Icelandic Furry Friends

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When Iceland was first settled, back in the 9th century, the only native land mammal was the Arctic Fox. They came to the island at the end of the ice age, when frozen water was connecting Iceland with North America. The settlers were the ones bringing all the other Icelandic domestic breeds. 

Due to the island’s geographic isolation, most of the breeds have remained unchanged since. The Icelandic horse is a well-known example of this and of course the farmers best friend, the Icelandic sheepdog.   

These both amiable and furry creatures first came to Iceland with the Nordic Vikings, the original settlers of Iceland. 


The Icelandic Sheepdog

In terrain like in Iceland, the breed developed flexibility, strength, patience, as well as independence. Additionally, with being easily trainable, the dog became an excellent herder of sheep and other domestic animals. Also, with its loud bark, they made great guard dogs and protected the lamb from predators like eagles.

Today, not only he is the farmers’ favorite little helper and a great household pet. The Icelandic sheepdog is also helping in a variety of jobs, like avalanche tracking and field searches.


The Icelandic Horse

Like all the other non-native mammals, Nordic settlers brought the first horses on the island. More precisely, coming from British Isles between 860 and 935 AD. Known for being easy-going and friendly, the Icelandic horse is famous for its welcoming and nurturing temperament.

They are exactly like their country, little but strong! Their muscular silhouette,  shaggy fur, and small height (140 cm) typify them. Normally, we consider most horse breeds that are shorter than 147 cm as ponies. That being said, you can ask any Icelander, the answer will be the same; they are not ponies, they are horses!

While other horse breeds may perform 3 or 4 gaits (ways of walking), this Nordic beauty has the ability to perform 5. The Tölt and the Pace are the additional gaits to the common Walk, Trot, and Gallop.

The Icelandic horses have marked a lot the history of their island. Worldwide, they are known for being loyal, pleasant and strong creatures. Doubtlessly, they are popular for their camaraderie and comfortable ride.


Fun fact:

During medieval times, the Icelandic sheepdog was quite popular amongst the British.   Not only for sheep farmers but also as pets for elites. William Shakespeare even mentioned the Icelandic dog in his popular play Henry V.

Icelanders are very protective of their horse breed. First of all, authorities do not allow any other horse breed to enter the country, and this since 982 AD. Nonetheless, any Icelandic horse leaving Iceland is not allowed to enter back in either! Hence, there are more Icelandic horses living outside of Iceland then in.


Running beneath the Northern Lights

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

How about having a bit of fun while getting good and refreshing exercise in the cold Reykjavík winter air during your visit in the capital? Who knows, you might even become lucky enough to see the Northern Lights while running? How can you top that? On Saturday, February 4th at 7 pm you will have a chance to do all that when the Winter Fun Run takes place.
The Fun Run starts at Harpa concert hall and meanders around the city stopping at several fun stations such as Hallgrímskirkja church, Reykjavik Art Museum and the City Hall. At each station there will be music and lights to entertain and dazzle the runners and of course those who prefer to enjoy the run slowly and walk through it.
The Northern Lights Fun Run is a part of the Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival and the Reykjavík International Games. Everyone can take part or watch and cheer on the participants. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday in the city.

To join the run or to get a bit more information about it please click here.

Husband’s Day

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

Today is a special day in Iceland – a day we call Bóndadagur which is directly translated as Husband’s day. On Husband’s day wifes and girlfriends usually take a time to pamper their men to make the day as special for them as possible.
Bóndadagur is also the beginning of an extra special month which is the old Icelandic month of Þorri and during Þorri Icelanders celebrate with winter festivals that includes eating traditional Icelandic food that was quite popular or should we say a necessity in the old days -but today it’s more of a fun thing to do and only enjoyed during the month of Þorri by most Icelanders.
The delicatess served and enjoyed during Þorri consists of dried fish, sour blood and liver pudding, smoked lamb and soured meat products along with ram testicles. All of this is enjoyed with a glass or two of traditional Icelandic Brennivín – Yummy, right?
Back to Bóndadagur or Husband’s day – since we know that not everyone is to enthusiastic for trying the old Icelandic delicatess but would like enjoy the old tradition of Bóndadagur and make the day as special for husbands and boyfriends, we have just the solution since the chef’s at our restaurants are ready with the most delicious menus specifically made for all the husbands out there – no ram testicles – we promise.
So, if you’re hungry and would like a special treat in terms of gourmet food and drinks tonight check these two restaurants out: and 

Icelandic Yule Lads at CenterHotels

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

Iceland, being a strange little Island far away from other countries has of course evolved it’s own Santa Clause, and not only one but thirteen in total.

