Reykjavik & Iceland

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Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby ksimes » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:36 pm

Hi all
I'm booked on the Arctic Highlights and Polar Bears expedition,finishing in Reykjavik on September 17, 2013. And am interested in hearing from anyone who has spent time in Iceland in the month of September...must do's & see's, tips etc.

Many thanks
Kate :D
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby celestial-navigation » Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:02 pm

Iceland! One of my favourite topics in all the world!

I've spend a bunch of time in Iceland, although not in September particularly, but January, December and October. However a lot of the same advice still stands!

Firstly, how long will you have there?

With lets say, three days, I would recommend time as below (however ymmv depending on your particular preferences)

spend one day in Reykjavik
- browse the cute shops and relax in a coffee shop for a while
- Walk up Skólavörðustígur to Hallgirmskirkja and get the elevator to the top of the tower. Try to time it so you're in the tower looking out over the city as the bells chime - an experience you won't forget!
- buy some bread in a supermarket and go and feed the ducks on Tjornin - it's an extreme duck experience!
- walk along the promenade of the harbour to see Solfar, the sun voyager sculpture

Day two - get a guided tour of the Golden Circle - make sure you pick a guide company that either does private/semi-private tours, or one on a smaller minibus. The big bus tours aren't nearly as fun - I'd recommend GTI.is as my personal favourites - I've travelled with them a couple of times and they're a great price and really informative without making you feel like you're in a typical tour group
- First stop will be Kerið crater lake which is pretty incomprehensible
- then to Gullfoss, the golden waterfalls, again the scale is mindblowing
- Geysir geothermal area - the original and best!
- Þingvellir - parliament plains, while the history of this area is fascinating, the views are also out of this world and in September with the autumn colours in full bloom will be amazing

Day three - get a guided tour of the South coast - This will be a long day in a vehicle but worth it.
- Skogafoss waterfall - up close and personal to the base of this 60m falls
- Solheimjokull glacier - while I know you'll have seen glaciers in Spitsbergen and Greenland, the colours here are very, very different to either of those locations
- Vik beach - the black sand and views here are just out of this world
- Reynisfjara beach - I honestly don't have words for how fantastic this beach is. It is hands down my favourite location in the world. It is freezing and the wind will blow you over if you step wrongly but is the most exhilarating feeling ever.
- Dyrholaey - amazing rock formations with fantastic views
- Seljalandsfoss - another waterfall that has stairs carved into it so you can walk behind which is a pretty special experience.

Day four - Go visit the blue lagoon which is ten minutes from the airport and then head onto a plane home.

Tips - book to go out northern lights hunting every night you're there, that way if the weather is poor, you'll get your booking transferred to the next evening and you'll go out again for free if you do go and see nothing. All these companies also have totally penalty free cancellation, even if it's only 30mins before you're meant to be departing.
- hiring a car and driving yourself is expensive and can be dangerous due to how quickly weather conditions can deteriorate, if you're with others then it's not a bad idea, but even on busy days there will be long stretches were you are the only car on the road so can be a bit dicey if you run into problems and are on your own
- A fabulous place in Iceland is Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, normally it would be top of my list for any visitor, but having just seen a lot of glaciers and in zodiacs up close and personal, unless you've got a lot of free time, then the 16hr round trip to see this is best spent elsewhere.
- Reykjavik city centre can get very, very, very noisy on weekend nights. If this is something that will bother you, chose a hotel location carefully.

Some of my favourite shots, taken in October when I was there last, are up on flickr if you're interested! http://www.flickr.com/photos/gengen/set ... 899284106/ and if you poke around other sets there are ones of Iceland in January and then a whole ton of Spitsbergen!

If you have any other questions or want restaurant/hotel or private tour guide info, just shout!
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby ksimes » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:55 pm

[b]Thanks so much for your comments celestial-navigation :D

I am hoping to spend at least a week in Iceland so all your recommendations will most definielty be added to the to do list. Having talked to someone who highly recommended the trip to Hofn I'd be really keen to hear any recommendations for companies that do that route and include some hiking .... And any other recommendations for tour companies in Iceland would be great too.

Many thanks
Kate
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby nzannie » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:59 pm

Hi,

I'm also booked on this trip & will be in Iceland for a week at its conclusion - Thanks for the advice as to "what to see" I have actually booked all!! so was good to see positive coments.
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby onyx007 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:21 am

Hi there,
I spent a week in Reykjavik during July 2006 and for my guided tours
I went for all of them with the same company. I don't remember the name
but they had their booking counter in the "Hotel Nordica".

