Hear about travel to the South of Iceland as the Amateur Traveler talks to hotelier Friðrik Pálsson about his native land.
Friðrik says, “South Iceland, south and southwest Iceland is more or less open all year. It’s very seldom we have any problems with the roads or anything like that. I would say 80% of our guests get a car at the airport and they drive themselves. It’s very easy to navigate around. I would say almost everybody younger than 50 or 60 would speak English quite well and on the whole I can say that we are very friendly people and helpful.”
Friðrik starts us with some of the usual sites. He encourages us to spend a day or two exploring the Golden Circle. Here you will find the geyser from which all other geysers get there name, Gullfoss (foss means waterfall in Icelandic), and Thingvellir (the Old Parliment). You will see where the North American and European tectonic plates meet. Maybe on the way there, tour the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant. Iceland gets much of its energy needs from geothermal.
In the darkest parts of winter you will only have maybe 3 hours of daylight so it will take longer to see all the sites, but you will have the compensation of being able to see the Northern Lights.
Friðrik also encourages us to get a bit off the tourist track. He won’t say don’t go to the famous Blue Lagoon, but he does encourage a stop at the Secret Lagoon which are thermal pools that have been used for many years by locals.
His guests love some of the outdoor activities like super jeep tours into the interior or to the top of Eyjafjallajökull (“The Iceland Volcano” that closed down air travel in much of Europe in 2010). Or take an ice cave tour.
The south of Iceland has a series of beautiful waterfalls including Seljalandsfoss, Gluggafoss, Glufrabui, and Skógafoss which are easily reached by car. It has long black sand beaches. Many people will want to travel as far as Hof to see the famous Diamond Beach which is covered with chucks of ice and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Friðrik recommends taking the ferry to the island of Vestmannaeyjar just off the south coast. Here you can see many of Iceland’s bird species such as puffins.
During the summer you can hike in the southern highlands in Landmannalaugar. The area is know for thermal baths and sweeping fields of dried magma. The well-known Laugavegur trail starts in this region. National Geographic has named this multi-day hike one of the world’s best hikes.
Serious hikers should consider a hike of Thórsmörk which is a mountain ridge located between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull. It is named for the Norse God Thor.
Friðrik loves seeing the reaction of people as they first come to Iceland and have that “Where am I?” response. Iceland is a unique and beautiful place that should be on your bucket list.
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This episode is sponsored by Cal-Am. With 12 properties across Arizona, Cal-Am Resorts offer experiences designed just for older audiences. Unlike a time share, you buy a home allowing you to come whenever you want and stay for as long as you want. Call Steve Ryerson at 888-883-4609 or visit discovercal-am.com.
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Golden Circle (Iceland)
Thingvellir (Old Parliment)
Friðheimar (Tomato Greenhouse)
Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant, Hengill, Iceland
Secret Lagoon Iceland
Blue Lagoon Tickets
Golden Circle & Geothermal Energy Tour from Reykjavik
Iceland Super Jeep Tour
Eyjafjallajökull “The Iceland Volcano”
San Buggy Tours
Ice Cave Tour
Ferðafélag (Hiking Huts)
Hákarl (fermented shark)
Diamond Beach | Guide to Iceland
Iceland South Coast Itinerary – The Best Places to Visit
Just wanted to drop you a very quick note here as I pack my bag here in Abu Dhabi for a quick trip to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhastan (featured on episode 307 in case you were wondering). I find myself always looking up one of your episodes before I take off to a new place. You ask your guests the best, most insightful questions and I always get more out of my trips because of it. Thanks for providing the most interesting podcast out there. All the best, Trey
My husband and I just went to Egypt and Jordan a couple weeks ago and your podcast helped us prep and feel ready. It was my first time in Africa and the Middle East. We had a fabulous time. — Tessa
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