Flashback: Tourism In Iceland Thirty Years Ago

Flashback: Tourism In Iceland Thirty Years Ago

Anna Andersen
Photos by
Axel Sig

I recently stumbled upon a Q/A in the New York Times that made me a bit nostalgic for my annual trips to Iceland in the nineties, long before this great post-crash tourism boom that we are experiencing today.

The question, “I plan to visit Iceland next spring and would like to know what there is do and see in a week,” was asked in 1985, back when Iceland received less than 100,000 foreign visitors per year. As you can imagine, the answer paints a very different picture of a country that will receive 1,000,000 visitors this year.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Rental cars were available, but the roads were really shitty and tourist officials apparently discouraged visitors from driving extensively. (This is just great!)
  • Visitors typically explored the country by plane or bus tours, which were mostly limited to the summer months with a few tours being offered in April and May.
  • The Parliament building was considered an attraction in Reykjavík along with the National and Folk Museum.
  • Reykjavík Excursions offered a tour for 11 bucks.
  • It cost 116 bucks to go on a day-trip to Akureyri, which was described as “rather long.”
  • There was a place called Mamaskard (Not really though…).
  • The “Great Geyser” (spelled Geysir) was in action (yeah, they were still cajoling it with soap in those days…).
  • The “Golden Circle” was worth recommending.
  • And our horses were confused for ponies (well, some things haven’t changed…).

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