This Sunday Icelanders will celebrate Fisherman’s Sunday – a day especially dedicated to fishermen in Iceland. Seaman’s Sunday has been celebrated since 1938 to honor the hard work and sacrifices of the Icelandic fisherman.
Seaman’s Sunday is celebrated in fishing towns all over Iceland with sea-related entertainment for the whole family. In a way this is a fun reason for everyone to come together and remember the importance and impact that the fishing industry has had on the Icelandic culture.
In Reykjavík the festival “Festival of the sea” will be held in the old harbor area from Harpa to Grandagarður (West Harbor). The festival reflects traditional Icelandic culture and the nation’s long-standing dependence on fishing. There will be a diverse program starting with an opening ceremony by the old harbor on Saturday morning. Guests can enjoy sailing and sea swimming, there will of course be various entertainment for children at all ages like pier fishing, face painting and even a fun play area will be made from recycled material from the sea and nature for the youngest. There will be a parade from Harpa music hall to Grandi area and the coast guard ship Óðinn will be welcoming visitors to explore the ship where crew members of the ship will be welcoming guests, telling stories of their stay on board.
Various restaurants along the harbor and in Grandagarður will take part in the festivities and some of them will have special offers.
SKÝ Restaurant & Bar, located at CenterHotel Arnarhvoll has an incredible view over Harpa and the old harbour, will of course honor Fisherman’s day by offering guests a special offer on Fish & Chips and beer for only 2.900 kr. all day Sunday. SKÝ Restaurant & Bar also offers happy hour between 16-18.
If you are staying in Reykjavik for few days, you might want to take a day (or two) of travel in the countryside close to the city. Iceland is full of breathtaking landscape and the wonderful thing is that you don’t need to go very far to explore them.
The south of Iceland is extremely rich in astonishing and dreamy landscapes. It has to be one of the reason why the popular Golden Circle features several points of interest in that region! Geysers, waterfalls, glacier, geothermal rivers, volcanoes and many more natural wonders. If you feel a little bit more adventurous and wouldn’t mind some exercise, then this experience is for you!
Only 45 km away from Reykjavik, there is a small town called Hveragerði. They call themselves the hot springs capital of the world, or the earthquake town; you can see where this is going! The town is situated in the geothermal area of the Hengill Volcano; still active, but its last explosion is going back to more than 2,000 years ago. Such volcano activity is not dangerous but means several geothermal mud pools, hot springs and thermal rivers!
Reykjadalur Valley, which is approximately 5 minutes driving from Hveragerði, is one of the popular stops in the Hengill area. The name of the breathtaking valley translates to “Steamy Valley”, which will make sense once you see the numerous fumaroles decorating the landscape.
The access is very easy to find and there is a parking lot and a small coffee place near the entrance of the trail.
The hike itself is not very hard; it’s 3 km long (6km back and forth) with plenty of photo stops on the way. It lasts between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half depending on the experience of the hikers. In general, there are few steep paths and several flat ones. The quality of the trail is quite great, but of course one needs to be careful in nature; muddy in warmer period, icy in colder ones. Also, the trail could be impressive for someone uncomfortable with heights. As you can see on the picture, the landscapes are quite impressive and the trail follows the top of some hills.
The best and most rewarding part of this hike is reaching the hot springs. You will know when you are getting close as the sulfur smell gets more intense and steam pops out of the ground and from the mud pools. Those are extremely hot, it is dangerous to leave the path to get closer. Once you get to the geothermal river, there are some wooden paths that have been installed to facilitate your safety and also protect the surrounding nature; please use them.
After changing behind the panels installed, you jump in the warm river and feel the tickles eating your toes and enjoy! If going during the weekend, there are more people, but it is a lot more quiet on weekdays. The higher up the stream you go, the warmer the water is.
The trail is open all year long and we highly suggest to do it during winter time. The contrast between the warmth and the cold makes the hot springs even more welcoming. Not only this, but the snow and the cold creates a white paradise that brings you on another planet for few hours. When the light of the afternoon hits the top of the hills and colours the snow with an orange and pink light, the feelings is indescribable. The pictures speak for themselves.
