#1  
Old 05-31-2017, 02:52 PM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679

Iceland travel tips


My husband and I will spend 12 days in Iceland in early July. We bought a "self-directed driving tour" package that includes a car, an itinerary that takes us all around the island along the coast, and hotel reservations for each night. Apart from getting to one hotel to another each day, we can do what we please.

Any tips for Icelandic travel? Must do, must see, must eat, must pack?

Thanks!
  #2  
Old 05-31-2017, 04:46 PM
Ulfreida is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: pangolandia
Posts: 3,755
Well, my own to-do list for Iceland, should I ever manage to get there, includes pony trekking, Blue Lagoon Spa, Thingvellir, the Golden Circle ... just a bunch of things. Have a great time, it's one of the very few places I want to visit.
  #3  
Old 05-31-2017, 08:07 PM
ASGuy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: far N. coastal california
Posts: 526

Me too! Sort of.


I feel compelled to chime in. I have a friend who is going to Iceland in July. I think for a week or so on a package deal. I will forward these responses to him as well.
  #4  
Old 05-31-2017, 09:08 PM
FinsToTheLeft is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 624
I was there in March with my wife and kids on the way home from London, but for less than 72 hours.

We spent:

One day in Reykjavik - art gallery, settlement museum, photo museum (not worth it), flea market, HallgrÝmskirkja church, walking Laugavegur (the main Street).

One day on the golden circle - Thingvillar, Geysers, Kerid crater, Fri­heimar tomato farm

Last day at Blue Lagoon and then flying home.

Wonderful country, frightfully expensive food. If you are drinkers, avail yourself of the duty free on arrivals at Keflavik airport.

Last edited by FinsToTheLeft; 05-31-2017 at 09:09 PM.
  #5  
Old 05-31-2017, 10:00 PM
Telemark's Avatar
Telemark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Just outside of Titletown
Posts: 23,383
Iceland is a great place to spend some time, you'll love it. We went for 11 days two years ago, but had a 5 day hut-to-hut hike in the middle so we didn't drive around the island. Keep in mind that it's a lot of driving with wonderful scenery, but it will still be a lot of time in the car in between small towns.

In the south you'll want to visit the black sand beaches near Vik, and the many waterfalls along the way including Skˇgafoss and Seljalandsfoss. I assume your trip itinerary has some time in Vatnaj÷kull National Park. We didn't go that far east or north, so no advice for you there.

The Golden Circle attractions are worth seeing, but be prepared for lots of company. Geyser and Gullfoss are a must, Thingvellir is worth a visit, and we liked the Keri­ Volcanic Crater. We also spent a few days on the Sneffels Peninsula, the town of Stykkishˇlmur is delightful. The hiking in Sneffels Park is easily accessible, and the volcanic caves are a fun tour.

The Blue Lagoon is interesting, but it's basically a tourist attraction. We much preferred visiting the public pools in every town. Cheap, fun, and refreshing. And a great way to meet the locals. There are also tons of natural hot springs that you can find with directions from the locals.

Food is expensive but good. Most small towns don't have much variety, but there are excellent options in the larger towns. We didn't try the Icelandic specialty of rotted shark, or the delicacies of whale or puffin. Skyr yogurt is excellent, and every little shop has fresh gummies, which we fell in love with. We shopped at Bonus markets, loved them. The hot dog stands are excellent and a national treasure.

Oh, and visit the Penis Museum. The gift shop is quite the experience.
  #6  
Old 06-01-2017, 07:14 AM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679
Very helpful, thanks!

I'm thinking we'll skip the rotten shark and puffin. Not sure if the penis museum is a Must Do or Must Not Do.

Will be a lot of driving--but I do love looking a beautiful scenery.
  #7  
Old 06-01-2017, 02:55 PM
Delayed Reflex is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 260
+1 for hot dogs - Baejarin's Beztu might be the best known chain, but even gas stations will have decent ones with the standard Icelandic toppings of remoulade, fried onions and brown sauce (I think it's some kind of mustard?).

