ICELAND

Best travel period

Summer: July & August

Winter: end of December – February

Currency

Icelandic Crown (ISK)

Time

GMT

Capital

Reykjavík

Halló! Welcome to my Iceland page. On this page you will not only find all my Iceland blogs, but also useful information, pictures and a video. Make sure to have a look around and if you’ve got any questions, feel free to get in touch!

Iceland has stolen my heart some 15 years ago, when I was on my way home to Amsterdam from New York and made a stopover in Reykjavík. It was my first trip ever to a nordic destination and I loved it from the start. The nature, the people, the beauty of the landscape. I immediately knew I wanted to travel up north more often. And so happened as I visited Iceland 9 more times ever since. Most of the times during the summer, but also regularly in winter time. Want to travel to Iceland? In my articles below you’ll find plenty of information per category filled with countless tips based on our own experiences. Enjoy reading!

On this page I’ve bundled all blogs in categories. I’ve mostly traveled along the south coast, but have also been in the highlands plenty of times. Sometimes by bus, sometimes by foot, sometimes by rental car. Underneath you’ll find a selection with my favorite Iceland blogs, articles everyone should read before they are heading to Iceland.

My favorite Iceland blogs

Blue Lagoon alternatief Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Free alternatives to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Would you like to visit some hot springs in ICeland and bathe in them without paying a small fortune? In this article I’m sharing my best tips for free hot springs in Iceland that are as good as the Blue Lagoon but then for free. Alternatively I’ll also discuss the other paid options for the Blue Lagoon.

sunny cars

Iceland in winter: know before you go!

Are you planning to travel to Iceland in winter? It’s very special but there’s also some things to consider when planning your winter trip to Iceland. Especially when you decide to drive around with a rental car, there’s a few things to keep in mind. I’m sharing them in this article about Iceland in winter.

Westman Islands

A visit to Vestmannaeyjar – the Westman Islands

Vestmannaeyjar or the Westman Islands are located 11 kilometers off the Icelandic South Coast. It’s a very special place, when touring around but many visitors decide not to go there. In this article I’ll tell you all you need to know about the Westman Islands, a bit off the main road but well worth your time and efforts.

A roadtrip in Iceland in winter

All blogs about Iceland

wandelingen in Landmannalaugar op IJsland

Top 5 Landmannalaugar hikes

Landmannalaugar is by far one of my favorite places in Iceland. Not just because of the mysterious rhyolite mountains, but also because of the desolate feeling that this settlement in the deep interior calls for. I have visited Landmannalaugar three times and during each visit I was amazed by the beauty of the landscape and the purity of nature. In this article you can read my top 5 Landmannalaugar hikes. Enjoy reading!   Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave A day trip to HrafntinnuskerLaugahraunBrennisteinsaldaSuðurnánmurLjótipollurOther Landmannalaugar hiking trailsWhat else … Book your trip to IcelandConclusion and disclaimer A day trip to Hrafntinnusker As part of the world famous Laugavegur Trail, the most scenic hike in Landmannalaugar is definitely the one to Hrafntinnusker – and back. Hrafntinnusker is a mountain hut and camp at over 1,100 meters above sea level and only accessible on foot for hikers. It’s also the first overnight stop for hikers on the Laugavegur hike, at least those who walk from north to south. The hike takes a good four hours one way, maybe a little shorter if you are fit and have little snow on the way. I hiked with a full pack because I did the entire trail and was therefore a bit slower. Please note: there is snow in some places until well into the summer and with bad weather it is not a good idea to take this hike.   Distance: 12 kilometers Duration: 4 hours one way / 8 hours return Difficultyt: medium-hard     Laugahraun The Laugahraun hike is a short walk and suitable for anyone without mobility issues. If you are taking a day trip to Landmannalaugar from Reykjavík and have some free time, this hike is a great choice. From Landmannalaugar you hike into the area behind the campsite. This Laugahraun (= lava field) consists of wonderful shapes and colors and contains a lot of the rare obsidian, a black glass-like rock that is also called volcanic glass.   Distance: 4.5 kilometers Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours Difficulty: easy     Brennisteinsalda If you have a little more time to spend and you like a steep climb, do the Brennisteinsalda walk. This ‘red mountain’ is located right behind the lava field Laugahraun and can therefore also be done in combination with the Laugahraun walk. The mountain has countless colors and is therefore also called the most colorful mountain in Iceland. The ascent is not very difficult, but only suitable for sure-footed people because of the boulders on the descent. From the top of the 855 meter high Brennisteinsalda you have a beautiful panoramic view of Landmannalaugar and the surrounding area.   Distance: 6.5 kilometer Duration: 2-3 uur Difficulty: medium     Suðurnánmur I did this trail twice and it offers you magnificent views over Landmannalaugar from the west side. The Suðurnánmur hike in Landmannalagayr will take you a lot of time and energy, but it is more than worth it. You first return to the river that you switch on arrival in Landmannalaugar, from where a steep climb follows. Once ‘up’ you are on the Suðurnánmur mountains and you always have beautiful views. You end the walk in the Vondugil valley, where you have to cross a few rivers and walk back via Laugahraun. As an extra excursion you can climb Brennisteinsalda. However, the distance and times below are based on the standard lap as advised by FI.   Distance: 8.5 kilometers Duration: 4-5 hours Weight: medium     Ljótipollur The last hike on the list of most beautiful hikes in Landmannalaugar is the one to Ljótipollur. This crater lake is located north of Landmannalaugar and is surrounded by red rock. Ljótipollur, which means ‘ugly pool’ in Icelandic, is only accessible on foot and a top hike for anyone looking to have a nice day on the road.   Distance: 13.5 kilometers Duration: 4-6 hours Difficulty: medium     Other Landmannalaugar hiking trails Other Landmannalaugar hikes that I didn’t do until now because the weather was either too bad or I ran out of time are the ascent of Blánúhkur (blue mountain), which is a lot more difficult than Brennisteinsalda. I also never did Háalda (9 hours, hard) and Skallí (8.5 hours, hard) before. You can really only do these last two hikes if you are in a good condition, have good knowledge of navigation and are prepared for all weather conditions.     What else … If you want to know more about Landmannalaugar, such as how to get there and where to stay, read my extensive article about Landmannalaugar, full of useful tips and facts about this special area. If you want to go well prepared, check here my packing list for your hiking holiday and a suggestion for your packing list in Iceland. You can buy a hiking map at the FI hut, although it is more of an artistic drawing than a real hiking map. However, you can easily make the mentioned hikes without it, as they are also well marked in the landscape.     Book your trip to Iceland I advise you to book everything (well) in advance since many accommodations are already fully booked in time. In this article you can read my accommodation tips for Reykjavík. I always make reservations at Booking.com – they usually have the cheapest rates and a wide range. Tip: choose the option where you can cancel free of charge until shortly before departure. You can arrange a rental car via Rental Cars and book your flights through Skyscanner for the best price.   If you want to make a day trip from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar, your best options can be found below:     Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully you found this article helpful. If anything is unclear, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. This article contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase or make a reservation through such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no additional cost to you. Want to read more about Iceland? Then check out the Iceland homepage!  

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wandelingen in Landmannalaugar op IJsland

Landmannalaugar in Iceland: all you want to know!

