Author Topic: Tips for travelling to Iceland  (Read 5610 times)

simulatedsanity

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Tips for travelling to Iceland
« on: July 25, 2016, 12:30:23 PM »
Hi everyone,

My DH and I are going to Reykjavik Sept. 13-22 and any suggestions for sights and activities would be appreciated!
We are thinking of a whale watching tour, and a Game of Thrones sightseeing tour *nerd love* and possibly renting a car for 2-3 days.

Dining? Must see locations?

Thanks in advance!

thd7t

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2016, 12:32:22 PM »
Hi everyone,

My DH and I are going to Reykjavik Sept. 13-22 and any suggestions for sights and activities would be appreciated!
We are thinking of a whale watching tour, and a Game of Thrones sightseeing tour *nerd love* and possibly renting a car for 2-3 days.

Dining? Must see locations?

Thanks in advance!
Following.

thd7t

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2016, 12:52:40 PM »
Check out WOW airlines for cheap flights to Iceland. San Francisco to Iceland for $99.
Wow air.us. I have not tried it yet, but your link didn't work.

JackieTreehorn

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2016, 01:02:00 PM »
There's not a ton to see in Reykjavic IMO.  We did 4 days/4 nights in Iceland and only spent 1.5 days of that in Reykjavic and that was plenty.  It's a small city.  Of course if you're there for a specific reason like work or a convention or something, that's a different story.  Everything else in Iceland was amazing though.  Obviously, do the Golden Circle (we did the highlights in a day).  Gulfoss was amazing, the geysers were cool.  Also you may have time to do the entire ring road which is the road that goes around the perimeter of Iceland.  We hit Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon which was pretty awesome.  We rented a car for the entirety of our trip and I think it was a worthwhile expenditure.  There might be bus tours but I think it's nice to have your own vehicle to do things on your own schedule. 

Just as an FYI, almost all the rental cars in Iceland have a manual transmission so if you don't drive stick, you might want to try to learn.

forumname123

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2016, 01:09:13 PM »
Check out WOW airlines for cheap flights to Iceland. San Francisco to Iceland for $99.

http://wowair.us

$99 one way, $900 the other.

thd7t

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2016, 01:10:58 PM »
I have found that prices from DC are pretty good on Iceland Air and on Wow.

simulatedsanity

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2016, 01:21:45 PM »
Thanks  Mcarrol1, I'll check those out. Just wondering, how did you find the accommodation prices along the ring road? We were going to do  Air bnb and base ourselves in Reykjavik and do day trips. I'll do a bit more research I guess. Thanks for the heads up on the manual transmission, I better brush up my skills.

We booked our tickets through Iceland Air, $599 round trip. They were having a sale, but I've seen them put them on about 4 times a year.

ashfo

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2016, 01:23:53 PM »
I just spent 10 days in Iceland in June for my honeymoon.  We rented a camper van and drove the ring road then spent 3 nights in Reyjavik (Wish we did one more night in the camper van).  Our favourite part of the trip was in Hvergerdi in south iceland about 45 km from Reykjavik.  It's a 3 km hike up a hill to get to a hot spring stream, which was amazing to relax in before hiking back down.  We did a whale and puffin sailing tour in Husavik which was awesome too.  Our glacier hike was fun but it was raining the whole time.  We flew WOW air, and found the price pretty good.  You have to pay for luggage separately though so keep that in mind.  Food in Iceland was fairly expensive, but I'm Canadian so the exchange rate could work out better for you.

ashfo

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2016, 01:25:27 PM »
Just noticed you are Canadian too, so you'll find the food and drink kind of expensive.

Reepekg

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2016, 01:25:37 PM »
Went to Iceland in Oct 2012 on my honeymoon. Highlights:
+1 to Jokulsarlon. The pictures I got of a black sand beach with giant chunks of ice washed up on them were unbelievable. Like being on another planet. Don't just go on the boat tour of the lagoon, take some time to walk down to the ocean on your own.
My wife really enjoyed the Northern lights even though it was a bus ride. At least they take you back for free each night until you see them. (Be warned, we were stuck for Hurricane Sandy so it took 5 tries to see them... so you might not on 1 or 2 tries).
Since it was a truly special occasion, the following are expensive non-mustachian indulgences that I thought were great:
-If you go to the Blue Lagoon (#1 attraction in the country), avoid the bus trip. Drive there so you can arrive late in the day as all the buses full of tourists are pulling out. It is a completely different experience to be there basically by yourself as the sun goes down, and eat dinner in a deserted restaurant with cool lighting... it feels very private. I also sprang for the private changing area which was spa-like and fancy.
-We ate and stayed at Hotel Ranga which was top notch.

