5 days in Iceland March/April

Jan 9th, 2018, 06:14 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2016
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5 days in Iceland March/April

Hello travelers,

My 21yr. old son and I are going to Iceland for 5 days at the end of March - beginning of April. So far I’ve booked flights, accommodation, and a whale watching excursion.

We would like to do a few of the usual things: Northern Lights, Blue Lagoon, possibly Golden Circle.

We’re staying at an Airbnb in Reykjavik near the harbor. As many of us have to do, I’m trying to make the most unlimited options with limited time/$.

I’m trying to decide if it’s best to rent a car, or if we can get by without a car and book tours/activities that have transportation from the city. I’d like to know what you think is a must see that we’d need a car for, or if you have a recommended itinerary that would be easier and more economical to drive yourself rather than as part of a tour. How’s parking in the city center? I don’t see any daily/hourly car rental service in the city, is there something like Zipcar that I’m missing? I think the car rental option seems like a hassle to me because we’d be picking up/dropping off at the airport and be paying for time and parking that we don’t need.

Have you got recommendations for low key evening activities in Reykjavic, breweries, street food, art spaces, theaters, etc.

And Northern Lights viewing this time of year - I understand the variables, but please let me know if you’ve been this time of year, joined a tour, went on your own, and had any luck? If you booked a tour, would you recommend the company?

Any/all advice and recommendations would be most appreciated!

Cheers!
micheleodette is offline  
Jan 9th, 2018, 06:58 AM
  #2  
mms
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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One thing that we did that you have not mentioned is the city walk tour. We did that the day of arrival and loved it! It is free, but you need to sign up ahead of time and then you tip what you feel it is worth. BTW, they take any currency so if you do not have Icelandic Krona, but something else, you will be fine. The tour does end near an ATM though, so you could do that too. Anyway, it was a great introduction to the city and the country and I highly recommend it!

We ran out of time for the Blue Lagoon, but when our kids (in they 20's) went, they loved it. They did it on their last day on the way to the airport and said it was really nice doing it that way as it made the long flight home more relaxing, FWIW.

The Golden Circle Tour is really good, so do try to fit that in. We used Grayline for that and had no complaints. We were on a huge bus, but there were only about a dozen of us that day (mid October), so that was really nice. They did stop at several other stops besides the big 3, so it was nice to see a bit more of the area.

For beer, head to Mikkeller. We also enjoyed Kaldi Bar. We used an app on our phone called Appy Hour and it was very helpful with stuff like this.

For restaurants we had a few really good meals! Snaps Bistro was the best and when our kids went, they say the same thing. Also the Icelandic Fish & Chips is really good.
mms is offline  
Jan 9th, 2018, 02:21 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 115
The highlight of our trip to Iceland was a small group day-tour of the Snaefellsness peninsula with Gateway to Iceland, our tour guide Gummi made all the difference. He had my sons captivated with his stories of trolls and the Icelandic sagas, and his knowledge of the landscape was professorial. They also offer a tour of the Golden Triangle, which in hindsight we should have taken instead of driving on our own. Most people opt to go to the Blue Lagoon on their way in or way out since it is close to the airport. We did not visit the Blue Lagoon. We took a private tour of Landmannalauger with another excellent tour guide but March is too early for that. We visited over the July 4th weekend so we did not see the Northern Lights. I am told that G2I conducts Northern Lights tours too, and you may be able to catch them in March/April.

For that time of the year, with only 5 days, I would suggest that you not rent a car. We had an uneventful car rental experience thankfully, but it can be expensive, not to mention nerve wracking to drive. It can be windy, and the road is usually at a height relative to the vast lava fields on either side; we saw many car wrecks.

Enjoy your trip, Reykjavik is a great place. Here are my pictures.
https://flic.kr/s/aHskWexAD2
vipsha is offline  
Jan 9th, 2018, 02:30 PM
  #4  
 
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We rented a car, but we had a lot more time and circled the Ring Road.

If it were me, and I were only there for five days in March, I'd probably pass on the car.

Having said that, tours are quite pricy, as is the bus from the airport to Reykjavik, which you'd do twice.

Other than its convenient proximity to Reykavik, we were baffled by the popularity of the Golden Circle, but evidently we're the odd men out.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2018, 04:59 PM
  #5  
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Thanks very much for your helpful replies! And pictures!

I'm weighing out the cost of ground transportation to/from airport for 2, and trying to sort out what's best to see or skip based on the time of year we're going. I don't think I'd be very good at driving on the opposite side of the road surrounded by so much to see. Lol.

Our Airbnb host just sent her Travelade page with recommendations, now I have even more things to consider!

My son is also doing some research on his own. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions once we compare notes.

Thanks again.
micheleodette is offline  
Jan 9th, 2018, 06:04 PM
  #6  
 
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Melnq8, I was not crazy about the Golden Circle either, if I had to redo it I would probably have taken the least expensive tour just to cross it off my list. Geysir in particular may be suited for younger kids.

Tours are pricey but cars can be too, and not sure how much snow there will be on the ground in March/April. Insurance and other logistics are discussed more extensively on TripAdvisor. We rented a car for the first 7 days, I was glad we returned our rental for the last leg of our stay in Reykjavik because parking outside our hotel was spotty. Reykjavik is a fun place. People everywhere were warm and friendly with a great sense of humor.
vipsha is offline  
Jan 11th, 2018, 03:08 PM
  #7  
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The plot thickens! I decided on a car rental, it's not much more than the cost of shuttles from/to airport, and we'll be able to stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way out.

