Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Iceland's Viking Sagas

The Vikings. They are the stuff of legends, history, and medieval lore. Anyone vaguely familiar with Iceland’s 1,000+ year history knows the island was settled by these Nordic raiders in the late 800s AD. And while their reputation is one of infamy, how did we learn so much about these supposedly blonde-haired, blue-eyed invaders that terrorized the rest of Europe? The Icelandic Viking Sagas or Íslendingasögur. Many of the stories we know were passed down orally from generation to generation. Eventually, the tales of kings, heroes, battles, and dangerous expeditions were written down by men like writer, poet, historian, and politician Snorri Sturluson. Much of what we know about the Viking Age comes from this literature.

Iceland's Viking Sagas tell us about the country's history

The Icelandic Sagas are considered to be stories, a type of historical fiction. They are part of a longstanding, unique relationship that Icelanders have to the written word. After all, this is the country with a 99% literacy rate with a population that reads the most books globally per capita. And did you know that one in ten Icelanders will publish a book at some point in their lifetimes? Let’s dive in and learn a little more about the Sagas.

Who Wrote the Icelandic Sagas and When? 

While many people give Snorri Sturluson credit for writing the Sagas, he’s not the only one. Many believe that these prosaic histories originated with storytelling. They focus primarily on the events that Norse and Celtic inhabitants experienced on and around the island during the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The Sagas themselves were written around the 13th and 14th centuries. There is a significant focus on history, especially family history and genealogy. Sturulson lived in the 1100s and 1200s and is believed to have penned one of the most famous Sagas, Egil’s saga. This story is based on the lives of the clan of Egill Skallagrímsson, a Viking Age farmer, warrior, and skáld (poet). Supposedly, Snorri Sturluson is one of his descendants.

What Language are the Icelandic Sagas Written In? 

Ready for an interesting fact? Even though the Icelandic Viking Sagas were written hundreds of years ago in Old Norse (the language of Scandinavia at the time and precursor to Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, etc.), Icelanders can still read them. This is due to Iceland’s linguistic and geographical isolation. The modern language known as Icelandic isn’t really that much different from the Old Norse spoken by the Viking settlers. Comparing original Norse and translated Icelandic text side by side will make you think you’re virtually looking at the same language.

What are Some Famous Stories from the Sagas?

You’ll find evidence of the Sagas all over Iceland. There are even a cliff and a ravine on Snafellsnes peninsula named after characters found in these stories. The most popular ones are Egil’s saga, Eiríks saga rauða, Grettis saga, Gísla saga Hrafnkel’s saga, Njál’s saga, and Laxdæla saga.

Iceland's Sagas include exploration in these Drakkar longboats

Egil’s saga deals with his family being driven out of Norway due to strife with the Crown. They settle in Iceland, and their story is chronicled throughout several generations. Egil continues to fight with the King over property and we learn of the fights, jealousy, and relationships of Egil and his family members.

Eiríks saga rauða or The Saga of Erik the Red deals with the events leading up to the banishment of Erik the Red to Greenland as well as Leif Erikson landing on Vinland (North America). Notice that Erikson’s journey predates both Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci, who supposedly “discovered” the Americas.

Grettis saga deals with Grettir, a quick-tempered, temperamental, loud man. He spends much of his life as an outlaw, chasing wealth, power, and prestige.

Reykjavik’s Saga Museum is a must for anyone interested in learning more about this particular genre. The wax fixures and realistic scenes recreate critical moments in Icelandic history. Take a journey into the country’s past by exploring the displays and exhibitions.

Display at the Viking Saga Museum in Reykjavik

Iceland's Viking Sagas 

The Sagas give us a glimpse into Iceland’s past and teach us about days long gone. They are a reminder of the Viking glory days and serve as a link for many Icelanders to their ancestors.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

February Weather in Iceland with Temperature and Daylight Hours

February can be one of the best months to visit Iceland. There’s lots going on and plenty of winter activities to keep you occupied. Glacier hiking at Vatnajökull National Park? Check. Skiing in Akureyri and the north? Check. A thriving indoor café and nightlife culture? Check. But there’s something very important to consider if you plan on taking your Iceland vacation in the winter. If you don’t come prepared with what to expect, the weather can wreak havoc upon your trip. From sudden storms that delay your travel plans to not dressing warmly enough to running out of time at the end of the day, there are certain things that can be better dealt with you know what you’re getting into. Let’s delve into Iceland February weather, temperatures, and daily hours of sunshine.

Iceland's February weather means low temperatures and frozen waterfalls

February Temperatures in Iceland 

One of the first things people want to know when planning a trip to Iceland in February is “How cold will it be”? This is a fair question, so let’s get right down to it. Many travelers assume that Iceland is going to be some sub-Arctic tundra of permafrost and a winter wasteland. It can sometimes feel this way, but rest assured. It’s not that bad. While it’s true that on the map, Iceland rests just below the Arctic Circle, there’s also something else going on here. The warming waters of the Atlantic Gulf Stream make their way to our small island. As a result, Iceland is much warmer than it would be otherwise, especially along the South Coast.

Average temperatures fluctuate right around the freezing point of water. So while things are cold, they’re not THAT cold or extreme. There are always exceptions, but in general, these are the average temperatures.

Average February High in Reykjavik: 37.4 ºF (3 ºC).
Average February Low in Reykjavik: 28.4 ºF (-2 ºC).

Another factor to be aware of when considering Iceland’s February weather is windiness. In addition to there being low temperatures and lots of precipitation, Iceland is also quite windy. Be sure to pack windproof, waterproof clothing as part of your Iceland cold weather clothing arsenal.

Iceland's February weather covers Reykjavik in snow

Snowfall, Rainfall, Sleet, and Hail in Iceland - February Precipitation 

It rains and snows a lot in Iceland, especially from September to March. You’ll find some sort of precipitation during almost half of the days out of each month. And because it’s so cold, many times you’ll get a mixture of rain, snow sleet, and other forms of frozen water. It’s a reality of any Iceland vacation, so you may as well accept it. And because the island’s weather is so unpredictable, things can change quickly. This is why I always like to advise packing lots of warm, breathable layers and topping them off with waterproof a shell layer. Staying warm and dry will go a long way in making sure you enjoy your time in Iceland.

Average Precipitation in Reykjavik in February is 2.8 inches (7.2 cm) over 13 days.

How Many Hours of Daylight Does Iceland Have in February?

One of the common misconceptions about Iceland is that it’s dark for six months out of the year. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If this was worrying you, then read on. Yes, at the worst point (the winter solstice in late December) we only get around four hours of daylight. But several weeks and passed and at the beginning of February, Iceland gets around seven hours of sunshine. By the end the month, this number is closer to ten. The standard sunrise times at the end of February are pretty similar to what you’ll experience in other places around the world during the winter.

According to time and date website, these are the sunrise and sunset times for Reykjavik, Iceland in February. Consult the website for the times during your specific trip dates.

Beginning of February - Sunrise: 10:09 am | Sunset: 5:15 pm
Middle of February - Sunrise: 9:24 am | Sunset: 6:00 pm
End of February - Sunrise: 8:39 am | Sunset: 6:42 pm

Make sure you give yourself adequate time to arrive when driving in Iceland in February

February Weather in Iceland with Temperature and Daylight 

Hopefully this information can help you plan your February trip to Iceland a little better. Practice precaution when driving and remember to always check the weather forecast. Bundle up if it gets too cold and always give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Enjoy your trip.

