Specialises in rafting trips on local rivers.
Specialises in rafting trips on local rivers.
About 5km west of Hvolsvöllur, unsurfaced Rte 264 winds around 8km north along the Rangárvellir valley to the medieval turf-roofed farm at Keldur. This historic settlement once belonged to Ingjaldur Höskuldsson, a character in Njál’s Saga .
Housed in the same building as the tourist information centre, the popular and professional West Tours organises a mind-boggling array of trips in the area. There are tours of Vigur and kayaking excursions all year. You can visit the abandoned village at Hesteyri on a day trip, or organise an extended tour package to explore Hornstrandir over several days.
Get the backstory on the neighbouring lava flows at the Volcano Museum, housed in the town’s old cinema. The brainchild of vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson, the museum features art and artefacts relating to the study of eruptions and their devastating effects – including ‘magma bombs’ from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.
The remote farm Skálanes , about 19km east of Seyðisfjörður, is a wonderful nature reserve and heritage field centre.
Birdwatchers should head for the estuarine Flói Nature Reserve, an important marshland on the eastern bank of the Ölfusá. It’s visited by many wetland birds – common species include red-throated divers and various kinds of ducks and geese – with the biggest numbers appearing during the nesting season (May to July). There’s a 2km circular hiking trail through the marshes.
One-hour tours (Ikr7000) run everyday at 2pm in a rubber zodiac that bounces on the waves as it jets through the archipelago. The small size of the boat means that the captain can navigate through small caves and between rocky outcrops for up-close views of the area’s bird colonies and world’s biggest elephant (you’ll see!).
Largely a service harbour until recent years, the so-called Old Harbour has blossomed into a hot spot for tourists that borders on a mini adult Disneyland. Photo ops abound as boat bells ding while bobbing up and down; views of snowcapped mountains scallop the horizon. Whale-watching and puffin-viewing trips depart from the pier, as do many of the city’s walking tours.
One of the easiest glacial tongues to reach is Sólheimajökull, a favourite spot for glacial walks and treks. This icy tongue unfurls from the main Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in a gentle fashion, making it easy to mount. A 5km bumpy dirt track (Rte 222) leads off the Ring Road to a small car park punctuated by a small cafe; from there, the ice is approximately 800m away.
Just east of Ísafjörður, the small fishing community of Súðavík has the brand new Arctic Fox Center . The newly opened exhibition centre has interesting exhibits detailing the life of the local arctic fox and its relationship with humans and the surrounding nature. Don’t forget to sign the beautiful fish-skin guestbook.
The Family Fun Park & Zoo is the city’s only attraction especially for (youngish) children. Don’t expect lions and tigers; think seals, foxes and farm animals with slightly dismal enclosures, and tanks of cold-water fish. The family park section is jolly, with a mini-racetrack, child-size bulldozers, a giant trampoline, boats and kids’ fairground rides.
Laugardalur was once the main source of Reykjavík’s hot-water supply – the name translates as ‘Hot-Springs Valley’. It encompasses a large stretch of land in the very eastern part of the city. Most tourists venture out to the area to take advantage of the large public pool fed by a steamy geothermal source.
The main attraction at Grindavik is this pretty well done museum dedicated to explaining the fish-salting industry. An audio-guide (English, German or French) leads you over wooden piers to tableaux showing various stages of the process.
This 11th-century lava tube is over 1km long, and contains some wonderful (protected) lava columns. You’ll need a torch (flashlight) and sturdy boots to explore; the going underfoot can be quite treacherous from earlier cave-ins. In winter, cold air is funnelled down and trapped inside, producing amazing ice formations.
Owned by Baldur, the Icelandic parliament’s official caterer, Lindin is the best restaurant for miles. The front – facing the lake – is purely gourmet, with soft floral patterns and prim tablecloths, while the back of the restaurant has a noticeably different decor and serves international fare at cut prices.
In June 2008, Vatnajökoll National Park was founded, joining the Vatnajökull ice cap and the former Skaftafell and Jökulsárgljúfur National Parks to form one 12,000 sq km megapark – 11% of the entire country.
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