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Ic e l a n d M ag . c o m You r s ou r c e f or da i ly n e w s f r om Ic e l a n d, l o c a l t i p s a n d e x p e rt i s e


01 2014 T r av e l · N at u r e · n e w s · P e o p l e · C u lt u r e

Matching up to the Statue of Liberty p.28

Iceland’s booming tourism is bringing long overdue innovation to the industry


The designers of Reykjavík Fashion Festival P 20 Go North: Eyjafjörður fjord P 34 Traveling with kids P 40

Yo ur



co py

Contents from the editor

34 40 Jón Kaldal jon.kaldal@iceland­

Beers to You


he running theme of Ice­­­land’s poli­­­tical debate this spring is whether the EU mem­­­­­ber­­­­ship application should be with­­­­drawn, as the current govern­­­ment is pro­­­pos­­­­ing, or whether a nati­­onal re­­fer­­end­­um should be held to de­­­cide how to proceed. This is certainly not what the anti-EU government favors. The discussion about the pros and cons of Ice­­ land’s possi­­ble EU membership looked all but dead and bur­­­ied, but is suddenly more vigorous than ever. In the firing line, among other issues, are the generous subsidies for domestic agri­­culture. Iceland is the ruling world champion in that dubious league. The syst­­em is, however, essentially flawed; farmers are constantly on the brink of fin­­­­­­an­­cial ruin and yet consumers pay through the nose for their products. So this is a situation that is ripe for change. The way things stand, farmers and a large part of the pro-EU camp are in opposite corners. The farmers are under­­­­standably nervous about what cheap­­er agriculture could do to their liveli­­­hood and their profession. EU membership would most likely sign­al the end of the industrial pro­­duct­­ion of poultry and pigs in Iceland, but the rest of the farming sector should be in a good position to compete. In gen­­eral, Icelandic farmers are makers of quality products that will prevail. And Icelanders prefer local food and drink where they have a choice, the beer market being perhaps the best ex­­ample. Out of Iceland’s top ten most popular beers, six are by local brewers (see p. 8). That’s pretty impress­­ive, especially considering that little more than 25 years ago there was hardly any beer production at all in Iceland. For 74 years (1915 to 1989), strong beer was il­­legal in Iceland, but after the ban was finally lifted, it took local brands only a short period to obliterate the im­­ported competition. The brewers did it with confidence and good products. Icelandic farmers should look to them for role models. Published by Imag ehf. Editor Jón Kaldal, Advertising sales: Benedikt Freyr Jónsson Contributing writers and photographers: Sara McMahon, Magrét Erla Maack, Dr.Gunni, Valli, Vilhelm Gunnarsson, Auðunn Níelsson Stefán Karlsson, Gunnar V. Andrésson, Pjetur Sigurðsson. production Manager: Ivan burkni On the Cover: Iceland Mag relaunches an old idea: The statue of Reykjavík's founder Ingólfur Arnarson in the same size as NY's Statue of Liberty. Photo by Valli. Picture production by Kristinn Gunnarsson. Printed by Ísafold. Distribution by Póstdreifing. Distributed free around Iceland and in the capital area. On the cover ... Photo by Valli Talk to us:



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014



Contents 6-16 Lookout 6 The New Nordic Pizza 5 Bars to visit 8 The Reykjavík Soundtrack by Mayor Jón Gnarr Iceland’s top Beers 10 Blue is the Coolest Colour 12 Dr Gunni’s Music Corner 14-16 Highlights Ahead 18 Yes, Yes, Yes! Capturing the Northern Lights



20 Finding a New Aesthetic The designers of Reykjavík Fashion Festival. 28 Booming Innovation New travel projects that have the potential to draw big numbers of visitors. 34 Visiting Eyjaförður North-Iceland’s Winter Wonderland. 40 Kid Stuff Some good advice on what to do with the little people while traveling in Iceland. 44 Iceland Mag Explains Does the Arctic Circle pass through Iceland? And more burning questions. 46 The Sound & Smell of the Sea The west side of Reykjavík is Svanhvít Tryggvadóttir’s neighborhood.


The viking:info Laugavegur 1 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 1 - 3 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 104 · Akureyri

Akureyri Reykjavík TAX FREE


Bars to Visit in Reykjavík Kaffibarinn One of Reykjavík’s most esta­­ blis­hed watering holes. Mondays to Thursdays the atmosphere is quite laid back, but on weekends it be­­­comes loud, sweaty and seri­ ously crowded. Crowd: Kaffibarinn tends to attract arty hipster types. A little tip: Do not sport your favourite pair of shoes to Kaffi­­ barinn on a Saturday night, they will be stomped on repeatedly.

Micro Bar


Gunnar Karl “What started out as new-Nordic cuisine has evolved into what I like to call ‘new-Icelandic’ cuisine.”

Has a great selection of local and international micro brews for beer connoisseurs to enjoy and the staff is friendly and chatty. Crowd: Popular with tourists and beer connoisseurs. A little tip: Ask the bartender to recommend you a beer. Happy hour: Every day between 5pm and 8pm. Beer 500 kr.


Pizza with an Icelandic Twist Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason and his partners open two very different restaurants under one roof in downtown Reykjavík.

he ever-popular Kex Host­el is ex­­­pand­­­­­­ ing, op­­ening two new rest­­­au­­­rants in addition to the exist­­ing gastro­­ -pub, Sæm­­­und­­ur í spari­­­fötun­­ um. The new restau­­­rants are centr­­ally located on Hverfis­­gata street and opened for business in March. Head chef and co-owner is Gunnar Karl Gíslason, who used to head Dill Restaurant in the Nordic House, a long-time favorite among food­­ies of all nati­­­o­­nalities. Pétur Marteinsson, former profootballer turned restaurateur and one of the owners of Kex, says the extra space in the build­­­ ing meant they could kill two birds with one stone and open two very different restaurants in the same location.



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

Gunnar Karl is known to be a rather unorthodox chef, and he’ll stay true to his nature when it comes to pizza toppings. “I’ve dreamt about opening a pizza restaurant for years and fin­­­­ally the opportunity presented it­­self. The pizzas will have an Ice­­­landic twist about them; the pizza dough will be made from whey and barley, and the topp­­ings will also be Icelandic-in­­spir­­ed. One doesn’t always have to follow in others’ foot­­steps,” he says, punctuating the sentence with a laugh. Dill Restaurant will be down­­­ sized from when it was located in the Nordic House, now only seat­­ ing twenty-five guests at a time. “The interior design will be warm and homey and revolve around Icelandic craftsmanship, just like the food. What started

out as new-Nordic cuisine has evol­­ved into what I like to call ‘new-Icelandic’ cuisine. Our foc­us is, and always will be, on Ice­­landic produce and in­­­­­­­gred­ients.” -SM

I’ve dreamt about opening a pizza restaurant for years and fin­­­­ally the opportunity presented it­­self. The restaurants are located at Hverfisgata 12.

A popular place for aperitifs and easily accommodates large groups. Located at the Marina Hotel and overlooks the old harbour. Crowd: Local and international. A little tip: Try one of their gin cocktails. Happy hour: Every day between 16 and 18. Beer 500 kr. Wine 500 kr.

Kex Hostel Bar Located in what used to be a cookie factory with a fantastic view of the bay, the bar offers tasty craft beers on draft and bistro-style food in case you get peckish. Crowd: Hostel-guests, mixed with local hipsters. A little tip: Kex has a large out­­ door patio and a little park out back which are worth a visit during summer.

B5 A modern-looking bar equipped with its own burger joint at the back. It tends to get extremely busy during weekends. Crowd: Young and trendy. A place frequented by football- and handball players alike. A little tip: A long queue will form outside B5 shortly after midnight. Happy hour: Every day between 5 pm and 10 pm. Beer 550 kr. Wine 550 kr.

