Europe Forums

Start a new topic Change Forum
Advanced search

Iceland Trip Report

Jump to last reply

OK, this is a rather long trip report, but when I was planning my trip to Iceland, I couldn't find that much information. (I did get some great help from Kay on this board. Thanks, Kay!) I had a hard time making sense of the country--I think this is due to the fact that to me the place names seemed just like a string of letters. It's much easier to remember that you want to stop in Sienna not Rome, then to remember that you should stop at Skagastrond, not Skafafjorour or that you're interested in Skeioararjokull not Skaftafellsheoi!

I only found four guidebooks on the country--I got all of them! But I think the most difficult aspect of this trip was trying to make sense of the place names and geography. In retrospect, I should have sat with my guidebooks and my map--highlighted our route and highlighted stops along the way. Because I didn't do this. I spent most of the car ride, flipping back and forth between guide books and the map.

Also, make use of the tourists offices. Like most of Europe, Iceland has great tourist office scattered around the country filled with brochures and helpful people who had direct you to whatever attractions exist in the area. Iceland is actually very easy to navigate. The people are extremely friendly. Everyone we encountered spoke English. (When they would say Godan dag, we would respond with Hello. And they would switch to English. Because Icelandic is such a difficult language, and Iceland is such a small country, there are no expectations that anyone who is not Icelandic should be able to speak English.)

After the trip report, I made some lists--the places we stayed at, the restaurants we visited and things to bring.

We decided to go to Iceland because we wanted to somewhere far removed from our NYC lives. We wanted nature, we wanted to go hiking, we wanted to relax. We left at the end of May and returned the first week of June. We were gone almost two weeks. The weather was quite chilly, and we wore our heavy winter coats almost the whole time. I even bought some Icelandic mittens from the Husey guesthouse made by a neighboring farmer's wife!

  • Report Abuse

    Day 1
    We took the red eye from New York to Reykjavík, Iceland. It took more out of us then I expected. I was able to doze a bit on the flight, but we still basically lost one night's sleep. We took the FlyBus from the airport to Room with a View. It was a simple process. We arrived in Reykjavik at about 8:00 am (our flight landed at 6:45). We stayed at Room with a View and for our first night we were upgraded from our $150 room to a room that cost almost $300. It was a beautiful room. Huge leather sofas, TV/DVD player, and balcony.(Room 510). We arrived too early to check in, but Siggi let us drop off our stuff and told us that room would be ready at about noon.

    Our goal was to stay awake all day, and we explored the city in a sleep deprived fog. We did eat
    some of the best hot dogs that I´ve ever had for lunch. There are hot dog places all over Reykjavik, but we ate at place reputed to be the best. It even has best in the name--Baejarins Bestu. It's down by the harbor on Tryggvagata, and we were pleased to see a large line of mostly Icelandics. I had read about the little shack in the Feb. 2005 issue of Budget Travel. It was in an article called "Eat like a local". (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6720254/) As recommended, we asked for them with everything. The hot dogs are mostly lamb meat served with ketcup, raw and fried onions and remoulade. There were people in suits ordering four or five hot dogs each. I just had one! But at $3 each, they were definitely one of the best food bargains to be found, and we came back again and again.

    We spent some time walking around the lake and the city, but finally just ended up crashing for a few hours at 2pm. I wasn't prepared for how exhausted we would be.

    We we woke, we decided to go to the movies. I love going to movies in different countries and hanging out with locals. We found a theater called Rainbow in English-- Regnboginn in Icelandic showing Star Wars. Apparently in all Icelandic theaters, they stop the movie right in the middle, turn up the lights and everyone goes out for more snacks. I was starving, so this seemed like a good idea to me. They had the typical popcorn and nachos and a huge selection of candy. Iceland is crazy about black licorice, so there was a lot of licorice candy for offer. Also, the Icelandics translate everything! They work extremely hard to preserve the purity of their language. They even translate weird Star Warsy names into Icelandic. As far as I know, they won´t adopt any English words into the language. It was fun to watch the subtitles and see the Icelandic word for Darth Vader.

    After the movie, we went out to eat. We splurged on lobster pizza at an Italian restaurant called Galileo. (http://english.galileo.is/) As a starter, they served bread with marinara sauce for dipping. The pizza was great with huge chunks of lobster on it, but expensive--$40. We didn't order anything else, and tipping is not expected. We did leave a little change when the restaurant was more expensive, but it was strange to walk out without leaving something on the table.

