Giving travelers the inside scoop on Icelandic culture, nature, history and language through the eyes of an expat. You'll hear interviews, quirky facts, useful travel advice, and what it is like to live in the land of fire and ice. Additionally, there is a segment of the show dedicated to teaching you an Icelandic word or phrase. Extra resources shared during the episodes can be found at https://allthingsiceland.com.
Jewells Chambers, the host of the podcast, fell in love with Iceland back in 2013 after her first visit. She moved to the country in 2016 and has been on an epic journey ever since.
August in Iceland – Weather, Fun Things to Do & What to Expect
If you plan to visit Iceland in August, this information will help you to know what to expect when traveling during this month.That includes the following:* Road conditions* What to wear/pack, what makes it worth it to visit during that month* Some tips on driving in that time* Top activities, and events that happen annually during this monthThis episode is part of a series about months in Iceland. Here are the other months.
Review of the All Things Iceland Podcast
"I’ve been interested in visiting Iceland for years and finally did it last January 2023 and fell in love-with the island! I’ve been 3x this year alone and hoping to spend time during every season. I listen to a lot of podcasts but somehow I missed this “gem” from Jewells! Pun intended! I’ve started listening from episode 1 and working my way forward and I am excited there are so many to enjoy! I am so impressed with Jewells’ language skills and love how she teaches a word every episode. As a fellow American from the East Coast I am inspired by her passion for such a beautiful and wonderful country. And maybe I’ll follow in her footsteps and move there too! Thanks Jewells for this wonderful podcast!"
Mel Loves Iceland from the U.S.
If you are enjoying the podcast, please leave a written review, if that is possible, on whatever platform you are listening to this on and you might here it in one of the episodes. Thank you to all of the people who have been leaving reviews and ratings. It helps others to know what they can expect to hear about Iceland when they listen.
Weather and Average Temperature in Iceland During August
In August, Iceland is as warm as it gets, though 'warm' is relative when talking about this subarctic island. Average temperatures hover around 10-15°C (50-59°F), with the possibility of warmer days reaching up to 20°C (68°F). However, Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable, so it's not unusual to experience a little bit of everything – from sun to rain to fog – sometimes all within the same day.
Daylight Hours in August
One of the most extraordinary features of Iceland in August is the amount of daylight. While the midnight sun of June has passed, you can still enjoy long days with around 16 hours of daylight. Sunrise is usually around 5:00-6:00 AM, and sunset is around 9:00-10:00 PM. This extended daylight allows more time for exploring and experiencing the island.August 1stThe sun rises at 04:33 and sets at 22:32 for a total of 17:58 of daylightAugust 15thThe sun is up 05:17 and sets at 21:44 for a total of 16:26 of daylightAugust 31st At 6:06 AM, the sun comes up and at 8:48 PM the sun sets for a total of 14:42 of daylight
What to Wear in August in Iceland
Layers are the key to comfort in Iceland. For August, you should pack:* A waterproof and windproof jacket.* Warm layers like fleece or wool.* T-shirts and lighter clothes for warmer days.* Waterproof hiking shoes or boots.* A hat and gloves – it might sound strange for August, but they can be very welcome, especially in the evenings or when out on the water during whale-watching tours.My Ultimate Packing Checklist is linked in the show notes and will provide you with everything you need to bring. I recommend following the summer list. Just know that it can be a little chilly during the evening in July, especially in the north, so you will need some layers.
Road Conditions & Driving in Iceland during August
August is one of the best times for driving in Iceland as the roads are generally clear of snow and ice. However,
Why Reykjavik, Iceland Banned Dogs & Now Cats Rule the City
As you stroll the streets of Reykjavik, with its vibrantly painted houses and Mount Esja as a backdrop, you're likely to encounter many four-legged and furry locals. Yes, cats are roaming freely around the city.These furry residents are not only tolerated but adored by the city's human inhabitants. Please know that these are not stray cats. Rather, they have homes, but their owners let them roam around to explore and interact with other living beings. After learning this fact, you might be wondering if dogs are given the same amount of adoration.