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Lookout The top 5

King Víking


Jón was elected the capital’s may­­­ or in 2010 when his party, Besti flokk­­­­­­­ur­­­inn (The Best Party), form­­ed a coali­ti­ on gov­­­ern­­­­­­­ment with Sam­­­­­­­­fylk­­­ ingi­n (The Social Demo­­crat­ic Alli­­­­­ ance). Jón will step down after the muni­ci­­pal elect­­­ions in 2014. Photo/GVA

The Mayor’s Playlist


ut of Iceland’s top ten most popular beers, six are by local brew­­­ ers. Actually the top five are all Ice­­landic. The un­­­dis­­­­­ put­­­ed king is Víking Gylltur (Gold­­ en) with more than double the mark­­et share of its brot­­h­­­er Vík­­ing Lager, which com­­es in at number two. Vík­­ing Gyllt­­­ur is a strong lag­­­­­­­er beer (5.6%) that has been de­­­­­­­­­­­­scrib­­ ed as having “fantastic drink­­a­­­­­­­­­­­­bili­­ty.” The top 10 list is dominated by lager beers, but Ice­­land is in the middle of a beer revolution, with new, more adventurous beers from local breweries hitt­­ing the mark­­et almost every month. All are availa­­ble in licensed rest­­­au­­­ rants or in the 48 state-run liquor stor­­­­­es (there is a mono­­poly on sales of alco­­hol in Iceland). -jk

Iceland Mag asked Jón GnarR, the mayor of Reykjavík, to pick the perfect playlist for his home city. 1

Toxicity by System of a Down


Partýbær (Party Town) by Ham

To draw attention to air pollution in Reykja­­­ vík. The World Health Organization main­­­ tains that particle pollution from mobile emiss­­­­ions and nail-tires tearing up the asph­­alt in the winter is just as harmful as to­­­bacco smoke and asbestos. Dead serious.

Self-explanatory. An ode to something else

2 Fjöllin hafa vakað by Bubbi Morthens

In honor of the mayor of Akranes

An ode to Mount Esja (the mountain that dominates the view from Reykjavík) 3

Ó Reykjavík by Vonbrigði

Self-explanatory 4

Ó, borg mín borg by Björk and KK


Big A Little A by Crass

This song has had a profound effect on me 7

Regína by the Sugarcubes


Við erum best (We are the Best) by Besti flokkurinn (The Best Party) Because we are the best 9

Imagine by John Lennon

Reykjavík, a city without an army

The most beautiful poem ever written about Reykjavík Listen to Jón Gnarr’s Reykjavík soundtrack on Mixcloud at


Víking Gylltur, 5.6%


Víking Lager 4.5%


Egils Gull 5%


Thule 5%


Víking Lite 4.4%

Elegant but casual two floor Bistro located in the Heart of the City on Vegamótastígur.

Ve g a m ó t R e s t a u r a n t | Ve g a m ó t a s t í g u r 4 | 1 0 1 R e y k j a v í k | Te l . 5 1 1 3 0 4 0

A Blue Wonder World Photo by Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is one of Iceland’s most specta­ cu­­lar natural wonders. With its luminous blue-white ice­­­bergs, it will take your breath away every time, no matter how often you have visited its shore. The name literally means glacial river lagoon—a trans­parent name indeed. The lake covers about 22 km2 (8.5 sq mi), from the base of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, to the edge of Ice­­­­­­­land’s southeast coast. Only a sliver of solid ground separ­­at­­ es it from the North Atlantic ocean.

Traveling highway 1 between the town of Höfn and Skafta­­­­fell natio­nal park, you can see the lagoon from the road. But of course you should stop for a few moments and enjoy it up close. From spring to late autumn you can take a boat trip on the la­­goon with seasoned tour operators (see A live view of Jökulsárlón is offered by the webcam of the tele­­­ comm­­­unications company Míla at It was selected by as one of the 25 most unique and interesting webcams of 2013. jk

Lookout Dr. Gunni’s World of Icelandic Music

Veterans with a steady stream of catchy tunes


The Icelandic trio Mono Town supported the U.S. indie legends The Pixies as special guests on several gigs on their European tour last autumn, and now, after a long wait, their debut album is finally out.

ono Town’s music can be summed up as adult altern­­­a­­­ tive pop-rock. On their debut album, In the Eye of the Storm, they take hints from Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, to conjure up a steady stream of catchy tunes. The mood is relaxing and harm­­ onic, with occasional spunky and upbeat moments. Outstanding tunes are the radio-friendly pop song “Peacemaker,” the stringladen slow groove of “Jackie O,” the rhythmical ballad “Two Bullets,” and the relentless closing song “Can Deny.” The Mono Town band is made up of the multi-instrumentalist brothers Börkur and Daði, sons of Birgir, and their uncle, ex-nati­­o­­­ nal-team handballer, vocalist, and guitarist Bjarki Sigurðsson.The brothers’ back catalogue includes

Mono Town Brothers Daði (left) and Börkur, sons of Birgir, and their uncle vocalist and guitarist Bjarki Sigurðs­­ son in the middle. Photo/Hörður Sveinsson

a jazzy funk band called Jagúar and a wealth of session work und­­er the alias Bensín­­bræð­­ur (Gas­­­oline Brothers). Bjarki also put out a solo album in 2007, Good Morning Mr. Evening.

To promote their music inter­­­ nationally the band formed a relationship with the streaming serv­ice Deezer. The album was initially released exclusively on Deezer, and in just under two months it received well over a million hits on the site. The album can also be streamed on the band’s homepage (www. mono­­­ It has also been released on vinyl and CD by Record Records, the leading Ice­­­landic record label. A monotown is a town whose economy is dominated by a single industry or company, so the band might have the Icelandic fishing or aluminum industries in mind. Mono Town has already gained some ground outside of Iceland. They supported the U.S. indie legends The Pixies as special guests on several gigs on their Euro­­­pean

tour last November and played a sold-out show in Paris as part of a festival called Air d’Islande. They have confirmed two shows in Iceland to launch The Eye Of The Storm. The shows will take place on April 3rd at Gamla Bíó in Reykjavík and April 12th at Græni Hatturinn in Akureyri. Further plans for a stellar 2014 are underway.

In the Eye of the Storm is Mono Town’s debut album. Outstanding tunes are the radio-friendly pop song “Peacemaker,” the string-laden slow groove of “Jackie O,” the rhythmical ballad “Two Bullets,” and the relentless closing song “Can Deny.”

Dr. Gunni is a jack-of-all-trades in the Icelandic music world.

The Fear of Winning

The Eurovison song contest raises mixed feelings.


celanders have a strange rela­­­tionship with the Euro­­­­­ vis­­ion song contest. Hav­­ing taken part since 1986, the nation still has hopes of winning the darn thing (as of now Ice­­­ land’s best result is being twice num­­­ber two). But the hope of winn­­­­ing is laden with fear, as it is believed that having to stage the contest in Iceland might well ruin the country’s weak economy. This year, ten songs competed on TV with Pollapönk’s “Enga fordóma” (“No prejudice”), which won and hence will repres­­­ent Ice­­ land in the contest in Copen­­hagen in May. Quartet Polla­­­­­­pönk



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

(Kid­­­punk) is led by guitar­­­ist/sing­­ ers Heiðar and Har­­ald­­­ur, who are also in the more ser­­ious rock trio Botn­­leðja (aka Silt), which has been active since 1994. Laying their world domination plans to rest in the early 21st cent­­ ury, Heiðar and Haraldur stud­­i­­ed and became preschool teac­­hers. Later Haraldur even be­­came the chairman of the pre­­­school teachers union. With Polla­­­­pönk they have released three albums of fun rock tunes aim­­ed at kids. Their Eurovision song borrows slightly from Steppenwolf’s “Mag­ic Carpet Ride,” but you’ll forget that when they start to

dance in their colorful suits. To spice things up even more, the band has recruited two back-up singers, the bearded Bibbi from the Viking metal band Skálmöld and one Óttarr Proppé (singer of the bands Ham and Dr. Spock). Óttarr will be the first-ever acting member of Parliament to perform in the Eurovision song contest. Hey, that’s something!

