Iceland 2021 – When you can travel again safely

You want to come to Iceland when you can travel again?

New flights open up possibilities – but you will need a local to navigate.

Hengi foss waterfall – Photo by Gabríel

Despite a flareup of COVID in recent days, Iceland has had a relatively charmed ride through the Pandemic – and the island nation in the North Atlantic will be the first in Europe to welcome vaccinated visitors from North America.

 

Recent flight announcements by Delta Airlines, who will run non-stops from Boston, Minneapolis and New York JFK, indicate that a summer or at least a autumn tourist season is on, with previously-banned Americans the target market.

Photo by Helga Stina

Vaccine-fortified Yanks will doubtlessly find Iceland an attractive destination.  The limited flight volumes will allow travelers to socially distance throughout sparsely populated Iceland’s scenic majesty, and prices will be more reasonable than in previous years due to a tamer Krona, the country’s mercurial national currency.

Photo by Helga Stina

 

BUT…

 

The Iceland of 2021 is not the Iceland of the 2019 Lonely Planet guidebook.  The churn in the hotel and lodging market has been immense, many ownerships have changed hands, some properties are out of action entirely, and the best rates or deals aren’t necessarily found on foreign websites.

Námaskarð – Photo by Frida

 

Some travelers preferred the support of a local travel planner like Iceland Unwrapped in previous years, but in 2021, local support could well be the difference between a long-awaited trip of a lifetime and a hodge-podge of open and closed restaurants, lodgings and tourist attractions.

Geysir geothermal area – Photo by Thandi Storey

“Iceland has managed to do OK through the pandemic, and there will be lodgings and restaurants and shopping to accommodate the visitors we expect.  But local knowledge of what’s open, what’s good value, and what’s available that’s truly exceptional could make the difference,” said Helga Kristin (Helga Stina) Fridjonsdottir, owner of Iceland Unwrapped.

Hot geothermal pool, Iceland
A hot geothermal pool is a perfect way to start or end the day – Photo by Helga Stina

“For starters, most visitors don’t even know what lodging types we have here.  We have hotels of all sizes, but we also have guesthouses, which are similar to hotels but often lack en-suite bathrooms, and we have what we call summer houses – private cabins ranging from basic to luxurious and often boasting water or mountain views and geothermal hot tubs,” Helga Stina added.

The scenery in Iceland is often breathtaking – Photo by Helga Stina

Another thing is that visitors often fail to allot enough time for driving the longer-than-expected distances between lodgings when on a regional trip or a tour of the “Grand Circle”, the island country’s national ring road.  “There are many irresistible places to stop, and travel times get longer with every stop.  A waterfall here, a glacier there, or a charming coffee place there, and you pack on the hours.  A travel planner who can identify both the major sites and the best hidden gems along the way can help a visitor get more bang from the clock and the buck,” continued Helga Stina.

 

Working with a travel planner such as Iceland Unwrapped involves a planning fee and an agreement to have the planner book lodging and excursions.  

For more information, visit www.icelandunwrapped.com.

Mike Klein is Principal of Changing The Terms, a Reykjavik-based business communication consultancy.  A US native, Mike has lived in Iceland since 2020 and has also resided in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.  He is the former Europe – Middle East – Africa chair of IABC, a leading global communication association.  He is particularly fond of Icelandic cod and the Gull brand of Icelandic lager, and is married to Helga Stina, founder of Iceland Unwrapped.

 

Iceland 2021 – Covid does not take the beauty away

It´s been a long time now. A long time since we have travelled the world.

Iceland, which has seen incredible increases in tourism since the financial crisis in 2008, is currently facing 10% unemployment because of collapse in the tourism business since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Icelanders have seen worse through the centuries though, with fishing stocks failing, multiple volcanic eruptions, and weather that is so unpredictable that you can sometimes only plan your day of activities on the spot.

Photo by Helga Stína
Photo by Helga Stina

So what is happening now in Iceland?

Iceland is semi open. It’s much more open than Western Europe, for example. There is no lock down in Iceland. Shops are open (with restrictions) as are restaurants, schools and cafés. There is a limit on how many people can gather: no more than 10 people can meet.

To name a few other things, we have had a beautiful volcanic eruption happening just some km outside the international airport area in a perfect spot. Not dangerous to people, unless they are trying to do something silly like bbq -ing in the lava. It’s now only a medium hard hike away from the nearest road, following some quick maintenance by the authorities.

