New Volcano Eruption in Iceland

You probably heard about the newest volcanic eruption in Iceland that has started in August. The new volcano site is located close to the last year’s eruption at the mountain Fagradasfjall on Reykjanes Peninsula. It is believed that this eruption will be a few times bigger and last longer than last year’s one. Read on more about the Meradalir new volcano in Iceland. 

Volcano eruption in Iceland

What happened?

In July the area close to the Reykjanes Peninsula and even Reykjavik experienced numerous earthquakes. It was similar circumstances to the last year pre-eruption time. So, on August 3rd the volcano finally erupted. Right away live streaming from the eruption site was organized and safety brigades gathered. Along with them bloggers and volcano fans hiked to the site to be the first to share stunning photographs and videos. 

How is it going?

At this moment, the volcano area is closed due to the weather conditions. The lava is spilling into the Meradalir valley, risk to populated areas and critical infrastructure considered low. There is no disruptions to international aviation as the volcano is located close to the International Keflavik airport. Volcanic activity follows considerable seismic activity over the past few days and the fissure is close to the site of an eruption of a similar type last year. 

How to get to the volcano safe?

It is always safer to go with a trained guide, so we suggest you check out our Volcano tour first. If you plan to travel yourself, here are some important details and recommendations. 

The exact location of the fissure is in Meradalir about 1.5 km north of Mt. Stóri-Hrútur. The area is in southwest Iceland, about 15 km from Keflavik International Airport and about 25 km from the Reykjavík metropolitan area. The hike is 14km to the volcano and back, it is reasonably difficult as there are steep areas and stones slides. For anyone planning to visit the new volcano we strictly advice to check safetravel.is first, it is important to follow safety advices from authorities. Detailed map on the hiking paths and parking in the area could be found here.

We recommend having hiking poles with you, it is definitely helpful. Don´t forget to take enough water and snacks, as the route can take up to 4 hours (both ways). Please evaluate your physical ability to walk that far and don´t bring pets or small children to the hike – it is not safe.  

We hope that this volcano eruption is here to stay, so everyone will have a chance to visit this one in a lifetime experience! 

Not Boring Guide to Reykjavik

Capital of Iceland is a small but vibrant city with a population of around 131,136 (and 233,034 in the Capital Region). Europe’s most northern capital is the center of Iceland’s culture and nightlife. Reykjavik has become a popular tourist destination these days and it indeed has a lot to offer from visiting world-famous attractions to the places that only locals know. We will share all its secrets with you, what to do in Reykjavik, what to visit and what to experience. Read on!  

reykjavik,iceland,hallgrimskirkja

A bit of history

Let’s start with a few facts that you might be interested in but not bored with as well.  

  1. Reykjavik as a place of settlement was a random choice. Ingólfur Arnarson tossed his high seat pillars overboard and settled where they washed up. So around 874 AD he and his fellows settled on a smokey bay, that literally translates to Reykjavik. As the soil here was poor, most of the farming moved to the South of the island.
  2. It is only after 17th century that Reykjavik became a fish-trading center with Danes. However, Denmark had strengthened its hold over the country’s lands, and the crown had a complete trading monopoly. And only in 1944 Iceland declared its independence from the neighbor. 
  3. World War Two helped Reykjavik to grow as Britain and then the US built armies their military bases on the island. It triggered the development of all types of facilities – accommodations, bars, athlete centers, cinemas, new trading and cultural centers. 
  4. Reykjavik’s Women’s Day Off in 1975 inspired the entire world to fight for equal pay and better working conditions. Icelandic women just refused to go to their jobs, do the housework, or raise the children. 
  5. After the infamous Eyjafjallajökull has stopped the aviation industry, Iceland became the hot destination. And Reykjavik had to offer accommodation to millions of tourists. So, it grew and grew and became a truly modern city with a hint of history. 

Museums worth visiting

Of course, Iceland has a lot of traditional museums that display Icelandic classic and modern art, but we want to recommend you more of a fun experience.  

First, there is the Penis Museum. Yes, you read it correctly. It was previously a personal collection of Sigurður Hjartarsson that expanded to the whole museum. The exhibition contains more than 300 exhibits of varied species. You could see sexual organs of whales, walruses, mice, horses and even a human one. The fun fact is that the human penis belonged to a 95-year-old Icelandic man. It is believed he was a great womanizer. And when he died in 2011 his organ was donated to the museum to immortalize his owner. 

Then there are a couple of interactive museums in the Grandi area (close to the Old Port) that are fun for children and adults. One is the Whales of Iceland Museum, with the collection of 23 life-size models of sea creatures. You also can familiarize yourself with all the species of whale present in Icelandic waters, enjoy interactive exhibits and audio-visual panels.  

Close by is located the Saga Museum. It is an Icelandic (and much smaller) version of the Madame Tussaud’s museum, with Vikings atmosphere. So, you could learn about Icelandic sagas, settlement, and main historical personas through a walk between them. We recommend taking an audio-guide as it will explain a lot and will point out the smells of Medieval Iceland, that were synthetically reproduced inside. 

While walking downtown, there are a few small galleries worth your attention. The newest addition to the art scene is Gallery Port. It exhibits modern Icelandic and international artists, usually having a bi-weekly display update.  

Gallery Null & Punk Museum used to be two public restrooms opposite each other, but now they are small and eccentric galleries. One is dedicated to the history of Punk culture in Iceland, another gives a space for young Icelandic artists to be seen. 

Parks of Reykjavik

iceland,park,botanical garden,Laugardalur

Öskjuhlíð that lies close to the Perlan museum is a place to get lost (for like 5 minutes) in trees and huge stones covered in moss that remind you of trolls or hidden people. Here you can easily imagine why Icelanders believe in supernatural beings. However, you can also find reminders of modern life and especially World War II here – the forest used to be a military base for the British army, so some objects still remain there. Öskjuhlíð is also a great area for mount biking, cycling and just walking with a dog.  

If you continue your path further from Öskjuhlíð you will find yourself close to the Nautholsvik geothermal beach. This is less a park but more a public beach where you could take a dive into the ocean. It is artificial yellow-sand beach with changing rooms and showers, two hot pots (30–35°C), one of which is built into the sand, and it is free! 

Laugardalur and the Botanical Garden. Yes-yes, Botanical Garden sounds nerdy and boring… But in Iceland, where the flora is not as reach as in other countries, we do appreciate all blooms! And around it the Laugardalur park with recreation area, small zoo, sport facilities and the biggest outdoor swimming pool in Reykjavik, Laugardalslaug. We highly recommend visiting the pool as it has a hot pot with sea water, and in general it is lovely to relax there. In Laugardalur you can also find a vast camping area that is comfortably located within the city. 

Cafes and nightlife in the capital

iceland,cafe,attractions

Reykjavik well deserves to be the nightlife capital of the North. All bars and clubs are conveniently located downtown, so you don´t need to catch a taxi to change the vibes you want to dance for or to do a pub-crawling. There are as well plenty opportunities to listen to live music. Many bars have weekly live music nights (Mál og Menning, Húrra) and there is always someone playing in the English pub. The entertainment program is vast as well: from poetry nights to drag-shows. We would recommend to check Gaukurinn and Sirkus bars, but if you are up for some dance moves you should visit Kaffibarinn, Pablo Discobar or KiKi (LGBTQ+ bar). 

If you are tired of nightlife and just want to chill in a pleasant atmosphere, consider visiting Luna Florence or Lola Florence – these two sister-cafes are well-known for their love of plants, magic, vintage, and healthy food. Locals are fond of the coffee house – Kaffi Brenslan, where you can order hot chocolate with lovely waffles. A recent addition to the café scene is the cat-café Mjá, that hosts few cats and serves nice coffee in a cozy interior. The less popular place is café Iða, it is close to the Old Port and further from touristy streets. It is a combination of a small café with a bookshop, so you can sit down and look through some vintage journals or exciting books, while sipping your tea or coffee.  

iceland,pool,swimming pool,public beach iceland

First off, if you didn´t visit a swimming pool in Iceland, you have not been to Iceland properly! Outdoor pools, the variety of hot-tubs, saunas and massage options elevate Icelandic pools from regular pools greatly. And of course, try out ocean-dive at the public beach, Nautholsvik. So, don´t forget your swimsuit when packing for a trip to Iceland! 