Pollapönk. One of their back-up sing­­­ers is Óttarr Proppé (with raised hands), a member of the Icelandic Parlia­­­ment. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

Some places have a certain something about them. People just want to be there. And if you are lucky you get to spend some time at one of those places. Atli Bollason shared an apartment at Ingólfsstræti 8a few years ago with two friends. He never knew who would be there or what would happen when he got home. Sometimes it was a café, sometimes a cinema and after the bars closed there would maybe be a line outside. People just showed up. Ingólfsstræti 8 Skál fyrir þér! Léttöl

Lookout highlights ahead

Ski & Rock The Ski Week festival in the town of Ísa­­­fjörður starts the week before Easter. At the same time, the town hosts the fantastic music festi­­val Aldrei fór ég suður (translation: I never went south. see next page). For this week the number of people in Ísafjörður more than doubles in size (from 2,600).

The Puffins Return A Masterpiece in Harpa Ending a mini European tour, the Icelandic band Hjaltalín will perform in the largest hall of the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre. A music critic at London’s Sunday Times praised their al­­­ bum Enter 4 as “one of the most extraordinary albums I’ve ever heard. A masterpiece!” April 16. Visit for details

Iceland is the home to more than half of the world’s puffin population. After spending autumn and winter out at sea the puffins return late April to breed. They are usually monogamous and return to the same burrows year after year laying only a single egg each spring. Puffins can be found all around Iceland.

See more about what’s on in Iceland at

Peak Performance If you want to scale Iceland’s high­­ est peak, the prime season for guid­­ed tours to the mountaintop starts in April. Hvannadalshnjúkur peak in Vatnajökul glacier rises 2,110 meters above sea level, a height that is feasible for com­­­pet­­ ent hikers. The trip up and back can be done in a day. But don’t und­­er­­­ estimate the glacier. The weat­her can change in an instant. Local guides are absolutely man­­datory.

Harpa Concert and Conference Centre, where fashion designer Calvin Klein will be among the speakers on March 27. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Four-Day Design Festival


he 2014 DesignMarch in Rey­kjavík opens on the 27th of March with an event called Design Talks, a day of lectures given by both Ice­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­landic and international designers. This year the talks are moderated by Stephan Sigrist of the Swiss inter­­­­­­disciplinary research organization Think Tank W.I.R.E. Among the many speakers are the Ameri­can fashion designer Calvin Klein, and the found­­er of the Swedish fashion label Acne Stu­­dios, Mikael Schiller. The annual design festival features more than one hundred exhibitions, workshops, and other events over the period of four days. Its aim is to show­­­case local design and build relations between local and international designers and companies. Organized by the Iceland Design Centre, De­­sign­­ March answers the need to enhance the local de­­­­ sign scene that emerged shortly after the centre’s



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

incep­tion in 2008. Project manager Greip­­­­ur Gísla­­­ son proudly describes how Design­­March started out as a small grassroots event but has now blos­ somed into a full-on design fair attract­­­ing 35,000 visitors each year. “Interest in Icelandic design has increased in the past two years, resulting in growing numbers of international visitors during DesignMarch,” Greip­ ur explains. “Iceland is a part of the inter­­nati­­o­­­nally known concept that is Nordic design, yet very few people know much about Icelandic de­­­sign. This is changing and Icelandic designers defi­nitely have a pull. DesignMarch is the best time to get an over­ view, and to get one step ahead in find­­­ing the next new thing.”

March 27-­30. See

Photography by Ice­­ landic Women From a Different Angle pre­­­ sents photographic works from 1872–2013 by 34 women, all of whom have worked as photo­­­­­­­graph­ers in Iceland, the majority pro­­­fessi­­onally, a few as ama­­­­­­teurs. The exhi­­­bition is the fruit of two years of research by photographer and curator Katrín Elvarsdóttir. The photo­­ graphs are presented in three cate­gories: landscape/nat­ure, family­/home life, and portraits/ social life. A joint project of the Na­tional Museum of Iceland and the Reykjavík Museum of Photography (recently voted by The Guardian as one of the 10 best free museums in Europe), the exhibition is shown in two parts at both museums. Until May 11.

In our souvenir shop you will find Icelandic design inspired by the Northern Lights Designs by: Dimmblá Stál í stál - Jens Volcap Olason paintings Gingó hönnun Svandís Kandís and more Free coffee & tea at our store

Maritime museum CCP

Hotel Marina

The Northern Light Center

Visit us and experience our multimedia exhibition It's only a ten-minute walk from the city center The old harbour Harpan Music hall Reykjavík Art museum Kolaportið fleemarket

Grandagarður 2 - 101 Reykjavík Open every day from 10:00 - 22:00

Lookout highlights ahead


Days of Rock in the Westfjords

he annual music festival Aldrei fór ég suður (I never went south – south meaning the capital) is a wonderful reason to visit the town of Ísafjörður, the unofficial capital of the Westfjords. This year the festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary and many of Iceland’s best bands will be there.

This is a rock festival for the masses. Free for all, and fun for all.

Among those already confirmed are Retro Stefson, Grísa­­lappalísa, and Maus. This is a family-friendly affair with many acts per­­­­ forming throughout the day all over the small town, starting with lunch beat dance parties at noon. Later, choirs will perform in the beautiful local church, and concerts will go late into the night at the main venue, an old harbor warehouse. The festival’s godfathers are Mugison, a univers­­ ally loved musician in Iceland, and his father, who both have deep roots in the town of Ísafjörður. As Mugi­son has explained, the original idea was to “do a festival were local workers would sing, DJ, and entertain as the main attraction, and we would get the biggest names in the Icelandic music scene to support them.” The official program of Aldrei fór ég suður takes place on April 18 and 19, but the festival kicks off unofficially with some concerts on the night of April 17. Entrance is free of charge.

See the schedule and more at

Honouring the Hamm­ ond organ It was was originally mark­et­­ ed and sold to churches but made its name in jazz, rock and all kinds of progressive music. The Hammond organ has deservedly it’s own chapter in the history of music and for almost a decade it has had an annual four day tribute festival in Djúpavogur village, east Iceland. As always some of Iceland’s most cele­­brated musicians, young and old, will perform. To name a few, bands Mono Town and Tod­­mo­­ bile, legendary crooner Raggi Bjarna and pupils from the local music school. From April 24-27. Tickets available at See more at

All you need in one place • Skólavör›ustígur 19 tel.: (+354) 552 1890 SWEATERS AND SOUVENIERS, NO KNITTING MATERIAL:

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Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

• Laugavegur 53b tel.: (+354) 562 1890



Our Master Watchmaker never loses his concentration

With his legendary concentration and 45 years of experience our Master Watchmaker and renowned craftsman, Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, inspects every single timepiece before it leaves our workshop.

All the watches are designed and assembled by hand in Iceland. Only highest quality movements and materials are used to produce the watches and every single detail has been given the time needed for perfection.

Not to be missed for anything in this world Carlos Resende is a passionate Portuguese amateur photo­­­grapher who visited Iceland in the autumn of 2013. He captured one of the most beautiful photos of the north­ ern lights we have ever seen. We spotted his photo on the fantastic photography website and tracked him down for a short Q&A. Jón Kaldal talked with Carlos. IM: First a little background. How long have you been taking photos, and what is your day job? Hard to believe that photo­­ graphy is not your profession. CR: But you should, because photography just came into my life a few years ago to replace another passion that was archery. Pro­­fessionally, I work in the IT area of an insurance company. IM: Where do you live? CR: I live in Lisbon, Portugal. The land of sunshine and warm beaches. IM: What kind of equipment do you use? CR: Currently I’m using a Nikon D800, various lenses of the same



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

brand, and plenty of neutral de­­­ nsity filters from Lee and/or For­­­matt/Hitech. IM: Have you traveled the world to take pictures? CR: With purely photographic purposes, Iceland was my first trip. With my family or work-rel­­ ated, I have visited other Euro­­­ pean and African countries, but photography was always condi­ tioned and sacrificed for the sake of the primary objective of the trip. IM: What’s your favorite subject? CR: Natural and humanized land­scapes/seascapes. IM: Was this your first trip to Iceland?