Horse back riding was OK, the falls and geysers were OK. I think I enjoyed just driving through the countryside more than anything.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 01:31:37 PM by Reepekg »
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Expatriate

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2016, 01:26:10 PM »
Since you're there for a week, consider some nights in the soutg. Jokulsarlon as indicated is very nice, as it the Vatnajokull glacier. Consider a day trip to the Vestmannaeyjar island. All are relatively close together, but each a *very* long day trip from Reykjvavik.

mskyle

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2016, 01:51:14 PM »
I've been to Iceland twice (for 3-5 day trips) and based myself in Reykjavik both times. I actually really like Reykjavik! It's small, and there's not a ton to do, but I don't know, it's just kind of a nice place. A week would be a long time though.

I went on a (very long) day trip to the Snaefellsnaes peninsula which was amazing. Insanely gorgeous landscape (not very Game of Thrones-y, though), black pebble beaches, lava fields all over the place. That was a small group tour (in a minivan). The bus tours are kind of a hassle (PLEASE, EVERYONE, STOP TRYING TO TAKE FLASH PHOTOS OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS) but I really liked the small tour - we went places I wouldn't have found on my own.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2016, 02:08:59 PM »
I spent the first week of September in Iceland a couple of years ago.

With 10 days in the country, I strongly recommend renting a car for most of that time and traveling the Ring Road. The high tourism season ends on September 1. We found the prices for accommodation very reasonable just after that. There were vacancies pretty much everywhere that time of year, so we didn't even need to book things in advance. This strategy allowed us to take our time at the sights and stop at whichever town seemed like a good stopping point for the day.

The camper vans are worth considering as well. The two-person ones looked like a good deal, but we had three people in our group and I think that the hostels and guest houses we used ended up being less expensive in our situation than the larger camper vans would have been.

We rented an automatic transmission vehicle; it cost a bit more but I was the only stick-shift proficient driver in the group so that wasn't a real option for us. Try to find a diesel if you can. It's more efficient and fuel is more expensive than the US for sure.
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cerat0n1a

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2016, 02:15:04 PM »
  We hit Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon which was pretty awesome. 

Strong recommend for this; it's about a 4-5 hour drive from Reykjavik, with a lot of interesting stuff on the way, just about doable as a day trip.

The glacier stops about a mile from the sea, forming a lake. The ice calves into that lake, so you take a boat trip looking at all these blue icebergs, often covered with black volcanic ash. After the boat trip, cross over the road to the beach - black sand with lots of clear/see through ice bergs on it - awesome photo opportunity. The water from the lake rushes out to sea at 30+mph. The local seals treat it as a waterslide - basically jump into the current, get a high speed trip out to sea, then swim out of the current, back on to land and crawl up to do it again.

If you drive there, stop off at Vik, the main village in Southern Iceland (population about 400...) and check out the sea stacks.

We enjoyed the blue lagoon, but going to the public geothermal pools in Reykjavik was more fun - lots of pools with different temperatures, slides & stuff for kids. It's kinda the equivalent of a coffee shop or bar - where people go to hang out in the evening. You do have to strip off completely and shower in the changing rooms before you go in the water though, lots of signs telling foreigners that you'll offend people if you don't.

Apart from all the amazing waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes etc. we really liked swimming in a warm stream, in the pouring rain. Hard to describe how to get there, we got directions from a local and it was an hour's walk.

In terms of "dining", it's not cheap anywhere, particularly alcohol. We mostly hit supermarkets and fed ourselves. It was very much a subsistence peasant farming existence for most of history and not many plants grow there, so no great gastronomic tradition, although you can get great meals today of course.

Also, contrary to popular belief, you're more likely to see aurora in late September than mid-winter. Just have to hope that it isn't cloudy the whole time you're there.

JackieTreehorn

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2016, 02:16:01 PM »
Thanks  Mcarrol1, I'll check those out. Just wondering, how did you find the accommodation prices along the ring road? We were going to do  Air bnb and base ourselves in Reykjavik and do day trips. I'll do a bit more research I guess. Thanks for the heads up on the manual transmission, I better brush up my skills.

We booked our tickets through Iceland Air, $599 round trip. They were having a sale, but I've seen them put them on about 4 times a year.

We went with friends and I didn't book the accommodations personally, but I believe they used either Airbnb or VRBO.  I personally wouldn't base out of Reykjavic as there are some awesome things to see that would just be too far to do in a day trip without spending most of your day driving, Jokulsarlon being one of them.  I believe we stayed in a town called Hella for 2 nights which was still a good ways from Jokulsarlon, but much closer than Reykjavic. 

+1 on the glacier someone mentioned.  That was pretty awesome too.

iris lily

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2016, 03:00:31 PM »
DH is taking one of those cheap Icelandic flights to Switzerland in October. He is excited to add a new country to his lifetime itinerary even though he will never get out of the  airport.

KMMK

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2016, 10:52:32 PM »
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Secretly Saving

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2016, 03:32:39 AM »
Thanks for all of this info. We're planning a trip as well.

kpd905

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2016, 06:05:08 AM »
+1 to Jokulsarlon. The pictures I got of a black sand beach with giant chunks of ice washed up on them were unbelievable. Like being on another planet.

