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Iceland

(44 Posts)
shhhgobacktosleep Sat 17-Dec-16 16:36:24

Planning to take my 3 children (technically 2 of them are now adults) to Iceland Easter 2017. Does anyone have any advice re: booking (agents or independent), places to stay, must do things etc. We haven't all been on holiday together out of the U.K. for 8 years and I think this is probably our last so really want it to be amazing.

Bluntness100 Sat 17-Dec-16 16:40:30

Pick a hotel in the centre, they pretty much all are, it's two or three streets. Do a northern lights tour, a boat one is good. Museums are hugely expensive, as in 25 pounds each to get in kind of expensive, and food and drink is expensive too. Wrap up warm, thick gloves, hat coats etc and many layers. It's a beautiful place and worth the visit.

Cinderford Sat 17-Dec-16 18:14:06

1. Everything will be even more expensive than you expect.

2. You must shower naked before getting into a pool blush. The shower areas are single sex, and the Icelanders don't bat an eyelid. You look weird if you keep your cossie on.

3. Take as much food with you as you can. (I'm not kidding.) Eating out is so expensive that it's normal for there to be cooking facilities wherever you stay. Our hotel accomodation in Reykjavik had a sitting room with a kitchenette.

4. If you want to drink alcohol, take it in your luggage. We're talking £35 for a bottle of wine, and you can only buy it at state-owned offies.

5. The municipal swimming pool in Reyjavik costs about £6 and is great - open air pool, indoor pool, plunge pools ranging from tropical to Arctic, a children's play area and a sauna.

6. Husavik is worth considering - you can whale watch from the harbour and we stayed in some self-catering cabins about a mile south of the town. I'd love to go back and spend longer there.

7. If you go to Husavik, visit the Myvatn Spa Baths. We spent 4 hrs there; it's cheaper than the Blue Lagoon and less crowded. After going to Myvatn and hearing about the BL, we didn't bother going to the latter.

8. Everyone speaks excellent English.

HTH smile

Cinderford Sat 17-Dec-16 18:19:31

Oh, and we organised everything ourselves as we didn't fancy being herded around on a bus tour. You can sort everything online (there are loads of AirB&Bs as the cost of living is so ridiculous). Driving is straightforward as there is so little traffic other than in Reykjavik. There's basically one road all the way round the island.

Lordofmyflies Sat 17-Dec-16 18:21:59

We went last Easter and stayed in a holiday home near gulfoss.
I would recommend choosing one area of the country and doing that area well. For a first visit, maybe south / east??
I would definitely hire a car, a 4x4 with studded tyres for Easter time. A lot of the city shuts down for Easter and many tourist trips don't start till after Easter Monday so you may want to go after that.
We found self catering to cost the same as uk supermarkets but eating out to be v expensive.
We were there for a week and spent time travelling to see gulfoss and geyser, blue lagoon, and the glaciers on the south coast.
We also went horse riding, did a snowmobile trek across the glaciers and snow tubing. It really is a stunning country.

BikeRunSki Sat 17-Dec-16 18:24:06

My DB and his family love Iceland and go every other year or so. He'd recommend driving with as much food as you can manage, and youth hostels. He gets the ferry from Norrh Shields I think.

tribpot Sat 17-Dec-16 18:32:36

I think if your DB is going by ferry, BikeRunSki, he must be getting the ferry from Hirtshals in Northern Denmark. If he's going from Newcastle, I'm guessing he drives from the Hook of Holland up to Hirtshals?

BikeRunSki Sat 17-Dec-16 18:42:55

I'm not sure tribpot, he's been going on and off for 20 years, I think he has been from Newcastle in the past, but not sure about more recently. But, he finds it cheaper to drive/ferry with food than flying.

shhhgobacktosleep Sat 17-Dec-16 19:35:09

Thanks for all the information, it's great please keep it coming. I'm unsure about driving after a terrifying experience in France a couple of years ago - it's just me and the kids so that would fall to me should I be scared or if I can cope with busy inner cities in the UK should I be alright?

I think we will fly as live right on the south coast so to get a ferry in the NE would make it a very long journey before we even got to Iceland.

Really interested in the whale watching as the children are all desperate to do that along with seeing the geysers and glaciers. Good to know there's a good alternative to the blue lagoon - I will definitely look into that thank you.

We are all so excited as I never thought we would be able to make this happen.

LottieDoubtie Sat 17-Dec-16 19:38:31

Driving isn't scary like inner city Europe driving- there is hardly any traffic. The weather is a bigger hurdle.

LottieDoubtie Sat 17-Dec-16 19:40:10

Oh and I went in three pools/lagoons and didn't see anyone showering naked at any point! I'm pleased to report 😃

shhhgobacktosleep Sat 17-Dec-16 19:42:48

Ok. I have driven numerous times over the years in some very deep snow, blizzards and heavy downpours so hopefully that would be sufficient experience?