13 nights before Christmas the Yule Lads come to town one by one from the mountains, where they live with their scary and ugly parents, the trolls, Grýla and Leppalúði.

Little children put their shoe on the windowsill and the Yule Lads leave them a small gift if they have been nice or a potato if they have been naughty.

The stories of the Yule Lads come from folklore where they were described as pranksters who stole from people and in other ways harassed them. They all have descriptive names that convey their character, person or the food that they like to eat; like Skyrgobbler, Door Slammer, Sausage Swiper and Bowl Licker.

Why not try it and put your finest shoe on the windowsill and see what happens? We know for a fact that all the guests at CenterHotels have been quite good these past days since they’ve been getting little treats from the Yule Lads. The gifts have been waiting for them on the door knob bright and early in the morning – with love from the thirteen little pranksters….

Get your skates on!

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We know that December has arrived when looking out the window of CenterHotel Plaza and seeing Ingólfstorg – the main square in the old city center.  A magical ice skating ring has been placed in the middle of the square.  The ring is open for everybody to try with free admission – skates and helmets are available at a moderate price.

The ice is surrounded by a small Christmas village where guests can buy tempting refreshments. Get some exercise and have fun skating around listening to Christmas songs.

The ice skating rink will be open every day from 12:00 – 22:00 until January 1.

Wall Poetry

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

Have you noticed the colorful murals on some of the buildings in the center of Reykjavík?  They are called Wall Poetry and are part of a special project in connection with the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2016 and 2015.

Street artists and musicians were paired up to collaborate and produce these works of art, which are interpretations of songs by the musicians. 

Take a walk around town and enjoy the wonderful wall poetry.

A map of locations and a list of the artists involved can be found here

Iceland Airwaves taking over Reykjavík

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

One of the best Icelandic music festivals, Iceland Airwaves, starts this Wednesday and the festivities will go on until late on Sunday.

The festival takes place at different and interesting venues such as Harpa concert hall, Reykjavík Art Museum, The Independent Church and several bars and clubs in Reykjavík city center. The line-up includes all the most popular Icelandic bands, for example Björk and Of Monsters and Men, as well as many bands from Europe and the USA.

For those who can‘t snag a ticket to the festival there are plenty of off-venue concerts going on around town at cafés, restaurants, banks, book stores, cinemas, hot dog stands and even at some of our hotels.

Enjoy the music!

More information and off-venue schedule here

Fancy a bit of sculptor in your life?

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

Ásmundarsafn museum is dedicated to the works of one of Iceland’s most beloved sculptors, Ásmundur Sveinsson. The house was mostly designed and built by the sculptor himself and he used to live, work and display his art there.

Ásmundur believed that art should not only be for a small elite but for all people to see and enjoy therefore his sculptures can be seen in many different places around Reykjavík. He donated his house and many of his sculptures to the city after he died in the 1980s. The garden around the museum is full of his art work and can be explored free of charge.

For more information, see here

Swimming for everyone

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

Going to the swimming pool is one of Icelanders‘ favorite pastimes. People do not go to the swimming pool just to swim but also to relax and meet other people. Most pools have hot tubs and a steam bath and often a water slide or two for the children. There are more than a 100 swimming pools in Iceland, most of them are outside and open all year long.

There‘s nothing better than sitting in a hot tub in the middle of winter, chatting to a good friend, snowflakes melting in your hair.

Find the nearest swimming pool and take a dip. You won‘t regret it.

For more information about swimming pools in Iceland see here 

Give Peace a Chance

Posted on Categories IcelandTags

Last night Yoko Ono, artist and widow of John Lennon, lit the Imagine Peace Tower in Viðey island, a small island off the coast of Reykjavík.

The Peace Tower is a great column of light projected from a white stone monument that has the words Imagine Peace written on it in 24 languages. Every year since 2007 the tower has been lit on Lennon‘s birthday, October 9 and lights up the night sky until the day of his death, December 8.

It is possible to sail to the island and get a closer look at the memorial every night at 20:00.

See more information here

Photo from #visitreykjavik