Next on – Zip line! This new attraction only opened last year, so it is new even for the locals. There are two 230-meter lines going down from Perlan’s tank down to Öskjuhlíð forest at a speed of about 50 km/h. The total experience takes about 30 minutes and 3000 Icelandic kronas, and starts on the 4th floor of the Perlan museum.  

Fly Over Iceland is more an experience than a museum, so we include it here. It is an ultimate flying ride as it says in the name, over Iceland. But before the ride you will meet interactive guides that will tell you the story of Iceland. And after, the technology will allow you to experience flying as if you really were! You will be hang suspended, feet dangling, before a 20-metre spherical screen. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combined with the ride’s motion will create an unforgettable experience. The attraction is open every day from 10 AM to 7 PM and the ticket fare is 5000 Icelandic kronas. 

And the last drop, the last stop is a beer-tasting experience at the local feminist brewery, Lady Brewery, that is located in the same area as Fly Over Iceland. Tasting includes introducing Lady’s history, its feminine approach in the craft brewing world, and a tasting of signature + seasonal beers. Tasting takes around 40 minutes and the price per person is 3500 kr.  

So now you know what to visit, what to see, what to try and experience in Reykjavik. Don´t hesitate to reach to us out and ask more questions, we are here to help!

Viking-related places in Iceland

Iceland is a well-known and popular travel destination thanks to the otherworldly nature, but for those who love Scandinavian culture and sagas, Vikings and Norse gods, Iceland would also offer a lot too. Vikings are also known as Norsemen and those who settled in Iceland sailed here from Scandinavia, in particular Norway and the British Isles. 

To ruin the romantic appearance of the Vikings, you should remember that they were raiders, who took anything from the villages that they raided. And that included women, it is believed that they kidnapped future wives on their way to Iceland, mostly from the British Isles. However, once settled the Vikings would put down their weapons and indulge farming and fishing, so you could see many traces of their presence in Iceland. 

The first settler in Iceland is supposed to be Ingólfur Arnarsson, who stayed permanently on the island, around the year 874. You could see his statue in Reykjavik´s downtown or visit the Saga Museum to see the wax figures. The capital area and around the country areas are filled with Viking figures, activities and events, museums, etc… Each one of these things serves as a constant reminder of the rich and interesting heritage that Iceland displays.  

Althingi Icelandic Park

Another significant place connected to the Vikings history is Alþingi. In 930 the first parliament in Europe was created in Iceland in the National Park Þingvellir. This place was chosen as a meeting point for clans representatives to judge, announce new laws and exchange news with fellow Vikings who came here (sometimes walked here) from every part of the island. Luckily for tourists, this place is on the route of all Golden Circle tours and is close to the capital. So, no need to travel days and nights to explore the park also known as the place where two tectonic plates tear apart divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift. 

Another place to visit is located right in the city center of Reykjavik, it is the famous Hallgrimskirkja church and the statue in front of it. You can see the figure of Leifur Eiríksson the Viking age hero, the first European to arrive in America. It is believed that Leifur’s traveled to America in the year 1000 and preceded the Christopher Columbus’ voyage. However, he did not settle there for long and the reason is said to have been that it was hard to keep slaves in America because there was too much good land for them to escape. In Iceland, this wasn’t much of a problem. The statue of Leifur Eiríksson was a gift from the United States to Iceland to commemorate the 1000-year anniversary of Alþingi, the parliament of Iceland. 

You might also be interested in a few places, like museums, hotels and photo studios that are specialized in Viking culture. For example, the Viking Hotel in Hafnafjordur, that decorated the rooms in Viking style and West Nordic theme. When you enter the Hotel, you are greeted with fine art and crafts from three countries: Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. Mink Viking Portrait Studio is a gorgeous photo studio you can visit to get a beautiful portrait of yourself in Viking outfits. Árbær Open Air Museum is another point of interest for Viking fans. This open-air museum displays the life of Vikings and early settlers in Iceland. You can see the historical turf houses, meet costumed guides, and see traditional crafts. 

And any museum in Iceland has link to the history of Viking settlement as any Icelander carries the DNA of those Norsemen who came to the island few centuries ago.  

 

Puffins in Iceland – Essential Guide

Puffin watching along with whale watching has become a popular activity with tourists while travelling in Iceland. So many hearts were conquered by these cute birds, so many adorable photos were taken! So, we decided to share information on when is it better to watch puffins, where are the most popular places to do it, and how responsibly enjoy puffins’ company. 

Puffin in Iceland

When is the best time to see puffins?

Puffins season in Iceland lasts from May to August. However, to be on the safe side early May is not 100% the perfect choice as birds are wild creatures and do not have a strict schedule.  

Also consider coming for a visit in the second half of the day, as birds are most active at this time. And of course, you could see puffins any time in souvenir stores. 

Where to watch them?

Puffins nestle all around Iceland, so any direction you choose to travel, you have a chance to see them. And here is a list of some spots popular for birdwatching.

Puffin locations in Iceland

LÁTRABJARG CLIFFS

The most popular cliffs to watch puffins are in the Westfjords. Millions of birds nestle here, so you will be able to see not only cute puffins, but also gannets, guillemots, razorbills, white-tailed eagles, red-throated loons, arctic terns and more. These cliffs are vital for the survival of some bird species. 

REYKJAVIK

Another place in the Westfjords where puffins nest. This beautiful spot is known for being one of the most unique nature reserves on the planet. There are no roads leading there, it is inaccessible and closed to any kind of motor vehicle. It can only be accessed by boat and then explored on foot. This is an ideal place to combine hiking and bird watching. 

VESTMANNAEYJAR – WESTMANN ISLANDS

This is the home of the biggest puffin’s colony. One-fifth of the world’s total puffin population nests here every year. However, you have to take a ferry to travel to the island.  

DYRHÓLAEY STONE ARCH

Since the South Cost is one of the most popular tourist routes in Iceland, even if you have a few days to see the essentials, you might see puffins there. The nesting area is fenced off for birds’ peace and for the visitors’ safety. Even so, the birds are easy to observe from a distance of a few meters. 

BORGARFJÖRÐUR EYSTRI

It takes a long drive to get here, but it is the easiest and safest place to enjoy puffins company. You can get really close to the birds in this location as there are wooden platforms designated for birdwatching. So there is no or minimum risk of falling into a burrow or down a cliff.  

GRÍMSEY ISLAND

Grímsey is the northernmost inhabited Icelandic territory. There are one hundred people living on the island and one million birds every summer. Interesting contrast. You could either take a ferry or a plane to get here. 

HORNSTRANDIR NATURE RESERVE

Another place in the Westfjords where puffins nest. This beautiful spot is known for being one of the most unique nature reserves on the planet. There are no roads leading there, it is inaccessible and closed to any kind of motor vehicle. It can only be accessed by boat and then explored on foot. This is an ideal place to combine hiking and bird watching. 

Puffins in Iceland

How to behave while puffing watching?

Since there are few predators in Iceland, puffins are not as fearful towards humans. However, it is particularly important to watch these birds responsibly and not harm them or yourself. So, remember these rules to be a responsible tourist and bird-lover.  

1) No touching! Puffins feathers have special properties that deflect water, thus, touching them could destroy it.  

2) No feeding! Well, we have swans and ducks for this. But puffins enjoy hunting fish and they do have a strict diet 😊 

3) Do not come too close. This can be dangerous for you. When coming close to the cliff’s edge you might not see hollow tunnels underneath the grass. Puffins dig their burrows for the eggs and holes can collapse leading to a fall.  

P.S. Fun facts about puffins you probably didn't know:

  1. One for life! Puffins usually mate for life and a couple can stay together for over 20 years.
  2. While others call these cuties “Sea Parrots” or “Clowns of the Sea”, Icelanders gave them a nickname “prófastur” which means preacher. Why do you think?
  3. Puffins are very social birds. To encourage them to come back to the Mane island, there were fake puffins installed on the shore cliffs. And it worked!
  4. Equality to all birds! The male and female puffin share parental responsibilities, they take it in turns to incubate the egg.
  5. About 60% of the world’s puffin population live on or near Iceland. But scientists are not yet sure how birds navigate back to their home burrows every year after long months at sea.