What you will need for a perfect hike:
– Hiking boots OR sports shoes
– Bottle of water
– Warm unders
– Warm coat
– Gloves, hat, neck warmer
– Extra pants (if you are cold when coming out of the hot springs)
– Extra socks
– Something to take pictures (you probably thought of that one already…)
– A trash bag (please make sure to take all of your trash with you when you leave)
– Beer (Why not enjoying your time in the hot springs a little?)
Iceland and Icelanders are known for soaking in hot springs and warm geothermal pools. But Ocean swimming, not as much.
As you can understand, swimming in whichever conditions is part of the wonderfully curious Icelandic culture. It is not rare to see Icelanders on their daily (or weekly) visit to the public pool, enjoying the hot tub and dipping into the cold tub after coming out of the steamy sauna, and this all year long!
So taking a cold dip is a popular Nordic tradition. The Finnish and the Russians enjoy an ice cold ocean dip after coming out of the steamy sauna. The same applies to Icelanders, but don’t forget the Víking factor… They live more intensely!after Moving back and forth from steamy saunas or hot pools into the the cold ocean.
So it is not uncommon to see Icelandic locals go dipping into the ice cold ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean! Even now, in January with ocean temperatures as low as 4°C (39.2°F). Oh, those Viking genes…
The most common place to go ocean swimming in Reykjavik is Nauthólsvík beach (www.nautholsvik.is/en/), a geothermal beach not so far from the center of Reykjavik. It is open all year long and can be very busy during warm summer days. During the winter, obviously, you won’t find many people sunbathing… But definitely, the ice cold dipping as become more popular over the last years. In the winter season, there is a small fee of 650 Kr. for the access to the locker room, steam bath and most importantly, the geothermal hot tub.
When going for the first time, it is recommended to stay NO MORE than 30 to 60 seconds in the ice cold water. Remember that it can be quite a shocking experience for your body! The idea is evidently to use as little clothes as possible, as if you would go swim normally, in a pool. Hence, no wet suit! There is no “Ice cold swimming police”, but understand that you get the benefits (and the fun) from it by getting cold. Granting all this, they recommend using special shoes in order to avoid being hurt by the rocks dotting the ocean floor. The shoes are available there and cost about 15$.
With practice, some of the experienced swimmers are able to stay in the ice cold water for up to 15 minutes. On average, people stay 5 minutes, and it is more than enough, believe me! Regardless of the amount of time in the water, it is absolutely necessary to move around and make the blood circulate throughout the body. The prickling and numbness in the extremities and on the skin is completely natural and the muscles will start to contract, normal as well!
Many Icelanders believe in the many benefits of the activity on their health condition. Take Haukur Bergsteinsson, for example, an eighty-two years old man swearing by cold ocean swims for good health. When interviewed by MBL in April 2017, he said “I’m going to keep swimming, the feeling is just indescribable. For me, it is definitely unmissable!”
Some studies even showed that getting your body used to very cold water on a regular basis can help with the blood circulation (increasing the level of white blood cells), to boost your immune system, to bring your endorphins higher and reducing stress. Overall, including this exercise in your routine assures a happier, healthier and more energized life, according to Icelanders!! Well being and energy; this is what the ice cold water from the North Atlantic Ocean can provide you with! Don’t think about it too much, just do it!
What makes it great, is the whole experience. Coming out of the water is extremely fulfilling and cold doesn’t seem so bitter anymore. Yet, it is nothing compared to the warmth feeling filling up your heart when jumping in the 38°C hot tub. The fizzing feeling on the whole body brings back alive some body parts you thought you might have left in the ocean… It feels like your body melts a little bit and as if the system reboots from the inside. It can be very addictive… You are warned now!
DO NOT TRY ocean swimming just anywhere in Iceland as waves can be EXTREMELY STRONG and it can be VERY DANGEROUS!
Nonetheless, by trying this experience in Nathólsvík, you get to enjoy your viking experience AND then award yourself by with a dip in a warm geothermal pool! Oh, and Nauthólsvík also sells coffee and snacks to warm you up after the adventure! Not bad, not bad at all!
