Traveling to Iceland in 2021Published: 18. January 2021
The government just announced a COVID-19 plan and rules for arriving passengers until spring. In this post, I will be going over what this plan means if you're traveling to Iceland in 2021 and how you can make the process as smooth as possible. I'll also be going over your options as a Happy Campers customer and how you can easily make your campervan trip happen. So let's dive right in.
As of January 15th, all passengers must go through a PCR test at the airport. This is followed by another test 5-6 days later and you are required to quarantine in the meantime. This might sound very similar to what was already in place, but here are the main differences:
Spontaneous 5-day road trip around IcelandPublished: 7. October 2020
It can be fun to make quick decision and one of the best thing about camping in camper vans is that you do not need to much preparation and luggage so you can start you trip with short notice.
That is how I got a little idea one Friday morning on the 21st of August at work when I saw the weather forecast was going to be fine for next days in late August. I sent my husband Sverrir, the Happy Boss a message from work as he was in a meeting Reykjavik, if he was up to go for a 4-5 days road trip with me as I had in mind few places I wanted to see this year. The answer was of course a yes and I saw one Happy 4x4 available for 5 days so let’s go!
We met at home in the afternoon, packet the much necessary things and head to the supermarket to buy some groceries and headed to the road no 1 south. We have been married for 34 years now and still we find it so much fun to travel together and it kind a like gives us always the same old - feeling free - as we were young? We drove to Selfoss and had our first stop as it was dinner time and as we knew we would be late in the night at our destination for the night. In Selfoss, there is a little hot dog shop and as we did not want to spend time now in a restaurant we went there and also as Sverrir said, “they simply have the best hot dog in Iceland!“
Photography in IcelandPublished: 30. September 2020
Iceland has emerged as one of the hottest travel destinations in the last five years and for a good reason. Most people travel to Iceland for the beautiful nature which consists of vast lava fields, majestic waterfalls, steaming geysers, huge glaciers and so much more. The awesome thing about the Icelandic landscape is the variety. You can drive around the country in a few days and see all kinds of different landscapes ! At the same time it’s one of the safest countries in the world and the locals are typically friendly and fluent in English.
If you prefer the city life, Reykjavik is becoming one of the most exciting cities in the world with vibrant culture, awesome music scene and a great selection of food, bars and entertainment. This makes Iceland a dream destination for most, but especially for photographers. However there are some drawbacks. Iceland can be quite expensive and driving around the country in winter can be tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. Finally due to the increased popularity it can be tricky to get the perfect shots without fellow tourists walking into your shot. Don’t worry though, with this guide you will get the knowledge you need to maximize your trip to Iceland and come home with some jaw dropping photographs.
Thakgil CampsitePublished: 22. September 2020
Over the years here at Happy Campers I have helped a lot of customers to plan their trips and answer their questions. Many travelers are curious about the mystery campsite Þakgil, which is located in the south part of Iceland. I have probably been asked about it over 1000 times and I always enjoy giving them some good tips. People always ask about the road 214 that takes you to Þakgil. Here are some examples of the kind of questions I get:
- Is it accessible with all campers or only 4x4?
- Is it open all-year around?
- Do you need to drive on an F-road to get there?
- How is it compared to other campsites in Iceland?
Me, my family, and some friends took a weekend trip to Þakgil in beginning of August. I wanted to show them this place since none of them had been there before. We decided to go on Friday afternoon and the plan was to spend 2 nights at the Þakgil campsite.
In this post, I'll be answering the questions above and sharing my experience of Þakgil and what it has to offer - so here we go!
Visiting VestmannaeyjarPublished: 18. September 2020
Black beaches and stunning views are all over Iceland. While traveling with Happy 2 we saw so many magnificant nature en impressive landscapes! Since it’s our second time visiting this beautiful country, we like to explore a bit further than the road one. A great surprise during our stay is our visit to Vestmannaeyjar, or in English the Westman islands. Let me take you on a journey!
Self drive into the Hidden IcelandPublished: 1. September 2020
When Happy Campers asked me to write a piece on going off the beaten path in Iceland I jumped at the chance. After all, it's Hidden Iceland's bread and butter. We thrive in the lesser known spots. So being able to add an extra level of flexibility i.e. travelling in a Happy Camper campervan, made it even easier for us to avoid the summer crowds in Iceland. I can honestly say that not having to rush to the next part of the country because of a pre-planned hotel reservation is incredibly freeing. This is even more important when you find yourself whiling away the hours under the midnight sun in summer, or hunting the northern lights in autumn and winter. To give up a great vantage point just to check into a hotel would be a great shame when the aurora is lighting up the sky.
Many Happy Camper travellers will often circle the entire island since they can effectively pick and choose how far they want to travel each day. I was no exception. Some days I found myself driving for 6-7 hours because I was so excited to get to the glacier scarred region in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vatnajökull National Park, other days we barely drove more than 30 minutes because there were so many hidden hikes and waterfalls and hot pools to explore in the area.
Happy QuarantinePublished: 21. August 2020
I'm sure you've heard about the most recent travel restrictions here in Iceland, requiring all travelers to quarantine for 5 days before exploring the country. Even though it was quite disappointing for the travel industry, we're all about staying Happy and making the best of every situation. That's why I'm going to tell you exactly how to enjoy your trip in Iceland despite these new rules. You might even realize that this could be a blessing in disguise.
Iceland All to Yourself
You might have had plans to come to Iceland or even already had booked a camper, hotel, or flights. After reading the news, your initial reaction might be disappointment and wanting to cancel the trip. But hold on. If your holiday is 8 days or longer, I believe you could still have an unforgettable experience in Iceland despite the new rules.
Sure, you will need to follow the rules and guidelines for testing and quarantining, listed in more detail in our last blog post. But if you do that, after those 5 days you will have the opportunity to explore Iceland as you wish. Not only that, but you would be traveling around Iceland with hardly any other tourists. This could be an extremely unique opportunity and not something that will likely happen in your lifetime.
New Travel Restrictions: What does it mean?Published: 17. August 2020
The government just announced new and stricter travel restrictions at the Icelandic border. All travelers are now required to quarantine and take two COVID-19 tests. If you are a Happy Campers traveler, please read about what this means for you specifically in the second part of this post below. For everybody else, let's dive in.
Prior to this announcement, travelers did not have to quarantine as long as they took the COVID-19 tests. Travelers from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Finland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands were not even required to take the tests at all. Now, with everybody having to take two tests and quarantine, let's look at what those things actually mean, starting with the two tests.
When a traveler arrives to Iceland, they have the option of undergoing a 14 day quarantine or take two PCR tests, 4-6 days apart. A PCR test is a diagnostic test that looks for the presence of the virus from a sample taken from your nasal and throat swab. This is NOT an antibody test, which is another commonly talked about COVID-19 test that looks for antibodies in your body as an earlier response to the virus.
How To Travel Around Iceland in a CampervanPublished: 23. July 2020
There’s no hiding it, Iceland, like other Scandinavian countries, is a particularly expensive place to travel. But, much more importantly, it is also one of the most beautiful and naturally diverse countries in the world.
With a breadth of glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, waterfalls, and black sand beaches you can be certain there is an adventure to be found around every twist and corner in the land of fire and ice.
Whether you’re wanting the perfect shot of the delightful Puffins in Iceland or to gaze in wonder at the rhythmic dance of the Northern Lights, there is an array of opportunities and discoveries to be had on a holiday to our shores.
5 Most Unique Experiences in Iceland While on a BudgetPublished: 5. May 2020
Iceland is an island country with fascinating extremes. Active volcanoes produce geothermal heat while frozen glaciers flow nearby. Summers feature near endless days and winters endless nights. And with such a low population, much of the nation consists of pristine wilderness areas filled with breathtaking waterfalls and other beautiful natural attractions.
You can enjoy lots of unique activities in Iceland without spending a lot of money. Here are just 5.
#1. Go Whale Watching
During the summer months, thousands of whales migrate to the waters around Iceland. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (a row of volcanoes) runs through the center of Iceland and into the sea to the north and south. Underwater volcanoes leak heat into the water resulting in perfect conditions for zooplankton and more fish than you might otherwise find at this latitude. The abundant marine food stocks attract a wide variety of whale species, most notably humpback whales...
