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Trip to Iceland June 2021

I just returned from Iceland earlier this week and it was an absolutely fantastic time! It was my first time in Iceland and I am already mentally planning when I can go back. I thought I would give a quick rundown of my trip and hopefully my info is useful for others.

I flew United from EWR to KEV and the flight was completely full. I uploaded my CDC card to the flight ready center on United’s website but I still needed to check in at the airport where they verified my proof of vaccination as well as checked the barcode I received from registering on the covid.is website. Once at the gate, I had my documents rechecked by the gate agent who put an “ok” on my boarding pass. Once the flight landed we walked to boarder control where I got my passport stamped (they only asked for my passport) and then it was off to baggage claim. You could shop in duty free here but I wanted to get in line for testing ASAP so I headed straight towards the other end of baggage claim. The line was a bit long but went very quickly. Once to the front of the line, my vaccination card was checked again and my barcode scanned. I was then handed a test tube and ushered to the testing area. From the time I walked off the plane until I was finished with testing was about an hour process. I was tested around 8am and got a text with the results at 12:15pm.

I rented a car from Blue Car Rental and was able to rent a car for 4 days for a very affordable price. About $100 less than any other rental company I came across and that was with an added driver and an automatic car. It was a very smooth process at both pick up and drop off.

I stayed at Alfred’s Studios and a cannot recommend this place enough. I got the studio with the balcony and it came with the most AMAZING view of the ocean and mountains. It’s very well located to central Reykjavik and easy to get out of town. Parking is also convenient as we were able to find street parking right out front everyday. You’re just two blocks from the ocean and less than two blocks from the grocery store. Alfred’s also has two other apartment buildings in Reykjavik that offer a bit more space but I found the size of the studio perfectly fit our needs.

Two days before our flight home we booked an appointment through the visit.covid.is site for our covid test to return to the US. They have both rapid and PCR testing available and they were 4000isk/€30 and 6500isk/€50 respectively. You can be charged in either isk or euro and although the site suggested foreign currency to be charged in euro, the conversion from isk to usd was more in our favor. We chose the rapid test and made the appointment for 10:30. We got to the testing center at 9:30 and saw a line that was out the door and all the way down the parking lot. However, it still took less than 30 minutes for us to be done and on our way.

For the flight home we again needed to check in at the airport. The agent at the desk checked our passports and covid test results. These results were not checked again for the duration of our journey. From the time we dropped off the car to the time we sat at our gate took an hour and a half, so definitely allot a lot of time before your flight. Upon returning to the US, we were just asked if we were claiming anything at border control. When we said no, our passports were stamped and our trip was officially over. All and all it was a smooth trip and definitely worth it to see Iceland in a time with much fewer tourist than usual.

Posted by
4858 posts

It sounds like they’ve got their testing process down, so although having a lot of people means long lines, they must move quickly. The CDC card and the barcode are, obviously, key elements.

With what did you fill the test tube?

Glad it was such a good trip. Hopefully your next one’s even better, and with fewer lines!

Posted by
6699 posts

Testing aside, what did you actually do on your trip (i.e. the fun stuff)? Highlights?

Posted by
113 posts

Cyn- the test tube was used to put our sample in after we got tested.

Agnes- I was going to also put my itinerary in the post but realized I was filling up my max post length with just the logistics. Thinking of sharing the activities/itinerary in the Iceland thread

Posted by
113 posts

Copied from my post in the Iceland thread:

The day we landed we took a detour to Reykjavik and stopped by Brúin milli heimsálfa to stand on the black sand between the Eurasia and North American tectonic plates. Then took a quick look at Brimketill which are lava pools along the coast that look so unique and quite beautiful. We had the entire place to ourselves and it was so serine. After a nap at the apartment, we spent a few hours at the Blue Lagoon and then I hiked to the Volcano. I decided to hike the closed trail A which was probably a mistake as the last bit is a hike straight up a rocky mountainside that is not cleared, but the view of the volcano from the top was well worth it and I was mere inches from the lava field. It took about an hour and a half to hike up and an hour to hike down.

On day two we did the golden circle. We started with the lava bread tour at Laugarvatn Fontana. The bread was absolutely delicious and our tour guide was very engaging. We learned a lot about the surround area and hot springs as well. They have tours everyday at 11:30 and 2:30. We then had lunch at Friðheimar which is a popular tourist stop. A greenhouse that specializes in cucumbers and tomatoes and a menu that revolves around it. I don’t even like tomatoes but thought their tomato soup was absolutely delicious. I think this place lives up to all the hype. The rest of the day was spent hitting up the typical stops, Gullfuss, Geysir, and Thingvellir.

The next day was a trip to the south coast which included Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Sólheimajökull glacier, and the basalt columns on the black sand beach. The highlight of the day was definitely Gljufrabui which is a waterfall just left of Seijalandsfoss and is simply magical. Wear a full rain suit to these waterfalls to be able to fully experience them and not be soaked head to toe.

On our last day we headed up to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Stopping at þórufoss, Kirkjufellsfoss, the black church of Búðir, and Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge. The gorge was probably the highlight of this day as walking through it feels almost as walking through the portal to Narnia. If you come prepared with a waterproof outfit and shoes, you can rock scramble quite far down the gorge.

Posted by
4858 posts

Christina, you sure found a lot in Iceland. Elsewhere, hothouse veggies aren’t as esteemed as plants grown outside, but in Iceland, greenhouses are the only way to get produce to grow.

What “sample” went in the test tube? Saliva? Q-tip? Thank you for sharing!

Posted by
6699 posts

Thank you for your trip report! I recognize many of the places you visted from my own trips there. Glad you had a great time. Did the weather cooperate? I had some wicked rainy and cold days one May (many years ago).

Posted by
113 posts

Cyn- it was a nasal swap and it was absolutely AWFUL! My first covid test and it was worse than I ever imagined. I heard the people testing at the border were quite swab happy, and those reports were completely true. My rapid test for my return flight wasn’t nearly as bad.

Agnes- I think we were really lucky with the weather. It rained slightly when I was at Geysir, and the day we did the south coast it rained on and off but most of the day was spent getting wet by waterfalls and I had a full rain suit on for that so it didn’t effect the sight seeing much. By the time we got to the glacier and black sand beach, it was blue skies and I was blessed with the most gorgeous sunset for most of the drive back to Reykjavik. The day we left was the most miserable weather and when I checked the forecast, it was rain the whole rest of the week. So we luckily found a pocket of good weather during our trip.

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I’m curious about thoughts on driving the Ring Road - is it worth it to see more of Iceland -
Or do you see enough on the Golden Circle?

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113 posts

I would absolutely love to drive the entire ring road, I just don’t know if I would ever have the budget for it. While the golden circle has some beautiful highlights, there are gorgeous gems all around Iceland and each region has something unique. Even with just the three areas I focused on, I cut out a lot of stops I just didn’t have time for. So if you do the entire ring road, I don’t think you will run out of places you want to see.