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Iceland

Has anyone here been to iceland? Can you offer advice on where to stay and what to do? I'm thinking of going first week of July with my adult daughter. we'll have as long as a week.

Posted by
16883 posts

While this web site doesn't have a section dedicated to Iceland, you'll find a few articles and other Forum threads using the Search function above. See also this one-hour travel talk video by my colleague, Kevin.

Posted by
334 posts

I spent 10 days in Iceland in early July 2013. There is a lot to do depending on your tastes. You've asked a very open-ended question, and I could write for quite a while about my experiences. Many travelers only have a couple days in Iceland and so stick to Reykjavik and the Golden Circle route. With your longer time, you could drive around the Ring Road, although at just one week, you may feel rushed. However, I highly recommend getting out into the country and exploring. Along the Ring Road you'll find cute little towns, ancient lava fields with ancient moss, a glacial lagoon, fjords, thermal baths, etc. There's even a desert not too far from the road (largest desert in Europe). There are also tours for puffin-watching and whale-watching. You can go horseback riding, but don't call them "ponies." (The small Icelandic horses don't like being called ponies.) And there are countless waterfalls everywhere you go. The natural beauty of the country is just stunning.

Regarding accommodation, many of the small towns will only have a handful of options, so that makes it easier as there aren't that many choices. I don't know of any place that would have a strong preference over the next. In Reykjavik itself, it is easiest to stay as close to the pedestrian area of downtown as possible.

Posted by
327 posts

We enjoyed several days in Reykjavik and area as a stopover en route to Europe in August 2014.

You can find plenty of tourism information on the official website for Iceland http://www.visiticeland.com/

Enjoy - it's a fascinating country!

Posted by
279 posts

I spent three days in Iceland last summer and loved it! Really, really wished for more time there. I used this blog a lot for trip prep and took the blogger's fantastic walking tour of Reykjavik as well. Despite its name, it, while focused on Reykjavik, discusses the rest of the country as well.

http://www.iheartreykjavik.net

Caroline

Posted by
110 posts

We spent a few days in May this year. The things that stood out for us:

Everyone and their uncle can go on a Golden Circle tour. Ours (through RE.is) included a two-hour stopover at a local day spa to soak in the natural hot water. HEAVEN. It made for a longer day (leave at 8:30, home by 6pm) but well worth it.

There are a TON of guesthouses in Reykjavik. We stayed at the Captain Reykjavik and had a grand time with the ladies there.

We found Reykjavik restaurants to be quite expensive. Worth every krona, but very expensive. (Dinner for two at a gastro-pub downtown: 1 beer each, 1 shared app, two entrees was the equivalent of US $125. Next night, a passable Italian dinner for two, two entrees and fountain drinks was about US $50). It's true that pretty much everything you buy that isn't wool or fish, you're buying its plane ticket, too.

If you have spent much time in Catholic or Episcopalian churches, the difference between those and Hallgrimskirkja was quite stunning. (It's beautiful in its own right, but the difference was the most noticeable.) I love that the only real decoration in the church is only visible from the clock tower.

To a person, everyone we encountered in the shops and on the street spoke English as well, if not better, than some Americans I know.

If you're travelling in July... If you have difficulty sleeping in bright rooms, bring an eyemask. For the first week in July, sunrise is at 3:15am and sunset is at midnight.

And finally, I ride a motorcycle and have been known to go bungee jumping and skydiving. The roads in Iceland terrify me. Narrow country lanes in England are broad expressways in comparison. Public transportation is easy enough. Unless you absolutely need it and you have nerves of steel, renting a car is superfluous.

Have fun!

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you everyone. This has been very helpful. I did see Kevin's great talk. I have some planning to do!

One thing I am wondering. It would seem with the long summer days, most hotels, etc would have black out curtains. Or are eye masks a necessity? Thank you!

Posted by
334 posts

We took eye masks with us, but didn't need them -- we were always so tired from our daily adventures, we had no issues with sleeping. However, the eye masks did get used on our flights between Reykjavik and JFK. I would take an eye mask just in case you need them. Whether you will need them depends on how light sensitive you are and how early in the evenings you will be going to bed. There really is no "night" in July -- it only gets to a dusky twilight for a couple hours. If you need very dark surroundings in order to sleep, definitely take them.

Posted by
60 posts

I have gone twice, both during summer and the second time leading a group of middle school students. I would recommend that if you have a week you head up to Akureyri and the Myvatn area. This region is gorgeous and you can get flights from Reykjavik for around $200 RT or rent a car and drive 6 hours each way (but that's a lot of driving for a 7 day trip). Husavik is one of the best places in the country for whale watching, if you get ambitious you can cross the arctic circle, and the Jarbodin nature baths are like the Blue Lagoon but way more local--and way cheaper. If it were me I would do 4 days in Akureyri/surrounds and 3 in Reykjavik.

Posted by
1856 posts

We are just finishing our trip to Iceland. We had 10 days and it was not nearly enough to see and do all we wanted on the ring road. With seven days, I would spend a couple of days in Reykjavik and then see the sights on the south coast for the other five days. That will keep you more than busy. Do the Golden Circle, see Reynisfjara area, Skogafoss, Seljlandfoss. There are also whale watching and puffin watching cruises/day trips, horseback riding. Iceland is gorgeous and we plan to come back. Have a great time.

Posted by
6 posts

I loved everything about this country, even when it was drizzling. I went for seven days and regret not going longer. We did a tour through Nordic Travelers that books all of our guest houses for us, rented our car, gave us an emergency phone, picked us up from the airport, and provided us with more than enough materials. We were free to choose our activities, but it helped having suggestions as we planned. We spent our first day walking around Reykyavik and picked up our rental the next morning. We went as far as the eastern fjords and then came back west, so we completed a little under half of Ring Road. The northern half isn't traveled as much and isn't as direct, so it takes a bit longer than the southern half. The Golden Circle is a must, but it definitely is the busiest of all the spots we went to. The further east you went, the smaller the crowds, especially in the evening since the bus day tours out of Reykyavik are going home. We found ourselves doing quite a bit during the day with a stop for lunch. To save money for our dinners, we bought a good sized lunch that we split three ways, which usually cost us about $10 a person. Many of the popular tourist spots have restaurants and food trucks in the summer. They were all quite tasty and about the same price as other places. We also brought a snack bag from the states to help on the hikes. We ate dinner at all our guest houses since there weren't always a lot of choices depending on where we were staying. We found we had to plan our check in time and dinner time for each guest house into our day's adventures. Howeverm since you are going in July like us, after we refueled from dinner, we not back our for more adventure since it was still just as bright outside. We would visit the waterfalls at 10:00 because the tours were gone and families were in bed. We walked behind the waterfall at 10:30 with about four or five people. It was wonderful. We went back in the day on our way back and there were people everywhere. Enjoy!