Landmannalaugar is one of the most special places to visit in Iceland. The distinctive orange and brown colored rhyolite mountains in combination with lavafields and fast flowing rivers are a true paradise for hikers and photographers. In addition, Landmannalaugar is the starting point of the famous Laugavegur Trail. I visited this special area three times during my Iceland trips and in this article I will tell you everything you want (and need to) know about it before you travel there. Enjoy reading this blogpost about Landmannalaugar in Iceland.     Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave About Landmannalaugar: location and accessibilityBus to LandmannalaugarWhat to do in LandmannalaugarHiking in LandmannalaugarLandmannalaugar camping and mountain hutWeather in LandmannalaugarAnd also … Book your trip!Conclusion and disclaimer About Landmannalaugar: location and accessibility Landmannalaugar is located in the south of Iceland, about 180 kilometers east of the capital Reykjavík and in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. The Icelanders themselves refer to this area as the inland or the highlands, despite the fact that it is ‘only’ about 600 meters above sea level. Landmannalaugar is only accessibly in the summer months, usually from late June to early September. This depends a bit on the season and the snowfall, so always inquire upon arrival in Iceland what the current status is. Outside the summer months, Landmannalaugar is not really accessible for tourism unless you travel with a winter guide.   Landmannalaugar is relatively difficult to reach. The majority of roads to the region are unpaved, in bad condition and you have to cross some rivers. Rental cars are usually not insured for this, so it’s best to go by bus from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar, which you can read about further down in this article. If you still want to go with your own car (again: not recommended) then F208 will lead you to Landmannalaugar. Most visitors who go by car choose to park the car before the last river crossing, which is usually not passable by car unless the water levels are extremely low.   More tips about renting a car in Iceland can be found here   Landmannalaugar is located on a (relatively) flat part between the mountains. Behind the Landmannalaugar campsite starts the ‘Laugahraun’, a huge lava field in the most special shapes. A hiking trail runs through Laugahraun and eventually leads you to the famous rhyolite mountains.     Bus to Landmannalaugar The best way to get to Landmannalaugar is by bus. At the moment there are two companies that offer bus transport to and from Landmannalaugar: Rejkjavík Excursions and Trex. The schedule is re-announced each summer, but usually there is one departure per day. Most buses to Landmannalaugar also stop in other places like Hella along the way. The cost of a one-way ticket is about € 75 per person and the journey takes about 4-5 hours. I have never booked the bus in advance, but always inquire beforehand whether this is necessary on your desired day of travel, partly because Landmannalaugar is becoming increasingly popular among travelers.   Pro tip: the bus from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar is a 4WD bus but, just like the cars, it has to go through a number of rivers. That is why it is smart to pack your luggage waterproof and/or to put the rain cover around your luggage. You wouldn’t be the first to have their luggage getting wet in the hold because of the high rivers the bus has to drive through.     What to do in Landmannalaugar Landmannalaugar is a nature destination and apart from a mountain hut there are no facilities. In some seasons there is an old school bus where you can buy some food and hot drinks, but this is not the case every year as from what I’ve been told by locals. If you want to go to Landmannalaugar, bring everything you think you need with you from Reykjavík. Such as food, drinks, gas tanks and camping equipment.   There are basically three things you can do in Landmannalaugar:   – Hiking – the Landmannalaugar hot springs – Horse riding   I will tell you more about hiking later in this article because the options are really almost endless. The hot springs are free to enter and are not much bigger than an average living room. You can go in with about 30 people at the same time and the water is wonderfully warm in most places. There are no facilities, so no changing rooms or anything like that. I usually make sure to put on my swimwear in my tent and put on a warm jacket and pants. Be sure to bring a towel and slippers.   I have never done horseback riding in Landmannalaugar myself, but I have been told that it is only for adventurers because you, for example, go up and down considerably and also cross rivers. So inquire on the spot about the possibilities.     Hiking in Landmannalaugar Remember that if you want to go hiking in Landmannalagaugar, the trails here are not really suitable for inexperienced hikers. You wouldn’t be the first to get lost in Landmannalaugar as the landscape is rugged and deserted. Once away from the campsite, that is. My very first tip for those going hiking in Landmannalaugar is to take a GPS with you. When I went solo hiking in Landmannalaugar a few years ago, I got lost just outside the campsite due to incredible loads of snow (still in August). In addition, it’s often foggy there, so that you sometimes do not see the next marker in the landscape. A GPS is therefore absolutely necessary because the trail (especially over ice fields) is not always clear. Around the campsite you have 4G internet, but beyond that the connection quickly disappears. So don’t rely on your cell phone for having reception.   There are a lot of amazing hikes in Landmannalaugar, from short to long and multi-day. The most popular hike is the one to the top of Brennisteinsalda, the red mountain. This trail is about 7 kilometers long and it will take you 2-3 hours, but probably even longer because it is incredibly photogenic. Another nice hike is the one to Blahnukur, the blue mountain, this one is heavier and steeper than Brennisteinsalda. A fun half-day hike takes you to Ljótipollur, a crater lake north of Landmannalaugar.   In addition, the famous Laugavegur Trail or Landmannalaugar Trail begins in Landmannalaugar. This 3 to 4 day hike to Thórsmörk and possibly further to Skogar is a classic among the multi-day hikes in Iceland and you should definitely do it once in your life (I did it twice and would love to do it again). Read my extensive blog about the Laugavegur Trail here.   If you don’t want to hike with a heavy pack but do want to get a taste of the Laugavegur Trail, do a long day hike to Hrafntinnusker, the first hut on the Laugavegur Trail. It’s about four hours one way, so you can go back and forth in one day, provided you are an experienced hiker. You will most likely encounter snowfields (even in the middle of summer) so bring trekking poles to help prevent slipping. In addition, there are day hikes to, among others, Haalda and Skallí. You can buy a Landmannalaugar hiking map of the area at the FI hut. More information about the most beautiful hikes in Landmannalaugar can be found in this blogpost.     Landmannalaugar camping and mountain hut The only way to stay overnight in Landmannalaugar is at the campsite or in the FI mountain hut. Since I’m not a huge fan of huts, I’ve always camped. The costs for the campsite are about 15 euros per person/night and 60 euros per person/night for the hut. If you camp, you also get free access to the toilet building and the covered cooking area. A hot shower costs a few euros. There are limited facilities in the hut: bring everything you need with you, although you can sometimes buy food there. But since that’s very pricey, I advise you to just bring everything with you from Ryekjavík or even from home.     Weather in Landmannalaugar And then finally the weather in Landmannalaugar. To be fair, it’s always cold there. The wind is unrelenting and chances are you won’t see the sun at all. So be prepared and bring the right gear. A warm coat, scarf or buff, gloves and a hat are a must. You typically don’t wear a t-shirt, on the other hand. In general, the temperature in Landmannalaugar is about 10 degrees. In addition, the wind is very strong and the rain, as you may have heard about Iceland before, is often horizontal. Rain gear is therefore absolutely necessary. Check out my packing list for Iceland here.     And also … Also bring garbage bags as you cannot leave your rubbish in Landmannalaugar. In addition, it’s useful to know that it is a very beautiful but remote area. Tourists may come every day, but as soon as the day trippers have left in the evening, it is wonderfully quiet.     Book your trip! Do you want to book it all yourself? In that case, I advise you to record everything (well) in advance since, as mentioned, many accommodations are already fully booked in time. In this article you can read my accommodation tips for Reykjavík. I always make reservations at Booking.com – they usually have the cheapest rates and a wide range. Tip: choose the option where you can cancel free of charge until shortly before departure. You can arrange a rental car via Rental Cars and book your flights through Skyscanner for the best price. If you want to take a day tour to Landmannalaugar, you will find the best options below:     Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully you found this article helpful. If anything is unclear, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. This article contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase or make a reservation through such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no additional cost to you. Want to read more about Iceland? Then check out the Iceland homepage!  