Would you mind posting a few of these?  Sounds amazing.
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tomatops

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2016, 07:07:58 AM »
Fellow Canadian here, actually heading there next week for about 9 days with the girlfriend.

Like others have posted, I'm flying Wow Air out of Toronto ($480 round trip before luggage fees).

We are doing a combination of camper van (3 days - Southeast region up to Jokularson) + regular car 4 days + camping pod/hut (north of Reykjavik)+ AirBnB (Reykjavik and north to Olafsvik). Luckily, we are able to rent automatic. My credit card covered auto insurance for the car, but not for the camper van since it is considered a "camper" under the insurance agreement. Just flagging that since that will also be an added cost and the gravel + sand & ash insurance comes to 22 Euros a day...

When we did the math, the camper van was the same cost as a car rental + AirBnBs (hotels are SO expensive there), it does however, buy you tons of flexibility, which we wanted, especially in the Southeast where lots of the spots were all booked!

I'm very budget-conscious but with 9 days, after activities and even eating groceries mostly and one nice meal, I'm expecting to have it clock in to probably $2500 CAD per person. Will re-checkin after here when I return on how fared...

Tip: if you rent a car want a GPS, renting one from the rental place is usually 50 Euros and downloading an Iceland map on your personal GPS can run you $70-$120 CAD. Instead, if you have an Android phone, you can download pretty much most of Iceland onto your phone from Google maps and use their navigation offline. That plus old schooling it with paper maps ought to do it. It's not a crazy country with intense networks of roads, so I figure we'll be fine...

Added tip: Just thought of this: but I did extensive research on currency exchange. Believe it or not, VISA offers the best rate over the major banks (worst) + currency converters (not the worst, depending where you go). If you get the Amazon.ca Chase VISA, they also don't charge the dreaded 2.5% foreign transaction fee and you get 1% cashback. Apparently Iceland is very well connected so they take VISA everywhere. Just be sure your PIN is 4 digits, because 6 digits isn't a thing over there apparently... We'll be bringing some cash, but we'll try to keep it minimal.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2016, 07:18:19 AM by tomatops »

geekette

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2016, 07:35:32 AM »
I've been a few brief times - love it, and would love to go back for a longer trip.  I know my DH would find their geothermal power plants fascinating (at least some Golden Circle tours include a stop to tour a power plant).

My mother had Greenland on her bucket list, so back in '09 we took a short trip to Iceland, and a day trip from the airport in Reykjavik over to Greenland.  Fly over in a prop plane, land on a gravel runway, hike over a glacier (not a big hike, my mom was in her mid 70's) to the small town of Kulusuk (something like this). 

We each bought a little something from the craftsmen there in town.  We mistakenly though they were priced in Icelandic krona, but it was Danish krone, so our "inexpensive trinkets" cost about 20x what we thought.  Oops.

Southeastern Iceland often gets socked in by clouds in the evening.  We never even got to go out to try to see the northern lights - they always cancelled. 

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2016, 09:11:08 AM »
Seconding the expensive alcohol. We got duty free and it was much better value.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2016, 10:48:15 AM »
Seconding the expensive alcohol. We got duty free and it was much better value.

This is very true. They'll let you stop at the duty free shop on the way out of the airport when you arrive. These shops are normally not a cost-effective place to buy anything, but in Iceland the alcohol taxes are high enough that you should definitely take advantage of that opportunity if you intend to drink outside of a restaurant/bar.
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simulatedsanity

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2016, 11:32:27 AM »
Added tip: Just thought of this: but I did extensive research on currency exchange. Believe it or not, VISA offers the best rate over the major banks (worst) + currency converters (not the worst, depending where you go). If you get the Amazon.ca Chase VISA, they also don't charge the dreaded 2.5% foreign transaction fee and you get 1% cashback. Apparently Iceland is very well connected so they take VISA everywhere. Just be sure your PIN is 4 digits, because 6 digits isn't a thing over there apparently... We'll be bringing some cash, but we'll try to keep it minimal.
[/quote]

Thanks so much for this tip, I hate that 2.5%. Let us know how your trip goes :)

sis

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2016, 11:44:00 AM »
We spent a week there in February.

Main take homes:

1. Every place you go will accept credit cards, even for small transactions.  Even the toll roads accept credit cards.

2. There's no need to stay in Reykjavik any longer than a day or two.  It is fine, but the real beauty in Iceland is nature.

3. Navigating is really easy, there are very few roads and so probably no need for a GPS.

4. If renting a car, look at European rental companies as well.  We were able to get a car through sixt for much much cheaper than hertz etc.

