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Iceland trip help please!

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May 12th, 2012, 07:37 AM
  #1
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Iceland trip help please!

My husband and I just decided to go to Iceland for the last two weeks of June. We have a 16 month old daughter so are thinking of renting a house or two and using them as a home base. I haven't yet decided if we'll spend our full two weeks in Iceland or try to do a stopover there and then continue on to Oslo or somewhere else in N. Europe.

My questions are-if we do rent a house, what area would be the best that would allow us to see the most sites without having to spend all day in the car? Our goal isn't to see all of Iceland, we just want to see some of the major sites and are perfectly content to just spend some days near our rental and go for walks, cook, read, etc. I also am not comfortable with being more than an hour from medical care in case our child needs it so that will certainly limit the areas we see. I'm thinking we may rent in one area of Iceland for 3 or 4 nights and then move along to another area.

Please give me your best advice for such a trip. What would you consider must-sees, and what would you leave out? Is two days in Reykjavik enough?

Thanks all!
Jennifer
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May 12th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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^I should clarify-I'm OK with being away from medical facilities during the day, just want wherever we choose to stay at night to be no more than an hour away from medical care.
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May 12th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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jenski - this is the way we did Iceland and to be honest, I don't think that it's the best way. there are long distances between many of the best things to see, and just staying in one of two places will mean that you spend a lot of time on the road - and the same stretches of road as well.

there is quite a lot to see and do within an hour or so of Reykjavik - you could spend quite a long time there, and then perhaps move on to Scandanavia.
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May 12th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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annhig-so happy you replied, thoroughly enjoyed your trip report. OK, if we were to use Reykjavik as our home base and just chose one other area to go to for a few nights, which area would you recommend? My husband is a naturalist and would be pretty happy in any natural environment so we really aren't picky.
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May 12th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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We based at Reykjavik for half our trip and Akureyi for the other half. Why? Because they are one and two cities on the island. I think you can follow my name back to the tour but it was about 4 years ago. The rest of the place is very empty, think of the emptiest palce you have ever seen and realise that it was full in comparison to some of the hills and valley here.

Good news though as there is lots of hot water bubbling out of the ground so try and plan to be able to get to these sort of places at least once a day.
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May 12th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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jenski - glad you enjoyed the trip report.

ideally anyone with naturalist interests should go to the western fjords - the bird life there is just wonderful. However, failing that i would go to Stykissholmur and get the ferry to flatley - the sight of all the puffins flying around as you sail along is terrific.

http://www.seatours.is/FerryBaldur/

you can go whale watching from the next town along - we saw nothing for about 2 hours then just as the captain was about to give us we came across a pod of killer whales.

stkholsmur is a reasonably big town which i would imagine would have normal medical facilities but I wouldn't reckon on that being available generally.

We didn't get as far as akureyi, but i've no reason to suppose that bilboburgler isn't correct when he recommends it as another place to stay.
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May 13th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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My family and I went to Iceland last summer. We stayed in a great little town about an hour to an hour and a half outside of Reykjavik. The town is called Hvergardi and is a nice taking off point for some two hour drives deeper into icelands south. Hvergardi is a get her,al town complete with natural hot springs hot mud pits and lava tubes less than 10 k away (if you can find it).
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May 13th, 2012, 02:13 PM
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My family and I went to Iceland last summer. We stayed in a great little town about an hour to an hour and a half outside of Reykjavik. The town is called Hvergardi and is a nice taking off point for some two hour drives deeper into icelands south. Hvergardi is a get her,al town complete with natural hot springs hot mud pits and lava tubes less than 10 k away (if you can find it). It also has a quaint and small population of locals, a few resterants and grocery stores, bike renta, tour operators, parks Nd natural health spa. things we saw on day trips from Hvergardi are, selfos, gulfoss, the southern coast, Vik and all of the Golden circle tour. If you have two weeks, do a week here and do a week in the north.
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May 14th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for the input. I finally got a guidebook over the weekend so it's all making sense to me now as to what is located where. We've decided to just go to Iceland so we will have a good 10 days there which sounds like plenty of time to see lots of wonderful things. I will post some more questions as I get deeper into planning.
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May 17th, 2012, 12:54 PM
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Well, first step is done, flights are booked. We have 10 days which seems perfect. Now to bite the bullet and book the car. $1000 for one week, not including gas or CDW. Yowza. This is not going to be a cheap trip, that's for sure!
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May 17th, 2012, 03:04 PM
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Now to bite the bullet and book the car. $1000 for one week, not including gas or CDW. >>