Top 5 Campsites in the WestfjordsPublished: 22. April 2020
The first thing to do before going on a camping trip around Iceland is to familiarize yourself with campsites you would like to sleep at, look at reviews, see what they offer and if they are generally nice to stay at.
Well look no further! I have compiled a list of my 5 favorite campsites around the Westfjords.
The Westfjords are the oldest part of Iceland, and part of only 10% of the island that is not heated by geothermal energy.
Wild Camping in IcelandPublished: 23. March 2020
Find out for yourself if Iceland’s landscape is indeed as magical as everyone says by sleeping under the stars on your next camping adventure. You also get the added benefit of inexpensive campsites in Iceland to offset the cost of a vacation destination that’s not exactly known for its frugality. But before you pull up your Happy Camper to the side of the road or pitch a tent, you need the low-down on the wonderful world of Icelandic camping laws...
COVID-19: 5 reasons renting a camper in Iceland is a good ideaPublished: 16. March 2020
In case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, we have a Coronavirus pandemic on our hands. Governments are telling people to self-quarantine and public events are being cancelled left and right. I'm not going to lie, it's a serious situation that should be taken seriously. We discuss more of serious and practical side of the situation in this blog post. But I hope you forgive my overly optimistic nature as I attempt to see the silver lining in this difficult situation in this post. Because when you really think about it, going on a campervan trip in Iceland during this pandemic might actually be a good idea and here are my 5 reasons:
1. It's great for social distancing
We all know that being among a large crowd of people is the worst thing to do when trying to avoid the Coronavirus. Luckily, the Icelandic countryside does not have much people at all. Most locals live in the greater Reykjavik area and during the outbreak, there will be even fewer travelers out of the city. And speaking of cities, if you live in one, you are surrounded by LOTS of people. Traveling around Iceland will get you out of the city and, more importantly, away from the elderly and highest-risk population. Just make sure that your travel partner is healthy when you cuddle with them at night but if you're traveling solo you can be as isolated as you want!
Staying Happy in Iceland during Covid-19 outbreakPublished: 16. March 2020
UPDATED: May 13th. 2020
We are getting lots of questions from Happy campers these days, mostly about whether it's safe to travel to Iceland or if people should cancel their bookings. Considering the seriousness of the pandemic, we think it's a good question that deserves a good answer. So here we go.
Should I cancel my trip?
The short answer is "probably not" and I'll explain why in a moment. But first, let me give you some peace of mind by mentioning our cancellation policy.
Coronavirus gives you plenty to worry about but thankfully, your Happy Campers booking is not one of them. With our new 24-hour cancellation policy, you can cancel for free and get a 100% refund. Just let us know 24 hours in advance (or more if you can) via email@example.com.
Iceland 101: History and CulturePublished: 16. March 2020
If you're planning a trip to Iceland, it's well worth your time to pack up some cultural knowledge alongside those hiking boots, so you have an introductory idea of what makes this Northern wonderland such an interesting place to visit! Here are a few topics to get you started. And obviously, repeating these morsels of Icelandic history will make you look really smart in front of your travel mates. Ready to connect with your inner cultural scholar?
5 reasons why you should visit Iceland with a 4X4 campervan this winterPublished: 9. March 2020
Even though most people visit Iceland during summer, there are actually many benefits of traveling during the off-season. Besides a personal, preference, it offers lower prices, fewer tourists, and the amazing northern lights. Check out the Happy Campers Winter Camping Guide for a deep-dive into that topic. But today, I want to bring up why I chose to rent a 4x4 camper for my winter photography tour in Iceland and why I think you should consider renting a 4x4, too.
1. The freedom of having a flexible itinerary
If you are a photographer like me and chase the light constantly, you know the importance of keeping your itinerary flexible and adjust it depending on the weather. Most of the campgrounds are first-come first-served with full amenities. So, you can roam Iceland with the wind, plan your nights as-you-go and even same some gaz money with less driving...
Icelandic Candy 101Published: 9. March 2020
Iceland is known for many things like their sometimes rebellious Eyjafjallajökull volcano, endless sunlight in summer and darkness in winter, and the gorgeous landscapes making for an incredible camping experience. But you may not know that Iceland is a country of serious candy addicts, and for a good reason. Eating “nammi,” or candy, by the fist full is practically a national pastime in Iceland. Just like the rest of the country’s food and culture, Icelandic candy is strong, unique, and somehow whimsical all at once...
3-Day Iceland ItineraryPublished: 3. March 2020
Iceland may only be 39,769 square-miles and roughly the size of the state of New York, but packs in the outdoor adventure. It’s also the only country where you can hike a glacier, hit the beach, and explore the capital city on the same day.
Fortunately, you have three whole days to work through this Iceland itinerary, although you should leave room for flexibility and spontaneity. Iceland’s outdoor wonders have a way of captivating your imagination and leaving you wanting more. Use this Iceland itinerary as a guideline to see some of its well-deserved and hidden gems, and discover some new favorites along the way...
How to Handle an Icelandic WinterPublished: 27. December 2019
Telling someone you're traveling during an Icelandic winter elicits incredulous responses ranging from, "Hold up. Isn't Iceland dark for six months?" to "Wow, that's crazy. Guess you'll need Arctic gear to stay warm, right?"
Despite popular belief, Icelandic winters aren't bitterly cold. If you look at the weather in regions of the United States like the Northeast and Canada, Iceland might even look warm in comparison. Average temperatures usually hover between the low 20s and high 30s during the height of winter. However, you can expect winter to stretch from mid-October to April and arrive with its unique Icelandic challenges.
How are Icelandic winters not frigid? Despite Iceland's location near the Arctic, it's also located on the Gulfstream that keeps weather manageable with some preparation. Although winter months experience short days with just hours of daylight, it's also not dark 24-hours a day in Iceland. The darkness can aggravate the cold weather but also provides a magical backdrop for festivals, holiday lights, and the Northern Lights...
How to Spend the Winter Holidays in IcelandPublished: 27. December 2019
How to Spend the Winter Holidays in Iceland
If you think Iceland is dark and cold in the winter, you would be correct. It’s very much both, but that doesn’t mean the country isn’t alive with the bright lights, winter festivals, and traditions of the holiday season.
The Christmas season in Iceland officially starts on December 11th and stretches untl January 6th, with plenty of ways to celebrate all winter long...
How, where & when to see puffins in IcelandPublished: 15. November 2019
The first step to spotting a puffin, is knowing what it looks like. And to help you do that i have provided for you a nice picture of the majestic Atlantic puffin.
It would be rude of me to assume that you are able to spot all the differences between the puffin and any other bird immediately. Therefore i will quickly run you through it‘s most prominant characteristics.
1) The Beak
First things first. The puffin‘s most iconic feature is undeniably its bright and colorful beak. It‘s colors are especially vivid in the summertime during the bird‘s mating season. In fact, researcher Jamie Dunning recently discovered that the beak of a puffin is actually fluorecent and lights up under UV-lights! Although he doesn‘t quite know the reason for this and is still searching for answers, this is something us Icelanders have known for generations. You see, puffins are extreme raveheads. They spend a large portion of their summers clubbing in Westman Islands completely stealing the show with their awesome, glowing-in-the-dark beaks. So don‘t be surprised when this comes out as the result of Jamie‘s research...
Winter Festivals in IcelandPublished: 18. October 2019
If you think a place like Iceland is off-limits in the winter months, I’m about to blow your mind. With a name that invokes visions of wild, uninhabited landscapes covered in thick sheets of impenetrable ice, you’re probably thinking “well, that’s not where I want to spend my vacation”. But, if you’ve ever experienced a winter in Chicago or New York, you’ve already pushed past the temperature threshold for winter lows in Iceland. Surprised? Well, if my lack of meteorology credentials sparks doubt, you don’t have to take my word for it. Ólafur Ingólfsson, Professor of Glacial and Quaternary Geology at the University of Iceland, explains it this way:
“Iceland, located at 63-67°N and 18-23°W, has considerably milder climate than its location just south of the Arctic Circle would imply. A branch of the Gulf Stream, the Irminger Current, flows along the southern and the western coast greatly moderating the climate”
Best Free and Cheap Campsites in IcelandPublished: 2. October 2019
Walk through the heart of Reykjavik, and you’re bound to hear a tourist complaining about the high price tag that comes with staying in the city. Not up for a $60 hostel stay with bunk beds full of strangers? Trying to catch your breath over a no-frills $250 hotel room? I feel you. But there are fun and affordable options that open up Iceland to your doorstep. Camping in Iceland untethers you from conventional accommodations, saves a bundle, and provides unparalleled experiences like waking up to fjords and waterfalls at your door. And in Iceland, you can legally camp for free.
