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.
A Gorgeous Saga Hike at RaudfeldsgjaPublished: 6. March 2017
Traveling with your camper van on the Snæfellsnes peninsula? There’s certainly plenty to see along the entire drive, but for the adventurous at heart, the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is a must stop.
Bárdur is a half-human, part-troll, part-giant from the early 14th century. Just don’t anger him by endangering his daughters. This gorge was named after Rauðfeldr, one of the sons of Bárdur’s half-brother. I know, I know, in the Icelandic sagas, everyone is half-everything, but follow along, things get crazy...
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...
Camping Happy @ Reykjavik PridePublished: 1. January 1970
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 Icelandairwaves.
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 city's 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 trip in Iceland for Pride.