    We stayed up late that night drinking hot chocolate and just watching the sky out of the huge picture windows in our room. It was beautiful. Orange and pinks as the sun bobs down, then back up for the new day. I loved having the constant sunlight.

    Day 2
    For the second night, we had to go back down the ladder to the less expensive room we had reserved. (Room 602) There was quite a bit of difference. Our bathroom, while private, was across the hall. It was much smaller and the room wasn't as thoughfully appointed, but it was a great value, and I don't think I would have paid more to stay in the larger/nicer room. It just didn't matter that much to me.

    We walked from the center of Reykjavik to the Botanical Gardens and the Farm Zoo. It was about a forty-five minute walk (you can also take a bus to this area), and on the way we passed some of the larger hotels such as Nodica--if you are staying at an Icelandair hotel, I would double check the location. I think you would have missed out on the fun of being in center Reykjavik, if you had to stay so far away.

    The Botanical Garden was nice, but (not being a plant person, if fact I have a rather blackish thumb) was not anything special. We also decided to check out the Farm Zoo. This is really just for small children, and it actually a petting zoo. So kids get the chance to pet sheep, cows, and pigs. I had seen it described as a place when you can view Icelandic pets and a variety of wild animals, but that's not really true--just the normal sheep and cows. There were some Icelandic horses, too.

    We then walked to Laugardalslaug, which is a supposedly one of the city's best pools. It has a large heated pool, hot pots of varying temperatures, thermal steam bath, and a water slide. (http://www.spacity.is/English/Pool3.html) Icelandics love their pools, so we felt like we had to experience this.

    When you arrive at the pool, you pay for a token, this token is for your locker. Then, you walk to the changing room, first you are required to take your shoes off and leave them outside the door or to carry them in with you. (This part made me a little squeamish because I'm used to wearing flip flops in group showers, but I just followed the crowd). So, you find a locker. Take off all your clothes and carry you swimsuit and towel to the shower. (Note: once you put the coin in the locker and take out the key, you can't unlock and relock the locker, so make sure you have everything you need) You put your towel and swimsuit in this little cage by the shower, so it doesn't get wet, and you shower along with (in my case) women of all shapes and sizes and some young children (little boys and girls) (my husband also had some young girls in the men's locker room). Even though there were children everywhere, they were all very quiet, well behaved and serious. It was much more quite and calm then a US swimming pool during the summer! There is shampoo/soap provided and everyone washes thoroughly, then you put your swimsuit back on and go out to the pool.

    We swam for a little while, then back to the locker rooms for another shower. There were hairdryers provided, so I dried my hair because it was quite cold outside. Then, after all the work, showering twice and swimming, we were exhausted, so we split a sandwich and chips in the little at Laugardalslaug.

    We walked back to town and went to sleep early.

  • Report Abuse

    Day 3
    Our new room shared a hallway with another room and we were woken up at 6am by a guy banging on the shared hallway door. He had been locked out of his room by his friend who was passed out drunk. Rekyavik is party central on the weekends. The city has a well publicized night life that goes strong until 6am.

    We couldn't go back to sleep, so we decided to go out foraging for breakfast. By the time, we had taken showers it was about 8:45, we walked to a bagel shop that I wanted to try--closed. We walked to a number of other breakfast places--closed. Everything was closed. The city was a ghost town. The normally spotless city of Rekyavik was littered with trash, broken bottles....it was like the day after Mardi Gras. We finally found a cafe open and sat down for a coffee and croissant. As we ate, we watched huge street cleaning trucks suck up the garbage, they were followed by truck that sprayed high volume water to clean the street, sidewalks...we were amazed. This goes on every weekend. People go out drink trash the city, then it's all cleaned up for the rest of the week.

    I had called the car rental agency on Saturday to confirm our booking. We rented from Avis and they were located about ten minutes away from the city center, so they sent someone to pick us up (which was a very nice touch) We signed papers, took the car, and went off.

    I had forgotten the memory card for our camera so we stopped off at the Kringlan Mall on our way out of town. I hadn't realized that the car would have a CD player, so we also bought one CD, which was a heart-stopping $40.

    We drove to Stokkseyri, which is only 45 minutes outside of Rekyavik for our splurge meal. The restaurant, Fjoruboroio (http://www.fjorubordid.is/english/index.html) is famous for it's lobster bisque, and they have two options--order the soup as an appetizer or order it as a meal and get a second bowl. We ordered it as appetizer and also ordered the grilled lobster. For starters, they brought bread with a variety of dipping sauces. The soup was creamy and delicious with large bits of lobster floating on top. The grilled lobster was dripping in butter. (FYI: they're were little lobsters, not the huge lobsters we see here). The lobster was great, but both agreed, that if we were to go back, we would have ordered the two servings of soup as it was amazing.

