years. Geothermal activity in the area heats the water in the pool and makes it a great temperature for bathing. The temperature isn’t regulated though (it comes from volcanic activity after all), so always use caution and common sense when getting into any of Iceland’s hot pools. Jon Snow and Ygritte found shelter in this small cave and took a dip in the turquoise waters of the grotto during season three of the popular series.

The love cave of Jon Snow and Ygritte in Iceland


Some DIY Game of Thrones Tour Filming Locations 


These are just a few places of interest for Game of Thrones mega-fans. You can do a more comprehensive tour with a licensed operator while traveling. The series has been shooting here since season two and Iceland's inspiring and snowy landscapes will continue to captivate for years to come. All scenes north of the Wall were shot in Iceland, so now that the Whitewalkers are moving south, let's see how producers incorporate Iceland into season eight. We can't wait to see what's in store for the battle of the Seven Kingdoms!

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Thursday, 11 October 2018

Skaftafell and Svartifoss in Vatnajökull National Park

Iceland is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. The sheer number of activities in the Great Outdoors and the natural wonders that the country possesses will blow your mind. It's known as the Land of Fire and Ice and this exciting Nordic island does not disappoint. Two of its most compelling attractions are located in Vatnajökull National Park: the Skaftafell wilderness area (with its massive, hikable glacier) and Svartifoss waterfall, with its black hexagonal basalt columns. Let's find out more about these two top destinations and what makes them so special.

Woman standing at entrance to Skaftafell area of Vatnajökull National Park

Skaftafell - Home to One of Vatnajökull National Park’s Glaciers 


Skaftafell has not always been a part of Vatnajökull National Park. It used to be its own separate entity that was managed and cared for by park authorities. That all changed in 2008 when several Icelandic parks merged into one and came under the umbrella of Vatnajökull. The enlarged national park currently consists of seven distinct zones, including Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón. Skaftafell is popular with hikers due to the large number of hiking trails in the area. They can take advantage of the short and easy paths around Svartifoss or challenge themselves to scale the more strenuous Hvannadalshnjúkur, Iceland's highest peak.

Skaftafell is probably most famous for its glacier, which has thrilling outdoor activities such as ice cave walks and glacier hikes available. Wouldn't you just love to tell your friends back home that you hiked on a glacier? Not many people can say that. Your licensed, certified, experienced guide will take you on a trek over the glacier. Depending on the time of year, you can even go underneath and inside to explore the turquoise blue caverns caused by the melting glacier water. Whether you choose to journey through an ice cave, go on a glacier cave exploration, or partake in a glacier hike, just make sure you take advantage of one of these inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Hiking Skaftafell glacier in Vatnajökull National Park is a popular activity in Iceland

Svartifoss Waterfall 


Tucked deep into a valley in the Skaftafell wilderness area of Vatnajökull National Park are Svartifoss falls. The name of this curious and highly unusual waterfall means “black falls” in Icelandic. This due to the dark color of the volcanic basalt columns that rest along the cliff. The peculiar rock formations seem to hang like shadowy stalactites from the top of the cliff face. The dark lava columns are actually more of a brownish black and are unlike anything you will see elsewhere. The powerful waterfall looks like a pipe organ and the rushing sound of water will thrill you as you approach. The special shapes were formed by slowly cooling lava that eventually crystallized.

The falls themselves are by no means one of the steepest drops that you'll see in Iceland. They only measure about 67 feet (20 meters) from the top. The aforementioned basalt columns that surround the water are what really make Svartifoss stand out among Iceland's many natural wonders. The alien-like formations have even inspired Icelandic architects like Guðjón Samúelsson to recreate their uncommon appearance. Their influence can be seen in several of his famous works such as the National Theatre building, the Akureyri church, and the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik.

View of Svartifoss or the black falls in the Skaftafell area of Vatnajökull National Park

How to Arrive at Svartifoss Waterfall


It's quite easy to get to Svartifoss, which, along with its cool appearance, is probably another reason for its popularity. Located extremely close to Iceland's Ring Road in the southern part of the famous National Park, this waterfall is one that you have to stop off at. Traveling northeast toward the small town of Hof, there will be a sign for Skaftafell. Once you reach this area, park your car at the free lot that is part of the visitor's information center. From here follow the well-signed trail that takes you directly to the falls. It's a slightly uphill walk for about 1.3 miles (2 km) which most people can complete in less than an hour.

