Presentation of the destination
Little Vogar makes a great alternative to Reykjavík as a base for visitors to Iceland. Situated on the Suðurnes peninsula south of the capital, this pretty town has a population of just over 1000, but is the seat of the municipality of Vogar. Conveniently located near Keflavík, Iceland’s main airport, there are hot springs, museums, culture and a taste of Iceland's wild nature all within striking distance. And with Iceland's excellent ring road buses, you're ideally situated to explore further afield. Locals speak Icelandic, but many younger people know English. The currency is the Icelandic krona, and the time zone is GMT. Brave the cold oceanic climate and dark winter to spot the Northern Lights, or enjoy the milder summer.
Points of interests / things to see
Away from the bright lights of the capital, it's quite possible to spot the beautiful Northern Lights on one of Vogar’s dark winter days. People still flock to Iceland in the depths of its inhospitable winter for a chance to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder, painting the sky in a staggering display of ever-shifting greens, pinks and blues. The rippling curtains, streamers, arcs and shooting rays that light up the night sky with their eerie glow are actually the result of collisions between charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Different gases create different colours, so green is produced by oxygen molecules, while nitrogen makes blue or purple patterns. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and find a dark spot, as you will need a clear night, free from light pollution to enjoy the spectral lights. And if you're visiting in the long light days of summer, don't worry as Reykjavík has its very own Northern Lights centre, Aurora Reykjavík, where you can still get a feel for the aurora. Aurora Reykjavík address: Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík. Website: http://www.aurorareykjavik.is/. Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily.
Geothermal Iceland sits on the rift between two tectonic plates, which is the reason for its remarkable volcanic activity, earthquakes and geysers. Although this might make for a somewhat unstable environment at times, it does have its pay-offs, with incredible natural spas all over the country. Visit one of the most famous, the Blue Lagoon, just 20 minutes south of Vogar. Interestingly, this is also one of the only man-made thermal pools in the country, with hot water pumped out from beneath the earth's crust to fuel a nearby geothermal power station before running off into the Blue Lagoon itself, situated in a real lava field. The water is rich in health-giving minerals such as silica and sulphur, and the spa also operates a research and development facility looking at potential cures for skin ailments such as psoriasis. Address: 240 Grindavík, Iceland. Website: http://www.bluelagoon.com/. Opening hours and admissions packages vary throughout the year, check the website for more details.
In the heart of pretty Reykjavík towers mighty Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran church completed in 1974 whose unique architecture mirrors the basalt columns of southern Iceland's waterfalls. This fluted concrete structure is surprisingly beautiful, and can be seen from all over the capital as the largest church in Iceland and the crowning landmark of Reykjavík. It’s well worth paying the 700 krona to take the lift to the top of the 75-meter tall tower and look out over the colourful wooden houses of Reykjavík, clustered around the bay. Contrary to its baroque exterior, Hallgrimskirkja’s interior is puritanical and sparse, like most Icelandic churches. Nonetheless the vast 5275-pipe organ is enough to dominate the space. The cathedral is host to a variety of concerts, both ecclesiastical and secular, and occasionally features photographic exhibitions in the tower. Don't miss the statue of the Viking discoverer of America, Leif Eiríksson, outside, gifted by the US to mark the millennial anniversary of Iceland's ancient democracy. Address: Skólavörðuholt. Website: Opening hours: 9am – 9pm Jul & Aug, 9am – 5pm Sep – Jun.
If you only venture out of the Reykjavík area once, then a Golden Circle tour is an ideal way to get a taste of the diversity of Iceland. This classic tour route departs from Reykjavík and heads out to the Geysir geothermal area, where these spumes of hissing steam got their name. Sadly, the original ‘Geysir’ geyser is now blocked up with pebbles thrown by tourists in less enlightened times, but luckily visitors can still witness Strokkur shooting a column of water 30 metres in the air every 4 – 8 minutes. Be sure to stay on the marked path among the many colourful scalding pools. Then visit stunning Gulfoss, the ‘Golden Falls’, which got its name from the glinting gold glacial sediment it carries. The final stop is Thingvellir, home to the ancient parliament assembly of the Vikings since 930 AD, making it the birthplace of one of the world’s oldest democracies. Many tours also include stops for horse riding, or to visit the geothermal greenhouses that keep Iceland in tomatoes and bananas. Advice on the best tour offers and transport can be found at the tourist information centre at Adalstraeti 2 in downtown Reykjavík.