    After our rich lunch, we drove another couple of hours to our farm in Stora-Mork. We feel asleep early, partially from the heavy lunch and partially from the exhaustion of the travel.

    Day 4
    We had arranged to have breakfast at the farm at 8am. So, after showers, we walked out to the kitchen to find a huge spread just for the two of us--bread for toasting, butter, jams, meats, cheese, yogurt, musueli, pickled macerel, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It was a feast. We lingered over breakfast and looked out the window at the spectaular farmland. The mother and two of her daughters came in for just a moment while we were eating, but quickly scurried out again.

    After eating, we got ready to leave for the day, but knocked on the door of the house to ask the location of a waterfall. When we mentioned, we were interested in the barn, one of the daughters (a high schooler) was dispatched to give us a tour. (My husband's grandparents have a dairy farm, so we were a bit more interested in it's working than the average tourist.) She gave us a wonderful tour, and we were pleased that we had made the effort to approach them. We found that while, the Icelandic people are extremely friendly and nice, then can be a bit shy. They will give you your space and assume you don't want to be bothered unless you indicate otherwise.

    The farm of Stora-Mork is located off the ring road on 249. If you turn off on this road, you will see Seljalandsfoss. There are stairs and a little path, so that you can go behind the waterfall (apparently this waterfall was featured on The Amazing Race), but when I booked the farm stay through a German travel agent, Bruno, he told me about another waterfall, Gljúfurárfoss. According to the farmer's wife at Stora-Mork, it's known locally as the home of fairies. Gljúfurárfoss is almost completely obsurred by a cavern and only a little sliver is visible. Bruno had said to really appreciate the waterfall, we would need to wade in and go behind the rocks. At first, I was too chicken. (It was about 45 degrees outside and the water was freezing glacial water). So, we scampered to the top (it was a steep climb). But finally, we got courage, took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and went in. It was cold and rocky and painful, but ultimately worth it. The falls were beautiful.

    We drove to the town of Vik to pick up things for a picnic lunch at the grocery store. Unfortunately, the Dyrhólaey rock was closed while we were there (bird breeding time). But we turned off the Ring Road onto a road between Dyrhólaey and Vík. It was near 215, and we drove about 5km toward the coast. At the end is a place called Reynisfjara. We sat on the rocks by the beach and ate our lunch. It was a beautiful spot. There is nothing more than a black beach, basalt rocks, a cave and the ocean, but it is beautiful.

    On the way back to Stora-Mork, we stopped at the folk museum in Skogar. This is a wonderful place to get a sense of the hardships faced by the Icelandic people. But one of the best things about the museum, is that they will lead you around the museum explaining everything and answering questions. The museum was crowded when we were there, so we got a personal tour, but if you arrive at the same time as a number of other people, they will try to take you all around at once.

    After the museum, we stopped at the Skógafoss. Another beautiful waterfall. This one has stair to the top, so we couldn't resist (one caveat: after this climb my legs were shaking from muscle fatigue, and I go to the gym 6 times a week, so it was tough, but you could take it slowly.) One we got to the top we were able to walk alongside the water, there were numerous other little falls in the water stream, and it was beautiful. This is actually the path that hikers take to Porsmork, which is about a two day hike away, but this stretch made me wish we had allotted time for the walk. (This is goofy, but I felt exactly as if I had stepped into the Lord of the Rings movie).

    Back at the hostel, my husband made pasta in the kitchen, and I had a big cup of hot chocolate as we watched colors of the nighttime sky.

  • Report Abuse

    Day 5
    And we were off again. We left Stora-Mork directly after breakfast for the drive to the Skaftafell Park. We had reserved a double room at Bolti Bed and Breakfast, which is located in the park literally up the mountain. From the front of the house, you have a view of glaciers, mountains, and the black sand dessert. They have two cottages with beds for about six people, and private rooms in the house. We stayed in the house. The room was nice--we had a sink in the room and a hot pot. All the rooms, did only have twin beds, though and the bathroom was across the hall.

    We took it easy only going to the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. (http://www.randburg.is/jokulsarlon/jokulsarlon_iceland.asp) We took the boat ride around the glaciers. It was cold, but amazing.

    We went out for a little hike at 9pm. We walked from Bolti to the Svartifoss. A beautiful waterfall with basalt rocks. It was amazing to be able to leave for a hike at 9pm and not worry about the darkness! (Even though it stays light, it does get chilly at night!)

