I played Kidjaberg Golf Course (CKB) accompanied by Icelandic PGA professional Einar Lyng Hjaltason, a fellow lefty. We teed it up on a typical drizzly September morning. Note: The average high and low temperatures here in September are 52 and 43 degrees, respectively. And even at the height of summer in July the high averages a mere 60 degrees!
Iceland is known as the “Land of Fire and Ice” because of its numerous volcanoes, geysers and glaciers. With just over 10 percent of Iceland consisting of lava rocks, most of the country’s 64 golf courses are carved out of Mother Nature’s natural beauty.
Just slightly smaller than Cuba or the state of Kentucky, Iceland features 18 courses that are 18 holes; the remainder are nine-hole tracks, and all courses in Iceland are open to the public. In greater Reykjavi?k, or Rey-K as the locals refer to it, there are 10 golf courses, six of which are 18 holes. Reykjavi?k, the capital, is home to nearly half of the 325,000 inhabitants of this northernmost European country in the heart of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Kidjaberg Golf Course is about an hour’s drive south of Reykjavi?k in the western portion of the country. The course is set in a picturesque landscape between the river Hvita? (White River) and Hestvatn Lake. The par 71 course stretches to 6,530 yards and is renowned for its bucolic setting.
On the fifth hole, Einar introduced me to wild crowberries, which look and taste similar to small blueberries—a nice pick-me-up along the way. The real treat, however, came at the turn. Stepping into the clubhouse to take a short break, I was treated to a bowl of homemade lamb stew with lots of vegetables and warm bread. Talk about hitting the spot on a cold day!
Not only is Icelandair a good choice for flying to Iceland, its portfolio also includes nine hotels spread throughout the country. Since the 1960s, the Icelandair Stopover has been offered to entice passengers traveling to Europe to stop in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare.
In addition to trying out the golf courses, here are several places you should visit:
The Blue Lagoon:Named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic, the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s unique and most popular attraction, located 40 minutes from Rey-K. The geothermal seawater averages 98 to 104 degrees, and contains minerals, algae and silica, the active ingredients they say promote harmony within the body, mind, and spirit, while soaking away the stresses of modern life, or those from the golf course! I spent three hours relaxing in the warm water of the Blue Lagoon. Also, the Lava Restaurant next door has great daily specials that include fresh fish and lamb.
Swimming pools are a big deal in Iceland. You will find them in every town. Given Iceland’s geothermal make up, you can find many outdoor geothermal pools similar to the Blue Lagoon. These are a great place to freshen up or relax after a day of touring or golfing.
During the nighttime hours from October through March, Mother Nature paints the Icelandic skies with vivid greens and iridescent indigos during the annual Northern Lights spectacle.
The Golden Circle:
This 180-mile loop begins and ends in Rey- K and covers three main locations—Pingvellir National Park, the waterfall Gullfoss, and the erupting geyser Strollur in Haukadalur.
For more than a thousand years, the small but amazingly strong Icelandic horse has played a vital role in the country’s history. Brought over from Norway by the first settlers, they are world-famous for their range of gait. You can ride an Icelandic horse at Laxnes Horse Farm, just 10 minutes from Rey-K.
Sun Voyager Sculpture:
This is Reykjavi?k’s most photographed site. The Sun Voyager is a sculpture designed by Jo?n Gunnar A?rnason to resemble a Viking ship. Many people simply call it, the Viking Monument.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon:
This is one of the most fascinating stops in Iceland. This lagoon was created by glacier melt a mere 50 years ago. It’s growing rapidly as the polar icecap melts and these icebergs in the water are from the glacier in the distance. They sit in the lagoon until they melt enough to float out to sea.
RVing in IcelandDuring my visit to Iceland, I talked with several travelers from the U.S., Canada and Germany who were exploring the country in an RV. They all concurred that travel flexibility made an RV the best way to explore Iceland. Recreational vehicles, called caravans in Iceland and other European countries, are widely available for rent. One company called Extreme Iceland provides a wealth of options. Check them out at extremeiceland.is/en/car-rental-iceland/campervans.
For more information on the unique offerings of Iceland, go to visiticeland.com.