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Fun Things to Do

Golf | Hiking | Horseback Riding | Marathon | River Rafting | Sea Kayaking | Skiing | Sport Fishing | Swimming | Basketball | Glima | Handball | Ice Hockey | Soccer | Bird Watching | Glacier Tours | Whale Watching | Film | Museums and Galleries | Music | Season Calendar


Iceland is a country where you can see and do things you can’t elsewhere. It’s hard to think of another place where you can play golf, climb a glacier and fish for salmon all in the same day! The country has many activities for all ages and abilities and you can challenge yourself as much or as little as you want. There are always specially trained people on hand to help you if you are a beginner at things like sea kayaking or white water rafting. And there’s just as much to do in winter!
The following list is just a taster:

SPORTS: ACTIVITY

Bicycling
Bikes can be rented in Reykjavik and in various places around Iceland. There are many cycling paths in and around the cities. For further information on biking tours please contact travel agencies or local tourist information centers. Or click here. For a list of tour operators.

Golf
Iceland has over 50 golf courses throughout the island, many with outstanding views. Golf can be played in Iceland from May through September, with 24-hour golf available in June due to the midnight sun. Visitors are welcome at the courses. Green fees vary from roughly USD $20 - 60. Some courses offer clubs for rent. For further information contact the Icelandic Golf Association: (+354) 514-4050, e-mail gsi@golft,
Each year there are several golf tournaments in various parts of the country, some with a summer midnight tee-off including:

The Amstel Light Open (June), Reykjavik and Hafnafjordur.
Contact: Reykjavik Golf Club gr@grgolf.is, Tel. +354 585 0200 or Keilir Golf Club keilir©isholf.is, Tel. +354 565 3360
The Volcano Open (July), Westman Islands. Contact: Westman Islands Golf Club golf©eyjar.is Tel. +354 481 2363
The Arctic Open (June), Akureyri. Contact: Akureyri Golf Club,
Tel: +354 462-2974, e-mail: gagolf@nett.is

Hiking
More than half of Iceland is over 1,300 feet above sea level, and a large part of the island is covered by lava, glaciers, lakes and sand. Few places in Iceland have marked walking paths, but hiking is a favorite pastime for Icelanders and tourists alike. It is possible to take day or weekend tours during winter, and longer tours are organized during summer. You can take an organized excursion or go hiking yourself. If you organize your trip independently, make sure you bring adequate clothing and provisions, and that someone knows where you are going. For more information, visit official travel guide.

Horseback Riding
The Vikings arrived in Iceland more than a thousand years ago, bringing their horses with them. When these settlers created the world’s oldest surviving Parliament in the year 930, one of their first acts was to prohibit further importation of horses. Today, more than ten centuries later, the breed remains pure. Strong and muscular, these horses are sure-footed enough to handle the roughest Icelandic terrain. Small and gentle, with great stamina, speed and intelligence, they are the perfect riding companions. They are friendly, willing, docile animals that take obvious pleasure in carrying their riders across grassy plains, up and down rocky slopes, through rivers and over fields of rough lava, offering travelers a unique way to enjoy the splendors and nature of Iceland.
The Icelandic horse is perfect for the beginner rider. Tours of up to several days, often through the interior of the country which is difficult to reach by car, can be arranged for more experienced riders. For more information, visit: official travel guide.

Marathon
The Reykjavik Marathon is an annual event held every August on Culture Day. This international event involves thousands of participants from Iceland and abroad. Participants can run a full or half marathon, or 3, 5 or 10 kilometer races. There is also an informal family race.
For serious adrenalin junkies, the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon is also held once a year on the Laugavegurinn hiking trail from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk nature park, through spectacular scenery.


River Rafting
Action lovers in search of a real challenge will find plenty to their liking in Iceland. In some places where swirling glacial rivers race over rugged terrain on their way seaward, the scenery looks custom-built for river rafting. White water rafting operators often offer a choice of routes with different levels of challenge - for newcomers who want to experience the basic thrill and more difficult rides for the really wild at heart. For more information, visit official travel guide.