Experience traditional Icelandic village life without leaving the capital at the historic folk village and open-air museum of Árbær. This small model village clustered around a town square was a working farm well into the 20th century, until it became a museum in 1957. Many of the buildings have been relocated from central Reykjavík, in order to give visitors an impression of the architecture and lifestyle of that typifies rural Iceland until relatively recently. With many fun events throughout the year including craft fairs and re-enactments, as well as plenty of wandering livestock, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled into a 19th-century village. Discover traditional grass-roofed houses designed to provide shelter in a landscape without native trees, play children's games, or learn about the role of the raven in Norse mythology in the many interesting exhibitions. It's a picturesque and peaceful spot to spend the day, with a little cafe called Dillon’s House built in 1835, where you can buy delicious cake. Website: http://www.minjasafnreykjavikur.is/english. Opening hours: June 1st – Aug 31st open daily from 10am – 5pm. From September 1st – May 31st visits by guided tour only. Guided tours available every day at 13.00 or by appointment. Admissions: adults 1,300 kr/ children free.
This incredible glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, is simply one of the most breathtaking locations in Iceland, if not the world. Here the landscape is stripped back to white, black, and blue, and ghostly icebergs drift against a backdrop of lowering mountains while gulls wheel overhead. More information at the Jökulsárlón website: http://www.jokulsarlon.is/.
Visit the incredible basalt column waterfalls that inspired the architecture of Hallgrimskirkja with a trip to Skaftafell National Park. Beneath the shadow of Skaftafellsjökull glacier there is incredible hiking, climbing and trips on to the glacier for anyone interested in rugged landscapes and unforgettable views of a landscape straight from a geology textbook. Skaftafell is 4 hours from Vogar on the public bus that circles the island.
Step onto another planet with a trip to Landmannalaugur in the barren interior of Iceland, where fishing, horseriding and hiking await. The first Icelandic settlers did not issue death sentences, but rather sent criminals to live for a year in the interior, the outcome nearly always being the same. Here the multi-coloured rhyolite mountains and immense volcanic deserts certainly make exile to the interior a rather appealing prospect. Get there with a private tour or public bus from Reykjavík, just over three hours away.
This pretty town in the north of the country sits on the shores of Skjálfandi Bay, where the harbour looks onto hazy snow-capped mountains. The town has become a centre of whale watching in Iceland thanks to the many species of whale that swim into the bay to socialise. Old wooden schooners venture out into the silvery ocean, and the fascinating Whale Museum is packed with information about these fascinating animals. Húsavík is 45 minutes by air from Reykjavík with Eagle Air, http://www.eagleair.is/schedule/husavik/.
Vacation rentals in Vogar (Southern Peninsula Region)
How to get there ?
Vogar is conveniently situated between Iceland’s main airport at Keflavík and the capital Reykjavík. Flights arrive at Keflavík from nine locations in the states, four in Canada, and 31 cities across Europe. Flight schedules vary dramatically between the summer tourist season and the quieter winter months. Most domestic flights as well as flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands leave from Reykjavík’s eponymous domestic airport. As Iceland is an island, there's only one other way in, and that’s by boat. The mighty Norröna ferry is a lifeline for many people in Iceland, Denmark and the Faroes, and an exciting way to enter Iceland, although crossings can be rough and it docks at the opposite end of the country in stunning Seyðisfjörður. The little town of Vogar is only half an hour from Reykjavík on the number 5 bus, and from Reykjavík the island is your oyster. The ring road is serviced by extensive buses, and independent travellers would be well advised to pick up the free Ísland á Eigin Vegum (‘Iceland on Your Own’) brochure at the main booking desk of the BSÍ bus terminal, which has all the information you need. Domestic flights are a cheap and reliable way of getting around the country too, at least in summer when the weather conditions are favourable. And for the truly hardy (and mechanically-minded), there are some stunning cycle routes all around the country – just be sure to bring a puncture repair kit.
Hotels in Vogar (Southern Peninsula Region)