    Day 6
    We ate breakfast at Bolti, then went on the Ingolfshofdi tour for the coast walk to see puffins (http://www.hofsnes.com/english/ingolfshofdi.htm The tour is called the Coast Tour) and other Icelandic birds. I am not a bird person, but this was one of the best things we did. The tour cost a well-spent $20 per person. We met up the tour in a parking area off of the ring road. (There was a sign. And there are flyers all over the area) We were carted in a wagon pulled by a tractor for thirty minutes across the huge black sand desert to a pennisula Ingofshofdi. The scenery was breathtaking, and it was wonderful to be able to get so close to the birds.

    That night as we cooked dinner in the kitchen area of Bolti, we meet an American family with Iceland heritage visiting Iceland. They introduced us to some classic Iceland pastries such as kleinur (little cardamon donuts).

    Day 7
    This was our hardest driving day of the trip.

    We had really wanted to go snowmobiling, so before our big drive, we drove an hour and a half to the pick-up point for the Glacier Tour. We were joined on the tour by another American couple and an Icelandic girls. We left our cars in the parking lot and were driven up the mountain on one of the steepest roads I have come across, straight up until we were right next to the glacier. We were outfitted with jumpsuits, helmets, gloves and boots, then given a quick lesson of the workings of the snowmobile and we were off. My husband and I rode tandem as did the other couple on the trip. We really got a sense of how large the glacier was, and had a lot of fun. But, at $150 each, I wouldn't do it again. One annoying aspect to this tour was that after we returned to the little lodge, lunch was served, but it was $20 for basically soup and some nibblies. Considering that it would be $40 for the two of us and we had just spent $300, we decided to pass on the soup, as did the other American couple, but it was akward as we had to wait for the instuctor and the icelandic girl to eat before we were driven back down the mountain. (Note: Our tour was on the Vatnajokull Glacier, which is near the town of Hofn. The company was Glacier Jeeps http://www.glacierjeeps.is/)

    We stopped at the grocery store in Hofn. I had been told that the farm at Husey didn't have any grocery stores nearby, so we stocked up for the next couple of days. I hadn't realized such large chunks of the Ring Road were unpaved, and these roads curved around the fjords. It was slow going. Husey is in Northern Iceland and to get to the farm, you drive forty-five minutes on a dirt road out on a pennisula to get to the farm. The accomodations was actually a youth hostel. Having never stayed at one, we weren't sure what to expect. What we found was a main house a barn, and and the hostel. The hostel had a sitting room, a sun porch a kitchen and shared bathrooms. I had reserved the private room, which was a room with bunk beds. The other two rooms in the hostel had six bunk beds in each room. This was the least expensive place we stayed at, but I didn't feel like I was lacking anything. We rather enjoyed talking to the other tourists (primarily Germans and Swiss--of all ages from twenties to sixties)

  • Report Abuse

    Day 8
    We ate breakfast at the main house. The farmer's wife set us a place in the kitchen. Once again, the table was filled with food. She cleared out while we ate, but unexpectedly the farmer sat down with us and chatted while we ate. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to him about the farm and his life in Husey.

    After breakfast, we went on a walk around the farm. The farmer (who also taught science at the local school) had created a little walking trail. He had written a guide to the land and farm, which was posted along the way. We walked around for three hours. The highlight was walking by the water and watching mamma and baby seals swimming together.

    Back to the farm for a little lunch, then horseback riding. It was just my husband, me and a German boy who was working at the farm for the summer. We had a great time and just fell in love with the gentle, social Icelandic horses. When we got back to the farm, we discover that a neighboring farmer had found an abandoned baby seal and brought it over to Husey. Although the farmer at Husey, exercises his rights to hunt seals, he occassionaly nurses a baby seal when it has been found by one of his guests. He very practically told me that he can't kill a seal brought to him by a tourist!

    We held and petted this baby seal who was so cute and soft. It an amazing experience. It was chilly, so we went back inside for hot chocolate and spent the evening chatting with other guests.

    Day 9
    I was sad leave Husey the next day, but after breakfast, we loaded up the car and drove to Husavik. On the way, we droven to Myvatn Lake. We stopped at the mud pools and craters. We also visited the whaling museum in Husavik. It was nice to be inside for a few hours.

    At Husavik we stayed at Kaldbots-Kots. katldbots-Kots is a wonderful little village of holiday cottages on the edge of Husavik. This was one of the nicest places we stayed at. We had our own little cabin with a living room/kitchen area, a bathroom and bedroom. There were hot tubs scattered around the little village and we used the one right outside our door, overlooking the mountains and Husavik Bay.

