12 days trip around Iceland
We were a family of 4 – 2 adulsts and 2 kids (13 and 11) on our 12 day holiday to Iceland (from July 28th to August 9th).
I started planning the trip back in April / May.
– Flights: WOW airlines, no complaints, nice staff, on time, no comments on 2 checked in (under 20kgs) or 4 hand luggage (each under 10kgs). We had each one piece of hand luggage and the kids some handbags (although they did ask to see them when we checked in),
– Car: Rented with Reykjavík Cars, again no probs. Booked a estate car with a large boot for the luggage, originally a Suzuki Grand Vitara but got a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4. Around 4,000 km on the clock and we did another 4,000. Had our own insurance (we book one year insurance to cover all of our rentals for the year).
Good service, had to call the first day as there was a leak in the car, they arranged for us to visit a mechanic on the village we were in and fortunately it was nothing. When we returned the car, they inspected it thoroughly and everything was fine…. so very good experience!
– Accommodation: We booked through YHA and stayed in Youth Hostels except for 2 places where they were already sold out in May (Isafjordur and Akureyri). I booked in Gamla Guest House in Isafjourdur (very nice, with a superb breakfast) and Solgardar guesthouse in Akureyri which was also nice and clean (without breakfast). This was the cheapest option. We brought our own sheets (we slept in duvet covers) and towels.
– Clothing: Forget about summer clothes, it is cold and we were wearing a few layers of clothes every day (the adults were on their thermals pretty much the whole trip)
– Pre-booking trips: I prebooked a few trips but other than the ferry cross, I think that you can book everything on the spot allowing you to plan your day as you wish and decide depending on the weather or your mood which is exactly what we did in the second part of our trip (the glacier walk, the ice lagoon, the visit to the cape) without having to do something because you have already paid for it.
The trip was as follows:
– July 28th: London Gatwick to Reykjavík, pick up the car and drive to Grundafjordur. Stayed at the YH (a small house that was fine) and had dinner at Kaffi 59. Dinner was so so, burgers (kitchen too busy for pizza) and I had some meat that was not that great
– July 29th: Breakfast at the bakery in Stykkisholmur (very nice) and took the Unique Adventure Tour which was very nice (prebooked directly with Icelandic Excursions). Quite amazing the part when they brought the scallops and sea urchins on board and we all ate them…
Then we travel around Snaefellsnels and did all the sights. Dritvik, Djupalon, tried to go up to Snjofell but decided not to as we were worried about the leak in the car (which was nothing), Breidavik, Budavik… had dinner in an N1 grill which ticked the box. Slept at Grundarfjörður. There is a huge lava cave outside Dritvik which we could not visit because we arrived late but looked like an interesting place to visit.
– July 30th: Ferry from Stykki to Brjanslaekur (prebooked with Seatours) and drove to Látrabjarg. While it was nice, please be warned that this is a long drive and we had the opportunity to see bird cliffs with puffins in other parts of Iceland. This ended up being a long day as we had to drive to Isafjordur where we were staying at Gamla Guesthouse. Had dinner in Isafjordur at the fish restaurant in the port.
Dinner was sublime, it is fixed menu with a very nice fish soup, “all you can eat” of freshly cooked fish and you have different types of fish to choose from and side dishes, a heavenly rhubarb desert with cream, tea and coffee… So nice and what a change from the grills!!!! Kids were free so only the adults had to pay 5000ISK (or £30) which was a good value for money
– July 31st: We drove to our next destination in Broddanes stopping on the way to see the seals in Súðavík, had a swing in Reykjanes geothermal pool and visited the witchcraft museum in Holmavík (which is NOT worth the visit). The YH at Broddanes is isolated, nice and modern but in the middle of nowhere. It was good that we had bought some food at Holmavík and cooked dinner.
– August 1st: We had to drive to Akureyri with 2 activities on the way that I had prebooked thought Saga Travel – seal watching at Hvammstangi and rafting in Skagafjordur. Unfortunately, we missed the seal tour (long story but took the wrong turn when we left the YH so we were late for the boat trip) but managed to get it moved to the following day (you can book directly at www.sealwatching.is).
We drove to the rafting place enjoying the scenery and had a good laugh with Arctic Rafting. While I booked this with Saga Travel you can book it directly with them. They are a good bunch of young lads that clearly enjoy what they do!!!! Continued our trip to Akureyri, checked in at the guesthouse Solgardar (very nice) and went for dinner to Greifinn. Good healthy dinner with a 15% discount …..
