The Country Sheds Its Winter Coat And Comes To Life In May In Iceland
May in Iceland brings new life, little to no snow, and the promise of summer. And with plenty of National Holidays throughout the month to break up the work schedule, locals fully embrace the month.
Iceland weather in May is more than reasonable , hovering between 40 and 50 degrees F. The daylight hours continue to get progressively longer as well which means youll have endless hours for outdoor adventures.
As you drive the long roads out of the city, youll be graced with the sight of blooming flowers and a beautiful mossy green. New animal life also makes its debut in the form of adorable lambs frolicking through the vast landscape and foals following close to their mothers grazing the new shoots of grass.
Best Things To Do In The West Of Iceland
Deildartunguhver and Krauma Baths
The forceful Deildartunguhver is the most powerful hot spring in Europe. It provides heating and electricity for a great majority of the surrounding towns and villages. A visit to the hot spring is truly a great way to get up close and personal with the real energy that bubbles beneath Icelands surface. Especially when paired with a dip in the modern Krauma baths. The hot geothermal water from the hot springs is now harvested and can be enjoyed by bathing in the state of the art spa. The perfect stop along the Ring Road and always a welcomed way to refresh and fill up the energy bar when driving in Iceland.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
Yet another waterfall combination but no to worry this is something that is hard to get enough of. Every single waterfall in Iceland has its own charm, own history and own marvelous setting. And, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are in no way an exception.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are within walking distance of one another and should therefore never be visited on its own. The name Hraunfossar actually means the lava waterfalls but the cascade drops down from a lava field named Hallmundarhraun. Its water originated in the second-largest glacier in Iceland Langjokull and has traveled through the rough terrain to then spout out in the most awe-inspiring of ways.
Have A Meal With A View
There are lots of great restaurants in Heimaey. For a meal with a view, head to the harbor. There are lots of places to choose from, and, being within a few minutes of the ferry port, its a convenient spot for an Icelandic meal whether you are arriving or leaving. Be sure to try some seafood dishes, or the traditional Icelandic stew known as plokkfiskur.
It will never be far from your mind that modern Heimaey has largely been defined by a volcanic eruption. What the volcano created is remarkable, but how the people dealt with it is what makes this island truly special.
You May Like: Mystic Ct Visitors Guide
Things To Do In The Westman Islands
Icelanders sort of shake it off if you tell them they are brave. But truth be told, they are. They essentially live on a rock with active volcanoes on and below it. Eruptions typically occur every two to three years and sleeping giants could cause mass devastation at any moment without warning. And thats exactly what happened in the Westman Islands in 1973.
Helgafell, the volcano cone that lie at the edge of Heimaey, had been sleeping for more than 5000 years and volcanologists considered Heimaey volcanically inactive. As Heimaeys residents peacefully slept on January 23, 1973 a 1600 meter fissure suddenly opened in the ground on the tip of the Helgafell lava field just 300 meters from the town. Spewing about 40 lava fountains into the sky, some as high as 150 meters, and the molten lava rushed down toward the town and harbor.
Luckily, there had been a terrible storm the previous day and many ships had sought shelter in Heimaeys harbor. Nearly the entirety of the 5000 inhabitants fled for their lives by boat that night. Only about 500 stayed behind, which included police and firefighters, and they fought to save their town by spraying cold sea water on the lava.
Explore The Islands From Sea
The Westman Islands are stunning to view from sea. Rough stones, cliffs, caves and beautiful rock formations. One of which looks like a gigantic elephant head. Sailing around the island is a magnificent way to get to know this unique area. There are different boats and different tours, you should easily be able to find a tour suited for your interests.
The islands are beautiful to behold from sea.Photo: Ribsafari
Recommended Reading: Family Fun In Syracuse Ny
Watch Whales Off The Coast At Husavik
Way up at the north of Iceland is the friendly town of Husavik, clustered around its harbour in the shadow of towering Húsavíkurfjall. Its a likeable spot, particularly in summer once the mountain is green and the clear waters signify the colourful wooden homes and sailing ships, but most men and women come here for just one reason: whales.
You are able to go on a whale-watching trip from Reykjavik also, naturally, but just by Husavik will you see blue whales.
Icelands natural scenery is rugged, bleak, otherworldly but rustic? The small farming island of Flatey is a peaceful getaway, with meadows strewn with delicate flowers and magnificent views across to the more dramatic landscape of the West Fjords.
Icelanders think of it as a rural idyll, and visitors too can enjoy coming to drift through the fields of buttercups, admire the scenery, perhaps have a leisurely boat trip and not worry about anything else.
Dress As A Pirate At Sagnheimar Folk Museum
Photo: Sagnheimar Museum
The Sagnheimar Folk Museum might be small, but it encompasses the rich history of the Westman Islands and its people from the 9th Century Viking settlers to the local dentist who coached Icelands football team in the 2018 World Cup.
