Around Iceland

Iceland is a refreshingly unconventional destination. The Icelandic nature is unspoilt, exotic and mystical with its spouting geysers, active volcanoes, tumbling waterfalls, towering mountains, vast lava plains and magical lakes. Iceland’s fjords, glaciers and highland plains present visitors with some of the most beautiful and enchanting places they will ever see, as well as a rare feeling of utter tranquillity. Reykjavík’s legendary nightlife is bolstered by plentiful cultural and social happenings in addition to an abundance of first-class restaurants. The size of Reykjavik city centre is also limited enough to allow for easy navigation by foot. If you are interested in traveling on your own around Iceland and for a cheap car rental in Keflavik 121carhire.com specialises in carhire in Keflavik and other locations. For those on a quest for action, Iceland’s pristine nature offers great potential for outdoor activities such as snowmobiling, horse riding, cave exploring, hiking, swimming, skiing, river rafting, kayaking and mountain safaris on modified four-wheel drives, to name but a few. Iceland supports a surprisingly diverse Nordic flora and fauna and is an ideal place for ornithology enthusiasts, while also offering some of the world’s best whale watching destinations. For further information please visit: http://www.icelandguest.com/about-iceland/

The Trip

Day 1. The South – inland to the South coast. - 250 km travelled.

 
Places of interest: Þingvellir National Park. Geysir hot spring area with its fabulous Strokkur.
For more information on South Iceland please visit: www.south.is
Gullfoss waterfall. Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The magnificent waterfall and the folk museum at Skógar.
 
Hella
Hella is one of three important regional centers in South Iceland, the other two being Selfoss to the west and Hvolsvöllur to the east. It is a trading and agricultural centre located on the east bank of the Ytri-Rangá river, and provides the neighboring farms with a wide range of services. Originally, Hella was a shop built on the site of a small farm called Gaddastaðir until it became a trading centre in 1927. And since the large cooperative Kaupfélagið Þór opened up a department store there in 1935, its population has grown steadily to around 1.000 people.

Stay at Hella!
Guesthouse Nonni in village Hella! Visit their website: www.bbiceland.com
 
Stokkseyri
Stokkseyri is a coastal South Icelandic town in the fertile farming district region of Flói. It is known for its black sandy beach which becomes quite crowded with tourists during summer. The beach is wide and full of driftwood. A long sea wall was erected in the late 18th century to prevent encroachment by the sea and as a shield against Ölfusá river's flooding and high waves. The entire coastal area is open lowland and very windswept with shallow shores. The village has a rich art and cultural life. Paintings and glass galleries, Ghost Centre and the Center of Ethnomusicology, which are all situated in the Hólmaröst cultural centre. An interesting museum, "Þuríðar cottage" is in Stokkseyri, built in memory of Lady Þuríður Einarsdóttir, captain of a fishing boat in the late 18th and early 19th century, a time when it was considered a unique profession for a woman. Not far from Stokkseyri is another museum worth visiting, "Baugsstaðir dairy farm". The Ghost Centre in Stokkseyri is a Ghost Museum with all of the most famous ghosts in Iceland located in a building by the harbour. Guests walk through the ghost-maze, where they will experience the stories in the environment where they happened. The stories can be listened to in English, German and Icelandic. In Stokkseyri there is also a Hunting Museum with a large collection of stuffed animals and firearms, a lobster restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, kayak rental, scooter rental, mini golf, a familiy recreation park with Icelandic farm animals and a campsite. The seashore at Stokkseyri is popular for hiking and bird watching.
 
Vík
The area around the farm is ideal for hiking and, if booked in advance, we can provide a guide to show you around and tell you about the area. On glacier Myrdalsjokull, travelers can rent a snowmobile. It is only 10 km away from our farm. Dyrholaey is only 10 min away. It is possible to view the extraordinary island from sea in a wheel boat or just drive up to the lighthouse on top of it. The folk museum in Skogar is only 10 km west of our farm. It's an amazing place which takes you back in time and gives you a glimpse of the life of Icelandic country folk throughout the centuries.  In Skogar you can also go horse riding during the summertime. The nearest village is Vik, 25 km east of us. It is a small and friendly village, encircled by mountains on one side and the North Atlantic Ocean on the other. The striking black beach has been chosen one of 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, by travel magazines.
 