– August 2nd: We had planned Lake Myvatn for the day but had to drive back to do the seal tour in the morning (the day was gorgeous and the boat trip very pleasant, the crew offered binoculars and hot chocolate with pastries and we even saw humpback whales in the distance) and in the afternoon we went to Goðafoss and Lake Mývatn and did the treks in the South and East of the Lake (including Dimmuborgir). Back to Akureyri for dinner by the port. Long day!!!
– August 3rd: We had booked the whale watching trip in Husavik in the RIB boat again with Scandinavian Travel but you can book directly with Visit Askja. It was by far the worst day of all of our holidays (cold, raining, bumpy sea….) and although we were given the option for a refund, we decided to take a chance. We saw a few humpback whales and also puffins in one of the islands and despite one of us getting seasick it was worth the trip.
Then we continue to Asbyrgi and then took 864 down to Lake Myvatn stopping at the various spots. Unfortunately, it rained all day and we were wet from the boat trip so we did short stops to see the waterfalls and the canyon. It was gorgeous despite the weather and I cannot imagine how nice it would all had been if the weather had been nicer!!!! Back in Akureyri, we had dinner at Bautinn, very nice, hearthy and yummy dinner (main courses are inclusive of unlimited soup, bread and salad !!!!)
– August 4th: Spent the day in Lake Myvatn on our way to Seydisfjorður. Enjoyed all the walks in the area and the kids really liked Hverir. We continued to Egilsstaðir, drove over Route 93, stop by the waterfall Litlanefoss (Hengifoos was too far away and it was far too windy to go all the way up) and continued to Seydisfjordur where we were staying at the YH. Big house, ample rooms (not sure why we got booked in double rooms when they had 4 bedrooms free). Had dinner at the Cultural Center, a very nice home made a meal and the kdis enjoyed the pizza
– August 5th: Drove towards Hvoll where we were staying. Long drive but beautiful scenery along the Eastfjords. Had breakfast at the bakery in Hofn and did the tour of Jokulsarlon (we booked the zodiac as it takes you well inside the lake towards the glacier and really worth the extra money compared to the amphibious alternative), stopped at the various places along the coast and Skaftafell (nice walk to Svatifoss). The hostel at Hvoll is isolated, in the middle of nowhere but nice!!!! We went for dinner to the closest place 25km away – Systrakaffy. It was ok but it was extremely busy and had to wait an hour for our food
– August 6th: We did a glacier walk in the morning that we booked directly in Skaftafell and then we went to Ingolsfshold. The visit to the cape was one of the highlights of the trip, A – M – A – Z – I- N – G, really enjoyed it, the puffins in the cliffs, the skuas (terrifying), the skeletons of whales beached on the beach…. really great. We drove to Skogar where we were staying at the YH (this one was borderline in terms of cleanliness) and had dinner at Edda hotel as it was the only option. Very nice buffet dinner
– August 7th: We visited Pakgil (very nice and worth the 14km gravel road), Vík, Reynisdragur, Skógafoss and then made our way to Laugarvatn stopping at Gulfoss and Geysir. We detour taking route 32 and 26 and felt it was a bit long although the views of the volcano and the landscape was nice. The YH was nice and we were put in a room with ensuite bathroom which was good.
Went for dinner to Lundin and felt that it was a joke of a place, best to be avoided. We ordered the cod and I doubt we got more than 100 grams of fish without any sides!!! and we tried what the pretentiously called “the world famous chocolate mousse” which was disappointing, at least for us, the mix of watermelon and chocolate mousse does not in our opinion marry well and not worth the £10. All in all scarce and expensive.
If I had known it, we would have gone to the Pizza Factory that looked much more fun and better value for money…..
– August 8th: The end of the trip approaching. Went to Pingvellir and explored the area albeit it was rainning and windy so not the best day for the visit. Made our way to Reykiavik stopping at various places including the crater in Kerid and the lava tube in Raufarholshellir.
We we were staying at the YH Reykjavik City. Huge place. We had booked a room with ensuite bathroom and ticked the box. Visited the city, cathedral, port, bought some souvenirs,…. and went for dinner to the fish restaurant accross the street from the YH – Lauga as. Superb!!!!
– August 9th: Last day, before we got to the Blue Lagoon, we drove past the Reykjanes peninsula – a bridge between two continents (not that easy to find) – spent a couple of hours at the Blue Lagoon and made our way to the airport. I was dreading the return of the car based on all the stories I had heard but it all went very smoothly.
Checked in, filled in the paperwork to get the tax refund, bought some sweets for the office and spent the last ISK and back to London by 8PM
So that was our trip to Iceland…. now planning next year’s trip.
Thank you very much Sarah!