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7 nights in Iceland, in July 2018

Old Sep 14th, 2017, 07:00 AM
  #1  
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7 nights in Iceland, in July 2018

Hi all. First things first: we know, 7 days/nights is not enough. But it's all we've got, sadly.

Please help us put together the rough outline of a plan. Our chief priorities are:
1) Scenic splendor and breathtaking vistas... and this is #1 by a wide margin
2) Nice hikes (of less than 6 hours)
3) Charming seaside villages & towns
4) B&B-style accommodations, or apartment/cabin, preferably US$150-200 per night (or less)

For those unfamiliar with ms_go and me, we're in our mid-50s, fairly active but not fitness nuts, enjoy a mix of the well-known tourist sites with some off-the-path experiences. I do most of the driving, and expect to cover a good 3-4 hours per day on this trip (or more, as needed).

I don't think we have sufficient time to cover the entire ring-road on this trip. I mean, it's do-able, but I don't know that it's advisable. Right now, we're looking to focus primarily on the west/northwest coast, and along the south coastal area as far as, say, Skaftafell. I don't know that we need to spend much time in Reykjavik.

Like I said, we're looking to start out with a rough, general outline before we flesh out the specifics of a "plan". But I've noticed that a lot of the more desirable Inns, B&Bs, etc. are already starting to book up full... almost 10 months in advance. So we need to start getting serious about this.

Thanks in advance for your help. I know I can count on the Fodorville gang !
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Old Sep 14th, 2017, 09:57 AM
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You definitely don't have sufficient time to cover the entire Ring Road - we did it in 10 days and it was a bit of a rush, and a whole lot of driving. We'd hoped to do more hiking, but our long daily slogs made it impossible.

I assume you know that Iceland is very expensive - and IME not particularly good value - our least expensive accommodation was about $166, and that was in May. We also paid $235 for a seriously underwhelming room in a guesthouse with shared bath - that was in Vik, which has much more demand than supply. I think you'll find that the south coast is the busiest, the most popular and the most expensive.

I wrote a detailed trip report after our trip - it might give you some insight:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-road-trip.cfm
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Old Sep 14th, 2017, 11:34 AM
  #3  
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Thanks, Mel. I did read your TR, and thanks for the great and detailed info therein! I'm just trying to get my arms around this thing, at this point.

Your experience in Vik is no surprise to me, based on what I'm seeing available currently. We may have to seek shelter in, er, a less popular spot.

What would you say were your top 3-5 "must-see" (i.e. "must shoot") spots on your journey?
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Old Sep 14th, 2017, 11:38 AM
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Also, thanks again for all your NZ south island information. I told ms_go yesterday, this next journey is going to be like the Haast >> Hokitika leg of our NZ trip... but 7 days in a row of it!
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Old Sep 14th, 2017, 03:22 PM
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The best bits for us were our stay at Hofsstadir Farmhouse near
Sauðárkrókur - out in the middle of nowhere on a horse farm, our unplanned detour through Dalvik, Ólafsfjörður and Siglufjörður, and of course Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon bordering Vatnajökull National Park, which we lucked into seeing on a spectacular day, resulting in my favorite photos of the trip.

>

Herein lies the problem...not a whole lot of options between Reykjavik and Vik.

Oh yeah, we also enjoyed the Penis Museum in Reykjavik.

The scenery along the south eastern coast is indeed spectacular, and given it's proximity to Reykjavik, overwhelmingly popular.
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Old Sep 14th, 2017, 05:01 PM
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I'll keep this short as the odds of you wanting to do this hike are probably slight. If you can get to a place called Porsmork by:

https://www.volcanohuts.com/how-to-g...car-in-summer/

Then even hiking up the first 2.5 hours of this trail will bring you to some spectacular scenery (the very first part of day two itinerary).

http://www.mountainguides.is/multi-d...smoerk-skogar/

The only question in my mind is whether you could catch a bus back to your car at the end of the day.

In any event you'll see some pictures looking at this route.
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Old Sep 14th, 2017, 06:41 PM
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Have a look at the Golden Circle. It's a circular tour around the southern part of Iceland and can probably be done in your time period. We did it with a guide last October. It really hits all the highlights in 7/8 days. I won't try to list the places as I'm sure I would make a mess of Icelandic spellings, so suggest you google it. Don't forget to allow time for touring Reykjavik. The centre is charming with a host of good restaurants, shops and several excelllent museums and other sites worth visiting.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 03:06 AM
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Many thanks to all. We have placed a stake in a "tiny house" in a lovely valley near Barbudalur, which will give us interesting daytrip options in three directions. It's cancellable, so nothing written in stone yet.

Mel, thanks again. Most definitely, Jökulsárlón is on my to do list already. It looks like a photographic dream-spot.

xcountry, I've already made note of the Volcano Huts and their cabins / glamping options. The scenery looking down into the "valley of Thor" is compelling indeed. Frankly, the logistics of getting in there and back out again are a greater concern to us than the hike itself... we've done some challenging treks before.

ht... We're sort of ambivalent about the golden circle attractions in the peak of summer season. They are no doubt scenic and worthwhile, and not too far afield from Reykjavik and the airport. But the anticipated tourist throngs give us pause. Might be a game-day decision.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 03:57 AM
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Mr Go - I hear you. The logistics do seem tricky. I kept looking last night to kill time. You can park the car on highway 1 at Seljalandsfoss (a beautiful waterfall). Then a regularly scheduled bus takes you up highway (hee hee) 249 to the Porsmork area. The bus has huge tires and crosses all those "rivers".

