Local News From Iceland

Growing numbers visit beautiful Reykjanes peninsula: Record increase in number of overnight stays

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Reykjanes peninsula has seen a larger increase in the number of overnight stays than any other part of Iceland. The increase between 2010 and 2015 was a whopping 245%, compared to a national average of 161%. The growth is explained by the proximity to the Keflavík International Airport, and the rugged natural beauty, geothermal areas and lava fields of the Reykjanes Geopark.

According to the regional news site the growth in the number of overnight stays has been strongest in West Iceland and the South West, especially Reykjanes. Proximity to the Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavík and the capital region seem to be particularly important, as the smallest increase has been in East Iceland, where the number of overnight stays has grown by 138%.

At the same time as the number of foreign visitors and overnight stays has grown, the supply of hotel rooms has increased. However, the growth in the number of hotel rooms has been far slower than the growth in the number of visitors. In 2014 and 2015 the number of foreign visitors to Iceland grew by 175%, when the number of hotel rooms in the Reykjanes peninsula grew by 95%, leading to a better occupancy ratio of hotel rooms.

Unaralleled natural beauty
Reykjanes peninsula is not only home to the Keflavík Airport and one of Iceland‘s best known and most popular tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon, but also countless other beautiful sights worth visiting.

The rugged lava fields of Reykjanes are among the most beautiful in Iceland. The last major period of volcanic activity in the region began shortly before Iceland was settled, in the 8th and 9th centuries, and came to an end in the mid-13th century. These lava fields formed in these eruptions are still relatively barren, since very little vegetation other than moss has managed to colonize the hostile lava fields.

The four major volcanic systems on the Reykjanes peninsula include hundreds of open fissures and major high temperature geothermal systems, characterized by intense surface activity that has created a diversity of colours contrasting with the black lava and the lush green moss. The best two of the best known, and most easily accessible, are on the Krýsuvík system south-west coast of Kleifarvatn and Eldvörp, west of the Blue lagoon.


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Want to buy Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon? You could have your chance, as it’s to be put up for auction on April 14

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The District Commissioner of South Iceland has accepted a request that the farm of Fell in South East Iceland should go up for auction, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV reports. The farm, which is owned by a large number of parties, covers the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland.

The landowners and the owner of Jökulsárlón ferðaþjónusta, which runs tours on the lagoon, as well as operating facilities on its shore, have been unable to come to an agreement on the future of the lagoon, including the construction and operation of new facilities to handle the rapidly growing tourism at the lagoon. The owner of the travel company at the lagoon and some of the landowners have offered to buy out other owners, but the two groups have not been able to come to an agreement.

The local business weekly Viðskiptablaðið reported last year the group represented by the travel company had offered to pay 240 million ISK (1.9 million USD/1.7 million EUR) for the share of the land owned by the other group.

The municipal government of Hornafjörður, which is responsible for zoning and local administration at the lagoon, has demanded the landowners come to an agreement on the construction of new facilities by the lagoon. Current development plans, which have been approved, include two large structures to house restaurants, toilet facilities and a visitor centre, as well as boat hangars.

RÚV reports that one of the two groups fighting over the future of the lagoon is unhappy with the decision to put the land up for auction, saying the decision will be appealed to the courts. According to the decision by the District Commissioner the auction will take place on April 14.



Ice in Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon at Record Level

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Ice in Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is at a record level, according to Owen Hunt, a tourist guide who has visited the area regularly since 1984, Vísir reports. He says he has never seen as much ice coming into the lagoon at high tide as happened yesterday.

Tour guide Owen, has previously warned about the dangers involved when tourists ignore warning signs and attempt to go out on the ice in the lagoon, as Vísir reported on in February of last year.


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Wonderful video of a marriage proposal shows Iceland can be romantic, even during the bleakest months

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The delicate flora of Iceland and the dramatic landscapes can make Icelandic nature very romantic, a fact which the growing Icelandic wedding-planning industry has taken full advantage of. But now a romantic video of a 2015 winter road trip by an Irish couple to Iceland shows that Iceland can be quite pretty and sweet, even during the bleakest and coldest months of winter.

