Iceland Comforts


ICELAND COMFORTS: Architecture, food, and a rich literary heritage all make Iceland a very civilized place.

If sitting half-naked in front of a fan and sucking on a popsicle just isn’t doing it for you, think Iceland. Yes, that raw, windblown, mossy rock is definitely a place to get comfortable.

And it only makes sense that luxurious hot pots, warm beaches, Jacuzzis and saunas would prevail in a place where a 15 degree centigrade day is considered balmy.

Reykjavik has several pools with spas

Go Soak

Iceland’s tectonic address is a geologic hotspot, making thermal pools abundant and indoor spaces warm and welcoming.
The longstanding culture of Iceland makes for highly developed sensibilities, especially when it comes to architecture.

Ride a bike

Architecture is king in Iceland

Not only are buildings beautiful to look at from the outside, they are also well built, well insulated and are designed with delightful practicality. Homes are efficiently heated with geothermal energy and even the floors radiate up to chilled feet.

Iceland generates most of their power with steam at places like the Svartsengi Power Plant at Grindavík. Most tourists know the location as the Blue Lagoon. Here, you can laze in the pallid light from the milky water and have mineral silica mud massaged into your skin.

If you prefer to bathe out of sight of a power plant, you could go to the Nauthólsvik Geothermal Beach, or “Hot Beach,” where the ambient temperature in the cove is 70 degrees year round and you can soak in 90 degree pools just yards from the saltwater. This free beach has changing rooms and showers.

When it comes to food, what Iceland lacks in variety it makes up for in abundance. Comfort here means comfort food. Icelandic lamb is used in a bottomless bowl of stew that will soothe any rough edge of the day.

EatLamb stew with homemade bread

Even the Icelandic hot dog, or pýlsur, slathered with saucy condiments, topped with deep-fried onions and served in a soft, warm bun, is a cozy echo of homey comfort.

The 1000 year occupation of the island means that geology and society have melded throughout the volatile land. Like ancient Australian Aboriginal songlines, stories reflecting attitudes are attributed to unique landforms. Such inspired legends have left tracks all over the country.

Up north, at Jökulsárgljúfur (means glacial river canyon) National Park, the canyon is thought to have been created by a glacial flood, but a more vivid explanation is that Óðin’s flying horse Sleipnir accidentally made a giant 100m deep horseshoe shaped canyon by putting down one of his eight hooves.

Likewise, according to legend, the lake, Mývatn was formed not so much by volcanic activity as by the devil himself, who was jealous of the Earth and the Sun, so he urinated on the Sun to try to extinguish it, but the stream of urine fell back to Earth and made Mývatn.

Take a hike

Waterfalls are attributed with spirits

Long, dark winters helped the people of Iceland to develop a strong literary legacy. The sagas are an especially fanciful mashup of western, romance, horror and science fiction with some history sprinkled in. The stories’ wild twists mirror the landscape’s mercurial weather and geology.

If you don’t want to get too comfortable, you can always venture out into the wilderness. National parks have dramatic features such as glaciers, mountains, waterfalls and lakes to hike to.

No matter where you’re from, you’ll probably be cold in Iceland. The wind bites, so dress warmly and remember, it’s always cozy inside.

Stay inside

Stay inside

Claire and Bob Rogers are the


Claire Rogers
Claire Rogers writes on cross-cultural adventure drawn from her travels across the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, around Australia and of course, through Iceland--all by bike.

She's currently traveling by tandem with her husband Bob, through southwest China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Check out for more information on their travels.
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3 Responses to Iceland Comforts

  1. Vera Marie Badertscher July 19, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Great info about Iceland. And those beautiful pictures make me want to go there. My brother, a literature teacher, had studied the Icelandic Sagas, oldest literature in the world, and went there because of that, but also loved riding native horses and Viking settlements.

  2. Carolyn Harris July 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    I’ve never thought of Iceland as a vacation destination. Such beautiful photos– especially the one through the window.
    Carolyn Harris

  3. Jane Eppinga July 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    Makes me want to go to Iceland. Jane

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