Why Dogs Were Banned in Reykjavik, Iceland
The short answer is that in present day, dogs are accepted in Reykjavik BUT cats are by far more numerous and widely accepted. The reason for this is that dogs were banned from living in the city for 60 years! The story begins in the early 20th century. In 1924, Reykjavik authorities enacted a ban on dogs within the city limits. This ban was a response to two things. One was a housing shortage, which made authorities feel like it would be too much to also have dogs in the city. The second was that dogs were not considered hygienic because they could be carries of a deadly tapeworm that could be spread to humans. At the time, the health risks posed by dogs were considered significant, and in the interest of public health, the city opted to ban them entirely. Even though dogs were banned in Reykjavik, they were still considered an integral part of farm life in the countryside because they worked on the farms, so people were allowed to have them out there.
Illegal Ownership of Dogs in Iceland Changed History
For much of the 20th century, dogs were a rare sight in the city. Major spotlight was put on the ban’s legitimacy in the 1980s after some well-known public figures in Reykjavik continuously violated the ban by owning a dog within the city limits.One of the people involved was Albert Guðmundsson, who was the minister of finance at the time. He was repeatedly fined for owning his dog Lucy, but he refused to pay what amounted to about $500 in fees. He was so steadfast in not paying that he invited the police to arrest him and send him to prison, which they never ended up doing.Albert was not alone in illegally owning a dog. It’s estimated that about 3,000 dogs were living in the city at the time and the police would periodically fine owners. Most people didn’t see the reason for the ban any longer and in 1984 it was lifted.
Dogs Can Be Owned in Reykjavik But Strict Rules Still Exist
While the ban has since been relaxed, tight regulation of dog ownership in the city was enforced for an additional 22 years. Special permits were required for dogs and the application process was tedious. This discouraged potential dog owners from getting a canine friend and kept the dog population in the city low.Today, residents can own dogs but there are still strict regulations. For instance, dogs must be registered and there is a yearly dog registration fee. Additionally, there are strict residency, leash, vaccination and worming laws, just to name a few. There is even a whole document detailing all of the rules that I found on Reykjavik.is.
The Rise of Cats in Reykjavik, Iceland
While strict rules have been in place for dogs, cats, on the other hand, did not and do not face such restrictions. They were traditionally seen as useful animals, keeping the rodent population in check, especially in a city surrounded by water where ships and fishing were common. Without any competition from their canine counterparts, cats quickly became the favored pet among city dwellers.The cats of Reykjavik are a proud part of the city's landscape. They are well-cared-for, with many locals taking it upon themselves to feed and watch over those that don't have an obvious home. As I mentioned,
Icelandic Streets Torn Apart by Earthquakes & a Potential Eruption Looms
As I mentioned in the previous episode, residents of Grindavík have been evacuated. Scientists have been anticipating a potential eruption but no lava has come up to the surface as of right now. However, that doesn‘t mean damage has not been done.
The tens of thousands of earthquakes in Grindavik have resulted in major cracks in the earth opening up. There are literal holes in the streets where a whole car could fall in. Damage to buildings and parts of the town is extensive and it will take a lot of construction to restore the area. The restoration efforts can only happen once it is clear that an eruption will not happen and no one knows when that will be clear. Magma is still being detected close to under the surface beneath the town.
The Blue Lagoon Remains Closed
Due to the situation, the Blue Lagoon has announced it will remain closed until November 30th. There is no knowing if it will for sure open by November 30th but we shall see. One thing that is happening is the construction of lava barriers to around Svartstengi power station and the Blue Lagoon to protect them in the event of a volcanic eruption.