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glaciers on iceland

Glaciers on Iceland: a list and tips for Into the Glacier

It is sometimes said that the names Iceland and Greenland should be reversed: although there are quite a few glaciers on Iceland, the country is not completely covered in ice as you might expect. Greenland is for the most part though. And Iceland is actually very green. Yet you will still find a large amount of ice and you can visit beautiful glaciers and even go inside one at the Into the Glacier attraction. You can view the glaciers from afar, walk on them, walk inside them and view the Icelandic glaciers from above. In this article I will tell you everything about the most beautiful glaciers on Iceland, enjoy reading!     Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave About the glaciers on IcelandMeaning jökull and jökulhlaupThe biggest glacier in IcelandMýrdalsjökullInto the Glacier and LangjökullIce ice babyOne last piece of adviceBook your Iceland tripConclusion and disclaimer About the glaciers on Iceland Just over 10% of Iceland’s surface is covered by glaciers. In total, there are 13 glaciers on Iceland, five of which cover an area of more than 100 square kilometers. These are the Vatnajökull, Langjökull, Hofsjökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Drangajökull. Fun fact: the largest glacier in Iceland is Vatnajökull and it is almost ten times the size of Iceland’s second glacier, Langjökull. Most of Iceland’s glaciers are located on the south coast or inland. Snæfellsjökull is located on the Snæfellsness peninsula and the aforementioned Drangajökull is located in the west fjords. Many of the glaciers lie under volcanoes, of which the Eyjafjallajökull is probably the best known after its massive eruption a few years back.     Meaning jökull and jökulhlaup The Icelandic name for glacier is jökull. We tend to say ‘Vatnajökull glacier’ but this is factually incorrect, because jökull already means glaciers. When a glacier in Iceland is melting and disappears due to global warming, a glacier officially loses the part ‘jökull’ after its name. The Okjökull in Borgarfjörður recently lost its status as a glacier because the ice is no longer thick enough to bear that name. The new name of the piece of ice left is now just Ok.   A jökulhlaup is an Icelandic term that means a flood caused by the sudden release of gigantic amounts of melting water. This occurs, for example, in volcanic eruptions under the ice cap. These amounts of meltwater can cause a large area to flood or, for example, that roads and bridges are swept away. In Iceland, volcanic eruptions under the glacier are often followed for a jökulhlaup and the Icelandic government is now well prepared for this, where possible. The term jökulhlaup has meanwhile come into use worldwide when such a phenomenon occurs.     The biggest glacier in Iceland The largest glacier in Iceland is Vatnajökull, which is also the largest glacier in Europe. It occupies about 8% of the area of Iceland, which means that the rest of Iceland’s glaciers take up no more than 3% of the entire land of the country. The Vatnajökull is located in the south of Iceland and you will encounter it when you visit the iceberg lakes Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón. The glaciers of Skaftafell National Park also flow down the Vatnajökull. In 2011, the Vatnajökull was the setting for some recordings of the Game of Thrones television series. This ice cap is so immense that another 30 glacier tongues flow from it: all of these also bear the term jökull.     Mýrdalsjökull Mrdalsjökull is another large glacier that you will encounter during your tour on the ring road on the south coast. This glacier is the fourth largest in Iceland and what makes it so special is that the Katla volcano is under the ice. The story goes that when this volcano erupts again, there will be a big problem because it is one of the largest volcanoes in the country. Katla last erupted in 1918 and another eruption has been feared for years, but has yet to happen. Due to this last eruption, large parts of the glaciers of Mýrdalsjökull are black. The black parts of the glaciers may not be the most beautiful, but they are among the most impressive. I made a glacier walk here on the Sólheimajökull, but you can also walk independently to the ice, but not on it.       Into the Glacier and Langjökull Another important glacier is the Langjökull, the second largest glacier in Iceland. This one is located in the Icelandic interior and offers ‘Into the Glacier’ as an attraction. Icelanders love special things and a few years ago dug a tunnel into the glacier, so you can literally enter the glacier. I did this excursion several years ago and wow, that was bizarre! The idea that you literally have tons of ice over your head is a bit bizarre, but also very special. If you want to make this excursion, look here for prices and possibilities.     Ice ice baby A visit to Iceland is not complete without a visit to a glacier. When you take a drive along the south coast, you will automatically encounter the ice. Keep in mind that the ice is always moving and photos featured in this blog post may not reflect current reality. I’ve been to Iceland 10 times now, but the ice looks different every time. For example, Jökulsárlón iceberg lake can sometimes be almost empty, but sometimes it can also be completely filled with icebergs. It really depends on the circumstances.   In addition, it’s useful to know that there are often warning signs and ropes to ensure your safety. So never go off the beaten track and follow the rules because you don’t want to accidentally fall into a crevasse. Climbing on the ice is only possible with a certified guide. There are numerous companies that offer glacier walks and climbs.     One last piece of advice When traveling by plane to Iceland, it is best to sit on the right side of the plane on the way there, because then, with clear weather, you can already see the glaciers from the air. It’s very impressive! I flew over the Snæfellsjökull once when I traveled to Alaska, that was also super cool. Unfortunately it is often cloudy upon arrival at Keflavík.     Book your Iceland trip Do you want to travel to Iceland? Then I have the following tips for you: – The cheapest way to book your flight is through Skyscanner. – Staying overnight in Reykjavik? Read my tips for places to stay in the capital of Iceland for every budget here. Or check the best overnight options on the south coast here. – Need a rental car? Check here budget options via Rentalcars. More car rental tips can be found in this blog. – Before you travel, order the Lonely Planet Iceland or the or another travel guide.   Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully you found this article about the most beautiful glaciers in Iceland useful. If you have any questions and/or comments, be sure to leave them in the comments. If you want to read more about Iceland, visit one of the articles below or the Iceland homepage. This article contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase or make a reservation through such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no additional cost to you.  

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auto huren ijsland

Car rental tips Iceland: know before you go!

Welcome to this article filled with car rental tips for Iceland. Renting a car in Iceland is not difficult and I have done it many times. In recent years I traveled to Iceland no less than ten times, both in summer and in winter I regularly explored the country with a rental car. Although you can easily get around in Iceland with a simple and cheap rental car, there are some things you need to know before you make a reservation and whether renting a car in Iceland is for you. So today I’m sharing more than a decade of experiences and car rental tips for Iceland. Enjoy reading and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions!     Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave The beauty of nature by rental carRenting a car in IcelandHow does renting a car in Reykjavík work?Car rental tips Iceland: 4×4 or regular carRenting a car in Iceland in the winterCheap car rental in IcelandIs renting a car and driving in Iceland safe?Do you need a GPS or navigation?Conclusion and disclaimer of car rental tips Iceland The beauty of nature by rental car Exploring Iceland by rental car guarantees a lot of ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ moments. The regular buses or tours of Reykjavik Excursions take you to the tourist spots, but they don’t stop everywhere and don’t take nice side roads. In addition, with a rental car you can stop wherever you want to take pictures or just enjoy the most amazing landscapes. Renting a car in Iceland is therefore a must to be able to travel around in a relaxed way.     Renting a car in Iceland Iceland is ideal for being explored by car. Most of the roads are in good condition and most sights are easily accessible with your own vehicle. The most important thing to know, however, is that there are also quite a few unpaved roads in Iceland. These are the so-called ‘interior routes’ – the best known of these are the Kjölur and the Sprengisandur. These routes cross the island from north to south and are only accessible in summer and with a 4×4. You can find more about this in the 4×4 section later in this article. To rent a car in Iceland you must have a valid driver’s license for at least one year. In addition, a credit card in the name of the main driver is usually necessary. Check the conditions of your rental car company for this. The minimum age is 20 or 21 years, this varies per car rental company. Sometimes there is a surcharge for drivers under the age of 25.   Check rates and availability here     How does renting a car in Reykjavík work? Most people arrive in Iceland via Keflavík – Reykjavík’s international airport. This is about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík city. Please note that there is also an airport in the city (Reykjavík) but it is only used for domestic flights. So don’t make the mistake of booking a rental car in Reykjavík instead of in Keflavík. However, if you are going on a city trip in Reykjavík for a few days and you don’t need a rental car, you can take the Flybus to Reykjavík and as soon as you start traveling around, pick up your rental car at the city office. The options for this are somewhat more limited because most depots are located at Keflavík airport.     Car rental tips Iceland: 4×4 or regular car Techincally, you can get very far with a ‘normal’ car. If you plan to stay on the ring road, you don’t need a 4×4 car at all. This is only necessary if you want to take an unpaved route, a so called F-road. Think of the previously mentioned inland routes, but also some routes in the Westfjords and the routes to the popular Landmannalaugar (the starting point of the famous Iceland Laugavegur Trail) and Thórsmörk. Although more and more bridges are being built, some of these routes still include river crossings. This can lead to exciting situations, especially when it has rained a lot. If you want to make a river crossing, always check whether this is possible. See what others are doing and always do a wade-through (i.e. before crossing) before you decide to drive through the water. Water damage is not covered by most insurance policies, so caution is necessary.   What’s also good to know is that most interior roadss do not open until the end of June or the beginning of July. If you travel outside this season, a 4×4 will not be of much use.     Renting a car in Iceland in the winter Do you want to rent a car in Iceland in winter? Then winter tires are mandatory. Most car rental companies have packages that already offer this as standard and most tires come with studs. Driving with snow chains is usually not necessary, depending on the snowfall. The times I went to Iceland in the winter there was hardly any snow (yes really) and the roads were in great condition. A 4×4 is therefore not typically necessary in winter.   Also read: what to pack for Iceland in winter   Cheap car rental in Iceland If you want to rent a cheap car in Iceland, you can compare rates on Rental Cars. There are numerous options here, including cheaper options. However, keep in mind that the cheap rate often pays for itself in high additional costs, such as a limited number of kilometers, a high deductible or limited insurance. So research all options in advance before you choose a budget rental car in Iceland.   I usually rent from Alamo or Herz, they are usually a little bit more expensive but have a low deductible and offer good insurance options. I’d rather not have a large own risk in case an accident happens or in case someone else causes damage to my car.     Is renting a car and driving in Iceland safe? Yes, driving in Iceland is very safe. The roads are generally quiet and in good condition. Sometimes you have to drive a short distance on an unpaved route, for example to get to your accommodation. This is of course no problem. You can fill up your gas along the ring road and Icelanders are generally very friendly and helpful. When you pick up the rental car you will also receive an overview of the traffic rules in Iceland, read this carefully before you set off. Fines are relatively high and it is better to avoid them.     Do you need a GPS or navigation? Renting a navigation system is not really necessary, but can be useful. Of course you can also just use your mobile phone with a navigation app, there are often extra costs for renting a navigation. Once you are on the Ring Road, taking the wrong way is almost impossible, we only used it around Reykjavík and occasionally to see how far we were from a certain destination. Check options for navigations here!     Conclusion and disclaimer of car rental tips Iceland I hope you found article with car rental tips in Iceland useful and that it took away any concerns you may have. Please note that the above includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase or reservation through any of those links we may receive a small commission at no extra fee to you.  