Accommodation in Vík area:
· Hótel Dyrhólaey – Brekkur, Mýrdalur, 871 Vík. 487-1333
 
· Sólheimahjáleiga, Mýrdalur, 871 Vík.  864-2919
 
· Hótel Laki – Efri Vík, 880 Kirkjubæjarklaustur. 487-4694
 

Day 2. The Southeast and the East coast.  - 270 km travelled.


Places of interest: Skaftafell National Park. The glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón. The Vatnajökull glacier – various types of glacier tours are on offer if booked in advance.
 
Accommodation in Höfn area.
· Árnanes V, 781 Hornafjörður. 478-1550
www.arnanes.is
· Hali 781 Hornafjörður Iceland, sími 478-1073
 
 
Activities around Höfn
 
Glacial Lagoon
Jökulsárlón is the best known and the largest of a number of glacial lakes in Iceland. It is situated just by the road no. one, midway between Skaftafell National Park and Höfn. Appearing first only in 1934-1935, the lake grew from 7.9 km² in 1975 to at least 20 km² today because of heavy melting of the Icelandic glaciers. Approaching a depth of 200 m, Jökulsárlón is now probably the second deepest lake in Iceland. Jökulsárlón is separated from the sea by only a short distance, and the combined action of the glacier, the river that empties from the lake, and the ocean may eventually transform it into an inlet of the sea. There are plans to prevent this from happening, since the only road in the area passes over the narrow isthmus.

Seals are often seen in the lake and in the river running to the sea and occacionally one can see whales out on the sea.

Boats take you close to the icebergs. A unbelievable experience and great opportunity for photographing one of Icelands great nature sites.

This is where Iceland meets Greenland. You can watch the icebergs calve and break away from the clacier right beside you, on a breattaking cruise around a glacial lagoon.
  
Ingólfshöfði
A bird watching and history trip in a nature reserve. Ingólfshöfði is an isolated headland between black sands and the Atlantic Ocean, with thousands of nesting seabirds, especially puffins and the great skua. This historical cape is named after the first settler of Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson, who spent his first winter in Iceland there in the year 874 AD. To get to Ingólfshöfði you cross 6 km of waters, marshes and sands in a tractor-drawn hay cart. A guided tour takes about 2,5 hours, included 25 minutes each way in the hay cart and 1,5 hours hiking around the cape.
 
Kayak Tour - Introductory Kayak Trip at Hofsnes Farm
Beginners friendly and easy kayaking trip on the gentle running stream Landáll at Hofsnes farm, 30 km east of Skaftafell National Park. The first 2,5km from road no. one is very easy, and it is even possible to have a child (1-7 year old) in front of a parent in some of our boats. About 8 year old kids should be able to paddle their own boats at least when we do the shorter version of the trip that ends at Bakkahorn.
The trip ends at the parking for Ingólfshöfði trips (see the Coast Tour).
Hunting
There are many posibilities for the hunter in Southeast Iceland. You can hunt deer, ptarmigan, gray goose and sea birds. Hunting in Iceland is restricted to seasons for each type of game. A gun owners licence and a hunting permit from your country is required. It is highly recommended that hunting be planned well in advance and we offer various services in this regard. For deer hunting info visit: www.hreindyr.is. For info on permits contact veidistjorn@ust.is
 
Hiking
There are many marked trails and trips you can make. Maps and more info is available at the Tourist information center in Höfn.
 
Birdwatching
At the southeast-coast you can expect to see a great variety of birdlife. For example you can see Puffins, Great Skua, Harlequeins and Guilllemonts. You find some info (in Icelandic) at www.fuglar.is.
 
Fishing
You can choose from fishing salmon in the "Laxá" river, (1km from Arnanes) or go fishing trout in a nearby lake. Visit www.strengir.is for further information.
Other activities in the area

Day 3. The East coast and fjords. Ca. 250 km travelled.

Places of interest: Great view of tall and often uniquely formed mountains on route to the East fjords. The fjords with their dramatic mountains and quaint fishing villages.
 
Accommodation in Egilsstaðir area.
 
