We are flying from Denver to London in mid-May. Icelandic Air has the best deal to date with a plane change in Iceland. Not having been there, we are thinking of pausing for 2-3 days in Iceland to check it out. What is the weather like in mid-May? Any recommendations on places to stay/see? I understand you can drive around the island? is this a good idea and how long would it take for a basic windshield tour? Is 2-3 days reasonable for a quick feel of the place? THX!
Thoughts on Iceland: Awesome. It's well worth a spot over and with 2-3 days, you should be able to see the main sights around Reykjavik and the "Golden Circle". You will not have time for some of the more adventurous sights in Eastern Iceland, unless you do that and only that. Travel to the eastern side requires either fairly expensive flights or the better part of a day on the bus. Mid-May is going to be cool, but nothing crazy. You can expect near freezing as lows to mid-40s during the day. If you get lucky, it will be in the 50s. It may also be raining, but the standard Scandinavian saying (in Swedish here) is "Inget dåliga väder, bara dåliga kläder" (No bad weather, just bad clothes). If the weather is good, things to see include Geysir, Gullfoss, and Thingvellir. Geysir is the geyser that all geysers are named after it, Gullfoss is an amazing waterfall, and Thingvellir is the site of the original storting in Iceland (their parliament) which is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Together, they are the "golden circle" and worth a visit. Inside of town, there are a number of sights: Perlan is the water tower for the city and has an observation deck. There is the main church, which has a tower you can go up for some great views. The Icelandic parliament building is pretty interesting. It is an interesting place to wander around, but the real draw outside of the golden circle is the thermal springs. The Blue Lagoon is very nice and worth the price, but if you are on a budget there are actually public thermal springs. The most famous is a complex by the City Hostel, which is very good and has indoor pools as well as outdoor pools of various temperatures.
Also the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik, and an excavated medieval settlement whose name escapes me but is right downtown. I didn't drive but I've heard great things about Thingvallir, besides being the site of the world's first parliament it's where two tectonic plates come together. Two-three days is probably the right amount of time unless you want to do a long road trip to the other end of the island, or around it, as described above. I have no insights on that but surely it's spectacular. You might have warmer weather if you make your Iceland stop on the way back from Europe, later in May or June perhaps?
Iceland is so worth it if you can swing a stop-over for 2-3 days! Icelandic Air can usually offer a decent deal on a hotel too. You will not be able to "drive around it" in the time that you have. You don't even need to drive at all!! For a 2-3 days stop-over, based in Reykjavik, I would definitely take a "Golden Circle" bus tour. It hits all the major highlights that you would want to see in a brief visit: Thingvellir, the falls, geysir, etc.. Reyjavik itself is very nice and easily worth a day. If your time permits, we also enjoyed the bus tour to the South Coast and Vik. We left for the airport early and spent a couple of hours before our flight at the Blue Lagoon. For tours: http://www.re.is/DayTours/ We were there for a week, arriving on the 17th of May. We dressed in layers, with a light jacket and fleece.
I am thinking about doing the same thing, mid-May Kansas City to London via Denver and Iceland. Looking into the golden circle tour, though, I found that for 2 people, it will likely be cheaper to rent a car and drive yourselves than pay for the bus tours. The summer high season starts at the end of May according to the car rental companies and I found I could rent a Yaris or similar car for 2 days for around $85 from SADcars. That is a third of the price they charge starting in June. The cost for one person on a golden circle bus tour was around $70, though I can't remember exactly. And if you rent a car you can do it on your own time. You do have to factor in the cost of gas though.
We spent a week in Iceland in June of 2012. We did the new nonstop from Denver and stayed for seven nights at the Reykjavik Hilton. The trip was fantastic! The Golden Circle tour coupled with the Reykjanes Peninsula tour was great. We also did the very long south coast tour to jokulsarlon. Long but an absolute must. Spent one whole day at the Blue Lagoon where we had in water massages. Had dinner at the Perlan our final evening and it was wonderful. We have decided to use Icelandair for our next two trips to Europe. Prices are excellent and service is very good.
Stacey, we normally prefer a rental car for the freedom it gives us. However, we do not staunchly adhere to this preference as a policy. For many places, it just sometimes isn't the best way to go. This is the case for using Reykjavik as a base. The tours are excellent value, considering how much there is to see and how much of it that you want to understand. The time spent at each stop, for each tour that we took, was more than enough. We also appreciated the commentary, especially when we visited Thingvellir and when we did the South Coast tour.
Thanks folks! Good ideas all around.
I spent 2 days in Reykjavik in June and enjoyed it very much. There are several fine museums. I took the "Grand Circle" tour in the evening and even though it was high season, ours was the only tour bus at the stops along the way. We got back around 11.30 p.m., and then watched the sunset. As far as geysers and such, I thought that Yellowstone NP was much more impressive, if you are looking for natural wonders.
I have 4 days/3 nights free after a horse back riding trip around the Golden Circle. I thinking of renting a car and touring the south from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon. Is this enough time to see the sights along this route? How long does it take to drive from Reykjavik to Vic and then from Vic to Jokulsalon? Thanks.