Shhh in the Sauna - 100 Stories from Iceland

Shhhh in the Icelandic sauna

Hafnafjörður, Iceland, 29.04.2024 – “If I could give you only one piece of advice for your visit to Iceland, it would be: Shhh, be quiet in the sauna,” says Dogg Matthíasdóttir, a tour guide born and raised in Iceland. Her tone conveys deep respect and appreciation for the Icelandic culture.

As a regular visitor to her local geothermal swimming pool, she explains that while locals enjoy exercising, swimming, and socializing in the warm pools, the sauna is a place of relaxation and meditation, so respecting the quiet atmosphere is essential. Therefore, one should be silent in the sauna.

“Inspired by my father’s travels to film erupting volcanoes and wildlife in Iceland on actual film, I decided to study tourism as a teenager,” says Dogg. That was in the 1990s when whale watching had not been founded in Húsavík, and back then, she had to use a modem to access the internet. She was among the first to sign up when the University of Akureyri offered tourism studies as a business degree. Since then, Icelandic tourism has changed significantly in terms of infrastructure and internet access.

In the post-COVID gig economy, Dogg has continued to work freelance in digital marketing. She worked on websites and content creation for social media but also returned to her tourism roots.

“In my humble opinion, the best job in the world is hosting guests who come to Iceland,” says Dogg, giving a few examples.

With Criss Cross Food Tours, a travel agency specializing in slow travel, she has worked as a Food Tour Guide on private Reykjavík Food Tours. “I Educate my guests about Icelandic culture and cuisine while we enjoy good food from local ingredients as well as traditional dishes like harðfiskur, hákarl, and brennivín, the Icelandic hot dog, and the Icelandic lamb. Answering interesting questions about Iceland and its people is an honor,” says Dogg.

With Drive and Dine, a chef turned driver guide, Dogg has had the opportunity to cater gourmet three-course meals at an outdoor pop-up restaurant in the wilderness of the Highlands.

She mentioned more examples; “With Eskimos travel agency, driving to Þórsmörk to set up a private luxury picnic for guests to have a great lunch outdoors in the remarkable nature before exploring more with their private driver guide. Or with Ad Astra Travel, a luxury travel agency tailoring itineraries to meet our guests’ expectations and needs, I have managed bookings and double- and even triple-checked the plan for their private guide.” 

Dogg says she always makes plans B and C because when it comes to tours in Iceland, you need to be able to pivot due to weather conditions on the road, in the air, or because of volcanic eruptions; guests’ safety always comes first. “It sips like champagne—about Snorri, the beer made with Icelandic water and barley spiced with Arctic thyme.”

“After a busy day at work, providing excellent service to my guests enjoying Iceland, I like to relax in the sauna at my local geothermal swimming pool. UNESCO recognized the whole culture of Icelandic swimming pools as a living heritage.

So, please remember to be quiet in the sauna.”

So, if you please, shhh in the sauna.”

From Iceland, with love

Dögg Matthíasdóttir
Travel Professional – Local Food Guide
+354 690 1205

This story is a part of the 100 Stories from Iceland.