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Friday, 25 January 2019

Do I Need a 4x4 Rental Car in Iceland?

When planning an Iceland road trip, one of the first and most important decisions you’ll have to make is what kind of vehicle to rent. Once you’ve decided between a car, campervan, or motorhome, you’ll need to make an even further distinction. If you’ve opted for a smaller vehicle, you need to figure out whether or not to go for the 4-wheel drive option. There are a couple of factors that go into if you choose 4WD or 2WD for your rental. Let’s go over the differences. Keeping in mind where you want to drive and the time of year are the keys to answering whether or not you need a 4x4 rental car in Iceland.

Do you need to rent a 4x4 vehicle in Iceland? If you're in the Highlands like this car, yes.

Do You Plan on Using F-Roads (Mountain Roads)? 

If the answer is yes, then you definitely a 4-wheel drive rental. The reason isn’t simply the rugged terrain, unpaved gravel roads, or the fact that you might be crossing shallow rivers. It’s actually illegal to drive on Icelandic roads without a 4x4 vehicle. That’s right, a 4WD is mandated by law. If you end up with only a 2WD car or campervan, you simply cannot access these roads. Your rental company will like put some sort of sticker on your windshield to remind you of this fact. You don’t want to break the law or risk getting stuck because you were driving an ill-equipped vehicle.

F-Roads are found mostly inland, in the Icelandic Highlands. Think places like Landmannalaugar. There are also place like the Westfjords and other zones with either unpaved roads, rocky terrain, or both. F-Roads are simply mountain roads; the F stands for “fjall”, which means “mountain in Icelandic”. So F35, which leads to Gullfoss waterfall, is just “mountain road 35”. It’s quite simple.

It’s important to note that Iceland’s F-Roads are not open all year. There’s a small window (June/July to late August) when conditions are safe to drive on these roads. The Iceland Road and Coastal Administration is in charge of opening dates each year. It changes depending on which F-Road you want to access and how things are looking safety-wise.

4x4 rental car exploring Iceland's Highlands and F-Roads

How Winter Driving in Iceland Affects 4-Wheel Drive Rental

So now that you’re an expert in mountain roads, let’s talk about another factor in 4x4 car rental in Iceland. Just like you want to have greater control over your vehicle when driving through Iceland’s hilly landscapes, you will want the same thing when driving in icy, snowy conditions. Wet, slick roads caused by rain, snow, sleet, hail, and other types of precipitation can make things a little trickier. Black ice is downright scary, and slush means you’ll need to go slowly and proceed with caution. I highly recommend getting a 4WD if you plan on driving in Iceland in the winter. It will be easier to maneuver your vehicle on the road and easier to regain control if heaven forbid you skid out or have some other driving emergency.

Do Campervans Come With 4-Wheel Drive?

Before you start seeing your Iceland campervan dreams go up in smoke, fear not. There are actually several campervan models like the Marco Polo and the VW California Camper that have 4WD. Hooray! They really did think of everything. So while you will need to drive carefully in the mountains with a camper (and don’t even think about fording a river à la Oregon Trail), it’s entirely possible to explore the Highlands with your camper.

You can still rent a 4WD campervan in Iceland

Do I Need a 4x4 Rental Car in Iceland? 

Whether or not you choose to rent a Jeep, SUV, car, or campervan with a 4-wheel drive is entirely up to you. It all comes down to where you want your Iceland itinerary to take you and if you’re coming at a time of year when having a 4x4 is an advantage. The daily rental rate for a 4WD car might cost a little more than a 2WD, but it could be worth it in the end. If you’re simply driving around the Road in the summer, I recommend sticking with a 2-wheel drive vehicle.

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Thursday, 24 January 2019

Dalvík - Iceland's Skiing and Snowboarding Capital

If you're a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, the Iceland might be the perfect destination for your next ski holiday. Most people associate Iceland with extreme adventure sports and outdoor pursuits like glacier hikes, ice cave, and glacier cave exploration in places like Langjökull, Vatnajökull, and Skaftafell. You can even hire a snowmobile and take a tour that way. But if you're looking to hit the slopes and enjoy some of freshly fallen snow, you need to head north. Come to Dalvík, also known as the ski capital of Iceland. With state-of-the-art installations, and bunny slopes for the kids, you'll find everything for skiers of all levels from novice to expert. So grab your skis, snowboard, or other equipment and get ready for some fresh powder.

Dalvik ski resort in North Iceland

Dalvík is located in North Iceland, just west of the country's second-largest city, Akureyri. It's about a 35-minute drive away. The Dalvík ski area has seven pistes in total. Its longest slope is 3,937 feet (1,200 meters) long and has flood lighting. The resort is equipped with a snow production system in order to always ensure optimal skiing conditions. Their three snow cannons keep the supply fresh. There is also a cross country skiing track next to the main skiing area.

Directions, Prices, Opening Hours 

One of the best things about the Mt. Böggvisstaðafjall ski area is that you can reach it by foot from Dalvík’s city center. There are also places to rent skis, helmets, ski goggles, and other equipment. If you’re looking to stay overnight, they can accommodate up to 40 sleeping bags.

Dalvik ski resort is perfect for all ages

Opening Hours

The opening hours of the resort during ski season are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 14:30 to 19:00 (2:30 pm to 7 pm), Tuesdays and Thursdays from 16:00 to 19:00 (4 pm to 7 pm), and weekends from 11:00 to 16:00 (11 am to 4 pm).


Day passes range from 1,700 to 3,300 ISK (800 to 1,300 for children). Weekend passes are 7,900 ISK (3,100). An adult is considered anyone born after 2002. Children six and under do not need to pay a lift fee but have to buy a key card. They cost 1,000 ISK and can be used as a day pass or a season pass. For specific info, please contact them at

Would you like to go skiing in Iceland?

Dalvík - Iceland's Skiing and Snowboarding Capital

If you're coming to North Iceland or Akureyri, think about making a stop in Dalvík. It's got skiing and fun for the whole family. And here you thought the only thing happening in this small Icelandic town was the fish festival in the summer. Come discover Dalvík's winter side!

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Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Iceland's Weather All Year - Temperature, Precipitation, Daylight Hours

At first glance, the weather might not seem like the most interesting or exciting topic. I get it. But Iceland's climate can have a huge impact on your travel plans. You might even decide to go during a specific time of year because you think it's the best one weatherwise. It will most certainly affect what you pack. And let's not forget daily hours of sunshine. Reduced daylight hours in the winter and the nearly endless sunshine of summer’s Midnight Sun change the scope and the amount of time you have to partake in the day's activities. So when planning your trip, it's important to know what to expect during each month. Let's look at average monthly temperatures, daylight hours, and precipitation throughout the year in Iceland. The country’s notorious weather changes a lot over 365 days and you need to be prepared.

