Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

First trip to Iceland! Need help planning!

First trip to Iceland! Need help planning!

Old Jun 6th, 2011, 08:57 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
First trip to Iceland! Need help planning!

Hello seasoned travelers! I've booked tickets to Iceland, but have no idea how to start planning the actual trip. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

My boyfriend and I will be traveling there from Aug 10th - Aug 16th. The tour packages are out of our price range, so we're going to DIY. Have done some initial research, and it seems like renting a car may be our best option. We're tentatively planning on keeping home base in Reykjavik and taking day trips from there (but if anyone has other suggestions, please do let me know!)

Would love to know how make the best of our 6 days in Iceland on a budget! So very excited for the journey, and would love to hear from anyone who has been there.

Thanks!
AmandaKohn is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2011, 07:47 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 119
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You essentially have 4 options as the east of the country is too far away for 6 days of travelling.

- The west: Westfjords, Snaefellsnes.
- The north: Jokulsarlon, Akureyri, Myvatn.
- The south: Volcanos, glaciers, black beach.
- Reykjavik and surrounding areas: The city itself, Golden circle, Reykjanes.

What do you want to do?
karlth is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2011, 05:45 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, we're planning on keeping home base in Reykjavik. Definitely going to spend some time in the city itself, and want to do the Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon.

There look to be so many other beautiful places, but we're not sure if it's feasible to say, drive to Akureyri for the day & back to Rekjavik without staying over. Do realize that unfortunately the east will be too far. Any recommendations for what we can do without a tour bus/guide would be very helpful. Also, the rental rates I've seen so far have been quite high. Any suggestions for local companies? Would also be helpful to know if we must rent a 4wd or will be okay w/o.

Much appreciated!
AmandaKohn is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2011, 06:06 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 119
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here is a list of the larger domestic car rentals: http://superhighway.is/Car_rentals_in_Iceland/index.asp (Also check Hertz/Budget/Sixt). A 2wd car will do nicely when visiting the normal tourist spots, no need to rent a 4wd unless you need the space.

Driving to Akureyri would take around 4-5 hours, one way.

If you are going to HQ in Reykjavik then I'd recommend the west coast of Iceland (although not Westfjords as they are too far away). The Snaefellsnes peninsula is beautiful, the attractions there are too numerous to list. (Check out this website about the area: http://west.is/DiscoverWestIceland/)

In regards to Reykjavik itself then I'd recommend a cycling tour around the capital, nightlife, whale watching(if you haven't before), the restaurants (Sjavarkjallarinn/Fiskimarkadur/Holtid/etc). Also of course as you mentioned a day trip to the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. Horseback riding at Laxness is a lot of fun as well if you like that sort of thing.

PS. Try to sample as many restaurants in Reykjavik as you can. The fish, lamb and soups! are usually superb. (http://destination.is/reykjavik/restaurants)
karlth is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2011, 11:14 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,273
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We are going to Iceland next month. We looked a lot of different options. One that appealed to us is the trip you can see in this link. http://www.iexplore.com/tour/68057
You stay in Reykjavik for 7 nights and go out for hiking each day. It's not very expensive. $1395 per person. And is a privately guided trip. If you didn't want to to this actual trip it may still have good ideas for you.

Other good resources are www.frommers.com Iceland guide (it has lots of good ideas as to highlights). www.lonelyplanet.com Iceland (you can buy for download and print just a chapter or two for Reykjavic and the surrounding area but it has lots of specific information as to public transportation)

And you are right rental car is expensive (about $800-$900 for a week). You can perhaps save on that by using public transportation or an organized day trip to get around most days and only renting a car for a day or two for something you want to do that way.

A day trip company that gets good reviews on www.tripadvisor.com is Gateway to Iceland (noting small vans and personal service) http://www.gti.is/eng/catalog/
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2011, 11:58 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Karith, thank you for the reply. Are you from Iceland? Curious about summer weather; it seems that we should plan for rain, yes? Wondering what else to pack!

Laurie ann, unfortunately that trip is out of our price range, but it sounds wonderful. We (bf and I) have frommers/lonely planet/eyewitness guides between us - lots of information, almost too overwhelming! Have also looked @ the Gateway Iceland trips. We were originally thinking of that, but once looked into pricing and they get up there, so we thought we might do some of the stuff on our own via car rental, and maybe do one special excursion through them. Haven't been able to find much cheaper car rental either. Will probably have to rent though, as we will need to travel from airport to accommodations & back, etc. and are arriving/departing at odd hours.

