Iceland is open – Are you ready? By Mike Klein and Helga Stina

This week, Iceland’s prime minister,, Katrin Jakobsdottir, announced that the island nation will be accepting visitors from 15 June, setting up an unusual tourist season at a time when much of the world is slowly emerging from lockdown.

With Covid-19 nearly eradicated from its shores and the probability of in-airport testing for arrivals, Iceland stands on solid ground in extending its invitation to the not-yet-travelling public.

But what awaits the Iceland traveller?

Iceland will continue to practice social distancing. So don’t expect packed bus tours to the iconic if less-than-overwhelming Golden Circle. You’ll need a rental car or a local guide.

But it will be worth it. The magic of Iceland is that the scenery – and the weather – changes every ten minutes. Alpine peaks give way to rolling hills, which give way to rock formations, plunging valleys and the occasional if small bits of desert.

With 2/3 of the 360,000-strong national population comfortably ensconced in the agreeable capital of Reykjavik, population density is negligible in the rest of the country. Open spaces, big landscapes, waterfalls, and steam fields beckon, generally with little worry about being 1 meter from the nearest civilian.

No alt text provided for this image
A geothermal spot in the Myvatn area. Iceland is a geothermal hot spot. Photo by Mike Klein

Practicalities

Icelandair, the national airline, will expand its service to cities yet to be identified. With competent, professional service, Icelandair is taking full precautions under the current circumstances.

For those with no desire to fly and time on their hands, Smyril Line offers auto ferry service from Hirtshals in Northern Denmark to the scenic if small town of Seydisfjordur on Iceland’s East Coast, home to Nord Austur, a sushi bar with Michelin-star aspirations.

Socially distant accommodation is relatively easy to find. Rental homes, boutique hotels and country hotels make good bases, and there are also comfortable options in Reykjavik. Iceland Unwrapped offers personalized itineraries and bookings at www.icelandunwrapped.com

Restaurants have been open for a while, and meal delivery is also well-developed in Reykjavik. Some country hotels offer room service, and self-catering is easy with the country’s main supermarket chains: Bonus, Netto, Kronan and Hagkaup.

No alt text provided for this image
The space in Iceland is endless and geothermal pools are easy to find on your path – Photo by Helga Stina

Soon, the jewels of the nation – public swimming pool and hot tub complexes – will open as well. More human in scale than the famous Blue Lagoon, they offer a year-round warm-water experience for about $10 a visit. Safety is ensured through good hygiene and only a tiny amount of chlorine.

Iceland is known to be a pricey destination, but this season will see lower prices in an all-important effort to kick start the vital tourist economy.

Mike Klein is a Netherlands-based writer and communication consultant who is planning an Iceland move in August.

Helga Stina is the owner of Iceland Unwrapped, a travel service specializing in personalized and customized Iceland itineraries and bookings.

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.

We are also on Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

What’s next for travel? Possibilities in the challenges

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” (Rahm Emanuel).

I know many of us are wondering “where to next”? How is travelling going to look like? What is going to be possible? What, if anything, will remain the same.

I see this challenge as a great opportunity to change the way we look at travel and service to travelers. I see endless possibilities and creations in coming years in tourism despite this crisis.

My view on travel for years has been that less is more. Authentic is sustainable, and its immensely important to connect with the locals if we genuinely want to connect the world.

Where to next, is what many of us are wondering at this time – Photo by Helga Stina on a fantastic hike last autumn in Iceland

I have been running Iceland Unwrapped for the past five years. When I was researching about how to go about starting my approach, I came across blogs and information on celebrities who had been so fortunate to travel to fantastic locations, like Iceland, having a personal travel planner doing the planning.

I thought to myself. Why can I not offer this approach to people who are not celebrities. People who don´t want to follow the crowds and people who need a personal approach to their traveling and needs.

So I did.

Cliffs can be scary but to be able to get to the top you need to plan ahead as you do with every challenge – Photo by a client Claudia from The Netherlands

Meeting clients on their terms

Iceland Unwrapped focuses on meeting clients on their terms, having their needs in mind. Time, money and dreams play main roles in the travel planning approach. Getting people to connect with one another is also an aim – both to create a richer experience for the client, and to make the world a more connected place.

I have developed the concept and am now offering the same approach for people who visit Delft in The Netherlands, where I live.

I receive families, individuals, groups of friends, workplaces and specialist groups who want to be inspired in a new location.

What next?

