If you first hear the name of this country, you might wonder why to travel there anyway: Iceland sounds like a cold and nasty place. But nothing could be more far away from the truth! Actually only 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, the rest is an exciting mixture of volcanoes, geysers and waterfalls. Iceland not only provides you with the most beautiful nature you will ever experience but also offers some very nice cities where you can work as an Au Pair. In fact there are many reasons to consider Iceland as an option for your Au Pair stay. Did you know that there are in fact no mosquitos in Iceland? There are not many insects over there in general. Besides the crime rate is so low that policemen don’t even wear a gun in most cases. If these arguments didn’t convince you, the beautiful cities of Iceland will. Here we provide you with the best places to visit during an Au Pair tour in Iceland.
Au Pair in Reykjavík
An Au Pair in Reykjavík is a unique experience: Reykjavík is the capital and the largest city in Iceland. Furthermore it’s the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. However it has only 123.000 inhabitants but this is almost a third of the whole population. Reykjavík is even so popular that they are sometimes more foreigners than natives in the city, foremost international tourists, young students and Au Pairs. Maybe you already noticed the colorful rooftops of the city in the airplane. Even more remarkable is the fantastic view: There’s not only the wonderful blue sea but huge mountains covered in snow. Don’t worry: Due to the Gulf stream it can get quite warm on summer days, up to 25 °C. Furthermore Reykjavík is among the safest and greenest cities of the world contributing to the fact that the whole city uses renewable energy and natural geothermal hydropower sources.
That’s not the only thing which is really impressive about the city. Also the history of Reykjavík is quite interesting. It is said that the Norwegian Viking Ingólfur Arnarson first settled there 870 AD. Even though the place has a very long history Reykjavík remained very rural without any urban development until the 19th century. Over the centuries the Icelandic people fought for independence and Iceland finally became sovereign in 1918. Moreover Reykjavík has the oldest still existing parliament of the world: The Althing was founded in 930. Of course you need to visit it during your Au Pair stay.
For more background information Safnahúsið (the Culture House) is the best option for you. It is more than 100 years old and you can find many important exhibitions there. Since 2000 you can mainly find information about the Icelandic national heritage, for example the famous Poetic Edda and other important sagas in original manuscripts.
For an evening out with your Au Pair friends Laugavegur is the right choice for you. Daytime it’s the perfect location for shopping, in the evening you can enjoy the nightlife of Reykjavík. Before going out Icelanders like to hang out with their friends and prepare for the evening together.
Good news for theater enthusiasts: The National Theatre of Iceland is based in Reykjavík. On top of that, Icelander love amateur theatre. You can either join one of the theatre groups or enjoy the performance in the audience.
You’re Au Pairing in November? Good choice! If you love music, Reykjavík is the best place to be in November because of the Iceland Airwaves music festival which takes place on many different locations all over the city.
In the summertime you can bring your Host Children to Austurvöllur, a park in central Reykjavík. When it’s warm you’ll see many inhabitant of the city enjoying the sun there. You can also spend some time in the restaurants and bars on Vallarstræti and Pósthússtræti, two very nice streets in the city. Nature lovers will also enjoy Heiðmörk, a municipal conservation area almost 10 kilometres from Reykjavík. The natives love to use it as resort on the weekend.
You want more cultural input? Go visit Árbæjarsafn, Reykjavík's Municipal Museum. Here you can see 30 historic building. In addition, this is a good opportunity to watch the old artisans performing their handicrafts such as goldwork and printed matter. Moreover the National Museum will be worth the visit if you want to learn more about your host country. Maybe your Host Family will join you.
In case you’re interested in arts, the Reykjavík Art Museum and the Center for Icelandic Art could be the right thing for you since they organize events and conferences with Icelandic artists.
If you’re in Iceland for the first time you can’t miss Hallgrímskirkja! It’s the highest church in Iceland and one of the highest building of the country. Its architecture is impressive since it’s influenced by expressionism. Hallgrímskirkja is covered in white which should remind people of the glaciers of Iceland.
Tourists shouldn’t miss Höfði. At first glance it might seem like a normal house but in fact it is the building in which Gorbachev and Reagan met for the Iceland Summit in 1986. So this supposedly normal house is part of history regarding the end of the Cold War.
Au Pair in Kópavogur
Kópavogur is the second largest city in Iceland and not far away from Reykjavík. Located in the southwest of the country it counts about 35.000 inhabitants. An Au Pair in Kópavogur is rather varied since the city is growing quickly. Up to 1930 there weren’t many people in Kópavogur and houses were only built for inhabitant of Reykjavík who wanted to have a holiday lodge. Nowadays the city has a lot to offer when it comes to culture and free time activity.
Art geeks will enjoy the art collection of Gerðarsafn, a museum for modern art. Furthermore you can visit changing exhibitions by both national and international artists. An interesting fact: The museum was built to honor female artists. You will notice this impact during the exhibitions.