Skaftafell and Svartifoss in Vatnajökull National Park


One of the best times to visit Svartifoss is probably in the summer. Warmer temperatures mean that not only are all of the roads open but melting glacier water will ensure strong water flows. Exploring the glaciers of Skaftafell is more of a winter activity. Iceland is great at any time of year, so whenever you come, be sure to stop by these two very special places.

Iceland24
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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Self-Drive Tour of Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The Snaefellsnes peninsula is conveniently located only a couple hours' drive from Reykjavik. This makes it the perfect distance for a day trip from Iceland’s capital. This landmass is particularly diverse. It’s often referred to as “Iceland in miniature” or “Iceland in a nutshell” due to the high concentration of some of the country’s best and most iconic attractions packed into one area. You’ll find Snaefellsjökull glacier, the iconic Kirkjufell mountain, and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, the Eldborg crater, the Gerðuberg cliffs with their steep walls made out of basalt columns, the Vatnshellir lava caves, and much more. You could hire a tour from a local operator, but isn’t renting a car or campervan and making your way according to your schedule and desired itinerary much more fun? Let’s make our way around the Snaefellsnes peninsula with a self-drive tour.

Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss on self-drive tour of Snaefellsnes peninsula

How to Arrive at the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


Head north out of Reykjavik on Route 1 (the Ring Road). After passing through the Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel (you’ll need to pay around 1,000 ISK or $8.50). Continue onward to the small town of Borgarnes. From here you’ll turn onto Route 54 and head west for about 32 km (20 miles) towards Snorrastaðir farm. This is the beginning of your self-drive tour of Snaefellsnes. The area is known for its powerful magnetic energy (it's rumored to be one of the world's seven energy centers or chakras). Snaefellsnes peninsula and Snaefellsjökull glacier in the zone's national park were also the setting for a part of Jules Verne's science fiction masterpiece Journey to the Center of the Earth. Rumor has it that aliens gather in the corner of the globe.

Eldborg Volcanic Crater 


This perfectly-shaped, circular volcanic crater towers above the surrounding lava fields and you’ll need to walk for about 30 minutes to get there and reach the top. Peer into the crater and enjoy the breathtaking views around you. Eldborg means City of Fire but luckily for us, there hasn’t been any activity in the last 5,000 or 6,000 years.

How to Arrive: Park your car at Snorrastaðir farm and walk to the Eldborg crater from there.

The Eldborg crater is a must-see on your Snaefellsnes peninsula self-drive tour

Gerðuberg Basalt Column Cliffs


Iceland is a volcanic island, which means that when all of that lava cools, we’re left with the dark, magnesium-rich volcanic rock known as basalt. Gerðuberg is famous for its steep cliffs walls made entirely out of basalt columns. The horizontal structures can be seen from the road, so hop out and have a walk around.

How to Arrive: The cliffs at Gerðuberg are just up the road from the Eldborg crater if you keep following Route 54.

Vatnshellir Lava Cave 


In addition to glacier hikes, exploring a lava cave is one of the more incredible activities you can experience in Iceland. You’ll be bathed in complete darkness and silence once you’ve reached the depths of the 8,000 year-old lava tube. The lava that was molten and later dried produced some pretty spectacular lava rock formations and unusual displays of color. Be sure to book a tour (it’s required to enter) and perhaps you’ll feel like you are taking your own Journey to the Center of the Earth.

How to Arrive: After you pass Lýsuhólslaug you will turn right onto Route 574. This road takes you close to Rauðfeldargjá (the Red-Fur Canyon - be sure to check out the story) and the fishing village of Arnarstapi. About 10 minutes after Arnarstapi you’ll see the cave on the right.