Here is a live broadcast of the volcanic eruption

Meanwhile to make sure Iceland protects it´s daily life from Covid, the government has implemented new rules at the borders where travelers from high-risk “red” covid zones are obliged to stay at quarantine hotels directly after arrival for 5 days. This followed problems with visitors who refused to respect the mandatory but harder-to-enforce requirement to isolate on their own for five days, opting instead to visit supermarkets, ski resorts and volcanic eruptions and ultimately spreading infections. I hope we will soon have more vaccinated people traveling, and that the slow Icelandic vaccine roll out will pick up enough pace so this measure will not need to continue.

Photo by Helga Stína
Photo by Helga Stína

In the meantime, as my 13 year old said. “Covid can not take the beauty away”.

When you are up for travel again I recommend to use a personalized travel planner to explore possibilities to make sure everything you wish for is available and open. Iceland Unwrapped is actively visiting and researching to develop new itineraries which will be “ready to go” when the first vaccinated travelers come over this summer/autumn.

Keep dreaming and planning. This will all be a distant memory sooner than later I hope.

For more information on personalized travel plan in Iceland when you are ready to travel contact Iceland Unwrapped – www.icelandunwrapped.com

The beauty of Iceland is waiting for you.

More information on Covid in Iceland

Keep dreaming – Iceland is ready for another comeback

This nation of mine has managed to surprise me through the years.

Let me take a couple of examples.

Cod wars – Iceland has fought a few wars. The Cod wars against the Brits. We won. Here are some more information on the subject.

The economical crisis in 2008 – Iceland had a total meltdown in 2008 when all the banks in the country collapsed. People lost their jobs and homes and this nation needed to rethink it´s values and priorities. That was a success in many ways where Iceland continued focusing on fisheries and added a huge focus on tourism, having about two and a half million tourists visiting the country in 2019. Seven million went through the airport in Keflavik. Have in mind that there are 360.000 people living on the island.

Iceland´s national teams in football – Have in mind again that there are 360.000 people living in Iceland. We have sent both our women and men’s team to the Europa Cup in football and the men´s team even made it to the world cup.

Photo by Helga Stina

These achievements are something to be proud of and are important to have in mind when thinking of where you want to travel to in the future. What options are you going to have and where will you feel safe.

Iceland has been managing the Covid-19 crisis successfully and that is important to know when choosing a travel destination in the future. The information flow and the structure of the response has been noticed internationally.

Photo by Helga Stina

Have in mind that crisis are nothing new for the Icelanders. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, weather conditions and isolation has been a part of this nation since the beginning. The fish has come and gone and the weather changes constantly at times.

Being first with something is important to the Icelanders and sometimes it kind of happens, that the Icelanders are first with random things like

First woman democratically elected in the world

First parliament in the world – The Althing

First people to put licorice and chocolate together

First people to find America

and

Greenland

..and did you know that the name Iceland is a misunderstanding? Think about it. Why is Greenland called Greenland and not Iceland?

Photo by Helga Stina

Iceland is ready for another comeback

The ability to adapt to new situations is something the Icelanders are extremely good at and just as we speak the Icelanders are promoting traveling in their own country this year to support the amazing work that has been done in building up tourism in Iceland in the past years. Thinking out of the box and doing the job is a very Icelandic thing to do.

In my opinion there have been too many tourists in Iceland at times, making it difficult to preserve the fragile nature and authentic culture. In a new beginning there is a possibility of a change for the better in offering more personalized approached with respect for the nature and culture. See more about my thoughts here

Photo by Frida

The solidarity of the people is something the Icelanders are brought up with, knowing that everyone needs to take action to survive in crisis. Everything is interconnected and persistence and optimism is key, coming out of this challenging situation.

So Iceland is ready to have another comeback and will be ready to receive tourists again as soon you are ready.

Photo by Helga Stina

Me and my partners in Iceland will make sure to offer you a personal approach, hidden gems, connecting to the locals, having social distancing in mind. There is so much to see and do and there is plenty of space in Iceland.

More on what season to choose when traveling to Iceland

More on the importance of looking forward to

Contact Helga Stina for more information

Iceland Unwrapped by helgastina is a personal travel planning company with focus on personal approach, hidden gems and connecting with the Icelanders, Icelandic culture and nature.

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What happens when the power is out? By Helga Stina

Iceland is a land of extremes. The elements of nature impact everything in life there.

Being raised in a place that sometimes makes it difficult to plan ahead, is a privilege. You might ask why that is the case, and it is because it teaches one to respect nature and its ways, to constantly find solutions and to think out of the box.