The female Icelandic artist Gerður Helgadóttir is important for the city. She designed the windows of Kópavogskirkja, an extraordinary church in the city. Tourists shouldn’t miss on it either!
It’s a rainy day and you don’t know what to do with your Host Children? Then Náttúrufræðistofa Kópavogs is your lifesaver! The nature and history museum will not only teach the children a lot, but you will also learn many interesting facts about your host country. Besides there is a division for Icelandic animals and geology.
If you want to buy a present for your Host Family or your family and friends home, Smáralind is the perfect place for you. Being the biggest shopping mall in Iceland and including more than 90 shops and restaurants it offers everything you want. Furthermore this is the best meeting point for you and your Au Pair friends if you want to spend some hours together or watch a movie because there is also a cinema in it.
Right next to the mall you cannot overlook the Smáratorg tower - because it’s the highest building in Iceland. Take a photo with the tower in the background to show your loved ones at home where you spend your Au Pair stay!
Au Pair in Hafnarfjörður
With almost 29.000 inhabitants Hafnarfjörður is located in the southwest of the country. The first thing you will notice as an Au Pair in Hafnarfjörður is the water, since the city is at the coast and there are some smaller lakes in the proximity. If you’re a nature lover Hafnarfjörður is your place to be!
You’re looking for a really unique Au Pair experience? Come to Hafnarfjörður, the centre of the elves! In Iceland many people believe in the existence of elves, trolls and dwarfs and the city is believed to be the hot spot for Huldufólk as the Icelanders say. There is even a city map with all of the assumed elf locations and it’s very important that you respect these places.
Because of the convenient location of the city and the port, Hafnarfjörður has been very popular since the middle ages. Both England, Germany and Denmark wanted to use the port. It’s no surprise that the old lighthouse is the most important landmark of the city. Fun fact: Nowadays the lighthouse is in the middle of a residential district. Since the land owner doesn’t allow tourists to come into his garden you can only take picture in front of the lighthouse from the streets nearby.
If you want to relax with your Host Children or alone Víðistaðatún is an excellent recommendation. The park is located in the city centre and provides the inhabitants both with nature and culture. You’ll find many sculptures by Icelandic and international artists there.
Especially in the summer the city gets a bit more crowded for the Viking festivities. Every year the inhabitants celebrate a part of their history and culture. A good idea to take some photos for your Au Pair profile!
As Iceland is known for its unique landscape you won’t miss the uniqueness of the country. You can experience a real lava field called Kapelluhraun. Take your Host Children for a walk and enjoy the beauties of nature! Hafnarfjörður is perfect for you if you appreciate the mix between modern city and natural environment.
Au Pair in Akureyri
Akureyri with its around 18.000 inhabitants is among the five biggest cities in Iceland. Being an Au Pair in Akureyri you’re also very near to the water. First there is the fjord Eyjafjörður and second the river Glerá. If you like exotic places this city is the best location for you since it’s only 50 kilometres from the Arctic Circle.
The city is a good starting point for many interesting tours if you’re a nature lover. The waterfalls Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss are not far away. Or you got to Húsavík and try to see some whales there.
Like many other cities in Iceland Akureyri grew a lot in the last century. Previously the city only consisted of a few houses and hadn’t had a good infrastructure. Also tourism is on the rise here. So there are many interesting things to see in Akureyri.
One of the most famous buildings is Akureyrarkirkja, a protestant church designed by the Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson. You should definitely take your host children and take a look at the huge organ which was by the way produced in Bavaria. Fun fact: If you’re inside the church, search for the miniature sailing boat on the ceiling.
Another church called Glerárkirkja is also worth visiting especially for the colorful windows made by the artist Leifur Breiðfjörð.
You find time to relax in the botanical garden. Yo can see around 400 native species of flowers and plants and more than 6000 foreign species there. In case you’re a fan of ice hockey you’re right in Akureyri since it’s the home of the very successful ice hockey team Skautafélag Akureyrar.
Furthermore the traffic lights are absolutely unique: After the big financial crash in 2008 they are now showing the red light in the shape of a heart. This should give the inhabitants a positive feeling. We guess that after hearing this, you’re hearts beats for Akureyri, too!
Au Pair in Keflavík
Another harbour town in Iceland is Keflavík. Located in the south west of the country the history of the city is rather long in comparison with other Icelandic cities. The name of the city (driftwood bay) refers to the first settler Ingólfur Arnarson. His slaves who were looking for the settler’s house pole only found driftwood - today this place is named after this.
From the middle of the last century up to 2006 Keflavik has been the location of the Iceland Defense Force of the US military force. This and the economic status of the harbour make Keflavik one of the most important places of the country.
As an Au Pair in Keflavík you can visit some historic buildings. For example the red residence of the Danish merchant Peter Duus from the 19th century is a nice place to visit. Moreover you find a statue made by the Icelandic artist Ásmundur Sveinsson not far from this. The statue is dedicated to the fishermen who were responsible for the economic growth in former times.