Iceland in 3 weeks - all hints and tips welcome!(34 Posts)
We got lots of great advice on here in May when we were thinking about this trip.
Now it's nearly here, what do we:
- need to do?
- need to take?
We (me, DH, DD-13 and DS--10 but 11 whilst we are there) are going for a week and staying in an AirB&B apartment in Reykjavik. We are good walkers, like to explore and anything involving mythology will go down well!
All hints and tips will be grateful received by all 4 of us.
Don't put your hair under the water in the blue lagoon!!! It turns it into a straw birds nest!!
Definitely do the Golden Circle trip.
Are you hiring a car?
Reykjavik is an easy place to walk around - the harbour is fascinating, and you can walk a long way along the sea front.
You can do bird & whalewatching trips very easily - I didn't, but only because I get seasick on a pond.
Not going to hire a car as neither of us are keen on the idea of winter driving so will be reliant on tours.
Note to self - need to replace my walking boots asap, they died in the
very wet Lake District in the summer
Whale watching is good even though we didn't see anything. Take snoods and hats for you all, thick gloves, decent walking boots and thermals. Golden circle tour is a must to get to all the main geographical sights. Blue lagoon is very expensive especially as it's man made but they keep that quiet (run off from the thermal power plant next door!). If you are going to go there it's essential you book in advance. If it's snowy there now take some of those things that go over the sole of your boots to grip ice. Icelandic horse riding was fantastic, we went with a company called islenski hesturinn and they pick you up and drop you off. No experience necessary. If you want to see the northern lights you need a cold clear night with no bright moon and go out away from the city. Food is very expensive but we found a reasonably priced American diner type place in the centre of reyk. They have a couple of supermarkets though which are easy to get to by walking so you can stock your apartment up. The big crazy looking church is worth a look inside in the centre of reyk. I love iceland.
That's great neonrainbow, thanks.
Horse riding, now there's a thought! Not sure any of us have been on a horse for more than 30mins!
Any idea what the diner place is called?
We have already been recommended the Icelandic Fish and Chip place so are stocking up on places to eat
Love Reykjavik. Even Blue Lagoon.
Great places to eat Laundramat cafe and Valdis ice cream.
Hope you have a great time.
The diner was called American style. It's American rock themed. The food was pretty good and didn't break the bank. Re horse riding, My dh had never ever sat on a horse before iceland and he said it was the highlight of our trip they really look after you and the horses are small and very safe but not boring. You still feel like you're riding and you get to tolt which is a gait exclusive to icelandic horses. I've been riding for years and am very safety conscious and that place ticked all my boxes.
...... Yes, can definitely second The Laundromat. We were self catering so had good breakfasts and bought sandwiches in the supermarket for lunches, they are hugely expensive if you buy them out and about. We did a free walking tour of Reykjavik, City Walk, I think, which was really interesting (it's on Trip Advisor I think) and the usual Golden Circle thing.
Apropos of nothing really - read this, www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_7617/index.html for a really interesting Icelandic mystery which gives a great "feel" for the island and, of course, watch Trapped if you haven't already seen it. Have fun.
If you've got loads of money for excursions we did a jeep northern lights tour. Pricy and we didn't see the northern lights but they take you out again for free if you don't see anything. The vehicle was a huge monster jeep. Off road, in deep snow, dead of night with an icelandic guide in a convoy of 10 or 15 trucks... bloody amazing even without the northern lights. Costs a lot though.
DD went with school, layer up and you won't feel the cold go to the golden circle and visit eyjafjallajokull because the family who own a farm there have a visiters center. Also visit Seljalandsfoss DD said it's awesome! DD also went into the glacier that's a fun trip,
We went swimming at Laugardalslaug in Reykjavik- had a fantastic time - flumes outside pool etc. and it wasn't expensive. If you go to Blue Lagoon, use lots of leave in conditioner before you go in as otherwise getting out tangles is a nightmare afterwards. If you go whale watching, I would recommend travel sickness pills!!
We also enjoyed dog sledding as well which we booked in advance but it wasn't cheap. We also enjoyed lots of coffee and cake!!
