Iceland is 103.000 square kilometers or 40.000 square miles. That makes it about the same size as the US state of Virginia or the country of Ireland. It is about 500 kilometers wide (E-W) and 300 kilometers tall (N-S). Considering the dimensions, Iceland has a very long coast line due to all of the fjords. The coastline is just under 5.000 kilometers. If you want to drive around the whole of Iceland, you follow the Ring Road which is 1.332 kilometers. It is a lot shorter than the coastline because it skips the Vestfirðir fjords in the northwest. The highest peak is Hvannadalshnjúkur peak on the Öræfajökull mountain in the mighty Vatnajökull glacier at 2.111 meters.
Even though we have loads of land and a population density of 3,1/km2, most of the land is uninhabited. Only about one percent is cultivated and a fifth used for wild grazing. Three quarters of the population lives in or near Reykjavík.
Hi, I just wanted to say that your pictures are awesome! I have an assignment for my German class and I'm doing Iceland as a place to travel to. Would you have any pictures that I could use as examples of the fine Iceland cuisine? Takk fyrir!
I’m not sure how you should define fine Icelandic cuisine. Although today, we have plenty of great restaurants which could definitely be considered fine cuisine, they’re maybe not so much Icelandic per se.
The traditional Icelandic cuisine is more a method to survive than fine dining. Keep in mind that Icelanders throughout the centuries had very short summers to grow things, long and cold winters and no firewood. That meant food had to be simple and be preservable. One great result of these conditions is “skyr”. Everybody loves skyr and it is super healthy. It is a lot like greek yoghurt, but better. You can get it in a few places around the world now, Siggi’s Skyr in the US, skyr.is in Iceland and some places, skyrsverige in Sweden. Although most Icelanders eat it either as a breakfast with milk and sugar or as a snack between meals, many fancy restaurants have been experimenting with it. They have been making unique skyr cakes and other delicacies.
The other well known traditional Icelandic foods are sviðakjammar, fermented shark and other things which are not exactly to everybody’s taste.
hey, do you think i can get a volunteer work in iceland? i'm from brazil btw,
Não tenho certeza mas pode contatar SEEDS que eu mencionei aqui. Uma outra possibilidade é intercambio com AFS. Eu fiz intercambio para o Brasil com eles e sei que você pode ir ao outra direção também.
Hello. Im Handy Gui. An 18 year old girl . I was wondering where i can get a volunteer work in Iceland? :)
There are a few options. Some of them depend on where you come from. The only one I have personal experience with is SEEDS. They are volunteers for the Icelandic Environmental department. They do all sorts of work, but mostly lay and maintain hiking paths in the national parks.
I’ve lived right next to the SEEDS volunteers which are working in the Skaftafell national park and met some of them. Despite doing some pretty hard work, I think they are quite happy. They get some days off every now and when, during which they have free access to an apartment in Reykjavík. They also get some minor weekly allowance which they say is enough for their booze.
A quick google search also turns up Worldwide Friends, which seems to be doing something similar. However, I known nothing about it.
Hi~ I have been planning to go to Iceland (or Norway) as an exchange student. I study fine arts in Saimaa University of Applied Sciences in Finland and our school doesn’t have any affiliate programs with any Icelandic school. So do you know if there is any university-level art school that teaches photography in Iceland? I have been trying to look for art school myself, but all art schools I have found either don’t really teach photography or don’t accept exchange students.
Listaháskóli Íslands is the only school that teaches arts at a university level. However I don’t think they have photography as a specific path although I’m sure they have courses and use it as a medium. From what I hear, it is quite difficult to get in, but it’s often easier to get in via exchange programs.
Ljósmyndaskólinn is a private school which teaches photography. I believe it graduates people with a “sveinspróf” in photography, meaning they have the professional title of photographer.
Hi! I don't know if you can help me but I just had a few questions about the schooling in iceland. I am a Citizen of Iceland but live in the states and I am also a freshman in college at this time. I always wanted to go to school and live in Iceland. I know the schooling is a little different there then it is here, but is my only option finishing college here and going for masters there? or could i get an associates degree and in a year or two go straight there?
Iceland divides the school years a little bit differently than the US. The mandatory schooling is seven years of “grunnskóli” roughly equivalent with elementary school and then three years of “gagnfræðiskóli”, roughly equivalent with middle school. You graduate from that at 16 and almost everybody begins “menntaskóli” roughly equivalent to high school. That takes four years in most cases although it is possible in three. After this, at the age of 20, you graduate with what we call “stúdentspróf” (E. Student’s Exam) and qualify for college/university in Iceland and most countries abroad. The students have some choice of paths in the “menntaskóli”, so they may have a slight emphasis on mathematics and physics or languages and social sciences for example. This implication may have an effect on what university program they can select.
We don’t make a distinction between college and university. After “menntaskóli” you go directly to university and begin your three year bachelor’s degree and then two year master’s degree.
That’s all I can say. Can’t answer your question precisely, but you should take a look at the websites of the University of Iceland (public) and University of Reykjavík (private). I’m sure you can send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and get directed to somebody who knows.
Anyone booked tickets for WOW flights next summer yet? Got to arrange some flights but a bit loathe to pay for an airline that hasn't got off the ground yet?