As a general rule, you can set up a tent for one night on any uncultivated public land for free and start exploring Iceland’s hidden gems. And if you want to go camping in Iceland on private property or a farm? You just need express permission from the owner. Sounds good right? But before you pack up your tent to venture into the Icelandic countryside, you should know a few things. For starters, it’s not always immediately obvious what constitutes as uncultivated land and you need to get into the rugged wild to find a legal spot. That requires 4x4 off-roading, which is generally prohibited in Iceland.
Iceland Airwaves and the Open RoadPublished: 20. September 2019
If you’re a music fan searching for just the right time to visit Iceland, now is the time to start planning! Every year in early November, Reykjavik is transformed by the popular music festival Iceland Airwaves.
What makes Airwaves unique?
- Airwaves has a well researched indie focus. It highlights all of the best bands you haven’t heard of yet. Many popular bands, like Sigur Ros and Fleet Foxes, played Airwaves just before they hit the big time. Picture yourself watching your next favourite band play some huge venue in your hometown, and you can actually say “Yeah, I saw them before they were big playing in a candle-lit corner of a library in Iceland”. Bragging rights granted.
Location, location, location. You’re on a remote Scandinavian island with arguably some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet. Add a music festival to the mix and what’s not to love?
Create Your Happy JourneyPublished: 10. September 2019
One of the many perks of joining the Happy family is that you will get a detailed map of your entire route during and after your journey. Sounds pretty cool, right? In this post, I'll briefly go over how it works and why we're pretty excited about being the only company in Iceland that offers this unique feature.
Where to Find the Best Icelandic Food and Traditional DishesPublished: 9. September 2019
Iceland's unique take on cuisine boasts a long history of ocean fare, sturdy lamb, dairy and hearty vegetables as the hallmarks of a Nordic diet. Traditional Icelandic food is meant to withstand and endure during long winter months where sunshine rarely graces its shores. When you bite into a traditional Icelandic dish, you’re experiencing a part of the country’s history and tasting your way back in time. But ask a foodie where their favorite places on the planet to eat are, and chances are high that Iceland doesn’t trend on their list...
Hraunfossar WaterfallPublished: 21. June 2019
Hraunfossar, which translates to Lava Falls, are beautiful and a real treasure. The color of the water is sometimes turquoise but other times it’s milky white. The waterfalls of Hraunfossar is a collection of many creeks and cascades small and big streaming out of the lava.
Djupalonssandur BeachPublished: 21. June 2019
Djúpalónssandur is a sandy beach and bay on the outskirts of the snæfellsnes peninsula. It is the home of fragments of a 1984 British shipwreck. Djúpalónssandur is a really beautiful beach with amazing lava rock formations all around.
There are a couple of lagoons in the area called Djupalon (Deep Lagoon) but the beach gets its name from these lagoons. Don't be surprised to find the remnants of an airplane on the beach. These iron pieces come from the British Epine GY7, which wrecked in the area in 1948. The locals managed to save 5 of the men but 14 lost their lives in the wreck.
Latrabjarg Bird CliffsPublished: 21. June 2019
Látrabjarg is a large cliff and the westernmost point in Iceland. Látrabjarg is the bird watchers paradise and is known for its rich bird life. It's the home to a variety of bird species, such as puffins, northern gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. If you have ever wanted to visit one of Europe's largest bird cliff, this is your chance. Along with the Westman Islands, this is one of the easiest places to catch a glimpse of puffins. If you've seen some amazing close up shots of puffins on Instagram, chances are they were shot here.
Krossneslaug PoolPublished: 21. June 2019
Krossneslaug is a pool located is the eastern Westfjords. The pool is one of Iceland's most interesting and unique destinations. It is a very peaceful and relaxing area with beautiful landscape. The pool is located over the sea so the amazing views should make the experience unforgettable.
Getting to Krossneslaug can be a challenge but once you get there, you will definitely find it worth the effort. Enjoy the views of the ocean and cross your fingers that you'll see some whales while soaking in the pool.
Kolugljufur CanyonPublished: 21. June 2019
Kolugljúfur canoyon is located in Víðidal in west-Hunlakecounty(vestur-Húnavantssýslu). The canyon is said to be named after the female troll Kola, which is said to have dug the canyon then live there. The canyons run about 1-2 Km and are a couple of tens of meters deep. The canyon is for the most part unexplored but remain extremely beautiful.
HvitserkurPublished: 21. June 2019
Hvítserkur is a 15 meter high majestic basalt stack on the eastern side of the Vatnsnes peninsula in the north of Iceland. The base of the rock has two holes in it and it has been likened to a dragon who is drinking because of it. The name of the basalt stack (“White Shirt” in Icelandic) was given to it due to the guano deposited on it. The foundation of Hvítserkur has been reinforced with concrete to protect it from the ocean.
Hofsos PoolPublished: 20. June 2019
The swimming pool at Hofsós offers some of the most amazing pool views in Iceland. The pool has been built into the hillside above the sea, so the view over to Drangey and Skagafjörður is breathtaking. The pool is a favorite of the locals and travelers alike. The facilities are top notch and this is a must-stop whenever I am in the north. It's the perfect way to end a long day of travel.
The pool was constructed in 2009 and is filled with natural hot water. During the high-season, it's open from 7-21 and in the winter it's open from 7-13, and 17-20 on weekdays. On weekends it's open from 11-15.
Kaffi Ku CafePublished: 20. June 2019
Kaffi Kú, or Cafe Cow, is one of the most unique cafe's in Iceland. The cafe itself is located in the loft are above the cow barn at a local farm. Enjoy a Latte and get to know the cow that made the milk. Book a tour around the barn and get the chance to milk the cows as they lounge on mattresses and get a massage. It's not your typical café, but that's why we like this place.
If you tell them that you're a Happy Campers customer, you'll also get 10% off their menu and 20% off their tour. See what's going on right now via their 24/7 live feed.
Asbyrgi CanyonPublished: 20. June 2019
Ásbyrgi is a magnificent horseshoe-shaped canyon, rich in history and natural gems. It's about 2.2 miles long and 0.7 miles wide, rich in vegetation and the home of a nice campsite. Asbyrgi is actually a part of the Vatnajokull National Park, so you will find nice facilities in the area. At the bottom of the canyon, you will find a small serene pond, where you will usually see some interesting birds.
According to mythology, Odin had an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. Occasionally, Odin would ride Sleipnir to monitor the universe but one time, he accidentally got too close to earth and Sleipnir's hoof is what formed Asbyrgi. This is what explains Asbyrgi's horseshoe shape.
Arctic HengePublished: 20. June 2019
Heimskautsgerðið, or the Arctic Henge, lies in the northernmost town on the main Island, Raufarhöfn. Intrestinly, the Arctic Henge is not in the arctic circle but is only a few degrees south of the arctic cirle. The Arctic Henge has some similarities to the Stone Henge in England in the sense that they are both a huge sundial. Artist Haukur Halldórsson designed the arctic circle with series of circles and Basalt columns according to a coplex system, which is based on Norse mythology.
Seydisfjardarkirkja ChurchPublished: 20. June 2019
Seyðisfjarðarkirkja became famous on Instagram mostly due to the rainbow road leading up to the church. But the church itself is not the traditional black color as most churches in Iceland as Seyðisfjarðarkirkja is completely blue. That combination of the blue church and rainbow road make this one of the most picturesque churches to visit in Iceland.
This church is not just on our Happy Challenge list because it's beautiful, although that is certainly a bit part of it. They town of Seyðisfjörður is itself worth your time. This town of 700 people will give you a glimpse into Iceland's rural lifestyle. There are some great hiking trails in the area, boat tours, sightseeing tours, golf course, and more. Finally, it's the home of Tvisongur, a unique sculpture German artis Lukas Kuhne that works as a natural sound amplifier.