5. We really enjoyed our stay at Stracta Hotel in Hella.  I would recommend it for a night or two.

6. We didn't drive the full ring road, because we only had 7 days but I think it would be very worthwhile.

7. If you must, then go to the Blue Lagoon.  It is cool and "the thing to do" for tourists, but it is like the disney world of geothermal pools.  There are a lot of local ones that you can go to for cheap.

8. As others have said, food and alcohol are very expensive.  You can get liquor from the duty free store.  To cut down on costs we ate at the grocery store a lot.  We still had a few really nice meals out, but it really is quite expensive.

9. Bring good hiking boots :-)

zoltani

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2016, 11:48:10 AM »
IDk is it has been mentioned but do visit the local pools around Reykjavik. I really liked Laugardalslaug, it has multiple pools for soaking including seawater that enters a fumarole on the coast, is naturally heated, and pumped into the pool. The public pools are around $3-5 for entrance, much cheaper than blue lagoon or other tourist spots. It definitely doesn't have the same atmosphere, but the experience of sitting in a pool with the locals can't be beat, IMO.

If you like going out, drinking, dancing, music, or whatever then spend a Saturday night in Reykjavik, those crazy Icelanders know how to party!
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JoJo

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2016, 06:31:58 PM »
I also recommend getting the car for longer and doing the ring road.  Doing this saves you tons on those 1 day tours out of Rekyvik.

I love travel planning and here are some of my secrets to planning:
* Get the various travel guidebooks from your public library.  See which ones you like then either order them or see if you have longer check out times and just use a library copy.
* I look at various adventure company tours of various locations and come up with itineraries - it gives you a good idea about how much time should be spent at each place.  I end up traveling to many of the same places, sometimes doing more, for at least 50% cheaper.  A couple good companies to look at are Intrepid Travel and Gadventures.  Here's an example tour that you could base your itinerary off of:   https://www.gadventures.com/trips/best-of-iceland/1572/
* Consider camping, hostels, or farm stays

Krolik

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2016, 09:03:11 AM »
We came back from Iceland 3 weeks ago and it was a great trip. Beautiful country and definitely worth visiting. We only had 5 days there.

We rented a car from citycarrental.is - they had best prices. The car was o.k. but not in the best shape. The offer pick up from the airport. We rented 4x4 for off road driving. We drove from Reykiavik to see Snaefellsjokull glacier however due to the weather our glacier tour was cancelled. Instead we decided to do the Intotheglacier tour on Langjokull . It is expensive but I think worth doing and not weather dependent.
We also drove to Latrabjarg Cliffs to see puffins and other birds. It is a long drive but scenery is amazing. On a way back we took Baldur ferry.
When visiting Vidgelmir lava cave we took the morning tour and happened to be the only guests so our guide gave us a private tour. It was very interesting.
Golden circle is definitely worth doing but it is a very touristy place. We also visited Blue Lagoon which was relaxing and nice however very expensive. Keep in mind this is #1 tourist attraction so very popular. We booked 8am tickets and it was still pretty empty. Crowds started showing up around 11am. If you decide to do Blue Lagoon aim for early morning or really late evening.
Reykjavik is a very cool city but I think 2-3 days is enough to spend there. We did whale watching tour and saw only one whale. There were plenty of dolphins and birds which was also very cool.

Food and hotels are very expensive. Everyone is super friendly and speaks English. You can pay with credit card everywhere, no need for cash. Even in the summer it was  cold. You will need a jacket, good hiking boots, hat + gloves (depending where you go).
For some destinations you will be only given GPS coordinates, so know how to enter them on google maps :-)
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thd7t

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2016, 09:19:54 AM »
Has anyone tried the Iceland camping card? It looks like it's good for a season at 110 Euros at around 40 campgrounds.

Krolik

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2016, 09:31:46 AM »
Has anyone tried the Iceland camping card? It looks like it's good for a season at 110 Euros at around 40 campgrounds.

Once we took a Canadian student hitchhiker who had this card and said that he was disappointed because he couldn't use it on every campground and the popular / better ones didn't accept it. He also mentioned that nobody checked his name when presenting the card so he wanted to resell it and get some money back.

I don't know if this is all true but this is what he told us.
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Inaya

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2016, 12:25:54 PM »
Following. I've wanted to go for YEARS (yeah, I'll say it, I've wanted to go since before it was cool--it seems like everyone I know is suddenly going), but I'm just not much of a traveller. But we never had a honeymoon, so eventually Iceland will be it, albeit belated. Especially now that Icelandair flies direct out of ORD now.
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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2016, 11:19:29 AM »
I just got back from Iceland last night after a 9 day trip - it was so much fun! My partner and I did mostly lots of hiking and sightseeing. We first got a camper van and went to the Westman Islands for a day trip, stopped in Vik and did a lot of the sights going East as far as Jokulsarlon, that others have mentioned. We then went back to Reykjavik and got a regular car and then went West to Olafsvik and the Snaefellness Peninsula. The weather was real bad the second half, but we made the most of it.