On Christmas Day 2014 Neill Morris’ (25) fiancée Orla O’Neill (23) gave him a surprise Christmas present: A 7 day trip to Iceland. Neill tells us he has always felt he had some kind of connection to Iceland, all his favourite bands are Icelandic and that he has always wanted to come here. “I was already planning on proposing to Orla, but when she got us the flights to Iceland I knew that’s where I had to do it.”:

I knew exactly where I wanted to propose. It had to be Skógafoss waterfall. I kept the entire proposal hidden from everyone including both our families.  I didn’t want word getting out to Orla, I wanted it to be a complete surprise.

Neill is a filmmaker and Orla is a photographer who run a wedding photography and & film company called Paper Sails, so it made perfect sense to create a short movie about the trip, giving Neill the perfect cover to film the surprise proposal.

The two made their trip in early May, when the days are already very long, but the weather can still be pretty cold and nature has yet to really wake up after the winter.

We saw some amazing things such as the Golden Circle, The Great Geysir, all the many different waterfalls. Our favourite being Skógafoss for obvious reasons. We also visited some amazing little towns on our travels, our favourite was Vik. It was so picturesque and had a very homey feel to the town. It also had one of the most beautiful black sand beaches we had seen.

It was on our third day in Iceland, the day that I had been waiting for. Today was the day I was going to ask Orla to marry me. When we got to Skógafoss my heart was pounding out of my chest, I was incredibly nervous, but I knew I had to pretend that today was just any other day. I told Orla that I wanted to get some shots of her walking towards the waterfall and then I wanted one of us standing in front of it. So I set the camera up and we got ready and I told her we will throw our hands into the air. After we did one take I told her I wanted to do it again. So we got ourselves ready and I counted down from 5 and when I got to 1 Orla threw her arms into the sky and I went down on one knee. She didn’t know what was happening at first, then as you can see in the video her knees start to give. She said yes!!! There was one other tourist who had seen the proposal who was standing clapping and cheering us.


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Blue Lagoon Iceland

Blue Lagoon to be drained in January, for the first time since 1999

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The Blue Lagoon will be closed for two weeks in early January, during which time the lagoon will be completely drained. This is the first time since 1999 since the lagoon has been drained. On January 5 the lagoon will close to visitors, only to reopen on January 22.

The reason for the closing and draining of the lagoon is that the current facilities are being greatly expanded as a new five star luxury hotel is built by the lagoon. Construction of the hotel, which began late last year, is scheduled to be completed by spring 2017.

Grímur Sæmundsen, who was a guest on the morning show of the local radio station Bylgjan, says the draining is necessary for regular maintenance: The lagoon has not been drained since the current facilities were opened in 1999. This year more than 900,000 visitors are expected to come to the lagoon, and next year the number is expected to top 1,000,000 for the first time. At the same time it was necessary to close and drain the lagoon as it is being expanded by nearly half, from 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet) to 7,000 square meters (75,000 square feet).

Grímur told Bylgjan that the expansion would give visitors a greater sense of expanse at the lagoon, and that it would improve both service and visitor experience. Since the current phase did not include an expansion of the locker rooms, the expansion of the lagoon would only result in more space for guests and an improved experience.

The water in the lagoon is constantly renewed with geothermal sea-water, pumped from boreholes at the nearby Svatsengi power plant. It will take between 6-12 hours to fill the lagoon after it has been emptied.


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easyJet least likely to be tardy at Keflavík Airport, second month in a row

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For the second month in a row, the British low-cost airline Easy-Jet is least likely to be tardy at Keflavík Airport. The Icelandic airline WOW Air was most likely to be tardy of the major airlines at Keflavík.

The local news site reports that according to the Icelandic travel search engine Dohop, the airline which was most likely to be on time in September was easyJet. The airline‘s departures were on time 77% of the time and 84% of its arrivals. WOW Air came in last place with 68% of its departures on time and 59% of its arrivals. The average delay for departures for easyJet was 8.03 minutes and 5.65 minutes for arrivals.

Service at Keflavík has grown by 50% in two years
According to the local travel website the number of flights in and out of Keflavík in September has grown by more than 50% between 2013 and 2015. A total of 1,566 flights departed Keflavík in September 2015, compared to 1,253 in September 2014 and 1,029 in September 2013.

The five largest airlines flying out of Keflavík in September 2015 were Icelandair with 66% of flights, WOW air with 14%, easyJet with 5%, Airberlin with 3.3% and SAS with 2.1%. Other airlines had a combined 9.6% of all traffic. The share of Icelandair has shrunk from 73.4% in 2013.