Svartifoss in the summer with beautiful warm weather

As a general overview, let's locate Iceland on a map. It rests close to the North Pole just south of the Arctic Circle. It gets pretty cold, but thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, it's not as freezing as you might think. It's true that the hottest months in Iceland are in the summer, but “hot” is a relative term. depending on what you're used to the Mercury reading on thermometer generally doesn't get above 59 ºF (15 ºC), even on the warmest days. Not exactly what I'd call a heatwave. You can also only do certain activities, like glacier cave exploration in Vatnajökull or Langjökull, during the frostier months. In the summer, thanks to the Midnight Sun, you've got plenty of hours to go hiking in places like Landmannalaugar or taking a dip in places like the Blue Lagoon. But the drawback of all this summertime sunlight is that the Northern Lights are not visible.

January Weather in Iceland 

You'll find January cradled right in the middle of the Icelandic winter. It's the darkest, coldest month here. But that's not all bad news. Take advantage of cool outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, hiking on Skaftafell glacier or even exploring an ice cave.

Average January Temperatures in Iceland 

The average monthly high is Reykjavik is around 35.4 °F  (1.9 °C) for January. Average monthly lows for Reykjavik hover around 26.6 °F (-3 °C).

Typical January Weather and Precipitation 

January is one of the wettest months in Iceland both in terms of precipitation that falls and the number of rainy or snowy days. You’ll see three inches (7.6 cm) of rain, snow, sleet, hail, etc. over 13 days if you come during this month. Be very careful when driving. Bring waterproof clothing and remember to pack your sunscreen. There are also cold yet clear days in January in Iceland.

Daylight Hours in January

Even though we’ve passed December’s winter solstice, the days are still extremely short (between 4.5 to at the beginning of the month to about seven at the end). The sun typically rises between 10-11 am and sets between 3:45 and 5 pm in January.

February Weather in Iceland 

Weatherwise, February is quite similar to January. We’re still in the thick of Icelandic winter and it still pretty cold and wet. You can still partake in the winter activities mentioned in January. Head to Akureyri and Dalvík if you’re interested in hitting the slopes. The ski capital of Iceland awaits. And be sure to take a Northern Lights excursion, as this is one of the best times of year to see the majestic light show in the nighttime sky.

Average February Temperatures in Iceland 

The average monthly high is in Reykjavik is around 37 °F (2.8 °C) and the low is around 28.2 °F (-2.1 °C).

Typical February Weather and Precipitation

February gets around the same amount of snowfall and other types of precipitation as January, with 2.8 inches (7 cm) spread out over 13 days.

Daylight Hours in February

By February, the sun has started to come out more. The days are longer now (between seven to ten hours). The sun rises between 8:30 am and 10 am depending on the time of the month and sets between 5:15 pm and a quarter till seven.

Kirkjufell mountain in icy, cold February weather in Iceland

March Weather in Iceland 

We've left the permafrost of winter but March temperatures in Iceland are still quite low. Here's some good news: We've got way more daylight hours and the amount of sunshine is beginning to resemble that of countries a little closer to the Equator. As we slowly march towards summer, things only continue to get better on our lovely Nordic island.

Average March Temperatures in Iceland

In Reykjavik, March average highs reach 37.8 °F (3.2 °C). Monthly average lows are around 28.4 °F (-2 °C).

Typical March Weather and Precipitation

March has even more rain than January and February, with 3.1 inches 8 cm over 14 rainy days. Temps are still hovering around the freezing mark, so you're likely to get caught in some cold rain and snowy conditions. Bundle up and dress in the right layers so the water doesn't creep in.

Daylight Hours in March

The sun rises between 7 am and 8:30 am and doesn't go down until close to 7 pm or 8 pm. Talk about long days! And the number of minutes of sunshine keeps increasing daily. March gets between 10-13 hours of sunlight per day.

April Weather in Iceland 

April represents a turning point in the shift from winter to summer. It's no longer "winter cold" but don't break out your swimsuits just yet. This Icelandic version of winter is slightly more bearable but you still need to dress warmly in waterproof, breathable layers. We're also really excited to be getting plenty more daylight hours.

Average April Temperatures in Iceland

High temperatures in Reykjavik hover around 42.3 °F (5.7 °C). The average low for the month dips to 32.7 °F (0.4 °C). Brrrrr!

Typical April Weather and Precipitation

One of the central themes of dressing for Iceland is to use plenty of layers and be prepared for anything. This is especially true for transitional months like April. One day, you'll have not a cloud in the sky. The next day, a hailstorm pelting you. The next, massive amounts of sleet or snow. Or it could happen all in the same afternoon. April in Reykjavik sees slightly less precipitation than previous months. There are 12 rainy days with around 2.4 inches (6 cm) of precipitation.

Daylight Hours in April

April provides you with a fill of sunlight. Depending on where we are in the month, the sun can rise anywhere from 5am and set as late as a quarter to ten at night. With 13.5 to 16.5 hours of sunlight, talk about a long day!

May Weather in Iceland 

We're in the home stretch for Iceland's summer and things are heating up quickly. Well, for us at least. You can definitely tell that summer is around the corner with both temperatures and daylight hours. Our beloved whales and puffins have not yet made their annual return to our island but rest assured, they're on their way. The good news for travelers is that May is sunnier than previous months and less windy and icy. You'll definitely want to go outside.

Average May Temperatures in Iceland

Averages in Reykjavik show highs around 48.9 °F (9.4 °C) which is actually quite pleasant. Average monthly lows are still cold, at 38.5 °F (3.6 °C)

Typical May Weather and Precipitation

While May is sunnier and less windy than other months, you need to be prepared for everything. Even though the weather is nicer, you can still encounter snow, sleet, rain, etc. May has only 1.8 (4.5 cm) inches of precipitation spread out over ten days.

Daylight Hours in May

We're starting to approach really long days in May. With 17-20 hours a day, the sun is up when you awaken and possibly setting when you go to sleep. The sun rises between 3:30 am and 5 am and sets between 10 pm and 11:30 pm. I hope you brought your sleeping mask or that you have blackout curtains.

Temperatures rise and the snow starts to melt in Iceland in May with great weather

June Weather in Iceland 

It's the month you've been waiting for. Summer has arrived! The country's flowers are in full bloom and snows have melted, revealing beautiful green countryside scenery. It's also the beginning of outdoor festival season. Make sure you pack your camera.

Average June Temperatures in Iceland

Reykjavik's average monthly high is 53.1 °F (11.7 °C). Lows for the month on average are a bearable 44.1 °F (6.7 °C).

Typical June Weather and Precipitation 

When traveling to Iceland, June is a pretty sure thing where the weather is concerned. By don't think you're completely off the hook. We've had snowstorms in June and 2018 was a particularly cold, rainy, overcast exception to years past. June receives 2 inches (5 cm) of precipitation over 11 days.

Daylight Hours in June

June in Iceland means the summer solstice, usually around the 21st or 22nd of the month. This means one thing: the Midnight Sun. Nearly endless daylight envelops the island. As a visitor you'll have time to fit in an extra excursion like additional stops on the Diamond Circle route or stopping by Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and the Sólheimasandur beach plane wreck. With the sun setting between 11:30 pm and midnight and rising between 3 am and 3:30 am, you'll have plenty of time for outdoor pursuits. Just come prepared with an eye mask.

July Weather in Iceland 

July is understandably one of the favorite time of year to visit Iceland. Temperatures outside make it perfect for taking part in pursuits like hiking in the Highlands. Access to Landmannalaugar and F-Roads has reopened and the interior of the country is just waiting to be explored. Make sure you've rented a 4x4 vehicle. July is probably Iceland at its best.