Top-10 Iceland’s Hidden Gems – Off the Beaten Path

Iceland is a small island, however, there are so many hidden gems off the beaten track, not known to the visitors of the Golden Circle and the South Coast. If you are planning a trip to Iceland but looking for an authentic experience, read on we will share top-10 of the hidden gems in Iceland.

Sky Lagoon - A New Thermal Spa in Town

If standing in long queues and bathing in a crowded spa, that is the Blue Lagoon, is not how you prefer to spend your time, then we recommend checking out a new spot.

Sky Lagoon Iceland

Sky Lagoon is located in Reykjavik and is a brand new, very well-designed spa with an ocean-view pool and sauna. It is popular with locals as anything new, however it is less crowded and spacious while offering the Ritual, a unique seven-step experience and of course the bar. Check out the Sky Lagoon website.

Reykjadalur - Hot River Valley

It´s been a long tradition to bathe (sometimes naked) in Icelandic hot springs, and believe me this is a true Icelandic experience you should try! And the Reykjadalur Valley is a perfect spot to do so – it is full of steaming hot springs, and has a hot river landscaped for bathing.

The river is long providing enough space for large groups. A small tip – the higher up the river you go, the hotter water is. And don’t forget to bring some snack and beverages to enjoy it to the fullest.

Hengifoss – The Second Highest Waterfall in Iceland

Hengifoss falls from 128.5 meters high, it drops into the Fljótsdalur valley in East Iceland. To see it up close you need to hike to the waterfall uphill for about 1 hour. But the view worth it!

Hengifoss Waterfall in Iceland

What makes this waterfall unique is layers of red clay between the basaltic layers that are 5-6 million-year-old from volcanic eruptions in the Tertiary Period. The multiple red stripes are sediments and old soil from the oxidation of the iron. Close to the Hengifoss waterfall is another one – the Litlanesfoss, famous for the basalt columns surrounding it.

Stuðlagil Canyon – Best Instagram Spot

This canyon is a truly hidden gem, as up until 2019 Stuðlagil remained unknown to locals and tourists. It was submerged under the Jöklá river and not visible until the hydroelectric power plant was build nearby. The canyon opened a picturesque view to 20-30-meter-high basalt columns and turquoise-blue water.

Stuðlagill Canyon Iceland

And now it is one of the most photographic scenes in Iceland. However, to get to the bottom of the canyon one should be prepared for a hike. For those who would like to enjoy the view from atop, there was build a view point. Here is a tip how to get to the most picturesque part of the canyon: take the Ring Road, by Skjödólfsstaðir turn south to road nr. 923 and drive to the farm Klaustursel (around 14 kilometers). You will see a bridge and a parking lot near it, leave the car and walk over the bridge to the east riverbank. Then take a hike about 4 kilometers to the canyon. We recommend to stop in the middle of your hike to enjoy the basalt column waterfall called Stuðlafoss. Ream more about this place in our blog.

Dynjandi – The Glittering Jewel of the Westfjords

Another hidden gem awaits you in the Westfjords. It is the biggest waterfall in the area, stunning and dramatic when it cascades down around 100 meters and spreads at 60 meters wide at the bottom.

Dynjandi Waterfall

The name to this waterfall was given after Icelandic word ‘thunderous’, well, it deserves every bit of it. During the scenic hike up to see the Dynjandi water veil you will pass 6 other waterfalls. The waterfall area is preserved as a natural protected monument and all visitors are asked to stay on the marked paths to preserve this beautiful place. Dynjandi waterfall is located by Dynjandisvogur bay and Arnarfjörður fjord, which is the second biggest fjord in the Westfjords.

Galdrasafnid: The Museum of Icelandic Witchcraft

If you like Icelandic folklore, Old Norse mythology and even fairy tales this place is for you – it is a museum of witchcraft! Galdrasafnið is without a doubt one of the most unique museums you can find in Iceland. It is located in Hólmavík Village, on the east side of Westfjords.

All types of demons, trolls and magical creatures are exhibit here to see in their literary and visual disguise. Of course, you could try to summon one of them using old Icelandic traditions, however, be afraid of being ill-treated by hidden people (Icelandic elves) for joking around. The museum gives you a glimpse into some intriguing ceremonies you will ever hear of, and the magical runes give great inspiration for many artists.

Hvítserkur Rock – An Elephant or a Rhino?

This standing-alone rock in the North-West of Iceland is called Hvítserkur translating as a ‘white shirt’ and is a 15-meter-tall sea stack that looks like an animal for some people. Some see a rhino and others see an elephant…

Hvítserkur is relatively easy to get to, from the Ring Road drive road 711 and you´ll get there. Best if you take a professional camera to get the best shots, especially in winter with gloomy days.

Látrabjarg – Seabird Paradise

Látrabjarg is a huge cliff in the Westfjords that is considered to be the largest seabird cliff in Iceland and also one of the westernmost parts of Europe.

Puffins in Iceland

Látrabjarg is over 440 meters high and 14 km long – you can only imagine how many birds nestle here!  But of course, most of the visitors come here to enjoy watching little cute puffins. Just keep in mind, that the Atlantic puffins stay in Iceland from mid-May until late in August each year to raise their chicks. And you can take close-up photos of these fearless birds, however, don´t try touching them it will only harm the birds. Remember, that the puffins dig 70-100 cm long burrows where they lay their one eggs, thus, being close to the cliff´s edge is not safe. Consider not crossing a white line that is there for your safety.

Árbaersafn – Hidden Gem in the Heart of Reykjavik

Árbæjarsafn or Árbær Open Air Museum is an open-air museum in the capital area. You could experience first-hand how Icelanders lived before. Iceland’s early history is restored in a series of turf houses. The turf houses at Árbæjarsafn Museum were built around 1890-1918 and have been reconstructed through the years, now you’ll meet costumed guides, grazing animals, and traditional crafts in there. You will be able to see how from a few farms Reykjavik has become a modern city

Arbaer Museum in Reykjavik

Daily guided tours in English are available all year round, at 1 PM – no booking necessary. Museum open hours: JUNE – AUGUST Open daily 10 AM – 5 PM, SEPTEMBER – MAY Open daily 1 PM – 5 PM. It is better to acquire the Reykjavík City Card – it gives you access to Árbæjarsafn museum plus many more museums and galleries in Reykjavík, the swimming pools and buses.

More info at the museum website.

Elliðaárdalur – A Rabbit Park

Elliðaárdalur is another hidden gem in the heart of the capital. This valley is a peaceful recreation area that is mostly known to locals. This oasis has some easy hiking routes, a river that runs through the valley with a few waterfalls, and the main attraction – a farm with rabbits.

 It is a perfect place to come with kids or by yourself to feed cute rabbits carrots. And you could even combine it with a trip to the Árbæjarsafn museum located not far away.  It’s the perfect place if you have some extra time in the capital but aren´t ready to leave the nature for a megapolis yet.

Iceland has so much to offer if you travel with the group or if you are exploring it off-the-beaten-path by yourself. Hopefully, our Top-10 list will be a great addition to your bucket-list on what to see in Iceland.

5 Facts About The Icelandic Horse

Icelandic horse is a unique breed, brought to the island by Norse settlers and haven’t changed much since. What is so fascinating about the Icelandic horse? Is it its gait, its history and place in Icelandic culture? Read on to learn 5 facts about this creature. 

Icelandic horses

When were they brought to Iceland?

First brought animals to Iceland

It is believed that the Icelandic horse was brought to the island by Vikings around 860 and 935 AD. However, only the best horses were chosen for further breeding; they had been picked according to specific characteristics, such as color and equine conformation. And thus, the modern Icelandic horse was created as the result of many centuries of selective breeding. Interesting research was done, it revealed that there is a link between the Icelandic horse and the Mongolian horse.  

Almost a century ago, Icelanders tried to introduce some eastern blood to the breed. It caused degeneration of the stock, and in 982 AD the law with Alþingi (Icelandic Parliament) was passed to prohibit horses import to Iceland to avoid crossbreeding. This isolation benefited the Icelandic horse, as it is one of the purest horse breeds in the world now. However, the sad side of this law is that any individual animal that is exported, is never allowed to return to Iceland. 

Viking horses

Where to see the Icelandic Horse?

All-year around outside animals

While travelling in Iceland you might see a lot of farms and stables with horses roaming free. Animals are kept mostly outside, even when the weather is nasty. The horse is undaunted by high winds and snowstorms and capable of crossing rough glacier rivers.  