Sea Kayaking
Kayaking just off the Icelandic coast is an unforgettable experience. All levels are available, from beginner to serious adrenalin rush.
Sea-kayaking is possible through numerous operations around the Reykjavik area and also on some of the lakes nearby. Lucky kayakers might also get a close-up glimpse of a seal or rare birdlife.
For more information, visit official travel guide.

Skiing
Winter skiing, both downhill and cross-country, is available in many parts of the country. The popular locations are Blafjoll, near Reykjavik, and Hlidarfjall, near Akureyri. The season usually lasts from December to April. For more information, visit official travel guide.


Sport Fishing
Iceland FishingIceland is famous for its salmon and trout fishing. The main salmon fishing is from around June 20th to mid-September. Trout fishing varies from one river or lake to the next, but the normal season is from April/May until late September/October. During winter, ice-fishing is quite popular. For salmon fishing, permits must be reserved well in advance, but trout fishing permits can be obtained at short notice, often the same day. For further information: www.angling.is .


Swimming
Thanks to an abundance of hot water, swimming is probably the most popular activity in Iceland. Almost every town and village has a swimming pool, usually outdoors, which is filled with hot water to a comfortable temperature and kept open year round. Many people enjoy swimming lengths in the pools, but most go to sit in the circular “hot pots” and have a good chat with their friends. The hot pots have temperatures ranging from 97 – 111°F (36 – 44°C). Many swimming complexes also have saunas, steam rooms and solariums. They are open daily, often until 10.30pm in summer, and the admission fee is very low. Changing rooms and lockers with keys are provided, and everything is very clean. We highly recommend you visit at least one swimming pool on your trip to Iceland.
For more information, visit official travel guide.

SPORTS: VIEWING

Basketball
Basketball is a popular sport in Iceland, with a special stronghold in Keflavik and the Reykjanes region, a legacy of the US base. Several teams play in Iceland, often with one or two professional international players. An Icelander, Petur Gudmundsson, was the first foreigner to play in the NBA. He played for the Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs and a short spell with the LA Lakers. The basketball season runs from September to April or May and tickets can be purchased at the site of the game. , kki@kki.is

Glima
Glima is an ancient form of wrestling native to Iceland. Tournaments are not often held, but an opportunity to witness this curious dance of opponents should be seen to be believed. For a description of the rules of Glima in English, visit the website of the Glima Assocation:

Handball
Team handball is a sport which is popular on continental Europe, but has yet to catch on in America. It is the team sport in which Iceland has achieved the most success,
including a fourth place finish at the LA Olympics in 1984. The game is a fast-paced team game similar to basketball, except that there is a large net and goalkeeper, rather than a hoop. An American basketball player in Iceland once described it as water polo without the water. Iceland has done well in handball on the international stage, and watching a game during the September – May season is always entertaining.


Ice Hockey
Considering the country’s northern location, ice hockey is not as popular in Iceland as you might think. But the national men’s and women’s teams are getting better all the time, and in 2006 the men’s national team won the Division III world championship, earning a promotion to Division II. You can catch a fast-paced game at Skautahollin or Egilshollin rinks in Reykjavik. There are four teams in the Icelandic league.



Soccer
Soccer is Iceland’s most popular sport. The semi-professional season is played during the summer and visitors are welcome to attend the lively games held at stadiums throughout the country. For more information, visit



NATURE

Bird Watching
Iceland is a paradise for birdwatchers. Latrabjarg in the West Fjords is the largest bird cliff in the world. A great variety of cliff-nesting species can be found there, including the largest razorbill colony in the world. The Westman Islands are also famous for many kinds of seabirds, and are home to both the world’s largest puffin population. Lake Myvatn in the north has more species of breeding ducks than any other place in Europe. Bird-watching tours of the lake can be easily arranged in the region.
The great skua colony on the sands in South Iceland is the largest in the world. Seabirds such as puffins can be seen in many places around the country, including the popular Snaefellsnes peninsula, as well as eiders, Arctic terns, waders and passerine birds. Some tour operators organize tours for birdwatchers in early summer.
People staying in the Reykjavik area can also see some interesting feathered folk. The Grotta area at the farthest point of the town of Seltjarnarnes is a famous nesting area for birds, and it is even possible to catch site of some northern wonders on the Tjornin Pond in the city center. click here. For a list of bird species found in Iceland.