In terms of travel, MMM style, here are a few things we did:

- Food is super expensive and groceries helped us stretch our money far. We went mostly with Oatmeal for breakfast ($3.00 for a giant bag...), tuna sandwiches for lunch, and pasta with beans and sauce for dinner. It served us well. I recommend the BONUS grocery stores (for example our first grocery store, we thought that $7.00 for a loaf of bread was the norm... wrong.) And if you're a chocolate-souvenir type of person, they all sell the same stuff as those tourist shops for half the price.

- Re: Food: we still dined out (5 times to be exact, not including the odd cafe stop on the road). The surcharge for a really nice meal versus an OK meal is not that huge. For example you can spend $13 for one hamburger or $22 for fish soup at a highly rated restaurant. We learned our lesson after having less than exciting hamburgers on Day 1 after we landed. With the dining, cafes, and groceries we did, we were able to hit our goal of $30 a day per person on food.

- If you rent a car, try and get a diesel car. Gas is as much as 20 cents more per litre. Our camper van ended up actually being cheaper to drive then the automatic small car we got. Also: don't rent a GPS - Iceland is super easy to navigate. Just go old school map style or simply download your driving area on your phone via Google maps for free, since it offers free navigation as it is. Though watch for speed traps via cameras around the city and the towns. Apparently traffic tickets are very expensive there.

- Re: car rentals: the camper van was not covered under my credit card, so we just bought gravel insurance (big trucks throw rocks... just a thing there) and skipped sand and ash. You can check the weather forecast ahead of time and if the wind speed appears to be near the 20m/s range, then consider it.

- Accommodation: we stuck with AirBnB and campsites. Much cheaper than hotels and they all had kitchens so we could cook our own food.

- The National Museum of Iceland is a bit underwhelming and probably not worth $15 per person. (we went half price as students and still felt underwhelmed).

- We skipped the 55 Euro cost of Blue Lagoon (where no locals go) and did a local pool in Reykjavik for about $10 in the Laugar area. It was awesome - water slide, several hot tubs of different temperatures and water types (saltwater vs regular, etc.), a steam bath room. A perfect way to cap our last night in Iceland. My favourite part was an old Icelandic lady brushing past us as we stood in front of a 5 degree Celsius pool pondering if it was a good idea to go in, jumping in, getting out than saying: "This is good for skin." and leaving.

- We had brought about $250 of cash and struggled to spend it all. I will probably just bring about $50 worth for myself next time, since the VISA exchange rate exceeds all currency exchange rates that those shops and banks offer.

Have fun!

WerKater

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2016, 01:26:59 PM »
We went to Iceland in 2014 for two weeks and did a self-directed ring road tour with a rented camper van. I loved every minute of it. My favorite were the north (The area around Myvatn and Akureyri). But the best thing was to have the van and hence to be independent of insane tourist groups. It was awesome to be in such beautiful places and to be almost alone much of the time.

MsPeacock

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2016, 06:50:57 AM »
IDk is it has been mentioned but do visit the local pools around Reykjavik. I really liked Laugardalslaug, it has multiple pools for soaking including seawater that enters a fumarole on the coast, is naturally heated, and pumped into the pool. The public pools are around $3-5 for entrance, much cheaper than blue lagoon or other tourist spots. It definitely doesn't have the same atmosphere, but the experience of sitting in a pool with the locals can't be beat, IMO.

If you like going out, drinking, dancing, music, or whatever then spend a Saturday night in Reykjavik, those crazy Icelanders know how to party!

I as going to post the same thing. We stayed at a guest house across the street from that pool and went 1-2x a day during our trip. It was awesome and cheap. Blue lagoon has the same water but is like $50 entry.

nickybecky1

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2016, 09:47:34 AM »
+1 for Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon (maybe the coolest place I've been in the world)
+10000 for local pools. I wish I lived there for these pools.

Lodging:
We stayed at a guesthouse (Captain Reykjavik) that had shared bathrooms and provided a delicious breakfast every morning. They even let us check in when we arrived at 7am and nap! (Your mileage may vary depending on whether someone stays in the room the night before of course). It was walking distance to downtown and to our favorite local pool (starts with a V). We tried a few different pools and liked this one the best. I'm not sure why anyone would pay for the expensive touristy ones with these ones being so nice and so cheap.

Food: Seafood is not that bad, and neither are icelandic hot dogs. There's a place that has lobster bisque that's really good, you're basically in a small convenience store and it seemed affordable. Can't remember the name but I think if you search for lobster bisque it will come up.

Attractions: Honestly, the best thing we did in Reykjavik (after pools of course) was a free (tips only) walking tour of Reykjavik. You can search for it on trip adviser and sign up to get info on the location. The guides are great and give so much great cultural information and info about all the sites. It's 2.5 hours or so and well worth the tip we gave.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2016, 11:09:18 AM »
Anyone know what bike touring would be like? Are the roads (and the Ring Road) doable with a road bike? Is there easy camping access?  Seems to be a very safe place for a solo woman to do a bike tour.