To this day, Icelandic farmers use horses for sheep herding, riding, participating in the gait performances and race competitions. You can read more about sheep herding yearly celebration here. 

Please consider the following recommendations approaching these cute animals 

  • Do not stop in the middle of the road at the first sight of horses. Please, park where it will be visible and safe. 
  • Pet horses when and where it is suitable – on a horse-riding tour, or on a farm asking the owner beforehand. 
  • Do not feed horses – they are well fed, and any wrong food might affect their health. 
  • Never trespass onto private property. Remember most of the Icelandic horses are kept on private land. 

Because these creatures have never had any predators in their natural environment, they are not easily spooked, making them very approachable and friendly. However, keep in mind that they are wild animals capable of biting and kicking.  

Icelandic horse

How long do they live?

Fluffy and long-living

Icelandic horse is well-known by its friendly behavior, gentle temper, and stoic spirit. In Medieval times horses were considered the most valuable possession, war horses were even buried alongside their fallen riders, and they were celebrated in songs and sagas.  

The Icelandic horse is a free spirited, strong animal that provides challenging opportunities for competitive riders, while remaining docile and patient enough for beginner riders too. The Icelandic horse is one of many long-living animals, their average lifetime span is for up to 40 years, with the oldest age of 59. 

Another fascinating fact about the breed is that during winter its coat becomes thicker and sheds when spring comes.  

Icelandic horse winter

God's horses

Old tales about the Icelandic horse

When Norse people came to inhabit Iceland along with horses, they brought their culture and beliefs. In Norse mythology horses are magical, strong, and sometimes evil creatures. First, you might remember the eight-footed pacer Sleipnir, owned by Odin. And in fact, it is a creature born by Loki, being a mare. Twisted and exciting Norse mythology! It is also believed that the infamous horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi was created by Sleipnir, who placed one of his feet on the ground and left a deep imprint on the earth. And if you have never seen this magical place, here is another tale to make it even more fascinating. Ásbyrgi is believed to be the capital city of Icelandic hidden people or elves, or Huldufólk as Icelanders call them.  

The first documented horse is Skalm, it is a mare who appeared in the Book of Settlement in the 12th century. You could also meet horses playing significant roles in Hrafnkel’s Saga, Njal’s Saga and Grettir’s Saga. And nowadays many modern riding clubs and horse herds are keeping those mythological names. 

Icelandic horse

Two more gaits

Most of horses perform three general gaits (walk, trot, and canter/gallop), while the Icelandic horse possesses the two additional, called tölt and skeið, or flying pace. The tölt gate is a four-beat lateral ambling gait, known for its speed and riding comfort. As Icelanders joke, this gate was created to drink beer while riding and not spilling it. While skeið is a very rhythmic gallop, a two-beat lateral gait where each side of the horse’s feet moves simultaneously. It is used in pacing races, is fast, and smooth. Some horses can reach up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). 

Not all Icelandic horses can perform this gait; those who perform both in addition to the traditional gaits are considered the best of the breed and have a remarkably high market price.  

Icelandic horse gait

There is so much more to learn about the Icelandic horse, like what are the colors, how to name them and when is it best to book a horse- riding tour. If you want to learn more about it, visit the website.

The Mystical Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a glacier lake, and one of Iceland’s most popular natural landmarks winter and summer alike. Floating icebergs of different shapes and sizes break off the glacier and quietly make their way into the lagoon forming an otherworldly landscape. Those that end up drifting off into the Atlantic Ocean can be seen on the shoreline of the Diamond Beach. 

Interested in knowing more about Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon? ?How was the lagoon formed and what activities can you do? Perhaps you want to join a boat tour but don’t know where to start? If so, this blog is just for you!  

people admiring jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

What is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

The spellbinding Jökulsárlón is a glacier lagoon found in the southeastern part of Iceland, and more precisely in Vatnajökull National Park. The park itself, deemed to be Europe’s largest glacier with a surface of just over 8000km2, covers near 10% of the entire country and is home to some of the island’s most active volcanoes and tallest peak – Hvannadalshnjúkur.  

 Jökulsárlón is positioned at the head of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and is comprised of a lagoon filled with meltwater from the glacier. Global warming is beginning to have a direct impact on Jökulsárlón and many other Icelandic glaciers, which, are starting to shrink with record speeds. The more the glaciers shrink, the more meltwater they produce, which, in turn, expands the size of the lagoon.  

 

jokulsarlon glacier lagoon with floating ice

The massive particles of ice that have been broken off from the glacier can be found peacefully floating in the lagoon. These spectacular chunks of ice all differ in shape, size and hue: Some are blue and white, whilst others even appear to be crystal clear. There are some that are up to 30 meters in height and others that are no bigger than a meter or two. Jökulsárlón provides an everchanging scenery that changes by the day. You’ll never be able to see the same landscape twice which only adds to the already ethereal natural backdrop.   

 Depending on the wind, temperature and ocean currents, these chunks of ice slowly but surely make their way to the Atlantic Ocean and float into the horizon. Those that are not immediately swept away deep into the ocean’s waters, can be found reflecting the sunrays on the black sand ‘Diamond Beach’ just opposite Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.  

It comes as no surprise that both the Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon are one of the most prominent and photographed places in Iceland.     

How was Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon formed?

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon hasn’t been around for centuries, in fact quite the opposite. In the twentieth century Iceland experienced a steady rise in temperature, which amplified the meltwater produced from Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, slowly expanding Jökulsárlón glacier. It is deemed that in 1956, the size of the lagoon was 4km2 and twenty years later it had already doubled. Nowadays the lagoon is 30km2 and is yet to increase in size. 

Wildlife in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Seals on Wildlife in Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is no short on wildlife. The high quantity of fish, particularly that of capelin and herring, provide for an abundance of seals that often can be seen swimming in the lagoon all year round.  

The glacier lagoon is also a famous nesting area for arctic turns, which, from May onwards lay their eggs in the region. It’s worth mentioning that arctic turns are famous for their fierceness and will do anything to protect their little ones. If you happen to visit the lagoon during this period, always make sure to diligently monitor them and never get too close to their eggs.  

Jökulsárlón on the Big Screen

As many other Icelandic natural attractions, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon not only appeals to holidaymakers, but its jaw-dropping beauty is also much appreciated by Hollywood as well. Numerous blockbusters use this natural setting as a movie backdrop, and for good reasons. Some of these Hollywood films include James Bond 007, Lara Croft: Tomb raider, and Game of Thrones.  

Activities near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and its nearby region is filled with exciting activities that will make your South Coast trip even more extraordinary than it already is.  

Take a walk on the Diamond Beach

The Diamond Beach

 Just across the road from Jökulsárlón lies one of Iceland’s most prominent natural attractions: the Diamond Beach. Chunks of ice that have broken off from Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and are floating in Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon make their way into the Atlantic Ocean by a small passage.

Wind, air temperature and other factors determine how many ice particles are swept into the ocean. The majority blend with the ocean’s waters and melt quickly whilst others can be found on the black sand Diamond beach. Stretches of coastline are covered with these glittering ice sculptures of different shapes and sizes, greatly contrasting with the black sand 

Join a Boat Ride Tour on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Several companies offer boat rides on the glacier lagoon, letting visitors get up close with the floating icebergs. Boat rides offer a different perspective of the surrounding landscape as they venture much deeper into the lagoon and allow visitors a chance to see much more than what can be seen from ashore.    

Zodiac boat tours cover large areas and can venture out all the way up to the glacier. They run every hour or so, therefore even if you haven’t pre-booked, you still might find an empty slot!  

Amphibian boats, are much larger, heavier and cannot reach places where zodiacs can. Nevertheless, they provide a more comfortable experience and are perfect for those hesitant to go on smaller, faster boats. The Amphibian boat tours run only a couple times per day, and must be pre-booked during high-season in order to secure a slot.  

Explore Vatnajökull’s Ice Caves

Explore Vatnajökull’s Ice-Caves

Vatnajökull offers some of the best ice-cave tours of the country! Winter is the ideal time to explore the frozen underworld and marvel at exceptional ice formations with the help of a qualified guide that will be with you every step of the way. 

