Category: things to do

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir is one of the national parks that are on the northern shore in Iceland. Furthermore, it is one of the oldest existing parliaments in the world, which makes it important in Icelandic history. Þingvellir is also labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir is important because of its history yet it is also famed for its unique geology and natural features. The Almannagjá canyon is found here between two tectonic plates, which provide a visual display of continental drift. Tourists love coming to Þingvellir to fish and scuba dive.

Various fish and other water creatures are found in Iceland’s biggest lake, Þingvallavatn, since the regular influx of groundwater allows the condition of the water to remain good. This lake is said to be home to the largest brown trout and chair that is available in the world.

Þingvellir National Park

Travelling to the National Park

There are several ways to get to the national park, which is about forty-five km northeast of Reykjavik.

First, you have to get on road no. 1 and head north to leave Reykjavik. Once you have passed the town of Mosfellsbaer, you will then take the first exit on your right when you reach the roundabout. This will put you on road no. 36 heading towards Thingvellir. This is the main route to reach the national park, and during the winter season, it will be clear for driving.

Alternatively, if you are visiting during the summertime you could head towards Hveragerdi/Selfoss on road no. 1. Once out of Reykjavik, turn left on road no 431 and follow it until you get to road no 435. This road will allow you to see some scenic areas of Iceland such as the Hengill volcano, where you can see amazing views of Lake Thingvallavatn. When you get down the mountain, you will want to make a left turn on road no 360 and drive approximately 11 km and turn right onto road no 36. This road will carry you about 8 km and then you will see the visitor’s center of the national park.

Þingvellir National Park

When taking this route – road no 435 – remember that it is closed during the winter because of snow. You should always make sure you check the conditions before driving this route too.

Iceland Travel Guide – Reykjavík (Iceland)

Ísafjörður – Westfjords in Iceland

Isafjörður is the capital of the West Fjords region in Iceland, and is home to less than 3,000 people. The small wooden houses and boats in the village are surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery imaginable. There is a reason this place has been used as the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows.

The setting of Ísafjördur is one of a kind. The city sits right in the middle of a sand and dirt strip that runs under the fjord under a pair of hulking mountain ridges that seem to stand as security guards over the area.

Ísafjörður

Access to the areas in the West Fjords (Bolungarvík, Súdavík, Flateyri and Suðureyri) from the Ring Road and Reykjavik has improved in recent years thanks to the addition of a number of new tunnels.

You can now get from the small Isafjörður to Reykjavik in about 40 minutes by plane.

Ísafjörður

Lots of fun in one small town.

As mentioned earlier, Isafjörður is a small town, but the people that live there have access to a great cultural and social life. Roughly 100 students per year take advantage of the distance learning available at University Centre. There is also a hospital, a conservatory, and a cultural center that is home to a concert hall and library. A number of popular bands, Mugison being the best known, from Isafjörður have shone the musical spotlight on the town, as has a pair of annual music festivals.

Ísafjörður

Since the decline of the fishing industry, tourism has become all the more important. That, and the improved communications there, have seen several small IT start-ups move into the area.

Isafjörður was once a major fishing port in Iceland, but drastic changes to the territories in the fishing industry has seen the role the town plays now very much reduced.

Ísafjörður

Things to see:

Streets and buildings put in place during the 17th century are still in place in Isafjörður.

As well as the buildings we mentioned earlier, there is also a Municipal Museum to be found in home that dates back to 1742, making it Iceland’s oldest. There are a number of early 18th century houses still standing and still in great shape. One of those is home to the Maritime Museum.

Ísafjörður Maritime Museum

The two mountains that tower over Isafjörður provide protection from the elements, but they are also great tourist spots that can be easily accessed. Hikers and photographers in particular will get a kick out of the views, especially during the summer months.

Things to do:

Besides the attractions we touched on earlier, there are two more that help put Isafjörður on the map. Golfers can enjoy a round or two on the Isafjörður Golf Corse, the northernmost course on Earth. You can also strap on your skis and head on over to the slopes in Week Fossavatn Skiing and Ski Marathon.

Fossavatn Skiing

There are two large annual music events held here. The first takes place in mid-April and is called “Aldrei fór ég suður” (I never went to the south) http://aldrei.is.

Aldrei fór ég suður

This particular festival travels to a lot of smaller communities throughout Iceland. The other event, the Við Djúpið Music Festival, is held each August, and offers a number of activities besides the music.

If you are looking to beat the cold in winter, we suggest taking a dip in the hot springs found in the area.

This is definitely the place to go if you are looking to get off the Ring Road and find somewhere cool to visit. It may be isolated, but it is beautiful and packed with fun things to see and do.