I remember clearly when I was younger and we had a lot of storms in the winter in Iceland, and the power went out a lot, as is to be expected when living on a rock in the middle of North Atlantic. Somehow in the memory, my mum always wanted to use the time to iron things. It was like, Yes now there is no electricity, now I finally have time to iron in peace, until she realized of course that, that wasn´t even possible 😊

Reykjavik in winter, after a storm – Photo by Helga Stina

I personally think we should have the power out more often in our modern lives to forcefully make us do other things, such as read,  talk to each other, read to each other, sit by a candle light, take a long warm bath (possible because water in Iceland is geothermal) or just to listen to the weather outside, and being thankful for having a warm house. I don´t think this will ever be possible again because of phones and computers that are pre-charged. But one can always hope 🙂

A beautiful winter sunset at around 15.00- Photo by Helga Stina

But how is it to live in a place with such darkness? 

When you live in a place where you have about 3 to 4 hours of daylight during the darkest months and almost 24 hours of daylight during the brightest months, you learn how to cherish what is possible at these times. Culture blooms in winter in Iceland and when you think about that it is a society of 330.000 people it is stunning that there is so much going on. And don´t get me started on quality of life included in the geothermal pools.

I, for example get frequently asked by non-Icelanders, why there are so many good musicians in Iceland. The joke is normally, that it must be so boring over there that people need to do something to survive the boredom.

That is far from the truth. Calmness and quietness to be able to create might be a big factor, great possibilities of music teaching for children from early age, access to possibilities of having concerts for young artist and, perhaps, the need to create something real when you can´t control everything…like the weather, the darkness, the storm or whatever it may be. Nearness to the elements of nature plays a role for sure.

Here are two examples of my favorite Icelandic artists singing in English. Júníus Meyvant and Hjaltalín. You probably already know Sigur Ros, Of Monsters and Men, Björk and Kaleo.

 

What would you do if the power went off?

If you would like to get connected to Iceland, nature and the elements, contact Iceland Unwrapped

Every travel plan is a personalized one.

Make an appointment for an informal talk with Helga Stina to start the adventure.

Berry picking, amazing sunsets and the calmness in the air – Have you ever dreamed of autumn in Iceland ?

I must admit that Autumn is my favorite season in Iceland.

I like it because of the beautiful sunsets, the blue berry picking, and the calmness of it.

I like it because it makes life calmer when everyone is getting ready to face the winter months ahead and this is the last chance to enjoy sunshine, green nature and fresh air for some time.

The season for making jams and wonderful meals straight from nature – Photo by Eygló

In my childhood, this time of year was connected to me and my friends collecting our vegetables that we had grown during the summer in special vegetable gardens for school kids. These gardens were a genius idea where kids could sign up for a little part of the space to grow cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, rhubarb, potatoes and other vegetables capable of surviving the Icelandic summer and autumn.

Coming home with this contribution every autumn is a very warm and dear memory.

For other people, this time of year is connected to memories of collecting the sheep that have been walking free in the mountains of Iceland throughout the summer. Being on horseback, reaching the sheep, and getting them back on the farm so their wool can be collected is something unforgettable.

Horses – Photo by Frida

Iceland Unwrapped focuses on getting people connected, not only to the nature of Iceland but to the people, traditions and culture of this 330.000-person nation in the north Atlantic.

So why not go berry picking, sheep collecting, and to finish the day, bathe in a beautiful geothermal pool and watch the magical colors of the autumn sunset.

Autumn in Iceland is filled with beautiful colors – Photo by Frida Hjaltested

Who knows – you might even catch a glimpse of some Northern Lights as well if you are not sound asleep after your day’s adventure.

Sheep are roaming free in Iceland during summer – Photo by Frida

…Dream well….

Iceland Unwrapped is personalized travel planning company focusing on connecting you to Iceland and the Icelanders.

Please contact us for information on how to make your trip to Iceland an authentic and special one.

 

The importance of connecting, being and having peace

In my talks with many clients traveling to Iceland with Iceland Unwrapped there has been a red thread.

Connection, peace and the possibility of experiencing quietness is at the essence of a journey to Iceland.

My suggestions often include traveling around, stopping, breathing, having a picnic, reading a book, hiking a bit, meeting the locals and laying down in the moss for a little nap, is a perfect way to explore Iceland for some people. And if you decide to read a book by one of Iceland‘s authors that takes place in the areas you travel in, even better.

Iceland is all kinds. There is a chance to do extreme adventures like glacier climbing, kayaking between glaciers, hiking for days, rafting and fishing.

But for some people living in big cities or with intense jobs or personal pressures, the need for peace and inspiration in crucial for their wellbeing, so they choose vacation destinations that offer that.

That is very interesting for a travel planner who is interested in the well being of her clients and wants to offer a trip that is unforgettable for all senses, adding the spice of connecting to inspirational people and hidden gems all around the country.

