Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Most Romantic Places in Iceland - Travel around Iceland

What are the most romantic places in Iceland and what makes one place more romantic than the other? See our list of top 3 most romantic places in Iceland.

When Iceland is filled with stunning landscapes it may be hard to choose where to go for a romantic destination. It doesn't come as a surprise that many couples choose to come to Iceland to get married. But which place to choose for a romantic weekend? Following is a list of our top 3 romantic locations in Iceland, all easily reached from Reykjavík.

Thorsmork valley 

Þórsmörk is my top romantic destination. Obviously it's the company that makes every location romantic but it helps to be surrounded by stunning views. Experiencing the midnight sun here is something that will stay with you forever.

This green valley is filled with beautiful rock formations, mountains, rivers and great hiking paths for every level. You can choose to sleep in Skagfjörðsskáli hut, Básar hut or you can bring your own tent and nestle in a small clearing. Thorsmork is known for having slightly better weather than its surroundings - but even if it rains, it just makes it cosy and romantic listening to the drops on the roof of your tent.

Þórsmörk's beauty is mentioned in the story of Burnt Njal (Brennu-Njáls saga). Gunnar, a famous and strong Viking, had been outlawed. As he was riding out of Þórsmörk he looked back and said that the hill was so beautiful that he would not leave. And still today, when you go to Þórsmörk, you'll never want to leave.

Snaefellsnes peninsula

Snæfellsjökull is the glacier that crowns the end of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Surrounding it is a national park, filled with birdlife, hiking treks and small fishing villages. Between Arnarstapi and Hellnar is a beautiful and easy hiking trek (less than an hour) and a nice little café by the seaside in Hellnar.

In the small village Rif, you can find a café called Gamla Rif that serves one of the best seafood soups I've ever had. You'll surely find it, just ask the locals.

But trekking up to the top of Snæfellsjökull glacier in the middle of the summer and standing on top of the glacier, looking towards Reykjavík on one side and over Breiðafjörður on the other in twilight of different shades of pink, orange, golden and purple is ideal for lovebirds. Even better if you remember to bring a bottle of hot chocolate and a blanket with you.

Reykjadalur valley

Reykjadalur is a valley just outside of Reykjavík. Through it runs a warm river. It's warm all year round so you could possibly go there in the wintertime and sit in hot water whilst watching the Northern Lights. (Basically any hot tub/river/hot spring is the most romantic place on earth if you have the Northern Lights putting on a private dance above you!) Nevertheless, I'd rather recommend going there in the summer. It's quite popular so chances are you won't be there on your own. If you go mid-week and overnight you might be in luck.

My advice: Firstly book a table at Fjöruborðið (At the Seashore) for the best langoustine you will possibly ever have. They are busy for a reason, make sure you reserve a table. The restaurant is situated in Stokkseyri, a short drive from Hveragerði where the hike starts to Reykjadalur. Then you can hike up to Reykjadalur in the evening (don't worry, it doesn't get dark in summertime!), bring a tent, sleeping bags (that you can zip up together!), a bottle of wine and maybe even some chocolate. Try to find a suitable place to camp on the banks of the river. Then enjoy a glass of wine with your loved one whilst sitting in warm water underneath the midnight sun. Just remember not to make a mess and clean up any leftovers of food or drinks. The following day you can jog down to Hveragerði for breakfast.

Abril 2014

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Car Rental Iceland - Price Comparison Summer 2014

Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore the island (it’s tough to beat hitch hiking) but it doesn’t have to blow your budget. With public transportation being almost non-existent outside of the larger cities, like Reykjavik, renting a car gives you the freedom at a fraction of the cost when compared to the sightseeing tours sold at tourist information centers.

Despite being a big supporter of public transport I think the best way to travel around Iceland is by renting a car.

We recommend to pick up your rental vehicle at the airport to save money to and from the airport. For example, if you pick up your rental from the city of Reykjavik, you may incur an additional cost of about USD $25-35 / EUR €20-30 in shuttle bus fees each way to get to Keflavik International Airport. This is because the airport is about an hour from Reykjavik. However, planning to pick up your rental at the airport may save you from incurring the additional cost.

