Where – When – Why ?
State of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Republic of Iceland / Capital: Reykjavik
Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK)
I have been to Iceland twice. My first visit was West, and the second South. There are a lot of beautiful places to discover in Island, some well hidden and others just by the roadside. The purpose of my second visit was to see aurora borealis (and it was successful!).
I visited Iceland for the first time in May and the second at the end of March, during the two stays I was freezing !! Rain, snow, wind, sun … I was entitled to all the weather.
Iceland has a main circular road and tons of small ramifications.
Do not miss the main stops, which you will find in all the guides, but you must also venture into all the small paths accessible and indicated by signs with a Celtic sign, because many of them will bring you in beautiful places.
Do not hesitate to pass twice in the same place, the weather is very changeable, you can see a landscape under the snow the first time and under a beautiful blue sky with a rainbow the second.
Here are the places, which for me, are really worth a look:
Reykjavik Peninsula, Snaefellsnes Peninsula and of course the must-see Golden Circle and all the southern coast.
It is necessary to envisage a high budget in Iceland for the activities. You can go very well and do nothing special but some activities are great. I recommend some because you may not come back and you may regret it later! Look at all the sites because the same company offers all the activities you want to do, so you can negotiate the price.
– Tour operator: Extreme Island (https://www.extremeiceland.is/)
– How’s it going: They will pick you up very late at your hotel. Depending on your tour, they stop in the planned places and give you time to enjoy the place. The drivers are super friendly and tell you a lot about the places you visit and the Icelandic culture.
– Price: Around 130 euros.
– Tour operator: Adventure Island (https://adventures.is/)
– How’s it going: They will pick you up very late at your hotel and take you to places with dim light to give them as much luck as possible. And there, we wait to see something. This tour is not essential. You can search the auroras on your own.
– Price: Around 20 000 ISK par personne.
– Tour operator: Goecco (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g189970-d1809523-Reviews-Goecco-Reykjavik_Capital_Region.html)
– How’s it going: They will pick you up at a meeting point or at your hotel. Nice walk in the glacier. They provide the equipment. The cave is located in a place they have found themselves and changes every year depending on the weather. They have knowledge of geology, so it’s very interesting. The colors in the cave are beautiful, it’s a beautiful experience.
– Price: Around 185 USD each.
– Tour operator: On the port there are two agencies.
– How’s it going: You have to go to the port where the departure will be on their boat. They provide appropriate equipment if it is very cold (combination). As in many places, nothing is guaranteed but depending on the season there is still 90% chance to see the animals. It’s nice if you’re lucky!
– Price: Around 100 euros.
– Tour operator: Dive Is (https://www.dive.is/)
– How’s it going: They come to pick you up at your accommodation. They will lend you a dry suit under which you will have your clothes. Once in the water you will be amazed by the beauty of the fault. The colors remain clear regardless of the weather. The colors will be bright and you will take full eyes. Take thermal clothing because it will be very very cold. You can also dive but it is not very expensive and not necessarily interesting I think; we see very well in snorkeling.
– Prix: Around 15000 ISK each. Count about 20 euros for the pictures.
– Tour operator: Blue Lagon (https://www.bluelagoon.com/)
– How’s it going: You go there. They lend you a towel. There is a bar in the middle of the lagoon. Honestly, I did not really like because I do not like baths with lots of people. However, the second time we did a massage, and as it is in a privatized area it is quiet and the massage is top! In the lagoon they make spa products available to make scrubs, it’s nice.
– Prix: Minimum 40 euros without massage.
Last minute plans to forget during school holidays and tourist seasons, because there are not many homes, or they will be very very expensive.
During my two stays I went through AirBnb and Booking.com.
There is a bit of everything. I tested the following accommodations (which I recommend):
– OK Hôtel (Laugavegur 74, 101 Reykjavík, Island / +354 578 9850): Very nice and very well located. The rooms have a kitchenette, and there is a restaurant downstairs.
– Downtown Reykjavík Apartments
(Rauðarárstígur 31, 105 Reykjavík, Island / +354 445 6777): there also, the room is equipped with a kitchen and very clean; it is central. It is possible to park your rental car there.
– Hörgsland Guesthouse (sur la route numéro 1 / +354 487 6655): We were in a kind of inn. We had a small room with two beds but the common areas (living room, kitchen, bathroom) are shared with other people. The kitchen is very spacious. There is enough to do his meals without problem.
–Svitan Guesthouse & Apartments (Túngata, 230 Keflavík, Island / +354 663 1269): very clean, next to the airport, not far from the sea. There are private rooms but here too the public areas are shared with other people.
Buses are rare and do not serve the most touristy places.
The best is still to rent a car because it is much more convenient, especially for early risers and to discover places a little hidden and sheltered from mass tourism.
You can rent by internet or on site. Depending on the season prefer to book well in advance.
Avoid renting small cars because if you venture out of the main road you risk falling on the pebble.
Otherwise, if you are not comfortable driving, many agencies offer day tours or more in beautiful locations. These visits are done by bus or minibus.
– Housing : all king of housing are quite expensive.
– Meal : Super expensive. Prefer to cook or as we did, bring back some ingredients from France (pasta, bread, rice) to reduce costs.
– Car rental: I paid around 400 euros rent for 5 days with pick up at the airport. When we booked in town the first time we had paid about 60 euros a day, gas included.
– Essence: as in France.
Do Not Miss
Snorkeling in Silfra and the discovery of some ice caves.
Do not take organized tours to see the northern lights. Firstly it’s super expensive, and secondly, it really depends on the meteo. In addition it is very easy to look for evenings and find, just go away from the lights and open the eye.
Be really curious, push yourself in the small roads if your car allows you, you will not regret it!
Go to Iceland during the northern lights period, do not be afraid to be cold. Landscapes change overnight and see aurora borealis is always a great show!