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Iceland - where to stay??

Forgive me if this has already been asked, however, I couldn’t find a post on this. Looking at heading to Iceland in 2022. I just started researching Iceland and think it is just beautiful. Wondering if any of you kind people out there can help me with places to stay and must do’s?? We will be staying there fir possibly 5-6 days and then headed to Ireland for 5-6 days. We are in mid 50’s and are active but nothing extremely strenuous please. 😊. Thanks in advance! I appreciate your time.

Posted by
9638 posts

I've stayed at the Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik three times. Wonderful hotel and great included breakfast. But it is very noisy. Mostly from outside but sometimes inside as well. And it seems to get worse each time. If you go during Northern Lights season they have roof access for viewing. (Much of central Reykjavik can get noisy at night especially on weekends.)

If you get to Akureyri, I can recommend the Hotel Kea. Warning.....Akureyri is built onto the side of a mountain and walking anywhere too far from the water can be a steep uphill climb. The hotel is fine as are shops and restaurants nearby.

Reykjavik is expensive, the rest of the country is worse. However, it is a beautiful place and just about everyone speaks English.

If you don't have a car, I suggest looking into day tours. The most popular is the Golden Circle. Your hotel can arrange this for you. If you are going during Northern Lights time, there are also evening tours by bus or boat. Don't book these ahead of time because you don't know what the weather will be like. The tour companies will decide whether to operate the tours based on weather and light activity. Again, your hotel can take care of this for you.

For food, you should try their national dish--the Icelandic Hot Dog. Most popular place is Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (http://www.bbp.is/information-in-english). I believe the stand at Tryggvata is the original one. They're made from lamb.

From the airport, your best bet is to take the Flybus into Reykjavik. (https://www.re.is/tour/flybus/). The schedule now is limited due to coronavirus but normally you don't have to worry about not having a seat. Once one bus is full, another pulls up.

Posted by
138 posts

We stayed at the Holt Hotel during a 3 day stopover on our way to Copenhagen. It is located a few blocks from the main part of town and an easy walk in the opposite direction to the Cathedral. The receptionists were very friendly and professional ( they gladly made dinner reservations for us a couple of nights). The room was large and comfortable and included black out curtains, a necessity in Iceland in the summer as it never really got dark!
The room rate also included breakfast which was plentiful and included something for both Europeans and Americans. When we were there it had not been updated in some time but was as comfortable as a pair of your favorite shoes. It may have been upgraded since then. It has a shuttle service to and from the airport that takes approximately 45-60 minutes depending on how many stops it makes at other hotels.

As for must do’s...we took the day Golden Circle tour and really enjoyed it. It gives the highlights of the geothermal active spots, spectacular waterfalls, and the national park where the two tectonic plates that form North America and Europe meet (that is also one of the film locations for Game of Thrones). And don’t miss the hot dogs at Baejarins Beztu on the waterfront. It’s a walk up stand and worth the wait.

Enjoy Iceland..it’s one of my favorite European countries and I can’t wait to go back!

Posted by
897 posts

I highly recommend Rick’s Iceland book if you haven’t read it yet. We were going to go this summer… But you know what happened. But we planned a lot of our trip based on his guidebook and it was super, super helpful.

Posted by
345 posts

We stayed at the 4th Floor Hotel. It is right on the Main Street so an easy walk to everything in the main downtown area. Definitely do the Golden Circle. You didn't ask for restaurants, but we had an excellent meal at Snaps Bistro. The "free" walking tour was excellent, and you tip what you think it is worth.

When our daughter went, she stayed at the Northern Light Inn, right near the Blue Lagoon. She LOVED it! So much so that when we were booking places for last summer, we booked our last night there. Obviously that didn't happen, but we rebooked for this summer (fingers crossed).

You don't mention what time of year, so let us know and we can give some better suggestions.

Posted by
22 posts

Not sure on what time of year yet. I will buy Rick’s book and check it out. Any suggestions on the best time to see the northern lights?

Posted by
345 posts

We were there in mid October, and apparently the northern lights were amazing during our stay. The locals were all talking about it, but we did not get up to see (had seen them before). I only know that you want the winter months for those.