Average July Temperatures in Iceland

July is probably the "hottest" month in Iceland. Average highs in Reykjavik are 55.9 °F (13.3 °C). Average monthly lows get to 46.9 °F (8.3 °C) which is not super warm but not freezing either..  You'll still need to bundle up at night.

Typical July Weather and Precipitation

July is probably as good as it gets in Iceland when it comes to the weather. Go outside and take full advantage! July is the warmest month in Iceland on average, so take advantage of all of those extra daylight hours and get outside! With only 10 days of 2 inches (5 cm) of rainfall, why not take a relaxing soak in some hot springs or hike a volcanic crater like Askja or Eldborg during your Iceland road trip?

Daylight Hours in July

We've still got lots of sunshine in Iceland in July with 18-21 hours per day. The Midnight sun continues during July with the sun rising between 3 am and 4:30 am and setting. between 10:30 pm and midnight.

August Weather in Iceland 

Temperatures are still high and the weather is still quite nice in Iceland in August. But the Midnight Sun has begun its slow retreat.

Average August Temperatures in Iceland

The average monthly high is 13 °C (55.4 °F). The average monthly low is 7.9 °C (46.2 °F).

Typical August Weather and Precipitation

August is still a wonderful time of year to visit Iceland. You’ve got the nicer weather and sunny days similar to June and July and still have pretty high temperatures. 2.4 inches (6 cm) of precipitation is spread out over 12 days.

Daylight Hours in August

The sun still rises relatively early (between 4:30 am and 6 am) and also sets relatively late (between 8:45 pm and 10:30 pm). But you're still getting 15-18 hours of sunshine daily. This is less than previous months, but is still quite a lot.

September Weather in Iceland 

September in Iceland marks the beginning of the end of tourist season. The weather slowly starts its metamorphosis from summer to fall and winter. The Northern Lights start to appear again as temperatures slowly being to dip. This is the perfect month to visit Iceland if you want to see the Aurora Borealis but are looking to avoid the extreme cold of the upcoming months. Going camping or taking a road trip are fantastic options for exploring the island.

Average September Temperatures in Iceland

September's monthly averages are a high of 50.2 °F (10 °C) and a low of 41 °F (5 °C). They're a bit lower than summer temperatures but still nice.

Typical September Weather and Precipitation

As we've started the change from summer to fall, you start to find more overcast days. Things are cooling off and you'll find an increase in rainfall. Reykjavik sees 2.6 inches (6.5 cm) fall over 12 days.

Daylight Hours in September

September's daily hours of sunshine are probably closer to what you're used to back home. You've got around 11 and a half to 14 and a half hours of sunlight with the sun rising between 6 am and 7:30 am. It sets between 7 pm and 9 pm.

Godafoss on a lovely September day with beautiful weather

October Weather in Iceland 

You'll definitely sense the change in seasons during Iceland in October. It's colder, the leaves are changing color, and it's wet during the whole month. You can still plan a pretty good trip though, as winter hasn't quite arrived yet.

Average October Temperatures in Iceland

Monthly average highs for Reykjavik are 44.2 °F (6.8 °C) and lows are 36 ºF (2.2 ºC). You'll need lots of warm layers, wool socks, and thermal underwear if you hope to stay nice and toasty.

Typical October Weather and Precipitation

I think the best way to prepare for Iceland in October is to plan for what would be a blustery, wet, wintery day in most parts of the world. You'll need waterproof and water resistant clothing as this is Iceland's wettest month. A shell layer such as a rain jack is also a basic requirement. Wind, rain, and storms are abundant during this month. You've got 15 days (half the month) of precipitation with 3.3 inches (8.5 cm) in Iceland in October. Pack well!

Daylight Hours in October

We're inching closer to winter solstice every day. October is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to daylight hours. There can be as many as eleven or as few as eight. Sunrise happens between 7:30 am and 9 am. Sunset is between 5pm and 7 pm.

November Weather in Iceland

Forget what Jon Snow said. Winter isn't coming; it's already here. Iceland's winter arrives earlier and leaves later, thanks to its far northern latitude. We're back to freezing temperatures and reduced daylight hours.

Average November Temperatures in Iceland

Iceland is cold in November! With an average monthly high of only 38.1 ºF (3.4 ºC), you'll definitely freeze your buns off if you're not properly dressed.

Typical November Weather and Precipitation

Due to large amounts of precipitation and temperature that hover around the freezing point, expect lots of sleet, snow, and freezing rain in Iceland in November. It can be quite overcast and cloudy. You may also have to drive in fog or with low visibility.

Daylight Hours in November

Sunlight starts to become a bit scarce in Iceland in November. We only have around five to eight hours per day. The sun rises between 9 am and 10:45 am and sets as early as 3:45 pm to 5 pm. This is the perfect time to explore Icelandic café culture or Reykjavik's bars on Laugavegur street.

December Weather in Iceland

Iceland becomes a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The country is blanketed in snow and looks like one big, beautiful snow globe. Thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, Iceland is not as cold as you might think. A good point of reference might be winter in New York. Somewhere like Chicago is worse than Iceland during the winter.

Average December Temperatures in Iceland

Temperatures in Iceland stay right around the freezing mark on the thermometer in December. The average monthly high in Reykjavik is 36 ºF (2.2 ºC). Yikes!

Typical December Weather and Precipitation

Icy, cold, snowy, and wet are the four words that best describe Iceland in December. Driving is especially challenging, so as tip, please give yourself lots of extra time to arrive. You never know what inclement weather could delaty your travel plans. Hailstorms, fog, snowstorms and wind are all conspiring against you in December. Never be afraid to turn back or wait out the storm. Over 14 days, you'll have 3.1 inches (8 cm) of precipitation.

Daylight Hours in December

With only four or five hours hours of sunlight per day, December is probably the bleakest month of the year. We're dealing with the winter solstice, which means the opposite of the Midnight Sun. The sun rises between 11 am and 11:30 am and sets around 3:30 pm. At least we have Jól (Christmas) to look forward to!

Iceland’s Weather During the Year with Temperature and Daylight Hours 

One of our favorite websites for checking daylight hours along with sunset and sunrise times for Iceland is the time and date website. It provides not only sunrise and sunset times, but also information about civil twilight. We got all of our information regarding hours of sunlight there. You can check the specific dates of your trip to know how much time you have for your activities. Another useful site is the official website of the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Each month has its own special charm, and no matter what time of year you go, you're sure to have an incredible adventure. Just pick a month when you know you can deal with the weather!

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Friday, 18 January 2019

How Do Icelanders Deal With the Darkness?

It’s 9:03 in the morning here in Reykjavik and it's still pitch black with darkness. According to the Iceland Meteorological Office, today we should expect the sun to rise at 11:06. But the sun will go to bed again at 16:04. Yes, that’s right. That’s barely five hours of daylight. Most of our readers come from countries where, on average, they have at least 8-10 hours of sunlight during the winter time. So it might be a bit hard to understand how it is to live with a constant lack of light. As an Icelander myself, I get asked many questions constantly. Probably one of the most common questions that is not related to tourism is how do Icelanders deal with the darkness? If you also want to find the answer to that question, then grab a snack, get comfortable and read our article.

