Icelandic Christmas Fun and Traditions

Posted on Categories Christmas, Culture, Food, Holidays, Iceland, TraditionTags ,

We LOVE our Christmas traditions in Iceland and most families hold onto them very tightly. 

Advent and the Christmas spirit

It will certainly not go unnoticed when Christmas season in Iceland begins as it becomes a 6 week party for all of your senses.
The season starts for most when Advent begins which is the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas. This is when you see Christmas lights and decorations pop up everywhere, you will hear the sound of Christmas music and get a whiff of gingerbread cookies and mandarins wherever you go. The stores become busier and public places generally more lively.  So in other words this is when you start to see, smell, hear and feel the spirit of Christmas everywhere around you.

 

The 13 Santa Clauses or Yule lads

Originating from Old Icelandic folklore there are 13 mischievous pranksters that live in a cave in the mountains and in modern days these lads have somehow become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus. Each Yule lad has their specific idiosyncrasy and will behave in a particular manner. For example Pot Licker steals leftovers out of pots, Door slammer likes to slam doors, especially during the night, and Skyrgámur has an affinity for skyr (Icelandic version of Greek yogurt).

But they’re not just bad, because starting 13 days before Christmas they come to town, one each night, and leave a treat in children’s shoes (or a rotten potato, depending on how the child behaved the preceding day). This is why children place their favourite shoe in their bedroom windowsill each evening starting 13 days before Christmas and of course try to be on their best behaviour in order to get a nice treat from Santa. If you’re a well behaved CenterHotel’s guest; you may even receive a little surprise treat from Santa ;).

 

Fun time for the whole family

This is the season for kids after all so what really sets the Christmas tone in Reykjavík is the Christmas ice skating plaza, located at Ingólfstorg square, across from CenterHotel Plaza. You can rent ice skates for 1.190 ISK and enjoy food, drinks and other goods while getting into the Christmas spirit.  The ice rink is open every day until December 24 from 12:00-22:00.

Another fun Christmas activity for the whole family would be to visit the Christmas market in Heiðmörk, a  woodland located on the outskirts of Reykjavík.  You will find vendors selling handcrafted Icelandic goods, you can grab coffee or hot chocolate and of course Santa has been seen walking around greeting visitors. The Christmas village is open every Saturday and Sunday in December until Christmas. Get directions here. 

Harpa concert hall has many Christmas concerts during this time of year and the theatres around town are busy with performances of all sorts every day.

There will also be fun happenings and Christmas related music events at CenterHotels in the month of December so you can be sure to get in the Christmas spirit if staying with us. See our Centertainment schedule here. 

White Christmas and Northern Lights

Who doesn’t wish for white Christmas?  Well if you’re in Iceland you’re in luck because your chances of getting white Christmas here are a lot better than in many other places.
Your chances of seeing the northern Lights are also a reality since December is the darkest month of the year in Iceland. To view the Northern Lights in all their glory it’s best to be slightly away from the city lights so you might want to consider joining a guided tour.

 

Food & Drinks 

Again, most Icelanders hold tightly onto their Christmas traditions and certainly no less when it comes to food, with recipes being handed down generations. The Christmas meal is the most special meal of the year so we go ALL OUT.  Most families stick to the same meal every Christmas although this has changed in the last few decades.

The most common and traditional Christmas meal is smoked lamb or ‘Hangikjöt’ served with bechamel sauce, potatoes, peas and pickled red cabbage. This has been a Christmas classic for centuries.
Other popular Icelandic Christmas foods are Glazed rack of ham or ‘Hamborgarhryggur‘ which is traditionally a Danish meal or Ptarmigan ‘Rjúpa‘ which is a member of the grouse family and most people will serve it with caramelised potatoes, and of course pickled red cabbage.

Baking is also a big part of Icelandic Christmas like in many other cultures and most families will bake few sorts of cookies but one baking tradition is especially important to Icelanders and sticks out from other cultures and that is the baking of Leaf Bread or ‘Laufabrauð‘. Sometimes called ‘snowflake bread’ Leaf bread is a crispy thin cake, decorated with leaf-like geometric patterns and fried briefly in hot oil or fat and served with Christmas dinner.