Superheroes, brave soldiers, furry cats, teddy bears, Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Tinker Bell, rubber ducks, cowboys, dinosaurs, the ninja turtles and many others can be seen around Reykjavik.
You may not have noticed them..yet..but if you pay close attention you will find little tiny toys glued to signposts, windows, rooftops, shop’s ensigns, all around downtown Reykjavik! And one thing is sure, once you see one, you pass the point of no return; you will start noticing them everywhere!
So now you must think: WHY AM I SEEING LITTLE TOYS ALL AROUND TOWN?
Dótadreifarinn, which translates into the Toy Spreader, is an anonymous someone who has been spreading these toys around town and no one knows who it is..kind of like the Icelandic Banksy. The toys seem to all have the following things in common; small in size, has at least one flat surface, can stick easily to anything with glue, since they are all placed in some very difficult to reach spots.
But why, you say? We do not have the answer, unfortunately… Maybe because Iceland is one of the few country without a military force and the Toy Spreader is trying this as a solution? Jokes apart, it remains a mystery who the Toy spreader is and weather he/she works alone or with partners, if he is still in operation! Is it maybe the work of elves? I personally prefer to imagine tiny elves laughing… Your choice eh!
Take a stroll around town and see if you can find some yourself. And welcome some friends to join! Just pay attention next time you walk in the downtown area of Reykjavik, you will see them. Here’s a little help…(keep in mind they may have changed places)
So, rather you start looking for them or just accidentally see one waving at you on your way to work, don’t forget to enjoy this little piece of simplicity and joy the Toy Spreader is gently offering to the citizen and visitors of Reykjavik!
When you think about hot springs in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is more then likely to be what pops into your mind. Well for a reason, it is the most famous geothermal lagoon in Iceland and it’s incredibly cool and worth the visit…if it’s in your budget.
With entry fee starting at 6990 ISK / 55€, it may not be in everyone’s budget to visit this famous lagoon. So we’ve decided to come up with a list of less expensive alternatives.
LOCAL SWIMMING POOLS
Visiting a local thermal pool is a quintessential thing to do while on a family vacation in Iceland. Many of them offer water slides and shallow pools for kids and variety of hot tubs and steam baths for adults. A great and affordable alternative for those on a quick family stopover in Reykjavík or on a road trip around Iceland with the family.
Laugardalslaug is Iceland’s largest thermal pool and the most popular amongst travellers.
It is located in Laugardalur valley, only a quick bus ride away from downtown Reykjavík and has a large outdoor pool, outdoor children’s pool and paddling pool, water slides, numerous hot tubs and a steam bath. The entry fee is 980 ISK. for adults, 160 ISK. for children 6-17 years old and free for children younger than 6.
After your soak it’s important to stop by the hot dog stand located outside the swimming pool because having an Icelandic hot dog is a crucial part of the whole Icelandic pool experience.
Álftanes peninsula, a suburb of Reykjavik has an impressive local swimming pool, a whole lot of fun for kids. It has two large hot tubs, a kiddie pool, Iceland’s biggest waterslide and a wave pool (the only one of it’s kind in Iceland).
After playing and soaking in Álftanes pool we suggest you stop by Bessastaðir, the official residence of the President of Iceland, also located at Álftanes peninsula.
A small pool in close vicinity of downtown Reykjavik. The pool is one of the older once in Reykjavik and is popular amongst downtown locals. It’s a no frills swimming pool without slides or a fancy wave pool but just a nice and friendly local pool with great hot tubs, sauna and a steam room.
NATURAL HOT SPRINGS AND LAGOONS
Experience the magical feeling of floating in a natural hot spring in the beautiful Icelandic nature without spending a fortune.
This remote pool was built in 1923 and is Iceland’s oldest man made pool. It is located close to the famous Eyjafjallajökull and the hot water comes from a natural hot spring near by. There is no entrance fee but there is a donation box where you can leave some money to ensure the pool’s upkeep.