CR: Yes, it was my first visit but I hope to repeat it very soon. IM: What brought you here? CR: The beauty, the tranquility and mysticism of your landscape and country. IM: Have you shot the north­ ern lights before? CR: No, it was my baptism. IM: How did you feel when you captured this fantastic pict­ure of the lights, the moun­­­tains, and the small white country church? CR: Truly blessed! It was my first night under open sky in Iceland and to witness a show of light and color of this size, I can only say that I was a lucky guy. IM: How long was the ex­­­po­sure? CR: The photograph is a blend of two exposures. The Aurora was captured with f 2.8, ISO 6400, at 2.5 seconds of exposure. For the background, I reduced the ISO

From Vík í Mýrdal village. The small church is located on the outskirts of the southeast coastal village. Photo/Carlos Resende

to 1600 and increased the ex­­po­­ sure time to 90 seconds. IM: Where did you go while on the island? CR: The number of days of the visit was short so the option was the Southwest/Golden Circle. IM: Any favorite part of the country? CR: I’m a bit limited to choose a favorite part because I could only visit the South region and Iceland is full of natural beauty. But, I would say that one rainbow over Skóga­­foss waterfall or one sunset in Jökulsárlón beach are shows that should not be missed for any­­thing in this world. IM: Will you return? CR: YES, YES, YES!!!!!! IM: Where to next? CR: Explore Reykjavík , the North and the East.

You can see more of Carlos’ work at



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HOW TO BOOK? You can call us: +354 560 8800 Book online or visit our ticket sale at the old harbour

Finding a New Aesthetic Text by Sara McMahon

The Reykjavík Fashion Festival, RFF, is a fashion event held in connection with DesignMarch, a yearly showcase where Ice­­­landic designers present their work to the public and the media. Established in 2009, RFF originally took place in Febru­ary as an independent event. But this is the second year that RFF is being held in connection with DesignMarch, and Greipur Gíslason, the project manager for DesignMarch, says it was a no-brainer to integrate the two events. “RFF is the biggest Icelandic fashion event, and since De­­sign­­­­March represents all fields of design, it made perfect sense to combine the two events. And it has been great fun to work with the RFF team,” Greipur explains. Iceland Mag met up with seven of the eight designers who are taking part in RFF this year, to ask them about their design and inspiration, among other things. RFF March 27–March 30


Designer: Guðmundur Jörundsson The brand: “The brand was established in October 2012. In the beginning, our focus was solely on men’s wear. Our first women’s collection debuted at RFF 2013. Our priority is to produce beautifully tailored, quality clothing from quality fabrics.” The AW 14 collection: “Our AW 14 collection is inspired by aristocrats, and heroin addicts. I think that sums it up nicely.” Catwalk styling: “The fashion show will capture the essence of the collection. The makeup, music, scene design, and hair will reflect the imaginary world created around the collection.” What will you do after the show? “Knock back some energy drinks and follow the RFF party schedule.” People who have influenced you as a designer: “I’m influenced by divine powers.” Where do you find inspiration? “I find inspiration everywhere, really. It could be literature, movies, people, details of clothing, or nature. Each collection is inspired by different things.” Favorite spot in Iceland: “Laxárdalur Valley.”



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

JÖR “Our AW 14 collection is in­spir­ed by aristocrats, and heroin addicts.” Photo/Valli

See video interviews with the designers at

ZISKA Designer: Harpa Einarsdóttir The brand: “I graduated as a fashion designer from the Iceland Academy of Arts in 2005 and first showed my work under the name Ziska in 2011. I tend to look to different groups of aboriginal people for inspiration—for example, my 2012 collection was influenced by the Tuareg women in North Africa, who adorn themselves with beautiful facial tattoos and wear amazing textiles. Mystery envelops my design and I use only the highest quality fabrics. I’m especially fond of leather, wool, and silk.” The AW 14 collection: “My collection is named Just Ride and was inspired by Mongolian eagle hunters. I grew up with horses and I find that the experience of riding through the magnificent Icelandic landscape comes out in my artwork. The feeling of freedom and the bond with nature—I try to capture that spark in this collection. I guess the best way to describe it is simple but mature. I want the clothes to bring out a modest yet determined lioness in the wearer. I design a new pattern for each new collection, which is digitally printed on the fabric. This print was inspired by a painting I did earlier this year.” People who have influenced you as a designer: “Vivienne Westwood. Her view of life has influenced me greatly. And I literally cried when I attended an Alexander McQueen show in Paris in 2005. He was a master of this craft and I have great respect for him.”

Harpa Einarsdóttir “I want the clothes to bring out a modest yet deter­­min­ed lioness in the wearer.” Photo/Valli



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

The Reykjavík Fashion Festival


Designer: Bergþóra Guðnadóttir The brand: “Farmers Market was founded in 2005 by designer Berg­­­þóra Guðnadóttir and musician Jóel Pálsson. The idea was to produce a collection made from organic and recycled fabrics, with references to the brand’s Nordic roots as well as romanticism. Since then the brand has grown rapidly and is now available in boutiques all around the world.” The AW 14 collection: “We’ll be stay­­­ing true to our original concept.” Cat­­­walk styling: “As usual, there will be live music during our run­­­way show. Everything else is, of course, top secret.” People who have influenced you as a designer: “Mother nature and all my female ancestors. Where do you find inspiration? “I find inspiration in nature, the weather, music, and art in general. Apart from that, I guess one could say that the North Atlantic is our ‘playground’. Favorite spot in Iceland: “This changes regularly. At the moment I’m obsessed with hot springs and the colors found around them.” Bergþóra Guðnadóttir “As usual, there will be live music during our run­­­way show.” Photo/Joel Pálsson

The Cintamani team From left: Rún, Þóra og Guðbjörg. Photo/Valli


Designers: Þóra, Guðbjörg, and Rún. The brand: “Jan Davidson start­ed the project in 1989. He had the ambitious vision of designing the best possible clothing suitable for the harshest conditions. Ice­­land, geograp­ hically positioned on the edge of the Arctic, is a great testing ground for such garm­­ents.

“Through the years the aim has always been very clear: to pro­­tect the Icelandic people from our harsh winters. The brand has grown into one of Iceland’s biggest clothing brands, known for its powerful colors and good quality.“Our garments are first and foremost designed with func­tion in mind, and with ergon­­omic patterns and inno­­­­vative tech­­nolo­­­ gy for great performance. It’s now a growing trend to bring fashion into athletic wear

and outdoor gear closer to fash­ ion. That’s what we’ve been doing for years.” The AW 14 collection: “This season we are staying true to the brand, introducing new colors to our classics, and premiering new styles.“ What will you do after the show? “We’ve planned a hike the morning after the show. Nothing charges your batteries like a good hike!” Where do you find inspiration? “New technological develop­ments, innovative design, and the ex­perience of wearing our cloth­ing.” Favorite day trip from Reykja­ vík: “There are many, many great options. But having to choose just one, we’d have to mention a hike in Reykjadalur Valley in the Hellisheiði region just outside Reykja­­vík. The scenery is beauti­­­ful, and you can bathe in the geoth­ermal spring that runs through it.”

Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014



Wake up before they ... Renovation in progress. Please arrive early for check-in to avoid long lines. Iceland is so popular right now that we have to double the capacity of the baggage handling system at the airport. Therefore, we advise everyone who has a flight from Keflavik International Airport to get an early start. Avoid long lines and have more time to enjoy our unique shops, restaurants and our tax- and duty-free prices. Check-in opens at 4:30 am. Scheduled morning buses from Reykjavik run from 4 am. Hotel pick-up at 3:30 am when pre-ordered.

Bring home good memories from Iceland! Keflavik International Airport is one of few airports worldwide that is both tax- and dutyfree, which can save you up to 50% off city prices.

... go-go!


