Secrets of the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is upon us again, with its endless days and Midnight Sun. It’s an incredible time of year up here by the Arctic Circle, full of energy and mystical powers (and sleepless nights for some, due to the 24 hour daylight).

We’ve already told you about the many events and activities available in Iceland around the solstice, so this time we thought we’d tell you a bit more about the history of the Midsummer and the Norse Mythology and folklore it springs from.

summer solstice, Secrets of the Summer Solstice

The old Norse calendar only had two seasons; Summer and Winter. In the olden days people took advantage of the long days and warmer weather to tend to things that were harder to do in winter. It was in summer that most foreign trade was conducted, as well other seafaring matters such as shipping, fishing expeditions, and raiding.

While the Summer Solstice is a celebration of the longest day of the year there is a darker side to it too. The days will be getting shorter and winter looms ever near. The Norse god of light and purity, Baldur, is said to have been sacrificed around this time. According to the myth, Baldur foresaw his death in a dream and so his mother, Frigg, made every object in the world swear to do him no harm. Every object took the wow except for the mistletoe. When his brother Loki, the god of mischief, found out about this he made an arrow out of mistletoe and tricked the blind god Höður too shoot Baldur with it. Baldur‘s death caused great grief among the gods and was the first step towards the end of the world, Ragnarök. So, you know, happy summer and all that!

summer solstice, Secrets of the Summer Solstice

Paganism in Iceland has been on the rise again in the last decade after being abandoned for Christianity in the year 1000. The Icelandic Ásatrúarfélag (Icelandic Pagan Association) was founded in 1992 and since 2014 has seen a 50% increase in members.

June 24th is known as Jónsmessa (St. John‘s Mass) in Iceland. As with so many customs and traditions in Iceland the day is a fascinating mix of old mythology and Christian influence. Jónsmessa is named after John the Baptist, and is widely celebrated throughout the Christian world, but apart from the name there doesn‘t seem to be any other religious connotations to the day in Iceland. Instead this was the time when the lambing season was over, and most of the spring chores around the farms had been completed. That meant that the chiefs were free to go to the Althing, which took place for two weeks in the summer, around the solstice. Jónsmessa is however, one of the four most powerful nights for supernatural activity in Iceland. Since witches and ghouls are better suited to the darkness, it‘s the fairer creatures that you can expect to see out and about on Jónsmessa: The Huldufólk.

summer solstice, Secrets of the Summer Solstice

Huldufólk, or the Hidden People, are more commonly known as elves. The belief in their existence is still widespread in Iceland (although it‘s nowhere near as close to 80% as some sources would have you believe) and you can find symbols of that all over the country, in roads that curve around elf rocks and in the casual way people mention their house-elves for example. If you‘re lucky enough to be travelling in Iceland on Jónsmessa be extra careful around crossroads, as this is the time when the Huldufólk are on the move. It is said that if you sit on the crossroads, elves will come to you from all four directions and offer you riches beyond your wildest dreams. But no matter what they offer, you can‘t go with them because then you will be driven mad. However, if you manage to resist them until dawn, then they will vanish and all the treasure will be left. Still, best not risk it eh?

summer solstice, Secrets of the Summer Solstice

Jónsmessa is also the night when cows gain speech and seals throw off their skin, and wishing stones and magical herbs are especially potent. It is said that if you roll in the dew naked on Jónsmessa night, it will cure whatever ails you. So be prepared for hordes of naked Icelanders everywhere! No, I‘m just kidding…

…or am I?

5 summer adventure activities in Iceland

It’s true that the Icelandic summer does not necessarily equal beach season, but here on our little island of ice and fire, summer is the time to enjoy the midnight sun, nature exploring, and other fun activities.

Because the winter and summer season are so different, there are activities that can only be done in winter – such as the Northern Lights – and others that belong to the summer. Below are  five activities that should be on everybody’s bucket list for this summer.

1. Visit Greenland – Day trip to Kulusuk (June – September)

A day tour to Kulusuk village with Air Iceland Connect is a great way to add an unbelievable experience to your stay in Iceland. Among breathtaking views over the snowcapped mountains surrounded by floating ocean icebergs, your guide will show you around the village and tell you all about local life and traditions. Just think about it – a visit to the world’s largest island and one of the most remote, untouched places on earth just in a day’s visit!  See our tour here.

2. Go paragliding over the mountains close to Reykjavik  – Paragliding Tandem flight 

Are you afraid of the heights but willing to challenge yourself? Then a Paragliding Tandem Flight might be your next adventure because the best way to overcome one’s fear is of course to face it!  Conveniently located only a 30 min drive from the city, you’ll be well taken care of by expert paragliding instructors. They’ll provide all the necessary equipment and instructions and as it is a tandem flight, the guide will accompany you all the way.  Iceland is the perfect place for a bird’s eye view with its volcanic landscapes, craters, fissures, hot springs, and glaciers. Iceland‘s unique geology really comes to life as you fly free as a bird over the otherworldly moonscape. Are you tempted?  Check it out!

3. Take a journey towards the center of the Earth – Inside the Volcano tour

Do you like exploring nature’s most extraordinary sites and extreme locations? Here’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to go inside a real volcano, Thrihnjukagigur, that erupted some 4000 years ago. Located close to the city in the Blafjoll mountain range, the guided hike from the base camp to the volcano is an integral part of the tour so you will get to experience a real mountain hike as well. Once you arrive at the volcano, you descend by open cable lift down to the bottom of the crater, 120 meters/400 feet, where you can enjoy the spectacular surroundings, stunning colors and the feeling of being inside the earth’s core.
Pro tip: Dress warmly because, surprisingly, the insides of a volcano can be quite cold!  This activity is only available in the summer season and may in fact only be available for a short period of time for conservation reasons.  Don’t miss out! Book your volcanic adventure here.

4. Take a boat tour to see puffins in their natural habitat – Puffin watching

If you are looking for an easy-going and short activity, this is the one. An one hour boat tour departing from Reykjavik’s old harbor you will get to see Iceland’s beloved puffins that nest on the islands off the shore during their breeding season from May to end of August. This tour is a perfect little addition to your day in Reykjavik and a great family-friendly activity. These adorable little seabirds migrate from Iceland out to sea for the winter so don’t miss your opportunity. Book it here!
Pro tip: Bringing binoculars is always a great idea for serious birdwatching.

5. Buggy ride by the roots of Esja mountain

This is a treat for all who love sporty, bumpy driving thrills! On this tour, you’ll get a totally different view of Icelandic nature, more intimate and well… all in your face. No extra charge for dust, mud, and water splashes! Located less than 10 minutes outside of Reykjavik at the roots of Esja mountain, the perfect half-day tour. Check it out here. 
Pro tips: Dress warmly. Even though overalls are provided, it can get very chilly, especially your hands. And be sure to schedule a spa or pool visit afterward to warm up and rinse off.

Have fun!

The unique history of beer in Iceland

Icelanders love a drink. Being of Viking decent, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are numerous mentions of ale drinking in the old sagas, even as the cold climate made it hard for early Icelanders to grow barley locally. Here’s a quick overview of the unique history of beer in Iceland.

Like many countries Iceland went through a period of prohibition. In 1915 a majority of 60% voted for a total ban on wine, beer and spirits. The ban on wine was lifted in 1922 and on spirits in 1935 but for some reason beer was banned in Iceland until 1989! Even today alcohol sales in Iceland are highly regulated and government run liquor stores (Vínbúðin) are the only places to buy alcohol in Iceland.

The somewhat shaky logic behind the beer ban was that access to beer would tempt young people and workers into heavy drinking. The ban’s opponents argued that only allowing people hard liquor instead would do just that. But beer-thirsty Icelanders didn’t let prohibition stop them from enjoying beer, or at least the closest thing they could get to it.