Jenski - that's roughly what we paid, about 4 years ago. you're right about it not being cheap!

one place to get cheap[er] food is petrol stations. many of them have cafes, pizza, hamburgers, etc. also shops, loos, even alcohol. best place to head for in a new place too.
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May 18th, 2012, 08:06 PM
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Ann-just reread your trip report which makes a lot more sense now that I know a little bit more about the lay of the land. I am torn about going to the western fjords with a toddler in tow. We aren't particularly fond of birds (nothing against them, we just don't have much of an interest in them) but that doesn't mean we wouldn't really enjoy that area. So far my itinerary is looking like this: 2 days in Reykjavik, 2 days to do the Golden Circle, and then head to either the Snaef...(I'm too tired to look up how to spell things!) peninsula or to the western fjords, or both for seven days. Initially I thought maybe we'd go to the fjords and then to the Snaef peninsula as you did, but would that boat trip be wise with a child? One option is to just find a nice house somewhere and stay put for a week and make this more of a vacation than a grand tour....anyway, I'd appreciate your input since you've been there, done that-and then some!
I'm not much of a trip planner, I usually just show up somewhere and pretty much wing it but alas, things are different now and obviously with Iceland during high season we need to have a definitive route planned out. At the end of the day I don't know that it really matters where we go as it sounds like it'll be an adventure no matter what we decide.

Your trip report was hilarious-I haven't laughed that much reading something since David Sedaris' last book. I suggest you keep on traveling to keep us Fodorites entertained.
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May 18th, 2012, 08:09 PM
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Forgot to mention-the price I was quoted for a week's rental car was for a COMPACT car. A VW golf, in fact. I can't imagine what a 4WD would be-afraid to ask.
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May 19th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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Forgot to mention-the price I was quoted for a week's rental car was for a COMPACT car. A VW golf, in fact. I can't imagine what a 4WD would be-afraid to ask.>>

for a 4WD we paid £100 per day! we knew that we would be doing quite a lot of driving and there were 4 of us, but most of the cars you see there are VW golfs of the equivalent.

I actually think that you might want to add a day or two to Reykjavik - you can use it as a base to see the Keflavik area [which I thought was pretty weird and therefore interesting] - and also Vik, which is very interesting.

I would definitely recommend the ferry to Flatley, even if you don't go all the way to Baldur - you will have seen from my TR [thanks for your kind words, BTW] that we just loved that trip. a child would find the birds skimming the water very exciting, and there's always the chance of seeing dolphins of similar. the town of Stykkisholmur [where the fery goes from I think] is also very interesting.

if you are not REALLY interested in the bird cliffs at the end of the western fjords, i wouldn't recommend going there - the drive is REALLY hard work with the gravel seemingly going on forever. I just can't imagine doing that with a toddler.

IMO you could pick 3 places to stay, say Reykjavik, somewhere near Gulfoss, and, say, Stykkisholmur, and see most of what you want to see quite easily. if you stayed on farm [or two] very many of them have animals that you offspring could see at the end of the day, which might be fun. here's the link:

http://www.farmholidays.is/
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May 19th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Thanks so much for your input. If we scratch the cliffs, do you think the drive/scenery to Isafjordur is worth it? Or is the whole point of going there to use it as a base to go farther west? If that's the case, we'll just hold off on the fjords altogether and save it for another time when our child can actually walk without assistance. Thank you for the link-going to look for a place to stay in or near Stykkisholmur.
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May 19th, 2012, 03:41 PM
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jenski, i can't help you with Isafjordur as we never made it there. but it's a long way, if you're not going to see the fjords.

i think i would stick to the more central area - with a little one, you will find quite enough to do there, i think.
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May 19th, 2012, 06:24 PM
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You might want to read the novel The Tricking of Freya, which has much Icelandic in it.
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May 22nd, 2012, 05:36 PM
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Jenski - not sure where you are traveling from, but our medical insurance stops at the border. We have to get travel med/evac insurance. Some of the package ins plans include car rental ins, so we skip the CDW. It pays for itself! I use insuremytrip.com and put $0 in the amount to insure, and see what comes up. I buy a plan with $1,00,000 evac. I was also a bit taken aback by the cost of a rental when I checked.
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May 23rd, 2012, 01:27 AM
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Do go the food market in Reykavik, its down by the docks. Go see the blue eggs and other wierd foods they eat.

You may also like the Arnaldur Indridason's Erlendur books or other Icelandic Noir. There are also some fine books about the Affect of WW2 and how the Brits and then the American's put significant stress on what were a relatively isolated society.
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