Designer: Magnea Einarsdóttir The brand: “The brand was established last spring, virtually by accident. I had the oppor­­­ tunity to partici­­­pate in two fashion shows abroad. For the shows I designed a collection inspired by my graduation collection from Central Saint Martins [London]. Fashion designer Guðmundur Jörundsson then offered



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

me a spot in his store on Laugavegur Street so I produced the collection in a limited amount.” The AW 14 collection: “I don’t want to reveal too much about the collection—it should be a surprise. The focus is on inter­­­ esting textiles, mostly knits, and simple cuts. I took inspiration from construction sites and work wear I saw during a visit to Berlin last autumn. Following that visit, I began to study women’s fashion from World War 2, when

women changed their style of dressing after becoming part of the work force.” Catwalk styling: “Designer Sigrún Halla helped me style the show and it has been great fun. The atmos­­­phere will be light and cool, and I’ve been working closely with the electronic duo Good Moon Deer, who will compose the music for the show, tying it all together.” Favorite restaurant in Iceland: “K-bar Restaurant.”

The Reykjavík Fashion Festival

SIGGA MAIJA “A woman who knows where she is coming from and where she is going.”



Designer: Sigríður María Sigurjónsdóttir The brand: “The brand was formally established in December 2013. Up until then it was a slumbering beast. The ideology behind the brand is simple: to produce high fashion, high quality clothing, and to materialize my vision for the future.” The AW 14 collection: “The collection was inspired by Paris in the 1920’s, when Surrealism was beginning to surface in the con­­­text of modern times. Catwalk styling: “A woman who knows where she is coming from and where she is going. That’s the vibe I’m looking for.” People who have influenced you as a designer: “I can’t name one specific person or thing. I’m influenced by circumstances and concepts like opposites, extremes, eccentricity, and con­text.” Favorite memory from the Icelandic countryside: “I was raised in the country. I guess my favorite memories involve lying in the grass and examining the clouds while munching on field sorrel.” Finding a New Aesthetic

REY Designer: Rebekka Jónsdóttir The brand: “REY was founded in 2010, and our aim is to create unique clothes that are a timeless addition to any wardrobe.” The AW 14 collection: “This year I looked to classic Hollywood stars such as Katharine Hepburn and Joan Craw­­­ford for silhouettes. I was influenced by how they dressed in their personal life, glamorous but a bit masculine. The color palette was also influenced by a classic, namely the fairy tale Snow White, in which the Queen said, ‘Oh how I wish I had a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair as black as ebony’.” Catwalk styling: “The catwalk styling is a work in progress, so it’s difficult to divulge specifics. But I promise there’ll be some drama.” People who have influenced you as a designer: “The minimalist crowd and my mother.” Where do you find inspiration? “I find inspiration in the people around me.” Favorite day trip from Reykjavík: “A drive to Þingvellir National Park.” MAGNEA “The focus is on interesting textiles, mostly knits, and simple cuts.” Photo/Valli

Rebekka Jónsdóttir “I find inspi­ration in the people around me.” Photo/Saga Sig

Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014



This is how we see the statue of Ingólfur at Örfirsey. Standing on a four-story-tall pedestal, the statue would be 46 meters (151 feet, the same as the Statue of Liberty), the ensemble altogether around 60 meters tall.” Photo/Valli - Production Kristinn Gunnarsson

Booming Innovation The biggest visitor attractions of Iceland have remained the same for decades. The magnificent Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal area of Geysir, the lake Mývatn region, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, and the Landmannalaugar region in the central highlands top the list. In addition, the man-made Blue Lagoon geo­­­thermal spa has been a huge hit since it was opened to the public in 1992.



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Those places will keep on attracting and amazing people for years to come. Of course, other areas in Iceland get their share of visitors, but there are some that are still waiting to be discovered by the masses. For the sake of Ice­­­land’s nature and visitors to the country, that needs to happen soon. The heavy traffic has already had a visible impact on some of the most popular sites, and, as all travelers know, a massive crowd can be a real mood killer. To ease the strain on the most visited sites, it’s necessary to pro­­­mote other areas. Imagination and innovation in building new tourist attractions have been a bit lacking in the Icelandic travel industry, but that picture is changing rapidly. Right after the breathtaking bust of the Icelandic banking system in 2008, the travel sector in Iceland took off, also in a spectacular fashion. This has created an interesting cocktail. A year on year growth close to 20 percent has attracted talented folks looking for new opportunities after the shrinking of the financial trade and investors eager to harness the tourism boom. Together this has created a momentum not seen before in the Icelandic travel industry. On the drawing board, or already in their first stages, are some projects that have the potential to draw big numbers of visitors. Here, Iceland Mag takes a closer look at three of these and also re­­­launches an old idea that was ahead of its time but does not deserve to be forgotten.

An XXXL Ingólfur


Back in 1986, the city of Reykjavík cele­­­brat­­­ed its 200-year anni­­­vers­­ ary. One part of the preparations for the festivities was a planning competition for the Arnarhóll area in the center of town, where a statue of Ingólfur Arnarson stands proudly. Ingólfur is recognized as the first settler of Iceland, believed to have arrived in 874, and also the first inhabitant of Reykja­vík. He was responsible for naming the place—Reykjavík means “smoky bay,” which is how the area, with its steamy hot springs, looked from his boat. More than 30 ideas were submitted to the competition in 1986. Some were awarded prizes, none were exe­­­cut­­ed, and all are more or less forgotten. But at least one deserves to be resurrected. The proposal, beautifully simple in its magnificent scale, was to enlarge the statue to the same size as the Statue of Liberty in New York, with a viewing platform attached to Ingólfur’s spear and a café inside his head. The authors, Bragi Hjartarson and Elínborg Ragn­­ars­­son, got a nod from the competition’s awards panel, but the idea was consid­ered unrealistic. It’s probably true that the Arnarhóll area is too small for such a large pro­­­ ject, but if funds can be secured (ad­­mittedly a big “if”), it’s conceivable. Therefore, Iceland Mag wants to propose a relocation of the idea. The northernmost tip of Örfirsey, close to the old harbor of Reykjavík, is a perfect location. Mov­­ing the oil tanks occupying the area should not be a hindrance. They will eventually have to go anyway as the old industrial area around them shrinks. Standing next to the sea, with his face pointing to the city, stretch­ ing 60 meters (197 ft.) to the sky, the statue of Ingólfur would instantly become a striking landmark for Reykjavík. The original statue of Ingólfur was completed in 1907 by sculptor Einar Jónsson and erected in Reykjavík in 1924.

Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014





Balcony with a view. This could be the future.

Inside the crater. Its magnificent bottle shape is so big that the Statue of Liberty could stand there in all its grandeur.

Inside the Magma Chamber of a Volcano Just 25 minutes by car from Reykjavík (or a 45-minute hike), lies one of Iceland’s most inspiring places. Þríhnjúkagígur is a 4,000-year-old volcano in the mountain range Bláfjöll, just 25 minutes drive southeast of Reykjavík. After an eruption, the magma chamber of a volcano usually fills up and is sealed with hard cold lava. However, Þríhnjúka­­gíg­­ ur’s high­ly unusual empty magma chamber makes it possible to explore the heart of the volcano from the inside. Currently, only a limited number of people can enter the crater at the same time. A temporary lift carries



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visitors through the narrow bottleneck of the crater into the 120­­­-­­meter­­- deep (394 ft.) dome. However, there have been proposals to drill a 400-meter-long (1,312 ft.) tunnel into the crater to accommodate visitors. The tunnel would lead to a reception area, purposely built into the lava so that it won’t mar the landscape. The hole into the crater would be about one-thousandth of its wall space. Inside, a small balcony would serve as the main viewing area. Currently, the project is waiting for planning permits. Guided tours, with visitors entering the volcano through the simple existing lift, will start in May. -jk