Taste the Saga is an evening of drinks and an exploration of the history of beer in Iceland at Reykjavik‘s Ölgerdin brewery. There you’ll get to taste the infamous “beer substitute” created by Icelanders who were determined to get their pint of beer in spite of the beer ban. The beer substitute shows the ingenious and rebellious spirits of the Icelanders, who have never really been fond of letting other people tell them what they can and can’t do. So simple in its execution that it would be brilliant if it wasn’t so disgusting, beer substitute is made by taking a low alcohol beer (beers up to 2.2% strength were allowed in Iceland) and putting a shot of the Icelandic schnapps Brennivín into it. That did the job but did nothing for those with a passion for good beer.

After the ban was lifted in 1989 Iceland’s drinking culture changed a lot, and for the better. Turning away from spirits and to beer cut back on binge drinking and allowed for local breweries to begin to develop their own beers. In recent years, the rise of micro-breweries and craft beers has led to a newfound passion for beer among Icelanders. Craft pubs are now on every corner and instead of just going up to the bar and ordering “one beer please” you are now asked what kind of beer you want! For a country that has only been drinking beer for 30 years, that is a huge change.

Many micro-breweries host tours that allow visitors to see how the brewing process works and how the unique Icelandic craft beers are made. One of those breweries is Ægisgarður, in addition to seeing how the beer is made and learning about the history of beer in Iceland, the brewers will teach you all about how to taste beer and let you taste some of their secret recipes. Perfect for beer connoisseurs that want to be able to identify the difference between hops and tell the subtle notes of spices and herbs in the brew. Icelandic brewers take inspiration from Icelandic nature, using a lot of herbs found in the mountains and even blueberries to give their beers that fresh Icelandic taste.

Beer is such a great conversation starter so if you want to get to know the locals, we recommend finding your nearest pub and chatting to the patrons. And if you’ve been on a brewery tour you can impress them with you knowledge of Icelandic beer and its history.

A BIKERS GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco is known for its tiered, wedding cake hills. But did you know that biking San Francisco has never been so easy? Nearly all of the bike paths run along a flat coastline, or level city roads, with isolated, designated bike lanes to keep riders safe. The local bicycle ambassadors and city government have collaborated in an ongoing partnership to develop a thriving network of bike paths and bike lanes to make biking San Francisco easy for locals and visitors alike.

The transformation to make San Francisco into the bike-friendly city that it is today began in early 2001 when the Haas family sponsored the National Park Bike Path along the Presidio’s Crissy Field, the tidal wetlands that seam the San Francisco bayside of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It quickly became a biking destination. In the same year, Bay City Bike Rentals & Toursdedicated itself to offering bike rentals and leading escorted trips going along this bike path & over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Likewise, they have a unique afternoon California Sunset Tour that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge on the western ocean-side, open only in late afternoons. Daily guided tours, as well as customized group tours, of this area can be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Parkwide Bike rentals also sends thrill-seekers along this path from their location in the Marina. Riders there can choose between traditional bikes and multi person surreys to take in the views.

From the Presidio, bike paths now stretch the full city perimeter. In 2014 the City began the Embarcadero Enhancement Project to focus on the bikeability of the waterfront that reaches from China Basin all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf.  The full-city, all- electric, Streets of San Francisco guided bike tour covers this ground adding the Ballpark, the Design, Mission and Castro Districts, Haight Ashbury, Alamo Square and Polk Gulch: all interconnected via a network of designated cycle paths.

In 2011 San Francisco also began a city-wide initiative to encourage bike riding in all of the beautiful neighborhoods the city has to offer, and especially in Golden Gate Park. This was the impetus behind Parkwide Bike Rentals- a citywide network embedded in San Francisco Parks to get people out enjoying the parks on bicycles. Riders daisy-chain from one city park to the next- biking the city, park to park, as locations reach from the Embarcadero Plaza near the Ferry Building, to Union Square Plaza to Fort Mason, to two locations aside and within Golden Gate Park. This 1000+ acre oasis sprawls with wildlife, native flora, botanical gardens, world class museums, and features the California Ocean at its denouement. A daily guided bicycle tour of Golden Gate Park can be had year-round starting at 11am and covering all this majestic ground.

As biking in San Francisco looks to its’ future, the city is excited about the development of the Van Ness Improvement Project, as well as the Polk Street Improvement project, which will provide safer and isolated bike lanes that allow riders to easily zipper directly through the midtown area of San Francisco. These thoroughfares will run the length of the city all the way from Market Street downtown, to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina District. This will provide safe and easy access for riders to get from one end of the city to another, the best way possible- on a bicycle!

>> This article was developed in partnership with Bay City Bikes in San Francisco. For more guidance on biking in San Francisco, visit their shop at 501 Bay St., Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California 94133. A Comfort Bike Rental and the Golden Gate Park Guided Tour are available for free with the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass.

Where’s Hot in May?

Yearning for someplace warm to enjoy a getaway in May? While some parts of the world hover in the cooler temps, there are plenty of hot destinations – literally and figuratively – that we’d recommend for your consideration.

Check out our suggestions for where’s hot in May below. Whether you’re after a tropical getaway or a scorching city break, we’ve got you covered…

1) Orlando

Florida is one of the vacation capitals of the United States for a reason. Warm temperatures in May, combined with the fact that most schools are still in session, means nice weather and fewer crowds for your trip. While Orlando isn’t on the coast (meaning you have a little bit of a drive before you hit the beaches), there are still plenty of attractions to help you make the most of the nice weather.

First, stop by the city’s most famous attraction: The Kennedy Space Center. This unique attraction combines active scientific endeavors with the fascinating history of space, and is a must-see. Bonus: it’s right by Cocoa Beach.

For families with small children, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is a popular option, with plenty of rides and slides to keep them busy while you soak up the sun. A similar, but smaller-scale alternative that may be appropriate for older kids as well is Fun Spot America, which offers Go-Karts and Bumper Cars alongside more traditional roller coasters.

If you’re willing to load up on the bug spray, then a Boggy Creek Airboat Ride could be a delightful half hour spent exploring the Everglades. Love the idea of being on the water but could do without the insects? Check out the Starlite Cruises daytime offerings for a relaxing cruise aboard a luxury yacht. Combine a fun cruise with some sightseeing on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour: afterwards, you can get in some shopping at their many cute boutiques, too.

Average May Temperature: 88F / 31C

2) Dubai

Dubai is its own set of extremes when it comes to warm weather. Because their average temperature reaches about 100 in May, you either want to stay cool in the water or avoid the outdoors altogether in favor of their many delightful air-conditioned options.

If you’re opting for the “avoid the outdoors at all costs” route, then may we suggest the world’s largest indoor ski resort? Or, if you’re searching for the vibrancy and green of spring, Green Planet (in Universal CityWalk) offers an indoor rainforest that’s sure to be more temperate than world outside.

Theme park enthusiasts already know that Dubai is a top destination: keep it indoors this time of year with a visit to the IMG Worlds of Adventure, whose five action-packed adventure zones promise hours of fun.

Brave enough for the outdoors (and smart enough to slather on that sunblock, we hope)? Then your first stop should be Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis the Palm. With oodles of water slides, lazy rivers, and a private beach, you can splash and sun to your heart’s content. Other exciting water sport options include a speedboat sightseeing tour and a stand-up paddle board lesson. Finally, keep it cool by being out after dark aboard the Sunset Dinner Cruise.

Average May Temperature: 100F / 37C

3) New York

Prefer milder weather for your city break in May? New York City is a smart bet with averages in the low 70s, especially since this time of year you can enjoy the pleasant temps without the press of high tourist season.

Soak up the sunshine with a sightseeing cruise, or a trip to see the Statue of Liberty. Keep in mind that being out on the water is quite a bit cooler than strolling around the city blocks, so you’ll want at least light layers to preserve those May vacation vibes.