Now we are in a big crisis for many people. Tourism has been hit in a hard way. Many of us are wondering what will happen next. How will tourism look after this crisis and how are we going to recover?

Even though I think many people are realizing how life can be more simple, with working from home and being confined to limited areas being the current norm, the yearning for something different remains alive.

The likely need for continued social distancing builds in a challenge for destinations and providers to meet the needs and importance of people to enjoy, connect, and experience the wow factor while keeping safe and being more physically distant.

Mandy and her group from Tennessee enjoying a wonderful dinner in 2019, opera singing and cultural experience in the company of Bergþór and Albert – Photo courtesy of Albert Eldar

How will this show up in real life?

Transport

Transport is not going to be the same. It will not be possible to shuffle loads of people in planes, ships, trains or busses having the principles of social distancing in mind, at least not until a vaccine takes hold.

As you know, there are two ways to get to Iceland. By plane or by ship.

There is a ship going from Denmark to Iceland with a stop on the beautiful Faroe Islands. It is possible to bring your car and therefore avoid renting a car in Iceland. My prediction is that there will be less people on ships like that or limited service to prevent people from dining together for example.

Flying will also be a challenge to ensure the social distance. Fewer passengers on each plane is a logical guess and less service perhaps.  It will be interesting to see how this develops because people are not going to stop traveling forever but we will be traveling in a different way and perhaps less frequently.

Highland road – Iceland offers a lot of space so social distancing is something we are very good at when needed – Photo by Helga Stina in Kjolur

Accommodation

A challenge regarding accommodation is the service level. Focus on personal accommodations, small or middle size with an experience of servicing smaller crowds, with the personal approach as key, is the future in my opinion. At least in the nearest future. We have to have in mind as service providers that people are skeptical and perhaps afraid of being to close together with people they don´t know. That is a going to something to have in mind when planning tourism in the future.

Could the future include breakfast rooms with more spaces in between and bye bye to buffets?

Everyone needs to eat so thinking out of the box is essential here. Less clients each time and more care when serving is key. There are many challenges here and also many entrepreneurs in  toursims that are geniuses in finding sollutions and fun ways of addressing this issue.

Flatey Island – Everybody needs some peace and quite in life and Iceland offers endless locations for just that – Photo by Helga Stina

Experiences

This situation offers a unique opportunity of making trips and adventures in Iceland and around the world more authentic and personal. Many fantastic companies in Iceland are offering trips for smaller groups and individuals and the creativity is incredible. I am fortunate to be working with partners that think out of the box with creative solutions and experiences as key. This will be essential when traveling and experiencing the near future. Talking together and finding solutions together is key here, to make tourism work again with a different focus.

Dining with the Icelanders has been the flagship of Iceland Unwrapped where 14 families and individuals open their homes to travelers in Iceland for the amazing experience of connecting and dining a simple meal together. The options are endless both in connecting people through interests such as cross fit, knitting, history, medicine, horses, photography, music or whatever the travelers are interested in knowing about.

In the future I can see this option being possible having sanitation and social distancing method in mind, at least until a vaccine has been discovered.

A wonderful meal and a typical Icelandic cake for dessert is an unforgettable and a simple way of adding the extra touch to a trip to Iceland – Photo by Helga Stina and the cake is called “Randalín”

 

Thinking out of the box

Overall these are challenging times but also an opportunity of growing, thinking out of the box and create a more sustainable tourism experience for travelers around the world.

It´s now we need to enjoy the creativity and braveness of the many entrepreneurs in tourism to be able to create fantastic options after this challenge we are facing.

So just to sum my ideas up.

More personal approach to meet the needs of clients with different needs than before, such as avoiding crowds during their entire holiday.

Cooperation between partners to use each others strenghts.

Thinking out of the box for soulutions.

Keep dreaming – Iceland will be waiting when you are ready

Iceland is going to be waiting for you when you are ready. To find solutions for you trip, contact your personal travel planner to maximize the experience.

More information on www.icelandunwrapped.com or contact Helga Stina directly for an informal chat about your options.

If you are a travel planner or a travel company feel free to contact me for a chat on how the future may look for all of us.

In the covid-19 crisis the world has connected in a unique way. There is so much space for continuing that development, also in the travel business.

The hidden pleasures of Reykjavik

I love it when you don´t have to plan your whole vacation from minute to minute. I have traveled around the world and a big part of being somewhere is to bumble around, enjoying, drinking coffee and getting the atmosphere.