Ísafjörður Maritime Museum

Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)

Iceland Travel Tips: Practical Tips for your visit to Iceland

For families

Iceland is a family friendly place to visit. Children are welcome on the majority of trips. With the obvious exception being those that are physically demanding. Children under the age of 12 generally receive a 50% discount for trips, and this discount is sometimes available for accommodation as well.

Iceland Travel Tip

Speaking of accommodation, many hotels, guesthouses and even some Youth Hostels offer family rooms that are designed to sleep up to five people. Cooking facilities usually come as standard with these rooms.

As for activities for children, the first on many childs´list is Whale-watching. The thrill of seeing whales and dolphins in their natural habitat is a thrill to behold. Horseback riding is particularly suitable for children as Icelandic horses are small and naturally good tempered. Riding facilities are widespread in Iceland, so it shouldn´t be too difficult to find somewhere near to where you are staying.

whale watching iceland

A less obvious choice is bird watching. There are several large puffin colonies in Iceland and numerous companies offer cheap tours to them.

Finally, one guaranteed way to keep children busy is in one of the many swimming pools located throughout Iceland. Many of the pools come with water slides and toys for younger children.

swimming pool reykjavik

For Senior travelers

Age is certainly no barrier to experiencing the beauty of Iceland. Indeed, Iceland is becoming increasingly popular with senior citizens. Senior discounts are usually available at museums and major tourist attractions (most tourist attractions in Iceland are free anyway).

One thing to consider is that driving in Iceland can be hazardous, and under certain conditions you will need to be extra vigilant. We recommend consulting with this local company Cars Iceland. They can advise you as to the most suitable vehicle for you based on when and where you are planing on going.

Some of the best places in Iceland (e.g Landmanalaugar) are off the beaten track, and therefore only accessible with a 4WD – and then only with someone with extensive off-road experience. An organized tour is usually a safer bet.

landmannalaugar

For the LGBT community

Iceland, and Reykjavik in particular is very gay friendly. Every year the annual gay parade attracts thousands of visitors and several prominent cultural figures are openly gay.

There isn´t much of a gay scene to speak of outside of the capital area, but Iceland is a very tolerant society and negative reactions to one´s sexuality are practically unheard of.

gay pride iceland
The main gay and lesbian organization in Iceland is Samtökin ’78, Laugavegur 3, 4th floor, Reykjavík (tel. 552-7878; http://www.samtokin78.is), which is open Monday to Friday from 1 to 5pm.

Félag STK Stúdenta (FSS), Pósthússtræti 3-5, Reykjavík (tel. 411-5590; http://gay.mis.is),  is the gay and lesbian student organization at the University of Iceland and they welcome e-mails from young visitors.

The Reykjavík Gay Pride Festival usually takes place the first week of August.

travel tip iceland

Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavik

Iceland’s Two Wheel Experience

When you experience Iceland on two wheels, you will find it to be rewarding yet challenging. However, exploring Iceland via bike is the best way to see all of the beauty of the country. Keep in mind that the weather can change at any time and sometimes the distances are long. However, if you are a bike enthusiast, you will find that you enjoy riding on the Ring Road, which is one of the well-known highways that cover the country. Alternatively, if you want to be really challenged you could try some of the paths in the highlands, which feature the beautiful Kjölur.

Cycling Iceland

Things to Keep in Mind When Cycling Iceland

When you are not in the urban areas, you will find that there are not many bike paths, which means you will be sharing the road with motor vehicles. The terrain will be hilly and the distance between the urban areas is long, so you need to have the things you need to make basic repairs. Additionally, having a map, GPS and communication equipment is necessary.

Always have protective clothing. You should be prepared for rain and wind so your clothing should be water resistant and warm. Gloves are also necessary because the temperature can drop unpredictably, especially when you go in higher altitudes.

Cycling Iceland

If you plan to travel to the highlands, expect gravel roads, as many of the roads there are not paved. You should not travel alone and sometimes you will run into unbridged rivers. These rivers should never be crossed unless you have taken safety measures. It is recommended that you have a fully equipped bike with shock absorbers.

Cycling Iceland

Lastly, keep in mind that Icelandic nature is fragile. Bikes can cause damage to the environment. Therefore, you need to stay on the path and whenever you need to cross a sensitive spot, pick your bike up and carry it across. In addition, someone needs to know your plans in case of an emergency. You should also write your name in the guestbook before leaving.

bike in iceland

Bicycle Tours – Biking

www.adrenalin.is / www.adventures.is / www.hjolafelagid.is / www.hikeandbike.is

Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)