Honeymoon Discussions

NWR: Iceland?

Hi!
So I'm ridiculously excited... thanks to cheap airfare, DH and a couple friends and I are booked to go to Iceland at the end of October!

I know some Knotties have been there, but I didn't come across any threads about exactly what to do there-- looks more like people just have suggested it as a great place to go.

All I really know I want to do is find a geothermal swimming area.

Can anybody provide specific suggestions of great things to do in late fall/early winter? I'll be looking around Trip Advisor too, which never steers me wrong, but wanted to get some Knottie perspective too.

Thanks! 
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bleve0821redwoodoriginal

Re: NWR: Iceland?

  • labrolabro Hotlanta member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    @jenna8984 Haven't you been to Iceland?

    Wish I could give some recommendations. One of my friends went recently to Reykjavik but for the life of me I can't remember everything she did! One of my favorite photos from her trip though was her hanging out with some very friendly Icelandic ponies!



    thisismynickname2jenna8984
  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    Heck yes. You will love it!

    Book online for the Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa) because then you can bypass the million people in line to buy tickets.

    You can also book the bus transfer online, which we did.

    We took a Golden Circle tour which was awesome. Takes you out to the countryside to see geyser, Gulfoss Waterfall, and the place where the tectonic plates meet. I usually stay away from being stuck on a bus tour but there was so much walking around time that we really enjoyed it. The scenery is like none other.

    There are longer tours out to glaciers but we didn't have time to do one.

    Walk around downtown Reykjavik, the Harpa glass building on the harbor, the famous sun voyager sculpture, cute shops and restaurants. The shops were really expensive itchy wool so we didn't buy anything. We ate The Fish Market (fiskamarkadera) for my birthday and it was the best fish I've ever had- absolutely amazing. Definitely walk to the famous church "Hallgrimskirkja". You can pay like $3 to go to the belltower and overlook the city- so worth it and beautiful!

    We had a tour booked for a private Jeep to take us offroading at midnight in search of Northern Lights. But it was rainy with cloud cover each night we were there, so it was canceled each night and we were refunded. It would have been amazing though, so I'd definitely book that.

                                                                     

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  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Thanks so much @jenna8984 !!


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  • How many days/nights will you have?  I did a 10 day trip in March with very changeable weather similar to October.  

    If you are there long enough to get out of Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, I highly recommend:

    -the Snaefellsnes Peninsula: remote but still accessible from Reykjavik, can do as a long day trip but an overnight might be better.  Fantastic scenery and not too busy.  Great coastal walks (light hike), seabirds, mountains, waterfalls.  They call it "Iceland in Miniature" and it's very apt.  Hotel Budir is one of the best hotels on the peninsula; it's a treat to take lunch in their cozy living room and watch storms blow in and out off the coast.   It feels more wild then some more well trodden parts of the country.  We did stop at some little natural warm baths our guide knew on the peninsula and had a dip, such a fun thing to do amidst swirling hail and snow. I have photos on my (super non commercial) blog I never update if you're interested: http://inspiredexplorer.com/iceland-scenic-snaefellsnes/

    -South Coast: if you have more time, for an express overnight trip or two nights ideally, I'd do a tour or rent a car and independently tour the South Coast.  Jokulsarlon (the beautiful glacial lagoon), Vik (town home to the beautiful and desolate black beach), and the array of waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss, and Skogafoss just to name a few) set amongst glaciers, volcanic mountains, and grassy plains.  You can definitely stop at some point on the drive to ride Icelandic horses, adorably frisky and sturdy things.  There are some good hikes and climbs around as well.

    -In March, glacier trekking and ice caving was still possible and I did both: check with local operators to see when they usually resume these activities.  The South Coast may not resume the ice caving until November but it may open sooner, and I believe trekking/caving at Langjökull is available year round in some capacity.  if you're into adventure, I'd say don't miss this!  

    -Blue Lagoon - best done on the way to or from the airport (I went ahead of my departure back to NYC) and yes expensive, but still a really fun experience and kind of surreal, and a great way to utilize a travel day if you have an afternoon or evening flight.  Soaking in the pools are lovely, and the bright blue water juxtaposed against the stark black rocks and white snow is fabulous scenery.

    -Northern Lights are hit and miss, but if you stay longer you increase your chances of at least a partial sighting.  And traveling between the equinoxes and closer to a New Moon lunar phase (check the moon calendar for your fares) will increase your odds. Over 10 days I glimpsed them 3 separate nights, one with the full on purple and green bands of light dancing through the sky.  I tracked the weather reports and Aurora Borealis reports on the web to pick the best nights to take the Northern Lights tours from Reykjavik.