July 27th - August 4th
Pick up: Keflavík International Airport / Drop off: Keflavík International Airport

Option A - New Cars:

Toyota Aygo                949€
Toyota Rav4                2.033€

Hyundai i10                 550€
Dacia Duster 4x4         941€

Volkswagen Polo         879€            
Suzuki Grand Vitara    1.701€

Hyundai i10                 796€
Suzuki Jimny               1.542€

Volkswagen Polo         855€
Dacia Duster 4x4         1.724€

Kia Rio diesel              581€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4        807€
*prices with all insurances included

Option B - OLD Cars:

Hyundai i10                 530€
Hyundai Tucson 4x4    909€

Toyota Yaris                675€
Toyota RAV4              1.125€

Kia Picanto                  848€
Suzuki Grand Vitara    2.084€

Hyundai i10                 630€
Toyota RAV4              1.064€

Toyota Yaris                640€
Toyota RAV4              1.175€

Ford Fiesta                  750€
Ford Kuga                   1.360€

Compare car rental prices online (see above) and then book your rental. Generally, the earlier you book your car rental, the more savings you most likely will get. You must have a valid debit or credit card to book a car rental in Iceland. Generally, the card must have a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club or Discover logo on it.

What should I do if an accident occurs?

Don't move your car (unless it is in a dangerous position which might lead to another accident) and wait for the police to arrive. You can call them on 112. It is a legal requirement to carry a warning triangle and this should be used if necessary.

In the meantime swap insurance information and addresses with the other driver. If you have a camera handy take pictures of the accident for police and insurance purposes. You should give a copy of the police report to your insurance company.

What are the seat belt regulations in Iceland?

All passengers must wear seatbelts. Having your headlights on while driving is also mandatory while it is illegal to drive while talking on a mobile phone.

What are the motorway signs?

There is one main highway in Iceland which goes from Reykjavik all the way along the coast. It is called the Route 1 Ring Road and you can't miss it.

What is the alcohol limit?

The drinking limit is 0.05% and the minimum fine is ISK 70,000 or 386 Euros.

What documents do I need?

You need to have your driving licence, your passport, some proof of insurance (including third party fire and liability insurance) and your vehicle registration information.

What phrases might I find useful when driving?

- Motor oil - motor olia
- Entrance - inngangur
- Detour - krokaleid blylaust bensin
- Diesel - disiloliaHospital - spitali
- Police - logregla
- Police Station - logreglustod
- Parking - bilastaedi
- Highway – hradbraut
- Road goes from being paved to Gravel - malbik endar (change your speed down accordingly)
- Unleaded petrol - blylaust bensin
- Gas station - bensinstod
- Exit – otgangur
- One lane bridge – einbreio bru (you should give way to cars already on the bridge)

What are the speed limits?
  • 50 kilometres per hour in built up areas.
  • 80 kilometres per hour on open roads.
  • 90 kilometres per hour on highways. 90 kilometres per hour is the maximum speed limit and should never be exceeded in Iceland as the penalties are steep.

Berglind Rós, Iceland24
April 2014
© 2014 by Iceland24

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Lush fjords, haunting volcanic peaks, dramatic sea cliffs, sweeping golden beaches and lava flows make up the landscape of the 100km long Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

It has been named Iceland in Miniature, because many national sights can be found in the area, including the Snæfellsjökull volcano, regarded as one of the symbols of Iceland. With its height of 1446 m, it is the highest mountain on the peninsula and has a glacier at its peak.

Top Places we recommend to visit in Snæfellsnes Peninsula

1. Gerduberg basalt columns

An impressive wall of beautiful basalt columns, forming geometric patterns in the cliffs. Location: 46 km from Borgarnes on the way to Snaefellsnes peninsula (Road nº54).