The barriers are estimated to be 20-26 feet high (6-8 meters) and will take a little over a month to complete. Protecting the power station is important because it provides hot water to all of the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Over 2,000 Workers Impacted by the Evacuation
In addition to the thousands of people who can‘t access their homes, over 2,000 workers and around 200 companies operate in this area. They have no idea when they will be allowed to be back to work or even the area.
Retreiving Valuable Items & Rescuing Pets in Grindavik
Residents of Grindavik were allowed to access their homes to gather as much as they can within a 5-minute window. I know that sounds incredibly short. It is possible they had a little more time than that but is the time limit posted via news sources.
Residents had to leave their homes late at night and for many that meant they were forced to leave their pets behind. Dýrfinna, the search and rescue group for animals, has been working on rescuing pets left behind. As of right now, they rescued 100s of animals but 12 of them are still unaccounted for. Most of the unaccounted for animals are cats who are used to roaming aorund free outside.
Tax Hike to Fund Reconstruction
An excerpt from a news article on Iceland Reveiw about the Icelandic Government’s vote to fund the wall around the Blue Lagoon and power station.
The lava barriers will be financed by levying an additional tax on property owners in Iceland equivalent to 0.08% of their property’s fire insurance valuation (brunabótamat). The owner of a property worth ISK 100 million [$695,000, €650,000] will therefore pay an additional ISK 8,000 [$56, €52]. The tax will be levied for a period of three years, though it bears noting that similar taxes imposed in "Iceland have later become permanent.
Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir and Centre Party Chairman Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson argued that any lava barriers constructed should be paid for with existing tax revenue. Some locals have argued that the privately-owned Svartsengi Power Plant and Blue Lagoon, which have made significant profits in recent years, should partake in financing the barriers."
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon Closes Due to a Possible Eruption
Iceland's iconic Blue Lagoon closed recently and here is why.Since the end of October, land has been rising and thousands of earthquakes have taken place on the Reykjanes Peninsula near the Blue Lagoon and a neighboring town called Grindavík.Even though no one is certain an eruption will happen, land rising and tens of thousands of earthquakes, some strong enough to be felt in Reykjavík, are what happened before each of the last three eruptions on this peninsula. We've had an eruption each year since 2021. The one this past summer was the shortest and thankfully all of them were in areas on the peninsula where harm to towns or infrastructure was not an issue.
Why This Possible Eruption Near the Blue Lagoon is Different
So the biggest difference between a potential eruption this time around and the other eruptions is proximity to infrastructure and towns. After public pressure and guests having difficulties feeling safe at the facility, the Blue Lagoon announced that it would close for one week to monitor the situation and reassess on November 16th.As we wait to see what happens, authorities have put an emergency plan in place to prepare for the potential event of a nearby power plant being destroyed and an evacuation plan for the residents of Grindavik in the event that might need to leave the area.This is obviously something that we in Iceland are not excited about at all in terms of the potential destruction of this eruption, if it were to happen in this specific area.
A state of Emergency has been Declared
One helpful thing is that, as of right now, the magma being monitored has stopped moving closer to the surface. In essence, it doesn't look like magma is about to break through. However, that could change.Also, today, November 10th, a state of emergency was declared by the National Police Commissioner due to an intense earthquake at Sundhnúkagíga. Apparently, there were two of them. One was 5.2 and the other 5.3 This was done to take precautions because bigger earthquakes are expected. I felt that big one tonight. The floor was rumbling and my light fixtures were swaying.For those wondering, I live in the downtown Rekjavík area. While many here have felt decently big earthquakes, I have not. I know this last one was powerful because I felt it, so I can only imagine how tough that is for people living in Grindavík who are experiencing thousands of them
The Impact on the Rest of Iceland
I think it is helpful to point out that his does not mean that all of Iceland is in danger or even the airport, which is on this peninsula. It is specifically this area near the Blue Lagoon, Mount Þórbjörn, a power station, and Grindavík. If you have a trip planned, it should be fine.If this progresses, I will for sure update you but let’s hope that an eruption in this area doesn’t happen.