We also have our traditional Christmas drinks, like Jólaöl which is a mixture of local non alcoholic Malt drink and orange soda and Jólaglögg or Mulled Wine, a spiced and usually alcoholic drink that is served warm and then of course we have a variety of Icelandic Christmas beer that are brewed only for the holiday season. Going Christmas beer tasting has become a fun part of the Icelandic holiday tradition in recent years. We suggest you visit the hotel bar and try some delicious Christmas beers.


If you are visiting Reykjavík for the holidays, we recommend booking a table at a restaurant in advance for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve as not nearly all restaurants are open those days and the once that are open book up quickly.  Most restaurants also offer a set holiday menu that are usually a more festive version of their normal menu.
All our three hotel Restaurants will be open those days and you can view our holiday menus here.

Have fun in Reykjavik in December!

Will you be spending the holidays in Reykjavik?

Posted on Categories Christmas, Culture, Food, Holidays, Iceland, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

Spending Christmas in Reykjavík?

Most Icelanders hold tightly onto their Christmas traditions and certainly no less when it comes to food, with recipes being handed down generations. The Christmas meal is the most special meal of the year so we go ALL OUT. Most families stick to the same meal every Christmas although this has changed in the last few decades.

If you are so lucky to be visiting Reykjavík for the holidays, we recommend booking a table at a restaurant in advance for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve as not nearly all restaurants are open those days and the once that are open book up quickly.  Most restaurants that are open for these nights offer a set holiday menu which are usually a more festive version of their normal menu.
All our three hotel Restaurants will be open those days and you can view our holiday menus and make your reservations here below:

SKÝ Restaurant & Bar

SKÝ Restaurant & Bar is located on the top floor of CenterHotel Arnarhvoll and offers a spectacular view over down town Reykjavík and the mountain range beyond the Faxaflói bay.SKÝ Holiday Menus

Ísafold Restaurant

Ísafold Restaurant is located at CenterHotel Thingholt and offers delicious food and fine drinks. Ísafold takes pride in offering guests tentative service and quality food which is locally sourced. The suppliers are handpicked by the head chef.Ísafold Holiday Menus

Jörgensen Kitchen & Bar

Jörgensen Kitchen & Bar is a casual dining Nordic fusion restaurant located in Centerhotel Midgardur. Jörgensen Kitchen & Bar specializes in offering a taste of traditional Icelandic cooking mixed up with modern and international flair. The outcome is delightful.Jörgensen Holiday Menus

Icelandic Turf houses

Posted on Categories Culture, Design, history, Iceland, Museums, TraditionTags , , , , ,

Have you ever wonder how an isolated community, living in harsh conditions, without an easy access to construction goods build their homes?

 

Turf Houses are an integral part of the Nordic culture of Iceland. Although similar architectural tradition has been seen in other Nordic regions such as Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Great Plains of North America throughout time, Icelanders used this technique for a considerable amount of time – from the 9th to the 20th century! The historic records show that up until the 19th century, 50% of the Icelandic population was still living in turf houses, the last inhabitants left their traditional houses around 1966. Coming from the arrival of the Norse and the British settlers, during the top of the Viking Age, those houses needing a lot of maintenance were then replaced by more modern buildings.

 

Abundant, ecological and renewable, turf became the choice for shelter constructions in Iceland. The choice of this material had more than one benefit and this is due to the climate condition of the country. The wooden layer (mostly timber), the turf grass and the stacks of earth was giving a natural isolation from the strong winds and difficult weather of the beautiful land. The foundation were mostly made of large flat stones and would always feature an impressive fire pit as the center of the building. Humidity, which can be very hard to bare with, was then gently eliminated from the turf houses.

 

During the 1000 years that turf houses were used, their style changed significantly. For example, during the 14th century, the long viking houses were changed into many small interconnected houses.

 

In the 18th century, the burstabær style became more popular with wooden extremities (at the back and at the front) instead of having only the wooden door. This style has been adopted and are the ones that we are still able to see and visit nowadays. With this technique, depending on the region and its climate condition, turf walls could last between 20 and 70 years!

