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Iceland - how best to spend 4 days?

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Myself and some friends are planning a trip to Iceland in August. I expect we will have four days, and will be based in the town of Reykjavik. I would greatly appreciate any insight people have regarding what do while there, including whether anyone took some guided tours (and who those tours were with). Thanks in advance for your advice.

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    Here's a place to start: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=1278237

    The guided tours I took were mostly with Reykjavik Excursions; they all seem to offer pretty much the same thing at generally the same prices. The "Golden Circle" tour gives you a good overview of the area. Thingvellir is a must see--that's actually spelled with an Icelandic letter that resembles a "P" that has slipped, but pronounced with TH. I also love Thorvald for summertime hiking....gorgeous.
    The tour that includes whale watching, horseback riding, the Blue Lagoon and a Viking dinner is lots of fun, even if you're like me and get a "bit" seasick. (I passed out on the whaleboat, but was able to do the rest just fine, even to eating the rotten shark at the feast.)

    Iceland is a marvelous place--enjoy!

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    I went for 4 nights in May last year with 4 friends. We hired a car the whole time (picked it up and dropped it off at the airport). Parking too is very easy.

    I personally would say you can easily do the tours yourself with a car. You can get ideas from the official tours though! In August the conditions will be okay too for driving. I heard from someone that some of the tours are a bit rushed and you spend as long sat in cafes/souvenir places than at the main sites.

    Ideas off the top of my head:

    - the Golden Circle tour (Pingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss)

    - A day or so in Reykjavik (including Hallgrimskirkja and may be going to a geothermal swimming pool)

    - Blue lagoon (very close to the airport - do this on your way to/from the airport)

    - South Shore tour (we didn't have time for this)

    - A whale watching tour (we didn't actually see much - I hope you have better luck!)

    - Possibly a trip to the Westmann Islands (you can get a flight from Reykjavik airport - NB I expect you will fly into Keflavik Airport, approx 50km outside Reykjavik)

    I may think of some more - let me know if you want any feedback on any of the above.

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    I agree that a day should be spent going to the Golden Circle sites, and that you might want to consider doing this yourself. We took the Golden Circle with Reykjavik Excursions (www.re.is), and they certainly do a creditable job, but you are crammed onto a big bus with a bunch of other tourists, and then you must conform to the times they set for each stop. I could easily have spent another hour walking around Geysir. Instead, Reykjavik Excursions (and every other tour bus company!) takes you to a notorious tourist trap, 'Eden', a huge geothermally-heated greenhouse complex mostly occupied by gift shops. Roads are well-marked, most Icelanders are fluent English-speakers, and there are lots of fine guidebooks. In any event, the Reykjavik Web site details all their tours, which will also tell you what your various trip option are.

    If there are a number of you, you should consider hiring a private guide. We did this for a south shore excursion, and it was wonderful. I highly recommend Highlander Adventures (www.highlander.is), and its owner, Oli Schramm. He has a 4WD van that can take you just about anywhere, and he is an incredibly knowledgeable guide.

    However you choose to travel, in 4 days you could:

    Do the Golden Circle which includes Þingvellir National Park (that is the 'slipped P' Amy referred to), Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir hot springs, and several minor stops.

    Another day should be spent going along the south shore to look at the spectacular coastline and waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss), fishing villages, and glaciers. One of the best things we did was taking a snowmobile tour out into the center of the Myrdalsjökull glacier, with views that stretched from the mountains to the coast.

    Take a tour of Reykjavik (this might best be done on a tour bus) and surrounds.

    Go out to the Reykjanes Peninsula to see birds, lava flows, coastal villages, a geothermal power plant, and the Blue Lagoon spa. Tour companies run this tour, timed to end at Keflavik in time for your departing flight.

    Other ideas:
    Dave's suggestion to fly (or ferry) to the Wetmann Islands is a good one - the birds and active volanic features are great.

    A 'superjeep' tour into the rugged interior highlands.

    Have fun!
    Al

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