Itinerary: Iceland

My January 2017 trip to Iceland was booked entirely through Icelandair as a flash sale on a winter package (details included below). Now, I have to preface this with the disclaimer that I am usually not the ‘vacation package’ type. I prefer a lot of freedom in my travel. But the price was good, the trip sounded like fun, and the package included airfare and hotel – how can you beat that?!

This is the text from the package we chose. I’ve included a bit of information here about what we did on a daily basis, and I plan on detailing my entire trip in future posts. What would you like to hear about?

Day 1– Evening departure from North America.”

We flew from Newark to Keflavik. The flight itself was on-time and relatively pleasant, for a flight in early January from one extremely cold city to another.

Day 2- Early morning arrival in Iceland. Once you have arrived in the city, the remainder of your day is open for your own activities.”

When we landed in Kelflavik we took the Flybus to our hotel, Hotel Cabin. Hotel Cabin was one of the more budget options available with the package, but I was surprised by how nice the accommodations were. The location was convenient, and the included breakfast was amazing. To get around Reykjavik we used a City Pass and took the local buses. The app (available in English) is easy to use! On our first official day in Iceland, we did a lot of walking and exploring. I think we ended up at either Hallgrímskirkja the Harpa Music Hall on our first day.

Day 3– Enjoy your morning breakfast, then make your way outside to the front entrance of your hotel for departure on the Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir day tour. The Gullfoss and Geysir bus tour takes you on a day trip to see the world-famous Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss, the queen of Icelandic waterfalls, as well as Thingvellir National Park. The Geysir geothermal area boasts spouting springs, including Strokkur, the most active geyser in Iceland. At Gullfoss you are given the opportunity to stand next to the amazing waterfall, watching enormous quantities of water tumble violently into a deep, meandering gorge. Plus, you’ll spend your time encountering a cross-section of Iceland’s natural wonders and geological phenomena at Thingvellir National Park, an area of historical and geological significance. If weather conditions are right, you’ll enjoy the show of a lifetime later that evening as you experience the northern lights dancing overhead in the night sky on a Northern Lights By Boat tour.”

Tour transportation arrived at Hotel Cabin on time, but departed shortly after. One could easily miss the pick-up if they were not standing in the foyer specifically waiting for the van. I’ll be going into more detail on Gulfoss, Geysir, and Thingvellir in another post, but I have to say, the sights were astounding. Our tour guide was an entertaining fellow – he told some hilarious stories. I feel like we had ample time at our stops, at least for a guided tour, but this is one of those situations where I would have preferred driving myself and exploring Iceland’s wonders my leisure. Maybe next time, huh?

The biggest downside to our trip is that the weather did not cooperate for viewing the northern lights. It was too cloudy. That’s okay, though – I plan on returning for a longer stretch of time, and I am hopeful that we might catch the northern lights then.

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“Day 4 – Today is open for your own activities. Perhaps you’ll want to take on a different side of Iceland with an adventerous visit to the South Shore. There are also many rewarding experiences like hiking, snowmobiling, caving and snorkeling, or even something completely different like a cooking class or helicopter sightseeing.”

On day four we rented a car and decided to drive down the Ring Road to the South Shore. We explored Selandjafoss and Skogafoss before making it down to Vik and Dyrhólaey.  This was my favorite day. Anyone who is going to Iceland, regardless of season or length of stay, should make an effort to rent a car and drive out on their own for a while.

As a note, when we rented the car, we used Blue Car Rental (I think also known as Reykjavik cars). They picked us up from Hotel Cabin that morning. The overall experience with the vehicle, a seven-seater Kia Sorento, was pleasant. However, one of the representatives failed to detail prior damage done to the vehicle, and upon drop-off we had a difficult timing pulling old records to prove the damage was pre-existing. I definitely learned a lot about renting a car while abroad.

“Day 5 – Breakfast at your hotel with the rest of your morning open for your own activities. Transfer to Keflavik airport for your late afternoon departure to North America.”

We did more exploring and adventuring on the fifth day before returning to America.  I think we stopped at the Harpa one last time, and returned to a delicious ice cream shop we found. My fiance ran into some trouble by leaving his mobile phone on the Flybus – but their customer service was great and managed to retrieve his phone and bring it to him before our plane departed.

 

Final thoughts: For an unexpected short trip in the middle of winter, this was a comfortable and friendly itinerary. I would take a trip of this length again, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind another package deal. Thanks, Icelandair!

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