Approx 1.5 hour from Reykjavík on Snæfellsnes peninsula you will find (if you look very carefully) a small hot spring called Landbrotalaug. The reason it’s not easy to find is because it’s tiny and only fits 2-3 people max at a time. It is worth the visit though, especially with a loved one as there is just something majestic about Snæfellsnes and soaking in this cozy little hot spring in the middle of the Icelandic wilderness. There is no entry fee but be prepared that there are no changing facilities at the location.
A geothermal beach located in Reykjavík. On the beach you will find a man-made lagoon where hot water is pumped into so seawater and hot geothermal water mix so you can comfortably splash away. There is no entry fees to use the lagoon or other facilities at the beach which is also equipped with a large hot tub, steam-bath, changing facilities and showers.
Reykjadalur / Steam Valley
A popular hiking trail located 45 minutes from Reykjavík city. It’s located on a geothermal area and the valley is filled with hot springs and mud pools. It is a beautiful and scenic hike and once you reach a certain point you will find a warm stream that runs down the center of the valley that you can bathe in. The higher up you go the warmer the water gets. A great place to rest your muscles after a good hike, and maybe have a beverage or two. Just make sure to pick up your empty bottles and garbage before heading back down.
The Secret Lagoon is a geothermal area near the small town of Flúdir. It was formed in 1891, making it one of the oldest geothermal pools in Iceland. Today the pool area has all the modern facilities that a modern person may need, however the lagoon has been kept to stay natural and unique and the pool’s natural surroundings and steam rising into the air gives the place a magical feeling. The fee to enter the Secret Lagoon is 2800 ISK for adults and free for children under 14.
Let’s not forget how vulnerable our nature is so let’s treat the land with respect by sticking to the beaten paths and not leaving our garbage behind.
Get ready for the most happening Saturdays of the year in Reykjavik this Saturday, August 18th.
This Saturday we celebrate the birthday day of Reykjavík city and it brings almost a third of the entire population of Iceland onto the streets to celebrate.
The day starts with Reykjavík Marathon which kicks off at 9:00 on Lækjargata, downtown Reykjavik. Following the marathon, Reykjavik Culture Night will take place with a long program of cultural events throughout the rest of the day and night. The events take place all throughout the city, on the streets and squares, in art exhibitions and in peoples backyards. You will come across art, food and live music events all through central Reykjavík. The public parking lot at Hverfisgata 20 will be turned into an LA style lounge top bar, there will be a Hip Hop festival on Ingólfstorg square and DJ Margeir (one of the countries most popular DJ’s) will host his yearly Karnival party on the corner of Hverfisgata and Klapparstígur.
The event peaks with a concert by Arnarhóll at 20:00 and ends with a ‘not to be missed’ fireworks show over Harpa and the old harbour at 23:00.
For those who would like to observe the festivities from a comfortable distance, SKÝ Restaurant & Bar, located at Centerhotel Arnarhvoll has an incredible view over Harpa and the old harbor.
Keep in mind that most streets in and around downtown Reykjavik will be blocked off, but who wants to leave the city during the cities greatest celebration of the year.
The first weekend in August, just a regular weekend for you perhaps, but for Icelanders this is our biggest festival weekend of the year and the most travelled one. We call it Verslunarmannahelgi or (Labor Day Weekend), a three day long weekend that many people use to get out of town to different camp sights around the country, many of which offer outside festivals with live music and entertainment for the whole family.
Some popular festivals held on this big party weekend are Þjóðhátíð í eyjum held in Westman Islands, Ein með Öllu in Akureyri, Mýrarboltinn in Bolungarvík and Innipúkinn in Reykjavík to name just a few.
Þjóðhátíð – Westman Islands
The biggest festival of the weekend and an event that many look forward to all year round is Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum. It starts on Thursday and ends on Monday and is held in the Westman Islands. With a population of barely 4.000 inhabitants, the population of the island rises to 16.000 during Þjóðhátíð.
It is a long fun filled weekend with all sorts of entertainment, two music stages, big Sunday night bonfire and firework show. People gather in the valley in their ‘lopapeysa’ (Icelandic wool sweater) and sing along to classic songs, both in Icelandic and English.