I sure hope WOW air will be a worthy contestant for the other Icelandic airlines. They are open for business, but as you say, they haven’t taken off yet. They don’t begin flying until June 1st this year.
All I can say is that the owners are well known Icelandic business men and they appear to have all the right people to get this up and running.
Hi! My husband and I are going to Iceland in mid July for 2 weeks. We plan on flying into Reykjavik, then renting a car and driving the Ring Road route around the island. We will stay in guest houses along the route. We are nature enthusiasts, love the outdoors & hiking. Can you suggest any 1 or 2 day moderate to difficult hikes, campsites, or places that we must see along the route? Thanks for your response!
Along the ring road you will find plenty to do. The whole south coast is a great drive and offers lots of must sees that are actually easy to miss. Accessible places that you might miss, but should check out are Reykjadalur for a dip in a hot spring, Dyrhólaey for an awesome view, Systrafoss waterfall in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Skaftafell.
On the east coast there are countless things to do, but unfortunately I haven’t done many of them.
Once in the north east you could go hunting for abandoned farms. Drive out into the Melrakkaslétta area for that (between Raufarhöfn and Kópasker). After that you pretty much arrive in Ásbyrgi. It is part of Vatnajökull National Park and has countless great day hikes. For a longer hike you could go up along the mighty Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.
In the north do some short hikes around lake Mývatn. Go up on the young Hverfjall mountain and walk around in Dimmuborgir for example. There are not many hikes I can think of, but plenty of great places along the highway throughout the north.
If you decide to go to Vestfirðir (West fjords) (not on the Ring Road) then a whole bunch of options open up. This is off the ring road and less traveled, but a wonderful place. You see a lot from the car, but if you see a mountain you like, just hike it. You could also do a via ferrata route above Ísafjörður.
Along the west side make sure to go for a stroll to Paradísarlaut (E. Paradise Oasis). It is right by the small town/university of Bifröst.
Finally, out on the Snæfellsnes peninsula (off the Ring Road) you can find lots of great hikes. A nice two day hike I’ve done is from Langavatn between the mountains to these farm ruins and across some more mountains to Heydalur. There’s no trail here and sometimes lots of fog, so know your navigation for that one.
I will be traveling to Iceland in June 2012. I will have about a week and a half in the country, and hope to do some day hikes and at least one backpacking trip. I am considering the Laugavegruinn trail, but am open to suggestions. I also plan to do some day hiking. Do you have any recommendations, either for backpacking destinations or day hikes in Iceland? If you could not see it all, and had to choose just one or two parts of the country to spend time, where would you choose? Thank you!
Laugavegurinn is the most popular trek in Iceland. Here’s a previous post I wrote about Laugavegurinn. Around 10.000 people do the hike each summer. The reason for its popularity apart from the amazing and ever changing landscape is its accessibility. There is a reasonably well marked trail the whole way (still, bring a map, compass and gps) and there are several huts along the way and scheduled buses go to both ends of the trail. Although there are countless other great hikes available, there aren’t any this long with such accessibility. So if you are looking for a 3-5 day hike and you don’t have the experience to navigate unmarked land, then I wouldn’t recommend many other hikes.
For day hikes, you have many more options. If you don’t do the Laugavegur trek, then you should at least do the Fimmvörðuháls trek between the Þórsmörk valley and Skógar and look at the new volcano from 2010. This trek can be done in one day or you can stay in the hut at the top. Once you are in Þórsmörk you also have dozens of wonderful day hikes to choose from.
If you are willing to head off into the highlands, either in a rental 4x4 (one big river crossing) or by taking the bus, you can go to Kerlingarfjöll. This volcanic mountain range has a bunch of great day hikes in valleys full of geothermal steam and glacial ice. The place has a serviced camp site and accommodation but almost no people.
Skaftafell is the Mecca of hiking in Iceland. The park offers countless trails for day hikes and lots of possibilities for longer hikes along unmarked trails for the more experienced. Along with Þórsmörk it is also my favorite place in the country and the place where I sometimes work.
You could also take a look at guided backpacking tours or get inspirations for your own tours (if you have serious experience).
Other locations with lots of day hikes would include Ásbyrgi, Kverkfjöll, Askja and Herðubreiðarlindir, Mývatn and Borgarfjörður Eystri.
Hi! I'm going to Iceland in late February/early March. Any suggestions on what can be done during that time? I know not all tours are open since it's icy. Do you know what sorts of cool things there are to see in winter?
Iceland in winter is an unpredictable, but wonderful place. More and more tours and such run all year long now, so you should find plenty to do. Most winter travelers base themselves in Reykjavík and do day tours from there. This is by no means, the only way, but driving yourself outside the city in winter conditions is not for everybody.
To enjoy the specialties of winter, you should go swimming and try to see the northern lights. The Reykjavík public outdoor swimming pools are open all year long, rain, snow or shine and are equally warm and popular summer or winter. On a good day you can see the northern lights in Reykjavík. However, due to the cheap Icelandic electricity, Reykjavík is a very bright city and the aurora is much easier to see outside the city. There are a handful of northern lights tours, but since there is never any guarantee that you’ll see them, I’d recommend one that does something else as well. The one I know is Northern Lights and Lobster with Iceland Rovers. I’m maybe not impartial as I used to work there, but I can tell you that if you don’t see the lights, you’ll at least have a great lobster meal in a cool little village and some super jeep driving.
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