Any other planning resources you can recommend?
AmandaKohn is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2011, 04:51 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 119
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Amanda, Yes I live in Iceland.

The summers here are mild so don't expect a tan! Expect all kinds of weather so at least bring a sporty rain coat, swimming trunks (there are natural swimming pools everywhere) and a very good camera.

This brings up an interesting point though which is that if you are based in Reykjavik then you can go either north, east or stay in Reykjavik, all depending on the weather. What Icelanders usually do (couples especially) is that they buy a camping tent (http://www.everest.is/tjold.htm for example) and "chase the sun". There are great cheap or free camping sites all over the place and with the best guidebook (Iceland Road Atlas) you can't go wrong. The road system is essentially just a big circle and everyone speaks english.

Take a look at the official website for some ideas: (http://www.visiticeland.com/DiscoverIceland/Regions/)

Also feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.
karlth is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2011, 05:02 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,273
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Karlth, would love your restaurant suggestions in Reykjavik. We especially like places where food and drink is great but atmosphere casual, like a wine bar in France or gastropub in England. Any special finds you recommend? We are staying in Reykjavik at beginning and end of trip at Centerhotel Thingholt (sorry can't do the special Icelandic letters on my USA keyboard).
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2011, 05:13 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 5,142
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Amanda,
Tripadvisor has an active Iceland forum and there are a few regular Icelandic posters.

laurie-ann, we'll also be there in July
sassy_cat is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2011, 05:36 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 119
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I eat out in Reykjavik a few times each week but I'm pretty conservative in my selection so I'm certainly missing a few options:

Vegamot: Young-ish crowd at night and the food is very good. (http://vegamot.is)

Sushi Train: A nice sushi place (pretty busy though) located above a bookstore(Ida) in central Reykjavik(http://www.osushi.is/)

Laundromat: Newly opened and very popular at the moment, especially for brunch. (http://www.grapevine.is/Food/ReadArt...t-cafe-profile)

Uno: Italian with great deserts. Good value with nice decor.

Noodle Station: No menu, just one soup. Superb. (http://destination.is/reykjavik/rest...noodle-station)

Kaffismidjan: (Coffee factory) The best coffee in Reykjavik. Hippy atmosphere! (http://www.kaffismidja.is/kaffihusid/)

Supubarinn (The soup bar): Excellent soups in an art gallery. Try the Tex-Mex or Tomato-Basil (http://www.supubarinn.is/)

Hamborgarabullan: (http://www.bullan.is/index.php?optio...d=14&Itemid=30) Good burgers, very casual. It is located down by the harbor where you could also take a look at the tasty Fish & Chips restaurant. (http://www.fishandchips.is/). There are other restaurants around there too, usually good value.

Also at most restaurants you can order the fish of the day. Specialized fish restaurants are usually more expensive but very good. Try for example Sjavarkjallarinn and the Fish Market.

Finally check out this online site for a very up to date reviews of mostly casual restaurants. (http://www.grapevine.is/Food/)
karlth is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2011, 07:54 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,273
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Karlth, thanks so much. That Grapevine is excellent and includes also travel and culture articles too!
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2011, 08:06 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 55,560
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
hi karith,

i wish you'd been here on fodors when we did our iceland trip a few years ago. still we had a pretty good time...on the whole! [i hesitate to mention my TR lest you take offence at some of my less complimentary comments, but Laurie-ann and amanda might like a look!]

amanda - don't count on cool wet weather. When we arrived in mid July, they were in the middle of a heat-wave. what made it worse was that it was just as hot at night - and almost as light - as it was in the day. we found it really difficult t get used to the fact that it never really got properly dark.

The advantage of that is that you have very long days for doing things - we were able to visit the geysers and waterfalls at 9pm with no trouble. so if you are walking, you won't need to worry about being "benighted"!

we quite liked Reykjavik, but you may be ,imitating yourselves by staying there for the whole trip. an alternative might be to spend 4 days there and 3 somewhere in the interior where you will be closer to the areas where you want to walk. Perhaps Karih has some suggestions?
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2011, 12:07 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Annhig, We are actually only going to be there for 5 nights (not quite 6 full days) - so unfortunately can't do the 3/4 day split, though it would be nice.