Alternatives to the Blue Lagoon
Also, there are other spas or pools you can visit, like the Sky Lagoon near Reykjavík, Hvammsvík near Borganes, and the local swimming pools are amazing. A great one to visit is Laugardalslaug in Reykjavík. It is big, has many hot tubs, a huge slide, a sauna, steam room, Olympic-sized lap pool as well as a gym and spa attached to it.
Share This Post
Let's Be Social
Gunnuhver – A Haunted Hot Spring on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula
Welcome to this special Halloween episode of All Things Iceland. Today I’m sharing about Iceland’s haunted hot spring called Gunnuhver on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The Reykjanes Peninsula is the same area where the Blue Lagoon, the international airport, and our last eruption are located. It’s an area that most visitors never explore extensively and yet there are fascinated attractions, places to eat, accommodations, and, of course, this haunted hot spring.
How Gunnuhver Hot Spring was Named
Gunnuhver is named after a woman named after Guðrún Önundardóttir, who also went by the name Gunna. It is said she lived in Sandgerði on the Reykjanes peninsula more than 400 years ago. The placed she lived in was owned by a lawyer named Vilhjálmur Jónsson. One day when Gunna was not able to pay her rent, Vilhjálmur came and took the only thing that she owned, which was a cooking pot.
This enraged Gunna because that is all she had to make food and now it was gone. She decided to go on a starvation protest until her cooking pot was given back to her but Vilhjálmur never relented and she died. The men that carried her coffin to the cemetery noticed at some point that it had become suspiciously light. I guess they would not dare open it, so they continued on to the grave site where she would be buried
As they dug her grave, a mysterious voice was heard saying “No need deep to dig, no plans long to lie”. The next day Vilhljálmur's body was found blue and with broken bones. The spirit of Gunna had haunted him. Of course, this sparked concern in towns people, so a priest was called in.
The priest devised a plan to caste Gunna’s spirit into the bubbling hot spring and it worked. To this day, it is said that when you visit this hot spring you can see the face of a woman in the billows of steam trying to escape.
Random Fact of the Episode
Along with being haunted, Gunnuhver is also Iceland’s largest mud pool. It is 20 meters wide across the rim, which is about 65 feet. Mud pools are formed when steam from the boiling geothermal reservoir water comes out and mixes with surface water. When fresh lava rock in the area encounters the gases like carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, that are produced from the geothermal water and surface mixing, they turn to clay.
Icelandic Word of the Episode
Gleðilega Hrekkjavöku (Happy Halloween) – hrekkur means prank and vaka means to awake
Share This Post
Let's Be Social
Þakka þér kærlega fyrir að hlusta og sjáumst fljótlega
Renting A Camper Van in Iceland: 6 Important Pros & Cons
Over the years, I have traveled extensively around Iceland in a camper van, so the pros and cons I’m sharing in this episode are from personal experience. While the list might not cover every possible pro and con, I think it will give you enough insight about the experience to help you decide if this is something you want to do.
Rent a Camper Van in Iceland & Save
If you plan to rent a camper van, I highly recommend using Go Campers. I’ve use two of their campers on long road trips. One was the Go Lite Automatic camper and the other is Go Big Automatic Camper. They currently have a large selection of campers available, great customer service, and competitive rates. When you use my code iceland7, you save 7% and get two free duvets with your GO Campers van rental.
