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Reykjavik in December?

(19 Posts)
BewareOfTheToddler Sun 12-Nov-17 22:18:45

We're heading to Reykjavik as a surprise trip for DP's big birthday in late November/early December. We arrive late afternoon, have three nights there and depart around lunchtime on the last day. So basically two full days. Hotel and flights are booked but I need to work out about excursions and would welcome advice from anyone who's been!

Plan at the moment is to book the Northern Lights tour for the second evening, so we have a back-up option of going out again on the last night if we don't see them.

Then the question is what to book for the daytime - I'm considering the Golden Circle but am aware there's not a lot of daylight at this time of year - any thoughts on whether this is worthwhile?

I'm also considering booking a whale watching trip but again, I'm not sure whether that would be a really bad idea in terms of the time of year? Are there alternatives people would recommend? Or operators?

We like seeing stuff but are not massively active so not fussed about horse riding or anything. DP also hates spa-type stuff so, as it's his birthday trip, the Blue Lagoon is out.hmm We like wandering, not going at too fast a pace, and also just having time to relax (this is a rare child-free break for us).

How much time would you allow for Reykjavik itself?

Would welcome any thoughts, or more general tips, especially about how cold it's likely to be, where might be worth eating without bankrupting ourselves, and where to buy yarn and knitted items (my one indulgence grin).

BubblesBuddy Sun 12-Nov-17 22:29:27

Whale watching tours may well have stopped by Dec. It will be bloody cold!!!!
Are the whales still around?

I would do a coach tour of the Golden Circle and you can add on a snow mobile trip. Or look at the museums and sights of Reykjavik for a day. Depends what he would like really. You do not have much time there.

marriednotdead Sun 12-Nov-17 23:01:39

We went in early January for 3 nights. Didn't see the Northern Lights despite trying every evening, and the sea was way too rough to go whale watching!
If you're going to book the lights tour, make it for the first night. The coaches don't go out if the forecast means you're unlikely to see them but the ticket is valid until you do.
There's a very helpful tourism office in town so we popped in there each day as they put the lights forecast up as well as provide maps and sell tickets for everything.
Everything is pricey but we found it more cost effective hiring a car for the four of us and making our own itinerary. There's a 'free' walking tour which was fun and hugely informative- you pay the guide a donation at the end.
Although it wasn't outrageously cold on paper, its coastal, bleak and the wind chill is biting. Consequently people don't tend to be out so much in the latter part of the evening, it's all pretty deserted by 9/10pm.
Layer up though, heating is cheap so all buildings are toasty.
If you're not teetotal, the cost of a checked suitcase will more than pay for itself if you add a couple of bottles of wine and some snacks. We bought stuff at the supermarket and made packed lunches but some things are bizarrely pricey because they are hard to obtain, fruit and veg are luxuries and everything is heavily meat/dairy orientated.
Alcohol can only be bought in 'off licences' (the latest of which shuts at 6pm on Saturday and doesn't open at all on Sundays!) and you can easily pay £30 for a bottle of wine in a restaurant, £15+ in the shop shock We saw people loading up cases of beer as we were leaving the airport and didn't bother as it seemed pricey, especially after our summer jaunt to France. I'd packed 2 bottles of wine and was suddenly very popular grin
The Secret Lagoon was fab and yet not spa like, do take your swimming togs.
Everyone is friendly and welcoming wherever you go and are kind enough to all speak English as their second language smile

No clues about yarn/knitwear I'm afraid.

Despite not seeing what we went for, writing this has made me smile so thank you, hope you have a fab time smile

badbadhusky Sun 12-Nov-17 23:07:16

My handknitted Icelandic jumper shrank when I handwashed it. I am heartbroken as it is lush. sad There are a number of tourist shops that stock them. They aren’t cheap, but so lovely.

GemmaB78 Sun 12-Nov-17 23:11:12

The Golden circle tour us worth doing. The yarn - Lett-Lopi - is inexpensive (about the only thing is Iceland that is) and readily available. There are shops in Reykjavik and you can even get it at the airport. It's an amazing country. We've been twice and I still want to go again! Reykjavik itself is small and to be honest we found it a tad underwhelming.

BewareOfTheToddler Mon 13-Nov-17 10:59:09

Thank you everyone! Sounds like whale watching may not be an option in December grin. Think I'll book the Golden Circle tour and do a bit more research.