12 days is likely enough to drive around the entire country, though you might not have quite enough time to see the westfjords. On top of the places mentioned by others, I'd highly recommend the following:

-Jokusarlon (the iceberg lake) - one of the most unique sights I've seen, very beautiful and very fascinating IMO

-Hikes around Skaftafell in Vatnajokull national park - awesome views of glaciers, and Svartifoss is also a smaller but very interesting waterfall to visit as it is above an overhanging columnar basalt ampitheatre

-In the eastfjords, Seydisfjordur is a beautiful little town, with the road going down to it being featured in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty

-You may or may not get a bit of waterfall fatigue in Iceland because of the sheer number of them, but they are largely quite accessible (quite a few you can drive right up to, many of the other main ones are a relatively short hike to approach) - Gullfoss, Skogafoss, Seljalandfoss, Godafoss, and Dettifoss are the ones I would recommend

-If you're looking for something truly otherworldly, make sure you stop by Hverir near Myvatn lake - pools of boiling mud and sulphurous vents make the area look like something out of science fiction

-Depending how much time you're spending in the north, a quaint thing you can do is take a ferry (or plane if you don't mind spending a bit more) from Husavik to Grimsey, a tiny island that is in the arctic circle. There's nothing to do there, but a couple friends I know who have been there enjoyed the novelty

-Depending where you go, prepare to be accosted by arctic terns - they can circle and hover quite menacingly, and apparently will dive-bomb people who get to close to their nests - locals don't seem to bothered by them though, they just carry an umbrella

It's really a fascinating country, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time!

Last edited by Delayed Reflex; 06-01-2017 at 02:56 PM.
  #8  
Old 06-01-2017, 04:47 PM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679
Thank you!
  #9  
Old 06-01-2017, 05:14 PM
elbows is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 14,419
There is actually a place on our earth where new world is constantly being made. Where the tectonic plates actually pull apart. This remarkable earth feature exists, of course, in the very deepest reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, making it inaccessible, though there exists film of it.

There is also a single place in the world where the ocean floor effectively spills up onto the land.

And that place is in Iceland. I hope to visit Iceland one day. And when I do, I'm going to see that!

Have a wonderful holiday, bring back some lovely photos please!
  #10  
Old 06-01-2017, 10:29 PM
Turek is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Inara's shuttle
Posts: 4,045
My wife and I just got back from two weeks on the Ring Road. We had a lot of fun, but we're waterfall junkies. :-) I got some great photos; PM me if you want to see them.

A couple of notes:

Check http://road.is for road closures. We had several closures while we were there (first 2 weeks of May; you might have less in July), and it almost affected our schedule.

Food is frightfully expensive (Hamburgers, which are pretty ubiquitous, were around $25). Be prepared and just roll with it.

If you're renting a car, gas is pretty expensive, too. The prices when we were there were pretty uniform at 199 ISK/Liter, which is around $7.62/gallon.

Speaking of money, the conversion rate is roughly 100 ISK = 1 USD. So, when you see prices in ISK, just add two decimal places, ex: 2000 ISK = 20.00 USD.

Again, speaking of money, virtually every place we went accepted credit cards, even US ones with chip-and-sign. We had very little use for cash.

I've been told that, assuming you have a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee, if you're given the choice to pay in USD or ISK, pay in ISK. That way, it's your CC company doing the conversion, not some third party that may or may not have the best rates and may charge a fee for doing so.

I discovered a great app for my phone, maps.me. It allows you to download maps for where you're going ahead of time (when you have wifi), then utilize the GPS feature of your phone without any data plan. It has all the features you'd expect of a stand-alone GPS unit, including turn-by-turn directions. Yea, no $15/day rental fee!

Be prepared for LONG daylight periods. It looks like in July the sun rises around 3:10 AM and sets around midnight. If that's going to bother you sleeping, take a sleep mask.

Hmm... I was never accosted by terns, but the puffins are damn adorable. There are several places to see them, but the place we saw them was on the east coast and has a little observation area where you can get very close to them. https://www.east.is/en/other/place/hafnarholmi They should still be around in July.
  #11  
Old 06-02-2017, 11:39 AM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679
Yikes, 25 dollar hamburgers! I hope the hot dogs are a bit cheaper. But yeah, we plan to roll with it.