Traffic Increases in Iceland’s West Fjords

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The average traffic in the West Fjords has never been heavier than in July, 2015, or 1,017 cars per day. The total traffic over the summer months also increased compared to last year, at 747 cars per day on average, up from 712, even though August was slower this year than last.

Díana Jóhannsdóttir, a representative of Visit Westfjords, the West Fjords marketing office, told RÚV that residents have noticed an increased number of tourists in the region and that tourists arrived earlier in the season than usual.

She believes that closures in the highlands and a wet and cold summer in East Iceland may have driven tourists westwards.

The vehicles which entered the region were counted by the Icelandic Road Administration’s automatic meter in Svínadalur valley on Road 60, and cars which entered the region through Þröskuldar, Reykhólahreppur, and Laxárdalsvegur were also included.

It is considered likely that the total traffic this year will exceed that of 2014, which was a record year. It is assumed that the average number of vehicles to enter the region daily will be 425, or more than double the traffic in 2005, when the daily average was 211 cars.

The new road across Þröskuldar, which opened in 2009, resulted in a significant increase in traffic to the West Fjords.


Glacial Outburst Flood in Skaftá

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A glacial outburst flood has begun in Skaftá river, South Iceland, according to the Facebook page of the Icelandic Met Office. The ice cover over the Eastern Skaftá Cauldron subsided last night and continues to do so at an increased rate. Glacial outburst floods from the Easter Cauldron are generally larger and occur more rarely than those from the Western Cauldron. Such a flood last took place in June, 2010.

CC Veðurstofa Íslands

Glacial outburst flood, Skaftá river, 2010. Photo: Jórunn Harðardóttir.

Update: from The flood is still under the glacier and hasn’t surfaced yet. The flow of water is expected to reach 1.300 to1,400 m2 per second when it reaches the first observation station of the Icelandic Met Office.

Meetings are underway at the Met Office, where the situation is being assessed. An announcement is expected later today from the Met Office and from the Civil Protection in Iceland.

A glacial outburst flood has never before been detected at such an early stage. What makes it possible is a GPS device located on the ice sheet.

Snorri Zóphóníasson, geologist at the Met Office, reports that we can expect the flood to peak by the Ringroad within 48 hours.


The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police in association with the District Commissioner in South Iceland declared an Alert Phase yesterday due to the fast rising flash flood in Skaftá glacial river which began yesterday and will continue for several days.

According to the Icelandic Met Office, much uncertainty surrounds the size of the flood and the area affected by floodwater. Travelers are advised to stay at a good distance away from the rivers Skaftá and Hverfisfljót.

Alert Phase means that if hazard assessment indicates increased threat, immediate measures must be taken to ensure the safety and security of people in the area, as explained in a press release from the Civil Protection Department.

This is done by increasing preparedness of the emergency and security services in the area and by taking preventive measures, such as restrictions, closures, evacuations and relocation of inhabitants.

The public will be kept informed: the authorities will provide advice and issue warning messages if necessary.

Skaftá originates in Skaftárjökull, an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull in South Iceland near Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Click here to see a map of the area.


Justin Bieber in Iceland

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Canadian musician Justin Bieber landed at Keflavík Airport today, Vísir reports.

Bieber drove straight to nearby Reykjanesbær and parked in front of Lemon, a sandwich place.

“Unfortunately, he had no time to eat, but said he might come back later,” stated Lemon owner, Jón Þór Gylfason. “He and 15 bodyguards arrived in two huge Mercedes Benz vans. He’s clearly here with two friends. They all ran alongside Lemon toward the ocean, where there is a rock wall, popular with tourists.” According to Jón, they had cameras and recording equipment.

Once he returned, he was greeted by two Lemon employees. They were allowed to chat with him, but the bodyguards made sure no photos were taken. “He asked the employees what it was like living in Iceland and such. He said he had a stopover here in Iceland and didn’t want any photos taken,” Jón told Vísir.


  • Justin Bieber was in Iceland today, but may well be gone.
  • He was not hungry.
  • He wanted a picture of the ocean.
  • Saying he might be back to Lemon may indicate he’s planning another trip to Iceland. It could also simply mean he’s polite.

He just posted a picture of himself in Fjaðrárgljúfur, South Iceland, close to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, wearing only his wet, white, Calvin Klein underwear, giving a high five. He appears delighted after a glacial dip. Below is another picture Bieber has posted on Instragram from his trip in Iceland.

Update:RÚV reports Bieber is here to work on a video.

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