Posted by
29 posts

Hello, FinallyItaly!,

I'm in my 50's, moderately active, and will be making my fourth trip to Iceland in November. Since I live in Upstate NY, and Reykjavik is in the gulf stream, going to Iceland in the wintertime is normally a warmer location. I agree with other posters, the golden circle tours are really worth the time and money spent. If you go to Gullfoss waterfall, be sure to stop at the snack bar and get hot chocolate. It's the absolute best I've ever had! ❤

You don't specify if you are staying in Reykjavik for the duration. If you are, you might check into the Harpa and what shows are playing during your stay. I saw a wonderful show there a few years back, and the building itself is stunning. Also, If staying in Reykjavik, I would recommend the Icelandair Marina hotel, or one of the Centerhotel chain hotels. These are located nicely in the center of Reykjavik, and make much of the downtown readily accessible. The Halgrimskirke on the hill is stunning, and the view of the city from the bell tower is unbeatable. I don't remember if there is an elevator or not. There's a handcrafted woolens shop on the main shopping street where you can find the perfect hand-knotted sweater made with very fine wool.

Most Icelanders speak English very well, and I have found Icelanders to be warm, welcoming and proud of their country. Make sure that you take the time to enjoy a Viking draft and make new friends!

Best wishes and safe travels!!

Posted by
29 posts

Northern Lights are never reliable, but it's more likely to see them from late September through April.

Fun fact: the main shopping streets have geothermal water running below them, so they stay nicely clear of ice and snow in the winter. This makes winter travel much more palatable.

One more recommendation, because of the geothermal activity, Iceland has an incredible pool/spa culture. If you're not interested in going to the Blue Lagoon or the newly opened Sky Lagoon, definitely make time for a visit to one of the local swimming pools (all include hot tub baths and saunas). They're very inexpensive, and sitting outside in a hot tub in Iceland weather is so relaxing, restorative and refreshing. You can stay all day if you like for around $9.00 with towels provided.

Posted by
1 posts

We just got back Wednesday, 6/9 and our stay was in the center of the old town. the hotel name is Center Hotels Plaza and it is very nice with a great breakfast. Many people from airlines stay there.
The Perlan Museum many not get much forum time, but the taxi ride was worth it. Great ice cave, lots of well done history & northern light show - which is the only way you'll reliably see them.

Please remember RIGHT NOW you must have a COVID test to RETURN to the USA. It's a BIG problem to schedule and taxi to the testing place. But I saw people at the airport who were not allowed to board the plane because they didn't have that test.

Posted by
1593 posts

We‘ve rented apartments 3 times that we found thru booking.com.

Posted by
1114 posts

We stayed at the Skuggi Hotel in Reykjavik which is one street over from the main drag. It was quiet and we loved their happy hour when drinks were half price.

Posted by
1535 posts

I also stayed at Center Hotel Plaza because I booked a package through Icelandair. Clean, basic hotel with a solid breakfast (the same every day). Wherever you stay, it's handy to pick a hotel close to one of the tour bus stops . My was a couple blocks from City Hall/stop 1. All of the big and small bus tours use those stops as meeting points. The main downtown area is very walkable, though there are some hills. Agree that everything is very expensive, but it is what it is.

As for northern lights, as has been mentioned you'll have to go late fall or winter. I went the last week of October and was very lucky to see them - on the flight over, plus on an evening tour. Turns out they were very weak strength while I was there so I was really lucky to see anything. It was cold and raining most of my visit and I met several people who missed them altogether. Most tours will let you go another evening if there are clouds or it's a wash out.

For tours, I did the Golden Circle on a big bus and the south coast on a small bus. All tours go to the same places and park in the same parking lots, so the factors of picking big/small are more on your preferences for small groups, itineraries, and tour guides. Both big and small buses had wifi which was handy. The scenery is amazing and well worth getting away from town.

Last thought for your consideration - most flights from US arrive at Reykjavik in the very early morning. That means you'll probably have to drop your bags at your hotel or rental and kill some time before you can check in. I wasn't totally prepared to spend 6 hours jet lagged walking around town until my room was ready. Some hotels and rentals offer early check in (sometimes for an additional fee) so think about that when you're booking.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks everyone appreciate all the input. We will stay in Reykjavik for a few nights but want to head somewhere else as well. Has anyone gone to Westman Islands? We were thinking about going there or Snaefellsnes. Also we are going in May so no Northern Lights but looking forward to a lot of daylight. After Iceland we are heading to Ireland for a week. Our friend have been to Ireland before so just looking for things to do/stay in Iceland. Reading Rick Steve’s book and getting lots of info as well. 😊