Every year, new ice caves are formed and discovered. Some changes in appearance and structure whilst others completely disappear. Therefore, an ice-cave tour should be on your list of things to do in Iceland! Crampons and all necessary safety equipment will be given before the start of the tour. Hiking boots may be rented for an additional fee.  

Go on a Glacier Walk

Glacier walks are the perfect activity for those wanting to try something different and exciting. Experience the sheer magnitude of Vatnajökull glacier whilst you walk in between crevasses and spectacular ice formations all whilst being guided by a professional. This activity is suited for most as it doesn’t require any prior knowledge or equipment.  

How far is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon from Reykjavík?

Jökulsárlón is accessible all year round however, adverse weather, especially during the winter months might make driving along the ring road unsafe. When heading towards the lagoon, it is also advisable to check on the current road conditions on Iceland’s Safe Travel website to make sure there are no surprising road closure on your way there.  

You can either drive to Jökulsárlón, or, if you want to leave the planning to someone else, you can always join a tour that stops there. Tours also include fundamental stops on the South Coast, allowing you to marvel at Skogafoss waterfall, walk behind Seljalandfoss and experience the wonders of Reynisfjara black sand beach all in one go.  

Ring Road Iceland

The 400 kilometres drive takes a little under 6 hours to complete. Although the distance can be driven in a day, it is absolutely not recommended to do so regardless of the season or month. The South Coast boasts some of the country’s finest natural wonders, from raging waterfalls to towering cliffs filled with birdlife, and magnificent views from sea to summit that should definitely not be missed. When driving from Reykjavík, it is recommended to spend at least two days on the South Coast and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This timeframe will only cover the bare minimum of natural attractions as there are simply so many of them dotted all over Iceland’s Southern coastline, and 48 hours is not enough to see them all. Should you wish to explore the neighbouring towns and off-the-beaten track locations, it is best to add a day or two to your itinerary.  

Iceland’s Ring Road, the country’s main road that circles the island, goes directly to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon leaving you close to zero possibilities of getting lost or missing a turn. The road continues east bound, until it makes a full circle and comes back down to Reykjavík. It is a fully paved road, that is marked and regularly maintained so you shouldn’t have any issues with driving on it.  

When is it best to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon?

Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón is worth visiting at any time of the year. Even in the worst of weather, Jökulsárlón’s undoubful beauty and eye-catching landscape still shines through. Of course, as with any other natural landmark, different seasons bring along their specifies.  

Summer offers visitors a chance to greet the sunrise whilst overlooking the glacier lagoon, allowing for a truly one-of-a-kind unforgettable experience. The sun beams idyllically refract on the crystal clear floating icebergs as the sun rises from the horizon. In addition, during summer, visitors get the chance to experience Jökulsárlón from up close by joining a boat tour of the glacier lagoon.  

 Winter brings shorter and colder days, light is quite limited and you only have a few hours before the sun sets once again, making for a very small window of opportunity. Having said that, the cold season brings along a fairytale like winter wonderland scenery. The whole country is covered with a blanket of snow, all of the landscape is frozen, and you get to experience Iceland’s true and turbulent weather! The drop in temperature makes ice-caves safe to explore allowing for plenty of outdoor adventures. 

jokulsarlon glacier lagoon under the northern lights

 Last but not least, can we really mention Icelandic winter without mentioning the Northern Lights? Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon provides excellent opportunities for Northern Light hunting. Its secluded location and absence of city light pollution substantially increases your chances of spotting these mystical lights dance above your very own eyes. As with all Northern Light hunts, the key to a successful hunt is not to give up. If you don’t manage seeing them from the first go, try to change location or wait a bit longer. They will eventually make their appearance.  

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, part of Vatnajökull National Park is a glacier lake that captivates with its ethereal beauty and natural views. Boat and Ice-Cave tours offer visitors a possibility to get up close with this mesmerising region. The prominent Diamond Beach, can also be found a short walk away from the lagoon.  

Iceland’s Black Sand Beaches

Iceland is a country, with unique and fascinating landscapes. One of these natural attractions are the black sand beaches dotted all over the country. Stretches of black sand coastline merge with dominant waves, creating a unique sight worth many words.  Iceland’s most famous Black sand beach – Reynisfjara, is easily accessible and found just a couple of kilometres away from the fishing town of Vík.  

Interested in learning more about Iceland’s black sand beaches? How to get to the country’s most popular black beach and what to look out for when there? If so, then read on.  

Stokksnes Black sand Beach

What makes Iceland’s black sand beaches black?

Iceland is known for its abundant geothermal and high volcanic activity. The country is home to a little over 32 volcanic systems, comprising of 130 active and inactive volcanoes.  

Although much rarer, black sand beaches can be found all over the globe where high volcanic activity is present. The black in color sediment is formed when hot lava from active volcanoes meets the ocean’s water, which is thereafter cooled and solidified. Over the years, these large blocks of lava are broken down into smaller pieces until finally reaching the size of a particle of sand. Basalt is the most common mineral found in black sand, with a high concentration of iron, which in turn, absorbs a lot of light, making the already black sand even blacker.  

Iceland’s Most Famous Black Sand Beaches

Iceland’s black sand beaches attract tourists from across the globe wanting to catch a glimpse of these rare natural wonders.  

Reynisfjara Beach

Stand in awe before Reynisjfara – by far Iceland’s most popular black sand beach found on the country’s South Coast. This uniquely colored beach is a little less than 200 km (about 124.27 mi) from Reykjavík, close to the southernmost settlement Vík. It consists of a five-kilometer strip of fine black sand stretching across the Atlantic Ocean. Its climate is very unusual: the village on the coast is the wettest place in the country, with a climate shaped by the Gulf Stream. 

 It is famous for its distinctive Icelandic black sand, vast basalt columns, and colossal sneaker waves, crashing on its shoreline. The basalt pillars carved out of the rocks by the ocean were called troll stones or troll fingers. They were believed to be ancient trolls who, legend has it, intended to sink an Icelandic ship. They had tried to lower their boats into the water at night, but they had no time, and as morning came, the sun rays shining upon them turned them into dark rocks. The petrified arm of one of the trolls still protrudes from the water today.. 

On the eastern side, the beach is bordered by the Reynisfjall Mountains with arched caves and basalt columns that offer stunning views of the surrounding area. The mountain is popular with birdwatchers since many different bird species such as puffins and fulmars live in its cracks.  

The largest and most beautiful cave in the nearby mountains is the Hálsanefshellir cave. This beautifully placed cave can be entered directly from the shore. There is also a small altar, where the locals occasionally perform pagan rituals. 

 The black beaches of Iceland are attractive to look at, but also quite bleak. The beach is full of bare rocks and sharp stones that often turn out to be, besides a beautiful landmark, also an extremely dangerous part of the landscape. It rains here much more often than you’d think- it is estimated that the rainfall covers 340 days out of the year. It is extremely windy and powerful waves crash into the black strip of beach. These waves are unpredictable, as slow, and quiet as they come, they suddenly become high and violent. People who find themselves dangerously close to the coastline could easily be swept away into the ocean or thrown against the rocks.  

Dyrhólaey Beach

Dyrhólaey 

Conveniently placed near Reynisfjara Black sand beach Dyrhólaey is a 120-metre-high promontory. 

Translated from Icelandic, the ‘mountain with a hole’ provides some exquisite views over the Atlantic Ocean and Reynisfjara beach. It is believed that the promontory was formed about 100 000 years ago after a couple of submarine eruptions. The ocean’s water and persisting wind have eroded a large part of Dyrhólaey, forming a big arch in the cliff. Boats and even planes have successfully gone through the arch making the promontory even more famous than it already is.  

 During the months between April and September, thousands of puffins come to the promontory to nest, making it the ideal place for bird watching enthusiasts.  

Sólheimasandur Beach

Sólheimasandur black sand beach earned its fame from the DC-3 plane crash, which occurred in 1973. Luckily, all crew survived, and the plane wreck can still be seen to this very day. The landscape around is unique, with the black sand contrasting the bright grey metal wreckage. Although cars have been banned from driving to the wreckage site, you can easily reach it by walking on a marked path for 40-50 minutes one way. The weather in this region is extremely unpredictable, therefore make sure you are sufficiently equipped before heading out.  