2. Arnarstapi

Arnarstapi or Stapi is a small fishing village at the foot of Mt. Stapafell between Hellnar village and Breiðavík farms on the southern side of Snæfellsnes, Iceland. Arnarstapi was an important trading post in the past and had a much bigger population than it has now.

A very interesting old path follows the coastline where you can see old lending places of fishermen, lots of birds, like the kittiwake, the Arctic tern and the fulmar and pass through a lavafield. If you take a guided tour, you will also hear a ghost story.

Arnarstapi is the best place to organize an advent to the glacial crown. Snowmobile tours on the glacier are run by Snjófell. Location: on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, 119 km from Borgarnes (Road nº574)

3. Gatklettur - Arch Rock

Gatklettur is a cliff with a circular arch. Rock Arch shows how distinctive wave action has eroded the rocks into arches and beautifurl swirled patterns.There is great birdlife around the cliffs and pretty flora surrounding the area. Location: near Arnarstapi, south east of Snaefellsjokull glacier (Road nº574).

4. Snæfellsjökull National Park

The park was established on June 28, 2001 and it is one of the most visited parks in Iceland. Considered by many to be the jewel of West Iceland, Snaefellsjokull is the most famous volcano in Iceland.

It is an active volcano and provided the setting for Jules Vernes famous book Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Many believe the glacier to be one of the seven main energy centres of the earth and its mystique is noticed by many. Undisputedly the main attraction of the National Park.

Excursions onto the glacier are offered from the village Arnarstapi on the southern side. The magnificent view from the top extends to Reykjanes Peninsula on the south side and the West Fjords on the north side as well as over the mountains of Snaefellsnes to the east.

A landmark: can be seen from many places, e.g. Reykjavik, 180 km away (Road nº570).

5. Djupalonssandur & Dritvik

Djupalonssandur is a beautiful pebbled beach, with a series of rocks of mysterious form emerging from the ocean.

It is one of the few areas that lead down to the sea along this coast with its high dramatic cliffs. Watch out for the famous ghosts roaming the place! Location: South of Snaefellsnes glacier, 10 km from the village Hellnar (Road nº574).

6. Ytri Tunga

The beach near the abandoned farm of Ytri Tunga is well-known for its seal colony. The seals are friendly and curious and will climb up on the rocks near the sandy beach.Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for them.

The best time to see seals is in June and July. A beautiful, serene cove with a wonderful view of the Snaefellsjokull Glacier. Location: on the southern side of Snaefellsnes peninsula, by road no. 54, 15 km before Hotel Budir.

7. Vatnshellir Cave

Follow the path of the lava flow in the 8000 years old cave located in Snæfellsjökull National Park.  All guests will be equipped with lights and helmets. Very well accessible for most people. We recommend warm clothing, hiking shoes and gloves.

During summer, 45 minute guided tours from 10am-6pm, every hour on the hour. In wintertime tours are offered for groups (12+ persons) on an agreement. Price for adults: ISK 2000,-

Further info: vatnshellir@vatnshellir.is  www.vatnshellir.is  +354-665-2818

8. Flatey Island

Flatey means "flat island". The old houses, shops and warehouse buildings on Flatey reflect the optimism and development of the period around 1900. In former times, the island was important both as a fishing centre and as the hub of commercial life of the Breidafjordur area. Traders from the Hanseatic League in Germany ran a trading post here.

The first Icelandic trader received a temporary licence in 1589, and in 1777 Flatey received a charter as a town. Flateyjarbok (the Book of Flatey), one of the most important and impressive of the ancient Icelandic saga manuscripts, was preserved on Flatey in the Middle Ages. A photocopy reproduction is on display in the library (the oldest one in Iceland, built in 1864 in the heyday of Flatey's prosperity).

The church on Flatey dates from 1926. The frescoes in the apse were painted by Kristjana and Baltasar Samper and are based on the local landscape and traditional occupations. Flatey has been an inspiration to many artists and the film "The Bridegroom" (Brudguminn) by Baltasar Kormákur was filmed on Flatey in 2007.

Berglind Rós, Iceland24
April 2014