Some people that travel to Iceland understandably want to get into the nature as soon as possible and skip experiencing the beautiful city of Reykjavik and amazing possibilities there.

Please wait a minute before doing that.

The city is located in nature with the sea surrounding it, mountain circle visible from everywhere, a salmon river running through it and hiking possibilities all around.

If you want to go a tiny bit further you have mountains to hike, ski slopes to try and horses to ride.

The buildings and culture of Reykjavik is something different from everything I have experienced. The nearness of culture all around in architecture, sculptures, music, painting and other visual arts is one of the things that makes the city so special for tourists.

Just strolling around the center, breathing in the the air, sometimes fishy air, going to the harbor to see the boats come in or go out, drinking coffee and looking at peaces of arts on the walls of the buildings in the harbor area.

That´s a lovely way to enjoy a morning in Reykjavik.

In the afternoon you can visit one of the many interesting museum in the Reykjavik area or simply jump into a warm geothermal pool anywhere in the Reykjavik area.

Life can be very simple sometimes.

If you would like to know more about the hidden pleasures of Iceland and Reykjavik, have a look at your possibilities for an authentic and personalized vacation in Iceland.

 

Authentic experiences and hidden gems – This is personalized travel planning by Iceland Unwrapped

Traveling to Iceland has never been easier. You can fly from all over the world to this isolated rock in the North Atlantic ocean.

There are many ways to visit Iceland. You can book a package and travel around with a group of tourists to the most popular places, the places you see pictures of in every tourist magazine, on Instagram and on famous travel sites. You can rent a car and travel around to the most popular places and get a trip of a lifetime.

I would love to present you to another possibility.

If you are up for something different like connecting to the Icelanders through food and music, getting the feeling of being Icelandic, discovering hidden gems and amazing peace, you should read further about personalized travel planning. That might be something for you and your fellow travelers.

The aim is always to make every trip unique for each group or individual and it is done in cooperation with the client.

Personalized travel planning includes bookings of activities and accommodation, car rental and assistance with booking good flights.

Furthermore insiders information on what to see, eat, drink and experience. Who to meet and how to get the feeling of the Icelandic culture and nature with the locals.

You will get information on how long your adventures will take and how to breathe in the amazing Iceland.

When you are there you have access to your travel planner in case of change of plans or if you want more insights about something on your path. Or if you simply want to share the excitement and feeling of being there.

Iceland is not an average place. Iceland Unwrapped is not a normal travel agent but a planner that takes into account your uniqueness, wishes and needs on this trip of a lifetime. The goal is always to make every trip a personal and unique one and to take you off the beaten path for authentic experiences and hidden gems.

Get in touch with Helga Stina for more information.

Photo by Frida Hjaltested 

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.

HIDDEN GEMS

Looking to discover Iceland’s hidden gems?

And discover the delights away from the tourist trail?

Iceland is on everyone‘s bucket list. Although just because it‘s an easy country to visit, it doesn’t mean that you can guarantee an amazing holiday by simply jumping on a plane and booking a hotel. With such a diverse range of things to do and experience, you need the help of an experienced travel planner.

Iceland travel planner

I can expertly plan your holiday to Iceland. Not just because I‘m a local and I know the country like the back of my hand – but, because I’m a local who knows everyone worth knowing. I can take my clients to places that no guide book or website will ever show you.

Intrigued? Let me give you an example…

Some  people ask me if I can plan a trip to visit shark hunters in Snæfellsnes. This isn’t something many people know about or would feel comfortable booking directly themselves. The old farmers use ancient methods passed down through generations to preserve the shark meat. When you meet these extraordinary people, you not only get to listen to their amazing stories but your create memories of a lifetime. I have a unique overview of both the country and the people that make up its rich and vibrant culture. Because of this you’re guaranteed to discover many hidden gems that you didn’t even know existed.

Surreal landscapes, hidden gems

You want an example of another Icelandic secret?

I bet you didn’t know Iceland is famed for some really great ales. I can take you to a father and son brewing team in the North of the country who decided to one day start creating their own beers in the middle of nowhere. Following an accident at work, the father could no longer continue working as a fisherman so decided to follow his passion. Now their business has grown from strength to strength. In fact their ales are so popular they can´t even fulfill orders within the Icelandic market and have vowed to not distribute outside of the country.

So if you fancy sampling the best in Icelandic beer – you‘ll need me to take you there!

