Iceland 2 week trip itinerary/report

Old Jul 14th, 2015, 02:03 PM
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Iceland 2 week trip itinerary/report

Just back from 2 weeks in Iceland. Below is what we ended up doing day to day. 'We' is me, hub and our 9 year old son. We drove about 1500 miles (I think) but aside from 2 days, it didn't seem like we were driving that much. Everything worked out really well and pretty much as planned, except the day we couldn't get to our cabin near Skaftafell when the road was closed due to wind. Had a great time, found the Icelanders to be friendly, helpful and polite, everything wasn't painfully expensive, we had all types of weather from sunny and warm to freezing to crazy wind. We mostly shopped at grocery stores and ate in. Ask away if you have any questions.

Day 1 - Sun, June 28 KEF - Laugarvatn
Sixt car rental - 2WD Chevy Trax
Thingvellir
Fontana Geothermal Baths at Laugarvatn
overnight: Golden Circle Apartments, Laugarvatn

Day 2 - Mon, June 29 Laugarvatn - southwest
Geysir
Gullfoss
Gamla Laugin/Secret Lagoon at Fludir
Seljalandsfoss
overnight: North Star Cottage, Eyvindarhólar (southwest)

Day 3 - Tue, June 30 southwest to Skaftafell
Skogafoss
Dyrholaey
Reynisfjara
Vik
Fjadragljufur canyon
overnight: Hotel Skaftafell (only because the road was closed and we couldn't get to our Nonhamar cabin)

Day 4 - Wed, July 1 Skaftafell
Icelandic Mountain Guides - Blue Ice Experience (glacier hike)
hiking at Skaftafell: Svartifoss and Sel
overnight: Nonhamar cabin, Hof

Day 5 - Thu, July 2 Skaftafell
Jokulsarlon, amphibious boat
Ingolfhofsdi tractor tour to see puffins
overnight: Nonhamar cabin, Hof

Day 6 - Fri, July 3 Skaftafell to Myvatn (north)
Drove from Hof (near Skaftafell) to Myvatn with a detour to Borgarfjordur Eystri to see puffins.
overnight: Dimmuborgir guesthouse, Myvatn

Day 7 - Sat, July 4 Myvatn
Dimmuborgir lava field
hiked up Hverfjall (the big crater)
Hverir geothermal area
Krafla - power plant visitors center, Viti
Myvatn Nature Baths
dinner at Vogafjos (cowshed café)
overnight: Dimmuborgir guesthouse, Myvatn

Day 8 - Sun, July 5 Myvtan
Dettifoss
Krafla - Leirhnjukur lava field (about a 2 mile walk through the area)
Grjótagjá
drove around the lake
dinner from Daddi's pizza
overnight: Dimmuborgir guesthouse, Myvatn

Day 9 - Mon, July 6 Myvatn to Akureyri
Godafoss
Laufas turf house museum
Akureyri - Brynja ice cream, botanical gardens, poked around town
overnight: Saeluhus

Day 10 - Tue, July 7 day trip around the Trollaskagi peninsula
Siglufjordur herring museum
Hofsos pool
Glaumbaer turf house museum
overnight: Saeluhus

Day 11 - Wed, July 8 Akureyri to Reykjavik
Borgarnes Settlement Center
overnight: Gray Tower apartment, Reykjavik

Day 12 - Thu, July 9 Reykjavik
Hallgrimskirkja
Reykjavik 871 museum
Viking maritime museum, Odinn ship tour
Valdis ice cream
wandered around
overnight: Gray Tower apartment, Reykjavik

Day 13 - Fri, July 10 Reykjavik
Blue Lagoon
Icelandic Phallological Museum
wandered around town
overnight: Gray Tower apartment, Reykjavik

Day 14 - Sat, July 11 Reykjavik - KEF - home
Kolaportid weekend flea market
Harpa
home!
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Old Jul 14th, 2015, 03:39 PM
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wow, you packed a lot in!

highlights/lowlights?

Best food/worst food?

what you would/wouldn't repeat?