On my recent trip to Iceland during the holidays, I met partners that I work with in Iceland that focus on wellbeing, on the experience of using your senses to experience Iceland, it´s beauty, power and diversity.

As a busy mum, wife and entrepreneur, I can relate to this need and the imporartance of finding yourself and nurture the senses in a place like Iceland. Iceland is for all. With a travel planner the option of a tailor made experience can give a visitor exactly what they need, away from the crowds.

Would you like to explore, get to know the people and culture of Iceland? Would you be interested in visiting hidden gems and go off the beaten track?

Are you interested in being actively involved in the adventure of creating your own tailor made travel plan in cooperation with an experienced Iceland specialist?

 

Contact Iceland Unwrapped for more information.

 

Let‘s have a talk on possibilities for you if you are traveling alone of if you are traveling with friends, family, your workplace or other people in your life.

www.icelandunwrapped.com

Red and white Christmas – The feeling of Christmas in Iceland

My family and I are spending Christmas in Iceland this year.

What is very common in the discussion in Iceland before Christmas is the weather. Actually the weather is a very common topic in Iceland in general. No wonder, as the location of this rock in the Atlantic offers all kinds of weather, often in the same day.

The discussion around the holiday season involves conversations about whether Christmas will be red or white this year. Red Christmas meaning a no snow Christmas. White Christmas: like in the song.

Some people don´t even get into the Christmas spirit unless Christmas is white.

The reason for that is that sometimes, in the past, beautiful heavy snow has fallen around Christmas time, making the little towns of Iceland and the capital even more beautiful and peaceful. It truly is a picture perfect post card at times.

In my memory when I was a child,  the feeling of waking up on Christmas day morning, having a cup of warm real chocolate with cream, cookies and the family recipe scones with butter and smoked lamb, was the feeling of Christmas. In the memories it was always snowing during the holidays, so us,the kids could go out to make igloos and snow men all day long, until we returned home wet from head to toe, with red cheeks and hungry like wolves.

As I have mentioned before the Icelanders love reading. The Christmas book flood is a yearly event, and Christmas day spent in pajamas, eating chocolate and reading one of the books that came from under the tree, the night before, gives the feeling of Christmas to me. If the snow is falling outside, even better. And then you just daze of from time to time because there are only 3 hours of daylight anyway that time of year.

The schools in Iceland have a long holiday and in some countries people go travelling this time of year. Some of the Icelanders even go to warm places to experience a bit more light and warmth during this hard period of time in Iceland.

Some people though would not even consider having Christmas somewhere else than home and will just jump in the nearest geothermal pool to heat up in this coldest season of the year, after a refreshing walk by the ocean. Problem solved. Because some people think that is what Christmas is about. The darkness and the Christmas lights add to the charm to this cold holiday in Iceland.

So it really doesn´t matter if Christmases are red or white. They will come whatever and hopefully everyone will have peaceful and beautiful holidays, wherever they may find themselves in the world.

More on personalized travel planning. Also for the winter holidays on www.icelandunwrapped.com 

Is it a good idea to travel with children to Iceland?

Travelling with children in Iceland

Iceland is many people’s dream. Sometimes I get the question if Iceland is suitable for children or that even if it is too dangerous to bring children along.

To me Iceland is a paradise for children. Living in Denmark for ten years and in Holland for the last four, I appreciate what Iceland means to my son the ten year old.

Space is what comes first to mind. The possibility of running around, running on the lava fields, running up and down a hill or a mountain, running on the shore in crazy winds.

Our favorite when travelling in Iceland is going to one of the geothermal pools you can find in almost any tiny town in Iceland. Sitting in a warm pool, going on a slide into the pool or just hanging around talking to the locals, looking at the view. Many locals visit the local pool at least once or twice a week, some of them daily.

Iceland is filled with mystical things like the trolls, elves and the hidden people. These folk stories are a big part of the culture of the Icelandic people and are integrated into the habits and way of living.

History is important to explore in Iceland. Histories of Vikings and other historical figures can be found everywhere around the country, and this is a fascinating way to explore and to understand a bit more how this nation, on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic has survived hard nature and has been formed in many ways by nature, folk tales and the will to survive and invent solutions to have a good life.

Last but not least, meeting the locals for a dinner where you can meet other children to discuss the differences and also how we all are connected is a precious experience to give to one’s child.