Ionacat - travel sickness pills now on the list thanks and am veering away from the Blue Lagoon towards local pools, certainly sounds more up DS's street.
Coffee and cake sounds excellent
Went this time last year with Novasol holidays and it was absolutely breath-taking. We were all enraptured from setting foot on the moonlike landscape.
Although it definitely comes at a price so the accommodation helped! I have a few tips and recommendations:
Do visit the whale museum in Reykjavik - it shows life size scale models of whales - amazing for kids!
If you're going to do a northern lights tour then go on the first night as many of them will let you keep trying until you see them.
Take advantage of 'Happy Hour' in local bars and pubs. The brewery tour was amazing too but not for little ones obviously!!
PLEASE don't be tempted to eat shark or whale meat DO TRY lamb and langoustine, hot dogs
The hot baths are actually everywhere in the city - it's not just the Blue Lagoon. Their swimming pools are also hot and with the city card you can get in for virtually nothing (floating chess and variety of floats, basketball hoop and hot tubs of varying temperatures)
Souvenirs can be expensive. My kids are quite crafty so we stopped at an arts and crafts shop on the main road leading up to the church (go up there - it's an awesome view and a lift takes you to the top). We bought painted lava beads and strung them on thread to make personalised necklaces for friends.
Roundtheworld1 - thank you, some really useful tips there - city card sounds a great idea and that's the first I've heard of it and lamb and langoustines def on the 'food to try' list and
whale and shark never were
Floating chess in a swimming pool will suit DS far more than the Blue Lagoon I think.
Does anyone know how birthdays are celebrated, especially children's birthdays as DS will be 11 whilst we are there?
We have already been recommended the Icelandic Fish and Chip place
DH and I would second that, wholeheartedly!
Go to the top of the church, Hallgrimskirkja - the view is beautiful
Also, if you do go swimming, do remember that swimmers are expected to shower naked ( you will be confronted with graphic illustrations of those parts of the anatomy requiring particular attention!) prior to putting on their swimming costumes to enter the pool.
Also there is a little retail area in the foyer of Harpa which will sell beautiful Christmas items at this time of year
Thanks QuinionsRainbow, we had been warned but it helps to be really prepared
TobleroneBoo - I was hoping to bring back something Christmassy so that's good info, thanks.
Reading this thread with interest as we are booked to go in March. We have booked the Golden Circle tour, Blue Lagoon ( shocked to read above it is manmade ??) and Horse riding although I don't know if i will do that , does anyone know if their is a weight limit, I don't think it would be fair on the poor horses although I am planning a major diet before march !
Pleased to read there are some reasonably priced eating places. I have a very fussy 14 yr old son. We have booked a tour to see the Nothern lights and go to another thermal with meal included but worried there will be nothing he will eat !! Can't wait, this is a trip I have been so excited about for a long time.
Some fab tips here, especially not getting blue lagoon water in your hair!
We enjoyed the Blue Lagoon, we knew it was man made but the experience was still good. That said, next time I would only go as a stop on the way to or from the airport. We wasted a bit of a day getting there and back.
If you are booking a Northern Lights tour, book it for your first evening. You typically don't pay until you go and if they postpone, you have other nights to try. We used quite a small tour, they went further then the big coaches and stayed out longer, so we did see the lights after most of the other tours had left.
The Golden Circle is well worth it, especially the geysers.
Reykjavik is a lovely little city and easy to get around on foot. The Settlement Exhibition is very good, its small so doesn't take take much time.
Second the recommendation for the Laundromat Cafe. Babyroobs, it does good burgers if that works for your 14yo? The Grillmarkadurinn isn't cheap but we had two excellent meals there, best lamb I've ever tasted.
Enjoy, we absolutely loved Iceland.
Thanks Stroan - Will definately look at the Laundromat cafe. Unfortunately we are booked on Northern Lights Tour on our last night, but as part of another trip so we just have to hope for the best. We have almost a full day to explore Reykjavik, thought about whale watching but have done that in new Zealand and like others I do get sea sick. Just been to Ibiza and felt sick on a glass bottom boat trip on a clam sea !!
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