Entrance to the Vatnshellir Lava Cave

Djúpalónssandur Beach


While southern Iceland and the town of Vik are known for their black sand beaches, this special place ups the ante. Instead of dark sand, the shores here are covered by tiny, black volcanic pebbles. Their rounded shape is due to sea erosion and they are known as the Pearls of Djúpalón. The waves here are quite strong, so be careful not to get too close to the water.

How to Arrive: Continue on Route 574 for about five minutes and you will see the turn for Djúpalónssandur on your left. It’s another five minutes to arrive and luckily, the road is paved.

Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall 


Kirkjufell mountain has gained fame as being the most photographed mountain in Iceland. This is pretty easy to understand, with its unique shape and the beautiful Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall flowing in the foreground. Game of Thrones fans will also recognize this as the “mountain shaped like an arrowhead” from the Hound’s vision in season seven. You can hike to the top of the mountain but we only recommend this for more seasoned hikers.

How to Arrive: After leaving Djúpalónssandur, Route 574 will turn back into Route 54. Go northeast and after about 20 minutes you’ll be close to the glorious Kirkjufell.


The Village of Stykkishólmur 


While the Snaefellsnes peninsula is filled with many cute villages worthy of stopping at, Stykkishólmur is definitely one of the most charming. The small town's wooden houses date back many years and are painted a wide variety of colors. The timeless feel is perhaps why Ben Stiller chose it as one of the filming locations for his whimsical movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The town also boasts a regional folk museum, known as the Norwegian House. Come to learn how Icelanders lived throughout the ages.

Lastly, be sure to visit the harbor. Hiking to the to top of Súgandisey hill affords lovely views and Breiðafjörður Bay. There are cruises around the bay and its islands and you can cap off your night with freshly caught, local seafood. Narfeyrarstofa restaurant has a particularly nice array of Icelandic dishes.

How to Arrive: After you’ve left Kirkjufell on Road 54, go left on Route 58 (you’ll see the sign). Drive for another 30-40 minutes to reach Stykkishólmur.

Self-Drive Tour of Snaefellsnes Peninsula 


While driving the Snaefellsnes peninsula makes for the perfect day trip from Reykjavik, it can easily take up to twelve hours if you make your way around the whole peninsula while stopping at all of the points of interest and some quaint fishing villages in the area. If you have the time and inclination, or simply don’t want to try to fit everything into one day, why not book accommodation in the area and take two days to explore? You control your schedule and are in charge of your self-drive itinerary. Whatever you decide, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable journey in “mini Iceland”.

Iceland24
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Camper Rental in Iceland - Motorhome, caravan, campervan Rental Iceland

If you’re planning to tour Iceland by car, then Icelandic camper van rentals provide the cheapest and best way to explore the vast island. It is increasingly popular to travel trough the Icelandic nature in the comfort of a camper van or a luxurious caravan. It gives tourists the opportunity to experience Iceland freely without involving too much planning.

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland
Even though Iceland has a small population, the island itself is three times bigger than Scotland. Motorhome travel in Iceland is the ideal way to get around, because along the way there are so many well hidden natural gems that just demand a stop off.

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

Here you can find the youngest and the oldest camper rentals in Iceland and campers of all sizes and prices. Whether you need a ordinary family camper, caravan or a RV you can find it on this page. Below you'll find a list of the top camper rentals in Iceland.

CAMPER VAN PRICE COMPARISON
May 7th to 14th (7 days) - Prices with GPS, CDW Insurance, unlimited km & pick up / drop off

Option A - New Campers:

CAMPERVAN ICELAND * Recommended 
www.campervaniceland.com
Camper Renault Kangoo (2 persons)           701 EUR / 875 USD
Camper Renault Trafic (4 persons)              1.330 EUR / 1.660 USD

EUROPCAR
http://www.holdur.is/en
Camper Toyota Hilux (2 persons)               1.834 EUR / 2.519 USD
Camper Motorhome (3-4 persons)              2.343 EUR / 3.218 USD

MOTORHOME ICELAND * Recommended 
www.motorhomeiceland.com
Camper Nissan Diesel   (2 persons)               881 EUR / 1.075 USD
Camper Renault Trafic  (4 persons                1.468 EUR / 1.825 USD