Reyjavik sky during solstice

Darkness in Iceland - A Scientific Explanation

Most people know that at the North and South Pole there are essentially six months of endless daylight and six months of never-ending night. But not many know the reason behind it. So I’m here to try to explain this natural phenomenon. Get out your science cap, it’s geek time!

Just imagine our beautiful planet earth. Ok, then zoom out until you can visualize the earth and the sun. We all know the earth revolves around the sun in a not so perfect circular motion. That is called the translation movement, and it takes up to 365 days to complete. In other words, one year of life on earth. But at the same time, our beautiful speck of a blue planet is rotating upon itself. This rotation takes 24 hours or a day of our lives. But how does this affect light?

Well If the earth were in a straight position, it would be summer in Europe as well as in Australia at the very same time. This is because both the southern and the northern part of the planet would be at the same distance from the sun. But we all know that does not happen. The Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere have opposite seasons.

That happens because the earth isn’t straight up and down. It tilts on an axis at an angle of 23.5 degrees. The earth’s poles create an imaginary diagonal line. So depending on the movement point the earth is on, the light of the sun differs. Sometimes the Northern hemisphere is away from the sun while the Southern one angles towards the sun. And vice versa, of course.

This effect is more extreme at the poles. In Iceland, we don’t have six months of darkness as we are not at the North Pole itself. But we’re pretty close to it. And that’s why during the summertime we get almost 23 hours of daylight. In the winter, we barely receive five hours.

Sheep during Iceland's Midnight Sun. In winter it's mostly darkness

So How Do Icelanders Deal With the Darkness? 

I understand it can be very hard for some foreigners to cope with so much darkness. I’m not going to lie, it is still hard for most of us, but I guess we’re used to it. When we get up in the morning, it’s dark. When we leave the office to go back home, it’s still dark. These fleeting, short days and lack sunlight can affect our health and well-being. We may not get enough melatonin during the season, which can lead to sleeping disorders. Also, with darkness comes moody temperaments and even depression. Lack of Vitamin D is also a problem. That is why it is so important for us to know how to deal with the darkness. Life can still be enjoyable. These are some of our best tips and tricks to fight the darkness.

Keeping an Adapted Schedule 

Human beings’ internal clock usually coordinates with the sun. In our case, we cannot do that. Otherwise, we would be hibernating like bears all winter long. Given the circumstances, it’s important to keep your mind busy and to have a schedule that goes along with the needs of our bodies. In winter, work hours are shortened depending on your job. It’s true that while we are at the office, we are busy doing our work. We really don’t think about the sunlight that much. But we are all somewhat tired, exhausted and weak. Some call it asthenia. It is important to do your job properly, and for that, we need to take care of our mental well being. Having fewer working hours allows us to take on activities that provide a sense of health and wellness. That will keep depression at bay.

Remember to Socialize 

Winter is cold and dark. It’s quite easy to become a couch potato when your body doesn’t feel like doing anything in this gloomy weather. Luckily, we’ve got some cool activities that are both engaging and help us to socialize. This is crucial for our mental health.

One of those activities is heading to geothermal bathing areas. You probably already know how important geothermal bathing is for our culture. And now you know one of the reasons why. Unlike other sunnier countries, we cannot just head out and have some tapas with friends, or have a winter picnic in the mountains. It is windy, icy, snowy and dark. That is where geothermal hotpots become the perfect place to socialize.

If it’s too cold outside, well, the waters are warm and relaxing! You can go to both indoor and outdoor municipal pools. It’s not a stretch to say that nearly every Icelander does that. We meet new people and our friends. We chat about anything that’s on our mind, we laugh, we share opinions. It all makes the burden much more bearable. I do love going to the pool every day to meet my friends in this cozy and warm atmosphere. The same idea applies to cafes. We love them! We’ve got tiny, comfy and intimate cafes throughout the country. Coffee keeps us warm and chatting keep us at ease.

Entertainment is a Must

There’s no room for boredom! It can undermine your spirit. This past Christmas, you probably read about our tradition of giving books as gifts during the Christmas season. We then spend the night drinking hot cocoa and reading our brand new book. Iceland is the third most literate nation in the world. And did you know 1 out of 10 Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetimes? Is it because we are super intelligent? Well, not really. It is because we love reading and writing as a form of entertainment. That is a great way to wage against our harsh weather. It’s no wonder why the majority of books are sold between September and December. We need a whole catalog to devour in during the cold, dark months!

Eating Properly

Sunlight is very important as it triggers the body to produce certain vitamins that keep our bodies working properly. As daylight here is so scarce during the winter, we need to find it elsewhere. A little help from our diet never hurts!

Lýsi cod liver oil capsules helps Icelander deal with darkness in the winter

Lýsi Icelandic Fish Oil 

This liquid gold is cod liver oil. It’s not the tastiest thing you’ll ever try, but it is indeed a healthy one. It provides us with high contents of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for both adults and children. It’s a classic Icelandic product. I remember how my mom uses to force feed me this yucky oil. Nowadays, I don’t really think it tastes that bad.

Higher Fruit Intake

We all need to get more vitamin A and D in our bodies and fruits are the perfect source. Why is vitamin D so important? Well, it helps the body to regulate calcium and phosphates, making it vital for our bones, teeth, and muscles.

How Do Icelanders Deal With the Darkness?

As you can see, there are several ways to alleviate those long stretches of darkness during winter. We are lucky to live in a stunning country with unique nature. So I guess that’s the price we’ve got to pay for living in it! If it’s too much to bear, you can always take a couple of days off and go on vacation. And of course go to a sunny, warm country where daylight is widely available. Then with your vitamin D recharged, go back to Iceland!

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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Your Iceland Road Trip: The Ultimate Adventure

When looking to plan your next adventure, why not consider a road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road? A vacation to Iceland should be on everyone’s bucket list. If it’s not on yours yet, let me lay out the case as to why it will be soon. There are a lot of ways to take a road trip around Iceland, and it all comes down to your budget, desires, and travel style. So whether you’re a family of four traveling during school holidays, a couple taking a romantic trip around the island, or a group of friends renting a campervan and seeing where the day takes you, this is definitely the place for you. A road trip around Iceland is definitely the ultimate adventure. Let’s find out why.

Taking a road trip around Iceland's Ring Road is the ultimate adventure

Iceland is a Land with a Lot of Cool Natural Attractions

Ok, that may be an understatement. Iceland is perhaps one of the coolest places on the planet. That’s probably why tourism to the small island has grown exponentially over the last few years. And when I say cool, I mean it has places like Vatnajökull glacier, where you can go snowmobiling or take a glacier hike and explore ice caves and glacier caves. If glaciers aren’t your style, what about the 10,000 plus waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss or the powerful beast Dettifoss? And how many people can say they’ve been on a black sand volcanic beach like Sólheimasandur?

Vatnajökull glacier is one of the coolest outdoor activities for an Iceland road trip

You’ll Make Tons of Memories

It goes without saying that some of the moments you treasure the most and remember years after any trip are the unexpected ones. Renting a car, campervan, or motorhome and driving around a small Nordic island with your closest friends or your loved ones is something you won’t soon forget. Throw in the fact that a place like Iceland is extremely unique and you’ll sure to come up with some crazy adventures. Only in a place where people eat boiled sheep’s head and there are active volcanoes can you truly say “you never know what to expect” and really mean it. We wrote an article about how to plan the perfect road trip around Iceland. Feel free to take a look here. It lists all of the main sights you’ll want to see when planning your Iceland itinerary.