[you know the sort of thing!]
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Old Jul 14th, 2015, 04:01 PM
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I packed in as much as I thought I could get away with before the hub and child overruled! ar ar

highlights/favorites
- the pools! We visited 5 hot springs pools and loved them! We went to Fontana at Laugarvatn, Secret Lagoon at Fludir, the pool at Hofsos, Myvatn Nature Baths and the Blue Lagoon. Hard to pick a fave, but the Blue Lagoon was last on the list.
- hiking uphill from Skogafoss
- hiking along Fjadragljufur canyon
- Skaftafell - everything we did in that area, including Jokulsarlon and Ingolfhofsdi. The 2 days we spent at Nonhamar were wonderful!
- Everything in the Myvatn area

lowlights
- The wind at Dyrholaey and Reynisfjara was insane! It was interesting to experience, but it pretty well sucked.
- Same wind causing the closure of the ring road south of Skaftafell.
- Realizing that I had just paid $1.65 each for several standard postcards. ack! My fault, shouldn't paid more attention, they weren't that expensive everywhere.
- Tour buses. I know, I know, that's the only way some people can go, and I ack that they are fellow travelers, curious about the world and all that. But when a tour bus pulls up to an otherwise empty site, suddenly there are 100 people where there were none.

Food
- Loved all of the dairy products we had! Wonderful cheese, ice cream, butter. Even the soft serve at the gas station was fabulous! Local dairy products weren't insanely expensive.
- Same for smoked salmon. Yum! And maybe cheaper than at home.
- We didn't eat out much so can't say much about restaurants. Vogafjos (cowshed cafe) in Myvatn was great! I thought it was going to be hokey touristy but it wasn't. Food was wonderful.

If I had it to do over...
- I might skip the Blue Lagoon. It was the 5th pool we went to and we liked the others more. It was crowded, I had to book in advance, it was over-hyped and about the same as the Myvatn Nature Baths. We went on one of our days in Reykjavik so it ate up a lot of the day.
- I wouldn't plan on buying a phone at the airport. I have a cheapy flip phone at home (I'm just not a cell phone kinda person) that wouldn't work there, so I figured I'd buy a cheapy in duty free there. They were sold out of cheapys, so I had to spend a chunk and could've gotten a much cheaper one at home if I had bothered to check on it.
- I wouldn't take so much food! I had read how expensive everything was, AND my kiddo can be really picky, so I packed all kinds of stuff. Barely made a dent in it.
- I wouldn't take so many clothes. It was cold. We didn't sweat. Could've worn the same thing for days if we had wanted.
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Old Jul 15th, 2015, 07:04 AM
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I love the last point - no one would know

Glad you had a good time. I know it's going to be windy. I keep looking at the daily forecast, and it's about 15mph winds EVERY day. So I figure that's the baseline. We head out on our 16 day trip on Friday!
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Old Jul 15th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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Have fun!! We experienced a wide range of weather and often within one day. It wasn't always windy, but the day we went around the south it was INSANE. So insane that farther around, just beyond Skaftafell, they closed the road for several hours due to the wind. A camper van had been blown off the road and rolled a few times. The people inside weren't hurt. We saw the van later off the road and it was pretty scary! The top was torn off and it looked like a debris field. The wind there is not like wind other places! It was 80-90 mph that day. I found the daily forecast to not be very helpful, but maybe I wasn't looking at the right forecast. It seemed like everyday had some sun, some clouds, some light drizzle, some rain, some wind. There were only a few times that it rained enough to be a nuisance.
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Old Jul 15th, 2015, 10:54 AM
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That's what we're hoping for - 'not enough to be a nuisance' for most of the time. I frequently vacation in Ireland and Scotland, so rain doesn't scare me. Rain so heavy you can't see ten feet in front of you is another matter. And such winds as you describe - definitely scary!

I remember one trip we did in Ireland up Conor Pass in Dingle. It is supposed to be a lovely vista, but the wind was so strong I couldn't open my car door! We had to move the car around to get it open, so it was angled differently. And then we couldn't see for the rain and fog!
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Old Jul 17th, 2015, 02:52 PM
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That's how it was on Dyrholaey. We could barely get out of our car and it was blowing so hard it was difficult to focus. When it's like that, careful how you open your door. I've read stories of rental car doors being severely damaged when the wind caught them. I believe it!
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Old Jul 18th, 2015, 03:51 AM
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I'm pleased to say that although we had rain, we didn't experience any of these high winds when we were in Iceland but it's as well to be prepared for them i think.