I've been above the Artic Circle in summer before so I've experienced the very long days. At least this time we won't have small children with us who argue that it isn't bedtime until it's dark out.
  #12  
Old 06-02-2017, 12:02 PM
GargoyleWB's Avatar
GargoyleWB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere cold 'n squishy
Posts: 5,507
Going there in August for my first time, 5 day trip. Subscribing to thread in interest
  #13  
Old 06-02-2017, 01:20 PM
amarinth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Emerald City, WA, USA
Posts: 9,997
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Iceland is a great place to spend some time, you'll love it. We went for 11 days two years ago, but had a 5 day hut-to-hut hike in the middle so we didn't drive around the island. Keep in mind that it's a lot of driving with wonderful scenery, but it will still be a lot of time in the car in between small towns.
If you've road tripped in the US, it really isn't all that much driving. It isn't nothing, but going around the ring road is about the same distance as Seattle to San Francisco - which is day's worth of driving (2 if you take breaks) you're planning on an amble with a lot of time to turn off the road and see things. I'd advise doing a lot of turning off the road to go see things.

I went last year during solstice - it was gorgeous, but still cool. I spent 1 day in Reykjavik, 5 days driving around the island, and ended for a final day in Reykjavik. I could have easily spent more time. They're in a tourist boom, so get reservations. One of the two nights I didn't have planned and reserved in advance took a very bad turn.

The lack of dark can be deceiving. I'd be out driving (or walking or something) at 11 or midnight, and not realize how tired I was because I wasn't getting the cue that the sun was down so it was time to go to bed. That said, it's fun to see the neverending twilight.

For the most part, I stuck to the main road, with side turns to see waterfalls or glaciers (and one farmstay in the interior). There are enough tourists that if you see a bunch of cars start to pull over, there's likely something there worth pulling over for (even if it isn't on your list). One of my slightly off the main path trips was to Westmann Island - which was gorgeous. (If you can, take your car there. It's walkable, but walking takes more time than driving).
  #14  
Old 07-11-2017, 07:38 AM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679
I'm just back from Iceland--we had a spectacular trip. Even lucked out with the weather with many (relatively) warm, sunny days and very little rain except when driving over mountains.

The highlights were the SnŠfellsnes peninsula, three days in the Westfjords, a whale watch in Akureyri (we spotted at least two dozen whales), Mytvan, the glacial lagoon in Jokulsarlon, and the road from Hup to Vik.

It was a lot of driving--we covered about 1900 miles in 11 days. We essentially did the Ring Road with a long detour through the Westfjords. It was a great introduction to the country, but we'll pick a couple of regions to focus on should we have the good fortune to go again.

My least favorite part was probably the Golden Circle. It's not that the sights weren't fantastic--they were--but after days of seeing relatively few people elsewhere in the country (especially in the Westfjords), the crowds were just too much.

As we knew it would be, it was expensive! We had purchased a package from a travel company that included car rental, ferry fees, and accommodations so I don't have a great sense of how much each individual component ran. I did notice that hotels were often 250-350 dollars a night--and that's for a tiny (by U.S. standards), simple (but spotless) rooms, breakfast included. And what breakfasts! We chowed down at breakfast and skipped lunch, snacking on peanuts and dried fruit that I brought from home. I thought the 25 dollar hamburgers would be the high end of the dinner menu but no! Entrees typically ran from 25-70 dollars, in higher end restaurants in Reykjavik and in podunk cafes in the middle of nowhere. The fish stew (really a mash of potatoes, onions, and fish) was consistently good, and I had some absolutely delicious lamb on a couple of occasions. There are somewhat cheaper ways to eat, but we were living it up.

If you have the chance to go just for a few days, I'd recommend the SnŠfellsnes peninsula over the Golden Circle. It's full of wonders (not the huge ones like Gullfoss but wonders nonetheless), without the crowds. We covered the whole thing in a day's drive out of Reykjavik, but you could easily spend a few days there.
  #15  
Old 07-11-2017, 08:01 AM
Ludovic is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 30,710
Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
There is also a single place in the world where the ocean floor effectively spills up onto the land.