Here, you can learn about one of the most significant events in Icelandic history the 1627 raid of Ottoman pirates on Heimaey, or the Turkish Abductions.
In July of 1627 pirates from Algier raided settlements on the Reykjanes Peninsula and in East Iceland, abducting and killing many.
News of the raids had reached the Westman Islands, and so when three of the pirate ships were spotted heading towards the town, panic swept across the island.
Bombardment of Algiers by Thomas Luny
The locals prepared themselves by arming the harbour with cannons. However, the pirates sailed past the dock and landed on the southern shores where the island inhabitants were defenceless.
The raid lasted for a full three days. The pirates killed 36 people and captured a further 242 which were to be sold as slaves in North Africa.
Sagnheimar Museum makes for the perfect place to learn more about this time of horror, as well as more about the Westman Islands fascinating history. While the adults read about heroism and ship rescues, the children can dress in pirate costumes and search for hidden treasure.
The Sagnheimar Folk Museum is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM.
You May Like: Things To Do In Germantown
Slaves Pirates Volcanoes And Heimaey
The first people known to make landfall on Heimaey were two escaped slaves, and they would not live their long. The two men, who were Irish and captives of the foster brother of Reykjavíks founder, Ingolfúr Arnarson, killed their master and fled here in order to avoid vengeance.
Arnarson, however, found the body before they could make a clean escape, and saw their boats headed to the uninhabited islands off the South Coast. He followed them and hunted them down, killing one and driving the other to throw himself to his own death off of a cliff.
As the Irish were then known as Westmen, the islands of the archipelago that include Heimaey have been called the Westman Islands ever since. The hill that the slave threw himself off has since been named after him, as Duffys Hill, or Dufþekja.
It is possible that there were settlers on Heimaey before even these slaves reached it, as a recent archaeological dig showed evidence of homes from around 800 AD . According to the Book of Settlements, however, the first person to make a permanent home there did in 900 AD.
The population of Heimaey slowly grew, as more settlers arrived, families expanded, and the fertile fishing waters around it became known. The Danish established buildings there once they took control of Iceland, showing its significance as a port.
Wander The Volcanic Sands At Vk
Down at the southern tip of Iceland is the tiny coastal village of Vík, home to a tumble of buildings and a sweeping, black-sand beach a reminder of the islands volcanic heart. Its also a good base if you fancy spotting some puffins without getting on a boat, or want somewhere welcoming to return to after striking out into the bleak deserts of southeastern Iceland.
A bracing walk west along the coast is Dyrólaey, with its towering basalt columns, a true icon of Iceland the design of the stunning modern Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík was based on them.
Recommended Reading: Things To Do In Germantown
Heimaklettur The Iconic Home Rock Of Heimaey
Heimaklettur, located just northeast of the town, is a good first spot to spy on seabirds. Heimaklettur, or the Home Rock, is the biggest rock in the jumbled chain of cliffs wrapped around the harbour of Heimey. It is also the highest mountain on Heimaey, at 279 meters, and a defining landmark of the island.
Its bulky shape is visible from every point in town. With its stark cliffs, it may look a bit daunting and inaccessible. However, a walking trail leads you to the top and with ladders and chains to help you up the steeper sections.
At the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful view over the island, the archipelago and the mainland, where you can see the infamous volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
Visit The Christmas House Jolahusid
Photo from Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir
This Christmas House is a quaint little gift shop that gets you in the Christmas spirit any time of the year.
It looks a bit like a cross between a typical Icelandic fisherman’s house and a gingerbread house, painted red with candy and Santas hanging all over the place.
It’s always counting down the days to Christmas, but no matter how far away the festival is, you can always buy Christmas gifts, decorations, and even traditional Icelandic Christmas food.
Recommended Reading: Kid Things To Do In Syracuse Ny
Visit The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous spots to visit in Iceland. It is a health center and geothermal spa located in the southwestern Iceland. A trip to the Blue Lagoon can help you feel revitalized as it has facilities and treatments specifically for this.
Iceland is nature at its finest. It offers so many sites to see and so many activities to enjoy. To make sure you get the best out of your trip to Iceland in July, try out these activities above!
Go Hiking In Eldfellshraun
The extra land created by the volcanos explosion referred to as Eldfellshraun has a series of popular hiking trails. Now covered in vegetation, it blooms blue and purple in the summer. One of the key things to look for during hikes is Skansinn Fort. It was built in the 1400s, but many walls required rebuilding after the 1973 eruption.
Recommended Reading: Mystic Ct What To Do
Amble Around Eldheimar Museum
You cant get a better introduction to the archipelago then by swinging by the Eldheimar Museum. In the early 70s, several houses were buried in a sea of lava and in 2005 it was decided that these would be excavated. The project was named Pompei of the North. The museum takes you through the disaster which saw the islands families flee at night after the eruption. Its won several awards for its design and serves as one of the most loved attractions on Vestmannaeyjar.