See more at



Cable Cars to the Peak of Mount Esja An engineer’s office in Reykjavík plans to build an aerial lift syst­­em to transport pass­­­eng­­ ers to the top of Mount Esja (914­­­ m­/2,999 ft.), the mountain that dominates the northern sky­­line from Reykjavík. Esja is within 20 minutes by car or bus from the city center and is a very popular area for hikers. The view from the top towards the capital and Faxa­­­flói bay is magnificent. Constructions could begin as early as 2015, depending on when and whether the project gets the green light from Reykjavík City Council. It will take an estimated two years to complete. The lift system will have three stations: The ground station which will be situated near the current car park by the mountain’s roots, an intermediate station on Rauð­­­hóll hill and a terminal station on the mountain’s peak. Should the lift system become a reality it is likely to transport a 150 thousand pass­­­ eng­­­ers annually. It will contain two cable cars that will move around thirty peo­p le at a time. The trip to the peak of Esja will take roughly five minutes. Construction costs are estimated to be 3 billion krónur ($27 million, €19 million). -sm

The café and the viewing platform will be located 1-2 km to the east of Þverfellshorn (780 m) on top of Mt. Esja. From there, the hike to the highest point called, “Habunga” (914 m.), is 4-5 km across a rocky pla­teau. Picture/Batteríið Architects

East of Vatnajökull glacier. The beautiful mountains and valleys of the Austurstræti hiking trail. Photo/Gunnlaugur B. Ólafsson

East Street

New Trail into Iceland’s Interior Individuals and companies operating within the tourist sector on the east coast of Iceland have set in motion a project named Austurstræti, a 100-kilometer-long (62 mile) walking trail through Iceland’s interior that will be ready for use this summer.

Illakambur (Mean Ridge). Not a bad view ahead! Photo/Gunnlaugur B. Ólafsson



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

Austurstræti, which translates as East Street, will stretch from Lón on the east coast of Iceland, all the way to Fljótsdalur, a valley situated in the highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier. It will take travelers approximately one week to walk the trail from one end to the other. Gunnlaugur B. Ólafsson and Steingrímur Karlsson, who introduced the idea to the public towards the end of last year, maintain that a large num­­ber of

travelers, both local and foreign, are increasingly seeking out what is known as “slow travel,” and Austurstræti will cater to that rapidly growing group. Popular tourist attractions in Iceland such as the beautiful Laugavegur trekking trail in the Land­ manna­laugar area in the central highlands are gradu­­ally being damaged by the ever-increasing number of hikers who walk it each year, and Austur­ stræti should definitely help relieve pressure on those hot spots. Parts of the trail already exist, making the project easy to execute, and travelers should be able to enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery this summer. -sm

See more at

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Go North!

Only Five Minutes to Get Anywhere in Akureyri Sigurður Karl Jóhannsson, owner of the restaurants Strikið and Bryggjan, shares his favorite spots in and around his hometown of Akureyri.

thorough­­­fare. I recommend a leisur­­ely walk around the old part of town—the old houses from the turn of the 20th century are charm­­­ing to look at. For a bit of relax­­ation, the swimming pool is a great place to visit. The Viking shop, situated in the city center, offers a wide selection of hand­­ made Icelandic woolen sweaters. They’re a good investment for those traveling around the country, and anyone who wears one automatically becomes Ice­­­landic.” 2 Best place for some peace and quiet:

“The Botanic Garden in Akur­­­ eyri is the perfect spot to unwind and have a little picnic in beauti­­­ ful surroundings. Plants from

three towns are all very different and have a lot to offer visitors.”

The best family activity: “Akureyri is a town well-suited for families. It has numerous play­­­­grounds and areas for out­­­ door activities. For avid hikers, I recommend a walk up Súlur, the mountain that sits above the town. It’s a scenic route and the view from the top is breathtaking. Those who’d rather drive could do a trip around Eyjafjörður fjord. On the way there are lovely, old churches and interesting mus­­e­­ums.” 5 What’s the best thing about living in Akureyri:

“The size of the town. And the fact that children can walk wher­­­

There are countless possibilities for pleasant day trips from Akur­­­eyri. One can easily visit the towns of Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður, and Siglufjörður in one day. every corner of the world can be found in the garden, and time really does fly by there.” 3

Sigurður Karl Recommends a hike up Súlur, the montain that sits above Akureyri. Photo/Auðunn Nielsson

What not to miss while in Akureyri: 1

“There are plenty of interesting museums to visit in Akureyri. Among them are the Akureyri Museum and Nonni’s House, a museum dedicated to the childr­ en’s book author and Jesuit priest, Jón Sveinsson. Both muse­­ ums are located in Aðal­­­stræti See more local recommendations Street, the town’s oldest at



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

Favorite cafe or bar:

“This is a tough question because the town is full of wonderful cafes and bars. I guess it depends on the mood you’re in. There’s a lovely new cafe located in the Botanic Garden and there are many more in the city center.”

Best day trip from Akureyri: 4

“There are countless possibilities for pleasant day trips from Akur­­­ eyri. One can easily visit the towns of Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður, and Siglufjörður in one day. The

ever they need to go. Another quality is that it takes only takes five minutes to get anywhere. You can drive the kids to school, pick up your colleague, and grab a coffee to go, all in a mere five minutes.” 6 Some maintain that North­­­ern­­ers are different from South­­­ern­­­ers, is that true?

“No, that’s just a myth. The only difference is that people in Akur­ eyri live in closer proximity to nature and each other. The town is small and there’s a strong sense of community among its inhabitants.”

Go North!

4 What’s the best thing about living in Akureyri:

Strolling Through the Art Ravine Margrét Helgadóttir, a lawyer from Akur­­­eyri, says a perfect Saturday night out would start with a meal at Rub 23 and end with drinks at Götubarinn Bar.

What not to miss while in Akureyri: 4

“It depends on whether you’re visiting Akureyri in the winter or the summer; during the winter you have to go skiing in Hlíðar­­­ fjall Mountain. During summer, it’s a must to visit the Botanic Gard­­en, which was established in 1912. In the garden you’ll find almost every plant found in Ice­­

land as well as seven thousand foreign plants. A stroll through Listagil, which translates as the Art Ravine, is highly recom­­­ mend­­­ed. There you’ll find inter­­­ est­ing museums and, of course, Akureyri Church, designed by State Architect Guðjón Samú­­­els­ son in 1940.” 4 Describe the perfect Saturday night out:

“The perfect Saturday night out would begin with dinner at Rub 23, which serves mostly seafood. Then I’d go for a mojito at Strikið restaurant, which is on the fifth floor of a building located in the city center. It has a splendid view over Eyjafjörður fjord and Hof, the new Cultural and Conference

Center. I’d end the night at Götu­­­­­barinn, which translates to The Street Bar. It’s a charming little bar in the city center, and its interior is reminiscent of old Akureyri.”

and sell home­­-grown produce. End the day in the hot tubs in Hrafnagil swimming pool.”

“Akureyri is a small town, so the distance between places is short. Yet we have everything we need here: great schools, good health care, and lively culture. It only takes a few minutes to go to school, work, downtown, or out into the beautiful, untouched nat­­ ure that surrounds the town.” Margrét Helgadóttir “The perfect Saturday night out would begin with dinner at Rub 23, which serves mostly seafood.” Photo/Auðunn Nielsson

4 Favorite place for Sunday brunch:

“That would be the 1862 Nordic Bistro, a restaurant situated in the

town’s new Cultural and Con­­­fer­­ ence Center. It has great food and a beautiful view over the harbor.” 4 Best spot for snacks and drinks on a sunny summer’s day:

“Múlaberg Bistro & Bar in Hotel Kea is located on one of the most scenic corners in town and its out­­door facilities make it a great spot for snacks and drinks during the summer.” 4 Favorite day trip from Akureyri: “A drive along Eyja­­­fjörður fjord,

with its beautiful scenery. A stop at Kaffi Kú is popu­­lar with kids, check out Holta­­sel farm and cafe – they make their own ice cream

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Predicting the weather from sheep’s urine



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

For centuries, Icelanders depended solely on farming and fishing to earn their livelihood occupations that in many ways were dependent on weather. Different methods were used to try to forecast the weather. It was widely believed that if sheep begin to urinate in the pen more frequently than norm­­­ally, it meant that it would rain heavily during the next days. Rain­­­ fall could also be expected when livestock started to shake themselves in dry weather. Headbutting sheep on the other hand, predicted heavy winds. Here’s a little tip for travelers: should one want to find out wheth­­er the next couple of days are to be sunny or rainy, one can do so by analyzing the color of sheep’s urine: a greyish color bodes rain, while yellow indicates sun.