NannyR Sat 17-Dec-16 19:53:38

I went in January and I really didn't find it that expensive. The flight was a reasonable price (less than £200 return), I stayed in a youth hostel in a private ensuite room that was located pretty much on the waterfront. I booked day trips to see the golden circle and the south coast and an evening trip to see the northern lights, none were particularly expensive. I went to some museums in Reykjavik, I can't remember exactly how much they cost but they weren't £25+. Eating out could be expensive but there were cheaper options just like any big city - Icelandic fish and chips was a nice restaurant that wasn't expensive. I must admit, I don't drink so no idea about the price of alcohol.

ShowMeTheElf Sat 17-Dec-16 20:13:57

We went on a bargain deal in February. We really aren't coach tour people normally but the planned tours are great: golden circle, northern lights etc: they pick you up from the hotels and the tour guides are excellent. We learnt so much more than we would have done if driving with a guide book.
If you like a glass of wine in the evening but don't want to fill up your suitcase allowance buy a bottle or two at the airport on arrival: in Reykjavik there is national and city tax on alcohol: neither apply at the airport.
I second what pp said about food and drink prices: everything is much much more than you expect. We loved wandering the city, the settlement museum (underground) with excavated turf settlement: there's a games area for children with a variety of toys and puzzles. I sat with my 16YO paying a traditional Viking board game for nearly an hour while the younger worked their way through clues about the museum. The food is lovely if you like fish, traditional scandi and/or soup: the food which emulates mainland Europe is a pale imitation, though we found good value baguettes/wraps in the square for one lunch. If you can get to a supermarket you can save a lot: the food there wasn't nearly as expensive as in the restaurants. We did the Northern lights tour, the golden circle, whale watching, and a museum tour, and loved every one.
The golden circle tour from Reykjavik takes in a gorgeous waterfall (gulfoss), the geysers (Strokkur), a volcanic national park on a fault line, an ancient church.
In the spring the days will be longer and you might be there for puffin hatching: definitely worth a boat trip!
I envy you. We loved it there.
If you do go to Gulfoss, have lamb soup in the restaurant. It was lovely!

neonrainbow Sat 17-Dec-16 20:18:04

Blue lagoon is not worth the money unless you really really want to go. If you do go book in advance but there is natural springs and lagoons you can get to at certain times of year. Blue lagoon is man made and nothing more than the run off from the nearby power plant.

Horse riding is amazing we used islenski hesturinn, perfect for beginners and experienced riders. You can do a joint whale watching and horse riding excursion.

If you've got the money to spend, can highly recommend geoiceland for their golden circle tour, takes you to all the main sites via minibus and you stop at a couple of other places compared to most tours.

Also northern lights you need to get away from reyk to get full dark. Don't do what i did and book in the middle of the brightest moon phase ive ever seen.

Stunning country and the people are very friendly and speak excellent english. Finding cheap places to eat is hard but there are supermarkets in reyk for snacks etc.

neonrainbow Sat 17-Dec-16 20:20:18

If you think you'll be anxious about driving, don't do it. All the tours pick you up from pretty much anywhere in the city. Reyk city centre isn't that big so you can walk everywhere. I've been twice and never felt i needed a car.

tribpot Sat 17-Dec-16 20:24:59

If you're down south, you're better doing the ferry Harwich to Esbjerg, but it would still be 3 nights on board ferries.

LightastheBreeze Sat 17-Dec-16 20:27:20

We went with Icelandaire and if you go to their website you can make up a package tour, they fly daily from Heathrow, well they did when we went a couple of years ago

LightastheBreeze Sat 17-Dec-16 20:30:30

Oh and we went to the pool where you have to shower without your cossie, there are signs up of the parts you need to wash well, it was all fine though as everyone does

MistyMeena Sat 17-Dec-16 20:43:40

A friend of went a week or two ago and he said it wasn't snowy or even particularly cold (about -2) which surprised me!

LightastheBreeze Sat 17-Dec-16 21:16:21

When we went in February and March to Reykjavik the weather was between -1 and +5, dull, windy and a bit wet. Similar to the west coast of the UK actually when it's a bit dull windy and wet, I think it's like that a lot, the main thing stopping you seeing the northern lights is the cloud cover.

Cinderford Sun 18-Dec-16 09:47:36

Thank you for confirming what I wrote, Light. It's exactly as you described - signs up explicitly telling you which body parts to wash, and because everyone is naked, nobody cares. The etiquette was even mentioned in my guide book!

The more I hear about the Blue Lagoon, the more pleased I am that we didn't go fsmile

HeCantBeSerious Sun 18-Dec-16 09:52:13

We did 2 different lagoons and the blue wasn't a patch on the smaller, more natural one.

Iceland is probably my most favourite place in the world. Just be warned that there won't be much night if you're going in April as the days are getting close to 24 hours. Can make people go a bit loopy.

shhhgobacktosleep Sun 18-Dec-16 09:53:39

Ahh well all 3 of my offspring are very body confident (in fact the youngest would go everywhere naked if I let him) so it shouldn't be a problem if we end up at the naked shower pool

HeCantBeSerious Sun 18-Dec-16 09:54:25

Also northern lights you need to get away from reyk to get full dark. Don't do what i did and book in the middle of the brightest moon phase ive ever seen.

Dec 31st 2015 they were less than 10 minutes drove outside the city. Unfortunately we'd been up for 22 hours travelling and I thought we'd have to drive for an hour or more so abandoned the trip and found out the next day. sad

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