    Day 10
    We ate breakfast in our little cottage, then drove to see the waterfall Dettifoss. We also arranged to go horse backing riding again at Saltvik Farm (http://www.saltvik.7p.com/), when we had another great ride. The guide was a young Englishman, who'd lived in Iceland since he was two. Basically he was a native English speaker, we were able to ask more technical questions about the horses (even though most Icelandics are fluent in English, the skill level does vary). I wish I had known what a wonderful time, we would have riding, I would have loved to have done a longer trip. A result of the country's treelessness, its wide open spaces just seem made for riding. We rode the horses by the coast and let them splash around in the sea water.

    We had planed to take a boat whale watching, but unfortunately missed the last boast of the evening. Oh well, next time, right?

    Day 11
    We drove back to Reykjavík only stopping in Akureyri for coffee. The drive from Akureyri took us four hours on good road.

    Back in Reykjavík we checked into the Guesthouse Domus, and we returned our car. Guesthouse Domus was only ok. It was slightly cheaper than Room with a View, but the rooms weren't as nice and the bathroom was shared. The location is great, so if you have don't have other options, it would be an OK choice. While we ate breakfast at all the farms, it was more fun to go out to breakfast in Reykjavik. We would just stop at a cafe, or bagel space that looked nice.

    We went back to Galileo for dinner. The lobster pizza was just as good as the first time.

    Day 12
    We really didn't do much this second time around in Reykjavik. We just relaxed. We spent a fair amount of time browsing the bookstores. (There were four bookstores -- three new and one used, all without a five minute walk of one another) All bookstores had a large selection of English books, but they are expensive --$30 for a paperback.

    We had dinner at another spot mentioned in the Budget Travel article: Nonnabiti -- a sandwich shop at Hafnarstraeti 11.

    Day 13
    Our last day in Reykjavik was disappointing. I had paid for a bus to pick us up at our guesthouse, take us to the Blue Lagoon, then to the airport. The bus was supposed to arrive at 11am, when there was no bus at 11:20am, I called the company. They said the driver had come and gone. (Impossible, since we had been waiting since 10:55am, and he was supposed to come at 11am), but we had no options. I got a refund and we went to the airport on the FlyBus -- we didn't have time for the Blue Lagoon.

    To prevent this happening to you, I would consider going to the Blue Lagoon, when you arrive, or I would have been outside even earlier, and I wouldn't have waiting until 20 after to call the company.

    So, Blue Lagoon is for next time!

  • Report Abuse

    Where We Stayed:
    Reykjavik -- Room with a View (http://www.roomwithaview.is/index.html)

    Eyjafjoll -- Stora Mork Farm (http://frontpage.simnet.is/storamork/farmstoramork.htm)

    Skaftafell Park -- Bolti B&B (this was through Bruno. I don't have the contact info.)

    Husey -- Husey Farm (http://www.hihostels.com/performLocationSearchHome.sma?city=a26011&AffiliateID=97026)

    Husavik -- Kaldbaks-kot (www.cottages.is)

    Reykjavik -- Domus Guesthouse Reykjavík: (http://www.domusguesthouse.is/)

    When booking our stay at Husey, I unknowingly went through a German travel agent, Bruno, who handles a majority of the bookings for the Hostel. We hit it off and he also booked us at Stora-Mork, Bolti and Dolmus. The best thing was the great tips I got for traveling, like which waterfalls to stop at and he also recommended the Coast Tour. If you need help with bookings, his name is Bruno Guttenberg and the email address is bruno@islanderlebnis.de I can highly recommend him.

    One thing that I was surpised to discover was that all accomodations offered single beds only, so even when I was booking a private double room, I got a room with twin beds. Not very romantic, but it was fine. Iceland sees more European tourists, and this is something that they're used to. We just made the best of it. At Stora-Mork, we pushed the beds together, but at Bolti, they were bolted to the wall and at Husey, it was bunk beds. The only places that had double beds were Room with a View and Kaldbaks-Kots. I really don't know why this is...don't Europeans want to sleep together? I guess most people are traveling together as a couple? The places were so beautiful that we didn't mind, but this is just something for you to know when booking.

    Where We Ate
    (All of the restaurants are in/near Reykjavik because we were either too busy or there weren't any restaurants near our guesthouses in the rest of Iceland. We did occasionally stop at gas station cafes along the way for hot chocolate or a sandwich and were always satisfied. As a whole, the food was much better than I had expected.)