CAMPER RENTAL ICELAND * Recommended
www.camperrentaliceland.com/
Camper 2 DIESEL  (2 persons)                    715 EUR / 892 USD
Camper 4 DIESEL (4 persons)                     1.360 EUR / 1.696 USD

ICELAND CAMPERVANS
http://www.icelandcampervans.com/
Camper VW Caddy (2 persons)                   725 EUR / 901 USD
Camper Renault Trafic (4-5 persons)           1.380 EUR / 1.720 USD

CAMPERVAN REYKJAVIK * Recommended
https://www.campervanreykjavik.com/
Camper 2 DIESEL  (2 persons)                    815 EUR / 992 USD
Camper 4 DIESEL (4 persons)                     1.510 EUR / 1.826 USD

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

Option B - Old camper vans:

CAMPERS REYKJAVÍK
www.campersreykjavik.com
Camper NV200 Diesel (2 persons)                  989 EUR / 1.108 USD
Camper Trafic High Roof (4 persons)             1.330 EUR / 1.491 USD

CARAVAN.IS
www.caravan.is
Camper VW Caddy (2 persons)                   1.040 EUR / 1.297 USD
Camper Renault Trafic (4-5 persons)           1.442 EUR / 1.798 USD

CAMPERVAN ICELAND 
www.campervaniceland.com
Camper Renault Kangoo (2 persons)            701 EUR / 875 USD
Camper Renault Trafic (4 persons)               1.330 EUR / 1.660 USD

SNAIL
www.snail.is
Camper VW Transporter (2 persons)              1.150 EUR / 1.434 USD
Camper VW Transporter (4 persons)              1.720 EUR / 2.145 USD

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

Why choose a camper van in Iceland:
  1. It's really cheap. Why spend your money on a expensive hotel and a car when you can use a Camper van or a Motorhome for both?
  2. The weather in Iceland is as predictable as roulette table and therefore you will want to be mobile and ready to move at any given time. We don't recommend you to have to pack your tent in the rain, and then sit wet in your car for the rest of your day.
  3. In Iceland there is a law that allows you park your motor home or camper van anywhere for one night. It´s called the law of survival and it also allows you to eat whatever you can put in your mouth (do not forget). You always need permission of the land owner (in most cases the next farmer). The best thing to avoid the problem is to use campsites.
  4. In a camper van you can go anywhere and do anything you want to do.
  5. There are 3 persons per square kilometer in Iceland. This allows you to basically disappear into the nature in a motor-home, caravan or camper van. 
  6. In Iceland you won't need to reserve a spot at a camp site . You need simply to show up and enjoy it. Camp sites are very modern and have good facilities.
  7. All of Iceland's ring road (road no.1) is asphalt which allows you to drive safely around Iceland in any type of camper van. 
  8. In a camper van in Iceland you won't need to plan your trip. You just follow the good weather and enjoy where it takes you. 
  9. In Iceland there are hardly any trees. Therefore you always have an amazing 360° view from a camper at all times. 
  10. With a Camper van you have a kitchen wher-ever you go. This will save you lot´s of cash. Fast food in Iceland is expensive. 
Camper Iceland - Camper Rental 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.

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

-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.

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

Camper rentals in Iceland are a popular choice for travelers looking for the "road trip" experience in Iceland. Renting a camper in Iceland is a great option in Iceland because the country offers unique sites to see in all of its forur corners. 

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

112 Iceland App

The 112 Iceland app can be used for two things, both for added safety on your Iceland trip.

First of all you can call for help by pressing the red Emergency button. Your location will be sent by text message to the 112 response center. Remember that even though your phone shows no signal there is a possibilite that you can send text message.

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

The green Check In button is for you to leave your location with us so if something happens we have more information to work with. Only the 5 last locations are stored and we recommend you use this – don’t worry – you are not disturbing anyone – except for our big computer who wants to be disturbed.

Here you can download the app for Android phones, Windows phones and iPhone.

Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland


Camper Iceland - Camper Rental Iceland

We recommend you read:


Peter, Iceland24

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Fall Means the Return of Iceland's Northern Lights

Iceland is famous for many things. Mammoth glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and otherworldly landscapes to name a few. But perhaps its most famous natural attraction is the spectacle of the Northern Lights. Iceland’s Aurora Borealis begins making its first appearances in the fall. After the phenomenon’s brief hiatus from early spring through the summer months, it returns in full force during September and October. Iceland in the fall is great for many reasons, and the Northern Lights are one of them. So what causes the Aurora Borealis? Where can you best see the Northern Lights in Iceland? And should you take a tour? These are all very important questions. Let's delve into the topic and see if we can't find some answers.

Iceland's mysterious Northern Lights in the fall

What Causes the Aurora Borealis?


First, let's get into an easy explanation of exactly what the Northern Lights are and what causes them. It's time to don your science cap for a quick minute in order to understand what causes this entrancing display. In a nutshell, when the sun has a solar flare (or a similar discharge of energy), it emits charged particles. These eventually make their way to our planet and collide with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes the electrons in the atoms to go a little haywire for a bit. When they calm back down, they release a beautiful burst of light in the form of photons.

All of this action takes place almost instantaneously, and the result is what you see in the undulating curtains across the sky: shades of emerald greens, rich purples, and vivid pinks. The color of the aurora is determined by what type of atom (nitrogen, oxygen, etc.) that the sun’s charged particles interact with. Pretty cool stuff, right?

Streaks of purple, pink and green in Iceland's Northern Lights

Best Way to See the Northern Lights


Now that you are an aurora expert, let's talk about some advice for the best way to see the Northern Lights. Step one: Go to Iceland. If you've already taken this crucial first step, then congratulations! You're already halfway there. If you're lucky, you'll be greeted at the airport by a dazzling nighttime display. If not, you'll need to put forth a little bit more effort in your hunt for the Northern Lights. Don't worry though. We’re here to guide you along the way.

The first big decision you need to make is whether or not you will go on a guided tour or seek them out on your own. Both have advantages and disadvantages. If you decide to go it alone, the most significant advantage is obviously that it's free. And as my dad likes to say when things are free “Well, the price is right!”. You will want to arm yourself with the aurora forecast provided by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. It tells you not only how much auroral activity is projected for the evening, but also where you can expect the least amount of cloud cover (shown on the map in white). The key to spotting the Northern Lights is viewing them on a night with clear skies from a vantage point with minimal light pollution. You want to get as far out of the city as possible to see the most vibrant displays.

Aurora forecast from the Icelandic Meteorological Office

Should You Take a Northern Lights Tour?


The other option is to trust the experts and hire a guide or a small group tour to take you on your Northern Lights expedition. The companies and tour operators that provide these services have already scouted out the best locations for observing Mother Nature's spectacular light show. Additionally, they also know to check the Aurora forecast before heading out (sorry, it’s not a secret between just the two of us). They want their customers to be happy and come prepared with the best times and places that will hopefully give you a good chance of at least catching a glimpse of the sometimes elusive wonder.

Whichever option you choose, you should know that nothing is guaranteed. The Northern Lights are affected by solar activity which always follows an 11-year cycle. The next peak will be in 2024-2026. Until then, you’ll still see them, just perhaps not as brilliantly or brightly as you would in 2025.

Take a small group tour or excursion to see the Northern Lights in Iceland

Fall Means the Return of Iceland's Northern Lights


If you're coming to spend some time in Iceland this fall, seeing the Northern Lights will no doubt be one of the highlights of your trip. Best of luck and let us know how your aurora hunting mission goes.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Friday, 5 October 2018

How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip Around Iceland

Planning a road trip (or any trip, really) can be a bit overwhelming. Factor in traveling to a country where you don't speak the language, and it can sometimes be hard to know where to begin. We are here to help with some basic information to get you started planning your Iceland road trip. Topics like which car is best for you, where you should go on your Icelandic itinerary, and what to pack will hopefully get you started on planning the ultimate driving holiday. So let's get started on the adventure!