My recollection of the Ring Road was that it was mostly paved and in good repair. Parts of the Ring Road and a large fraction of the other roads were gravel. Roads signed for four-wheel-drive only are relatively common, though the Ring Road is easily passable with a regular car. I don't do much biking, so draw your own conclusions on how suitable that would be for a road bike.

As to safety as a single woman, Iceland has basically the lowest rate of violent crime in the world.
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Helvegen

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2016, 11:28:36 AM »
Don't go to the Blue Lagoon. Seriously, that place is the only place I can say we truly wasted our money at in Iceland.

Otherwise, Iceland is expensive, but awesome. Cafe Loki has a good Icelandic sampler platter I recommend.

I'd suggest getting lodging that includes breakfast. I can't stress enough how expensive food is in Iceland.


Inaya

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2016, 12:12:25 PM »
My husband desperately wants to do one of those tours where you rent a 4x4 and drive on a glacier or whatever (not Mustachian at all, but it'll be his vacation too). Has anyone done that?
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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2016, 01:20:38 PM »
Coming back to add a few more comments. I went to Iceland last summer with my boyfriend and my two kids. We stayed in Reykjavik because our trip was short. We did a sea fishing tour, drove the golden circle, a glacier hike tour (amazing), horseback riding. Normally I am more of a DIY type traveler but because we were short on time I went with tours. Definitely agree that you will need a rental car and that you'll only want maybe two days to see Reykjavik itself.

The glacier hike was expensive but was the most amazing thing to me. Aside from our rain gear (which you can also rent - but you need to bring your own for the whole trip anyhow) - they provided the transportation from Reykjavik, guide, 4 hours on the glacier, crampons, and ice pick, etc. Here are hiking trails, but I think to get on the ice you need to have a guide because many areas are dangerous. You can also hire tours right at the park, if you make the drive out yourself. My kids wanted to do one of the 4x4 tours but they weren't old enough. They look like fun but $$$ - but when will life present another opportunity to do something like that?

All the tours we did were very well run and professional.

Definitely see the amazing waterfalls too!

Another poster asked about cycling - we did see a few cyclist on the ring road - in blowing rain. The weather is cold and highly variable. Maybe if you are super hard core you would find this enjoyable, but I think for many this would have a high misery quotient. Many areas are quite isolated, so there could be long distances to ride before you find food/lodging, etc.

Make sure you have a chip credit card. We didn't get cash at all during our trip. Literally never used "real" money. even the hotdog shacks take credit cards.

Comar

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2017, 09:06:35 AM »
Shameless self advertising but I have a small youtube channel with interesting locations in Iceland if any mustachians are interested in visiting. Also feel free to ask me anything here if you need any info.

The current problem is that stuff is getting way to expensive as our currency is getting stronger and stronger. Visitors are canceling their trips because of prices mostly. I'm personally not very satisfied with the tourism boom because I feel many previsouly isolated places are turning into Disney World.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #40 on: June 16, 2017, 09:17:11 AM »
I hikes the Landmannalaugur, only travelling by bus. The start pount is not reachable by normal car, as you have to cross a pretty deep river. The bus has very high wheels.

I also went to Vik at the coast to see puffins and found them very close to the campsite.

I also spent some days horseriding on small Icelandic horses. You can visit beautiful countryside this way. Note that if you are not used to horses, it will hurt in your thighs.

The warm ponds, especially in a nice area are really nice. The one in Reykyavik has a terrible view on an electricity central.

gaja

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2017, 09:36:09 AM »
Shameless self advertising but I have a small youtube channel with interesting locations in Iceland if any mustachians are interested in visiting. Also feel free to ask me anything here if you need any info.

The current problem is that stuff is getting way to expensive as our currency is getting stronger and stronger. Visitors are canceling their trips because of prices mostly. I'm personally not very satisfied with the tourism boom because I feel many previsouly isolated places are turning into Disney World.
Glad you are getting the economy back on track, and the currency back to more normal levels.

To the bolded part: This is an increasingly common view both in Iceland and the neighbouring countries. The Faroese are using iceland as an example of how not to develop a tourist industry, the Norwegians are desperately trying to find a way to push the cost of the pollution and rescue missions over on the visitors who are causing the problems. The good thing is that as a tourist, it doesn't take much time and effort in Iceland to find the just as good and much less visited places. Going to the east coast, or up to the northwest, or basically anywhere except the Reykjavik region, the golden circle and Myvatn, means finding the traditional hospitality and friendlyness, and the real wilderness that makes Iceland magical.
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Vindicated

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #42 on: June 16, 2017, 10:02:25 AM »
Iceland has been my dream location for years, but my Wife is nervous about going.  Hopefully I can convince her some day.