Glacier Tours
It’s easy to arrange a tour on one of Iceland’s magnificent glaciers. Travelers make the ascent by bus or 4-wheel drive vehicle and then have time to explore the glacier on their own by snowmobile. “Safaris” in modified jeeps are also available. Because of the risk of hidden cracks in the glaciers, travelers should only visit glaciers on organized tours with experienced operators and guides. After all, there’s all the freedom in the world - once you make it to the top. For more information, visit official travel guide. and official travel guide. Jeep safaris are only offered during the summer months but it is possible to take snowmobiles to the glacier year round.

Whale Watching
Whale watching is one of the most popular tourist activities in Iceland, and for good reason. Success rates of seeing the world’s largest mammals in their natural habitat are much greater than 95%. The most common whales spotted are the friendly minke whales but also blue whales, humpback whales, sei and fin whales, killer whales and of course a number of dolphins including white beaks and harbor porpoises.
Tours, which last from a few hours to most of the day, depart from several locations in Iceland such as Reykjavik, Breiddalsvik in the East, Olafsvik in the West, and the Westman Islands in the South.
The most popular spot for whale watching is from Husavik in the north of the country, which is regarded by many as the ’Whale Watching Capital of Europe.’ Cruises are made on a quiet, old-fashioned oak boat and on shore there is an exhibition center dedicated to the many species of whales that sport in the bay.
The whale watching season runs from May to September. Further information can be found at official travel guide.



CULTURAL

Film
Icelanders love going to the movies. There are seven movie theaters in the Reykjavik area, one in Akureryri and one in Keflavik. Movies are shown in their original language with Icelandic subtitles. There is a short intermission in the middle of the show so everyone can stock up on popcorn and candy.

The Reykjavik International Film Festival is held each autumn. For details on what is showing, visit The Iceland International Film Festival is also held in the autumn. Check out for schedules.

Museums and Galleries
Considering that Iceland has only 300,000 people, the number of museums and art galleries in the country is astounding. Even in the small towns and out-of-the-way fishing villages, you will encounter some public place dedicated to preserving the national heritage or displaying the local artists. It may be a structure in the center of town that the community has banded together to support, or it may be the house of a famous artist.
The largest museums and galleries are, of course, in Reykjavik. Among the most visited are the Culture House, Einar Jonsson Museum, and the National Gallery. Though these are the major culture venues, you can find a museum or gallery to quench almost any interest, whether it be Icelandic coins, traditional clothing, or metal working.
Those with a particular interest in this field may wish to attend the annual Reykjavik Arts Festival, held in May. Galleries host special exhibitions, dance troupes perform, and concerts from world-famous musicians are sponsored.

MUSIC

Iceland Airwaves Music Festival
Iceland Airwaves, a festival garnering increasing international attention, has rocked Reykjavik every October since 1999. Thousands of fans from around the globe show up to groove to cutting-edge tunes by alternative artists from both sides of the Atlantic.

Reykjavik Jazz Festival
The Reykjavik Jazz Festival is also held every fall with a stellar line-up of jazz artists from all over the world covering the various genre of the jazz sphere. Visit for the latest information.

Icelandair Holidays offers special packages for both of these events from various US locations. Packages include round-trip air, hotel accommodations for two-nights, transfers, breakfast and a festival pass. Additional information is available at: or call Icelandair Holidays at + 1 800 315 2621 ; e-mail: holidays@icelandair.is.


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