Hengifoss WaterfallPublished: 20. June 2019
Hengifoss is located in Hengifossá in fljótsdalshreppur. It’s the third highest waterfall in Iceland, standing a whopping 128 meters tall. It’s also known for its beautiful surroundings; being surrounded by Basaltic Strata with thin, red layers of clay between the basaltic layers. The red layers is actually very old clay that has been colored red by oxidation of its iron. These surroundings, coupled with the height of it, is what makes Hengifoss waterfall so special.
Be prepared for approx.2.5 km hike to the waterfall. The hike itself is not very difficult and offers the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors, get the blood flowing, and enjoy the Icelandic landscape. You will even find some nice surprises on the way, like the Litlanesfoss waterfall, which is not visible from the road. The parking lot can be crowded during the high-season, so my advice is to make this one of your first or last stops that day.
Svinafellsjokull GlacierPublished: 20. June 2019
Svínafellsjökull Glacier Tongue is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull in the south-east of the island. The ice breaking apart and forming hundreds of stacks is one of the reasons why you should see Svínafellsjökull with your own eyes. The landscape there is bright and beautiful and if you're lucky, you might catch the glacier breaking a part and experiencing the raw power of nature. Svínafellsjökull is one of the few accessible glacier tongues of Vatnajökull and has gained fame as an attraction after Game of Thrones was shot there.
This place is also ignored by many travelers who are too excited to see the famous Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon. Without taking anything away from Jökulsárlón, I think that this is a big mistake. If you can, plan on making both stops. The scenery here is truly magical and difficult to describe in words, so please experience it for yourself.
Westman IslandsPublished: 20. June 2019
The Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic, is a group of 15 islands off the south coast of Iceland. Of the 15 islands, Heimaey is the largest and the only one that is inhabited. Vestmannaeyjar came to international attention in 1973 with the eruption of Eldfell volcano. That eruption is also infamous in Icelandic history as it nearly led to the permanent evacuation of the island.
But I can hear you asking "why should I go visit another island when I've already traveled to Iceland, which is an island!?". Hear me out. Even though it's difficult to describe in person, Vestmannaeyjar has so many interesting things to offer. Whether it's the landscape, the small community and kind people, or the various activities, I'm confident that you won't regret visiting the Westman Islands. The islands is probably most famously called "puffin island" as it is one of the largest breeding grounds for puffins in Iceland.
Hjalpar WaterfallPublished: 20. June 2019
Hjálparfoss, or "Help Waterfall" is a beautiful waterfall where the Fossá and Þjórsá rivers meet. These two rivers fall from a lava field from the same height and their cascades merge into a pool. The surrounding area is also incredibly picturesque, but the contrast between the vegetation, lava, and water is something to behold. Not only is this waterfall a photographer's paradise, but it's also really easy to access. This can be really convenient during winter, when some attractions can become very difficult to reach due to road conditions. Compared to Gullfoss, Skogafoss, and others, it also tends to be slightly less busy with other travelers, which is always a big plus in my book.
The waterfall got its name from being a huge "help" to the horses after a long trip over the highlands. There, the horses could graze on the rich vegetation and get the rest and nourishment they needed to complete the trip.
Reykjadalur Hot RiverPublished: 20. June 2019
Reykjadalur, or "Steam Valley" is a valley filled with hot springs and mud pools. In the valley is a river which is warm and you can even bathe in it. Never bathed in a hot river before? Now is your chance. The hike up to the hot river is about 3 km and takes about 45 minutes of hiking. The hike itself is well worth your while as it offers some beautiful scenery.
Even though Reykjadalur has become more popular over the past few years, it earns its place on our Happy Challenge list because of its unique landscape and experience. The last time I was there, there were some very minimal changing areas (see photo) but don't expect any facilities. Just wear your swimsuit underneath or have a friend/partner cover you with a towel while you change. You can also choose your temperature quite easily by going up or down the river, as the river gets hotter the higher you go.
Kleifarvatn LakePublished: 20. June 2019
Lake Kleifarvatn is the largest lake in Reykjanes and is located in the southern part of the peninsula. It's about 10 km² and 97 m deep. What’s so beautiful about this lake is the volcanic surroundings of the lake are unique and the landscape is covered in a thick layer of lava. You can go scuba diving in the lake and see the hot springs that run into the lake while diving between two tectonic plates. You need to enjoy this lake while you can, as 20% of its surface has disappeared since an earthquake in 2000.
Kleifarvatn is often neglected by travelers, despite being less than 20 miles from Keflavik Airport. It's a shame, since the area offers such a uniquely Icelandic experience. When I have friends or family in town from abroad, I usually take them to this area before thinking about the Golden Circle because it usually has less tourists and is closer to home. Read my post "Exploring Reykjanes Peninsula" for more info on Kleifarvatn and the Reykjanes Peninsula.
The Most Famous Hot Dog Stand in IcelandPublished: 20. June 2019
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur directly translates to "The best hot dogs in town" and is a popular hot dog stand in central Reykjavík. This is the place people are talking about when they ask you if you've "been to that hot dog stand". Sure, it's just a hot dog stand, but its legendary status combined with their delicious hot dogs make it one of our top 20 places to see in Iceland.
What's the secret behind the delicious Icelandic hot dog? Maybe it's the fact that they have some lamb meat in the hot dog, maybe it's the fact that they are boiled, or maybe it's the delicious brown mustard or the Icelandic remoulade condiments. Either way, they are delicious and I've never been there without getting 2 hot dogs...or 3.
Are you ready for the Happy Challenge?Published: 18. June 2019
We at Happy Campers are excited to introduce the Happy Challenge, where travelers can get huge discounts on their rentals and earn a place on our Happy Wall of Fame. All you have to do is visit our favorite spots in Iceland. How does it work, you ask? The Challenge is simple:
1) Visit 20 well-known locations around Iceland.
2) Take a picture/video of you at that location and tag us on Instagram* with the hashtag #HappyChallengeIS or send them via email. Can't complete the entire challenge? Fear not. For each location you visit, you get 1% off your current rental so all is not lost. You can only win.
4 Campers, 4 Nights, endless summer daysPublished: 29. August 2018
Thinking of an Iceland stopover? If you’re heading to Europe or North America, it’s the perfect way to get a taste of Iceland.
For our family’s second trip to Iceland (my third), we wanted the freedom to explore South Iceland without a rigid itinerary. With the midnight sun on our side, we had plans to spend long days experiencing all that Iceland has to offer. So, we booked a Happy Camper van to get the flexibility we wanted on the road. It was the ideal choice.
Here are some tips for planning a short family stopover in Iceland and getting the most out of your experience:...
The Quietest Place in IcelandPublished: 26. August 2018
Did you ever think the quietest place in Iceland would be in the heart of downtown Reykjavík? Think again! Newly opened, Hydra Flot (Float) Spa is bringing sensory deprivation to the masses, one float at a time.
Many people travel to Iceland to escape busy, polluted cities and stressful lives. There's a common theme across every experience in Iceland: peace, quiet, clean, serenity. You can take a road trip to some of the most remote areas of the world that you've probably ever been to. There are entire regions that have never been inhabited like the highlands. These vast, dramatic landscapes offer plenty of space to clear your mind and unwind, with no one else around.
Taking a float in a sensory deprivation tank is an even more pure form of silence. There's extensive benefits proven to help cure jet lag, tiredness, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and even addiction or withdraw symptoms.
Vesturland ViewsPublished: 22. August 2018
My girlfriend, Anya, and I have been together for over 3 years. We just graduated college together in May. We both love to travel; throughout the course of our relationship, some of our best memories have taken place whilst traversing foreign lands. Traveling together during college, we saw cities in France, Germany, and Canada. Not long after we graduated, we decided it was time to take another trip with what little money we had. Anya had been to Iceland once with her family about 9 years ago, so she had fond but faint memories of the island, but I had never been. Once the destination was set, it was time to plan logistics...
Chasing the Northern LightsPublished: 27. July 2018
Last year my boyfriend and I wrote our own buckets and when we compared them we noticed that one of the things we had both written down was ‘to see the Northern Lights’. We started researching holiday destinations which could give us a sighting of the lights and Iceland blew us away. During our research a very popular and highly recommended way of travelling Iceland seemed to be by campervan. Our Googling led us to Happy Campers and the rest is history!
Iceland: Another WorldPublished: 4. June 2018
First of all, it's impossible to describe the beauty of Iceland and the feeling of immersing yourself in the atmosphere. That's why we recommend every nature loving adventurer to visit this country to experience this unforgettable island.