Gaze Upwards At The Northern Lights
The bewitching aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights, flashes, flickers, and pulses across Iceland’s winter sky like silent fireworks. This breathtaking, green light show, sometimes tinged with pinks and purples, has been the source of many a high-latitude superstition: the Vikings, for example, believed it was the Valkyries riding across the sky. The scientific explanation is no less astonishing. The lights are actually caused by streams of charged particles solar wind that flare into space from our sun. When the wind comes into contact with the Earths magnetic field, it is drawn towards the poles, where its electrical charge agitates particles of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, making them glow.
Seeing the northern lights is one of the most captivating things to do in Iceland in winter. The lights can be seen between September/October and March/April, with midnight being the most likely time to see them. But as with all natural phenomena, theres no timetable and sightings are not guaranteed. Choose a cold, moonless night, and then look heavenwards and hope.
Best for: Taking the breath away
Where to stay: Many of Icelands hotels offer a northern lights wake-up call on request. Akureyri, the capital of the north, is a great place to base yourself if you’re trying to catch a glimpse of this unforgettable phenomenon. Plump for Hótel Sveinbjarnargerdi or Skjaldarvík Guesthouse, with individually decorated, spacious rooms.
You May Like: Things To Do In Germantown
Go Snorkeling And Diving
Your trip to Iceland cannot be complete without some snorkeling and diving! Once again, these activities can be carried out at any time of the year but the warm July weather makes it even more enjoyable. In July, you can wear and remove your swimming gear easily. Also, the sunlight helps the algae bloom fully in July, making your dive a colorful, thrilling experience.To go snorkeling or diving in Iceland though, there are basic requirements that must be met. Pregnant women for one are not advised or allowed to take these tours. Heavy drinkers and smokers over the age of 45 must provide a health certificate to dive/snorkel, and people with respiratory, neurological and circulatory health issues are not advised to dive or snorkel.
Things To Do In Iceland In July
Summer is no doubt the best time of the year to travel and see new places! Sure in the summer months, Icelands temperature remains around 10 20 degrees, but then this as warm as it gets in the country!Traveling to Iceland in July allows you to experience all the best parts of the country without being hindered by snow or ice. It also gives you the opportunity to see the country in all its glory. However, to enjoy your July trip to Iceland, you need a comprehensive list of the best places to visit, the most enjoyable activities, and what to expect. For answers to these questions, check out this list on what to do in Iceland below!
Read Also: Things To See In Mystic Ct
The Best Time To Visit Iceland
Peak tourist season in Iceland is during the summer months between June and August when the temperatures are warmer, the days seem endless, and sports such as hiking and cycling are a delight. Many of the island’s roads impassable during the winter months open up the country’s empty interior. Far from the main tourist track, this backcountry will tempt real adventurers. That said, being in Iceland in winter brings other charms, including a chance to glimpse the northern lights as they flash across the Arctic skies visible from September to April. Shoulder season can offer the best of both worlds.
Head Into The Glacier At Langjkull
The second-largest glacier in Iceland, Langjökull boasts something its bigger rival doesnt: tunnels chiselled out of the icecap itself, giving visitors a totally different view of this slowly flowing mass of ice. Visiting the glacier is truly one of the best things to do in Iceland.
Related Rough Guides travel guides
In-depth, easy-to-use travel guides filled with expert advice.
The trip give you a remarkable insight into how glaciers function, but it would be worth it just for the visuals the ice looks perfectly clear in places, cloudy white in others, and in others still startlingly blue, and has to rank among the best things to see in Iceland. Strap on your crampons, head into the ice, and marvel at the power of the glacier.
Don’t Miss: Things To Do In Baytown Tx For Free
Best Things To Do On The Westman Islands
During our two days on the Westman Islands, we visited every stretch of the island! There are plenty of museums and such that we did not visit that you could if you wanted.
We were more interested in the nature and hiking, but the Westman Islands offer something for everyone. Here is what we recommend to see and do while you are on Heimaey.
Heimaey Stave Church
This was easily one of our top things to do on the Westman Islands and we went back each day! The Heimaey Stave Church is the only stave church in Iceland and it is incredible to see. It also made our list of the top churches in Iceland because it is that unique. Many people head to the Budir church to see a black church in Iceland, but that one has white features so it isnt totally black!
The Heimaey Stave church is 100% jet black and built in the Nordic stave church style. The Heimaey Stave Church was a gift to Iceland from Norway to commemorate 1000 years of Christianity being in Iceland. All of the materials it took to built the church were gathered from around Norway.
Visiting the Heimaey Stave Church is a great thing to do if you are visiting the Westman Islands on foot or by bike as it is located near the downtown and the ferry port. You can put the name in your GPS and after you walk up a road that has a steep hill you will come down on the other side and you will see the Heimaey Stave Church right on the waterfront.
Stórhöfði The Windiest Point In Europe
View Puffins On Stórhöfði
Hike To Heimaklettur