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What to pack for Iceland in the summer

Although Iceland is a destination that can be visited all year round, the majority of tourists visit Iceland in the summer. I have been to Iceland six times in the summer (and four times in the winter) and what I always remember is that it’s actually always relatively cold in Iceland. When I look back at the photos I took during those travels, I never really wear just a t-shirt, but always a warm jacket or sweather and long pants. Don’t be alarmed, but the average temperature in Iceland in summer (July and August) is between 10 and 13°c. This may require some creativity with packing for Iceland because it might not be the regular things that you take with you on a summer vacation. That’s why I have compiled this packing list for Iceland in the summer for you, based on years of travel experience in Iceland. Enjoy reading!   Are you going to Iceland in winter? Then check the Iceland winter packing list here     Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave About Iceland in the summerPacking list Iceland: a warm jacketSturdy bootsWhat to wear underneath your jacketScarves, hats, mittensWhat else to pack for Iceland in the summerIcelandic clothingConclusion and disclaimer About Iceland in the summer Let me start this article with some more information about Iceland in the summer. As mentioned above, the average temperature on a summer day is not very high. Occasionally the Icelanders have peaks of 20 and 25°C, but this is quite exceptional. I can remember just one day when it was warm enough to go out with a t-shirt.   What makes the wind chill in Iceland somewhere between cool and cold is the strong wind that is often blowing. This usually means that the temperature is very low as it feels. A day without wind is quite rare in Iceland, especially on the coast and in the highlands the wind can blow very hard. Fortunately, there are plenty of hot springs in Iceland to warm you up on cooler summer days.     Packing list Iceland: a warm jacket A warm and especially water and windproof jacket is really indispensable to take to Iceland. I have been wearing Fjällräven’s Eco Shell for years (see photos with red jacket in this article) and it keeps me protected from wind and rain. If you do not have a budget for an expensive jacket, then the coats from Decathlon are recommended. However, the difference in quality with a jacket from, for example, Fjällräven or The North Face is considerable. If you plan to buy a good jacket just for this trip, Decathlon will suffice. If you want to last longer with your jacket, invest in a quality brand.     Sturdy boots Sturdy walking shoes are really a must. They do not necessarily have to be ankle high boots, but should at least have a good profile and be waterproof. You are guaranteed to get wet in Iceland at some point during your trip and nothing is more annoying than wet feet during your walk or excursion. In addition, many trails to sights are uneven and you walk on beaches, lava fields and other uneven landscapes. There may also be ice and snow in the interior until well into the summer. Sturdy shoes are therefore a must. In addition, I usually bring a pair of sneakers for when I’m not on the road and a pair of slippers for during your visit to the hot springs.   What to wear underneath your jacket As mentioned, your footwear and your jacket are the most important, but what you wear underneath also needs some attention. I myself am a fan of wearing multiple layers, so that you can always put on or take off something extra when you get cold and / or warm. For my upper body I have the following with me as standard:   – 1 Icebreaker Thermal Shirt (has been around for 10 years and I use it on literally every trip I take!) – 1 Kari Traa merino base layer shirt – A fleece sweater of your choice   The first two pieces are made of merino wool which keeps warm but also absorbs. Wool dries quickly so if you start to sweat, you will not have a sticky back or something for the rest of the day.   In terms of pants, you can best choose what to wear. I often get the question whether ski pants are sufficient and I think that is certainly an option, but to be honest, my ski pants are quite bulky and that doesn’t make me happy if I have to wear them all day. That’s why I wore my Fjällräven leggings last time. Usually I also have jeans with me for good days. Good rain pants are also really indispensable.   Scarves, hats, mittens Finally, I definitely recommend that you bring a hat, scarf and gloves or mittens. I don’t have any guidelines for this, as long as it’s warm. If, like us, you are going to do the Ice Caves & Lava tour, for example, it is useful to bring waterproof gloves because you regularly crawl over the ground and it is nice if your hands stay warm and dry. Tip: also bring a few sets of hand warmers for cold moments during the day! I never wear a scarf myself, but actually always a merino buff: one of the best investments ever if you ask me and at least as practical as a scarf because you can also use it as a hat, for example.   What else to pack for Iceland in the summer Furthermore, I always take the following with me, but that of course depends on your own preference: – Bikini and lightweight travel towel for the hot baths – Underwear (just normal because I’ve already adjusted the rest of my clothes) – Toiletries – First aid kit – Travel guide to Iceland – Electronics + chargers – A book (tip: read Arnaldur Indridason’s thrillers during your Iceland trip!) – A daypack -> think for example of the waterproof Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop     Icelandic clothing Would you like to buy something Icelandic? Iceland has some very nice outdoor brands, but you should start saving because it’s not very cheap. The most famous brand is 66 North, I personally think this is a beautiful brand with fine clothing that generally lasts a long time, including a fleece sweater and gloves. The sweater I’m wearing on the cover picture is from 66 North and I’ve been wearing it for more than 10 yers now. A lesser known brand is Cintamani, their clothing is recognizable by the orange logo. Then there are Zo-On Iceland (I have a lovely warm down jacket), Ice Wear and a few smaller brands. You can buy these clothes everywhere in Iceland, but the best prices can be found at the outlets just outside Reykjavík. The 66 North outlet can be found at Faxefen near Reykjavik, the Cintamani outlet can be found in Garðabær just outside Reykjavík.   Conclusion and disclaimer This was my article on what to pack for Iceland in the summer. Hopefully it will help you prepare for your Iceland trip. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them via the comments section below. This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a modest commission, of course at no extra cost to you!  