Smiling happy family during road trip in Iceland

Start Your Iceland Trip Right: Find the Best Car Rental Company 


One of the most important factors to take into account when planning your Iceland road trip is which car rental company to use. Not only will you be relying on them to provide you with a well-serviced, well-maintained vehicle, but you will also depend on them for roadside assistance should any problems arise with your rental. Customer service is key. Make sure that you read what previous travelers have to say about the different companies by consulting Google reviews on TripAdvisor. We know how important this topic is, which is why we wrote an entire blog post about the best car rental companies in Iceland.


You need to take lots of factors into account when deciding on the best company. While price is very important, it's also good to know which companies have happy customers. Also, take into consideration which types of insurance are offered with your rental and what is already included in the price. There are four main types of car insurance in Iceland, and we recommend getting the full suite of protection.

  • Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP) - Protects against damage from storms
  • Gravel Protection (GP) - Perfect for many of Iceland's unpaved roads
  • Collision Damage and Super Collision Damage Waiver (CDW and SCDW) - In case of an accident
  • Theft Protection (TP) - In the unlikely event of theft

We're not just talking about this because we want you to spend more money on your car rental. It's quite the opposite actually. Getting full coverage on your vehicle rental will actually save you money in the long run. Sandstorms, ash from recent volcanic eruptions, and golf ball-sized hail are all conspiring to ruin your car rental and empty your bank account. Be slightly smarter than Mother Nature, and just get the insurance. And of course, stay off the road if there is a storm warning.

Picking the Right Vehicle For Your Trip


Of course, there are plenty of different vehicles to choose from. You'll have to decide if you're looking for the least expensive option (which usually does not have four-wheel drive) or if you're looking to drive a car that lets you explore the Highlands and go off-roading. By law, you need to have a 4x4 vehicle to drive on Iceland’s F-roads (mountain roads). While many of the country’s famous sites and activities are close to the Ring Road, if you choose to go inland you need to have the right car.

Iceland mountain F-Roads in a 4x4 rental vehicle

The Perfect Itinerary for Iceland - What Should You See?


All right, now that we've gotten car rental out of the way let's talk about where to go! Depending on how long you have for your holidays, you're likely going to choose a 5-day or 7-day itinerary in Iceland. There are some lucky fellows who can take more time to explore in the country. For those folks who have extended vacation days, we recommend a 10-day itinerary or longer. The Diamond Circle itself can take four or five days alone. So what is there to see and do in Iceland? What are its main attractions and most popular places to visit? Here's a short list of Iceland’s attractions when traveling counterclockwise from Reykjavik along the country’s Ring Road:

  • Reykjavik (Iceland's capital, famous for its nightlife and fine restaurants) 
  • Thingvellir National Park (Home to Iceland's original Althingi Parliament and the Silfra Fissure 
  • Strokkur and Geysir (Two powerful, gushing geysers along the Golden Circle route) 
  • Gullfoss Waterfall (Iceland’s “golden” waterfall) 
  • The Blue Lagoon (Man-man geothermal spa with turquoise blue water) 
  • Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss (Two of Iceland's most beautiful and well-known waterfalls) 
  • The DC-3 plane crash site at Sólheimasandur beach (Haunting home of the remains of the fuselage of an aviation accident in the 1970s) 
  • Black sand beaches of Vik and basalt columns of Reynisfjara peninsula 
  • Landmannalaugar and the Laugavegur Trail (Famous area for hiking. Filled with colorful rock formations and hot springs) 
  • Vatnajökull National Park (Europe’s National Park. Home to Skaftafell glacier, Vatnajökull glacier and many other attractions like Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Here you can explore ice caves and glacier caves or hike on a glacier) 
  • Lake Mývatn (Cerulean blue volcanic lake and part of the Diamond Circle route) 
  • Dettifoss waterfall (The most powerful waterfall in Europe) 
  • Goðafoss waterfall (The “waterfall of the gods and the key to Iceland’s conversion to Christianity) 
  • Krafla volcanic fields (Dark, rocky terrain and dried lava) 
  • Viti crater and Askja caldera (Volcanic lakes with geothermal heating) 
  • Hverir geothermal area (otherworldy, martian-like landscape with bubbling mud pools) 
  • Húsavik (The whale watching capital of Iceland) 
  • Akureyri (Iceland’s capital of the north) Dalvik (The ski capital of Iceland) 
  • Ísafjörður and the Westfjords (Iceland’s fjords. This area is famous for its dramatic landscape) 
  • Snaefellsnes peninsula (The iconic Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall)

This by no means includes everything. Instead, it's meant to be a set of Iceland highlights that you should definitely consider visiting when making your way around the island. A more exhaustive list would include more glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, select locations, unusual museums, and cultural sites and much more. And let's not forget the spectacular Northern Lights that take place every year from mid-September to mid-March.