There are three stops in Porsmork. I think the first one is the Vocano Huts. The third one is Basar, a large hut where we stayed. Then the hike we took started from there. In no time you are in the most amazing area.

You can then backtrack and take the return bus to Seljalandsfoss six hours later. I am not sure this bus schedule result will work:

http://trex.is/thorsmork-booking-res...=5353&routeIds[0]=8&passengers=0

The bus ride itself is worth the time.

In any event, you'll be in a beautiful area wherever you go.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 04:02 AM
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Doesn't work. The link had said that the bus leaves Seljalandsfoss at 10:30 am and arrives at Porsmork Basar at 12 noon. The return bus leaves at 18:00 and arrives back at Seljalandsfoss at 19:00.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 05:48 AM
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Thanks, xc. That sorta reminds me of our day-hike of Samaria Gorge in Crete. There's one bus that leaves town in the morning, and one bus that brings you back in the evening... and heaven help you if you miss it, or if there's no room on board. And "the bus ride itself is worth the time" too.

But then again, that was one of our best hikes ever.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 08:59 AM
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>>>We're sort of ambivalent about the golden circle attractions in the peak of summer season.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 10:14 AM
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I would not miss Thingvellir

The pictures certainly look cool.
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Old Sep 15th, 2017, 10:32 AM
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Yes, and aside from its natural beauty, it is geographically unique -- the North American and European tectonic plates meet here, and are moving apart over so slowly. It is also of great historical significance, as the site of the first parliament and other activities from the Viking era.
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Old Sep 16th, 2017, 09:12 AM
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Thingvellir is a must, and Skogafoss is pretty special, too, in the south. I didn't get to Thorsmork/Porsmork this trip, but it's one of my favorite memories. You might want to look into a daytrip in and out of there--it's helpful to have certain elevated vehicles, and even they might get some water washing across the floor.

My most recent time in Iceland was only a brief stopover on the way from Finland, but it's here if you'd like to read: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ummer-2017.cfm

and pics here: https://missalg.smugmug.com/Iceland-2017/
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Old Sep 16th, 2017, 11:47 AM
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mr_go -

I've got a pile of Iceland brochures that I'm getting ready to put in the recycle bin, including a few good detailed maps.

If you think they'd help with your research, I'd be happy to snail mail them to you.

Are you on TA? If so, you can PM me your address there. I'm under the same screen name.
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Old Sep 17th, 2017, 03:49 AM
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Melnq8, that's really nice of you. We'd love to have them. I am on TA and will send you a PM - it will probably be a day or two, as my log-in info is at home (and I'm not).
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Old Sep 21st, 2017, 04:34 AM
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Mel... thank you so much, your care package of maps, brochures and booklets arrived yesterday. They will almost certainly come in handy as we plan our Icelandic adventure. We really, genuinely do appreciate your generosity!
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Old Sep 21st, 2017, 09:17 AM
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I was in Iceland in Sept 2016 and January 2017, so here's my two cents! I was underwhelmed by the Golden Circle in September and the crowds of July would make it quite unpleasant, IMO. I spent a night in Vik, in an AirBnB room in a private house, with an ensuite bathroom. The price was in the $250 range, but it was the ONLY room in town - both hotels were full. The room was one of 3 on a lower level of a home and was nicely furnished, spotless, two windows and a breakfast basket (very full) was left in the common area refrigerator. I really enjoyed Vik - the local black sand beach was great and just 4 minutes from the apartment. I also went to the famous black sand beach with the basalt columns which was interesting (and dangerous due to rogue waves) but I visited the local beach in the morning, late afternoon, etc.

There's also a picturesque white church w/red steeple on a hill (just up on the road from the AirBnb) with a cemetery a bit further uphill which I enjoyed wandering around. Went to a great pizzeria restaurant there. On the road to the local beach, there's an old cargo container which washed ashore and has been turned into a small shop, selling woolen & felted items. (I bought two small felted Iceland horses.) Speaking of horses, in Vik you can ride horses on their black sand beach. It's a small operation, run from a barn right next to the beach but when will you do that again?

In addition to Jokarlson (glacial lagoon), make sure you walk along the public beach across the road from the lagoon - ice chunks of all sizes wash onto the beach there. I did the lagoon boat trip (not the RIB) - expensive but I thought it was worth it since you go relatively near the edge of the glacier and can really appreciate the colors. Plus, you sail around various bergs in the water and can see the shapes, colors & odd holes from multiple angles.

I also liked my glacier trek at Skaftafell park (I used Iceland Mountain Guides), but that particular trek probably wouldn't make much sense in July! (No ice caves or crampons then.) There's visitors center in Skaftafell with maps of marked trails of varying lengths and difficulty, with helpful staff. I just did the 1 mile flat trail which went past waterfalls, boggy areas, and various flora on the way to a mini-lagoon.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Sep 21st, 2017, 10:35 AM
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You're very welcome mr_go, I hope they help!
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