Hot Spring Wonders

Posted on Categories Activities, Iceland, Nature, WinterTags , , , , , , , , , ,

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
  • – Swimsuit
  • – Towel
  • – 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…)
  • – Snacks
  • – 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?)
  • – Happiness
  • – Your smile!

 

If you would like to know more about other warm bathing options, in nature or not, I invite you to read another of our blog: https://www.centerhotels.com/2018/09/06/pools-and-hot-springs/

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)!!