hope you have a wonderful trip, GD, and I look forward to reading your TR!
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 10:13 PM
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Your report has sparked my interest. Thank you.
Could you advise an approximate daily budget, not including hotels or hire car,which we would prepay, but including petrol, sightseeing and one restaurant meal a day, please?
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Old Jul 21st, 2015, 01:39 AM
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Hi! Very exciting to read, especially about the winds. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2015, 06:01 PM
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Carrabella, daily budget for how many people? Most sightseeing is free, it's the tours that add up quickly. Tourist pools like the Blue Lagoon are expensive (it's 45 euros per adult, kids free) but local pools are pretty cheap, like $5 for an adult. The amount you spend per day can vary widely, same for accommodations and car. For example, our 2 week rental of a 2WD Toyota Trax (with GPS) cost about $800. The same type car on other rental sites at the time of my booking cost almost twice that.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2015, 06:32 PM
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Nice report. We had a guide from Icelandic Mountain Guides for our three day hike. Nice young guy. Thank God we didn't have strong winds like you did. Too dangerous.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 02:37 AM
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Tally, you are right - most of the natural sights in Iceland are free, but it's the getting there that is expensive. Who did you book your car with? that sounds like a good price!

[welcome back, cold. we've been missing you, especially in the lounge!]
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:29 AM
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Ann unfortunately I have to stay out of the Lounge until I can assure the family I will no longer quiz every visitor to the house about any future wedding arrangements.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:53 AM
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Shame, cold. there are some threads there which need you.

[and not just the wedding dress ones!]
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 09:27 AM
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Sixt. I had read lots of bad reviews on them and all car rental companies on trip advisor (I suspect some of them are actually fake and put up by competitors, but who knows) but it was so much cheaper I couldn't resist. I booked the car and flights almost a year in advance but I saw the same rate for the car months later. Sixt was fine. The clerk gave me the standard YOU MUST TAKE OUR INSURANCE OR YOU'LL PAY FOR THE WHOLE CAR routine since I was using my credit card's insurance, the car was fairly beat up, but other than that, no problems with the car and no problems turning it in.

I keep thinking I'll write a better trip report with more info but haven't had time yet. I totally enjoyed reading yours, Annhig, so I feel obligated to do better. I got some good info from you, like going all the way around instead of halfway and back, looking up grocery store names BEFORE we were driving around looking for them, and I'm sure some other stuff.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 10:03 AM
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You're too kind, Tally. It's always nice when others learn from one's mistakes and we made some big ones on that trip; strangely though, it's the good bits I remember best.

I'm sure that you've got some good info to pass on too, like your car hire tip, which was obviously a success!
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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Here we go... more info than you could possible want. I sent emails to my family during the trip, so that's the part at the top, then I added stuff I thought you fodorites might find helpful.

Day 1 - KEF - Laugarvatn
Sixt car rental - 2WD Chevy Trax
Thingvellir
Fontana Geothermal Baths at Laugarvatn
overnight: Golden Circle Apartments, Laugarvatn

Hey! Going on 30+ hours without sleep so forgive any typos... We got here on time, no problems, got our luggage, found a phone to buy, got some cash, found the car rental people, etc. First stop: a grocery store. We had to find a 24x7 one for Sunday morning at 10:00. ar ar X and I went in while Y slept in the car. Then onto Thingvellir national park. We wandered and checked it out. It was pretty windy but not thaaaat cold. Then onto Laugarvatn and to the Fontana Spa. It's a hot springs pool. Loved it!!!! We had our first shower-naked-before-pool experience. ar ar We were ok with that but it was the walk to the warm water while wet in the cold blasting wind that was a bit unsettling. The pool is really nifty with a few different temp pools, right next to a lake, while it was chilly, windy and sprinkling. We stayed a few hours then came to our apartment for the night.

Notes
X is my 9 year old son, Y is hub. 

Mistake #1: Thinking I would buy a cheapy cell phone at Elko in duty free. They were sold out of cheapys and I had to spend a lot more than I had planned. Should've bought a cheapy unlocked phone in the US.

Duty free: If you plan to drink any booze on your trip (beer, wine, etc), buy the max you can in duty free. They tax the sh*t out of it, and the liquor stores are often not open, so stock up at the airport.