Hit the Ring Road during your Ultimate Iceland Road Trip

The Ring Road Was Made for Road Trips

What could be more suitable for a journey around a beautiful country like Iceland than a road that circumnavigates the whole island? You just hop in your vehicle and hit the open road! And what’s even better, many of Iceland’s main sights lay just off the Ring Road or are easy to access from it. From Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon to Húsavik on the Diamond Circle route to the beginning of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, everything you need is right there!

Your Iceland Road Trip: The Ultimate Adventure

We’ve only got one life, and it’s important to live it to the max. If you’re looking for spectacular sights and unforgettable experiences during your next getaway, then look no further than Iceland. Its shores are filled with new adventures that are just awaiting you.

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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Do People in Iceland Speak English?

One of the big questions for many travelers embarking upon a journey to a foreign land is “what language do they speak and will I be able to get by”? It’s a valid thing to want to know. Are you going to need one of those pocket translators or a Lonely Planet travel phrasebook for Icelandic? Hopefully, you can just walk into Sandholt Bakery and order your favorite chai latte with almond milk without creating an international incident or offending an Icelandic grandmother as you butcher her native tongue. Well, the good news for all you anglophones out there is that yes, you can get by in Iceland speaking English. There will most likely not be a language barrier when interacting with locals (whew!) as most Icelanders speak English exceptionally well. What a relief, right? That’s one less thing to worry about when planning your big Iceland road trip.

Icelandic speech bubble. Do they speak English in Iceland?

What is the Main Language Spoken in Iceland?

The country’s official language is Icelandic. This particular modern tongue has a fascinating heritage and linguistic history. It’s not an indigenous language, as Iceland is a place that was settled a little over a thousand years ago. Vikings settlers brought their language at the time, Old Norse, with them as they set up shop on the small island in the North Atlantic. Old Norse is a Germanic language and is the root for several other Scandinavian languages such as Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Faroese. Being so far from the European mainland, Iceland was relatively isolated from linguistic influence or the introduction of many foreign words. As a result, Icelandic remains relatively unchanged from the Old Norse brought to its shores over a millennium ago. In fact, the two languages are so similar that modern-day Icelanders can easily read and comprehend the original texts of the Viking Sagas. Cool, huh?

To outsiders, words in Icelandic might look very funny (and long). The country’s famous tongue twister of a volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, made headlines back in 2010 both for its massive explosion and its seemingly unpronounceable name.

Unusual words and letters like thorn (Þ or þ) and eth (Ð or ð) are remnants from our Viking days and the Viking alphabet. But enough about Icelandic, let’s talk about English!

How well do Icelanders speak English? 

So here’s the good news. Because of the complex grammar and archaic vocabulary of Icelandic, it’s definitely one of the hardest languages to learn. And if Icelanders want to make themselves understood outside of Iceland, it’s not realistic for them to expect people to study their native language. Luckily for you, my dear English speaker, many consider your mother tongue to be the planet’s current lingua franca. Enjoy it while it lasts! It’s commonly taught as a second language in schools, and nearly every Icelander can speak it fluently. Not only that, they’re usually happy to have new opportunities to practice speaking. Icelanders could actually be considered polyglots, as they frequently speak several other global languages such as German, French, and Spanish or Nordic languages like Danish. If you’re worried that you won’t find anyone who speaks English, you can stop fretting. This simply isn’t going to happen.

Can You Get By in Iceland Speaking English? 

Yes, absolutely! You don’t have to worry about people not understanding you. And people who work in the service industry are used to interacting with tourists and foreigners, so I would say 99% of them speak English well enough to be understood. Of course, when driving around the Ring Road, you may run into the occasional situation that requires you both to resort to hand gestures and body language. But most of the time you’re able to communicate just by talking. And you’ll definitely earn bonus points if you can sneak in a few Icelandic phrases that you learned. We always appreciate non-native speakers taking the time and making the effort to at least try to speak some Icelandic, even if it’s just to say halló (hello) or takk (thanks). No one's asking you to spell or pronounce Eyjafjallajökull.

How to say "I don't speak Icelandic" in the native language pink and blue sign

Do People in Iceland Speak English?

The answer is a resounding yes. So be not afraid, dear traveler. You can go to Iceland and speak English without fear or worry. Speaking a foreign language has its challenges. And while having people give you funny looks as you try to pronounce unusual sounds in their language can make for funny stories about your trip, sometimes it’s nice to just relax and talk to someone who literally and figuratively speaks your language. So when you’re in a bar a Laugavegur Street, feel free to go up to a local and say “Hello! How are you?”. They’re likely to understand you and say “Fine, thanks”!

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Friday, 11 January 2019

Winter Travel Tips for Iceland

Winter has increasingly become a popular time to take a trip to Iceland. Gone are the days when the tourists of summer leave and the island rests for most of the year. Winter travel in Iceland has gained traction due to a large number of factors. From less crowded attractions to lower prices and huge savings on everything from car rental to hotel, it's no wonder that more and more people are flocking to Iceland during the off-season and low season. Let's take a look at some winter travel tips for Iceland. You'll need them, as this is a special time of year that presents unique challenges. Taking a road trip during Iceland's cold-weather months requires a different type of planning then during peak season. I'm here to give you some tips and advice help you get the most out of your journey.

Winter travel tips for Iceland

When is Winter in Iceland? 

The first thing to know when planning a winter trip to Iceland is when exactly the winter months are. Given Iceland's far northern latitude, it's important to know that it gets cold and snowy here earlier in the year and frosty temperatures last through what would normally be considered spring in other parts of the world. For all intents and purposes, winter in Iceland starts in November and ends in March. September and October are transitional months as are April and May.

Winter Travel Tips: Driving in Iceland

One of the first and most important things to discuss while traveling in Iceland in winter is driving. Road conditions can already be much more dangerous then what are you still at home. Factor in high winds and heavy snow storms and you got a cocktail for difficult driving conditions. There are several things you need to do to prepare. The obvious ones like making sure your vehicle has snow tires are most likely already taken care of for you by the rental company. They know the dangers of black ice and low visibility and equip their vehicles accordingly.

It's extremely important to regularly check the weather forecast in Iceland in the winter. And by regularly, I mean multiple times a day. I'm not exaggerating when I say this could save your life. Knowing when there's a storm coming can spell the difference between inadvertently heading out into danger or delaying the next leg of your journey for a day or two. Travelers who have been caught unaware often find themselves and the dire situation of complete whiteout conditions, getting blown off the road, and in extreme cases, having the vehicle freeze to the ground. Yes, it gets that bad.

Winter driving tips for Iceland

And of course, it goes without saying to never be in a rush when driving anywhere. Give yourself plenty of extra time to drive from point A to point B. When making extra stops along the way, always round up when estimating how long it will take. Having a contingency plan, such as pulling into the nearest campsite if things take a turn for the worse, is also highly advisable in case there’s an emergency.

