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48 Hour layover

My son and I will be traveling home from England and we have a 48 hour layover in Iceland. Because we are flying IcelandAir and I hate checking bags, we are trying to travel with just carry on. Therefore, I do not want to take any clothing that is not absolutely necessary. We fly in on an afternoon in late May. We have one full day and the following morning before flying out in the early afternoon. I figured we would explore Reykjavik on the first evening and I have hired a tour for a Golden Circle tour the following day. I did not plan to take hiking boots for London and I am debating if I need them for a 6 hour excursion on the Golden Circle. The caveat is that I do not believe I have any waterproof shoes (I live in the Deep South in the USA). So, should I suck it up and buy the waterproof hiking shoes and just use them for London also?

Also, my son is saying he does not want to do the Blue Lagoon. I think we read somewhere that the Icelanders call it Iceland's largest public toilet. Sometimes I have to make him do things because I know he will regret NOT doing them later. Is this one of those things? Should I just schedule it and do it?

Posted by
2461 posts

He might just be referring to the fact that the Blue Lagoon isn't a natural spring. It's a made made attraction and the water is run off from a nearby geothermal power plant.

Posted by
8536 posts

Why on earth would he regret it? I purposely did not do the Blue Lagoon and have had no regrets.
There are so many other places to go in the short amount of time that you have.

Posted by
708 posts

You don't need hiking boots to go on a Golden Circle tour. Especially since they would just be a dead weight for the rest of your trip.

How old is your son? How much does he get to choose things to do on this trip? Personally, we've been to Iceland twice and never gone to Blue Lagoon; it;s just not my thing.

Posted by
847 posts

No you don't need hiking boots for the Grand Circle tour. Although I remember enjoying it and being glad I went, I also remember being on the bus most of the day. I also did not do the Blue Lagoon and have no regrets. I did enjoy exploring Reykjavik - just walking around.

Here's my photos of my 48 hour layover in Iceland a few years ago - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p68953863

Posted by
4 posts

He is 18 and this is his high school graduation gift, a trip abroad to see the Bovington Tank Museum and Duxford. He is a HUGE history buff and has worked on a couple of old warbirds with a local restorer (the XP-82 Mustang prototype and a couple of B25s). So seeing these machines in person was what he wanted for graduation. He typically does not like touristy things. I just want to make sure we don't look back and say, "ohh man! I wish I would have done that". Iceland is really just an afterthought since Iceland Air does the long layovers.

Posted by
708 posts

He's only 18. I made it to Iceland for the first time when I was 68. He's got his whole life ahead of him to travel. Maybe he'll go back to Iceland some time in the future and do different things at a different time in his life. This is HIS trip to do what interests him now. Don't push a hot spring on him if he doesn't want to do it.

Posted by
2157 posts

I completely get what you are saying that sometimes you have to push. Our son was like that in some ways, including when he did his study abroad in college. Before he came home from that, our daughter went and met him and they traveled all over before flying to Iceland for a few days. They did do the Blue Lagoon and loved it! Our son was only 21 at the time. If I were in your shoes, I would just book it. We did it last summer in the morning before our flight home. Worked out perfect as far as timing.

Posted by
4 posts

We did it! Had a great time, we did not visit the Blue Lagoon but we did soak in the Secret Lagoon. What an amazing place. I am so glad we rented a car instead of hiring a guide/driver. It was nice to go at our own pace.

Posted by
2461 posts

This is so nice to hear, beantree! Glad you had a great time.

Posted by
708 posts

Hey, beantree, thanks for reporting back. Can you give us any more details of your trip?

Posted by
4 posts

Yes! We flew in late afternoon and picked up a rental car from one of the car rentals near the airport. I canceled our tour and decided to just go on my own, I am so glad I did! It was cheaper to take the car rental shuttle than to use the services at the airport. Then we drove to Reykjavik to find our airbnb. In hindsight, I wish we would have just gone to a hotel since we were on such a short trip. We had dinner at Reykjavik Kitchen and went to bed. That was one of the best meals I have every had, I cannot recommend the restaurant highly enough. I have found the airport in Iceland to be frustrating all 3 times I have been there. In fact, the lack of signage in Iceland was perplexing. But the country is just unreal in its beauty! It is so foreign and breathtaking.
This is from my travel notes which were typed out while I was completely exhausted:

Day 16: we conquered the Golden Circle (at least the highlights), then hiked around some craters for so long, we missed our opportunity to get dinner. We started the day with a trip to the local 1011 for coffee and road snacks. Then we got a Covid test so we can go home tomorrow. Nothing is labeled here. Once that was done, we got on the road. First stop Porufoss. It was a nice waterfall. The landscape here is unreal. I just can’t describe how untouched and beautiful it is. I hope the increase in tourism won’t change that. Then we went to Thingvellir park and hiked between two tectonic plates. This place has a wild and brutal history! Then we stopped at Efstidalur which is a cow farm that serves burgers and ice cream made with dairy and beef from the farm. I am glad we had a big lunch! Next up was Geysir for some geysers. They were smelly but very cool. Then we went to Gullfoss for the most amazing waterfall. The color of the water and the roar was amazing. Then it was off to the Secret Lagoon for a soak in a hot spring, complete with elf houses. After an hour of relaxing we went to Kerio crater. That is when ***** (my son) just went rogue. We hiked down to the lake, marveled at the clear water. But he wanted to hike the rim. By this time it was 8pm and the sun was still overhead. Sunset is 3:30am here. When we got to the rim, he realized there were paths that lead along the tops of other ridges…we just kept going. In fact we went so long, everything had closed by the time we got back to civilization. The guy at the Kerio parking payment office and I had long talk that I am too tired to relate. He told us where to find good authentic food but by the time we got there all we ended up with was the name and address of a 24 hour grocery. On the way, we learned how to read "gluten free" and "wheat" in Icelandic. It is a real treat to go to a grocery and be the only foreigner there. At 11 pm, we finally made it back to the apartment. What a day!!!

Posted by
2157 posts

Thank you for letting us know how it went. Sounds like a wonderful time for both of you!