OK, so it’s time to share our day to day in Iceland, as well as a few travel tips.
Travel tip #1 – Pack a few extra vowels. Yes, not towels, but vowels. There are so many consonants in Icelandic! Most everything is in English too. You will start to notice some trends in words – like “foss” means water fall (Selfoss, Guilfoss), and “gata” means way or road (Thorsgata). Also there’s a P that is “Th”. When you type it into the GPS, it is not under P. Or D. Or B, or or anything you might think. It’s under T – Th. you have to use the letters it sounds like, rather than the letters it looks like. We learned that the hard way the first day!
More travel tips:
2. Bring a raincoat – it rains quite a bit – and it rains sideways, so leave your umbrella at home! Iceland wind destroys umbrellas.
3. Bring an electric converter, a couple if you want to charge phones/ devices.
4. The flights we looked at all left in the evening and got in really really early, then customs, then the airport is about 40 minutes away from Reykjavik. We were exhausted – then we couldn’t check in until 3pm. So, the kids slept in the car and my mom and I took turns walking around. Then we slept in the afternoon when we checked in. (*Can you get an early check in – not all places do it but it’s worth checking on it).
5. Bring walking shoes and pants and long sleeves as well as shorts and t shirts.
6. Bring sunscreen if it does get sunny.
7. Bring a backpack for walking with water bottles (or buy water).
8. Iceland is expensive! A bowl of soup was 11,400 kronos – however, that translates to about $11.20 dollars. Still, expensive.
9. If money is an issue, or if you want more than just one hotel room (some pace to spread out) then we stayed in a great place called Hotel Odinsve right in the middle of Iceland which had two bedrooms, a couch that one could sleep on, and a kitchenette. The place also had breakfast included – and it was a good breakfast! The yogurt in Iceland is really thick and awesome. 🙂 Also, it was right in the heart of Reykjavik, so we could walk to a grocery store and get food and snacks if we wanted to.
10. Rent a car! The bus trips take all day and with a car you control when you go.
11. Bring podcasts and bring snacks on your trip. Sometimes there are many many many miles between places for food – and you will get hungry.
12. You can save Blue Lagoon for the last day – it’s only 30 minutes from the airport and it’s pretty touristy (like SUPER touristy) so it’s not the best first look at Iceland.
13. Did I mention food is expensive? We’ll, I’m reminding you here.
14. They have some good outlet shopping right outside of the city – 66 degrees and one other – Ice House? There are a lot of high end stores and sweaters are beautiful and big – I got a used one at the Red Cross for much less money than the retail.
15. Save your receipts for tax-deducted items and *leave extra time at the airport* to redeem them. We didn’t leave extra time so I didn’t redeem all of mine.
16. If you have kids, plan in some days when you’re not in the car all day – for example, don’t expect to drive all around the country – or plan enough time so that you have time in between to not be in the car. It worked well for us.
17. Yes, we didn’t see everything – we didn’t go north, or too far west – but we saw a lot and had a lot of fun.
OK so here’s where we went and what we did. First, in pictures https://aworldofwonder.org/2017/04/24/iceland/
Day 1 – Day to rest – drive to Reykjavik – visit the really cool cathedral in town- you can go up on the clocktower and get a great view!
Day 2 – Golden Circle – everyone does this – you can visit a national park, a geyser, a huge waterfall, see glaciers in the distance (there are tours on them but we didn’t do them), swim in a thermal pool (this was great – it was the Hidden Lagoon in Fluvir – definitely see/ go to this!), see a volcano, and then get back to Reykjavik in a day. Really!
Day 3 – Explore Reykavik – we did the northern lights museum – it was so/ so. I hear the Saga Museum is good – we didn’t do that though. We walked around, which is easy from the Hotel if you stay there. Reykjavik has lots of shopping and cool museums and cafes and restaurants. Also – they have a video arcade that my kids LOVED – a couple of blocks away from the Hotel. We also swam at a really cool public pool that was open all year round – and it has a huge slide, a kids pool, and a lap pool for adults. It was 40 degrees and rainy and we swam – outside – as the pools are all geothermal heated. Yup. So cool. I mean, hot. Or warm. http://reykjavik.is/stadir/laugardalslaug (it’s a little less shiny and new than is depicted in the pictures – but still awesome!)
Here are some more of the public pools – http://icelandmag.visir.is/article/5-best-swimming-pools-reykjavik-and-capital-region
Day 4 – Drive to Vik – the one you have to do it thing is to drive along the south coast, see the waterfalls, and see this amazing black sand beach with this cave – https://guidetoiceland.is/travel-iceland/drive/reynisfjara This was amazing! I have my pictures on my blog. We stayed overnight closer to the airport – we didn’t stay in Reykjavik. Many folks have rooms in their homes – we rented a nice little basement apartment with a kitchenette.
Day 5 – Drive to Blue Lagoon. Swim, drive to airport, drop off car.
Pictures of the whole trip but the ones at the end are of the cave