 

With time, the population started to cluster in bigger cities like Reykjavik and let behind the traditional technique of stone masonry and earthen architecture and moved to wood buildings. Only after several earthquakes and fires flattening the city, Icelanders switched to a safer and stronger building material; concrete and steel. Interesting enough, at the beginning of the 20th century when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, the turf houses were endangered considering that, for some, the traditional technique was too related to the Danish crown and pressure was put to move onto a more modern style of building. However, the Turf House Tradition of Iceland was nominated at the UNESCO World Heritage in 2011 in order to conserve this original, charming and valuable tradition. You could read on the nomination that “The turf house is an exceptional example of a vernacular architectural tradition, which has survive in Iceland. The form and design of the turf house is an expression of the cultural values of the society and has adapted to the social and technological changes that took place through the centuries.”

 

You can visit those Icelandic treasures in several parts of the island. Amongst many worthwhile sites, the fairy-tale looking church, Hofskirkja turf church, should be on the top of your list. Although it is pretty recent, constructed in 1884 and heavily restored in the 1950´s, it is the only turf building still being used for its initial purpose. Hence, it is impossible to see inside of the small turf church, by respect of the practicants, but the graveyard is open to the public and gives an incredible view on the tiny dreamy edifice.

 

Most of the turf houses now belongs to the National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands). The historical Keldur site is believed to be the oldest turf house site that survived through time in Iceland. Located in South Iceland, shortly over an hour and a half driving from Reykjavik, it is believed to be in place since the middle age. Because of its natural components and the harsh weather of the land, turf houses are not known for lasting very long without conservation. Hence, this site was restored after the two earthquakes respectively in 1896 and 1912. Throughout the years, many conservation interventions occurred and some of the element where rebuild and refurbished, mainly in 1985, 1994 and 2000.

 

If you have some spare time, you should definitely visit a turf house; it fits very well in a conversation!!

Icelandic Music Scene & Venues

Posted on Categories Events, Festivals, Iceland, Music, our-hotels, ReykjavikTags , , , , , ,

 

Photo by Sigurður Ástgeirsson https://www.flickr.com/photos/icelandairwaves/26332376329/in/album-72157669883815597/

The Icelandic music scene is thriving and has been for years. You probably heard about the big names such as Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Rós, Emilíana Torrini, Kaleo, and of course Björk! Although, there are many more Icelandic artists to discover and adopt! You can find many different venues and events, here in Reykjavik, to discover what the local talent has to offer! This article will help you chose the perfect spot for you to enjoy! Also, find at the end of the article some insights about CenterHotels off-venue concerts for the popular Iceland Airwaves Festival!!!

 

Punk Museum (Bankastræti 2, 101 Reykjavík)

Located in what was previously a public toilet, the Punk Museum opened its door in 2016. Dedicated to honour the Nordicpunk scene of the late 70’s to the early 90’s, this tiny museum is not lacking in personality! The host, Álfur, an original punk, will kindly present the different reliques from the area; posters, vinyls. instruments, clothes, pictures, name it! Interesting visit to do in Reykjavik to understand from where came several known artist of  the Icelandic musical scene, such as Björk and The Sugarcubes.

 

 

Kaffi Vínyl (Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík)

Kaffi Vinyl is located on the new upcoming trendy street of Hverfisgata. They claim to be the first “Vegetarian Only” resto-bar in Reykjavik and for that matter, offer an appetizing selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Not only they excel in dreamy veggie food, but they also offer an impressive wine selection and on top of all, vinyl records and music prestations!

You really can’t miss it! With windows from one edge to the other, Kaffi Vinyl offers a very chic atmosphere, but mostly an excellent view for the ones passing by! Once you receive a feel of what is happening inside of the Kaffi Vinyl, you can’t help yourself but to enter and have a seat. Pouring an excellent vibe with records playing the whole day, the hip urban style of the bistro is clearly enhanced by the incredible record collection that the owner Ymir (DJ Sir Dance A-Lot) has been collecting through 40 years; and available for you to acquire! You can also catch live music performance on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and other special events! From Dj sets to live indie rock bands, passing by live jazzy jamming, the chic and welcoming atmosphere of Kaffi Vinyl will know how to charm you.     