    Reykjavik
    Baejarins Bestu -- Hot dogs. By the harbor on Tryggvagata
    Galileo (http://english.galileo.is/)
    Fjoruboroio -- (http://www.fjorubordid.is/english/index.html)
    Nonnabiti -- 11 Hafnarstraeti

    To Bring:
    1. Hiking Boots -- once we left Rekyavik, we didn't take ours off
    2. CDs -- if you're driving around the country, count on your car having a CD player and bring some music to listen to
    3. Consider Bringing Your Own Bedding--unless you're only staying at hotels, you will be charged for your bedding at guesthouses and farms. I wish I would have calculated the savings before we left. I didn't realize how many places would charge for bedding. (The bedding you would need would be twin duvet covers, twin top sheets, and pillow cases--this is what we were given every time, even for a double bed, then you just double the bedding over. The duvet and pillows were provided). If you bring your own bedding don't forget towels. I know this sounds cheap, but Iceland is an expensive country and this could have saved us at least $300--I'm not exaggerating.

    Please let me know, if I can answer any other Iceland questions. I would be more than happy to help.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Eliza!!

    So great to see your report. There is so little first hand information on the web about Iceland.

    My husband and I are going to Iceland in August for two weeks, and will be driving the Ring Road. I too have found that the place names have made my planning process more difficult! I have my map out constantly while working on our trip plans.

    We tried to book Room With a View also based on such high praise from people here and at TripAdvisor, unfortunately it was completely booked.

    I especially appreciate the tips on places to eat. With prices what they are, we will be looking for inexpensive options. We are considering purchasing a small cooler when we arrive for picnic type items for our road trip. Did you happen to see any in the stores or gas stations while you were there(cheapie styrofoam type)? I am wondering if it might be more advantageous to bring a soft sided collapsable cooler from home?

    As for the hiking boots....would tennis shoe type hiking shoes be appropriate? We are planning on short day hikes (2-3 hrs).

    Thanks in advance for your help....I'm sure I will come up with more questions soon!!

    DKW

  • Report Abuse

    Thank you for the fantastic trip report! I have also found figuring out Iceland confusing.

    Two quick questions - (1) you mentioned that you are from NY (so are we) - how did you find driving in Iceland (road conditions/do they drive on the other side of the road) and (2) If you had only 5 days which spots were the highlights that you suggest given the time constraint?




  • Report Abuse

    Awesome trip report! I'm going back to Iceland in September and will be very glad to refer to your restaurant recommendations. (The first time there I didn't eat out!) Wasn't Iceland just fantastic? I was a bit disappointed with Reykjavik...you make me want to give it another try.

    Kafkamafia - I was in both Iceland and Ireland this past year and would choose Iceland hands down. Ireland is very beautiful and the people are wonderful, but there is so much new construction going on...I felt like I was in the midst of huge, new American subdivisions most of the time.

    kay in MI

  • Report Abuse

    Eliza26, What an absolutely terrific trip report. There is so little information available about Iceland that your first hand experiences are wonderful. We are going to Iceland for three days next month as a layover to London. We will go on the Blue Lagoon tour upon arrival. The next day the Circle tour and the last day we will check out Reykjavik before catching our plane. I am goint to print and keep your trip report so that when (not if) we go back I can refer to it. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip and met some amazing people.

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks for all your comments. I have a newfound respect for the folks that post a trip report after every trip. It's a lot of work.

    DKW,
    First of all, you will have a great trip. I guarantee you will fall in love with Iceland. Even though things are expensive, you do get great value for your money.

    It's great that you're going to be able to go for two weeks and drive around the Ring Road. I found Reykjavik to be world's different from the rest of Iceland and really enjoyed experiencing country life.

    You're a step ahead of me, in that you're alway looking at your maps, but I would encourage you to highlight! A German woman had her map highlighted at Husey, and I really wished I had done that.

    Since you can't get Room With a View, just try to get a place in the city center of Reykjavik--look for things on or near Laugavegur, Hverfigsata or Skolauvoroustigur....(maybe you've already found a place?)

    Re: places to eat. Take a look at that Budget Living article, it was extrememely helpful for Reykjavik. I printed it out and took it with me.

    As far as a small cooler, you could bring one, but remember it is much cooler there than you might imagine. It was cold enough, that if we didn't have access to a fridge, we could have put own food outside. We just carried our food with us in the car, then put it in the fridge when we got to the hostel/guesthouse. I don't see any for sale, but then I wasn't looking...but really it is a lot cooler, so even in August I can't imagine that it's necessary.