The Diamond Beach

The Diamond Beach

By far one of Iceland’s most prominent natural landmarks, the diamond beach amazes with is beauty and particularity. Found just across the street from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, this black sand beach is worth visiting. Icebergs broken off from Jökulsárlón quietly make their way into the Atlantic Ocean and float away into the horizon. Some make their way to the shoreline, giving the black sand beach the name of ‘Diamond Beach’. You can walk up close to these chunks of ice and even touch them with your very own fingertips.  

Stokksnes Beach

The glorious Stokksnes beach is found a six-hour drive away from Reykjavík on the east coast of the island. The towering mountain peak of Vestahorn mountain idyllically intertwines with the dramatic landscape and crashing waves in the cliffs nearby. One benefit of its out-of-the-way location is that there are not very many tourists, so if you can get there, you will have the beach for yourself.  

Djúpalónssandur Beach

Seltjörn

The black-pebbled beach sitting on the magnetic Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west part of the country is a true sight to see. Once home to many fishing boats and a fishing village, it is now fully abandoned as many ports found on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Dark cliffs shape the beach, with stunning lava rock formations dotted around its territory. Four lifting stones, ranging from 20 to 155 kilograms, used to test fisherman’s strength are still present on the beach as well as the iron remains of English trawler Epine GY7.  

Seltjörn Beach

If you find yourself short on time, Seltjörn is the place to go! Found only a 10-minute drive away from Reykjavík, it is the perfect opportunity to experience Iceland’s black sand beach. There are a few walking paths nearby, including picnic and barbecue facilities for those warm summer days.  

Black Sand Beach

Iceland’s black beaches captivate with their otherworldly landscape and uniquely colored sand. Some are nonetheless extremely dangerous, and caution must be exerted when visiting these natural wonders. The Atlantic Ocean’s waves are powerful, unpredictable and have been known to sneak up to people when they least expect it. Tourists have been swept away and some have even lost their lives. Therefore, it is extremely important to never turn your back on them. Reynisfjara beach is especially known for its sneaker waves that cause chaos and total mayhem. These waves appear small at first, and after a couple of sets, a huge wave appears out of nowhere and sweeps away anything in front of its path. Always keep your eyes on the ocean and never turn your back on it. In addition, it is best to keep away from the shoreline and admire the beautiful sights and raging waves from a safe distance.  

Iceland’s black sand beaches demand attention. Their indisputable uniqueness and unparalleled beauty attract tourists from all over the globe year in year out, and for good reasons. Like many other beaches, Iceland’s black sand beaches also harbor many dangers, notably the famous Reynisfjara Black sand beach found only a stone throw away from Vík . Make sure you keep your distance, never turn your back on the waves and you will have a wonderful time exploring these uniquely colored landscapes. 

 

What’s the Weather like in Iceland?

Iceland’s weather is anything but predictable, always keeping locals and visitors on their toes. Although the island is close to the Arctic Circle, the country has a milder weather climate than what’s often expected, due to the constant warm Gulf Stream currents that regularise the temperature.

Interested in knowing more about Iceland’s weather? How cold it gets during winter and what to expect during summer solstice? If so, then read on.

Thinking of traveling to Iceland this year? Book your Icelandic getaway now!  

Iceland weather summer

Iceland's climate in a nutshell

The main factors that determine the climate in each part of the world are its geographical location, natural features such as topography, water sources, mountains and forests as well as geological activity. These are elements that are subject to study and analysis, so their climate consequences are predictable and expected.  

A quick glance at Iceland’s geo-location on a world map can make it seem as if its climate is relatively predictable. After all, it’s an island near the Arctic – just south of the Arctic Circle, but in the path of the warming Gulf Stream. Its mountainous ranges are low and landscapes nearly treeless. It is also the region where the North-American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making it a place of exceptional geothermal activity brimming with hot springs, geysers, mud pools, and volcanoes.  

These climate-determining conditions are characteristic of the whole of Scandinavia, but in Iceland, there are variances between different parts of the island: the southern coast tends to be warmer and wetter; the wind is stronger from the north, and snowfall in winter is more common in the north than in the south.  

 From the north comes snow and cold, icy winds; but despite its proximity to the Arctic, the island’s coasts remain ice-free even during winter. The North Atlantic current, also known as the Gulf Stream, sends warm waves from the Caribbean to the icy patch of land from the south and west. As a result of this, Iceland often surprises with its diverse weather that, at times, doesn’t live up to its name! 

Iceland’s average temperatures

For the most part, the country has a cold, temperate climate. It is classified as sub-polar oceanic along its coastline. The south coast is warmer and wetter than the north.  The Highlands are the coldest part of the country. The low inland areas in the north are the driest.  

Winter snowfall is more common in the north than in the south. The highest recorded air temperature was 30.5 °C on June 22, 1939, on the southeast coast. The lowest was -38 °C on January 22, 1918, in the northeast hinterland.  

 In general, the island’s weather is much more moderate than expected. The main reason for this is the merge of mild and warm Atlantic air with the cold currents from the north.  

 Although Iceland has four seasons, sometimes it certainly feels like it has two. You can have a snowstorm in the height of summer and a heatwave on Christmas Day!  

Winter in Iceland

Northern Lights Iceland

Winter is the longest season on the island, lasting from November until March. Icelandic winters are relatively mild due to their latitude, maritime influence and proximity to the warm currents of the North Atlantic. They are much milder than, for example, winters in New York, which is further south but temperature-wise has colder winter days.  

 The southern lowlands of the island average about 0 °C in winter, while the north averages about -10 °C . The lowest temperatures in the north of the island range from about -25 to -30 °C.The lowest recorded temperature is -39.7 °C. 

Winters bring along endless nights, clear skies and low temperatures: the perfect conditions for the Aurora Borealis, or, in other words, Northern Lights. Often appearing in between October and March, this natural phenomenon is best seen in a dark area, without any city light pollution. They come in all shapes and sizes, often green in colour and can either be static or dance along the skyline.  

This season is also ideal for outdoor activities such as exploring Vatnajökull’s underground ice caves, most of which are unreachable during the warmer season! During this time of the year, the entire island transforms into a truly magical winter wonderland covered with a blanket of white. The ground freezes all over and makes room for some unforgettable natural scenery.  

 Unfortunately, winter does come hand in hand with menacing winds and snowstorms so strong that they entirely shut down Keflavík International Airport. Road visibility is, in some areas extremely limited and you should always make sure you have the right tyres and car for your planned adventure as black ice is present throughout the country.  

When it comes to packing for a winter trip to Iceland, the more layers and lighter clothes the better.  It goes without saying that waterproof hiking boots are a must. Make sure to bring along at least one merino-wool base layer, a suitable sweater/fleeces, and a breathable waterproof jacket and pants. If you plan on purchasing one thing from Iceland, let that be an authentic Icelandic woollen sweater, otherwise known as a  Lopapeysa. It’ll keep you extremely warm during those cold winter days and fashionable!  

Spring in Iceland

Spring is arguably the best time of year to visit Iceland – apart from the busy tourist season in summer, due to its relatively stable weather, ordinary daylight hours, and cheaper accommodation prices. Although spring first arrives in April, Icelanders officially celebrate the First Day of Summer as a national day on the first Thursday after the 18th of April.  

The skies become clearer, the days longer and the entire island starts getting greener by the minute.  The average temperature for early spring is 7-8 degrees Celsius and by the end of spring, you can be expecting around twelve to fourteen hours of daylight. 

The snow begins to melt and natural attractions become more easily accessible.  Spring is also the time when puffins can be seen, with thousands of colonies of these funny-looking birds coming inland to nest.  

If you plan on visiting Iceland in early spring, be aware some roads will still be closed including F-Roads and Highland roads. If it’s your first time driving on the island, a safe bet will be to keep to the South Coast and only head up North when the weather permits.  

Summer in Iceland

Mountain Iceland

It’s safe to say that Icelandic summers aren’t exactly what you’re used to if you live in a warmer climate. Don’t bother packing shorts or cropped t-shirts as even in the heat of summer you won’t need them!  

Although the average temperature in July in the south of the island doesn’t exceed 10-13 degrees Celsius, on a bright and sunny summer day, you will see locals abundantly tanning out in the streets, parks, and swimming pools. Warm summer days can reach 20-25 °C although they’re a true rarity.  