Beware Sunset Times: Daylight Hours in Iceland in Winter 

This is a piece of advice that's also partially related to driving. Another aspect of Iceland being so far north is that a good very little light in the winter. On the shortest days, sunrise and sunset are only about 4 or 5 hours apart. That's not really a whole lot of time to do outdoor activities like glacier hikes on Vatnajökull Or tracking to the plane crash site at Sólheimasandur beach. You'll need to plan your days very carefully in the winter to make sure you don't get caught in the dark. Consult sunrise and sunset times to know approximately how many hours of sunlight you’ll receive.

Luckily you can take advantage of civil twilight in order to maximize the amount of time you have to spend at your destination for the day. Civil Twilight is basically the time before sunrise and after sunset when there is light in the sky. So for example, maybe the sun officially sets at 4 pm, But it doesn't get pitch black until an hour or so later. The same thing goes with starting your day. Maybe the sun doesn't rise until 11 a.m., But you can start your day trip Golden Circle an hour beforehand. You’ll save time and squeeze out every second of daylight available to you.

Get more out of Iceland's reduced winter daylight hours with civil twilight

Another Winter Travel Tip: What to Pack and Wear 

I can't stress enough how important it is to dress warmly in Iceland, especially in the winter. This can make or break your trip. If you're not experienced dressing for cold weather, believe me, there's a system. Novices may think that it's all about bundling up and throwing on as many layers as possible until you look like an overstuffed onion. This couldn't be further from the truth. You really only need four key layers to keep you warm and dry while traveling around the Nordic Island and experiencing its natural wonders. I wrote a full-length blog post about it here. The summary is that you need two high-quality base layers to trap body heat and wick moisture, an insulating layer to keep warmth in, and a waterproof shell layer to keep rain, snow, sleet, waterfall mist, and any other type of moisture out.

Winter Travel Tips for Iceland

Planning an Iceland winter vacation is quite different than planning one in the summer. It’s almost like visiting two different countries! Coming prepared and knowing what to expect are two of the best things you can do to make your trip run as smoothly as possible. There are lots of things to do during winter in Iceland, from ice cave treks to glacier hikes to snowmobiling and much more. Come see this enchanting winter wonderland for yourself, you won’t regret it!

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Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Best Way to Travel in Iceland: Car, Campervan or Motorhome?

When planning a road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road, there’s one big decision that needs to be made before all others. It will impact not only your budget and the zones of Iceland that you can access, but also where you will stay overnight. So which will it be? What type of vehicle will you rent for your vacation in Iceland? The three options available each have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Everything from price to ease of use to comfort are factors to take into consideration when deciding the best way to travel around Iceland. Whether you choose a car, campervan or motorhome rental, you’re definitely in for the trip of a lifetime. So let’s see what we have!

What's the best way to driving around Iceland's Ring Road? Car, campervan, or motorhome rental?

Car Rental

The first option is the more standard choice. Many people visiting Iceland opt to rent a car a stay at hotels. This is a wonderful choice and is probably the most convenient option out of the three. You can relax with a nice hot shower at the end of the day and sleep in a lovely room with a comfortable bed. Who doesn’t love staying in a nice hotel room or B&B, where everything is taken care of for you and your main job is to relax? Travelers who choose this option will perhaps have a little bit more money available to spend.

You can decide to go with a standard car if you plan on making your way around the Ring Road. If you plan to access Iceland’s Highlands or drive on any mountain roads (F-Roads) you need to be sure that you have a 4x4 vehicle. They are required by law for this type of driving. SUVs like a Dacia Duster or Kia Sportage are perfect for this type of exploring.

The downside of renting a car or SUV in Iceland in definitely cost. The car rental itself and the cost of gas aren’t necessarily astronomical. The price of accommodation is actually where your wallet will take the biggest hit. With rooms in Reykjavik ranging from $150-400 per night, things can add up quickly. One way to save money is to go tent camping, as staying at a campsite is only about $7-15 per night per person. You also can’t cook, so you’ll be eating out a lot.

Whether staying in a hotel or at a campsite, you’ll need some recommendations for the best car rental companies in Iceland. My favorites are Cars Iceland, Reykjavik Car, Reykjavik Auto, and Auto Iceland.

Campervan rental is a great way to explore Iceland's Ring Road

Campervan Rental 

Next up is the favorite option of my many younger travelers and couples: a campervan! This is the ultimate road trip vehicle. You’ve got almost everything you need in your home on four wheels. During the day you drive to your heart’s content with nothing but you, the open road, and miles of sky and the picturesque Icelandic countryside. When you’re ready to sleep, just pull into the nearest campsite and get settled in for the night. There’s no need to set up a tent, as your sleeping quarters are already in the back, ready for you to hop into your warm, welcoming bed. And a Webasto heater will keep you nice and toasty all night long. When you wake up in the morning, pop up the beds and convert your sleeping area into a cooking and dining area. You’ll likely have a hot plate or a gas stove and some campers even have a sink.

The only downside I can think of with a campervan is that they are not quite as luxurious as the other two options. With a campervan, you’ll have to stay at campsites and use their facilities. This means you’ll be sharing bathrooms and showers with other people. Also, you have to pay extra to use hot water in the shower. But most campsites have Wifi and other modern conveniences. I recommend planning your route in advance and checking out which amenities and facilities are available at your desired campsites.

Some models of campervan such as the Marco Polo and the California offer 4x4 options. Remember to look for that when choosing your vehicle if you want to drive on F-Roads.

For me, the best campervan rental companies in Iceland are Campervan Iceland, Camper Rental Iceland, Happy Campers, Campers Reykjavik, and Kuku Campers.

A motorhome rental in Iceland is a luxurious way to make your way around the Ring Road

Motorhome Rental 

Motorhomes in Iceland are a favorite means of transportation for families. Every summer, the roads of our small island fill with these terrestrial whales of the road. Motorhomes are wonderful because they truly are a home one wheels. Not only do you have a full kitchen and dining area, there’s also a bathroom complete with a toilet and shower. You’ve got a lot of the freedom and mobility of a campervan mixed with the ease and convenience of a hotel. This hybrid way of travel could be right for you if your looking for the best of both worlds.

I should note that motorhomes are more expensive than campervans, you’ll need to factor that in when making your decision. Another drawback is that motorhomes can’t drive on F-Roads, so you’ll have to stick to the Ring Road.

My favorite motorhome rental companies in Iceland are Motorhome Iceland and McRent.

Best Way to Travel in Iceland: Car, Campervan or Motorhome? 

Which way you choose to drive around Iceland really depends on you. Your travel preferences, budget, proposed itinerary, and even the type of vehicle you feel most at ease driving are all important factors to consider. At the end of the day, you want to comfortable and happy during your trip. While people’s style of travel and transport may be different, the thing they have in common is that they will have experiences unlike anything else on planet earth. From glacier hiking in Vatnajökull to the bubbling mud pits of Hverir, Iceland is one of the most unique places you’ll ever find. Regardless of the vehicle you choose, make sure you soak of every moment of the journey!