    In fact, we wished that we had brought a thermos for hot chocolate for those late night hikes. Also, you could bring some utensils and napkins, we just ended up buying them there. They're much cheaper here. It would have been nice to have brought tupperware or baggies, so that we could have made sandwiches at the guesthouses/hostels before we left for the day. Instead, we made them in the car, as we drove.

    As far as the hiking boots...I can only say that we really wavered about this decision too. Hiking boots are bulky to pack, and they were expensive (we didn't own any). In fact, I couldn't decide so we didn't buy them until two days before we left. But, it really was the best purchase we made. It can be dusty or muddy, and even if you're only doing a little hiking (I think three hours was our longest walk), you will really appreciate them. You have some time, so maybe you can watch for sales?

    Definitely, post if you have more questions. There's not enough Iceland discussion on this board!

    Hi Bakpakr ,
    My husband did all of the driving (I embarassingly can't driving a standard, and like the rest of Europe a standard is cheaper)

    They drive on the same side of the road aas we do. The road conditions around Reykjavik and the Southeast were fine. It was only around the Eastern Fjords that we hit some dirt roads. (We didn't have 4-wheel drive). It was fine, but a little slower going. On the paved part of the Ring Road, we could go pretty fast. There really weren't very many other cars around. You just have to slow down at one lane bridges (Like here, whoever approaches a bridge first, goes first)

    My husband has experience driving on dirt roads in Oklahoma, so that came in handy, (main thing to remember is never slam on the brakes, only tap them and drive more slowly than you think you need to) but I would say, if you can drive in New York you can drive anywhere.

    First of all, I think it's great that you're driving (you too DKW). I think it's more common for American travelers to stay in Reykjavik and take day trips. You really miss out.

    So...only five days. I guess I would pick a direction--east or west and explore it. I loved the Southeast of Iceland (we didn't spend much time in the Southwest). There's a lot to see, if you're going later in the year, you could make it to Porsmork, in addition to the places I mention in my report. If you enjoy, horseback riding, I would do a trip with the Icelandic horses. Really, there is so much you can do.

    I wouldn't try to drive all the way around, though. It would just be exhausting. If if were me, I would be the Southwest. There's just so much to see in that area!

    Oh, I forgot to mention for you drivers that the gas station restrooms were amazingly clean. If fact the whole country, is pretty spotless.

    kafkamafia ,
    Thanks! I've been to Ireland, too. It's wonderful, but in a different way. Iceland is definitely more remote and I thought that the landscape was more extreme. For us the goal of this trip was to get away, far away, and in Iceland we felt like we were in another world. I have never felt more relaxed coming back from a vacation.






  • Report Abuse

    Hi Kay! You're going back? That 's great! I found virtualtourist.com to be helpful with restaurant recs (that's how I found Galileo.)

    You know our favorite thing in Reykjavik was going to that movie! So if you have a chance, see what's playing at the Rainbow. (The popcorn was pretty good, too!)

    BabsB,
    Have a great time! I look forward to hearing about your experiences and have a feeling, you'll want to go back! Three days will only whet your appetite

  • Report Abuse

    hi eliza... i'm from venezuela, so imagine me wanting to spend my birthday solo in iceland in early october!!! but i do want to get away from it all... everything familiar.
    but i guess going alone for 4 days would make it a litle harder to go driving around. would it be a good idea to take day trips in my case? what a bout a room with a view would it be too big for me alone? i'm a craniosacral therapist so i'm also looking forward to being pampered myself! at the spas and thermal pools, any suggestions in that area? thanks janine

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Janine,
    First off, you will have a wonderful time. Iceland is really a magical place. Since, you are traveling alone, I would imagine that the day trips would be the best option. It would give you the chance to maybe meet other people and to be out with a professional driver (just in case the weather turns a little rough!).

    While I enjoyed Reykjavik, my favorite part of the trip was being outside of the city. I’m from NYC so Reykjavik seemed a little tame, but maybe you are going during the Iceland Airwaves (it’s a rock music festival)? http://www.icelandairwaves.com/. I think it would be wonderful to take a daytrip to a natural hot spring. There is an endless supply of daytrips. Since you have such a short time, I would suggest planning a day in the city and two or three daytrips. There are a lot of super jeep tours. You can just book these when you get there. The blue lagoon offers different kinds of massages and general pampering. I would arrange to do this either first thing on the way from the airport, or at the end—on your way out of town! You could also try visiting one of Reykjavik’s heated swimming pools.