Travel date: 25th of March – 06th of April, 2018
Who we are: Couple, Lara and Doma
Route: Golden Circle, almost the whole Ringroad, North Coast, approx. 2200km
Van category: Happy 1 EX (experienced)
After we stocked up our food supplies in Reykjavik we went straight to Þingvellir. It's very impressive that you can see the flow-structure on the rocky ground and the cracked plateau due to the geographical predestined location.
Enjoy the amazing view and...
Lessons from a Happy Campers TripPublished: 4. June 2018
When I thought about Iceland before my first visit, a few random associations came up for me: trolls, cold, waterfalls and a strange feeling of “mythical magic” surrounding all of it.
I don’t know if the first three associations are just because of my narrow-minded German view of the world but I had a feeling that the last association is something special.
Now that I am on the last day of my road trip around Iceland with my Happy Campers rental van I can truly say that this magical feeling I had was true. Nowadays, where the industrial nations are flooded with big cities where the tendency is to function like a robot, I really had a strong desire to get out of all that.
Top 40 Iceland FactsPublished: 22. May 2018
So you're traveling to Iceland, huh? But how much do you know about your new destination? Well. if you're normal (unlike us) you probably don't want to spend hours studying up on Iceland's history and facts. After all, travel preparation should be fun. That's why we put together this list of top 40 facts about Iceland. Enjoy!
1. Reykjavik, Iceland is the northernmost capital in the world...
The feelings of IcelandPublished: 26. April 2018
Do not let anybody tell you what to do. Don't let anyone get deep into your head and dictate how you should experience your own life.
We have plenty of tourists all over the globe taking an incredible number of pictures of things and places - amazing things and places, no doubt about it. But what is it with us people that makes us travel to foreign places just to take the same picture somebody else has already taken? Why do we pass on the opportunity to discover something new for ourselves? Shouldn’t that be the main purpose of traveling? Shouldn't the purpose of traveling to go explore unknown places and experience them like the aliens we are? I think so.
The Iceland DreamPublished: 25. April 2018
For us everything started with the dream. One evening sitting in the pub I asked my friend about his wildest dream and almost without thinking he told me that it was to see the Northern Lights one day. Such idea couldn’t be easy forgotten and in a week we started our research. What are the Northern Lights? Where can you see them? When? How often? What do you need for it? In what countries can they be found? What do they look like in real life? And finally, all roads led to Iceland and March.
In Between Seasons in West IcelandPublished: 15. March 2018
When you think of Iceland, the first thing that may come to mind is driving along an isolated road, cascading mountains on one side, epic coastlines on the other. And that’s exactly what it was for us. While the most popular seasons to travel throughout Iceland may be an ice-covered winter surrounded by the northern lights, or an endless summer where the sun seems to never set- we chose to visit in the off season-spring.
An Adventure in South Iceland Any Time of the YearPublished: 27. November 2017
It's common to receive a lot of questions from customers asking if it's possible to see this attraction or that attraction depending on the time of year. And yes, there are plenty of destinations around Iceland Happy Campers doesn't recommend visiting nor are they open over the winter- and sometimes summer. But there are also more than enough options that are reachable, considering the weather conditions are driver friendly. It's important to keep up to date with the weather and road conditions, so make weather.is and road.is your buddies during your adventure of a lifetime.
If you need ideas on what you can see and do any time of the year, you're in luck! Now that I've gained experience camping and travelling through the South of Iceland during all seasons, I've compiled a thorough list of sights, hikes, and dips that you can participate on your Happy Camper Adventure in the southern region.
Happy Campers Opens in Cape Town, South AfricaPublished: 13. November 2017
Our little Happy family is growing and has found a new home in Cape Town, South Africa. After 2 years of preparation and many trips to and from South Africa, we officially opened our doors November 1st. We popped the champagne, took some solid selfies, and sent our first Happy travelers on the road.Check out our South Africa location at happycampers.co.za.
Here are a couple of photos from our office opening party earlier this month. We're more handsome in person - promise.
My Top Icelandic Hot PotsPublished: 9. November 2017
When in Iceland, you have to visit the hot pots. It's a must, really. What better way to experience Icelandic culture than to do as the locals do and take a dip in a hot, steaming bath? There are so many spotted around the island, there is no excuse for anyone to miss out. So pack your bathing suit and towel- maybe some sandals- and let's get this party started!
I've previously written about the do's and don'ts of swimming etiquette as well as recommended some great pools in Reykjavík. However, I also believe there is plenty more to try outside the capital. Although I haven't splashed my feet in all of the pools, here is a list of my favourite hot pots in Iceland (so far):
Can You Eat Wild Icelandic Berries?Published: 23. September 2017
'Tis the season my friends! Iceland is nothing but huge expanses of mountains, moss, and volcanic rock. You might not expect there to be anything edible to forage for in the wild. Luckily, a few short weeks of the year proffer some wild grown berries you can pick. Hear about all the different types of Icelandic berries and even some bonus information on traditional recipes made with them.
Rules of the Road in IcelandPublished: 25. August 2017
We at Happy Campers wish you a fun and exciting adventure around Iceland, wherever the road may take you! At the same time, we also want you to get from point A to point B in a safe and efficient manner, which is why I prepared a list of Iceland’s rules of the road. Some of these are international standards and are straight to the point. However, you will come across signs or laws that are either unique to Iceland or generally new to you.
When you pick up your camper with us, we make sure to tell you about some of these laws and regulations along with other items we feel are of the utmost importance when it comes to driving safe and sound. And I recently noticed a lot more travellers asking me about other things to expect. So, without further ado, here’s an overview of the rules of the road in Iceland:
Westfjords and What to ExpectPublished: 21. August 2017
So you’re planning your trip to the Westfjords and don’t know where to start your research. Luckily for you, I finally got to see why Westfjords is such a popular region to travel to, in my Happy 1 camper van. I was impressed to say the least. There were so many highlights in my trip including bathing in hot pots, enjoying the vast landscapes, and exploring Ísafjörður. It was also a pleasure to meet some of the friendly locals and learn about the culture and life in such a unique area of Iceland.
Camping was a cinch as there are plenty of campgrounds to choose from, just take a look at our campsite map. But what about other crucial details like what to expect in the Westfjords? Here’s my guide on exactly that so you are prepared for your next adventure!
Gentle Giants in HusavikPublished: 17. August 2017
I managed to participate in a handful of activities over my road trip in North Iceland with Happy Campers this summer. One of the activity highlights- over the entire trip- was taking Big Whale Safari & Puffins tour in Húsavik with Gentle Giants. Even to this day I rave about my experience with my friends and customers I meet at the office!
Gentle Giants has a history of 150 years of family history in Húsavík bay. With their expertise, they offer scheduled and custom tours depending on what you would like. Their fleet includes traditional oak ships, mighty-fast RIB boats, and even a fiberglass boat. I opted for the RIB speedboat to ensure I could get up close and personal with the “gentle giants” of the sea.
Iceland´s Into the Glacier ExperiencePublished: 24. July 2017
After living in Iceland for a while, I thought it was time to finally experience a glacier first hand. And what better way to explore a glacier than with Into the Glacier, a company specializing in tours inside the longest ice tunnel in the world at 1220 meters. So off I went mid-June on a Happy Camper road trip to the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull where the western side of the country sources their fresh water (the water you're drinking in Reykjavík right now took a couple of centuries to reach your tap!).
No matter what time of the year you plan to visit the glacier, remember the temperature always stays chilly at 0°C. Into the Glacier recommends water repellent boots, hat, and layers, similar to our essential packing guide. It also took some time to reach the tunnel, so snacks and a water bottle is recommended during the transfers. Once at Klaki Base Camp ("Klaki" translates to ice cube), you'll be able to see a map pinpointing (in blue) the different locations of the tour including Húsafell shuttle pick up, Klaki Base Camp, and of course the entrance of Into the Glacier.
Happy Camper's Official Packing List for a Great Road TripPublished: 20. July 2017
As an unofficial Iceland ambassador for my friends, one of the hot topics that comes up a lot more than you think is, “What should I pack for my Iceland adventure?!”. In fact, one of my Canadian friends is currently planning her packing list and quickly turned to me for advice. So, I thought it was about time I passed on my wisdom with you, too, Happy Campers!