 

Húrra (Tryggvagata 22, 101 Reykjavík)

Near the old harbour, Húrra is a casual bar and concert venue in downtown Reykjavík. Metal fans know this is the place to be for a good concert. People enjoying electronic music, jazz, rock and burlesque shows will also find what they’re looking for. They even organize karaoke nights! They mostly welcome major locals bands and Djs during the weekend and always host great Jazz nights on Mondays! Known for its dark, yet hipping atmosphere, the cultural elite and hipsters visit this place frequently knowing they’ll find a good ambiance, a groovy feel as well as good prices of a large selection of tap beer and extended happy hour until 10 PM!

Overall, this bar full of surprises offers bands playing a more alternative and out of the box music. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and it’s a good place to meet new people.

If you enter Húrra and see mostly men’s clothes, then you’re in the wrong place! There is also a clothing store called Húrra Reykjavik selling mostly men’s clothing!

 

Mengi (Óðinsgata 2, 101 Reykjavík)

Mengi is a small concert venue and art center located on Óðinsgata operated, created and managed by artists. Their focal point is experimental, contemporary and classical music. You can go there for live music, performances, art, exhibitions and conferences. It’s a meeting ground for creative minds, and often shows hosted at Mengi are an amalgam of different genres and art forms. Mengi also runs a recording studio, record label and record store.

 

Harpa (Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík)

Harpa is a large concert hall and conference center housing the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the offices of the Icelandic Opera, who also perform there. It has four concert halls, and meeting rooms for groups of all sizes. It’s a popular venue for classical performances, but Harpa also hosts all kinds of live concerts, art exhibitions and theater shows. Located on Reykjavík’s coastline, it is an impressive landmark with a beautiful light show in winter.

 

Gaukurinn (Tryggvagata 22, 101 Reykjavík)

Gaukurinn is an inclusive bar, welcoming people from all walks of life. Go here for rock and roll, electronic and pop concerts, drag shows, poetry nights, pub quizzes, karaoke, and stand-up comedy. Their program reflects their general motto of celebrating diversity and ensuring a friendly and open space for everyone. And if you’re hungry, you can grab delicious vegan junk food at Veganæs, a small joint serving burgers and more inside Gaukurinn until 21:00 on all days except Monday.

 

12 Tónar (Skólavörðustígur 15, 101 Reykjavík)

12 Tónar is a small record store that has so much to offer! You can expect not only an impressive knowledge from the friendly, cultured staff and, but you can also enjoy a coffee while browsing through their diverse selection of music, magazines, rock litterature and discover some art exhibitions. Opened in 1998, they have been producing growing locals artists and bigger figures of the music scene.

They released, since 2003, more than 70 albums of different musical genres and have been licensed also in Japan, US and South Korea!  Every now and then, the special record store also hosts concerts, especially during the summer, when their charming garden turns into the ideal venue for all kind of music!

Not surprising that the store has been made the Number Two record store you must see before you die by BuzzFeed! “While it might not be impressive in size, it is incredibly influential and serves as a meeting place for musicians like Björk and Sigur Rós. PSSSST.. Also, Björk is a fan of this place!  

 

Airwaves (more than 15 different venues)

Half way between North America and Europe, the Iceland Airwaves Festival has been bringing together the most northern emerging local talents and established progressive international artists in a diverse selection of venues around Reykjavik. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the 4 days and nights festival starts officially on Wednesday the 7th of November until the 10th.  

This year, the festival will host more than 240 acts from 25 different countries in 15 official venues. Within the official venues you will find, amongst others, Gaukurinn, Húrra, and Harpa.

For those who want to participate in the music festivity but do not wish to purchase the festival pass, you can also find some amazing off-venue concerts. CenterHotels is a proud partner of the Iceland Airwaves and will host three off venue concerts this year at Ísafold Restaurant, Jörgensen Kitchen and Ský Restaurant & Bar. See our Off-Venue Schedule and Line-Up here. 

Come by and enjoy some good Icelandic music and fun bar offers.

ICELANDIC BEER

Posted on Categories Beer, Food, history, Iceland, ReykjavikTags , , ,

In Iceland, surprisingly, beer was prohibited during most part of the 20th Century. Once the precious beverage was made legal again, it became the most popular beverage amongst locals, and let’s be honest… amongst travellers.