Another option is to get out and get active with a bike tour of Central Park. You’ll see the top highlights of the nation’s premier cultural park, from the Imagine Mosaic to the Shakespeare Garden. Prefer to pedal along your own itinerary? You can rent a bike, too, to see what the Big Apple has to offer in the way of cycling paths and routes.

On a really nice day, it’s also smart to take advantage of the weather by embarking on a walking tour. There are more varieties and themes of walking tour than we could possibly name here, but a few of our favorites include a walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO and the adult-friendly Spirits on Foot tour (which, as you might imagine, involves sampling the city’s best booze).

And last but not least, May is the perfect time to enjoy America’s favorite pastime – a baseball game! Head to the iconic Yankee Stadium for a stadium tour or to take in a game. There are few things as delightful as a warm afternoon spent watching the Bronx Bombers.

Average May Temperature: 72F / 23C

4) Oahu

Hoping for a May vacation that’s a bit more on the tropical side? Then Oahu just might be the destination for you. Practically everything that people love to do in Oahu in May is outdoors: a perfectly sensible approach to take in a place where the average high temperatures come it at a sunny 80+ degrees.

Looking for something uniquely Hawaiian for your city break in May? Then you’ll want to take a surf lesson, or snorkel with some turtles. The exhilarating waves of the North Shore are like nothing else and the beloved green sea turtles always bring a smile to the face of any snorkelers.

There are also plenty of water-borne activities that don’t involve getting wet, should you be working perfecting your tan or preserving that awesome blowout. The Makani Catamaran Sail is a favorite among visitors to Oahu, with its sleek vessel offering an elegant sailing experience.

You could also opt for a fishing excursion, or an afternoon spent lounging on Secret Island Beach. In fact, Kualoa Ranch has oodles of outdoorsy fun to offer for those looking for where’s hot in May – check out their horseback riding, movie sites tours, and more.

Average May Temperature: 81F / 27C

5) Cancun

Kick the tropical vibes up another notch with a trip to Cancun. This perennially popular vacation destination boasts average high temperatures that hover just below 90 degrees: an ideal temperature in our book. Outdoorsy options range the gamut from leisurely cruises to high-energy adventure park outings, so you’re sure to find an attraction to appeal to your style of travel.

Explore Xcaret Park, with its wealth of historical, cultural, and natural wonders. Combine a snorkeling venture with an ATV ride and a relaxing dip in a genuine Mexican cenote and you’ll only scratch the surface of what Extreme Adventure Park has to offer.

A less time-intensive activity is a parasailing adventure, which still offers fun in the sun but takes up less of your day. Traveling with a partner? Throw in some romance with your water sports and check out the popular sunrise stand-up paddle board tour.

For those interested in getting some cultural exposure during their May vacation, a trip to the fascinating and engaging Chichén Itzá is a must-do. Of course, we can’t all be so virtuous during our Cancun vacations: sometimes a good open bar is all you need. Sit by the water and sip a cool drink, and you’re set.

Average May Temperature: 89F / 32C

6) Las Vegas

Sin City is our final suggestion for where’s hot in May. It’s hot both literally (the average high temps are around 90) and figuratively (this city is the destination this spring for your May vacations).

First of all, the Grand Canyon is a must. Take a tour of the South Rim to soak up its wild natural beauty and cross something big off your bucket list. A tour of the Hoover Dam is another popular attraction with natural and cultural merit.

For those of you seeking to indulge your wild side while in Vegas (although hopefully with more success than The Hangover crew), a Vegas Rockstar Pool Party Tour is where it’s at. They also offer a version that tours nightclubs instead, if you’d like to spend your nights partying.

For something to do during the daytime that doesn’t involve cards or slot machines, a tour of Fremont Street is a popular option. This trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood combines historical charm at the intersection of Fremont & Main with the new shops and restaurants along Fremont East.

Average May Temperature: 90C / 32C

Save on Admission to Top Warm-Weather Destinations

Should any of these attractions or destinations strike your fancy, make the most of your May vacation potential by maximizing your budget.

Pick up an all-inclusive Go City pass for your chosen destination to save an average of 45%-55% on combined admission prices.

Where’s Hot in October?

October is typically associated with fall foliage, cool breezes, apple picking, and Halloween fun. But if you’re looking for the best vacation spots in October that aren’t going to require a light coat, then check out this list.

We’ve put together a curated list of where’s hot in October to ensure that the summer party is still going strong on your next getaway. Enjoy the elevated temps in these hot destinations as you cruise, surf, and snorkel your way into October.

Los Angeles

This southern California city is pretty reliably warm in October, and is a popular place for the best October vacations. You can enjoy cruises, boat tours, and even a whale watch if you’re itching to get out on the water.

You should also make the most of the late-season opportunities to enjoy theme parks before they adopt winter hours or – in some cases – close for the season. Six Flags Magic Mountain is an exciting iteration of a classic franchise, while the indie Knott’s Berry Farm offers plenty of exhilarating rides and slides, too.

Make the most of these warm temps with time spent outside in Griffith Park. Ride a bike around their miles of trails, hike up the Hollywood hills and snap photos with the iconic sign, and pay a visit to the animals at the L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Average High Temperature: 79 F / 26 C

Dubai

When we say hot, we mean really hot when it comes to Dubai. However, this is late enough in the season that the temperatures are actually kind of reasonable, allowing visitors to enjoy the full range of their outstanding attractions. Just remember to reapply sunscreen often!

Cruise around Palm Island to enjoy the impressive scale of this man-made island, or opt for a speedboat sightseeing tour to combine spectating with exhilaration. The waters will be warm and the breezes just present enough to make these activities refreshing.

For something different, spend some time in Abu Dhabi. Rent an eco-donut boat to explore the Eastern Mangroves, which is loads of fun and good for the environment to boot. Or, a popular way to cool off is with a cruise n’ dip excursion around the inshore islands.

Average High Temperature: 96 F / 35 C

Cancun

What’s not to love about the tropical paradise of Cancun? It makes for one of the best October vacations with warm temperatures, cool breezes, and plenty of cold drinks. With an exhaustive selection of outdoors attractions to choose from, you could spend every minute on some new adventure.

For one, exploring Puerto Morelos through a visit to the Extreme Adventure Park is a very popular activity in October. Snorkel the Great Mayan Reef, drowse and sunbathe on the beaches of Puerto Morelos, then ride an ATV through the nearby jungle. It’s a full-day excursion that promises endless fun.

Of course, you can also enjoy the more slow-paced aspects of Cancun living with a leisurely shopping trip or an open bar at one of the city’s hot spots.  There’s also plenty to explore in the Cancun Hotel Zone, including an observation wheel, more shopping, and an archaeological site.

Average High Temperature: 88 F / 31 C

Las Vegas

Sin City is another contender for the best October vacation spot. With a flair for the dramatic, Las Vegas offers more than just glamorous gaming. You can enjoy a nighttime helicopter flight over the Strip, a tour through its historic neighborhoods, or a trek out to the Grand Canyon, among many other options.

Indulge your adventurous side with a trip to a challenging escape room or a couple of hours spent at a trampoline park. In addition to their stellar observation wheel (a must-do), the LINQ also boasts an exhilarating zip line that’s not to be missed.

Looking for some arts and culture on your trip to Vegas? Don’t worry – Springs Preservehas got you covered. This extensive natural preserve is filled with acres upon acres of gardens plus multiple museums and a butterfly habitat. It’s an oasis in the middle of urban Las Vegas.

Average High Temperature: 82 F / 28 C

San Antonio

Yep – Texas is still hot in October. It’s one of our picks for best vacation spot in October for its ideal combination of indoor and outdoor attractions, with everything from tours and a river cruise to museums and a zoo.

For starters, Brackenridge Park should be on your itinerary. It’s home to the educational San Antonio Zoo, as well as a serene Japanese Tea Garden and the engaging Witte Museum. There’s even golf course should you want to get in a few holes.