The average annual hours that Reykjavík receives sun is about 1300, which is similar to cities like Scotland and Ireland. But there have also been some startling temperature records during the peak of summer: The highest temperature in Iceland was 30.5 degrees Celsius in 1939 on the southeast coast, and the lowest temperature was minus 38 degrees Celsius in 1918 at Grímsstaðir in northeast Iceland. Temperature records in Reykjavík were 24.8 degrees Celsius in 2004 and minus 24.5 degrees Celsius in 1918.   

 As summer is considered to be peak season in the country, it can get real busy real quick. Accommodation is harder to find and oftentimes more expensive than in the shoulder seasons. Car rentals are booked weeks in advance and camping sites offer limited on-spot availability. Nevertheless, summer offers visitors the most to see and do out of all seasons.  Hiking paths open to the public as well as the country’s F-roads, allowing visitors to safely venture deep within the heart of Iceland. Wildlife is at its best, with flocks of horses and sheep gracing the countryside roads and arctic foxes making their appearance near Þórsmörk. The country is covered by luscious greenery and Iceland’s natural backdrops are at their finest.  

 Due to its geo-location, Iceland experiences near 24-hour daylight during the summer season. The longest day of the year, also known as the summer solstice takes place in late June, after which the days slowly start to decrease by a few minutes. This natural phenomenon makes way for much more road trip possibilities as visitors have the chance to explore the island all day and night long, should they wish to do so. Make sure you bring an eye mask as otherwise, the brightness will definitely keep you up all night long! 

Autumn in Iceland

Iceland in autumn

In autumn, the skies are often cloudy, with moving wind and rain, and the weather is highly unpredictable. Although you can experience all four seasons at any given point of the year, autumn certainly comes with a lot of drastic climate changes. The temperature ranges between 2 to 10 degrees Celsius but it can be considerably higher in August, and lower in October.  

Some say that early autumn is the perfect season if you’re visiting Iceland for the first time. It’s not as cold as winter, accommodation is cheaper than summer and the country’s landscapes are coated with a mesmerizing color that adds to the already hypnotic natural scenery.  

 Most of Iceland’s natural attractions are still easily accessible and much less crowded than in summer and winter. This allows for a much more intimate experience as visitors can pace themselves however they want without having to worry about massive queues at crowded sights. It is the perfect season to go explore some off-the-beaten-track locations, as you won’t be disturbed by any other tourists nearby.

 The East and West of the country are still widely accessible during early autumn without having to worry about potential road closures and slippery driving conditions.  

Although autumn isn’t the ideal season to go hiking in Iceland due to the high chance of rain, some of the most prominent hiking trails, including that of the Highlands, are still accessible and huts are still open. Paths may be wet and slippery, but with a bit of caution and a lot of planning, it definitely is possible to enjoy the Laugavegur Trail during this period of the year.  

 Autumn is also the perfect time to experience some of the country’s most exciting social events such as Gay Pride and Reykjavík International Film Fest. If you’re looking to mingle with locals, this is the season to do so!  

Iceland’s weather by month

January

January is considered to be the coldest month out of all. Although it’s definitely cold in Iceland in January, chances are that it’s not as cold as you’d expect for a country so high near the Arctic Circle. The average daily temperature in Reykjavík ranges between -3 and +1 degrees Celsius however, this number can vary greatly. There have been Januarys with bright sun and +10 degrees and others where temperatures drop below 10 degrees. January is the month of blizzards and snowstorms but heavy snowfall rarely makes an appearance in downtown Reykjavík. Along with December, January has the shortest days of the year, with barely 4-6 hours of daylight. Nevertheless, the outdoor snowy landscape transforms the country into a winter wonderland worth seeing at least once in your life! 

February

Although February brings more daylight than its shoulder months, the country can still experience brisk temperature changes paired with rain, snow, and substantial wind. The average daily temperature is +0.5 degrees Celsius but can vary greatly. February is the perfect month to explore the island as the landscape is still idyllically covered in a sheet of snow and the days are getting longer by the minute. In February, many roads are still impassable due to severe weather conditions including but not limited to those up North and near the East and Westfjords. Therefore it’s always best to stick to the attractions found near the main road.  

March

geyser

March is an ideal time to visit Iceland. The weather is usually much calmer, the days are significantly longer and you have a good chance to still see the Northern Lights! The daily average temperature is around 0 degrees Celsius and is much colder in the North than in the South. Rain is also a common event and the further you go up the more it turns into snow. Icelanders celebrate the legalization of beer on the first of March therefore the whole town fills with events and festivities that last for days. It is the perfect time to bond with locals over a pint of beer!  

April

Bruarfoss

The month of April brings along enjoyable weather and a temperature average between 1-7 degrees Celsius. The first signs of spring slowly start to appear, and the country once again fills with wildlife. April is the best of both worlds as winter activities such as ice caving, are still readily available and so are some summer ones. The crowds are still lower and accommodation much cheaper than in summer, yet daylight hours significantly increase. It is the perfect time to explore the island at your own pace just before the masses of tourists arrive. April is also unpredictable, and you can easily have all four seasons in the space of a few minutes!  

May

waterfall Iceland

May is one of the best months to travel to the land of Fire and Ice. Winter is no longer here, daylight is longer, accommodation still much cheaper than in June and the island’s fauna and flora become once again alive. Although the average temperature rises and averages 4-10 degrees Celsius, the weather may still throw some surprises here and there therefore make sure you pack accordingly. In addition, many additional activities such as ATV rides, Boat trips, Whale watching Tours once again re-open to tourists after the long winter season, and the options are endless.  

June

landmannalaugar

June is the start of Iceland’s high season. Tourists start flocking the island from all over the world. Natural attractions become much more crowded and tours sell out fast. The temperature ranges between 5-14 degrees, and one might even say that it gets warm! The snow has already melted, the weather becomes much milder and the whole island gets covered from head to toe with a layer of luscious greenery. Precipitation in June is usually the lowest of the year, with short and light showers.  

Hiking routes such as the Laugavegur Trail in the Highlands are once again open for visitors and cars are allowed to drive on F-roads. June is also the month with the most daylight. It’s the perfect time to go on long road trips, as daylight is endless. It reaches its pinnacle near the end of June with the summer solstice – the longest day of the year after which the days slowly start to get shorter.  

Locals absolutely love the beginning of summer. There are plenty of social gatherings and events happening on every street corner, and swimming pools are full to the brim with people wanting to catch a sunray or two. Festivities are in full swing and international music festivals, like the Secret Solstice, gather vast international crowds.  

July

Iceland summer

July is the peak of Icelandic summer with temperatures ranging from 7 to 13 degrees Celsius. July brings a lot of uncertainty when it comes to weather as temperatures can go up to 30 degrees in the blink of an eye, although this is extremely rare.  

 Low pressure brings along precipitation in the heart of the island, which might hinder any Highlands hiking plans. Although the weather might look ideal at first, it can change very rapidly therefore good waterproof outerwear is always recommended for all hiking activities.  The midnight sun provides for endless road trip possibilities. Activities such as horse riding, canoeing, glacier hiking, and diving are readily available although they might sell out quickly.  

August

August is still considered to be one of the warmer months of the year, which allows for plenty of outdoor activities like camping and hiking. With still a good 13-16 hours of daylight, there are plenty of activities to do and sights to see and the good news is that there’s time for all! The average temperature for August is between 8-13 degrees Celsius, with plenty of fine weather and warm nights. Although August experiences about 20 days of rainfall, precipitation is often short and light. It is the last month before the cold sets in and should be enjoyed to the fullest! 

September

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

September marks the end of Icelandic summer. Although the average temperature ranges between 6-12 degrees Celsius, do not be surprised if you wake up one day and it’s -1 degrees, you’re in Iceland! Expect the unexpected and everything will work out simply fine.  

In early September, most of Iceland’s tourism activities are running in full force as in summer. Rafting on Hvítá and canoeing in the glacier lagoon are still on the cards and the hiking trails and f-roads are still open to visitors.  

 September is a suitable time to experience what Iceland has to offer, as the prices are much lower compared to the previous months and accommodation, as well as car rentals, are more readily available.  