 

Beer always had an important place in the hearts of Icelanders, no wonders since many locals had their own brewing equipment at home during the 19th Century! Nowadays, the Icelandic beer brewing industry is prospering rapidly and several new breweries focusing on craftsmanship beers started their operations offering the widest selection of local beers Iceland ever had! The deliciousness of the Icelandic beers is not only due to the use of their pure and high quality water but also to their ingenuity and rigor.

 

In recent years, the beer market has flourished to give the drinkers an extended possibility of choices. Rather you are a beer lover or not, here are some beers you should definitely try before leaving this dreamy northern island. Some microbreweries, such as Ægisgarður are even offering tours allowing visitors to understand the process of beer making and taste many different products!

 

During the second World War when the British invaded Iceland in 1940, many soldiers thought that an important element was missing to their life… Beer! This is the reason why, Ölgerðin Brewery was allowed, only during that period, to produce beer for the British Navy. You can still find this beer until today under its original name; the Polar Beer. For the time being, beer consumption continued to be illegal for Icelanders and remained in that state until the close end of the 20th Century!

 

You would think that Icelanders went on high beer production after 1989, when the cherished beverage finally made its way back into the northern country. Surprisingly, up until very recently, very few breweries were producing a certain variety of beers, mainly pale lagers and lagers. The two major breweries are Ölgerðin Brewery and Vífilfell.  Amongst many beer produced, you should try the Ölgerðin classics; Egils Gull, Egils Premium and Egils Sterkur. Oh! And don’t forget to try Vífilfell’s classics for the second round; the Viking Classic (Vienna style beer with a touch of caramel and roasted malt in the taste), the Viking Sumaröl (belgian style summer beer spiced with coriander and orange peel), Viking Páskabjór (Most popular Dunkel beer in Iceland with rusty tones and flavors of coffee, chocolate and caramel) and Thule.

 

In recent years, many smaller, creative breweries got inspired from popular beers around the world. One is the beer Bríó, which won several prizes for their distinct taste obtained by adding German hops and Pilsen Malt in their recipe. Once you try its sweet perfume, it is hard to let it go.

 

Lastly, you shouldn’t leave Iceland without trying the fruit of the first microbrewery that opened in 2006; Arskógssandur, getting inspired by Czech traditional ways to brew. Kaldi, their pilsner beer offers dry and fresh taste with flavours of roasted barley and hops. In the same family, the Kaldi Dark beer is fermented with burnt malt, giving an additional dark colour, intense flavours and winning the hearts of the icelanders! You should definitely visit their Kaldi bar in the middle of Reykjavik, making it easier for you to taste more than one of their treasures!  

 

Here is a list of others beers worth your time and money:

Lava (Black Ale): Like wine, it ages very well and reaches its optimal taste quality after 3 years in a cold storage! It won many championships, mainly the “United States Open Beer Championship” and is now also available in North America.

Einstök Beers: White Ale, Pale Ale, Toasted Porter, DoppelBock etc. The Einstöck brewery offers a great selection of beers for all tastes and it is most likely to find them in the UK and the USA. A question of keep the travel alsting a little bit longer!

Borg Brugghús Beers: Úlfur (Indian-styled Pale Ale), NR 8.2 Surtur and NR 8.4 Surtur (imperial stouts with respectively vanilla and oaky aromas and liquorice, dark chocolate and coffee aromas) and Leifur Nr. 32 (Belgian White with arctic thyme and heaters flavours).

Skál (Cheers)!!

THE FARMERS BEST FRIEND – THE ICELANDIC SHEEPDOG

Posted on Categories Animals, IcelandTags , , , ,

When Iceland was first settled back in the 9th century, the only native land mammal was the Arctic Fox which came to the island at the end of the ice age. Other domestic breeds were brought here by settlers and due to the geographic isolation, most of the breeds have remained unchanged since. The Icelandic horse is a well known example of this and other animals include the Icelandic sheep, cattle, chicken, goat and of course the farmers best friend, the Icelandic sheepdog.