Scope out the city from above with a visit to the Tower of the Americas, and then spend some time exploring the rest of the neighborhood. You can find some more museums (including the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures) and, for your little ones, the Yanaguana Garden and Playground. Plus, you’re a mere couple of blocks from Alamo Plaza, which is always a hot destination in San Antonio.

Average High Temperature: 83 F / 28

Orlando

Sultry Orlando boasts plenty to do in October both indoors and out. Visit one of their most iconic attractions in the Kennedy Space Center, and then follow that up with a trip an amusement park or two.  LEGOLAND® Florida is our pick for younger kids.

Many visitors also enjoy a late-season tour of the Everglades, one of Florida’s most significant natural treasures and an ecological marvel. Ride aboard an airboat to whish through waves of tall grass as you keep an eye out for turtles, birds, and, of course, alligators.

Another hot spot in Orlando in October is the I-Drive corridor, which is chock full of attractions and restaurants. Take a ride aboard The Wheel at Icon Park for stunning views of the city below. Enjoy a leisurely round of mini-golf with the family, then perhaps spend some time at Madame Tussauds trying to decide just how realistic those wax statues are.

Average High Temperature: 84 F / 29 C

San Diego

With an average high temperature of the mid-seventies Fahrenheit / low twenties Celsius, you may not think of San Diego as “hot,” per se, but it’s one of the best vacation spots in October, hands-down. From one of the world’s most famous zoos to some of the best museums in America, there’s no shortage of top things to do in San Diego.

Harken back to the summer with a visit to Belmont Park, which boasts some of the most exciting rollercoasters and other classic rides in the entire region. With an all-access pass, you and the kids can spend hours on end at this comprehensive amusement park.

This time of year is also a good opportunity for a whale watch, as the water is still plenty warm. This attracts multiple different marine animals – including massive pods of dolphins, finback whales, seals, and more – and coincides with the migration patterns of blue whales.

Average High Temperature: 74 F / 23 C

Save on Admission to Top Warm-Weather Destinations

We hope one or two of our suggestions for the best October vacations struck a chord with our readers. Whether you want to go all-out in the heat with a visit to Dubai, or prefer something a bit more mild on a trip to San Diego, these places are definitely where’s hot in October for your next fall getaway.

Keeping to a budget? Save on your October vacation with a Go City pass. Depending upon your destination, you can save upwards of 55% on admission to the best attractions without the hassle of separate tickets.

Best Places to Learn to Surf

While we may all have a picture in our heads of the ideal surfer (tanned, athletic), there’s far more to the surfing community than this old stereotype. Surfing is popular with people from all over the world, and at all levels of abilities, and is an energizing new sport to pick up if you want to be more active.

Another great thing about surfing is the distance the sport can take you. Whether you want to catch the waves off the North Shore of Oahu or at Bondi Beach in Sydney, surfing can bring you around the globe in search of your next top destination.

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf—or currently find yourself developing a new interest in the activity—then you’re probably wondering how to go about getting started. To help you begin, we’ve put together a guide to invaluable lessons and popular surfing destinations.

Check out one of these surfing hot spots, or make them all part of a quest to become the next great surfing pro!

Oahu

Hawaii (Oahu, specifically) has long had a reputation as an excellent place to surf, so it’s no surprise than one of the most prestigious international surfing competitions are held here each year – the VTCS series. Who wouldn’t want to rock out on the Banzai Pipeline?

If you’re a newbie to the sport, however, start slow. Take a two-hour semi-private surf lesson with Sea & Board Sports Hawaii. This lesson focuses on developing basic skillsand practicing surf safety. It’s also designed for two or more people, making it a perfect idea for honeymoons or romantic getaway

Cancun

Mexico is all about enjoying the tropical beaches, exploring Mayan ruins, and indulging in good food. It’s also a popular spot for surfing, with the rainy season (May – September) offering the best opportunities for great big waves and fewer crowds.

If you’re interested in learning how to surf in Cancun, check out a lesson from 360 Surf School. They’ll introduce you to the subject at a level appropriate for beginners or those a little further along, and give you plenty of time to test the waters yourself.

Sydney

No surprise here—Australia is home to the archetypal surfer dude. Bondi Beach is one of the top surfing destinations in the entire world and is host to a wide range of talented and amateur surfers for large parts of the year.

Choose a beginner’s lesson with an intimate feel, like this two-hour lesson from Let’s Go Surfing. Everything happens in waist-deep water during lower tides, so it’s ideal for those with very little experience surfing (or even much experience in the water in general).

San Diego

California is another place known for its surfer culture, perhaps the most significant of its kind in the United States. Head to San Diego’s next-door neighbor La Jolla for some of the gnarliest waves around.

Black’s Beach is the best spot in the entire region for surfing, but it’s probably best for intermediate and advanced surfers. Stick to La Jolla Cove for gentler waves, and alternative activities for your kids like paddle-boarding. If you’re looking for lessons for your kids, too, check out Surf Diva Surf School.

Orlando

People tend to think of sun-bathing more than surfing when it comes to Florida, but Melbourne Beach’s Sebastian Inlet is the real deal. Located southwest of Orlando, which is itself home to many other delightful summer attractions, Melbourne Beach is home to some serious waves.

You can take a lesson from local companies like Surf Guys Surf School or Adventure Surf Lessons and Paddleboarding, both of which offer great options for beginners. Or, head a bit further north to Cocoa Beach for some more choices.

Los Angeles

Our final recommendation for great places to learn how to surf is Los Angeles. Home to the O.G. Surfer Dude in America, Malibu is one of the most popular beaches for surfers of all abilities. The waves are ideal for riders of all skill levels and experience, with significant variations in tides and weather making for some big differences.

There are oodles of surf lessons and surf schools in Malibu, so your first challenge will be in narrowing it down. Some of the most highly recommended are Malibu Surf Coach, Radfish Malibu, and Point Break Surf Company, all of which are ideal for beginners.

Get Surfing Lessons for Less

Determined to get out there and aspire to catch the highest waves? Spend less on your surfing lessons with a Go City pass. Travel to many of these destinations and save on your surfing lessons with this easy-to-use, electronic pass.

You’ll also save on other water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, cruises, and much more. Make the most of your summer vacation or surf-getaway with a Go City pass, available in each of these destinations.

Top 10 Things to Do in Dubai for First Time Visitors – Must See & Do Attractions

Dubai ranks at the top of a list of the world’s must-visit destinations. The city is a treasure trove for tourists, combining the mystique and history of the Arabian Desert with the gleaming amenities of a modern metropolis.

The top attractions in the Emirate are great place to start when planning a trip to Dubai. Though many cities have come close to rivaling its variety of awe-inspiring top attractions, few have been able to surpass the sheer number of outlets and types of sites that the small Emirate has to offer.

If you and your family are looking for the top things to do in Dubai during your trip, check out our list of some of best attractions, including:

  • At The Top – Burj Khalifa
  • Royal Arabian Safari at Sahara Desert Resort
  • Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm
  • Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
  • The Dubai Mall
  • and more…

Save on Admission to Top Things to Do in Dubai

Many of these must see attractions are available on the Go Dubai Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of popular Dubai attractions and save up to 52% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Please keep in mind that some of the attractions listed in this post are separately ticketed and may not be currently included with the Go Dubai Card.

At The Top – Burj Khalifa

At-the-Top-Burj-Khalifa-2

In a city of record breakers, the Burj Khalifa could be considered Dubai’s most famous landmark, and is certainly a must visit during your trip.

Rising gracefully out of the desert, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building.  You’ll enjoy stunning views and dramatic vistas from the top of this 163-floor structure.

No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to At The Top, the tower’s exclusive viewing deck. Spanning floors 125 and 148, At The Top gives visitors a full view of the city from the vantage point of the world’s highest outdoor observatory.

From this perch, you can take in the Dubai Fountain show, enjoying the synchronized water spectacle from an eagle eye point of view. With panoramic visibility on the rest of the Emirate, it’s the perfect spot for taking photos to remember your trip.