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Vestmannaeyjar Westman Islands Westman Eilanden

Vestmannaeyjar – a day on the Westman Islands in Iceland

One of the most memorable things I ever did in Iceland was to visit Vestmannaeyjar also known as the Westman Islands. This archipelago is located 11 kilometers off the Icelandic south coast and is well worth a visit. I was lucky that it was, by Icelandic standards, a beautiful day and so I last minute decided to go for it and make the ferry crossing from the campsite at the Seljalandsfoss to the Westman Islands by boat. I traveled up and down for one day and that’s enough to see the small island of Heimaey. This is also the only inhabited island of Vestmannaeyjar. In this article I will tell you all you need to know about your visit to Vestmannaeyjar.     Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave About VestmannaeyjarThe history of VestmannaeyjarThe ferry crossing to the Westman IslandsVisiting EldfellWandering through HeimaeyHiking on the rough WestcoastStaying op HeimaeyTours to and on HeimaeyConclusion and disclaimer About Vestmannaeyjar The Westman Islands are, as mentioned, off the coast of Iceland and are skipped by many visitors, partly because the weather is often bad and they are therefore not always easily accessible. You can go to the Westman Islands by ferry or by plane from Reykjavík Airport. Since the flights are not daily, the most logical option is to take the ferry. It departs from Landeyjahöfn on the south coast and sails to Heimaey in about 30/40 minutes. Depending on the season, there are 7 sailings per day. The ferry schedule can be found here and booking in advance is highly recommended.     The history of Vestmannaeyjar Vestmannaeyjar was best known for the eruption of the Eldfell, the volcano on Heimaey that erupted completely unexpectedly on January 23 1973, destroying a large part of the island. More than 400 houses were lost, but luckily just one person was killed. The lava flow even blocked the island’s harbor, isolating them completely. A large-scale rescue operation was launched to evacuate the islanders. The lava was cooled with seawater, the eruption lasted no less than 5 months. In some places in the landscape you can still feel the heat at this point. This eruption created a completely newly formed island, clearly visible during your visit. Interesting documentaries have been made about this eruption, which you can watch at the visitor center at Eldfell. The Volcano House in Reykjavík also showed this, but it is closed for the time being.   Want to know more about lava and volcanoes? Make sure to go on the Lava Caves & Volcano tour from Reykjavík.     The ferry crossing to the Westman Islands I start my day at Vestmannaeyjar with the ferry crossing to Heimaey. I booked this by phone last night to be sure of a spot. As mentioned, the weather is beautiful, so Heimaey is a popular destination today. I leave my rental car at the port of Landeyjahöfn because you don’t need it on the small island. Everything on Heimaey is within walking distance of each other. Although the weather is beautiful, it’s also very windy. To be on the safe side, I take a pill against seasickness and off we go!   Because it is quite clear, the Westman Islands are immediately in sight. The crossing takes only 30 minutes due to the favorable wind. The ferry floats into the harbor and I am immediately amazed at the beautiful rock formations. I scan the rocky coasts for puffins with my binoculars, but don’t spot them. Hopefully later today! The ferry moors and not much later I am at Heimaey.     Visiting Eldfell I start the day with a visit to Eldfell, the volcano on the east side of Heimaey that erupted in 1973. You can walk there from the harbor. First through the Elfellshraun, the lava field that is the “new island” formed by the eruption. I visit the Eldheimar Museum to get an impression of what happened here and then continue my way up to the 221 meter high summit of Eldfell. The climb is not really difficult, but you do need sturdy footwear. On the way I pass places where the heat still comes from the earth, which is quite bizarre!   Once on top I’m amazed by the landscape. One side is covered with a layer of bright green grass, the other side is made up of all kinds of red and orange you can imagine. And next to it is an immense black-colored lava field, a ‘hraun’ as it is called in Icelandic. Opposite me, the 5 meter higher volcano Helgafell peaks in the landscape.   After sitting on the top for a while, I descend back to the village for lunch. I settle down at Fiskibarrinn for a hot lunch that I enjoy quite a lot. Although it’s sunny, there’s a strong wind which makes it quite cold. Even in summer it is never really nice and warm in Iceland …     Wandering through Heimaey I’m strolling the streets of Heimaey. It is, to be fair, a little pretty village. About 4.000 people live there and although the island is beautiful, I can easily imagine that you can feel very isolated here, especially in winter and on rainy days. There is industry around the port and there seems to be little entertainment. Fortunately, I’m here for a walk and as soon as I reach the other side of the city, the steep coastal cliffs loom before me.     Hiking on the rough Westcoast From the campsite on the other side of Heimaey, a few hiking trails leave to the rocky coast. The trail that I follow is very steep and takes me up almost vertically. Stepping off the trail and falling is not an option. I hike up foot by foot up and finally arrive at the top of the ridge. From here I have a truly spectacular view of the sea and the coastline. The cliffs protrude almost vertically into the sea here and when I look down I feel dizzy. So I decide not to look down too much, but to focus on the horizon. I scour the rocks for puffins, but it’s actually not the right season. I spot a single one, but far away and not as close as pictures have led me to believe.   I follow a narrow path over the ridge with again steep cliffs and drop offs. The trail is clear but not suitable for people with a fear of heights. A mile further on I start my descent, which is much more gradual than the upward journey. I’m back in the village about thirty minutes before the ferry leaves. I enjoy one last look at Eldfell and Helgafell here and then board the ship. I would have liked to have stayed longer to explore the other hiking trails, but unfortunately that is not possible today. Who knows next time!     Staying op Heimaey Even though you can easily see most sights in one day, especially when you are not a hiker, there are a few overnight options on Heimaey. Most guesthouses are small, check prices and availability here. On the northern side of the island there’s a camp site, next to the golf course.   Tours to and on Heimaey There are some tours to and on Vestmannaeyjar, mostly in search of puffins and along the coastline. Make sure to visit the information center for the best possibilities on the day of your trip.   Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully you found this article helpful and gave you an idea of what to do at Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase via such a link, I may receive a modest commission for you at no extra cost.  

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hiking the laugavegur camping iceland