A couple things to keep in mind before pulling out your essentials based on my personal experience:
- 1.Don’t overpack and use a backpack– You have a limited amount of space to store everything, so it’s best to take only what’s necessary. Unless it’s extremely small, a hard case will not fit into a Happy 1 camper, and it will take up valuable storage space in a Happy 2 and 3. Consider it a backpacking trip. It will force you to carry less overall.
Game of Thrones: Journey Around the Ring RoadPublished: 16. July 2017
Ever wondered what it would be like to visit the fantasy world of Game of Thrones? No way, me too! To celebrate the premiere of the final season- sad face!- I've compiled a list of the most popular location sets highlighted in Game of Thrones over the series. As a GOT fan, I was thrilled to hear several scenes from the hit HBO show were filmed right here in Iceland, including many in the much anticipated final episodes. "Winter is here", after all and what better destination to film than somewhere with gorgeous landscapes and scenery.
If you're a huge fan like myself and planning your trip around Iceland in a Happy Camper, why not base it on a Game of Thrones theme? Journey around the Ring Road counter-clockwise and discover the north of Westeros, hike along Frostfangs Mountain, and even camp out beyond the wall. And who knows, maybe you'll even stop by a significant cave.
A Rejuvenating Experience at Myvatn Nature BathsPublished: 13. July 2017
The area of Lake Mývatn is a nature reserve and in its own right, a beautiful and untouched natural landscape. It has so much to offer and you can explore the surroundings for days if you wanted to focus on just one region of Iceland. This includes the geothermal power plant, Hverir hot springs, and Grjótagjá cave to name a few. But I was there for for a very special reason: to rejuvenate and take a dip in Mývatn Nature Baths.
For me, a road trip in Iceland means nothing without at least one dip in a pool or hot tub. And that's exactly what I set off to do at the tail end of my adventure in Northern Iceland! My decision to bathe in the late evening was the best way to cap off the night for a an even better rest as I had a long ride to Reykjavík the next day. It's only a 4 minute drive from the local campground, too! With geothermal water temperatures ranging from 36-40C along with rejuvenating minerals, this man-made lagoon was sure to spoil me. Here's my lowdown on my wonderful spa evening:
Pólar Hestar Horseback Riding in North IcelandPublished: 9. July 2017
Happy Campers made a very special visit to Pólar Hestar, a horseback riding tour company in Grenivík. and it was definitely one of the highlights of my epic road trip through Northern Iceland. I remember my excitement the weeks leading up to the tour after getting in touch with Juliane, one of the owners. I couldn't wait to finally ride the beautiful, Icelandic horse, and have to admit I checked out their live webcam every so often. So, I ended up choosing the 2-hour tour around the farm's surrounding landscapes and my, oh my, did we have a unique experience.
Looking back, I've trained at a horse summer camp as well as done other quick tours, like through the Arizona desert. All of these were so much fun, but if I'm going to be honest, this most recent horseback riding trip has topped them all! And there were several factors as to why:
Happy Campers Road Trip Highlights In North IcelandPublished: 5. July 2017
I came, I saw, I conquered North Iceland with a Happy Camper...Finally! One of my oldest friends, Sarah, visited me for the first time since moving to Iceland and it was the perfect moment to plan a trip to the North. It's somewhere I've been dreaming of travelling to since I moved to Reykjavík, so I booked a Happy Camper and off we went for 4 days into the world unknown. We were lucky to have great weather through the entirety of our road trip and experienced so much in so little time.
A couple of tips: Be prepared to drive and make a lot more stops to sightsee than intended! I drove a total of 1500km and couldn't choose just one thing to share, so here's my highlight reel of our special road trip in North Iceland.
Camping Out Reykjavik PridePublished: 1. July 2017
People rent our fabulous campervans for all kinds of trips in Iceland. They rent them to drive the south coast and see cute animals. They rent them to camp out for Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves. Generally just Happy things, right? But have you ever thought about camping out at a Pride festival? It may actually be the best way to go to Hinsegin dagar 2017, the Reykjavík Pride festival this August 8 - 13. Lemme fill you in on all the T and none of the shade: Happy Campers can set you up loud and proud with a perfect pride-mobile for the festival.
South Iceland's Slakki Petting Farm ExperiencePublished: 26. June 2017
If you love animals and like getting up close and personal with them, I can highly recommend visiting Slakki Petting Farm in Southwest Iceland, a family-run attraction. It's the perfect family fun trip to get to know some local animals as you tour Iceland. And it's not just for families. Oh, no. I went with my friend, Ása, on a day trip from Reykjavík after she told me all about it. So, if you're asking yourself, "What should I do in Iceland?", Slakki is a place you need to consider!
I couldn't resist saying yes, so we went in the beginning of June when the baby animals finally made their public debut. It really was cute overload with calves, rabbits, turtles, guinea pigs, kittens, kids, ducklings, and even an arctic fox. Not only do they have the farm, they also have a playground for younger families (I attempted the electric bulldozer in the sandpit), restaurant, mini golf course, and pool table. Admission is 1000isk per adult and half price- if not free- for teens and younger children. Opening hours are from 11 until 18.
It's easily reachable from the Ring Road (Route 1) and can be navigated with our Garmin GPS or wifi, both available as add-ons. Slakki can be found in Laugarás, a little over half hour drive from Selfoss when you take Road 30 and then left again on 31. Just drive past the entrance and you'll locate the gravel parking lot to the right where there is also a toilet, an ideal pitstop before or after the visit. There are quite a few campsites in the surrounding areas if you choose to stay overnight in the south of Iceland before or after your animal adventure.
Reykjavik Record ShoppingPublished: 22. June 2017
Iceland has a very peculiar music scene. It's well known for Secret Solstice, Iceland Airwaves , and many other music festivals, but the local shop scene is also well endowed. 101 is the hub of all things vinyl, LP, and old school. That being said, you can rifle through the stacks and find anything from 1960's Icelandic Christmas music, to the newest ethereal band on offer.
My suggestion is: roll up your sleeves and get flippin'. There's plenty of records to check out, new and old. Here are my suggestions for finding the best records 64 degrees north:
Reykjavik Food WalkPublished: 19. June 2017
It should come as no surprise by now that I love food. I’ve already shared my favourite budget eats around Reykjavík as well as my burger experience on Vestmannaeyjar. What if I told you there was an epic tour named Reykjavík Food Walk dedicated to traditional foods of Iceland? And what if I also told you the tour consisted of eating your way through downtown? If this isn’t a dream tour, I don’t know what is!
So I had to get in touch with the owners of Wake Up Reykjavík who kindly accommodated Happy Campers in the morning. Now you’re probably thinking, “Lea, you ate rotten shark, sheep’s head, and Brennivín in the morning?”. Although it’s correct to say these are traditional fare, Wake Up Reykjavík chooses to take a different approach and share what locals love to eat today, showing family-run businesses, unknown hangouts, and the newest shops on the block. All of these food destinations take pride in their creations, so it was of utmost importance we arrived with an empty stomach and open mind.
Going Inside a VolcanoPublished: 5. June 2017
Do you want a truly unforgettable trip in Iceland? Are you ready for a once-in-a-lifetime experience going INSIDE a volcano?! Well buckle in, because I'm about to tell you about the only volcano in the world that you can explore from within…
10 Free Things to Do & See in ReykjavíkPublished: 27. May 2017
It doesn't matter if you're a new traveller to Iceland or a seasoned veteran to this incredible country. The world's northernmost capital, Reykjavík, is the perfect place to start or end your adventure in the North Atlantic. Although it's easy to spend a pretty penny shopping, dining, and sightseeing in this charming destination, there are surprisingly a lot of free things to do in Reykjavík. And that includes some of the main highlights of the city!
As long as you have an open mind and enjoy a lovely day walking around, this extensive- but not exclusive- list will keep you busy and on budget. So park your Happy Camper in a (legal) parking space or lot and let's get going! Here is my list of 10 free things to do and see in Reykjavik (and a bonus tip!).
Journey to Vatnshellir Cave on SnaefellsnesPublished: 23. May 2017
“Please turn off your personal flashlight and then close your eyes”, our tour guide, Soffía, said before turning off her super-powered lamp. “Now, open and listen.” Total darkness surrounded me, blinded without an ounce of light. Drip, drip, drip. Only the echoes of water splashing on my shoulder could be heard while everyone stood in silence on the uneven floor. To be able to indulge in one’s senses without hurry or distraction is an unusual, but pleasant feeling these days. And that’s exactly what my friend and I were able to experience recently on our journey to the center of the earth.