Ein með Öllu – Akureyri
A family festival held in Akureyri (the capital of the north). You can expect the city to be full of live with entertainment for the whole family, concerts and a firework show on Sunday night.
Mýrarboltinn – Bolungarvík
Mýrarboltinn or ‘Swamp soccer’ is a popular football match held in Bolungarvík in the North West fjords of Iceland. The match takes place on a mud covered field so get ready to get mud filthy. Everyone can sign up for the match and in addition to the football there is live music and party throughout the weekend.
Innipúkinn – Reykjavík
Will you be in Reykjavík for the weekend? Don’t worry..there is a music festival held in Reykjavík as well called Innipúkinn.
Innipúkinn is a small indoor music festival held in Reykjavík on Labor Day weekend at music venues like Húrra and Gaukur á Stöng both located in down town Reykjavík. You can see the line up and purchase festival tickets here.
Many Icelanders often plan this weekend or their camping location according to the weather forecast because who wants to set up camp in pouring rain.
Icelandic summer may not be the warmest or sunniest but that doesn’t stop Icelanders from celebrating it in various ways.
There are tons of festivals, big and small, held throughout the country every summer. The bigger once you may have heard of but the smaller local festivals probably not, but they can be just as fun. It’s a good opportunity to meet and mingle with the locals of the town.
The list of summer festivals is long but here you can learn about a few of our favorites.
Fisherman’s Sunday, held the first Sunday in June to celebrate and honor the hard work and sacrifices of the Icelandic fisherman and importance that the fishing industry has had on the Icelandic culture. Each town has a celebration by the harbour with sea related entertainment for the whole family.
The Secret Solstice Music Festival takes place in Reykjavik over the summer solstice during the brightest part of the year. With over 150 acts both local and international, performing on several stages this festival has become one of the biggest music festivals in Iceland.
A BBQ festival held in Selfoss, a town in the south of Iceland, with the focus on Icelandic meat and barbecuing. In addition to the presentation of Icelandic food there is an impressive program for the whole family from morning until night.
An Irish festival held in Akranes, a port town located on the West coast of Iceland. The town was supposedly settled by the Irish in the 9th century so every July, the town celebrates so-called Irish days to commemorate their Irish heritage and celebrate the summer at the same time. It’s a family festival with Irish themed entertainment from morning until night.
FJARÐARBYGGÐIN HIKING WEEK
This is one of Iceland’s biggest outdoor recreation events held in Fjarðarbyggð located in the East fjords of Iceland. It is 8 days of entertainment and organised activities to suit the entire family which spans from family walks to historical walks and even to challenges for hiking mountaineers, as well as categories in between.
A metal festival held in Neskaupstaður a quaint little town located on the Norðfjörður fjord on the Eastern coast of Iceland. Eistnaflug is held annually on the second weekend of July each year.
A fun annual music festival held the last weekend of July in Borgarfjörður Eystri which is located in East Iceland about 70 km from Egilsstaðir. The line up is usually mostly local bands. Most people camp and many bring their whole family.
VERSLUNARMANNAHELGIN / LABOR DAY WEEKEND
The first weekend of August is the Icelandic Labour Day weekend, a three day long weekend and the most travelled weekend in Iceland. Icelanders pack their camp gear and wool sweaters and flock out of town to set up camp at various festival sights around the country. The main festivals are Þjóðhátíð in the Vestman Islands, Neistnaflug in Neskaupsstaður and Innipúkinn in Reykjavík to name a few.
FISKIDAGURINN MIKLI / THE GREAT FISH DAY
An annual festival held in North Iceland in a town called Dalvík, held the first or the second Saturday in August. Fish producers invite guests to a sea food buffet between 11:00 and 17:00 at the harbour in Dalvík. The reason for this generous offer is to get as many people as possible together to taste fish and enjoy a good day in Dalvík. In the evening there is a big concert down by the harbour.
Gaeran, which means lambskin rug, is a music festival held in Mid-August in the northern part of Iceland, in the town of Sauðárkrókur. The festival focuses on offering a wide variety of genres, from folk to rap and everything in between.