Getting In: At The Top – Burj Khalifa tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Dubai Sightseeing Tour

Big-Bus-Dubai-1-Day-Tour-1

Dubai is a well-connected city, with most major sites and attractions branching off from its main highway, Sheikh Zayed Road. The Big Bus Dubai travels down SZR to connect you with all the top places to visit.

Whether you’re interested in the traditional culture of the city’s early trading ports and souks, or the iconic modern architecture of the Burj Khalifa, the hop-on/hop-off bus lets you explore the city at your own pace.

Enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin and open-top seating as you traverse the desert city. Buses come every five to 15 minutes, so you never have to worry about waiting around for long.

With more than 35 stops on the entire tour and commentary offered in 12 languages, Big Bus Dubai provides interesting and entertaining background information.

Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Dubai tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Royal Arabian Safari & 5 Star Dinner at Sahara Desert Resort

Desert-Safari-Dubai-5

Another bucket-list item in Dubai is a desert safari. Experience the majesty and beauty of the desert just the way the traditional Bedouins have done for generations.

Climb aboard a luxurious Hummer H2 or Land Cruiser and set out on your captivating nature drive. Enjoy onboard refreshments as you travel over the rolling sand dunes.

Once in the desert, you can explore your surroundings further with a camel ride. Or, experience traditional Bedouin culture with henna painting before you savor a five-star buffet set-up at an Arabian fortress.

Getting In: Dubai Royal Desert Arabian Safari tickets are included as a premium option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go Dubai® Cards.

Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm

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Ride the thrills and spills at Aquaventure Waterpark on Atlantis The Palm. The Palm is Dubai’s extraordinary hotel built in the center of a manmade island.

It’s one of the only places on earth where you can zip through a water tunnel while sharks and stingrays swim above you. If you’re after hair-raising drops and rushing rapids, you’ll find your buzz at Aquaventure.

Aquaventure also has you covered if you’re interested in lazy sunbathing on a pristine, private beach. This waterpark caters to all aquatic desires!

Getting In: Aquaventure Waterpark tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis The Palm

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After you’ve splashed your way through Aquaventure, further your marine-inspired journey with a visit to the Lost Chambers Aquarium, also located at the same resort.

Wind your way through the aquarium’s 10 glass-tunneled chambers to get up close with sharks, stingrays, piranhas, lobsters, seahorses, tropical fish, and other sea life.

Marvel in a spellbinding underwater world designed around the myth of Atlantis, the lost civilization of ruins and shipwrecks.

More than 20 different marine exhibits wait for you to explore. You can even feel a real starfish in the aquarium’s touch tank, or learn about the different types of fish from the aquatic center’s experts.

Getting In: Lost Chambers Aquarium tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

RIB Speed Boat Sightseeing Tour

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Xclusive Yachts, one of the city’s most popular boat services providers, offers a chance to view the wonders of Dubai from the water.

On a RIB speed boat tour, you can take in the Emirate’s various famous landmarks. Top sites on this tour include:

  • Burj Al Arab
  • Atlantis The Palm
  • Jumeirah Beach Hotel
  • Dubai Marina
  • Jumeirah Beach Residence
  • and Bluewater Island

While the vessel does travel at high speeds for most of the trip, your boat will slow down enough for photos at select locations.

Getting In: Dubai Speed Boat Tour tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Ski Dubai

Ski-Dubai-Polar-Pass-1

Dubai topped the record books again with the opening of the region’s largest indoor ski resort (in one of the world’s biggest malls, of course).

Ski Dubai has five slopes of differing difficulties and inclines for skiers of any skill, from beginners to seasoned veterans.

It’s also the home of the world’s first indoor black diamond run for those who dare to conquer the demands of the snow.

A ski lift ferries skiers up the runs, while an adjoining Snow Park includes sled routes and toboggan runs, climbing towers, and an ice cave to entertain little ones.

The recent introduction of live penguin encounters at the resort adds an extra element of fun to your visit to Ski Dubai.

Getting In: Ski Dubai tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Green Planet Indoor Rainforest

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Dubai recently added an indoor rainforest to its list of attractions you might be surprised to find in a desert.  Delve into an exotic world of flora and fauna in this vertical tropical rain forest.

A place for all ages, the rainforest encourages increased education and knowledge about the natural world through a first-hand experience of the beauty of nature.

Learn about all the layers of a rainforest and the plants and animals that call it home with a visit to this top attraction.

Getting In: The Green Planet Dubai tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Motiongate Dubai

Motiongate is a recent edition to Dubai’s wealth of attractions. Opened in late 2016, it’s one of the largest themed entertainment parks in the region, combining three of the largest and most prolific Hollywood studios – Dreamworks, Lionsgate, and Columbia Pictures.

Motiongate brings your favorite animated stories and characters to life. You can immerse yourself in the golden age of filmmaking by going behind the scenes to experience real life movie sets and the inner workings of a production studio.

Or you can step into the action of your favorite films in the Green Hornet ride, a Ghostbusters battle, the interactive Smurfs village, or Shrek’s fairy tale journey.

If you’re not too tired of the rides and attractions, sit back and take in a high-energy live action stage show based on films like the The Hunger Games or Step Up.

Getting In: 1 Day 2 Park Hopper tickets are included with the Go Dubai® Card.

KidZania

KidZania-2

If you’re traveling to Dubai with young ones, you’ll want to include a visit to KidZania to your itinerary. This play club, based in Dubai Mall, offers children from the ages of four to 16 a safe place to live out their play dreams.

Pint-sized guests can take part in role-playing activities that mimic their real-world counterparts. Whether it’s working as a doctor, or fireman, police officer, pilot, or beautician, kids are given the chance to play out their roles in an actual small-scale city built specifically for them to enjoy.

Getting In: Admission to KidZania is separately ticketed and is included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Other Ideas for Top Things to do in Dubai

The below are popular activities to do in Dubai. Please note, that some of these items may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Dubai Card.

  • Take an ‘abra ride’ on the Dubai Creek (included in the Big Bus Dubai Tour)
  • Visit the traditional Bastakiya Quarter, which squeezes itself between the Dubai Creek and the buzzing Bur Dubai district
  • Explore & bargain at the Gold Souk
  • Buy exotic herbs & spices a the Spice Souk.
  • Visit Dubai Museum, Shindagha Museum (‘Sheikh Saeed Al Makoum’s House’) and the Heritage Village and learn how Dubai was once a small fishing village
  • Go shopping at the Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Burjuman, Deira City Center, Marina Mall, Dubai Festival City, WAFI, or Mercato Mall
  • Stroll along ‘The Beach’ at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and have lunch at one of the many outlets along the beach, or sunbathe and take a swim at Kite Surf Beach
  • Enjoy a Beach Day access at any of the 5 star resorts along the coast (Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, Westin Hotel) or at the hotels on Palm Island
  • Dine at the beautiful Souk Madinat with stunning views of the Burj Al Arab hotel and Arabian sea
  • Enjoy a Friday (Champagne) Brunch at one of the many 5 star hotels – a Dubai weekend tradition!
  • Book a luxury spa treatment at one of the many 5 star hotels or pamper yourself at a beauty salon (manicure, pedicure, massage etc.)
  • If you enjoy golf, tee off at the courses designed by Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els. Head to the city’s most famous course, the 18th hole Emirates Golf Club or at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
  • Enjoy sun-downers at the many outdoor bars and clubs with sunshine all year round (Barasti bar, 360 at Jumeirah Beach Hotel etc.) or at the stunning rooftop bars of 5-star hotels in town.

Let’s Recap

So there you have it. Our picks for some of the most popular and top things to do in Dubai for first time visitors during their vacation.

Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with kids, teens, or just adults, we’re sure you and your family will have a great time.