On a rainy Monday morning, my friend and I made our way from Reykjavík to Snæfellsnes peninsula where we were to participate on a snowmobile excursion with Summit Adventure Guides. Unsurprisingly, I got a call saying the tour was cancelled due to inclement weather, however, we were welcome to make our way over to the Vatnshellir Cave Tour, which runs rain or shine. We obliged and rerouted our handy GPS to the entrance of Snæfellsjökull National Park where we would meet our guide and descend into a deep, dark, lava tube!
Only a couple of kilometers into the park, we found a tiny gravel parking lot on the right hand side with a modest sign. My first impression was it didn’t look like much, with only the lot and a tiny wood shed. And the mood was mysterious as the mist from the rain floated just above ground. We were right on time and hoped to make the 11am tour and ran into the shed to get some information. We met a nice gentleman who checked us in and passed along a couple of hard helmets as well as flashlights. Once directed, we quickly joined the group where Soffía had just begun her introduction to “Undirheimar”, or “Underworld”.
Horseback RidingPublished: 19. May 2017
The Icelandic horse is a one of a kind breed. Equestrians from all over the world agree. The horses that the vikings brought over from Norway have been on the island for so long without change. For this reason, modern caretakers of these horses are very protective of them. If you'd like the chance to ride one of these ancient stallions, you're best bet is with Ís Hestar Horseback Riding in Hafnarfjörður.
The Secret LagoonPublished: 15. May 2017
I'll let you in on a big secret: one of the best pools in Iceland is not the Blue Lagoon.
Nothing against the Blue Lagoon, I've been there a few times to soak in the opaque, teal waters. But if you're looking for a bit more authentic experience, I recommend the Secret Lagoon in Fluðir. The team there will certainly make you feel at home.
The Real VikingSushi AdventurePublished: 11. May 2017
My friend and I recently went on our first campervan adventure together to Snæfellsnes along the west coast of Iceland. There was so much we were impressed about, including Stykkishólmur, one of the film locations you may recognize from Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s also known for the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum where my colleague, Michael, came face-to-face with one of Iceland’s elusive delicacies: rotten shark.
Wanting to try a more appetizing- but equally memorable- experience, Happy Campers teamed up with Seatours on their 2-hour guided VikingSushi Adventure to explore abundant nature and wildlife the area has to offer. Breiðafjörður Bay is located just north of Stykkishólmur, best explored by boat to discover both the interesting basalt rock formations inhabited by unique seabirds and the sea creatures lurking at the bottom of the bay.
Stargazing in IcelandPublished: 4. May 2017
It's mid-February. Nights are long and days are short. You're traveling in a camper van with a close friend or loved one. The weather is certainly chilly, but you notice there's not a lot of wind. You step out of the van with some warm cocoa and look up to the night sky. The milky way is painted so boldly in front of your face across the night sky, it arrests all of your attention...
Iceland’s Local Pool Guidelines, Do's & Don'tsPublished: 30. April 2017
So you’re coming to Iceland and want to experience the local swimming culture. And the first place you probably think of is Blue Lagoon. It’s certainly a unique destination to delve into world of Iceland. It also happens to be one of those places travellers are hesitant about, not because of the actual experience, but because they hear rumors about nudity and showering naked in front of strangers.
Well, yes, let me be the first one to tell you it’s true, but nothing to worry about if you're used to complete privacy! In fact, the practice of showering without anything on is common all over the country at the local pools. So, don’t let this rather nerve-wracking idea talk you out of taking a dip in a cosy pool. Here is a collection of general guidelines, do’s, and don’ts when it comes to visiting a public swimming pool in Iceland so you’re prepared for one of the highlights of your holiday!
My Favorite Waterfall: KvernufossPublished: 27. April 2017
There are many waterfalls in Iceland. So many, in fact, that you could see five new waterfalls every day and still not see them all. Each one has it's own particular character, shape, and approach. Some waterfalls are accessible right off Road 1, with ample parking. Some waterfalls are only accessible with a 4X4 vehicle in the highlands. My favorite waterfall, however, is just a bit off the beaten path.
A Happy Camper’s Guide to VestmannaeyjarPublished: 23. April 2017
Over the Easter Weekend, I visited Vestmannaeyjar (or Westman Islands) and can highly recommend adding this destination to your Iceland bucket list for 1-2 days. Taking over your Happy Camper is a cinch as well, especially when the campsite is up and running from mid-May!
Heimaey (the main island) has interesting history and exciting outdoor activities for everyone, and is easily one of my most memorable trips since moving to Iceland. I have a lot to share from how to get to the island and where to stay overnight to what to do and what do eat and drink! This is my Happy Campers’ guide to visiting Vestmannaeyjar!
Fermented SharkPublished: 18. April 2017
Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum is located on a farm run by a single family for generations. You could say that the shark stank in their blood, or well, at least their baby food...
Snorkeling in Silfra with Scuba IcelandPublished: 14. April 2017
If you're looking for a unique experience to cross off that bucket list of yours- and let's be honest, to tell all your family and friends about- look no further as I share Happy Campers' experience snorkeling in Silfra. Last weekend, we were graciously invited by Scuba Iceland to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and could not refuse their offer!
Whether you’ve visited Iceland previously or are planning to, you probably heard of this fun activity exclusive to Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir), a UNESCO Heritage Site and popular attraction located 45 minutes southeast of Reykjavík. Not only is Þingvellir home to Silfra, a rift connected to Þingvallavatn lake, it’s also a land of historical significance. Alþingi (Althingi), located not too far from Silfra, is the oldest parliament established in 930A.D., a must-visit sight.
What to Do in Reykjavik on a Rainy DayPublished: 9. April 2017
There are plenty of activities you can participate in on a wet and cloudy day in Reykjavík without sacrificing your adventure in Iceland. It’s easy to want to cuddle in bed with a good book or movie. I get it. Been there, done that. But you’re in Iceland! Don’t let the unpredictable weather stop you from experiencing this exciting and beautiful country worth exploring.
So start up your Happy Camper and get exploring the cultural side of the capital. To begin your day, park at Hallgrímskirkja and head to the top for a panoramic view above the city and then look to my top recommendations on what to do in Reykjavík on a rainy day.
Happy, Golden CamperPublished: 4. April 2017
You’re not a regular tourist. You don’t want a posh penthouse Airbnb in Reykjavik. Being out in nature sounds a lot more interesting...
...You don’t want a coach bus to cart you around Iceland with the rest of the tourists, you’d prefer the freedom of stopping and going wherever and whenever you please.
You, my friend, are a Happy Camper
Reykjavik's Best Coffee ShopsPublished: 30. March 2017
Most locals I know actually prefer a spoonful or two of instant coffee from Bónus in the morning, but there’s actually a strong following of coffee aficionados based in Reykjavik. You too can become a proper “lattelepjandi lopatrefillinn” (latte-sipping-wool-scarf-wearing-101-er) during your travels in the city if you’d like.
5 Quality Meals in Reykjavik That Won’t Break the BankPublished: 27. March 2017
We, at Happy Campers, understand the importance of a good, quality meal at budget-friendly prices, especially in Iceland where the bill can be overwhelming. We also understand you may prefer a more cultural food experience versus relying solely on supermarket fare, because that’s just boring! For a good ratio between quality and quantity, I’ve compiled a list of establishments around Reykjavík that won’t break the bank and will tickle anyone’s appetite from morning ‘til night.
Happy Campers' Basic Guide to IcelandicPublished: 17. March 2017
Isolated and spoken by a population of less than 400,000 individuals, the Icelandic language is a beloved and proud part of Icelandic culture. Standard Icelandic is originally based on the 12th century Old Norse and then somewhat remodelled again in the 19th century by adding and subtracting letters and words. It’s comparable to German with four cases. If you’d like to learn more about the history and intricacies, take a look here.
Icelandic is so rare, a lot of folks I’ve met around the world are amazed Iceland even has its own language! And it happens to be one of the oldest and hardest to master as a foreigner. Fortunately, the locals are also experts in English, a more favourable language amongst travellers, so you can easily get by without trying to pronounce one of those ridiculous volcano names like Eyjafjallajökull*.