Laugavegur trail: this is what you should know

Did you know that the Laugavegur is the busiest street in Iceland? And that’s it’s right in the heart of Reykjavík? Do not worry, I’m not going to write about that particular Laugavegur today. I’ll be talking about the better Laugavegur, the the most amazing multi day hike in Iceland, as far as I’m concerned. You can do the Laugavegur trail in four days or you can do it in a couple of hours, if you participate in the annual Laugavegur ultra marathon. Today I’ll share my experience about hiking the Laugavegur trek with you. I’m sure that after finishing this read, you’ll want to go, too!   Please note this article was first published in June 2014 and updated in 2020   Why the trail is called Laugavegurinn The Laugavegur, Laugvegurinn in Icelandic, is a very popular trail. So why is it this trail called Laugavegur then, you may be wondering wondering. Well, it’s the busiest walking trail in Iceland, that’s why. As is the Laugavegur street in Reykjavík. OK, that’s not really true, because Laugavegur actually means “way of the hot pools”. However with our suggestions you should not worry, if you handle things wise you shouldn’t really have to be bothered by herds of other walkers at all. The pictures are the proof of that!   The Laugavegur hiking trail is 55 kilometer long and stretches from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk, both located in the Icelandic highlands. Both can easily be reached by bus from Reykjavík with Reykjavik Excursions. As I had already been to both places before two years earlier I decided to start my hike straight away after arriving from Reykjavík, instead of staying in Landmannalaugar for a day or two, like many others to. This is still well worth it though if you have the time since there are plenty of amazing hikes in Landmannalaugar.   Landmannalaugar is an incredibly scenic place. One like you have never seen anywhere else before. The surrounding rhyolite mountains are just gorgeous with all their shades of red and brown. In addition you can get lost in ancient lava fields and climb the blue mountain called Blahnukur. Yes, if you have some time to spare, make sure you will stay a bit longer in Landmannalaugar… if only for the hot pools that are great to warm up after a cold night in your tent. If you’re hiking the Laugavegur you will see a lot of Landmannalaugur but not even close to all.   I eventually ended up hiking the Laugavegur route in three days. Here’s the itinerary!     Day 1. Landmannalaugar – Hrafntinnusker (12 km) The distance of the first day’s hike isn’t too long but it will still take you about three to four hours, especially because you’ll be taking plenty of photographs along the way. Most of today’s hike is uphill. The first part of the hike takes you through Laugahraun, an old lava field offering excellent photo opportunities. Once you get out of the lava field, a stunning panorama will open up in front of you. You will get up close and personal with the rhyolite mountains here, the ones that Landmannalaugar is famous for.   From here, you will start to ascent the red mountain called Brennisteinsalda, or Sulphur Wave. This area is very geothermical, plumes of smoke raise from the ground in many places and the smell of rotten eggs is never far away. After reaching Brennisteinsalda you will have left most of the day hikers behind and the real fun can begin. From here, you will be climbing and descending various mountains. The views will become more and more awesome, especially once you are surrounded by nothing but mountains and plumes of smoke. It’s like you are in a completely different world, a world that cannot really exist.   Bear in mind that there is usually still quite some snow on the track. I was hiking the Laugavegur trail by mid-August when you would expect the snow to be gone, however there was still quite a lot of it left. Colored black in many places meaning snow from the previous year, when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted. This part of the trail can also be very treacherous when it’s poor weather. People have gotten lost and even died on in this section. Even though it’s clearly marked by poles, when poor weather you can’t even see the next marker. There for always carry a GPS to ensure you are still on the track.   Eventually you will start another sturdy climb and finally, after about 4 hours of trekking, you will have reached your place for the night: Hrafntinnusker. This place is simply stunning! There are mountains all over and it is very mystical. And… incredibly cold since you are at 1.070 m (500 m higher than at Landmannalaugar). They have built places to camp out of rocks and it’s wise to pitch up your tent between the layers of rocks, to protect you from the wind. It will be a very chilly night!     Day 2. Hrafntinnusker – Emstrur (28 km) This route is actually two days combined, Hrafntinnusker to Alfavatn (“swan lake”) and Alfavatn to Emstrur. The trail to Alfavatn will take you over the Hrafntinnusker plateau you spent the night on. It means going up and down and up and down, through the little valleys and over the mountains. As I said earlier, there was still quite a lot of snow left and in those valleys you had to be incredible careful because underneath there was usually a river flowing as a result of the warmer temperatures, meaning that the snow bridge could collapse any time.   After about two hours you will reach the end of the plateau and it’s time to descent to Alfavatn. The descent is pretty steep so be careful here and take your time. Once in the valley, you will have to wade through your first river. It’s a small one only so no need to worry just yet.   Alfavatn is a great place for an overnight or, in my case, a lunch break. From here, you will need to cross two more rivers until you get to the Hvangill hut. Here you will find another lava field and this marks the start of a black desert, called Mosar. It’s a couple of hours of more marching through nothing but black sand. Believe me, even knowing that you are in Iceland gets boring after a while. Especially when it also starts raining really bad…   You gradually climb to a ridge, only realizing the hut is nowhere to be seen yet and descending again into the next valley. This goes on and one until, eventually, you reach Emstrur, which is  another stunning place for camping.     Day 3. Emstrur to Thórsmörk (15 kilometer) Time to leave the black sand behind and hike onto Thórsmörk. The day begins with a steep descent into a valley needing some rope and crossing a footbridge. From here, you will get views of the stunning Krossárjökull (jöküll means glacier) in the distance.   After a few hours hiking over high hills and 360 degree panoramic views you will reach another ridge. Down in the valley below lies the Throngá river, the most difficult to cross on this trek. The water is usually muddy (unlike the other rivers you have crossed) so you will have to rely on people before you to have picked the best spot for your crossing as you won’t be able to see your feet. In my case, the water came way above the knee but I’ve heard stories of people being in waist deep.   After you have waded through Thrónga, you will gradually make your way into Thórsmörk, a very pretty and green valley. After another hour and a half, you can congratulate yourself: you’ve made it! My favorite place for camping is Langidalur, which is quite a bit further up into the valley. It doesn’t have many facilities but it’s much better than the crowded place at the hostel at Husadalur where everybody else stays. If you have more time, you can continue to Skogar from here or make some days walks. Thórsmörk is great for hiking but generally not for the faint hearted ones. I loved hiking there but crossing some really steep scree slopes was pretty nerve wrecking from time to time.           Is Laugavegur trail the best hike in Iceland? Yes, most definitely. Yes, it’s busy but so well worth it. So, what makes the Laugavegur trail the best hike in Iceland? I’d say its diversity! You walk from rhyolite mountains through lava fields and snow to black desert and eventually a green valley. You are surrounded by glaciers, wilderness and Icelandic loneliness. And yes, eventually you won’t be the only one but does that really matter?   As we promised I’ll give you some tips about how to make the trek as quiet as possible. Unless you go before or after the high season you will meet other people. It’s up to you what to do with it. Here’s some suggestions on how to avoid most people: – Most hikers stay in Landmannalaugar for a night and will depart the next morning. I started hiking the Laugavegur trail at about 2.00 pm and most hikers had already left by then, which was really good as I barely saw anyone else that afternoon, other than some day hikers. – Start early on the other days. By all means, everyone at the campsite wakes up at the same time and pretty much departs at the same time. If you wake up early, you may be able to beat the crowds. If you get into a crowd, just let them pass. Iceland is very photogenic; there will always be something to take a picture of. – Take your time walking. There is no need to rush because, unless you are doing the Laugavegur marathon, it’s not a race. Along the way there are plenty of things to see and admire, being on your campsite at 1.00 pm already is not necessary. Remember it’s light for 24 hours in the beginning of the summer so you can start early and stay up late! – Walk from Thórsmörk to Landmannalaugar. Most hikers do it the other way around, however not many go from South to North.   Some extra advice for hiking the Laugavegur trek: – Bring all your food as you can’t purchase any other than in Landmannalaugar or Thórsmörk. Over here, expect to pay almost double price so it’s wise stocking up in Reykjavik. – Check for bus times on the website of Reykjavik Excursions. – Bring wading shoes. I used Crocs (not very reliable since I lost them in a crossing) but Teva’s or running shoes would be better. I saw people going through the rivers barefoot, not a wise idea. – Always register at the huts to let the wardens know you have made it safe and sound. It’s for your own safety.   If I haven’t convinced you by now with my story and the pictures, I’m not sure how else I can make it clear. So just get out and do it and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!   Also read: the best Landmannalaugar hikes     Conclusion and disclaimer Since it’s already been a while since I hiked the Laugavegur trek I made an informative post only. Things may have changed in the mean while. Always inform locally about the latest changes and additions. If you feel that the information above is no longer correct, please feel free to drop me a message. This blog contains affiliate links. If you buy something via a link, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you!  

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Scandinavia trip planning

Scandinavia trip planning: which country should you go to?