Pick up a Go Dubai Card and save up to 52% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

Top 10 Hiking Trails in Iceland

Iceland is known for its breathtaking views, unspoiled nature, and beautiful terrain. There are no mosquitoes or bears or any dangerous animals to be found. You will find hiking and trekking opportunities at every corner and really, the biggest challenge is selecting a trail. To help you decide which trails to choose, we have made this little list.

Here go the TOP 10 HIKING TRAILS IN ICELAND!

10. Mount Esja

Duration: 2 to 3 hours up and 1 to 2 hours down

Activity Level Scale: Easy (2/5)

Experience: Little to none, but make sure to check the forecast!

Path Conditions: Excellent, well marked and multiple options

Water Supply: A stream runs down the mountain where you can fill up with fresh water

Challenges: The trail can get pretty steep

Good to know: There is a café down at the foothills. At the right side of the parking lot. It is a wonderful stop to make before or after the hike. There you will find some local friendly staff and delicious treats.

Esja or Esjan (the Esja) is undoubtedly a significant token in Reykjavik’s skyline. It is a grandiose mountain range within the city border and many locals see this mountain as their natural exercise spot. The trail is so popular that you can even catch a public bus () to the foothills of the mountain. It is best to hike Esja in good weather as visibility is important in its steeper areas.

There are a few different paths one can take. They are all marked with a scale from 1-3 so you can control the challenge a bit yourself. Surely the perfect couple of hours city break from Reykjavík.

9. Kjolur

Duration: 2 to 3 days. 4 to 7 hours per day

Activity Level Scale: Challenging (4/5)

Experience: Highly experienced or with a good guide

Path Conditions: Well marked but less travelled

Water Supply: Some streams where you can find fresh and clean water and at the mountain huts

Challenges: Remoteness and weather conditions

Good to know: Our version of the Kjolur trail is not as extreme as the 2-3 day one but offers a day out on the trail capturing the highlights and hot spring bathing! It is an excellent choice for those who wish to explore the trail without having to be intensely experienced or equipped.  

Pro Tip: Bring a bathing suit!

hiking trails in iceland, Top 10 Hiking Trails in Iceland

The trail along Kjolur is often nicknamed ‘the Haunted Highway’. The name refers to the challenges Icelanders faced when trying to cross the gruesome highlands on horses following this rough and often brittle road. The path takes you between glaciers and volcanoes and runs through the center of Iceland. Kjolur connects the North to the South and back in the day this was the quickest way to travel between. The travel is known to be challenging, especially due to the unforgiving weather conditions but if you are well prepared and experienced this notorious trail is a trip of a lifetime.

8. Glymur ‘The Trail to the Waterfall

Duration: 3 to 4 hours hiking

Activity Level Scale: Easy/Moderate (2-3/5)

Experience: Little experience needed

Path Conditions: Well marked and easy to follow

Water Supply: You will cross the river from the waterfall a few times giving you plenty chances to fill up or take a sip

Challenges: The trail is pretty steep and the water crossing requires balance

Good to know: There are no facilities linked with the waterfall’s hike so make sure to go to the bathroom and get something to eat before the hike.

hiking trails in iceland, Top 10 Hiking Trails in Iceland

The hike to Glymur is an incredibly scenic one. Waterfalls, clear streams, and beautiful birch await you along with a lava cave and other unique features. Glymur waterfall is located only about an hour away from the city center, tucked in the valley of Hvalfjordur. The hike can get pretty steep at the end so make sure you are prepared shoe wise. However, steepness tends to bring splendor views and this trail is not the exception. Prepare to bust out your camera and make sure to remember to turn around regularly.

hiking trails in iceland, Top 10 Hiking Trails in Iceland

Our favorite way to do the trail is up on the right side of the river, crossing it on top and going down at the other side. This will give you an opportunity to explore the dazzling water wonder from different angles. Just remember to bring water shoes or prepare for some cold feet.  

7. Thakgil

Duration: Mostly 1 to 2 hours depending on your pace

Activity Level Scale: Very easy (1/5)

Experience: Little to none

Path Conditions: Flat and soft, although not well marked

Water Supply: You can fill up your water bottle at the campsite or in rivers or streams along the way

Challenges: Getting there in winter can be a challenge. Otherwise, no obvious challenges

Good to know: The campsite is open every year from the 1st of June until the 31st of August.

Thakgil is one of these hidden hiker gems you find in Iceland.  It is located only about 30 minutes driving from Vik off the Ring Road and the path there is absolutely gorgeous. The road is gravel but during summer time it is suitable for most cars.

Thakgil is located in between glaciers and volcanic sand plains but is a fertile oasis on its own. Once you arrive you are spoiled with choice, trails, and attractions, making Thakgil the perfect hiking destination. It is especially great for those looking to stay in one place but to hike out during the day. Thakgil has an amazing campsite, perfect for families and nature enthusiasts. Most of the hikes in the area begin at the campsite. Some of the hiking trails you must visit are the ones to Remundargil canyon and the one into the creek with the waterfall. If you follow the hydro plant feeding the campsite you will find the creek.

6. Reykjadalur ‘The Smokey Valley

Duration: 3 hour hiking back and forth

Activity Level Scale: Easy (2/5)

Experience: Little to none

Path Conditions: Well marked and easily recognizable, signs with information along the way

Water Supply: Bring your own water

Challenges: It is important to stay on the trail as boiling hot springs surround the trail

Good to know: there are no proper changing facilities so you might want to wear your bathing suit underneath whilst hiking up

Reykjadalur valley is one of the most popular hikes to do in Iceland. It can easily be done as a part-day activity and with the bathing takes about 3-3,5 hours. Drive to Hveragerdi and follow the road to the mountain on the left. Park your car at the parking lot below the valley and head on up the tracks. The trail is well marked and in excellent shape. Upon arrival, you will be met with the sulfur smell which will grow increasingly throughout the hike. Multicolored bubbling hot springs, smokey pillars and geothermal activity dominate the area which gives it the name ‘the Smokey Valley’.

Make sure to turn around every now and then while hiking up the hills. You will be met with breathtaking views over the South Coast and on a good day even to the Westman Islands!

The river running through the valley gets warmer the higher you go. This has led to some areas of the river being more popular than others. Special bridges have been built on each side of the location with the most comfortable temperature and we recommend to bath there. This is the true Viking bath, ‘all natural’!

hiking trails in iceland, Top 10 Hiking Trails in Iceland

If you want to join a tour to get all the local knowledge, a geological lesson and a great group of like-minded travelers the Hot Springs and Lava Cave Hike might be just the thing for you!  

5. Fimmvorduhals ‘Thorsmork Volcano Hike

Duration: 10-12 hours

Activity Level Scale: Moderate Plus (3,5/5)

Experience: Guide required

Path Conditions: Some parts can be covered with snow early in the season but more or less adequate

Water Supply: There are some spots along the way where rivers flow with fresh water for you to fill up your bottle. You can also drink clean melted snow!

Challenges: Elevation gain and weather

Good to know: The weather can change a lot during the hike, dress in layers and bring water shoes

The Fimmvorduhals trail first became famous outside Iceland in 2010 when the Eyjafjallajokull eruption started. Fimmvorduhals was the first location that started to erupt, creating two new volcanic craters that hikers usually visit when doing the trail today. There are many obvious signs of a fresh eruption but thankfully no hot running lava or other hazardous things.

The longer version of the trail goes from Skogafoss up into the highlands, past the mountain hut, between glaciers, over the new volcano eruption site and into Thorsmork Valley. The shorter version is then from Thorsmork up to the eruption site, between the glaciers and back into the valley. You will need to be prepared to wade a river, to cross snow and to be ready for some heights. Another thing you need to be ready for views like you have never seen before. This trail is straight out of Lord of the Rings. You will have to pinch yourself to know its real!