· Skipalækur, Fell, 701 Egilsstaðir. 471-1324
· Guesthouse Egilsstaðir, 700 Egilsstaðir. 471-1114
· Útnyrðingsstaðir in Hérað, 701 Egilsstaðir. 471-1727

Day 4. Lake Mývatn area. Ca 240km travelled

Places of interest: Lake Mývatn. Höfði. Dimmuborgir. Námaskarð. Krafla. Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods). Whale watching in Húsavík
 
Accommodation in Húsavík area.
· Húsavík Guesthouse, 641 Húsavík.  848-7600
· Garður in Aðaldalur, 641 Húsavík. 464-3569
Húsavík
Husavik is a small town in the north of Iceland, inhabited by little more than 2500 people. It stands by the shores of Skjálfandi bay. Despite its small population, Húsavík has in the last ten years, gained popularity as the best place in Iceland to go whale watching – often called the whale watching capital of Iceland. Húsavík is also home to the Icelandic Phallological Museum, probably the only one of its kind in the world. Husavik is perfectly located if you want to visit some of the fascinating sights near by, for example Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss waterfall or Ásbyrgi canyon, just to name a few. If you are interested in photography, Husavik is a place where you will find many interesting spots, both in the town and around it. 
 
Stay in Húsavik!
Husavik guesthouse is a great place to stay if you are going whale watching or sightseeing in the north of Iceland.

Day 5. Akureyri and the North. Ca. 210km travelled.

Places of interest: Akureyri town. Skagafjörður district. The farmhouse museum in Glaumbær. The old turf church at Víðimýri. Vatnsdalshólar. Kolugljúfur canyon.
 
Accommodation in Hrútafjörður/Skagafjörður area.
Mikligardur Guesthouse, Kirkjutorg 3, Sauðárkróki. Tel: 453-6880, www.mikligardur.is
· Flugumýri, Skagafjörður, 560 Varmahlíð. 453-8814
· Lauftún, Seyluhreppur, 560 Varmahlíð. 453-8133
· Gauksmýri, 531 Hvammstangi. 451-2927

Day 6. The North and the Southwest. Ca 200 km travelled.

Places of interest: The lovely Borgarfjörður district. Climbing the old crater Grábrók. Borgarnes the site of one of the most popular Icelandic sagas, Egla.
Accommodation in the Southwest:
· Bjarg, 310 Borgarnes. 437-1925
· Hraunsnef, Norðurárdal, 311 Borgarnes. 435-0111

Day 7. Snæfellsnes - Stykkishólmur. The Southwest. Ca. 250km travelled. 

Accommodation in the Southwest:
Hólmur Inn Bed & Breakfast
Tel: 899-9144

Day 7 or 8. Reykjavík. Accomodation in Reykjavík:

Capital Inn, Suðurhlíð 35d, 105 Reykjavík. 588-2100 www.capitalinn.is

Reykjavík

Visitors to Iceland's capital city Reykjavik experience easily the energy whether from the geothermal energy or the lively culture and fun-filled nightlife. Think of the qualities of a great city should have; fun, space, clean air, nature, culture and Reykjavik have them in spades. The population of the capital area is about 200,000. The world's northernmost capital is bordered by Mt. Esja and a mountain ridge on one side and the blue waters of Faxafloi Bay on the other. On a sunny day, the Snaefellsjokull glacier appears on the western horizon. In the summer, you can sit by the harbour at midnight and watch the sun dip slightly below the horizon before it makes its way up again. Reykjavik’s compact city centre has plenty to keep you occupied. The downtown area is clean and safe and ideal for strolling around. Find the perfect souvenir, enjoy a gourmet meal or lose track of time in a modern gallery.

For more information on the Capital area please visit: www.visitreykjavik.is

Reykjavik and the Sea

Iceland is an island nation, and wherever you go in and around Reykjavik, the influence of the sea and its stories is clear. Many of the people who live here today are descended from seafaring explorers like the Norwegian Vikings, who began arriving on the Icelandic shores during the 9th century, and left behind a legacy of Scandinavian folklore and a love of sailing. Although the connections to other Scandinavian countries like Norway and Denmark are still strong, the culture has developed in its own unique way on the isolated shores of Iceland. Reykjavik's museums of maritime history and mythology are the best places to discover more about the history of this island and its connection with the sea.