Cash – You don't really need much cash, if any. Every place takes credit cards, even for a cup of coffee. A booth at the flea market didn't take cc's, but that was the only case we found. You need a cc with a chip. If you plan to ever get gas from an unmanned gas station (and there are some around the island that are unmanned all the time), you need a PIN to go with your cc (or you can get prepaid cards for the N1 stations, so I read, but we didn't do that).

I planned this trip for over a year! I looked up what all the grocery store names are so we would recognize them, and found the 24x7 store beforehand and had the address ready for the GPS. Speaking of GPS's, if you take your own, make sure you have access to an Icelandic keypad for your Icelandic map, or you'll never find anything. Speaking of grocery stores, we often found that they didn't open until 10:00 or 11:00.

Sixt car rental – They were supposed to meet us outside customs but no one was there (granted we took forever in duty free), but then we couldn’t find their pick up place, fortunately had a phone so called, blah blah, finally someone showed up.

If you're planning a trip to Iceland I'm sure you've already heard about the requirement to shower naked before entering their pools, right?  It really wasn't a big deal. Don't look at anyone. They're not looking at you. It's ok. Really. 

Bonus points #1: I bought cheapy towels at Target ($4 each) to take on our trip so we never had to rent towels, saving us at least a few bucks. 
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 02:12 PM
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Day 2 - Mon, June 29 Laugarvatn - southwest
Geysir
Gullfoss
Gamla Laugin/Secret Lagoon at Fludir
Seljalandsfoss
overnight: North Star Cottage, Eyvindarhólar (southwest)

We went to the main tourist sites, Geysir (the one that all others are named for) and Gullfoss, a big ol' waterfall with a parking lot full of tourbuses. Then off the tourist circuit to a place called the secret lagoon (Gamla Laugin), another hot springs pool. Loved it! This one was just a rectangle pool with a gravel and moss bottom, fed by hot springs bubbling up all around. There's even a mini-geysir next to the pool. We could get used to the hot springs pools. Then onto another tourist waterfall, Seljalandsfoss. Another place crawling with tour bus people. It's pretty nifty and you can walk behind it and get soaked, so we did. Then onto our cabin for the night. We found it, there were only 2 of these cabins, off the main hwy, but hey, someone was in our cabin (that I booked and paid for last Sept). Fortunately I knew that a nearby hotel (Hotel Lambafell) managed the cabins, so we went there, where there was no front desk, just a paper with a phone number posted, and called the number. ooops! They would look into it. A nice young man appeared and gave us the other cabin. Fine with us, but we half expected someone to show up later trying to claim it. Groovy little cabin with a kitchen and loft. We dined on fine Icelandic smoked salmon and went to bed early. The bizarre thing about going to bed is that it really doesn't ever get dark.

Notes
Geysir has a huge gift shop and lots of bathrooms.  The site is free. You can walk all over, watch Strokkur erupt and still be done in 30 minutes. Gullfoss also has café and gift shop but I really couldn't tell you much about it because when we were there, it was packed to the gills. The walkway to the waterfall wasn't crowded though. The Secret Lagoon wasn't crowded at all. I don't think anyone was with me while I showered naked. ar ar I don't believe they had any privacy stalls (same for Fontana) but then again, I had resolved to doing as the locals do and not being a wimp. 

North Star Cottage – Someone did show up later! They drove down the road to the 2 cabins, got out and walked around with confused looks, then piled back in their car. I'm guessing they double booked. If you stay there, maybe reconfirm right before your trip. The number I had for them was the same number I had for the Golden Circle Apartments that no one ever answered. Oh, I forgot to write about that on the previous post. Here it is.

Golden Circle Apts – Laugarvatn – Decent, plain apartment near the lake and Fontana pool. The email confirmation said to call for early check in. I called, and called, no answer, ever, so we blew that off and went to the pool. Later we realized they hadn't left sheets for the couch. Called and called again, doo dee doo, no answer. Went to the apartment they mentioned in their email and rang the bell, and rang, and rang, and finally was greeted by the very unhappy keeper/owner. Got sheets and fortunately didn't need to
contact management again.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 02:13 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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lol - that's pretty good for someone who's gone for over 30 hours without sleep.

some great tips, sound like you had a terrific time.
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