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Iceland in December

We two just got back from 5 days in Iceland, hoping for a great view of the northern lights. After a couple of days in Reykjavik doing the terrific Blue Lagoon and touring the city, we flew to Akureyri, a north-coast town at 66 deg. N. A tour guide met us at the airport and took us out across the frozen tundra to view two famous waterfalls, Dettifoss and Sellfoss. The 20-minute hike from the car was an adventure in itself, in a moon-scape of snow covered lava cones and ancient craters. Bare earth revealed the places where geothermal heat was close enough to the surface to melt the snow and ice. Returning to the car, we then went to a remote natural spa, and got into an outdoor hot pool in -4C (26 F) weather. Our tour guide Gisli was humorously entertaining, telling us about his careers as a race car driver, opera singer and local farmer descended from 4 or 5 generations (sheep and Iceland horses), as well as busy tour guide.

The winter sun only rose a few degrees above the horizon the whole time we were there, but the long twilights extended the length of actual daylight. A midnight bus to a mostly-dark location outside Akureyri was probably the least exciting thing we did. The week we were there was fairly overcast, so we only saw a dim glow in the sky that in someone’s camera (on tripod) WAS green and clearly an aurora, though it was too dim for human eyes to see the color. Unfortunately for us, the morning before we left a huge storm blew through and cleared the skies for the evening just AFTER we had to leave. However, it was lovely just to be that far north, to get a taste of far-north life, talk to wonderful people (everyone speaks English as well as a European language or two, since no one outside Iceland learns Icelandic). Our only caveat is bring money. Everything is expensive, even for the locals. We felt that we got a way better deal by booking our IcelandicAir flights along with hotel and tours. The Iceland Air website gives more info about that.

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76 posts

Sorry the northern lights weren't as vibrant as you'd hoped for. You might know of these websites and they are my favorites for letting me know what is going on in the night sky: 1)http://spaceweather.com covers aurora, solar activity, comets, etc. and 2) http://rossellet.com/aurora_tracker.htm is for forecasting aurora visibility . I like the aurora tracker sight because everything I need to know is right there so I can determine if it is worth my time for a late night viewing attempt – the image of the current aurora oval and view line, the Kp value provides the solar activity level and Bz value lets you know if the earth’s magnetic field is cooperating to allow a fine display. This information is explained in detail halfway down the website page.

I used to live in Seattle so know the extra challenges you will have with overcast skies. If the aurora forecast is promising and its cloudy you could drive to Sequim or other Olympic rain shadow town that might have clear skies.

Are there any Reykjavik museums that you would recommend or comment about ? We did outdoor activities because the weather was nice figuring the next time we pass through we might have museum weather.

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I am going to Iceland in March with my daughter. We're going on Iceland Air with hotel included and will not be renting a car. We do plan on going on a few tours as you did. Is it easy to walk around the city and find restaurants or do you need to take a taxi everywhere? Did you have a good travel book? Thanks.

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Lydia We were in Rey last Oct. Rey is very easy to walk around. Most hotels near main street with shops etc. TI office lots of English info books. Koebel library only had one Iceland book - try Barnes Nobel. Dress warm as can get very cold and very very windy - even for Colo. Icelandair has their info videos on YouTube. We thought it very unique.

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We went to Iceland last March and I would happily go again. We never got to see the Northern Lights, but thought that Iceland was beautiful. We used Volcano Tours. Our guide Clint was very good and a lot of fun. Reykavik is easy to navigate and a very friendly city. English is universally spoken and the city is very walkable.

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Bob- We spent a rainy afternoon in the National Museum in Reykjavik. It was very good and had a nice cafe where we relaxed with hot drinks after the tour.

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I went to Iceland a couple of years ago and really recommend a company called Goecco for day tours. It's not really a luxury tour - usually it's just 8-10 people, a guide, and a van - but for adventure, culture, and sights, it's wonderful. One of the things I liked so much about our tour was that the guides had a basic idea of the things we would see, but it wasn't set in stone. At one point, they looked at a small dirt road and said "We've never been down there. Anyone else want to see where it goes?" We did and saw a small glacial lagoon that turned out to be my favorite place in all of Iceland.

The guides are all locals and come across less as guides and more as locals who are just excited about their homeland and want to show it off to people. Overall, a great experience with fun people. I highly recommend you check them out.