The Sagas

The history of Iceland has been preserved in its literature, which is full of seafaring Viking heroes and mythological creatures. The Culture House museum presents an exhibition of saga manuscripts, which were written during the medieval period to record the much older tales. The manuscripts are beautiful, but impossible to decipher without some understanding of the Icelandic language. Luckily, the stories have been interpreted for visitors by the Saga Museum, where some of the most famous scenes from Icelandic myth and history are recreated in dramatic style. One of the best-known figures in Icelandic history is also immortalized elsewhere by a tall statue placed right next to the distinctive white tower of the Hallgrímskirkja church. Leif Erikson was a Viking explorer who is said to have reached the shores of America when he set sail from Iceland to search for new land. Arriving centuries before Columbus would set out across the Atlantic, Erikson named the new country Vinland, for the grapes produced by its rich soil. Erikson's sister, Freydis Eiriksdóttir, is among the figures to be found in the Saga Museum, where the less well-known story of her fierce battles and schemes to claim the riches of Vinland is told. Other notable figures in the museum include Snorri Sturluson, the 13th century author of one of the most beloved prose sagas, and some of the earliest Viking settlers.

The First Icelanders

The Saga Museum offers a glimpse into the world of the past, but it is possible to get even closer to the Vikings by visiting the Reykjavik City Museum. The earliest known settlement, dating from before 871 AD, is recreated on the exact site where it was once built, at the Settlement Exhibition. The Viking houses are visualized in precise detail, making it easy to imagine the sort of life Erikson and his sister might have lived. A slightly more recent version of Iceland's past can be experienced at the museum's other site, an open-air museum at Arbaer. Walking through the traditionally built village feels like stepping into the past, particularly when old methods of farming are being demonstrated at the working farm.

The importance of the sea to these historic Icelanders can be explored further at the Vikin Maritime Museum, which inhabits an old fishery building by the harbour. The museum explores the history of sailing in Iceland, starting with the very first person who is known to have settled permanently on the island, Ingólfur Arnarson. Arnarson chose Reykjavik as the site of his new home because of its sheltered natural harbour, and the town has depended on this connection with the sea ever since. Reykjavik grew into a busy port town, which was particularly important as the centre of Icelandic fishing during the 20th century. The old coastguard vessel, Óðinn, is docked at the museum, and visitors can climb aboard to explore it for themselves. Óðinn, designed for the icy waters around Iceland, was responsible for saving many lives in its time.

Sailing around Scandinavia

Óðinn doesn't take its passengers out to sea any more, but other ships can still provide an authentic taste of the seafaring life. Short whale watching cruises can be taken from Reykjavik when the season is right, but more extensive tours can provide a deeper understanding of the seafaring Viking mythology. The best way to understand what it might have felt like to be one of the first Vikings to reach the shores of Iceland is to arrive on the island by boat. If you plan carefully, you can choose a cruise crossing the whole of the historic Viking range. Tours are available that depart from Denmark, Norway and other Scandinavian regions, which can give you a chance to explore the history of the Viking homeland before you come to see how the culture developed in Iceland. Upon leaving Iceland, it is possible to continue on to other Scandinavian destinations, perhaps even towards Greenland and the shores of Erikson's Vinland. Cruising around Scandinavia is the only way to appreciate just how far the Vikings came, and how adventurous they must have been to set out from their homelands. All of these Scandinavian countries are proud of their seafaring Viking heritage, and their museums tell similar stories to the ones you will hear in Reykjavik's museums and the Icelandic sagas.

Geothermal Beaches

Another way to appreciate the connection between Icelanders and the sea is to join the modern day islanders at one of the geothermal beaches. Iceland is a volcanic country, and the most enjoyable consequence of this is the naturally heated water that escapes from underground at certain points around the island. The sea itself is generally too cold for swimming, but where pools and lagoons have been built to trap some of the geothermal heat, a comfortable temperature is maintained even in winter. The beach at Nauthólsvik even has its own hot tub and a golden stretch of beach made of specially imported sand. It might not be the same as a Viking expedition, but splashing around in the geothermal lagoon is the perfect situation in which to ponder the close relationship between Reykjavik and the sea.

Julie Bowen

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Reviews

4/5

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“We would stay here again!!”
We arrived earlier than expected but this was not a problem. Solon gave us a different but equivalent room that was ready for us. Because it was so early he made sure we knew breakfast was being served. Solon works the front desk and is a wealth of information. Read More

4/5

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“Fabulous staff - made a trip into a holiday”
Clean & tidy premises, good location for shopping centre and easy to get into city centre. But the best thing is the staff who so clearly know their country, are polite & courteous and are very happy to help. They went way beyond our expectations & made a short trip an extremely enjoyable holiday. Read More

5/5

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“A Good Choice”
I was made very welcome, the staff were helpful the food very good and the room clean and comfortable. It is a nice place to stay and I returned there for my last night in Iceland before flying home. Read More