Two major concerns, hopefully some of you can address:
1) My wife is Black, and worried about racism, since it's not a very diverse country.  Any possible issue here?
2) My wife doesn't like seafood.  Are there more traditional food options easily available? (Whether at groceries or restaurants)

Thanks for the comments!
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MsPeacock

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #43 on: June 16, 2017, 10:13:47 AM »
Iceland has been my dream location for years, but my Wife is nervous about going.  Hopefully I can convince her some day.

Two major concerns, hopefully some of you can address:
1) My wife is Black, and worried about racism, since it's not a very diverse country.  Any possible issue here?
2) My wife doesn't like seafood.  Are there more traditional food options easily available? (Whether at groceries or restaurants)

Thanks for the comments!

I can't comment on the racial issues from any first hand experience (being a blonde tall Northern European I blended in with the locals). Iceland is really progressive, though, so hopefully race is less of an issue. There maybe specific travel forums online that better answer this question.

Tons of non-seafood things to eat. Hot dogs are fabulous and everywhere, good yogurt, and lots of "normal" foods. My kids are picky and we had no problems.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #44 on: June 16, 2017, 12:16:17 PM »
Iceland has been my dream location for years, but my Wife is nervous about going.  Hopefully I can convince her some day.

Two major concerns, hopefully some of you can address:
1) My wife is Black, and worried about racism, since it's not a very diverse country.  Any possible issue here?
2) My wife doesn't like seafood.  Are there more traditional food options easily available? (Whether at groceries or restaurants)


My wife is black (as are our kids). Absolutely no problem at all, anywhere in the country. Complete non-issue.

My wife & kids are vegetarian, no meat, no fish. Also no problem in Iceland.

Vindicated

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #45 on: June 16, 2017, 12:30:45 PM »
Iceland has been my dream location for years, but my Wife is nervous about going.  Hopefully I can convince her some day.

Two major concerns, hopefully some of you can address:
1) My wife is Black, and worried about racism, since it's not a very diverse country.  Any possible issue here?
2) My wife doesn't like seafood.  Are there more traditional food options easily available? (Whether at groceries or restaurants)


My wife is black (as are our kids). Absolutely no problem at all, anywhere in the country. Complete non-issue.

My wife & kids are vegetarian, no meat, no fish. Also no problem in Iceland.

Fantastic!  Thanks for the confirmation.  I didn't think it would be an issue, but I'm glad to hear for certain. 
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Skills Barterer

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #46 on: June 16, 2017, 12:34:24 PM »
Did the OP go yet? 

My wife and I went last June for our honeymoon.  You can have an incredible time in 1 day or as long as you have time/money.  We did the full ring road and had a great time. 
Tips:
1. Extremely nice and helpful people.  The nicest people I've encountered traveling that didn't expect anything from us. 
2. It is all expensive and not very mustachian.  However we did see several people biking the ring road... epic!
3. You can camp anywhere... anywhere except the national parks.
4. Everyone speaks English which was nice for my lazy ass.   
5. Book everything you can in advance as hotels and whatnot fill up. 

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what the by Alex Pingel, on Flickr

seattlecyclone

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #47 on: June 16, 2017, 01:55:44 PM »
5. Book everything you can in advance as hotels and whatnot fill up. 

This depends on what time of year you go. We did the Ring Road in early September, and it seems that the tourist population really plummets on September 1. We had no problem finding vacant rooms in guest houses and hostels with no advance reservation. Traveling this way was really nice because we could take our time at things and not feel as though we were obligated to make it to a particular town at a particular time. But that strategy probably doesn't fly in the busy season.
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GreenSheep

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #48 on: June 16, 2017, 01:57:00 PM »
I've been to Iceland 3 times. It was my favorite country to visit until the tourist boom began. Now I think I'll wait and see if things calm down before I go back. However, as noted by someone above, it's still not too hard to find off-the-beaten-path areas that are very impressive. For example, we got engaged at the base of the 3rd largest waterfall in Iceland, and there was no one around to witness it. :-)

I've done a G Adventures trip (meh, but enough to make me want to go back), a 6-night backpacking trip with a guide and two other people, and an 11-night Ring Road camper van trip with my now-husband.

I would actually strongly consider skipping the Golden Circle (unless you like looking at miles of tourist buses) and blasting directly past that and starting your trip with Vik and points east of there. In my opinion, while the waterfall is impressive, the rest of the Golden Circle isn't that great, and it's not worth the time if you have limited time. And the entire island is covered with waterfalls. I mean, so many that it became a joke for us. Rainbows, too. They're all fantastic, but that means it's okay to skip one.

Do not miss the shuttle bus from the airport to Reykjavik. Taxis are expensive. Ask me how I know. Do get your liquor (quickly!) at the duty free shop at the airport. Upon your return to the airport, leave yourself MUCH more time than you think you need. On both my 2nd and 3rd trips, I stood in line for over an hour (maybe two?) at the Delta checkin desk, just to check my bag. (I typically don't check a bag, but I was camping, so I had a lot of stuff.)