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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Skógafoss Waterfall: Iceland's Natural Beauty

Iceland is a country that is known the world over for its breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty. First-time visitors leave the island raving about the majesty and splendor gifted to us by Mother Nature. The country is known as the land of Fire and Ice thanks to the plethora of massive glaciers and explosive volcanoes. You could also call Iceland the land of waterfalls. Even though the country is only about the size of Kentucky, there are a staggering 10,000 plus waterfalls in Iceland. That around one per 30 citizens! The frequent precipitation in the form of rain and snow along with melting glacier water makes conditions ideal for such a large number of cascades. And Skógafoss is one of the country’s most beautiful examples. Located on the South Coast of Iceland about half an hour from Seljalandsfoss near the Ring Road, this cascade of falling water is a must-do on your Iceland itinerary.

Skógafoss waterfall in the summer

About Skógafoss Waterfall 

Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s largest and if a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Its impressive 60-meter (197 ft) drop produces quite a spray, and you’ll often see rainbows and double rainbows here on sunny days. One of the many things that set this waterfall apart from the rest is the fact that you can walk right up to it. Prepare to be drenched! There’s also an observation deck at the top. If you’re prepared to walk the 527 steps to reach it, you’ll be rewarded with impressive views.

There’s also a legend connected to Skógafoss. They say that there’s a chest filled with treasure and gold located behind it! Apparently, a Viking settler named Þrasi Þórólfsson hid the bounty there around the year 900 AD. Why not go and try to find the treasure?

Frozen Skógafoss waterfall in the winter

Skógafoss Waterfall - How to Arrive 

It’s extremely easy to get to Skógafoss by car. As you’re driving along the Ring Road, you just need to pull off onto the access road that leads to the Skógafoss parking lot. It’s about a 1.4 km (just under a mile) drive to the area where you leave your vehicle. When coming from Reykjavik, you’ll turn left about 29 km (18 mi) past Seljalandsfoss waterfall. If traveling from Vik, you’ll turn right about 33 km (20 mi) after leaving the small coastal town and its famous black sand beaches.

Camping at Skógafoss

One of the most popular activities at Skógafoss is camping. There’s a campsite where you can set up your tent and wake up to the sounds of water gushing and to the smell of fresh grass around. It’s a very green, beautiful campground, and many travelers have taken advantage of staying overnight here. You might even be able to set up your tent in a spot that affords you a prime view of the waterfall itself. There’s a hedge that will act as a natural wind barrier, so I suggest putting your tent directly in front. Be advised that this is a campsite with minimal facilities, so don’t expect any fancy bells or whistles. Also, if you camp here, know that there will also be tourists visiting the waterfall. They have to walk through the camping area in order to get to Skógafoss, so don’t expect any privacy. They also use the facilities, so be prepared for that.

Tents at Skógafoss campsite

Skógafoss Waterfall: Iceland's Natural Beauty

When planning your Iceland road trip, be sure to make time for a stop at Skógafoss waterfall. You’ll be impressed, and the beautiful cascade will leave you in awe. When passing through South Iceland on the Ring Road be sure to pull off and pay it a visit. Just remember to bring a good rain jacket and waterproof hiking boots, you’re going to need them!

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Friday, 4 January 2019

Should You Go Camping in Iceland?

When most people start planning their trip to Iceland, they assume it’s going to have the usual elements. Things like renting a car to drive around the island, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, etc. Sounds like a pretty standard vacation, right? But after doing some digging, you might start to see a trend for Iceland’s visitors: Many of them go camping. Before your head starts to fill with images of a tent in the middle of a forest, let me stop you. Camping in Iceland actually takes many forms. Yes, one of them is tent camping (although you won’t find any forests in a land filled with volcanic activity). But traveling via campervan and even motorhome are also considered forms of Icelandic camping. Not only that, but staying at campsites is actually one of the preferred options for many of the 2.2 million tourists who visit Iceland annually.

View from camping tent of Iceland sunrise

Camping is a popular option both for travelers and for locals. The country has a thriving camping culture and a robust infrastructure of campsites and camping gear rentals stores for campers. Not only that, there are a large number of campervan and motorhome rental companies to serve your needs. With the wide selection available, you’ll be able to find the RV that is perfect for your trip. So let’s look at some of the advantages of camping in Iceland and well as the different types.

Advantages of Camping in Iceland

The main and most practical advantage of an Iceland camping trip is money. You’ll save so much dough by staying at campsites! With standard hotel rooms in downtown Reykjavik ranging from $150-400, it’s no wonder so many people choose the more economical option of camping. Imagine how much you would rack in in hotel charges alone if you stayed in Iceland for a 7-day itinerary. Campsites are much more feasible. If you’re a traveler on a budget, staying at campgrounds are definitely the better option. Campsites in Iceland range from $7-$15 per person per night. Of course, you also have to factor in that renting a campervan or motorhome will cost more than just renting a car, but after tallying all of the costs, choosing to camp is still much cheaper.

Type of Camping in Iceland

There are four general types of camping in Iceland. It’s important to choose the one that best fits your travel style. Wild camping isn’t for everyone, and neither is traveling in a motorhome. Let’s check them out.

Most campsites in Iceland are so large, you feel like you're wild camping

Tent Camping in Iceland 

This is the more “traditional” style of camping. Many of our readers associate this type of outdoor adventure with the word camping. You find a spot in the woods, set up a tent, and get a campfire going so you can roast some marshmallows. Outside of the United States, “camping” is a little different. Of course, you still have to set up a tent, but it’s almost always within the confines of a campground. There are showers set up, cooking and washing facilities, and some campsites even have Wifi. It all takes place at the campground, and you find a spot for setting up your tent among other campers.

Wild Camping in Iceland 

Wild camping is what Americans tend to think of as camping. You head out into the woods and walk until you find a spot you like. This is actually illegal in many countries (Iceland included) because you can’t just go onto someone else’s property and do as you please. Even national parks are off-limits if it’s not a designated camping zone. The good news is that many campsites are quite expansive. There’s almost unlimited space, and it’s easy to get far away from other campers and feel as though you are camping in the wild.

Renting a Campervan 

Renting a campervan is the third type of camping in Iceland. You still have to stay at campsites, but you don’t need to bother with setting up a tent or worry about bad weather. With a camper, you have not only your transportation but also your bed, kitchen and dining area all in one. They are like mini, stripped-down versions of motorhomes and could be the perfect option for your camping trip.

Renting a campervan or motorhome is a great option for camping in Iceland

Renting a Motorhome

This is the most luxurious option for camping in Iceland. Motorhomes are spacious and genuinely feel like a home on wheels. You’ve got all the benefits of staying at a hotel (running water, a hot shower, comfortable bed) in addition to a kitchen. Being able to cook your own meals is a huge money saver in Iceland. You’re able to cook in a campervan, but motorhome kitchens are better equipped. If you want to travel in comfort and style, then a motorhome is for you. Be aware that motorhomes can’t go on F-roads (mountain roads) so you’ll need another option if you were planning on exploring the highlands.

Should You Go Camping in Iceland?

I say yes, you should definitely go camping in Iceland. Not only will you get back to nature (something Iceland is famous for), you’ll also likely save a lot of money. Really the only drawback I can think of is that you won’t have a shower the same way you would at a traditional hotel. But campsites are modern and well-equipped. And if you rent a motorhome, you will have a shower. As a final tip, be sure to take coins with you if you do end up staying at a campsite. You’ll need them for hot water. Enjoy your camping trip and let us know how it goes.

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