Camping Like Walter MittyPublished: 12. March 2017
By far, my favourite little town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula is Stykkishólmur. It’s the favourite of many others as well; this town has been a centre for trade and commerce since the 16th century because of its natural harbour. If you’ve seen Secret Life of Walter Mitty, you’ll notice a lot of filming locations here as this was Ben Stiller’s favourite town too...
Reykjavík’s Best Ice Cream Shops According to Happy CampersPublished: 10. March 2017
Something I noticed in Iceland and quickly embraced was the ice cream culture. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is or if the weather is crappy, you’ll always find a group of locals queuing for this sweet treat. The most important rule to remember- if you want to blend in with the locals- is to drive to an ice cream shop of choice, order, and then sit and indulge in the car. And the convenience of driving to the front door in your Happy Camper couldn't make it an easier decision!
As an ice cream fanatic, you can bet your sweet tooth I’ve tried and tested some of the coolest ice cream Iceland’s capital has to offer. Here’s my shortlist for the ultimate ice cream experiences in Reykjavík.
How to Make the Best of a Snow Day in ReykjavíkPublished: 2. March 2017
Mother Nature gave the locals- and travellers alike- the gift of a spectacular Winter Wonderland on Sunday morning in Iceland. A total of 51 centimetres of snow was recorded as the largest snowfall in decades! Reykjavík unofficially shut down for a snow day since most residential streets weren’t plowed and cars were literally buried under a thick blanket of snow. Even the cats of Reykjavík chose to bask in the sun all day long and I don't blame them!
The forecast for the day was clear, blue skies and crisp air accompanied by the sun’s reflection off the snow-covered city. There was no way I was going to waste such a lovely day inside. Would you? So here’s what I did and what you can do to make the most of a snow day in Reykjavík.
Winter road trip in Snaefellsnes peninsulaPublished: 5. January 2017
Another weekend, another road trip adventure. This time, Kristie, my wife, and I are exploring Snæfellsnes peninsula. Snæfellsnes is one of my favorite parts of Iceland and it makes for a perfect weekend destination, as it is only about 90 minutes outside of Reykjavik.
We load up our Happy Campers van with food, camera stuff, and, most importantly, plenty of warm clothes. It's January in Iceland, so we better be prepared for anything. Once we're all set, we start driving north.
The drive is pretty straightforward. Just follow Road 1 (the ring road) until you reach Borgarnes. This small town is the perfect place for any last minute stops for gas, food, etc. before continuing to Snæfellsnes. Once you're ready to go, you will make a left at the last roundabout leaving Borgarnes, onto road 54. This road will take you around the entire peninsula, so it's impossible to get lost.
Exploring Reykjanes PeninsulaPublished: 23. November 2016
Reykjanes Peninsula (Reykjanesskagi) holds some of Iceland’s best kept secrets and everything is within a 30 minute drive from the airport. Yet, many people either don't know about what this area has to offer or choose to ignore it. It’s like people get so excited about leaving Keflavik Airport and head to Reykjavik, that they forget to explore that area. Sure, there are a lot of amazing places to see by the ring road, but if you have an extra day to explore, I would definitely recommend checking out Reykjanes. Here are some of the top attractions in Reykjanes Peninsula:
Iceland Waterfalls - Top 10Published: 20. August 2015
Have you ever typed "Iceland Waterfalls" into Google and spent way too much time looking at photos? I wouldn't be surprised. If not, you probably should.
People love waterfalls. Indeed, people like them so much that I often joke about how obsessed people can be with running water. It's just water, right? Wrong. The minute you actually experience one of the most amazing waterfalls Iceland has to offer, you'll realize that it's definitely something more than just falling water.
If you are looking for stunning waterfalls, Iceland is a great place to visit. But is there anything special about Icelandic waterfalls in particular? Some of them are amazingly powerful and others are really tall. Sure. But what makes waterfalls in Iceland truly special is the fact that they are surrounded by stunning Icelandic landscapes. So, if any country can make you fall in love with water, it's Iceland...
Reykjadalur Hike: A perfect Day Trip in IcelandPublished: 8. August 2015
It's a Monday afternoon, on a holiday, and I'm trying to decide how to best spend the rest of the afternoon with my better half, Kristie. That's when I realize that I have never been to Reykjadalur and having heard so much about it, it sounded like the perfect day trip. If you don't feel like reading the rest of this post, I can just sum it up by saying that I was completely right. The Reykjadalur hike was one of the most memorable day trips Kristie and I have taken with only a couple minor downsides, which I will explain later.
Reykjadalur: What you need to know
What: Reykjadalur ("Smokey Valley") is a beautiful valley in the south of Iceland, characterized by geothermal activity and famous for its "hot river", where hikers can bathe surrounded by nature.
Where: Reykjadalur is located right by the town of Hveragerði, an approximately 40-minute drive...
Best Places to See the Northern Lights in IcelandPublished: 24. February 2015
As an amateur photographer, there's nothing more exciting than capturing the northern lights. I suspect that I'm not alone about that, so I decided to write down my top 16 places to either watch or photograph the northern lights and hopefully you'll find it useful. To see the exact location of each spot, I put together this map.
General Northern Lights Tips
Before going through the list, there are a few general things that you should keep in mind before deciding on the perfect location.
- Try seeing the northern lights during winter months, and close to midnight (or the darkest part of the day possible)
- Make sure to bring warm clothes - this will make you more patient, which is crucial when shooting the northern lights
- Keep the moonlight in mind (is it a full moon?)
- Bring a sturdy tripod and a remote/cable shutter release trigger if possible
- Bring a travel chair with you, to be extra comfy
- Think about your composition and choose your location accordingly
- Check the road conditions. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
- If you are considering a northern lights tour, I’d recommend reconsidering. You don’t need a ticket to see the northern lights (It’s nature’s gift to everybody!) A little bit of research is all you need.
Top 10 Swimming Pools in IcelandPublished: 30. January 2015
Iceland is known for its geothermal activity and that definitely has its perks. One of the biggest benefits of living in such a country are all the amazing geothermal pools you will find around Iceland. Icelanders love their pools more than most people in the world and it has become a big part of our culture. In the land of ice and difficult weather, we have always been looking for ways to keep warm and enjoying a geothermal pool is a great way to do that. This is why Iceland is one of the top countries in the world when it comes to number of pools per capita.
The bad news is, because there are so many pools, it's tough to know which ones are actually worth a visit. Here is a list of the top 10 pools around Iceland. These pools are mostly based on my experience but I also considered the opinion of some close friends. Please let me know if you have tried/will try any of these and tell me if you agree!
What to do in Reykjavik on a SundayPublished: 3. April 2014
Reykjavik, like most other cities around the world, is pretty quiet on a regular Sunday. Many visitors are spending the weekend in Reykjavik and we often get asked what they should do to make the most of that day. This is true for Americans especially, who are used to stores being open 24/7 and having endless variety of entertainment. If you are up early enough, the only people you might find in the streets of Reykjavik might be the most dedicated “clubbers” on their way home from a party. If you find yourself in this situation, here are just a few points on how a local would spend his Sunday.
1. Get a Good Breakfast!
What better way to start your Sunday than with a delicious breakfast! Try Bergsson Mathús, a great local restaurant at the heart of Reykjavik (Templarasund 3), serving fresh food. Besides the great food, you don’t have to sell your kidney to finance the meal (it’s reasonably priced)! They have a good brunch, too, but you . might also want to check out Prikid for brunch. If you’re looking to cure a hangover, go for the “hangover killer” and you’re good to go! They are located at Bankastraeti 12, right on the corner of the main shopping street of Reykjavik.
Top 10 Hidden Gems of IcelandPublished: 3. September 2013
Many travelers I talk to only have a few days in Iceland so they usually just stick to Route 1 (the ring road). In that case, I highly recommend checking out some of the more popular attractions, like the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths, Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, the Golden Circle, and other popular tourists places close to Route 1. Doing the Golden Circle and then driving along the south coast is a very popular choice, for example. But for those who want to get the most out of their experience in Iceland, going off the beaten path is a must. When friends, family, and travelers ask me about my favorite attractions, I point to these hidden gems:
What: Seljavallalaug is the oldest swimming pool in...