This prick eared and curled tailed furry creature first came to Iceland with the Nordic Vikings, the original settlers of Iceland.
In terrain like in Iceland, the breed developed flexibility, strength, patience, as well as independence. With those attributes along with being easily trainable, the dog became an excellent herder of sheep and other domestic animals and with it’s loud woof woof they also made great guard dogs and protected the lamb from predators like eagles.

Today, along with being the farmers favorite little helper and a great household pet; the Icelandic sheepdog has also been trained for variety of jobs, like avalanche tracking and field searches. 

Fun fact:

During the medieval times the Icelandic sheepdog was quite a popular export, particularly to Britain, and not only for sheep farmers but also as pets for British elites. In the play Hinrik V. by William Shakespeare, the Icelandic dog is actually mentioned.

What makes Iceland’s three National Parks so special

Posted on Categories Iceland, ToursTags , , , ,

Most people that have been to Iceland can agree that Iceland is a country of extraordinary nature and unique landscape. But what makes Iceland’s three National Parks: Þingvellir, Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull stick out from other areas of the country?

 

Þingvellir National Park:

Located only 40 km northeast of Reykjavík, Þingvellir – literally “Parliament Plains” is the location of the oldest parliaments in the world, Alþingi, established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798.
Þingvellir also lies in a rift valley caused by the separation of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates and nowhere else can you see the edges of both plates as clearly as in Þingvellir.
Some of the rifts are full of clear water, and one of them called Silfra has become a popular snorkelling and diving spot. It is a once in a lifetime experience where you get to dive between the two continental plates.
Þingvellir has been “a protected national shrine” since 1930 and is held in high regards by all Icelanders. Lake Þingvellir (Þingvallavatn) located alongside the National park adds onto the areas picturesque beauty and it’s the perfect stop to catch some great photos. Þingvellir National park is one of the three stops on the popular Golden Circle tour.

 

Vatnajökull National Park

Is a protected wilderness area in South Iceland and Iceland’s largest national park and Europe’s second largest. What makes the park so unique is mostly it’s dramatic landscape. The park circles around Europe’s largest glacier Vatnajökull glacier, with a surface area of 8.100 km2 and also includes Jökulsárlón, a picturesque glacial lagoon with icebergs, and Svartifoss and Dettifoss waterfalls. Skaftafell is the gateway to the park with a visitor center, campground and hiking trails. From there are short and easy trails that lead to Svartifoss waterfall and Skaftafellsjökull glacier. Vatnajökull has many smaller glaciers stemming from it like Breiðarmerkurjökull, which ends at the popular glacial lagoon, Jökulsárlón. There are several tour companies that operate in Skaftafell that offer guided tours and hikes in and around the National park.

 

Snæfellsjökull National Park

Is the country’s youngest national park and only park in Iceland that is situated at the coast.
As with the other National Parks, it is protected due to its extraordinary landscape and natural diversity. It features sites like the mystical glacier Snæfellsjökull, an inactive volcano that is actually visible from Reykjavík on a clear day. Snæfellsjökull volcano was made famous in 1984 by Jules Verne in his popular science fiction book ‘Journey to the center of the Earth’ as the featured volcano in the story.
Djúpalónssandur or the black Lava Pearl Beach is located in Snæfellsnes park. There you will find peculiar rock formations, one which has a large hole in the middle and by looking through it you will see Snæfellsjökull..great place to stop and take a photo.
Mineral springs can be found at various places, such as at the farm Ölkelda and at Lýsuhóll, which has a thermal pool with naturally-carbonated water. Learn more about Snæfellsnes peninsula in our previous blog: “Explore the majestic Snæfellsnes Peninsula”.

Thermal pools and hot springs in Iceland without breaking the bank

Posted on Categories Activities, IcelandTags , , ,

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

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.

 

ÁLFTANESLAUG

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.

 

Vesturbæjarlaug

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.

 

Seljavallalaug

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.

 

Landbrotalaug

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.

 

Nauthólsvík beach

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.

 

Secret Lagoon

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.  

Enjoy!

Reykjavik celebrates it’s birthday

Posted on Categories Activities, Culture, Events, Iceland, Music, ReykjavikTags , ,

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.

Verslunarmannahelgin, the Icelandic Labor Day Weekend

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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.

Happy Verslunarmannahelgin!