Another annual event held in Reykjavík on the Saturday on or around August 18th, the anniversary date of Reykjavík city. It is by far the biggest celebration in Reykjavík and brings almost a third of the entire population of Iceland onto the streets to celebrate with music, arts and more.
Are you here for a quick stopover? There is plenty you can do, see and experience in Iceland in just a couple of days as you can see in this example of how to spend two days in Iceland.
Start the day by going on the Golden Circle tour, one of the more popular day trips from Reykjavík and for a reason. On the tour you will visit three of Iceland’s most captivating sights, the world-famous Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss- the queen of Icelandic waterfalls and Thingvellir National Park. The driving distance is approximately 220 kilometres and the entire tour takes 8 hours.
After seeing three of Iceland’s natural wonders it’s time for dinner. Sky Restaurant & Bar is located on the 8th floor of CenterHotel Arnarhvoll and offers a spectacular view over the bay and Harpa Music Hall, great food, cocktails and a versatile group menu. And the best part is that CenterHotel guests receive a 10% discount of the à la carte menu.
Now if you have energy left we suggest you check out the Reykjavík nightlife. There are tons of bars, pubs and clubs in Reykjavík and they are all located within short walking distance from each other making bar hopping easy. You can even take a Pub Crawl tour for only 2.500 kr. which offers a guided tour of the Icelandic nightlife AND discounted drinks. Can’t beat that!
Depending on how long you stayed out pub crawling we suggest spending your second day going on either a Glacier Adventure tour or a more relaxing but scenic tour of the South Coast.
The Glacier Adventure tour takes you on a snowmobiling adventure on top of Mýrdalsjökull glacier where you enjoy the beautiful view over South of Iceland, one of the most scenic part of the country.
If you want to experience this beautiful part of the country without the glacier/snowmobiling part then you can take the South Shore Adventure tour, a scenic drive along Iceland’s south coast. Along the way you will see the gorgeous Skógafoss waterfall and Seljalandsfoss waterfall which you can actually walk behind. Then you will stop at Reynisfjara black sand beach, one of the most spectacular beaches in Iceland and visit the charming village of Vík surrounded by beautiful bird cliffs.
After a full day of sightseeing you must be hungry so let’s end the day at Ísafold Restaurant, a cozy and romantic restaurant located at CenterHotel Þingholt with outstanding food and high-quality Icelandic ingredients.
Here we are again, anxiously waiting to cheer on “our boys” (as we like to call our men’s national football team) when they compete against football giants like Argentina in the FIFA World Cup 2018 that starts next week. HUH! (viking sheer)
Two years ago we watched the Icelandic team successfully reach the quarter-finals in the Euro Cup 2016, beating huge football nations like England. Being the total underdog and making it so far; the team along with their dentist coach became one of the most talked about teams of the tournament. Their indomitable team spirit and enthusiasm and of course the infamous viking cheer; made the Icelandic team a new favorite of many in the world. HUH!
The next challenge for the team was to qualify for the World Cup finals. Surely they did just that by winning their group outright, proving that their success at the Euro was no fluke. Being the smallest nation ever to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals makes this a remarkable achievement for a nation so small. HUH!
So here we are, 7 days away from the World Cup kick off on Thursday, June 14th and 10 days away from Iceland’s first match against Argentina on June 16th. The second match of the group is against Nigeria on June 22nd and the final game on June 26th against Croatia. If you happen to be in Iceland during these matches get ready for some craziness. All bars, restaurants and many other places will most likely be broadcasting the matches and you will hear screaming and cheering and hopefully Icelandic people celebrating until the wee hours of the night. HUH!
You might as well join in on the festivities and celebrate with us. Centertainment will be hosting World Cup events at both CenterHotel Plaza and CenterHotel Miðgarður, where all the World Cup matches will be broadcasted, offering Happy Hour prices on drinks and other fun bar specials. See more on the events here.
So, next Saturday let’s all cheer for the underdogs when Iceland meets Argentina and hope that Iceland will beat the odds once again!