Modern Icelanders are a bit more sophisticated and next to all kind of ball games one could proclaim that swimming and horseback riding can be called true national sports.
When it comes to swimming, Iceland´s geothermal pools come in handy. Public pools are visited by the old and the very young and everybody there in between. Most of the pools are out of doors but the water is very warm even in bitterly cold days. Many of them feature hot tubs and steam rooms. Swimming is taught in school and is considered just as important as learning mathematics.
Horseback riding in Iceland has played a very important role in the life of the locals ever since they arrived in Iceland in the late ninth century. Once the horses were the only means of transportation but today the Icelandic Horse is still considered a national treasure and riding competitions and horse trekking in the highland play a significant role in the life of many Icelandic families. Instead of bicycle tracks next to the roads as it is common in many European cities we have bridle paths and even in the capital area you can see people enjoying a good hack after work or at the weekend. A lot of the bridle paths in the capital area are even floodlighted!
But there is more to enjoy outside!
Playing golf in Iceland has been very popular and there are numerous golf courses in the capital area and in the countryside. A few hotels like the wonderful Hotel Húsafell**** and Hotel Hamar*** are situated right by a golf course so you can enjoy a round of golf during the day or even at midnight underneath the midnight sun and go for a relaxing bath in the hot tub afterwards.
South of Iceland is a group of Islands called the Westman Islands with a population of approx. 4.200 inhabitants living on the main island called Heimaey. At Heimaey you can play golf in an actual although dormant volcano. The challenges include teeing off against a backdrop of volcanic walls, quickly shifting winds on the same hole and playing across the sea. The Westman Island Golf course is regarding by many as the best green in Iceland.
Skiing in Iceland is very popular among Icelanders and the capital area features two skiing areas called Bláfjöll and Skálafell. North Iceland has very good areas at Akureyri, Dalvík, Sauðárkrókur and Siglufjörður. Ísafjörður in the West Fjords is known for great skiing and then there are some areas in the East as well. But don´t expect aprés ski – in Iceland skiing is all about the exercise itself but lift queues are usually very short or even non-existing which makes skiing a pleasure. And besides – there are not very many places in the world where you can go skiing with an ocean view! The areas feature flood light so you can ski well into the evening. Equipment can be rented and in Reykjavík and Akureyri there are even public buses that take skiers to the slopes. Not to forget - there is of course heli skiing for those travelling on a larger budget!
Running in Iceland has become very popular in Iceland in the recent years and many communities feature running groups that meet up regularly to go running. The Reykjavík Marathon has become an international event and if you really want to find your limits you should check out the Ulta Marathon Laugvegshlaup, a 55 km off road race between the Nature Reserves of Landmannalaugar and Thorsmörk in South Iceland. The trail is very challenging and taking the runners across glacial rivers and high mountain ridges. But all runners are complimented with breathtaking rugged nature and volcano and glacier views!
At Exploring Iceland we have our own sports division chaired by Maria Ingimundardóttir who is an avid skier, golfer and runner herself. If you want to incorporate any of these activities into your Icelandic travel plans or would like to bring a group please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org to get a personal offer including accommodation and transportation.
See you outside!