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Just getting started planning a trip to Iceland; could use some input on my itinerary

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Jan 16th, 2007, 08:38 PM
  #1
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Just getting started planning a trip to Iceland; could use some input on my itinerary

DH and I have decided to go to Iceland this year! I'm very excited, as I have been wanting to go there for about 10 years. Unfortunately, we will probably only have a week to 10 days there, so I'm trying to keep the itinerary light. I have identified the South Coast and the Lake Myvatn regions as two areas that would probably hold a lot of interest for us. I am also kind of interested in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. I don't want to try to tackle the entire Ring Road in a week because I want some time to hike at every location.

So, my question (after all that) is, if we wanted to see the following:

Reykjavik
Thingvellir
Geysir & Gullfoss
hiking around Thorsmork
Laki lava flows
Skaftafell Nat'l Park
Jokulsarlon iceberg lagoon

would that be enough to keep us occupied for a week? Would it be too much to try to tackle in a week? Should we try to fly up to Lake Myvatn for a couple of days as well? Our interests are hiking, geology and photography, and I know DH doesn't want to spend long stretches in a car. I want to fit in one horseback ride in there, and I was thinking that a boat ride at Jokulsarlon might be fun. DH is very interested in seeing a glacier and I'd be up for doing a guided glacier hike.

Thanks in advance for any input!
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Jan 17th, 2007, 03:51 AM
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eri
 
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10 days is enough to see quite a lot of Iceland. I would suggest staying the 2 first nights in Reykjavik. After the first night, drive to Thingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss. Easy drive and a nice day's trip. Return to Rejkjavik for the second noght. The 3rd day take a trip to either Landmannalaugar or to Thorsmork. If you use the public transportation, you can stay there overnight and hike around the area. That brings you to the 4th night. try to stay around Vik. 5th night - near Hofn. on the way you can stop for a few hours in Jokulsarlon. I personally don't think that this is the trip's highlight but... In this area you can also tour the glacier. So we get to the 6th night, drive till you reach Egilsstadir. 7th and 8th night in the Myvatn area. If you still have energy and money try to take a 1 day superjeep trip to Askja. Amazing! Don't skip Myvatn. Now depends if you have the time, go to Akureyri and either return the car there and fly back to Reykjavik, or drive back. I would skip Snaefellsnes. As nice and interesting Snaefellsnes is, it cannot compare to the Myvatn and Askja areas. You could always add a day to Myvatn and go to Husavik and the marvelous nature that is around the whole area.
Try to avoid hotels and stay in "farm stays" which are actually mini guesthouses that provide you with bed and breakfast and most of them offer also dinners, which is an advatage, since there are almost no restaurants on the route.
Hope this helps.
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Jan 17th, 2007, 03:54 AM
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The messege was sent accidentally before I had a chance to correct all the typos...
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Jan 17th, 2007, 08:47 PM
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Thank you, eri! This is a big help.

About how long does it take to drive from Hofn to Egilsstadir and from there to the Myvatn region? I've looked at the distance charts, but I understand that one has to drive a little more cautiously in Iceland, is that correct?

Do you think it would be possible to rent a car for part of the trip, and drop it off somewhere and take a bus for the sections of the trip where we don't need that much flexibility? I think we might use public transportation between Hofn, Egilsstadir and Myvatn if we had the option. Then we could rent a car in the Myvatn area, explore for a few days and fly back to Reykjavik.

Thanks again for the help!
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Jan 18th, 2007, 03:37 AM
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eri
 
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We took 1 day for Hofn-Egilsstadir and 1 more day for Egilsstadr to Myvatn. It took us that long not because of the distances and not because of the roads, we simply stopped wherever we saw interesting sites and enjoying the ride. The roads are extremely easy to drive. The traffic was almost non existant. Some of the roads we drove on were gravel roads but we saw that they were working on them and I am sure that by now those are most probably just regular roads. Narrow, but more than sufficient for the amount of traffic they carry. I am not at all sure that you can return a car in Hofn. It is a tiny place! I also think that you will not save a lot by going part of the way by bus. They will most probably charge you for drop off in a different location. Buses also cost money! And... you'll miss all the sites on the route. The only time we dropped off a car in a location other than Reykjavik was in Akureyri, which is the second largest town in Iceland. You most definitely need a car in Myvatn. Myvatn is not a town it is an area. I am not at all sure that you will be able to rent a car there. You probably will have to go by bus to Akureyei to pick a rental. This seems a lot of bother to me. I would rather rent a car in Keflavik (the international airport) upon arrival, and return it either in Akureyri and take a flight from there to Reykjavik, or take it all the way back to Reykjavik and return it Keflavik airport. This would be my preference. You have to take into account that Keflavik is about 30 miles from Reykjavik. All transportations cost money.
Also accommodations are less expensive (still not cheap!) if you stay in farm houses. You cannot do it if you don't have a car. Places to eat are also a problem when you are on the way. We always carry food for sandwiches and light meals when we are on the road and stop wherever we like to eat. You absolutely have to reserve all your accommodations in advance. I found a local agency that was very helpful in reserving farm stays and car rentals: Nonni Travel. I used them twice and liked very much their attitude and services - http://www.nonnitravel.is/ I once used another agency and was very upset with their attitude. I'll never use them again so my advise is to avoid them - Iceland Travel. In genral, I found that it is very difficult to do all those reservation by yourself. I booked our hotels in Reykjavik by myself. Let me know if you need any suggestions. Hope this helps.
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Jan 19th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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Thanks very much for all the great information, eri! I guess we will just keep the car if we decide to visit Myvatn.

Also, thanks for the travel agent referral. Nonni looks like a good agency. Just curious - why was it difficult for you to book lodging on your own? Was it the language or just the hassle of making multiple bookings?