Northern Lights over Iceland's Kirkjufell mountain

Another thing you'll want to consider when planning your itinerary is deciding where to stop for gas. In other countries does isn't really much of an issue, but we know that Iceland is different. While the Ring Road makes driving in Iceland extremely easy, there can be long stretches of Road in remote areas. Not knowing if the closest gas station is two minutes away or twenty minutes away is a terrifying feeling when your gas meter reading is inching closer and closer to E. Mark the petrol stations on your map beforehand. This will save you tons of stress and the headache of running out of gas on an isolated Icelandic road.

Pack the Right Clothes 


Okay, great. You’ve chosen the best rental car for your budget and needs. You've decided on a jam-packed itinerary that will take you to some of the country’s coolest and most famous things to see and do. You’ve booked your accommodation along the route. all that's left is to make sure that you pack the right clothes for your Iceland trip. The island’s position on the map just under the Arctic Circle and cold, wet, snowy weather mean that your wardrobe choices can make or break your trip. It's challenging to have a good time when your cotton socks are soaked and your teeth are chattering because you're not insulated enough in frigid temperatures. When preparing your suitcase, you'll need to bring the right items. So what should you pack and wear in Iceland?

The Three Layer Rule - A Base Layer For Warmth and Moisture Control 


We always say that the bare minimum for choosing the right clothes for Iceland should follow the three layer rule. Your base layer needs to be an insulating, thermal layer. It should be breathable, trap body heat, and absorb moisture all at the same time. A top and pants made out of warm materials such as Merino wool or silk are popular apparel choices. I mention Merino wool specifically because of its high quality. It doesn’t itch, and you can wear it multiple times before needing to wash it. Read the reviews of other buyers on Amazon when purchasing your thermal underwear as these items will be a lifesaver in Iceland. And of course, you should invest in a good pair of wool socks. Wool has the magical quality of being able to absorb lots of moisture and still stay warm. You'll definitely want this in your winter wear arsenal.

The Three Layer Rule - A Middle Layer For Insulation 


When temperatures are freezing outside, you need to make sure you have insulating clothing. Materials like fleece are a good choice. It's better to pick a high-quality fabric and use fewer layers than to pile on a bunch of sweaters, pray to the warmth gods, and hope for the best. Try to avoid cotton as it holds on to sweat from below and condensation from above. Moisture is our enemy when trying to stay warm, so pick fabrics that work with you rather than against you.

The Three Layer Rule - An Outer Layer For Protection From The Elements 


Iceland is rainy and windy. You need to get a durable rain jacket and also add a windbreaker into the mix. A water-resistant outer shell is not enough. Search for clothing and hiking boots that are waterproof (or at least that claim to be) in order to stay dry. This is another area where crowdsourced peer reviews will be your best friend. Downpours and snowstorms are common, and the last thing you want is to be caught without the right footwear or outerwear.

How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip Around Iceland


While car rental, trip itinerary, and what to wear are some of the more practical aspects of your road trip, you'll also want to start thinking about some fun activities. Glacier hikes and ice caves are especially popular in the winter. During the months of June, July, and August, the country comes alive with summer festivals. Whale watching is especially popular as is hunting the Northern Lights on an excursion. Not to mention all of the different cultural activities. Learn more about the Vikings and Iceland's fascinating history when you come. And last but not least: restaurants! Iceland has a lot of great places to eat, including Michelin-starred like Dill in Reykjavik. And with delicious creations like friend breakfast treat kleina and chocolate skúffukaka cake, your tummy will thank you every day while you're here. Good luck planning your road trip around Iceland and let us know how it goes.

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