There’s a reason why Hanna Mia Brekkan’s Icelandic Music and Storytelling experience is the best rated Iceland experience on Airbnb. Higher in the ranks than snorkeling in Silfra and the most popular food and photo walks in Reykjavik is the intimate concert and conversation offered by Icelandic singer and songwriter Hanna Mia.
For a reasonable price, you can book a seat in the light-filled upper room of the IÐNÓ theater in Reykjavik to hear traditional Icelandic folk tunes interpreted by Icelandic musician Hanna Mia (also known as ‘Mill’).
Her voice is beautiful, and in keeping with Icelandic tradition (as she explains in the Experience), the songs have a somewhat melancholy sound even though the lyrics may be neutral or even celebratory in nature.
Want a sample of Hanna Mia’s music? Since today is Mother’s Day, listen to Málverk (For Mom) by Hanna Mia (YouTube).You can also listen to her music on Spotify, iTunes and Google Play Music.
Icelandic Music and Storytelling with Hanna Mia
When planning for our current (and fourth) trip to Iceland, we were excited to finally try our first Airbnb Experience. We’ve used the accommodation booking site countless times over the last five years for our travels abroad and in the States, but the relatively new option of booking activities (“experiences”) through Airbnb was something we’d still left to try.
With a background in tour guiding, the vocally-talented Hanna Mia Brekkan (a.k.a. ‘Mill’) has created an experience that offers a modern musical introduction to traditional Icelandic folklore. Songs and stories of trolls, vikings, elves, ghosts, and hidden people, explained from the perspective of an Iceland native, will keep you engaged for the entire 90-minute experience.
For Ian and me, Hanna Mia’s Icelandic Music and Storytelling was a great introduction not only to Iceland’s history and music, but also to Airbnb Experiences as a whole, as the experience provided a way to connect with other travelers in addition to learning about Iceland.
Our small group (we were about 10-12) was made up of people from all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Israel, and Argentina. The setting was informal, and we were encouraged (though not pressured) to ask questions throughout. It gave us a sense of mutual appreciation within the group for music and culture, while remaining light and informal.
The conversational structure of the concert also offered the opportunity for a personalized experience. Prompted by a question from one of our groupmates, we ended up learning and laughing about the difficulties of dating in Iceland due to the country’s low population. Overall we found it to be a warmer experience than what you’ll usually find in a traditional tourist experience.
In other words, she really nailed it. It’s exactly what I think an Airbnb Experience is intended to be.
Hanna Mia sings the Icelandic folk songs in Icelandic (that’s part of the experience, after all), but if you feel like you’re lacking a full understanding of the concert music, you can purchase a souvenir CD that you may like even better. She writes most of her own songs in English.
Beyond the Experience / About Hanna Mia and Her Music
“It’s like if you took the names ‘Hannah Montana’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ and put them together,” Hanna Mia explained to us as she introduced herself to our group.
Hanna Mia has a unique sound with a wide range of musical capability, but if I had to compare her to another singer I know the sound of well, I’d say she reminds me of both Norah Jones and Judy Garland. Her voice has a haunting beauty among minor chords that emits an entirely different feel when she sings in a major key.
Aside from her weekly music and storytelling concert, she’s assigned herself the mammoth task of writing A Song A Day For A Year — and she’s just finished #326, so she’s nearly done it! (Can you imagine sticking to that sort of commitment? Ian and I have talked about and even tried embarking on a photo-a-day endeavor, and the thought of it is overwhelming.)
For her last 100 songs she’s getting inspiration from the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, so each song is about a woman in history who has done something great.
Next month will mark her one year milestone, and from the 365 songs she’ll have written she plans to compile a “best of” album. In the meantime, you can listen to every single song — and get a peek inside her songwriting process — on her YouTube channel, where she’s uploading her songs daily.
For more from Hanna Mia:
- Subscribe to her YouTube channel to catch the rest of her Song A Day challenge.
- Read more about her and sign up for her newsletter for album releases and tour dates.
- Check Hanna Mia’s website for booking options, both within and outside of Iceland.
- Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
I’m hoping Hanna Mia will announce a tour in the U.S. soon!
Additional Highly-Rated Airbnb Experiences in Iceland
At the time this post was published, Icelandic Music and Storytelling is the best rated Iceland experience, with a solid five-star rating and the most (36) reviews.
Below is a list of additional five-star experiences currently available through Airbnb:
- Reykjavik photo walk with Leo Iglesias (31 reviews, $60/person)
- The South Shore Shark, Trout & Hotdog (28 reviews, $165/person)
- Icelandic food tasting and city walk (22 reviews, $85/person)
- Snorkel in Silfra – 100 m visibility (13 reviews, $130/person)
- The Tart Factory (13 reviews, $120/person)
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I came to Iceland this time with many photography goals but also the hope of finding something enjoyable to write about here on North to South. In the first few minutes of Icelandic Music and Storytelling, I knew this was worthy of a post. I hope you feel the same.
Have you had a great Airbnb Experience in Iceland — or anywhere else — that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us in the comments below.
*Photos used with permission from Hanna Mia Brekkan.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
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