And that place is in Iceland.
There seems to be at least one other place:
Quote:
The islets expose serpentinized abyssal mantle peridotite and kaersutite-bearing ultramafic mylonite atop the world's highest and yet only second largest megamullion (after the Parece Vela megamullion under Okinotorishima in the Pacific Ocean). This grouping is the sole location in the Atlantic Ocean where the abyssal mantle is exposed above sea level.
  #16  
Old 07-11-2017, 10:16 AM
DesertDog is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 6,058
Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
There is actually a place on our earth where new world is constantly being made. Where the tectonic plates actually pull apart. This remarkable earth feature exists, of course, in the very deepest reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, making it inaccessible, though there exists film of it.

There is also a single place in the world where the ocean floor effectively spills up onto the land.

And that place is in Iceland. I hope to visit Iceland one day. And when I do, I'm going to see that!

Have a wonderful holiday, bring back some lovely photos please!
Yup. Click on the marker in Iceland and zoom in. A friend of mine went diving off of Iceland's coast and has a pic a buddy took of him in a narrow rift with one hand on the North American plate and the other on the Eurasian.

Telemark mentioned Gullfoss (Gold Falls) in passing and I would second that. The falls are quite famous and picturesque. During the original Avatar series, at one point Sokka is taken to a location blindfolded by his sifu, shown the view for three seconds, then told to paint it from memory. I started laughing, "That's Gullfoss!"
  #17  
Old 07-11-2017, 10:21 AM
elbows is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 14,419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
There seems to be at least one other place:

I stand corrected! The SD never fails to deliver.

(It seems much more likely that I'll make it to Iceland though!)
  #18  
Old 07-11-2017, 10:26 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Rural Western PA
Posts: 33,515
My gf went to Iceland a couple years ago. One thing she liked that hasn't been mentioned was the Lebowski Bar. I believe it was in RinkyDink (what I called the city instead of attempting spelling it for reals).

She loved the country and the people, and wants to return, ideally with me.
  #19  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:01 PM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
Yup. Click on the marker in Iceland and zoom in. A friend of mine went diving off of Iceland's coast and has a pic a buddy took of him in a narrow rift with one hand on the North American plate and the other on the Eurasian.

Telemark mentioned Gullfoss (Gold Falls) in passing and I would second that. The falls are quite famous and picturesque. During the original Avatar series, at one point Sokka is taken to a location blindfolded by his sifu, shown the view for three seconds, then told to paint it from memory. I started laughing, "That's Gullfoss!"
We went to that rift! It was very cool, although I couldn't have touched both sides where we were. The diving is supposed to be great--what we saw wasn't on the coast, but you can dive in the river created by the rift and see it underwater.

And Gullfoss was worth the visit in spite of the crowds. Supposedly Dettifloss is the most powerful in the country, but Gullfoss looked far more powerful to me.

Kayaker, you should definitely go. You and your girlfriend would definitely enjoy it. The Reykjavik bar scene is supposed to be great and the city is famous for its bar crawl. Not that you'd only go to drink.:-) Lots of gastropubs too.

Last edited by Emiliana; 07-11-2017 at 03:04 PM.
  #20  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:36 PM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Rural Western PA
Posts: 33,515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emiliana View Post
Kayaker, you should definitely go. You and your girlfriend would definitely enjoy it. The Reykjavik bar scene is supposed to be great and the city is famous for its bar crawl. Not that you'd only go to drink.:-) Lots of gastropubs too.
I'll consider it just for the bar crawl.

My gf has gone to Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere with friends. I prefer the Caribbean for my vacations.
  #21  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:44 PM
Emiliana is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: A less misogynistic place
Posts: 1,679
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
I'll consider it just for the bar crawl.

My gf has gone to Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere with friends. I prefer the Caribbean for my vacations.
Just know that it will be (perhaps quite literally) the world's most expensive bar crawl!
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:56 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright ę 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017