I'm considering the following:

Day 1: Arrive, brief city tour, spend the day in Reykjavik, take a whale watching tour.
Day 2: Head south by car, following recommended tour route along the coast, possibly spend the night in Vik.
Day 3: Head to lacier lagoon from Vik, drive the Golden Circle on the way back, then try to see the Northern lights in the evening.
Day 4: Not sure?
Day 5 Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport.

I'm wondering how reasonable the drives are for the time allotted. I also need a day 4 activity that does not involve driving. I've not covered the West Fjords and Northern Iceland, what mind-blowing experience am I missing? Maybe an Icelandic horseback tour? I'm sure my feet will be killing me. Lol.

I'm open to all suggestions, thanks!!

M.
micheleodette is offline  
Jan 11th, 2018, 04:15 PM
  #8  
 
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Opposite side of the road? Your profile says you're from Baltimore. They drive on the right in Iceland too.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 11th, 2018, 05:15 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
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Micheleodette, Before you drive, do check the road conditions using this interactive map which also gives you wind speeds.
Road conditions in south Iceland | Road conditions in south Iceland | The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration
Road Conditions and Weather | The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration
I think Vik is overkill, it looks surreal in pictures but it rained continuously when we were there - it must have some kind of micro-climate because 5 mins away would be sunny. Most pictures don't tell you how windy it can be on the road to Jokulsarlon (glacier lagoon), we faced dangerously high winds of ~95 mph similar to a Category 2 hurricane in the US. We saw several vehicles fly off the road, eventually the road was closed for 4 hours on our way back and we were unable to go to Skaftafell the next day. You can easily fit in a horseback tour, my kids loved the gentle Icelandic ponies. I have heard the West Fjords are stunning but they take time, which is why we ended up not going (we are somewhat slow travelers).
vipsha is offline  
Jan 12th, 2018, 07:34 AM
  #10  
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Wow, I made an assumption about left side driving, I’ll still be on the opposite side of the car? I can google this...thanks though!

The overnight in Vik is more to break up the drive a bit, not necessarily to spend a lot ot time there. I found a hostel on the outskirts that would suit us fine I think. There’s also a 14 hour tour that covers the southern coast and goes to Jokulsarlon. My concern with that is being rushed through the stops.

I will certainly heed all warnings about driving conditions. I will be watching the weather leading up to our departure, and will reassess plans if necessary. I’m just trying to work out a plan A and B so I can sleep at night. Lol. We’re honestly beyond excited, I’m glad my 21 year old son still wants to travel with me and I’m looking forward to spending the time and sharing the experience with him.

Your thoughts and suggestions are super helpful, keep ‘em coming!

Last edited by micheleodette; Jan 12th, 2018 at 07:43 AM. Reason: typo!
micheleodette is offline  
Jan 12th, 2018, 02:05 PM
  #11  
 
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micheleodette, The weather can change every few minutes in Iceland (at least in the South), so check the weather each time you head out is what I meant to say in my earlier post. It is precious that your son wants to travel with you, I hope you have a great time.
vipsha is offline  
Jan 15th, 2018, 01:39 AM
  #12  
 
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If you are trying to make the most out of few bucks then I'd go with the rental car. Tours in Iceland are quite expensive and some of them arent't even guided. So they will just have a bus to take you to your destination, give you some free time and then back to where it started.

I believe that with your own vehicle you would save 1. Money 2. Time. You can trace a circular route with several points you can make in those couple of days and then back to Reykjavik. Most tours in the south coast start in Reykjavik and you come back there...

Reykjavik, The Golden Circle can be done in 1 day by car. Then you can do Vik, Jokursarlon and way back.
Minnietheminx is offline  
Feb 11th, 2018, 03:45 PM
  #13  
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Thanks for all of your suggestions. I’ve rented a car, hopefully roads will be okay.

Plan is shaping up to be:
Day 1: Walking tour of Reykjavik, get settled where we’re staying, spend the afternoon around the city, then take a Northern Lights tour in the evening.

Day 2/3: Whale watching cruise from Reykjavik, then head south east along the coast by car. Stay overnight near Vik, see Jokulsarlon in the morning before heading back.

Day 4: Golden Circle and snorkeling in SIlfra.

Day 5: Snæfellsnes Peninsula, maybe horseback riding.

Day 6: Stop at the Blue Lagoon on our way back to the airport.

And that’s about it! I’m working on stops along the southern coast and also on the way back from Jokulsarlon, I’m open to suggestions for that itinerary.

Many thanks!!

M.
micheleodette is offline  
Feb 12th, 2018, 06:30 PM
  #14  
 
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Great itinerary IMO. We also rented a car and had no problems despite it raining every day and almost every hour (in November). No Northern Lights for us, but be sure your hotels / hostels are willing to wake you in the middle of the night if the weather cooperates.
In the Snaelellsnes Peninsula there's a small church by Hotel Budir sitting by itself on a bluff. Very picturesque. There is a lot of hiking in that area to see puffin nests - we didn't do this because of the rain but it seemed really cool to walk the cliffs.
With driving you have the ability to stop whenever something strikes your fancy. In November at least there was no traffic, so stopping by the road to closely observe a horse, the landscape, a house with grass growing on the roof was no issue.
There are loads of beautiful waterfalls. The two that stuck out were Seljalandsfoss on the way to Vik - you can walk all the way around it - and Gullfoss of course which is worth a longer walk to see more.
Enjoy, it's an amazing country.
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