Reyjavik is a nice city, but it's very small. Unless you have some burning desire to eat at every restaurant they have, there's no need to stay for more than a day or two. I literally ran around the whole city in one afternoon; there's a nice loop for runners/walkers/cyclists. And yep, AirBnB seems to be the way to go for lodging if you're not camping.

Yes, Bonus grocery stores are where you'll find cheap food! And +1 for oatmeal! That was our daily breakfast. I also took along a bunch of dehydrated fruits, vegetables, beans, etc. to make meals when camper vanning. Oh, and we bought a lot of bread at local bakeries everywhere we went. We typically started our morning at a coffee shop so my husband could get his caffeine and we could use the Wifi, and we usually bought a loaf of bread to eat over the next couple of days.

If you eat cheese, you'll find that good European cheese is relatively cheap. Cheaper than cheddar.

For those renting a camper van, we found that the best way to stay clean was to make use of the public swimming pool (translation: pool that almost no one uses, with 2-3 hot tubs next to it that are the social equivalent of an Irish pub) in each little town where we camped. Even the tiniest towns have a swimming pool. It's something like $5 per person to enter, and you're required to take a (completely naked, in public, just get over it) shower in the locker room (men/women separated), and then you can enjoy the hot tub and/or pool, then shower again before you go. So you end up squeaky clean and relaxed by the time you leave. This was just last summer, post-tourist-boom, and we were still the only tourists in every pool (we didn't go to the ones in Reykjavik, though), so I think it hasn't quite caught on yet.

One other camper van tip that ended up working well for us: get a map. A real, paper, folding map. My husband gave me one that was something like 5x6 feet when completely unfolded, so I spread it out on the living room floor and had a blast marking spots that we wanted to see during our drive. I just used internet searches to come up with ideas. Not that we had to hit every one of them, but it gave us a really good idea of what was out there. That map ended up being on my lap for the entire trip, unfolded just enough to see the area where we were at the time. I like technology, but sometimes it's too much trouble. And yeah, there's zero need for GPS.

My two favorite, not-so-touristy parts of Iceland are the Westfjords:

https://www.google.com/search?site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=602&q=hornvik&oq=hornvik&gs_l=img.3..0l2j0i24k1l4.482.1464.0.1970.8.7.0.0.0.0.166.529.3j2.5.0....0...1.1.64.img..3.5.525.0..35i39k1j0i30k1.QY9ud6CJiLw

and Seydisfjordur:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Seydisfjordur&site=imghp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiL5L37jcPUAhUJ1GMKHQ-NBoIQ_AUIBygC&biw=1280&bih=602

My 6-night backpacking trip was through the Westfjords, including Hornstrandir. Completely amazing. I did use a guide out of Isafjordur (cute little town, no need to stay more than a night, not much to do unless you're using it as a base for adventures), and I was very happy with them (boreaadventures.com -- family run, my guide was the 26 year old son of the owners and was more than competent). I've done a lot of hiking/backpacking in a lot of parts of the world, and that was one impressive hike. We were lucky to have incredible weather, though. If it had been cold, windy, and rainy the whole time like it was on our last two days, it would have been much less awesome. Even if you're not interested in hiking, just driving the Westfjords is worth doing. The rental car/van companies may try to steer you away from it because the roads are less great than they are elsewhere in Iceland, but they're not bad (as of 2 years ago). And there's a great campsite in Isafjordur (also nice hotels). Even the campsite has a waterfall view that would be a destination hike in most parts of the US, but in Iceland it's just "oh, by the way, there's another waterfall." Just from the car, we spotted a whale in one of the fjords.

Seydisfjordur has a nice little campsite right there in town, just across the street from a couple of small bars/restaurants. It's also where the ferry goes to/from Denmark. Near there are some nice hikes, too.

Iceland is a beautiful country. I have mixed feelings about being a tourist there. I'm happy to give my tourist dollar to a place with such beauty and such kind people, but I worry about too many people like me trampling that natural beauty and frustrating those who have lived there for generations.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Tips for travelling to Iceland
« Reply #49 on: June 16, 2017, 03:08:38 PM »
we found that the best way to stay clean was to make use of the public swimming pool (translation: pool that almost no one uses, with 2-3 hot tubs next to it that are the social equivalent of an Irish pub) in each little town where we camped. Even the tiniest towns have a swimming pool.
Those pools are a great way to meet some locals - as you say, it's where people go to hang out in the evening, just like a pub would be in Britain or Ireland.

Referring back to the earlier question about racism. We went to a pool in Reykjavik and there were some kids from Greenland (inuit ethnicity I guess) on their first trip abroad. Also the first time they'd seen any real black people - a highlight for both parties.