If you have been to We12travel before, you may know that nordic destinations are my favorite places to travel. The definition of nordic destinations is of course quite broad, but with ‘nordic’ I mean the outer ends of this planet. In other words, Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska, but also Patagonia and New Zealand, which are not located in the north, but resemble northern destinations in nature. I’m not necessarily interested in the mountains (because you also have those in the Alps and Nepal, for example), but it’s more about the feeling that you get while there. The relaxed atmosphere, the wooden houses, the roughness of the landscape and the mostly cool temperatures. People who recognize it probably know what I mean.   Although the northern countries in Scandinavia may not be at the top of your bucket list, they are all definitely worth a visit. Each destination has its own charm and landscapes. In this article I list the countries of Scandinavia for you. If you are interested in going north, this article will certainly help you make your Scandinavia trip planning much easier.   Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave What are the Scandinavian countries?Your first time in Scandinavia: what to expectTravel in NorwayNorway highlights:Why Norway?My Norwegian favorites:Book your Norway tripTravel in swedenSweden highlightsWhy Sweden?My Swedish favoritesBook your Sweden tripTravel in FinlandFinland highlightsWhy Finland?My Finnish favoritesBook your Finland tripTravel in IcelandIceland highlightsWhy Iceland?My favoritesBook your Iceland tripTravel in DenmarkDenmark highlightsWhy Denmark?My favoritesBook your Denmark tripConclusion and disclaimer of Scandinavia trip planning What are the Scandinavian countries? A frequently heard term is Scandinavia, but what exactly is Scandinavia? According to Wikipedia, there is no exact definition of Scandinavia, but rather an area in the northern part of Europe. In addition, Wikipedia indicates three different ways in which Scandinavia can be interpreted. For this blog, I defined Scandinavia as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark.     I will tell you more about what you can expect from each country, what the highlights are and what the best travel period is. I have been to Scandinavia more than 30 times over the past decade and can tell you a lot about it. Enjoy reading!     Your first time in Scandinavia: what to expect First of all I will give you some general travel tips for Scandinavia that actually apply to all countries. Of course there are exceptions per country, but in general the following applies to all destinations.   – Take into account the midsummer night sun when traveling in the summer. The further north you go, the more daylight you will experience in the summer. From roughly the south of Norway to everything above, you’ll be in the light almost 24 hours a day in the summer. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you have trouble sleeping.   – The Scandinvavians are incredibly friendly and helpful. Even the older generation speaks English quite well and often restaurants have menus available in English. You won’t have to worry about a language barrier in Scandinavia!   – Driving is slow when you are on a road trip in Scandinavia. Around the big cities you will find four-lane highways, but most main roads in Scandinavia are two-lane roads with a speed limit of 80 to a maximum of 100 kilometers per hour. If you are unlucky you will be stuck behind a motorhome that refuses to divert and that may cause a lot of delay. So plan your driving times well, in Scandinavia you always take more time than planned for driving. The traffic fines are also extremely high compared to other countries in Europe, so make sure that you do not commit a violation.   – Pack warm clotes, even in the summer. For all countries goes it can be relatively cool, even in the middle of summer. Last summer I went to Sweden and Norway, and unfortunately I just regularly wore a fleece sweater and jeans, rather than shorts and t-shirts.   – With the exception of Finland, you pay everywhere with the crown (Kronur). Each country has its own Crown, which in terms of value are not really related to each other. Incidentally, it is completely normal that you pay with a credit card, so you’ll need cash in very few places.   – The Every Man’s Right (freedom camping) applies to campers in Norway, Sweden and Finland. In Finland and Sweden I have never really had trouble finding a suitable camping spot, in Norway I have had more difficulty with it, especially due to the increasing number of campervans. Many places that used to be available for camping are now marked with a ‘no camping’ sign. I have even heard that it is being considered to substantially decrease or even abandon the Every Man’s Right in in Norway, whether or not just for campervans.   – The price level in all countries is relatively high, especially in terms of food and overnight stays. For example, gasoline is everywhere (just a little) cheaper than in the rest of Europe, but eating out and doing healthy shopping is often more expensive than we are used to. The Scandinavian countries are certainly not a budget destination!     Travel in Norway Norway, together with Iceland, is probably the country that appeals most to those who wish to travel to Scandinavia. Fjords, waterfalls, trolls and vikings are typical Norwegian things you will encounter on your trip. From a landscape point of view, Norway is one of the most diverse countries I have ever been to. Although the fjords are best known, in the interior you will find beautiful high plains such as the Hardangervidda, glaciers, high mountains and deep valleys. Above the Arctic Circle you can spot whales as well as the Northern Lights and admire the very crowded Lofoten Islands.     I have been to Norway several times in the summer in the past years and it is very busy there. The best travel season in Norway is relatively short (June to August), which means that it can be quite busy at tourist spots in the summer. There are also many cruise ships along the fjord coast, which can turn a small fjord village into a tourist crowd in an instant.   This does not mean that you can’t easily avoid the crowds in Norway, provided that you look for unknown places such as Senja, the Åkrafjord and the vast hills towards the Swedish border east of Hamar for example.     Norway highlights: Below you’ll find some of the highlights of Norway. Very personal and certainly not complete, but useful if you are interested in a Norway trip:   – Fjord Norway (in particular the Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord when there are no cruise ships) – The Hardangervidda plateau – City trip in Bergen (possibly with a visit to the fjords) – The northern islands of Lofoten, Vesterålen and possibly Senja Island – The glaciers of Jostedalsbreen National Park and Folgefonna National Park   Why Norway? Stunning nature, delicious food, freedom camping (to a certain extent), whales and Northern Lights. Disappointments in Norway are the North Cape (very busy, I have heard of it because never bothered to go there) and the often rainy weather. I also found the Hardangerfjord less beautiful than expected. In addition, Norway really is the worst when it comes to high prices and is therefore not exactly a destination for budget travelers.   My Norwegian favorites: – Salmon. Salmon. Salmon. And again salmon. – The thrillers by author Jo Nesbø – Het Every Man’s Right (with restrictions) – The fjords – The most beautiful glaciers in Europe accessible over land   Want to read more? These are my favorite Norway blogs: – A summer vacation in Åkrafjorden, Norway – Biking in Norway: an amazing ride from fjord to fjell – The most amazing viewpoints in Fjord Norway   Or read all my Norway blogs and articles here.   Book your Norway trip Depending on when you are visiting, you should definitely book your trip well in advance in the high season. Accommodation is easily booked on Booking.com and go here to check the best rental car options.         Travel in sweden Although Sweden is not the most stunning Scandinavian country in terms of landscapes, it has captured a special place in my heart. So special that my partner (who has been to Sweden 25+ times ever since he was a little boy) and I have decided to buy a cottage here within a few years. It’s generally a lot more quiet with tourists in Sweden than in neighboring Norway, which makes it the ideal destination for a relaxed road trip in Scandinavia. In addition, as far as I’m concerned, Sweden is definitely a favorite when it comes to hiking. You can make beautiful multi-day hikes without running into many people.   My love for Sweden started with a city trip to Stockholm and gradually spread further and further across the country. I have now been to Sweden 10 times and I still can’t get enough of it. I literally traversed the country from south (Malmö) to north (Kiruna) by car, visited almost all provinces and learned some Swedish along the way.   In the south you will find mainly forests and lakes and a relatively flat landscape, from mid-Sweden the landscape becomes more hilly and eventually even mountainous in the far north and on the border with Norway. The coastline is also beautiful and I have been a huge Gothenburg fan for several years now, a worthy alternative to busy Stockholm.     Sweden highlights – Stockholm and Gothenburg – The Sånfjället and Fulufjället National Parks – Reindeer, moose and possibly bears – Arctic Sweden around Jokkmokk and Kvikkjokk – The islands off the coast near Stockholm and Gothenburg   Why Sweden? Sweden is super relaxed. It certainly does not have as many tourists as Norway and Iceland. It’s less busy, there’s fewer rules and less densely populated areas. Whereas in Norway you’ll always see a (holiday) cottage on almost every square kilometer, you can really drive for miles in Sweden without encountering anything. In addition, Sweden is easily accessible by car, via the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö. The places that disappointed me in Sweden were Skåne (too many meadows), Kiruna and the busy spots in Stockholm in recent years.   My Swedish favorites – Swedish tv crime series (especially The Killing, Midnight Sun and Arne Dahl) – Swedish thrillers (especially Camilla Läckberg, Lars Kepler, Henning Mankell) – Daim chocolate – Cinnamon buns and fika (coffee with something tasty) – The Every Man’s Right – Drive on the E45 – the road to the north – A winter holiday in Sweden – Hiking the Kungsleden (King’s Trail)   Want to read more? These are my favorite Sweden blogs: – Hiking the Kungsleden Trail: a true Nordic adventure – Hiking and camping in the Swedish wilderness – 5 Really cool outdoor things to do in Småland   Or read all my Sweden articles here.   Book your Sweden trip Depending on when you are visiting, you should definitely book your trip well in advance in the high season. Accommodation is easily booked on Booking.com and go here to check the best rental car options.         Travel in Finland Finland is a destination that I prefer to visit in the winter. It is the best destination within Europe to go on dog sledding adventure in the winter, view the Northern Lights and immerse yourself in a total ‘winter wonderland’. I have now visited Finland four times (summer, autumn, winter) and although I like forests, I did not find the Finnish landscape very varied for a summer trip. After a few days of driving through forests and past lakes I’d seen enough.   I truly think Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a wonderful city. There is plenty to see and do, but it is still relatively quiet compared to…