    Also, and this is very wordy (I've posted it to a travel forum before), but don't be afraid of the weather. Whether you believe weather to be the gusty Boreas or a byproduct of the storms of Thor or air currents and El Nino and meteorological forecasts, you, puny mortal, are nothing to the Icelandic weather gods. It does not care about your flights, your bookings, your tours, your grand designs, your hopes and dreams. It laughs in the face of best laid plans. So you do what you must. Prepare for it but do not submit to despair when you are stranded in Reykjavik, or your tour is on the verge of being cancelled, or 40 mph winds blow you and your luggage nearly to pieces walking between Akureyri town and the airport.

    Every place I went, I was treated to the full complement of Icelandic weather conditions: fierce hail, rain, snow, and sunshine, punctuated throughout by breezes to gusts of wind. If the classic Icelandic quote is “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”, there were multiple occasions where it seemed as though the weather changed every 30 seconds, or at least very minute.

    But rather than get in the way of the trip, both during and afterwards, I found that the conditions enhanced my overall experience. On my trip back from the South Coast to Reykjavik, a wintry mix began to fall, and within minutes there was very limited visibility, a wet out / whiteout, combined with an eerily bold blue sky of the twilight hour, beautifully spooky. Or hiking up a mini crater on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, on a morning we’d already run into a few kinds of weather conditions. It was cloudy as we began to climb up, and then it rained, then snowed. At the top of the crater, it felt as though the eye of the snowstorm was centered both over us and beneath us, winds whipping the flakes into our faces and swirling seemingly from the sky and from the bottom of the crater. And when the rain and the hail and the snow give way to the sun, you feel as though you wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world. I never took a sunny day – or indeed, moment – for granted in Iceland.  

    Bottom line: Iceland is an adventurous and beautiful destination. Wear breathable layers, and let the schizophrenic weather be an added bonus to that adventure, and it will only add to, not detract from, the beauty of the land.  

    If you aren't planning to rent a car, I'm happy to give recommendations on the various tour operators I used.

    Have a fantastic vacation, and I hope you love Iceland as much as I di!
    redwoodoriginal
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Plan for every weather, just like PP's have said.  We went in July.  I bought a touque the first morning, and I am so glad we have winter underwear for our scuba dive, cos I wore those every day too.  Be prepared for wind, lots of it, and probably some rain too.  

    We drove the Golden Circle in a rental.  Most come with GPS, and it's not hard to follow.  On a separate day, we also dove Silfra, the continental divide at the first stop on the Golden circle.  You can snorkel there too.  But this tour is an easy drive, and a must see.  We circled south to get back to Reykjavik and found some more lava pots and stuff on the way.

    Also did a lave cave tour which took us to the Blue Lagoon.  Bring a touque there too, and have the mud facial.  It was fun

    Reykjavik is small.  We hit most of it in 1-2 days max.  There are lots of cool bars/restaurants at the harbour end of the town.

    We also did a tour through the north west to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.  Lots of cool thing to see, like debris from a shipwreck, monuments to different historical figures, and the arctic terns (I think) that will dive bomb you if you're not careful.  We did it in a 1 day tour

    We really wanted to go glacier lake, in the south (Jokulsarlon, I think), but I think it was about 16 hours on the tour, so we skipped it.  We plan to go again, one day and circle the island this time.  


      

    thisismynickname2
  • I went for a long weekend in October last year, DH and I loved every second of it. We skipped the Blue Lagoon and instead booked a Golden Circle tour with Gateway to Iceland tours that included a trip to the Secret Lagoon - it was great, there were only about 10 people on the tour including us and the guide so it was a bit more tailored plus we got to make a few unplanned extra stops. 

    We also ate breakfast at Reykjavik Roasters two out of the three days we were there because it was just so darn good. (Those cinnamon scones...)

    Dinner at Ostabudin was excellent. 
    thisismynickname2
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited June 2016
    Thanks @WinstonsGirl and @NotATotalBetty and @londinium215
    !
    I had to look up what a touque was, haha. 
    I think the friends we're going with may be doing the Golden Circle. I'll have to check- makes a lot of sense to try that! 
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  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    @notatotalbetty So true about the weather! We happened to hit the worst rain storm they've had in 10 years (or so the hotel claimed). And it still didn't even seem that bad, like we were still out walking the city in our snow boots and ski jackets. We bought a hilarious magnet for our fridge that says "I survived Iceland". But the other days there were great and we were just wearing sweatshirts (March)!

                                                                     

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    thisismynickname2NotATotalBetty
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