Grotta lighthouse, Seltjarnarnes, Iceland

Hidden gems and happy memories

These are just two examples of some hidden gems Iceland has to offer that you won‘t be able to find yourself. There are of course plenty of other places and experiences. From breathtaking scenery not accessible via normal roads to fun days out for the most adventurous among you.

I can work around you and your interests, your budget and your capabilities. I will ensure that your holiday of a lifetime in Iceland will really be one filled with plenty of happy memories. And hidden gems!

Contact us for a free consultation.

WHEN TO GO

The beautiful thing about Iceland is that no two days are the same. And that’s because the weather can be so changeable. Iceland isn’t a country where people should wander about on their own, unless they are prepared for the weather. Some parts are so uninhabitable that I always recommend that my clients are accompanied by an experienced guide. After all, the wildest places are always the most spectacular, but also the most unpredictable.

So when is the perfect time to go?

Winter can be a very pretty time to visit, but it does get colder then. Avoid December to February if you don’t like ice and cold winds. Although it never goes below minus 15°C. For those who love photography and breathtaking views, just pack your thermals and get ready for sights that you’ll never forget!

Iceland seasons

Amazing sights and sites

When people think of Iceland, they often think of the Northern Lights, which appear from September until the end of March.

If you love taking photos and long days outside, then avoid November through to January. These are seriously dark days with just a few hours of sunlight a day. Because of Iceland is the land of ice and fire – on the flip side, the ‘bright nights’ are from April to September. with June and July giving you the chance to see the midnight sun. Yes, this sounds ideal but it also means that it’s difficult to sleep, so bear that in mind. By August, the nights begin to darken.

Whale watching and nature tours

For those interested in whale watching, contrary to popular belief this can be done all year round. From Spring to Autumn is best! I work with the country’s best boat guides and nature experts, ensuring that you will see some truly unforgettable animals.

Iceland travel planner

The best thing about having your own Iceland travel planner is that I advise on all the things that are vital for making your trip not only exciting but safe and comfortable. Driving conditions, security and clothing – you’d be surprised how many women I’ve known to climb a volcano in high heels!

Northern lights Reykjavík

Beyond the tourist places

I also ensure that my clients keep away from the touristy places, while still being aware of the most popular places. So you are free to pick and choose as you wish. Most importantly: I am in constant personal contact with all my colleagues and partners in Iceland. This ensures you get the very best in quality and personal service.

Every season has its charm

All in all, there’s no bad time to go to Iceland. Simply make sure you consider the time of year when we talk about the activities you’d like to do there, and the things you would like to experience.

You can read more in my blog about the seasons in Iceland and why you could use a travel planner for each.

If you have any further questions, just fill in the contact form and I’ll be in touch.

HOW IT WORKS

How I will plan your holiday of a lifetime

So you want to go to Iceland and you’ve booked your flights… What’s next?

You get in touch with me!

A unique trip to Iceland

Iceland isn’t just a holiday destination – it’s an experience of a lifetime. A small country with a wealth of history, adventure and scenery that changes daily you need someone who knows Iceland well to ensure that your time there is well spent. Not to mention that you stay safe. Iceland is not a country you venture out in alone.

Individual experiences and service

At Iceland Unwrapped I offer a unique service. I get to know each customer individually and really find out what makes them tick. Sports? Gastronomy? Nature? Getting to know the locals? Whatever your dream holiday to Iceland consists of…

Me and my team can make it a reality.

unique trip iceland, mossy lava field

Expert local guides and companies

I work with the best hotels, guides, transport companies and local attractions to put together an itinerary at your pace and to your tastes. I cater for all ages and types of holidays. If there is anything that you can’t find on this site that you want to experience in Iceland – I can make it happen. Not many others can say that!

It’s easy…

All you have to do is get in touch and we’ll have a chat on the phone or on Skype. We can discuss your budget, timings, needs and everything you want to do during your time in Iceland. You can quiz me on my favorite topic – Iceland – and we can take it from there.

Connecting with Icelandic professionals

My dream clients are people traveling alone or with their families, with their group of friends or colleagues. My dream clients are also professionals that would like to combine connecting with Icelandic professionals and exploring the wonderful nature and culture of Iceland.

A once in a lifetime trip?

For most people Iceland is a once in a lifetime trip… That’s why you get a professional travel planner. And make sure you get the best out of this magical land!

Contact me for a free consultation.

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.