Pros of Renting a Camper Van in Iceland
1. Save Money: Renting a camper van can be more cost-effective than constantly checking into hotels or guesthouses every night. By having your accommodation on wheels, you can reduce the expenses of your trip significantly.2. Travel Flexibility: One of the greatest joys of a camper van is the freedom it offers. You're not bound by hotel check-in/check-out times, and you can decide to stay longer in a place you love or move on if you're ready for a change of scenery.3. Icelandic Campsites: While this can also be a con (more on that later), many of Iceland's campsites are situated in breathtaking locations. Waking up to a waterfall, geysers, or vast landscapes can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I recommend using the website tjalda.is to find campsites in Iceland.4. Variety of Camper Vans: Whether you're traveling solo, as a couple, or with a family, there's a camper van to fit your needs. From basic models to luxurious ones with all amenities, the choices are plentiful.5. So Many Places to Explore: Iceland is replete with natural wonders, from the Blue Lagoon to the colorful mountains in the Icelandic highlands. With a camper van, you have the convenience of stopping at off-the-beaten-path locations, making your trip even more memorable.6. What Comes with a Camper Van: Most camper vans come equipped with cooking facilities, bedding, and sometimes even Wi-Fi. This means less to pack and a more comfortable journey overall. A heater, electric cooler, a sink and different amenities are available on what kind of van you choose.
Cons of Renting a Camper Van in Iceland
1. Icelandic Campsites: Here's the flip side – not all campsites are created equal. Some might be crowded, especially during peak tourist season, and may lack essential facilities.2. Using the Bathroom at Night: Most camper vans don't come with a toilet. So, those midnight nature calls can be a bit challenging, especially if you're parked far from campsite facilities or in more isolated areas.3. Extra Camper Van Costs: While the van itself might seem like a bargain, remember to factor in the cost of fuel, campsite fees, and any additional equipment or insurance you might need.4. Icelandic Weather: Iceland's weather is notorious for its unpredictability. Driving a camper van in strong winds, rain, or snow can be challenging. And even if you're not driving, being cooped up in a small space during bad weather can be less than ideal.5. Confined Space: Even the most spacious camper vans can feel tight after a few days, especially if you're traveling with others. It requires a certain level of adaptability and patience. Here are some packing cubes that are so useful to use for your camper van adventures.6. When Campsites Are Open: Not all campsites are open year-round. If you're traveling during the off-season, you might find limited options,
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this podcast!
I’ve been interested in visiting Iceland for years and finally did it last January 2023 and fell in love-with the island! I’ve been 3x this year alone and hoping to spend time during every season. I listen to a lot of podcasts but somehow I missed this “gem” from Jewells! Pun intended! I’ve started listening from episode 1 and working my way forward and I am excited there are so many to enjoy! I am so impressed with Jewells’ language skills and love how she teaches a word every episode. As a fellow American from the East Coast I am inspired by her passion for such a beautiful and wonderful country. And maybe I’ll follow in her footsteps and move there too! Thanks Jewells for this wonderful podcast!
A must-listen if you are visiting Iceland
I binge-listened to several of Jewells’ podcasts to prepare for my recent trip to Iceland. The episodes with practical tips, such as for driving and avoiding tourist traps and expensive pitfalls, were incredibly useful. I significantly adjusted my packing list after listening to one of the episodes, and rented an insulated raincoat from IcelandCover using Jewell’s discount code, which worked out great. And the episodes about history, culture, and language helped me understand the place I was visiting beyond just the beautiful scenery. Listening to the podcast helped me feel less like a tourist and more like an informed visitor. Thanks, Jewells!
Listen to Jewells
Jewells is truly a gem!! This podcast provides such great information for those who are planning a visit to Iceland and for those who are intrigued but haven’t planned a trip just yet. Each episode provides the listener with the important FYI and the podcast itself focuses on a multitude of topics from visiting during a specific month to historical information about Iceland. I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland and after seeing Jewells in a documentary I started following her on instagram and was so happy to find out that she had a podcast!! I listened to a handful of episodes and decided I couldn’t wait any longer and so earlier this week I booked my first solo trip to Iceland and will be visiting in about 6 weeks (first week in October). It is evident that Jewells loves the country and wants to provide potential visitors with relevant and helpful information so that others enjoy the beauty and wonder of the land of fire and ice. Thank you Jewells for all that you do!