 

More information on personalized travel planning, also for children can be found on the website

www.icelandunwrapped.com

(Picture – Midnight in June camping)

EXCLUSIVE EXCURSIONS

Unwrapping Iceland’s gifts

If you think visiting Iceland is only glaciers, mountains and Northern Lights then think again! There is so much more to this unique and magical country than meets the eye. That is why I love showing visitors just how much they can get out of their stay in Iceland. The reason why I called my company ‘Iceland Unwrapped’ is because that is exactly what I do. Visiting Iceland is a gift no one will forget, but most people only see a small part of it… Through my exclusive excursions I reveal the best this wonderful country has to offer bit by bit.

And the best part? Every trip is tailor-made to your specifications.

What exciting and authentic treats do I have in store for my clients?

Connecting to a network of professionals in Iceland. Are you a company or an institution and would you like to get insights from the Icelanders and from Icelandic society? Please contact us for more information on what is possible.

Professional and educational trips

Tours for professionals in various fields. Iceland Unwrapped has planned trips for professionals in various fields. Iceland has a lot to offer for professionals that would like to be inspired by other professionals, and by the nature and culture of Iceland. Have a look at these options for the possibilities of connecting and being inspired in Iceland. And because Iceland is located almost half way between Europe and North America, you can have your team meet in the middle.

Unique experiences and adventures

Moon Trip – A possibility of stepping in the footsteps of the Astronauts that went to the moon 50 years ago.

Wool in Iceland – Knitting in Iceland and getting into the world of wool in Iceland.

Dining with the Icelanders – The very best food, hosts and produce the country has to offer.

Geothermal Health clinic – Read all about how our healing spas and lagoons can revitalize you and heal.

Female-empowerment trips – We connect successful women with the locals and teach you about Iceland’s fascinating history and how women have emerged as a driving force behind the country that you see today. This is a trip that both women and men should do, as gender equality can never be reached without the participation of all humans.

unique exclusive excursions iceland

Nature and wildlife

Nature photography – Join our local experts and learn how to capture the magic of the country.

Fishing, sailing and diving – You can’t escape the sea when you come to Iceland, and the surrounding oceans produce some of the freshest fish you will taste.

Animal and whale watching – Year round Iceland has some spectacular whale sightings!

Hiking, biking and extreme sports – From horse riding and biking to adventures in the wild windswept wilderness.

Family travel and culture

Iceland for families – Did you know we offer walks in nature where your little ones can discover elves in Hafnarfjordur? Not to mention some amazing days out, museums and family friendly outdoor pursuits.

Iceland and the arts – Meet local authors and artists and learn about how the amazing history and culture of the country has influenced their work. You might even be invited for a private concert in a musicians house.

Glamping and eco-travel – Immerse yourself in the beautiful countryside the responsible way.

And this is just the tip of the Icelandic iceberg!

Personalized travel

If you have a specific themed trip you would like to make alone, as a family, or with a group of people, please get in touch and my team and I will help you plan your dream Icelandic escape or work related dream trip.  We also cater for special needs and very specific requests… No request is too big or unique.

Your travel planner, Helgastina.

YOUR PLANNER – HELGASTINA

Hi. I’m Helga Kristin Fridjonsdottir.

Native to Iceland, I created Iceland Unwrapped so I could bring the magic of my country to the rest of the world.

As a lover of all things travel, my vision for Iceland Unwrapped was always about connecting people with my homeland. My aim for every one of my customers is to provide a personal, unforgettable and unique experience. I want you to keep Iceland in your heart forever.

Globe trotter

Even though I was born in Iceland, I have lived all over the world – Brazil, Austria, Denmark, Portugal and Holland. Firstly I began my career as a teacher in Iceland, then went on to study an M.A in Global studies and Project Management in Denmark. I’m fluent in Icelandic, English, Danish and Portuguese.

Based in The Netherlands

Delft, in The Netherlands, is now home which I share with my husband Mike and son Gabriel. I’m also in the process of learning Dutch.

Iceland travel planner

My interests and experience

International relations and human history have always been a passion of mine. My life is about networking, travelling and learning about new cultures and languages.

Creating Iceland Unwrapped meant combining my experiences in:

  • Project management
  • Leadership
  • Teaching
  • Online marketing
  • Connecting people
  • Travelling

Iceland travel planner

There are plenty of ways to visit this majestic country, but to really get to know Iceland and its hidden gems you need a personal planner. You need a local who understands the country and understands her customers.

What are your interests?

What activities, sights and experiences would really make your trip to Iceland go from fun to unforgettable? Get in touch and let’s have a chat. I can’t wait to meet you and show you the very best of my home country!

CONTACT ME TODAY

Want to read more about Iceland and all that it has to offer?

Here you can read the blogs by Iceland Unwrapped.