Did you find it easy to find places to buy food? Did you need a cooler in the car or is that a silly question?
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Jan 19th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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I usually do all the bookings and reservation by myself. Now, with the internet it so easy. You can try and do it through the farmstays organization. They also act as an agency and you could approach every farm directly. this is their site: http://www.farmholidays.is/. I can't really explain why I found it easier to deal with an agency every time I went to Iceland. I think that the agency knows which farms are better, and I received all the answers in on e-mail. I paid them in advance with a credit card and all worked just fine. (not so with Iceland Travel!!! beware)
You don't need a cooler in the car. We bought food in a supermarket in Reykjavik, and found little food stores on the way. Sometimes we ate in gas station cafeterias. As I mentioned before the nights in Reykjavik I booked directly. All the 4 times I visited Iceland I was very lucky with my choices, rate and locations.
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Jan 19th, 2007, 10:43 AM
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FYI, not sure when you're going, but just got an e-mail yesterday or the day before about IcelandAir having a pretty appealing fare sale!
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Feb 6th, 2007, 08:20 PM
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cantstayhome, thanks for the tip. That's good to know!
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Feb 12th, 2007, 09:30 PM
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Guys, I just booked our plane tickets. Woohoo! We took advantage of Icelandair's fare sale, so we'll be going at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend and staying for a week. I'm in touch with a couple of travel agencies for help with bookings. I'll let you guys know how it goes. I'm very happy to finally have the ball rolling on this trip!
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Feb 19th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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sunny,

if you run out of things to occupy you, check out the Reykjanesfolkur (spell?) National Park just south of Reykjavik. It worked out well for us to visit on our last day...drove thru the area on our way to Blue Lagoon before catching our afternoon flight. It seems to be an area overlooked by tourists... a gorgeous road along the south coast, full of flourescent colored lava.

kay in Michigan
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Mar 27th, 2007, 08:41 AM
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This thread might as well have been written in direct regards to my itinerary and travel questions! THANKS ERI!!

Would you mind doing a quick scan of mine? 10 days, late May, 2WD car, camping most nights.

Arrive: 7AM
1) Keflavik to Skogar. Ladmannalaugar if possible?

2) Sokgar, then Myrdalur to Skaftafell.

3) Skaftafell, then Jokulsarlon to Hofn.

4) Hofn to Egilsstadir.

5) Egilsstadir to Jokulsarglufur

6) Jokulsarglufur to Husavik
(whale-watch)

7) Husavik, then Myvatn to Akureyri

8) Akureyri to Skagafjordur
(horseback ride)

9) Skagafjordur to Reykjavik

10) Reykjavik to Keflavik
Depart: 5PM

Specifically:
-Can you get close to Landmannalaugar by 2WD vehicle? I know the cars are not covered on F-roads.

-And the stretch from Skagafjordur to Reykjavik is the longest of the trip at about 190 miles. Any consolation or advice?

-Am I leaving enough time to travel safely between destinations? Enough time to marvel surreal views? Enough time to hike what screams to be hiked? Enough time to relaxed what whispers to relax? Enough time to dine at the don't-miss spots? Enough time to set up camp?
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Mar 27th, 2007, 02:30 PM
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globalgourmand,

2WD vehicle? I know the cars are not covered on F-roads.

Apart from the fact that you may have no insurance whatsoever if the hire company does not let you take a car on certain roads my understanding is that it is a legal requirement to use 4WD on F roads.

Enough time to hike what screams to be hiked?

If by hike you mean a proper walk I would say no. If you mean spend a couple of hours taking a short walk, yes.
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Mar 28th, 2007, 06:09 AM
  #14
eri
 
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I think that you have already received the answer. NO! You cannot take a 2WD to Landmannalaugar!!! First as wasleys mentioned it is simple not allowed, and second you might get stuck on very difficult dirt roads if you are lucky, and in rivers if you are not!
A trip to Landmannalugar takes about 10-12 hours. It is impossible to "jump" off the plane and do it all in 1 day. Myvatn and vicinity requires at least 2 days. You cannot run from Husavik to Myvatn an Akureyri in one day!
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Mar 28th, 2007, 11:31 PM
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I had a feeling Landmannalaugar would be impossible, thanks for the confirmation!

A couple hours walk will be okay.

If I take Husavik and Akureyri out of Day 7, could I do (most) of Myvatn in one day? Say... Dimmuborgir, steambaths, Námaskarð sulfur springs, and a bit of bird-watching?

Also: What about adding a quick kayak in Vesturhop area before heading back to Reykjavik? (Day 9)
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Mar 29th, 2007, 03:01 AM
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Hi,
Just added a new post myself , but then saw this very helpful post. Am hoping you can all help us too. We are staying in Rekjavik for 3 nights. On our 3rd day Sunday we really want to experience nature and beautiful scenery - we have a 4WD any suggestions for where we can go for one day trip ? We will have already done the Golden Circle on day 2 and plan to go the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport.
Thanks for all help.
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Apr 1st, 2007, 05:31 PM
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Bookmarking
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Apr 1st, 2007, 06:21 PM
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From all I read, Iceland is quite the most expensive place in western Europe. You might want to look into costs -- car, fuel, food, rooms, etc.
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Apr 23rd, 2007, 02:08 PM
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When are you going?
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Apr 24th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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We are going for 3 days in July. We are planning to do Reykjavik,
Golden Circle, maybe whale watching and Blue Lagoon. We would like to do some driving around the South Ring Road. Will a small car be OK or do we need 4WD? Are Thingvellir, Geysir & Gullfoss part of Golden Circle. Should we add/delete something. Any recommendation on modest accommodations. Thanks
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