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travel tips for iceland blue lagoon iceland

5 Reasons why not to visit the Blue Lagoon

When suggesting to visit Iceland to my friend Sandra, she said she would tag along under one condition: we had to visit the Blue Lagoon. Immediately my eyes started rolling and I thought: “why?” I’d been there before already and ever since had heard many stories about the increasing crowds. Her answer was “because whenever you see/hear something about Iceland, The Blue Lagoon is mentioned.” And so we went to Iceland and The Blue Lagoon…   This post about why not to visit The Blue Lagoon isn’t written with the purpose of keeping you away from it. However, I’m a little tired of reading just how great The Blue Lagoon is, while many people fail to mention any of my five reasons. I want to give you, my readers, an honest and realistic blogpost about my experience at The Blue Lagoon and more important: what to expect of it. After reading all of it (yes, please continue all the way down to the bottom) I’m sure you will be able to decide for yourself if you should or should not visit The Blue Lagoon…     Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave The priceThere are many other thermal poolsThe crowdThe fact that you have to book itThe queueThe water is blue!Staff is friendlyYou can take your camera (and selfie stick!)It’s warmYou just cannot go to Iceland without entering The Blue LagoonWhere to stay near the Blue LagoonPlan your trip to IcelandConclusion and disclaimer The price The moment I purchased a ticket for the Blue Lagoon, was a moment with a lot of pain in my heart. Did I really just spend € 45 on a ticket to get into some hot water pool? Yes, I did … Although everyone has to decide for themselves whether you want to spend this amount of money on bathing in thermal water, I think the entrance fee for The Blue Lagoon is outrageous. To give you an idea: just outside of downtown Reykjavik, next to the city campsite,  there’s a swimmingpool where they have various open air hot baths. The entrance fee is about 5 euros and you get to stay as long as you want…   Note that the entrance rate for 2020 starts at € 66 per person, but these are the end of the day rates so you won’t be able to stay long. Generally, admission throughout the day will be around € 85 so that means it has almost doubled over the past four years since I first wrote this article.   There are many other thermal pools Iceland is filled with thermal pools. Apart from the swimmingpool in Reykjavík, I’ve been to various other ones, such as the hot stream at the Reykjadalur area and the hot pools in Landmannalaugar. Just outside of Reykjavík, near the lighthouse at Grótta, is a small thermal bath as well. It can only fit 3-4 people but you have the most amazing view of the bay and the city. And you know what … all of those are entirely free!   Alternatively, if you just want to bathe in hot water that is not as blue, you can visit the Secret Lagoon instead but it must be booked in advance as well.   Also read: the best free alternatives to the Blue Lagoon     The crowd Unless you are either super early or extremely lucky, you can forget about having the pool for yourself and being able to take a romantic picture with your lover in the bright blue water. While we were in Iceland sometime mid-June (not even extremely high season) The Blue Lagoon was full. And I mean FULL with tons of people. Tourists from all over the globe such as large groups of Asians sticking together, families with crying children, backpackers drinking too much beer… you get my point, right? Even though it wasn’t as busy as I expected, it still was way too crowded for my taste.   The fact that you have to book it My first time at Blue Lagoon was back in early 2006 on our way back home from New York. We made a short stopover on Iceland and thought it would be fun to visit The Blue Lagoon, which turned out to be no trouble at all to arrange the same day on the spot. Nowadays it’s essential that you book your visit selecting a date and time you are expecting to arrive. Bye bye flexibility.   You can book your visit ahead here.   The queue Although we booked tickets for a certain time slot, we still had to queue. And I’m not talking five minutes here, I’m talking about at least 45 minutes. We had just arrived by plane and should have known it would be a busy hour, however as we pre-booked it, we expected that there wouldn’t be a line. Staff were explaining that people were staying inside longer than usual and there for they could not allow more people inside. Needless to say, it really pissed us off because we booked ahead of time with a reason: we still needed to drive to Hella for the night and had arranged an hour of arrival with the owner of the property we were staying at. So we had to shorten our planned time at Blue Lagoon and could eventually only stay 1.5 hours. Needless to say I wasn’t happy about it.   Below you will find a short 15 second video that gives you an impression of my time at The Blue Lagoon. As our time was a bit shorter than planned, I decided to not spend too much of my time on taking pictures but instead just enjoy being there…     Ofcourse, it’s not all negative.  As I was bathing in the blue water and trying to relax while sipping from a drink, the sun shortly peeked through the clouds and I loved being there. So in addition to the things I mentioned above, here are my five reasons why you definitely have to go to The Blue Lagoon, if only once in your life:   The water is blue! Did I mention that the water is blue? I meant that the water is extremely blue. Not the kind of blue you will see in the Caribbean or Thailand, but some kind of light turquoise blue, like ink from a pen mixed with milk. You won’t experience this somewhere else in the world, at least not to my knowlegde, which makes it a pretty unique experience.   Staff is friendly Whatever I said about the queueing, The Blue Lagoon staff remained super helpful and friendly. They offered the guests waiting in the queue icecreams and water and they were always available to answer questions and explain the situation. When we had additional questions, they were very helpful and they spoke in perfect English. Thumbs up for the staff!   You can take your camera (and selfie stick!) As opposed to some other tourist attractions in the world, you are allowed to bring your own camera including a selfie stick into The Blue Lagoon. You can take it with you into the water (be careful though) and take as many pictures as you want. There was free wifi in many parts of the swimming area so I got to upload them to Facebook and Instagram straight away, making my friends back home jealous that they were still working while I was bathing …   It’s warm Weather is generally cool (or rather: cold) in Iceland. Believe me, unless you are some kind of lucky bastard, you will be experience being very cold in Iceland. Warming up in the hot waters of The Blue Lagoon and the ongoing memory of that will definitely help you to keep warm during your time in Iceland. So if you plan to go: do it before you are visiting the rest of Iceland and you won’t be sorry!   You just cannot go to Iceland without entering The Blue Lagoon Did I just say that? Yes, I did! Going to Iceland without going to The Blue Lagoon would be the same as going to New York City without going to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s just not done. You will forever regret if you travel all the way to Iceland without experiencing the Blue Lagoon, including the crowds. So just go … for the sake of it!     Are you still going to visit The Blue Lagoon after reading this post? I sure hope you will! If you have been, do you agree with my opinion? I’m curious! Be sure to also read my post with the best free nature baths in Iceland! They will make sure you’ll save a lot of money! Also make sure to check out this article with more pro’s and cons for visiting the Blue Lagoon.   Where to stay near the Blue Lagoon Most visitors to the Blue Lagoon will choose to stay in Reykjavík which is an excellent choice as the Blue Lagoon is right on the way from the international airport to the city. I can truly recommend staying The Marina Hotel which is right across the harbourside and offers amazing views over the water and the mountains in the distance. Alternatively, check all possible accommodation for Reykjavík here. In case your flight is out early the next day, you may want to overnight near Keflavík airport, check all possibilities here! Iceland is popular and after my 11th visit to this amazing country in July 2019 I can’t stress enough that booking ahead is smart since everyone wants to visit this amazing country. Feel free to reach out in case you may have any questions!   Plan your trip to Iceland Going to Iceland? Awesome, you will not be disappointed, I promise. These will help you to plan your trip to Iceland: – Order your copy of the Lonely Planet Iceland guidebook here. – Check flight prices and schedules from anywhere in the world on Skyscanner – Go here for the best hotel options near The Blue Lagoon. – Check and compare rental car rates for Iceland here   Conclusion and disclaimer Whether you should go or not is completely up to you. I wanted to go again in 2019 but when I saw the giant increase in price I figured it wouldn’t be worth it and so I went to other hot springs instead.   This blog contains affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission if you decide to book and/or purchase anything through this website, ofcourse without any extra cost to you. Thank you for considering!  

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