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WiNter HigHligHts: Short flight across Iceland Waterfall Goðafoss · Dimmuborgir Grjótagjá rift · Hverir · Mt. Námafjall Local countryside dinner· Mývatn Nature Baths Searching for the Northern Lights in the dark Icelandic winter night


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Go North!

HERRING ERA MUSEUM The Heyday of Iceland’s Herring Industry


The Herring Era Museum is located in the town of Siglufjörður in the north of Iceland. It celebrates the “glory days” of Iceland‘s herr­­­ing industry which began in the 1930‘s and lasted well into the 50‘s. The museum is a recreation of a typical herring factory and con­sists of three buildings, each showing a different aspect of the herr­­ing industry. The museum was awarded the Icelandic Muesum Award in 2000 and the European Museum Award in 2004. Opening hours. September-May daily from 1pm to 5pm Winter: Weekdays from 8am and 4pm. By appointment on weekends. Please phone or email in advance. June-August daily from 10 am to 6pm Admission: Adults 1.200 ISK, (€8) Seniors (67+) and under 20 years 600 ISK (€4). Free for children under 16.

MOUNT KALDBAKUR Iceland’s Longest Skiing Slope Kaldbakur Tours offer daily skiing trips on Mt. Kaldbakur. Peaking 1,174 metres (3852 feet) above sea level, Mt. Kaldbakur is the longest skiing slope in Iceland. Instead of a ski lift, rugged Pisten Bullies tran­­­sport passengers to the top of the mountain where they can enjoy the magnificent panoramic view before skiing, snowboarding or walking back down. Kaldbakur Tours offer three trips a day from January until May. A minimum of ten passengers is required for each trip. The company also provides tailor-made tours for private groups. The meeting point is in the car park north of the village of Grenivík. The pisten bullies have roofless passenger cabins, so it is important that passengers are dressed in warm, protective gear.




Hrísey Dalvík Grenivík

KALDI BREWERY The Local Craft Beer The micro brewery Bruggsmiðjan is lo­­­cated in the small town of Árskógs­­­­­­­­­­­ sandur in the north of Ice­­land. The brewery was founded by hus­­band and wife Ólafur Þröstur Ólafs­­son and Agn­es Sigurðardóttir in 2005. In the last few years Kaldi beer has be­­come a favourite among beer connoisseurs, both local and inter­­national. Bruggsmiðjan offers guided tours of the brewery and according to Ólaf­­ur Þröstur they receive around eight to ten thousand guests annually. The tour lasts about an hour and begins with a taste of the brewery‘s products. Then the guide will explain the brewing tech­­ niques and give an introduction to the factory‘s history. „Most of our guests are Icelandic, Ger­­ man, Danish and English. The guid­­ed tours are a big part of what we do here – although most of them take place during weekends so as not to inter­­fere too much with the pro­­­­­­­­­­duct­­­ion,“ Ólafur Þröstur explains. Tours can be booked via email or phone. Admission is 1,500 ISK (€10) for adults. See



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

THE CHRISTMAS GARDEN It’s Christmas All Year Round The Christmas Garden just outside Akureyri town is a magical place to visit. The little, red house looks like something out of a fairy­­-tale, with gigantic sweets deco­­­rating the roof and icicles hang­­­ing from the eaves. And as if that were not enough, a charming little wish­­­ing well for unborn children is to be found in a small hollow in the garden. Sounds enchanting, right? Inside the Christmas spirit rules every day, all year round. Hand-made Christ­­­­mas ornaments, little tidbits of traditional Icelandic Christmas food and the Yule Lads are among just some of the things to be found in the Christmas House. January–May 2 pm–6 pm. Jun–August 10am to 9 pm. September– December 2 pm–9 pm.


Kaffi Kú, which trans­­­lat­­­es directly as Cafe Cow, is a small cafe lo­­­­­­­­­cated on the farm Garður, only ten kilo­­­­met­­­ers (6 miles) south of Akureyri. The cafe opened for busi­ness in 2011 and is run by Einar Örn Aðalsteinsson, his wife Sesselja Ingi­­­björg Reynis­­dóttir and his par­­­ ents, Ásdís Einars­­­dótt­­ir and Aðal­­­steinn Hall­­­­ gríms­­­­­­­­son. The cafe was built in the attic of the farm’s ultra, modern cowshed which means guests can view the cows below go­­­ing about their daily business while enjoying a cup of coffee, a pint or a tasty snack. Not to mention of course the beautiful view over Eyjafjörður Fjord.

Photos by (clockwise from top): Fiann Paul, Sigurbjörn Höskuldsson, Vilhelm Gunnarsson, Benedikt Grétarsson, Rúnar Þ. Björnsson

KAFFI KÚ The Cowshed Cafe

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Icelandair Hotel Akureyri welcomes you all year-round

The elegant Icelandair Hotel Akureyri is comfortably situated in the cultural town of Akureyri, where the crossing paths of keen visitors, inhabitants, families and travellers alike create a truly unique atmosphere. High Tea is served in the lounge between 14:00-17:30 each day. Our popular brunch is served on weekends from 11:30-14:00 in the wintertime. Happy Hour daily from 16:00-18:00. Icelandair Hotel Akureyri Thingvallastræti 23, Tel. +354 518 1000











Kid Stuff

Margrét Erla Maack is a former tourist office employee, Iceland’s most famous belly dancer, and a lady with a good sense of fun. She has some good advice on what to do with kids while traveling in Iceland.

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Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Seven years ago, I was working at a tour­­ist information center. The main reason I got the job was that I was a born-and-bred 101 gal (101 being the postal code for downtown Reykja­­ vík), with a great sense of the food, music, and nightlife of the town. All the other employe­es were outdoorsy, country types. But together we had a vast knowledge about what to do in Iceland. However, one day we ran into trouble, not being able to give good enough information. A couple came in with two kids, aged three and seven. “What is there to do here that’s fun… with kids?” But now, seven years later, I have some answers, court­­­­ esy of all my great friends who actually have kids. 1

Iceland’s first real waterslide, it’s Laugardalslaug Reykja­­­­ vík, which is also Iceland’s biggest swimming pool. If you don’t mind taking a short car ride or bus to the out­­ skirts of the capital area, there is Álftaneslaug, where there is a wave pool, a brilliant waterslide, and a good shallow pool for smaller kids. Not far from the Golden Circle route there is Selfosslaug, a small but well-equipp­­ ed waterpark. Up north, there is the one in Akur­­­eyri town, which in my honest opinion is the best rea­­son to visit Akureyri.

Make a splash

The key word is water. Actually the key word in Ice­­ landic is “laug,” which means pool. It’s better to take a kid to a local swimming pool than to the Blue Lagoon. Kids aren’t interested in skincare, and the milky col­­­or­­ ed salt water is no fun to dive in or get in your eyes. Swimming pools are a water wonderland, even during wintertime in a blistering snowstorm (actually never better!). If you just want to toss your kids in the air so they can land with a splash, or relax in a hot tub while they play within sight, Vesturbæjarlaug in Reykjavík is the place to go. If you want more splish splash, and

Laugardalslaug is Iceland’s biggest swimming pool. Photo/Stefán Karlsson













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Kid Stuff


Friendly birds at the Reykjavík Pond. Below Mýrdalssandur beach. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

More water sports

During the summertime, hanging out and wading near Elliðaár river in Reykjavík is a fun picnic. And you might see some rabbits! Reykjavík safari, indeed! Fishing in Þingvallavatn lake is also fun; just make sure you have the permit to do so, and a life jacket if you are in a boat. Feeding the ducks on Reykjavík Pond is sometimes prohibited due to all the bad birds (the seagulls) that hang around because of the bread—and other food. As soon as a cute duckling pokes its beak out of an egg, it’s eaten. A great tactic, however: if you are feeding the ducks and you see the birds of prey, wave your arms like you’re a bigger bird than they are. They will be scar­­ ed and fly away, but the ducks, geese, and swans seem to be smart enough to see that you are just a hum­­­an being.