    As far as Room with a View, the only downside is that you don’t get that front desk service that might be nice if you’re traveling alone. The pictures on their website are pretty accurate, and I thought it was a good budget option. It definitely is in one of the best locations! If money were no object, I would have loved to stay at Hotel 101 http://www.101hotel.is My second choice would have been Hotel Borg http://www.hotelborg.is/

    Let me know, if you have more questions.

  • Report Abuse

    gosh eliza! i'm leaving for iceland solo around october 12 for 5 days and i need relaxing time with myself... i don't know if i would drive alone around not because of safety but i need to rest and relax, but i want to get to know the countryside... any suggestions? i think i'm staying a t the fron hotel in a little studio apt. or the odinsve...

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Eliza

    Reading your post has been very inspiring. We have booked our tickets and are heading to Iceland in Sept - dragging our 4 year old and 1 year old along. I was just wondering if you ever considered taking a domestic flight? We have 9 nights and are thinking of driving up to Akureyri and then perhaps taking a flight back to Reykjavik. Worried that driving the entire circle route would be too tiring esp for the kids.

  • Report Abuse

    itwk,
    We didn't consider flying, but I think your plan sounds like a good one. Take your time driving up to Akureyri, then fly back. We didn't really do much exploring after Akureyri and I think the only reason we didn't fly was just to keep costs down.

    You are most definitely going to have the best time. We talk about our trip all the time and are planning on returning next year. Best of luck in your travels!

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks Eliza. We were thinking about the cost too but I feel that it would be money well spent if it means taking in more of the sights and feeling less stressed hauling the kids about. We may shamelessly copy most of your stops! BTW, were most of the attractions fairly accessible? Can you drive up to most of them? Because obviously with the kids we can't be taking very long and difficult treks. Thanks again.

  • Report Abuse

    With two kids, I'm sure the plane ride will be worth it!

    Everything we saw was right off the main road around Iceland. In fact, one of the things we enjoyed the most was pulling over whenever we saw something amazing from the car--lava fields, a beautiful waterfall--whatever caught our eye.

    It really is a beautiful, warm country. You'll have a great time. Let me know, if you have any more questions.

  • Report Abuse

    Eliza, You are amazing! I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write all this! My friends (a married couple) and I will be leaving on July 31st for Copenhagen, then attending a wedding in Sweden and then flying to Iceland to spend a few days there before returning to San Francisco. I posted a few questions on this site (just the day before you posted your report), under "a bunch of questions about Iceland". Would you be so kind to check them out and see if you can provide me with any guidance? Also, what is the shortest time you recommend to explore some of Iceland in a decent way with a rental car? Our arrival time in Iceland (from Stockholm) is left open - we just couldn't decide how many days we should devote to Stockholm and how many to Iceland. I'd be eternally grateful for any suggestions and information! -Sonia

  • Report Abuse

    Planning 10 day ring road for late May too and, despite that this is trip is two years later, I found all the insights SO helpful so I thought I'd bring it back to the top.

    If you're still watching, THANKS ELIZA!

24 Replies |Back to top

| Add a Reply

Sign in to comment.

Recent Activity

  • Announcement: Writers Needed for Morocco Guidebook
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Apr 11, 14 at 05:51 PM
View all Europe activity »
  1. 1 Upcoming Spain itinerary-eyeballs please!
  2. 2 Venice canal boats--best deals?
  3. 3 Cornwall Trip Addition
  4. 4 Trip Report Suggestions for Santorini itinerary, need change??
  5. 5 Italy/France 22 day Itinerary - Help Please :)
  6. 6 How much will a budget to Europe be for 2 months?
  7. 7 Budget for 3 Month's
  8. 8 Tuscany with 13 and 19 year old girls
  9. 9 A Good Base on Mallorca
  10. 10 Road Trip From Barcelona to Seville Ideas?
  11. 11 Driving to Paris... Parking?
  12. 12 Need help with Europe Itinerary
  13. 13 Amsterdam / Belgium Itinerary
  14. 14 Normandy, Brittany and Loire Valley in May - please help with itinerary
  15. 15 21 Days in Central Europe
  16. 16 Portugal with a 3 year old and 1 year old
  17. 17 London 2nd time around
  18. 18 Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia Herzegovina-Montenegro Itinerary Help
  19. 19 Tram 28 safe to travel with kids?
  20. 20 London visit
  21. 21 portugal trip 14 days - where to visit and stay
  22. 22 Two weeks in Paris ... how to fill?
  23. 23 US citizen - Stay in France longer than 1 year - how?
  24. 24 Advice Train from Berlin to Prague
  25. 25 How to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Gare du Nord?
View next 25 » Back to the top