Have read/heard mixed things about the weather. In mid August, I've read that the temps don't go much higher than 60F. Thinking of packing Fall type clothes (USA). Also, bathing suits for the pools of course. However, have heard it gets very rainy too! Seems like the weather could be all over the place.

Does anyone know anything about wattage regarding appliances there? Or any recommendations for hair dryer, etc.? It seems trivial to ask, but I've traveled to the Middle East and have blown fuses every time - even with a "universal adaptor" and "international appliances". I've never been to Europe though, so don't know what to use. It has been such a hassle for me that I would even go so far as to order something European in advance to use there. Is that an option?

Karlth, thanks so much for the restaurant info!
AmandaKohn is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2011, 01:13 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 55,560
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
amanda - i think that Karith is the best person to ask about the normal weather and wattage.

My recollection is that we used standard european adapters but don't rely on that. i'm sure that that info is on the web somewhere.

we certainly did have some rain but we had sunshine too, and that heatwave. so anything is possible.
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2011, 02:11 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 21,158
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
there are some good tales (sagas I guess) on this website on visiting Iceland. Search on Iceland, follow my name back a couple of years or a splendid saga called "Moms been to Iceland" about a barking fodorite and two cucumbers.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2011, 02:22 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 55,560
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
splendid saga called "Moms been to Iceland" about a barking fodorite and two cucumbers.>>

kind of you to remember, bilbo.

i think it might out her off!

she'd be better off reading your TR, I think.
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2011, 07:50 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh my gosh! The cucumber saga - hysterical! However, it's made me a bit nervous, lol.

Seems I'm going to be in a spot of trouble as I am a very picky eater! I'd been planning on making trips to Bonus or the like for chicken, fresh fruit/veggies to cook. For meat products I eat only chicken, turkey, and beef (no lamb, veal, pork, etc.). I will have to adjust it seems : )

Bilbo, have yet to finish reading your TR. Looking forward though!

Has anyone here heard of (or had experience with) airbnb.com? Planning on booking accomodations there - seems a nice alternative to expensive hotels, plus, staying with locals is appealing as it would be nice to learn about the country/culture from the people who live there! I always find that I learn more from people when traveling than through any book or tour...
AmandaKohn is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2011, 08:48 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 119
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Iceland uses the European voltage of 220v and the same plugs as in Germany/France/Italy/Scandinavia. Electricity is very stable so you won't have to bring a voltage regulator or anything like that.

When shopping make sure you shop either in Bonus, Kronan or Netto as they are the cheapest. Stay away from 10/11, Hagkaup, Samkaup and the smaller stores if possible.

In regards to apartments you have several options and I know that there are several accommodations available on Flipkey. (This one: http://www.flipkey.com/reykjavik-condo-rentals/p193269/ is very good, although it might well be booked). A good rule of the thumb is that if the apartment has the postcode 101 then it is in the center. Postcodes 105 and 107 are 10-20m walk away.

The weather in august is usually around 20 degrees but it can vary a lot. For example it snowed in the north last week.

Karl
karlth is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2011, 06:21 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,273
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thought I woud post a few other things I found in finalizing plans for Iceland.

One is a free walking tour of Reykjavic everyday at 1 pm (http://www.myreykjavik.is/en/About_us)

Yes, it is a teaser for their paid tours but even the free tour is highly rated on trip advisor.

Also I found a little summary and map to make your own walking tour of highlights here http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/landm...avik-3415.html

Have fun planning!
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2011, 06:32 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 55,560
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
Seems I'm going to be in a spot of trouble as I am a very picky eater! I'd been planning on making trips to Bonus or the like for chicken, fresh fruit/veggies to cook. For meat products I eat only chicken, turkey, and beef (no lamb, veal, pork, etc.). I will have to adjust it seems : )>>

as I understand you are going to be staying mainly in the Reykjavik area and talking day trips you should be fine - just stock up with food from the many very good bakeries before you go. our more "interesting" culinary experiences happened away from the centre, so you should be fine.

have a great trip!
annhig is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:37 PM.