Summer Vacation in Iceland


Summer Vacation in Iceland

Watch this audio slideshow* of typical summer holiday destinations among Icelanders, who, ever since the crisis hit, are more eager than ever to spend their vacations in summerhouses and tent trailers in campsites. These pictures show Grímsnes, a region in southern Iceland, Thrastarskógur forest and Úlfljótsvatn lake.

Photos and narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

Click here to download the slideshow.

*The information in this slideshow and the following article is mainly from the Icelandic version of Wikipedia.


July is probably the most popular month for summer vacations among Icelanders. It’s “cucumber season” (gúrkutíd) for the media because nothing important happens, no one is working and the parliament is on a break.

Not as many Icelanders travel abroad as before the crisis hit because it became so much more expensive with the depreciation of the Icelandic króna. Now more Icelanders than ever are opting for a vacation in summerhouses or at campsites around the country.

Grímsnes is a strip of land between the rivers Sog in the west, Hvítá in the south and Brúará in the east. All around the region there are moss-covered lava fields from eruptions dating back before the Ice Age.

The best known volcanoes in the area are Kerid and Seydhólar but there are also other smaller volcanoes.

Grímsnes is a popular region for summerhouses as it has many forested areas.

Thrastarskógur is one of these forested areas. The 45-hectare forest lies to the east of Mt. Ingólfsfjall and stretches from lake Álftavatn, along the river Sog and to the Thrastarlundur grove.

The forest belongs to UMFÍ, the Youth Association of Iceland, which began planting trees in the area in the early 20th century.

In 1914 the forest was given its name, Thrastarskógur, which translates as “Blackbird Forest”, because of the abundance of blackbirds in the area.

There are many summerhouses in Thrastarskógur and it is also a popular campsite. Another popular campsite lies by the nearby Úlfljótsvatn lake.

The lake, which lies immediately to the south of Thingvallavatn lake (the largest in Iceland), measures 2.45 square kilometers.

Reykjavík Energy bought the hydropower rights to the upper Sog in 1929-1933 and constructed a power plant by the lake, Ljósafossvirkjun, which resulted in the lake’s enlargement.

The Icelandic Boy and Girl Scout Association, which bought land by Úlfljótsvatn in 1940, operate summer camps for scouts there and occasionally national scout tournaments are held by the lake.

The Scout Association also operates the Úlfljótsvatn campsite.

People like to come there to relax in a family-friendly environment, go rowing on the lake, catch some fish, play mini golf and soccer and try out the climbing wall and obstacle course established by the scouts.

When night falls, campers bring out their BBQs and enjoy the summer night in good company with delicious food and a few drinks.

The surrounding countryside is serene with grazing sheep and horses and there are many attractions nearby, including the aforementioned volcanic crater lake Kerid and the old bishopric Skálholt where an archeological excavation project is ongoing.

The famous erupting hot spring Geysir is also close by, as is the powerful waterfall Gullfoss and Thingvellir national park—all frequented tourist destinations which are part of the famous Golden Circle tour.

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