Víkin Maritime Museum.

Photo/Stefán Karlsson


On shore

The Petting Zoo and Family Theme Park in Laugar­­­ dal­­­ur in Reykjavík is set up like a farm and features farm animals, and it’s way more inter­­­esting than it sounds. Right now they have adorable pig­­lets, and as spring approaches, more younglings of all kinds will be born. The seals are fed at 11 AM and 4 PM. No Seaworld show though—just simple, honest feeding.

3 Even more H2O but this time salt­­­water­ And from the water theme we go on to the wonders of the sea.

At Grótta nature reserve. One of the most beautiful beach of the capital area. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a summer cott­­­ age in the south of Iceland. We used to run on the black sand beach of Mýrdalssandur—a thrilling exper­­ience. The sand seemed endless, the sea looked vast, and there was always something fun and interesting to be found. There was no one around except my cousins, my grand­­­­parents, and me. When you go, just make sure you’re not near the nests of the great skua. These big birds can be vicious, pecking at your head or beating

From The Petting Zoo. Photo/Stefán Karlsson 4 The art museums and the National Museum have shows and exhibitions aimed at kids

from time to time, and you don’t need to speak Ice­­­land­ ic to experience what they have to offer. If your kids like to climb on art then head to the garden around the museum of Ásmundur Sveinsson with its big robust beautiful sculptures. At least two of them are per­­­fect for climping. Touching art gets a new meaning there. Located in Laugardalur valley in Reykjavík. You’ll see a lot of Icelanders with kids around town. Don’t hesitate to ask them what is going on at the mo­­­ ment for children.

These big birds can be vicious, pecking at your head or beating you with their strong wings if they think you are a threat to their nests. 42


Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

you with their strong wings if they think you are a threat to their nests. If you just want to experience an Ice­­­­landic beach, Grótta on the westernmost tip of Reykja­­­­vík’s Sel­­ tjarnarnes peninsula, is a good place to go. There is a great geothermal footbath there. Just make sure you’re not stuck near the beautiful light­­­house as the tide comes in and the sea rises, changing the place into an island! The Víkin Maritime Museum at Grandi in west Reykja­­­­vík (on the way back from Grótta) is a big hit with kids, too. It might have to do with the fact that part of it is built as a pier. I know a little girl who thinks it’s like being on stage or on a movie set. Another rea­­­ son to go is that the museum is right across the street from the excellent Valdís ice cream parlor and a restau­­­ rant called The Coocoo’s Nest that has a great kid’s menu (you can have anything on the menu for half price for a child-sized serving).

Ásmundur Sveinsson Museum. Photo/GVA














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Iceland Mag explains

Does it get very cold in Iceland?


lthough the name of the country suggests otherwise, the warm North Atlantic breezes and the Gulf Stream (the Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida) make the average temperatures in Iceland higher than in most places of similar latitude.

The coldest months are December and January, with temperatures dropping just below the zero mark on the Celsius scale (32°F). The average temperature in Reykjavík in January is – 0.6 °C. That is similar to New York, which is at 40°N (24° further south than Reykjavík). July and August are generally the warmest months with an average temperature of 10.4°C (50.7°F).

Iceland Mag explains

Does the Arctic Circle pass through Iceland? The mainland of Iceland is just a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle (66°30’N). The Arctic Circle does however pass through Grímsey island, which lies 40 kilometres (25 mi) off the north coast of Iceland. Grímsey is inhabited. According to Statistics Iceland, 86 souls lived there as of January 1, 2011 Reykjavík, the capital, lies at 64°9, in south­­­ west Iceland, on the southern shore of the Faxaflói Bay. It is the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state.

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Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

Iceland Mag explains the other hand, the days are dramatically shorter, with only 4 hours of daylight in Reykjavík and a mere 2 hours and 45 minutes in the Westfjords.

What’s the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

What do you want to know about Iceland? Pick the brains of our experts and send us your questions. Grímsey island lies 40 kilometres (25 mi) off the north coast of Iceland. ask@iceland­

Do Icelanders really believe in elves? It is difficult to determine whether Icelanders truly believe in elves and hidden people. A survey conducted by the National University’s Department of Ethnology showed that very few Icelanders believed elves really and truly existed. Yet, these same individuals would not deny their existence either, and most people tread lightly when entering into known elf territory. As they say: Better safe than sorry.

Hikers at Breiða­merkur­ jökull glacier south Iceland. The average temper­ature in Iceland in July is 10.4°C. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

For the Aurora Borealis to be seen, conditions have to be ideal, i.e., a dark but clear sky. Typically the Aurora appears either as a diffuse glow or as “curtains” of light that evolve and change constantly. The phenomenon occurs in Iceland all year around, given that the Auroral zone is situated above the country. However, it can only be seen between the months of September and May because of the bright summer nights. The Icelandic Met Office provides a Aurora forecast in English at its website, See more at

How long are the summer days in Iceland? Around the summer solstice (June 21st), the sun is visible for the full 24 hours in the Westfjords. Accord­­­ ing to the National University’s information page, Vis­­ inda­­­, the sun is visible for about 21 hours in Reykjavík on that day. During the winter solstice, on

Dancing northern lights at nature reserve Fjallabak area in the central highlands. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

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My neighborhood

The Sound & Smell of the Sea The west side of Reykjavík is Svanhvít Tryggvadóttir’s domain.

Svanhvít at Ægisíða seafront. “At the end of Ægisíða walking path, it’s nice to stop at Nauthólsvík cafe for a couple of drinks.”

What is a must-see or do in your neighborhood?

Name and occupation: Svanhvít Tryggvadóttir, folklorist Spouse: Georg Holm, musician and member of Sigur Rós


Children and/or other family members: Three daughters

Where do you live? Vesturbær, Reykjavík 101


Kaffivagninn is a cafe that is very dear to me. It’s a place that has been down by the harbor as long as I can remem­ ber. I used to go there with my dad when I was very young. It’s a must to have a coffee and kleina (an Icelandic fried pastry) while watching the boats and the seagulls.


Pétursbúð is my favorite little corner shop. It is by no means the cheapest shop in town, but it has a lot of charm and character. I think it’s important to hold on to the small shops so we won’t end up only with horrible mall shops. In Pétursbúð you can buy anything you

How long have you lived in the neighborhood? I moved from the center of town to Vestur­­­­bær six years ago. What‘s the best thing about your neighborhood? It has everything to offer. The com­­­ munity is very close-knit and friendly, so it’s fun to go for a walk because you can be cer­­­tain you’ll meet some of your friends on the way, and despite being very central the neighbor­­hood is fairly quiet.



Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014

To walk or bike along Ægisíða (when the weather is nice) is something I really enjoy doing, just for the calming effect of the sound and smell of the sea and to look at the beautiful houses on the sea­­ front. At the end it’s nice to stop at Nauthólsvík cafe for a couple of drinks.

It’s a must to have coffee and kleina while watch­­ing the boats and the seagulls


need, food, cleaning products, toys or woolly gloves, you name it, they have it all packed into 20 square meters, with lovely service as well. 4

If the weather is nice, it’s great fun to take the kids to Landakotstún park so they can run around and let off some steam. It is a beautiful grassy area with a little play­­­ground around the Catholic church. Take a blank­­et, pack a lunch, and some outdoor toys and lounge about while the kids play. But this is of course a very rare thing to do in Iceland except in the peak of summer.

Landakotskirkja The cathedral of the Catholic Church in Iceland. Photo/GVA


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Iceland Mag vol #01 2014  

Travel, nature, people, culture, local recommendations and expertise.

Iceland Mag vol #01 2014  

Travel, nature, people, culture, local recommendations and expertise.