4. Landmannalaugar ‘The Pearl of the Highlands

Duration: 2 to 6 hours depending on which route you take

Activity Level Scale: Easy to Moderate (2-3/5)

Experience: For the smaller peaks little to no experience is needed but for the higher the peaks more experience is required

Path Conditions: Paths are in excellent conditions but can be a bit trodden late in the season

Water Supply: There are mountain huts on site where you can fill up before and after the hike

Challenges: Weather can change rapidly and the area can be snow heavy early in the season

Good to know: The natural hot springs are suitable for bathing all year round! 

Landmannalaugar is an extraordinary place in the southern highlands of Iceland. The name means the settler’s pools and that is exactly what this place was known for back in the Viking Age. The Laugahraun lava field which came about in one of the area’s volcanic eruption is now the center of it all. Whether you want to hike the black and blue mountain Blahnukur, the multi-colored Brennisteinsalda or bathe in the natural hot pools the Laugahraun will guide you there. Moreover, are there signs all over Landmannalaugar and the wardens at the huts are super helpful.

Landmannalaugar offers excellent accommodation options, both huts, and camping. Camping is the more affordable one.

Landmannalaugar is also the starting point for the famous Laugavegur trek but many like to start with a few days in Landmannalaugar to enjoy the hot springs and the colorful terrain. If you don’t have time to do the longer treks or simply aren’t looking for that type of a tour there is always the Landmannalaugar day tour from Reykjavík. Including hot spring bathing and some view seeking hikes!

3. The Seven Peaks of North East Iceland

Duration: All depends on your planning

Activity Level Scale: Challenging to Difficult (4-5/5)

Experience: Experienced hikers only and a guide is highly recommended

Path Conditions: A clear path is not present at all times and can get pretty steep

Water Supply: It is best to fill up your water bottle before setting off

Challenges: The peaks can be very steep

The seven peaks of North East Iceland is a challenge created by locals. All of the best peaks were chosen and if you finish all of them, providing proof that you have been to each summit you get a document recognizing your achievement and are listed amongst the Mountain Vikings! Some hikers even go so far as doing all the peaks in one day. Those receive the title Super Mountain Viking!

Still, keep in mind there is no pressure to finish them all and of course, safety and enjoyment should always come first!

The peaks are Sandholatindur, Bjolfur, Nontindur, Hadegistindur, Snjofjallatindur and Baegsli. Each peak is more or less 1000-1100 meters tall (3,280 ft to about 3,608 ft ).

2. Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Duration: The duration is completely up to you, which areas you choose to visit and how long you intend to stay

Activity Level Scale: Easy to Moderate (2-3/5)

Experience: Some experience is helpful a GPS is highly recommended because of connectivity issues. Little experience is needed with a guide

Path Conditions: Excellent and well marked

Water Supply: Better to fill up a water bottle in the morning

Challenges: The area is very remote so cell service can be brittle

When people start planning their trip around Iceland the Ring Road is often the route they decide to go with. It has everything from glaciers to black sand beaches to hot springs and waterfalls. However, the Ring Road skips out on one very important part of Iceland. The oldest part of Iceland, the steepest and the most remote. It skips out on the Westfjords, sometimes nicknamed the ‘Best Fjords’ and for a valid reason. This place offers vistas as you thought only existed in dreams, charming towns and villages like the olden days and locals with more flare and friendlier personalities than you could ask for.

hiking trails in iceland, Top 10 Hiking Trails in Iceland

Hornstrandir is the northernmost part of the Westfjords, an Arctic Fox nature reserve and a paradise for all nature lovers. There you will find excellent hiking opportunities all around, beautiful and unique flora and naturally filled hot pool to bathe in.

Hornstrandir are visited on our all-inclusive, Ring Road PLUS the Westfjords trip Majestic Fjords which is the perfect tour for anyone looking to do a little hiking in Hornstrandir.

1. Laugavegur Trail ‘One of the Top Trails in the World

Duration: 4-6 days

Activity Level Scale: Moderate Plus (3,5/5)

Experience: Without a guide you will need to have experience with a compass/GPS. With a guide less experience is needed

Path Conditions: Quite good but can be snow heavy early on in the season

Water Supply: Fill your water bottle up in the morning but there are streams along the way to refill

Challenges: Elevation gain and quick changes in weather

Good to know: The 6-day version of the Laugavegur trail also includes the Fimmvorduhals trek, perfecting the hiking experience in southern Iceland! 

Chosen by the National Geography as one of the top 20 best hiking trails in Iceland the Laugavegur trek is one you must do! It starts in Landmannalaugar, the highlands geothermal paradise and takes you across astoundingly different terrain and landscape, in between glaciers, past volcanoes and into vast areas of untouched nature.

There are mountain huts along the way perfectly places for the trip to take four days. Meaning about 8-10 hours of hiking each day. If you were ever looking for a chance to reconnect with yourself or perhaps our darling Mother Nature The Laugavegur trail is simply perfect for you!

There is just something about trekking across the wilderness on a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The freedom and the awe-inspiring views give you a filling.

Make sure to pack wading shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra batteries. You will not want to miss out on capturing these moments on film!

Having a hard time just choosing one hike to do in Iceland?

We have several options for those who want to try more than one of these amazing hikes. There are the Scenic Trails of Iceland meant for travelers at any fitness level. It is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the trueness of Iceland’s natural grounds. And then there is the Across the Wilderness- Iceland‘s interior mysteries and more for those who are looking to try out more than one and challenge themselves a bit in the meantime.

Rules for Hiking in Iceland:

  • Tell someone where you are going and about what time you will be back.
  • Check in once having arrived safely!
  • Make sure to check the weather forecast daily, multiple times a day even.
  • Get the Safe Travel App. It links you with all the help you will need if anything goes wrong.
  • Research and prepare. Iceland is not like any other country and the terrain is different. Make sure to know what you are getting yourself into and pack accordingly.
  • Newer travel without a GPS.

THE 13 BEST HOSTELS IN TOKYO

A colorful photo of the bright lights of Tokyo, Japan at night

Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

But there are still amazing and affordable hostels in Tokyo where you can stay and lower your costs!

Like Tokyo itself, the hostels here are clean, arty, and have lots of charm. A lot of them are super trendy with beautiful décor. Wi-Fi is standard, and many will have cooking facilities too. Beds generally cost between 2,000 and 5,000 JPY ($18-45 USD) per night. They host events, serve a ton of tea, and have little cubbies you can sleep in.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stay or to party the night away, the city has something for everyone!

Tokyo does hostels right!

To help you plan your trip, here is my list of 13 hostels in Tokyo that I like the most.
 

1. Khaosan Tokyo Origami

A charming bunkbeds of Khaosan Tokyo Origami hostel in Tokyo, Japan


This hostel is in Asakusa and only a five-minute walk to Senso-ji Temple and the Asakusa station. The hostel is clean and there’s air-conditioning. The rooms are pretty spacious, which is uncommon in most Tokyo hostels. The beds are comfy and cozy, and there are privacy curtains.

There’s also a nice common lounge with free coffee and tea, and you can use the kitchen 24/7. You’ll also enjoy some extra comforts, such as the slippers they provide, and the free, simple breakfast of toast and coffee/tea. The lounge on the eighth floor is a great place to hang out, play video games, and take in the views over Tokyo!

Beds from JP¥ 3,200/$29 USD, privates from JP¥ 8,800/$80 USD.

2. Sheena and Ippei

The interior of the Sheena and Ippei hostel in Tokyo, Japan


Sheena and Ippei is a small hostel located in downtown Tokyo, near the Ikebukuro station. The décor here is quite unique, as the owners have used beautiful Japanese fabrics to line the walls. The place is very homey, and the staff are really helpful when it comes to suggesting things to do around the area. There is no kitchen, but you can use the microwave and refrigerator.

The first floor is actually home to a café equipped with sewing machines that customers can use (local people make handicrafts and hold events here every week). It turns into a hostel lounge in the evenings, and you can have appetizers and sake on the weekends.

Beds from JP¥ 4,104/$37 USD, privates from JP¥ 15,120/$138 USD.

3. Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo

The comfy bunk beds in a dorm room at Hostel Chapter Two in Tokyo, Japan


Chapter Two is a small, family-run hostel not far from Skytree Station in Asakusa. I really like the shared kitchen and common room, as there’s a real social feel to it. The dorms are modern, immaculate, and nicely equipped. You can book a deluxe pod, which gives you a partitioned-off bed with a privacy curtain, which is a nice change from the open-concept dorm.

There’s also a great view of the Sumida River — try to get a bed facing it! The rooftop patio comes with a co-working area, and it’s a terrific option for relaxing and hanging out. The owner is super friendly!

Beds from JP¥ 3,900/$36 USD, privates from JP¥ 9,200/$84 USD.

4. Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki

The electic and colorful check-in desk at Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki hostel in Tokyo, Japan


This hostel’s location in Asakusa is stellar: just a one-minute walk to Kaminarimon (the gates to Senso-ji), Asakusa Temple, and the Asakusa station. The rooms are a little dull, but they are comfy and clean, and all have en suite bathrooms. Try to get a room upstairs so you’re not right next to the common room (which can get rowdy at night). If you can get a view of the Skytree Tower, you’re in luck!

The common kitchen offers free coffee and tea, plus you get free shampoo and conditioner. The staff is really nice, and they have takoyaki (snack) parties where you can learn all about Japanese culture and nightlife.

Beds from JP¥ 2,700/$25 USD, privates from JP¥ 1,2750/$116 USD.

5. Hostel Bedgasm

The brick exterior of the Bedgasm hostel in Tokyo, Japan


Located in East Tokyo, Hostel Bedgasm has a lively bar, and guests get a free drink every night. It’s a small gesture, but it’s a great way to meet other travelers and to socialize. The bathrooms are clean, and there’s a common kitchen and a quiet rooftop patio area. There’s plenty of storage for your items, and the staff is very helpful!

The neighborhood is not too noisy and has great food options — especially the nearby ramen place and bakery (the staff will point you in the right direction). You can get to Ueno, Ginza, Roppongi, and the Tsukiji fish market direct by metro from here.

Beds from JP¥ 3,500/$32 USD, privates from JP¥ 8,500/$77 USD.

6. Kaisu Hostel

A large co-working table at Kaisu Hostel in Tokyo, Japan


Kaisu used to be a ryotei, a traditional Japanese restaurant with performing geishas. The building has kept a lot of its original architecture, like tatami-style private rooms with large windows and a high ceiling; the dorms have bunk beds with curtains for more privacy. This hostel is a bit more expensive, but it feels more like a hotel than a hostel and is spotless. It’s not a party place, but you can meet a lot of fellow travelers at the café.

Plus, guests get two free shots of sake on Tuesdays, and free breakfast every morning! Roppongi, Aoyama, and the National Art Center are within walking distance.

Beds from JP¥ 4,300/$39 USD.

7. Backpackers Hostel K’s House Tokyo

The spacious and bright common area of K's House in Tokyo, Japan


This hostel chain has several branches across Japan. The Tokyo location in Kuramae (next to the Kuramae station on the Oedo line) has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. There’s a sunny, comfortable common area near the entrance, and a regularly scheduled sushi-making class, where you can make some new friends. Breakfast isn’t included, but there’s a full kitchen with free coffee and tea. It’s not exactly in the center of Tokyo, so plan on spending at least 30 minutes to get to and from the hostel. Still, it’s a nice neighborhood and a good place to stay if you’re feeling overwhelmed by Tokyo’s craziness.

Beds from JP¥ 2,900/$26 USD, privates from JP¥ 4,600/$42 USD.

8. Unplan Kagurazaka

The stylish lounge at Unplan Kagurazaka in Tokyo, Japan


This hostel is only a few years old, so it’s still very clean and stylish, with wood floors and minimalist décor. Unplan has a variety of room styles, ranging from dorms to private rooms with four beds, making it a good fit for everyone from solo travelers to families. There’s a public café on the first floor that serves excellent coffee and turns into a bar at night, with plenty of sake and local beers to choose from.

Breakfast is free and hearty. You have to pay extra for the rentable pocket Wi-Fi (JP¥ 400/$4 USD), though. Unplan is a pricier hostel than most, but its location at the center of the city and its quality rooms make it worth it.

Beds from JP¥ 4,200/$38 USD, privates from JP¥ 18,500/$168 USD.

9. CITAN Hostel

Travelers and customers sitting in the lounge area at the CITAN hostel in Tokyo, Japan


CITAN is a hipster paradise in the Nihonbashi area, and what I would call a “boutique” hostel. The building is seven stories, with 130 beds, everything is kept clean, and the showers have strong water pressure. The common area on the first floor is a relaxed hangout, and there’s a good kitchen for cooking.

There’s also an amazing coffee shop (Berth Coffee) on the first floor, and a bar and restaurant in the basement. This bar is packed on weekends, and not just with hostel guests; there is also usually a DJ on Saturday nights.

Because of this, it doesn’t have that much of a hostel vibe. But the neighborhood is peaceful, so you’ll get a good night’s sleep.

Beds from JP¥ 3,000/$27 USD, privates from JP¥ 9,000/$82 USD.

10. Space Hostel Tokyo

The laid back rooftop common area at Space Hostel in Tokyo, Japan


This is a cozy, chill hostel in the Kitaueno area, close to the Skytree Tower and just a three-minute walk to the Iriya station. The rooms are super clean and the beds are comfy, with down quilts. I love the rooftop lounge, and there’s a small but decent kitchen and common area.

But the best thing about this hostel is its events: you can choose from sushi-making parties, calligraphy classes, origami experiences, and Japanese language lessons. Bring cash, as payment is due at check-in.

Beds from JP¥ 2,700/$25 USD, privates from JP¥ 13,200/$120 USD.

11. Book and Bed Tokyo

The cozy interior of Book and Bed hostel and bookstore in Tokyo, Japan


If you’re a book lover, you have to check this place out! This hostel is also a bookstore, where you sleep among the shelves. You can also read the books, magazines, and manga, many of which are in English. You can choose from a compact or standard bunk bed; each room has a shared en suite bathroom, and you’ll get free slippers.

As you can imagine, it’s a low-key place but a really unique experience! It’s also just a three-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station, which will take you just about anywhere you need to go.

Beds from JP¥ 3,800/$35 USD.

12. Hostel & Café East57

The cool interior of Hostel and Cafe East57 in Tokyo, Japan


This little guesthouse is located in Asakusabashi, next to Asakusabashi Station and is a great value. There are lots of beds, so you can usually find a spot. There are several different types of rooms, including dorms, capsule spaces, family rooms, and private Japanese-style rooms. The biggest room has 21 beds, but privacy curtains separate each one.

This is also a newer hostel, so everything is in great condition and very clean. The Wi-Fi is strong, and there’s a fully equipped laundry room. Hang out at the café/bar area (with local beer on tap); it’s sociable and you will end up having great conversations with the staff.

Beds from JP¥ 2,200/$20 USD.

13. IRORI Hostel & Kitchen

The exterior of  IRORI Hostel & Kitchen in Tokyo, Japan


This is a unique hostel located in Nihonbashi that focuses on the joy of cooking! There are a lot of shared kitchen spaces, and they are very well equipped. You can visit the market, bring your finds here, and make a delicious meal. And there are always other travelers around who are willing to help out, so you’ll likely find yourself in the middle of a communal meal.

They have an irori (a traditional Japanese fireplace), which you can cook in as well! You can pay JP¥ 500/$4.50 USD for a traditional Japanese breakfast of dried fish grilled over a charcoal fire in the irori, with rice, miso soup, and a side. The dorm beds have privacy curtains, making this a nice option for those who aren’t looking to party. If you’re wondering what to do in Nihonbashi, the staff has tons of great recommendations!

Beds from JP¥ 3,000/$27 USD.