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Iceland Trip Report - Part One

I have noticed a number of questions relating to Iceland in the forum lately and thought some of you might be interested in our recent experience in that country. We booked a 10 day self-drive vacation package with Icelandair. The package included all hotels and breakfast, a car including cdw, a gps (Garmin), a SIM card for our cell phone and round trip Flybus Plus transfers to and from Keflavik airport.

As Icelandair does not depart from Reno, we flew to Portland, Oregon on Alaska Airlines where we spent the night and caught the flight on Icelandair the next day. Icelandair has other cities on the west coast to fly out of such as SFO and Seattle. It was a 7 hour flight going and 8 hour returning. The service onboard was fine. You do pay for your meals and drinks onboard but you are allowed one free checked bag each. The flight attendants came through the cabin a few times with water, juice, etc. during the flight. So for a budget airline it was not a bad experience.

The hotels in the package were all fine - comfy beds, wifi, clean. None of the hotels offer any amenities such as conditioner or hand lotion so if those are important to you then you need to bring your own. All of the hotels had hairdryers. Our first hotel in Reykjavik was the Reykjavik Lights which was a bit of a hike out of town. We were only there one night but as we had arrived early in the morning and could not check into our hotel until the afternoon we hoofed it into town to see some sights, eat, photograph, etc.

The next day Hertz picked my husband up at the hotel at around 8:30 am and took him to the car rental agency. As we had been advised of people having issues with rental car agencies in Iceland, we opted for the additional insurance. It was an additional $200. I recommend the additional insurance because you sometimes drive on gravel roads and the car ahead of you could kick up a rock and damage the windshield. There are also sandstorms that will take the paint off the car and that is an expensive fix. And while the roads are good, the roads have no shoulder and bank steeply on each side so a moment's inattention and you will flip the car. We brought our own Garmin but the people at the rental agency urged us to use theirs as it was programmed with the Icelandic alphabet which has more characters than the English alphabet. Those additional characters can make a difference in your getting to the correct location.

Our second day we toured the Golden Circle - Gullfoss, Geysir and Pingvellir National Park. We did additional stops at Kerid and at Fridheimar Greenhouse. The greenhouse is a unique experience. They grow tomatoes year round using geothermal heat and electric. They are also a restaurant that serves tomato based dishes. I had the all you can eat tomato soup with bread and my husband had the tortellini. Both were delicious. I highly recommend this place. So we had a very full day. Our hotel for that night was in Reykholt at the Reykholt Foss Hotel.

The third day we took a long drive to Dalvik which is in the northern part of Iceland. We toured the Glaumbaer turf roofed village which gives you a good idea of how people lived in Iceland in the 19th century. There were not many sights to see this day other than Glaumbaer but the drive was beautiful and took us through mountains and fjords. Our hotel for the night was at the Dalvik Fosshotel. The hotel was fine but it was in a tiny fishing village with very few dining options - a take out pizza place, a place that serves only fish soup and the gas station. The hotel had a restaurant but I don't think it was ever used other than for breakfast. This was my least favorite hotel on the trip although the staff was kind and welcoming and the hotel was clean and the bed was comfy.

On the fourth day we drove to the Lake Myvatn area via Akureyri and Husavik and a stop at the Godafoss waterfall. We toured the botanical garden in Akureyri.

Posted by
334 posts

Is that greenhouse the one that also has banana trees? Using the natural hot water to make a hot, humid environment was a brilliant way to get cheap bananas.

Posted by
1856 posts

No banana trees. The greenhouse is on the road just before you reach Geysir. Their website is Fridheimar.is.en

Posted by
334 posts

I'm not sure where the greenhouse was that had bananas, but it was in the Reykjavik region, but it was one where there weren't any tours -- just happened to notice the banana trees from the road. Nevertheless, I think it is very cool that a nation that is so close to the arctic is able to grow their own tropical plants!

Posted by
71 posts

Just a note that you get TWO free checked bags on Icelandair, not one.

Posted by
1856 posts

K2, you are right. It's 2 checked bags each. My mistake. We never travel with more than one checked bag.