BewareOfTheToddler Mon 13-Nov-17 10:59:23

Any more ideas would be welcome!

badbadhusky Mon 13-Nov-17 13:22:14

There are lots of small museums. The National Museum has lots of interesting Viking loot & artefacts. The contemporary art gallery was great & full of very whacky art (name forgotten). There is museum with the original prose edda & old Norse manuscripts which I wanted to visit, but was closed for refurbishment. Hallsgrimskirka (modern cathedral) is worth a visit - great views from the tower but extra, I think. The national art museum was tiny & meh IMO, but it has a nice cafe. If you can coincide with a concert in the cathedral, I suspect the acoustics would be awesome.

LordEmsworth Mon 13-Nov-17 23:03:42

Just back from Rejkyavik in November. Agree with everyone's comments.

I would add though that the Blue Lagoon is amazing. It has a bar and WiFi. He can watch telly while you get a massage... we also went to one of the geothermal outdoor swimming pools in the city, it was -1 while we were there.

We didn't do any museums, but did get the boat to Videy Island. We also downloaded the AppyHour app to find out where and when the deals were on, so we could sit in a bar with a drink without having to remortgage.

And if you can find a shop that doesn't sell wool or woollen items, you can probably win a prize... Nordic Store is good, as is Geysir.

Best meal for me was Icelandic Fish and Chips by the harbour. It wasn't actually as costly as I had expected. We didn't eat at the Chuck Norris Grill, strangely...

TittyGolightly Mon 13-Nov-17 23:08:53

Best meal for me was Icelandic Fish and Chips by the harbour. It wasn't actually as costly as I had expected.

That’s my favourite place too. The langoustines! Yum.

Hate the blue lagoon.

Get yourselves on a golden circle tour. Gateway to Iceland are brilliant and theirs includes a trip to the secret lagoon - much less commercial than the BL.

We went for New year and missed the NLs everywhere. Had a 2 day stop over this August and saw them both nights! Again GTI have the best record for seeing them.

LadyWithLapdog Mon 13-Nov-17 23:19:47

We saw the northern lights from near our B&B just outside Reykjavik when we went for New Year many years ago. The golden circle trip was well worth it. We also loved the blue lagoon (just swimming, we had young DCs).

BewareOfTheToddler Tue 14-Nov-17 14:02:34

Thank you! Am starting to get excited now!

LadyWithLapdog Tue 14-Nov-17 16:19:14

It really is otherworldly. One of my favourite places.

bingohandjob Tue 14-Nov-17 17:40:03

Reading with interest as we're going soon and have used this site a lot to plan our trips iheartreykjavik.net

Nomad86 Tue 14-Nov-17 18:25:00

A trip to see some geysers followed by snowmobiling on a glacier.

Bluntness100 Tue 14-Nov-17 18:33:44

Ok this is obvious, but good god it’s freezing, we went in JAN last year and it was minus 19. Everywhere inside is roasting,as they have free heating due to the underground geysers. So thick coats, thick boots, hats, gloves and scarves.

The booze is extortionate. So buy at duty free and bring it with you.

It’s one of those places that’s cheap to get to and stay, expensive when there.

We did the boat tour to see the lights and didn’t see them, we elected not to go back the next night as really it’s not that much fun, you’re just sailing about looking for them.

They have a penis museum. It’s the most bizzare thing ever. It’s literally hundreds of dismembered penises from tons of different mammals in embalming fluid. It’s really quite disgusting. If you’ve got an hour to kill go for a wander round it.

I was texting my daughter pics until she texted “for gods sake mum stop sending me pictures of penises, it’s weird” grin

Wotrewelookinat Tue 14-Nov-17 18:43:57

I’ve been to Iceland twice in Spring, never in December, it would be waaaay too cold for me. It was thick coat, gloves and hat weather due to it being very windy even in May! Definitely do the Golden Circle tour and spend a leisurely day wandering around Reykjavik! Enjoy!

Jaxhog Tue 14-Nov-17 18:53:10

An evening hot springs tour is pretty crazy fun! We did this, booking at one of the numerous tour shops in the main street. Had the huge 4 wheel drive thingy and driver to ourselves. Icelandic drivers are totally nuts btw.

Apparently, the blue lagoon is good at night too.

We missed the penis museum. Will go next time though.

SureIusedtobetaller Tue 14-Nov-17 19:07:51

Lots of layers- the wind chill is shocking.
We took those hand warmer thingies and flasks of hot choc on trips!
Geysir fab.
It does get dark early but stays sort of twighlighty for ages so it’s not pitch dark.
Northern Lights trips get cancelled easily- I wish we’d booked with a 4x4 company as you get a better chance - we didn’t see them at all but people on these trips did.

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