October

October is considered a transitional month. There is still plenty of daylight for outdoor activities and road trips and winter has not set in yet. Having said that, expect to experience the four seasons in a day, or more likely in an hour! The average temperature sits around 5 degrees, with high chances of precipitation. Iceland slowly begins to quieten down, tourists are less seen and natural attractions are much less crowded. The island feels more intimate and allows for a more personal approach. The Highlands hiking routes shut down for the winter season and F-roads become impassable.  

November

Ice cave Iceland

November brings the wintry weather along with it. The mountain tops are now exclusively covered with snow, the roads get slippery and the temperatures drop. Expect a daily average of 0-4 degrees Celsius. Daylight at the beginning of the month is around 7-8 hours and at the end, it drastically drops to only about 4 hours. This should be considered when planning your trip, as, by the end of the month, you might not have enough daylight for all the activities planned and may need to reorganize your itinerary.  

 The days get much colder with the frosty wind blowing from every direction so it’s a clever idea to bring your warmest jumpers and coat when visiting the island. If you are going to extensively explore the countryside, you might also want to bring along some crampons. They will come in handy! 

November is also the month when the Northern Lights start to make their first visible appearance, which is extremely exciting for those venturing to the island during this month.  

December

Glacier Lagoon

December is the coldest month of the year with average temperatures reaching   -1 to 4 degrees Celsius. The weather can change quickly, and you can easily experience nights in the North where temperatures go below 15-20 degrees. Daylight is much more limited and road trips must be planned with that in mind. December is the perfect time to explore the country in the midst of winter. Natural attractions are harder to reach but entirely worth it! The whole island is coated with a blanket of snow and the landscape is simply breathtaking It is the ideal time to try some winter activities such as snowmobiling or ice caving. Crowds are much lesser than in summer and accommodation is much easier to find. December marks the month of festivities with Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner. The city livens up, Christmas lights decorate all the streets and houses, and the smell of mulled wine reins all over downtown.   

If you are planning to visit Iceland, the most popular times to travel are during the summer months from May to August, with July usually being the warmest, when you can enjoy many daylight hours as well as the summer solstice. December is also popular for winter holidays, although it will be quite dark during this time, and it precedes the coldest months of January and February. Regardless of which season you plan to visit, Iceland’s weather is always unpredictable, which makes exploring the country even more exciting! 

Things to Do in Iceland in Summer 2022

Everyone must, at one point in their life, experience Iceland during summer. The days get longer, the temperature rises, and the blanket of snow that once covered the entire country morphs into luscious greenery.  

Still wondering why visit Iceland this summer? Where to go and what to do? Look no further, we’ve got you covered! 

 Be sure to book your 2022 holiday package now, as this year is set to be a busy one! 

Summer Travel in Iceland

Walk the Highlands

Iceland’s Highlands are only accessible during summer, which makes them even more special than they already are. This vast 40.000 square kilometres of uninhabited land right in the heart of the country is home to some of the most vividly draped mountain rages the country has to offer. Colourful Rhyolite Mountain tops meet endless lava fields, glacial rivers, and hot steam vents. The 54-kilometer Laugavgeur trail, starting at Landmannalaugar and ending in Þórsmörk, is deemed to be one of the world’s most beautiful hiking trails. The trek itself is rather difficult therefore is not suitable for complete beginners and can be completed in four to seven days. Huts are readily available along the way for those not wanting to carry their camping gear. 

Join a boat tour on Jökulsárlón

There’s no better way of exploring Jökulsárlón than heading out in the lagoon on a rib boat. You’ll get to experience the wonders of Jökulsárlón from up close, and get a chance to see sights that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to witness from the shoreline. Stunning icebergs of different shapes and sizes peacefully float in the lagoon with seals quietly swimming nearby. The boat tour might only take half an hour or so, but you’ll be left with unparalleled memories of one of Iceland’s finest natural backdrops. 

Enjoy the Midnight Sun

Midnight sun Iceland

As Iceland is so close to the Arctic circle, during summer, the sun never entirely goes below the horizon allowing for endless daylight and the so called ‘white nights’. The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in between June and August, whilst the longest day of the year known as the summer solstice often happens around the end of June. There is nothing more surreal than having near 24-hour daylight and should definitely be experienced at least once during your lifetime! The long daylight allows for even more island fun and adventure possibilities! 

Spot a Puffin

puffin in iceland

Puffins only come to land during the breeding season, in between late April and early September therefore summer is the perfect time to spot these clumsy yet adorable looking seabirds. During the warmer season, thousands and thousands of puffins flock to the island and you really don’t have to go too far from the capital of Reykjavík to see them. The Westman Islands off the South Coast of Iceland have the largest colony of Atlantic puffin in the world and Dyrhólaey peninsula, a couple of kilometers from the town of Vík is also a top-favorite nesting place. 

Visit the Blue Lagoon

milky blue water in blue lagoon iceland

Have you really been to Iceland if you haven’t soaked in a hot spring? The country is home to a plethora of hot pots, mud pools, and geysers all of which source their geothermal energy from deep beneath the earth’s crust. Some natural hot springs can be bathed in, whilst others reach temperatures of a hundred degrees upwards and are therefore extremely dangerous to be touched let alone used for bathing purposes. The beauty of Iceland’s hot springs is that there is enough for all! Some are hidden whilst others lay in plain sight. If you happen to find yourself near Reykjavík, then a dip in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon is a must! 

Explore the Westfjords

Dynjandi waterfall in the Westfjords

The Westfjords – often inaccessible during winter offers visitors dramatic landscapes of untouched natural beauty that needs to be seen to be believed. It is home to stretches of coastline that harbor tiny fishing villages all around the peninsula. Cosmic fjords meet stretches of black sand beaches and what seems like infinite mountainous ranges. Hornstrandir Nature Reserve offers extensive hiking opportunities and unmatched wildlife spotting. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and explore a lesser-known area of Iceland, then the Westfjords is made for you! 

Party Like a Rockstar

Party in Iceland

When you have near 24-hour daylight, you have plenty of opportunities to hit the bars without having to worry about getting home before dark. Trust us when we say that Icelanders know how to party! Although bars and clubs open well before 11 pm, nightlife doesn’t really start much earlier than that so don’t be alarmed if you’re the only one on the dance floor at 10 pm, you won’t be alone for very much longer! Although barhopping is a rather expensive activity in Iceland, it’s definitely a good way to get to know the locals and the Icelandic culture as a whole. 

Walk on a glacier

hikers walk on a glacier in iceland

Although glacier walking is a year-round activity, being able to feel your toes and fingertips is a summer added bonus! Taking a guided glacier walk allows you to safely experience from up close the magnificent world of ice and to learn more about these magical glacial formations. You will be provided with all the equipment needed and a certified guide will be with you every step of the way to make sure you get the most out of this experience as possible. The walk itself takes about an hour and is suitable for both beginners and advanced hikers as no prior knowledge is needed. If you’re short on time, you’ll be pleased to find out that you can do such a hike on the Sólheimajökull glacier – only an hour and a half drive away from Reykjavík! 

Chase waterfalls

Iceland is the mecca when it comes to anything and everything related to waterfalls. With a little over 200 waterfalls dotted all around the country’s territory, you’re bound to bump into one sooner rather than later. Summer is the perfect time to thoroughly enjoy the sights and splashes of these natural wonders. If you’re not afraid to get wet, why not follow the path behind Seljalandfoss waterfall for an unprecedented eagle’s eye view over the falls and the surrounding territory. Only a stone’s throw away from Seljalandsfoss is another little hidden gem – Gljúfrabúi waterfall, idyllically tucked behind a cliff that’s worth getting wet for! 

Try some Local Icelandic Food

icelandic food

Although the country isn’t famous for its gourmet delicacies, it does have some dishes that are worth trying, especially if it’s your first time traveling to Iceland! If you’re in for a challenge, we recommend you go for an all-time classic – a bite of rotten shark paired with a shot of locally made Brennivín. Your taste buds will be bursting with particular and unknown flavors. If you’re in for a milder experience, why not head to the local bakery and get yourself some Icelandic cream puffs, otherwise known as Bollur. 

Summer’s the perfect time to visit Iceland. There are so many things to do and places to see that you simply cannot get enough! From hiking in the heart of the Highlands to cruising on a boat in Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Iceland’s natural wonders are truly endless. Factor in the removal of all domestic and travel restrictions regarding COVID-19, and spending a week or two exploring Iceland this summer is set to be amazing!  

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