The reason was, when you book some tours together you get a great offer;
I booked 4 tours and got on three of them 20 % off and on the fourth 5 % off.

On three of the trips we went out with a small minibus and on the biggest trip;
"the" Golden Circle that was a bigger bus, but it was alright.

"Celestial-Navigation" wrote a lot of good things;

I went as well to "Landmannalaugar", which is a great place, which reminds you of something out of "Lord of the Rings"
and
the other trip went around Snaefellssjökull, which is the vulcano where the people in Jules Vernes' Story "Journey to the middle of the earth" went inside.

What you can do as well is going to the harbor of Keflavik and jump on a whale watching boat (I don't now about if it's the season). I combined it with a visit to the "blue lagoon". I could book it together with a transfer between everything and the transfer from the blue lagoon back to the city I could go on a shuttle which runs regulary, so I could stay as long as I liked.
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby daphodil » Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:43 am

Kate,

No tips for you just yet, but I just wanted to say hi as I'll be on the same boat!!

Daphne
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby Praha335Ci » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:05 am

I went to Iceland in 2011 and found it very easy to get around. There are lots of tour options at all hotels/ hostels with a variety of touring companies.Some people even hire a 4 wd to drive around but I would not really recommend its as in some areas its really remote .
I used Greyline and mountaniers of iceland whilst I was there.

Check out http://www.grayline.is/

http://www.mountaineers.is/

you can even do a daytrip to Greenland.
For their options. Overall I found Iceland to be a very interesting destination. The weather is extremely variable and can change from heavy snow/rain/ sleet to full sunshine in a few short hours or sometimes within 30 minutes and vice versa.A goretex line jacket is almost a necessity as are the boots or shoes if you're to do any of the activities.

Costwise Iceland used to be very expensive but since the GFC its actually very affordable .The VAT refund is also pretty decent for tourists.
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby aarondouglas9 » Tue May 07, 2013 11:55 pm

Thanks for this guys, some great advice here!
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Re: Reykjavik & Iceland

Postby puffin » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:43 am

Maybe a bit late…

I went on the Arctic Highlights trip in 2010, disembarking in Reykjavík in the morning of Sept 21st. It is not high season then so many busses/ tours/ museums aren’t running. The ship usually arrives at port the evening before disembarkation. Be prepared for all kinds of weather.

I had previously spent two weeks in Iceland in the beginning of August, seeing all the sights celestial-navigation recommended and they are highly recommended. Then I did a 7-day round tour, including a great full day hike in Skaftafell NP near Vattnajökull glacier, and finishing with a stunning 4-day trek from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk.

After my cruise I stayed on four days in September. The grass on the south coast was still very lush green. Unfortunately the puffins have flown away by then. (I had the best encounters at Dyrholaey.) I wanted to see some things I hadn’t seen earlier as well as hiking, so I did a walk with headlamps in an old lava tunnel. The only tour running then (with enough bookings) was in combination with the Golden Circle, but it was very interesting.

As for Höfn: it can be a good place to start if you want to be close to Vattnajökull, like going to Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, going snowmobiling or on glacial walks (if running in September) and Skaftafell NP. Otherwise, the South Coast tour will make you satisfied.

Some suggestions for hiking in September:
Þórsmörk is a fascinating place to hike and I think it will be okay in September as well. Though from mid September there is a public bus only once a day from Thursday to Sunday to and from Þórsmörk. One can spend the night there. Unfortunately there is no bus to Landmannalaugar.
http://www.re.is/IcelandOnYourOwn/Sched ... horsmork/; http://www.re.is/Thorsmork/

I did some nice shorter hikes on Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands), like climbing up on a volcano. The islands are beautiful and fascinating. It’s very interesting if you really want to get close to a volcano and seeing the effects of the big outbreak in 1973 where about ¼ of the city was buried and the biggest island grew. In mid September there were no guided day tours operating so I took the public bus from the long distance bus station BSÍ Umferðarmiðstöðin in Reykjavík to Landeyjahöfn, the ferry terminal (approx 2.5 hrs). The bus route 52 arrives right in time for catching the ferry, a 30 min ride. http://eimskip.is/EN/iceland_domestic/h ... fault.html. I spent a night at a guesthouse on the island.

One day I took two local busses (in total some 35 min if you are lucky with hardly any wait between changes) in order to get to Mount Esja at the coast 20 km from Reykjavík. There are different routes to climb up to the plateau at 720 m taking some 2-4 hrs to hike up and down. You’ll get some really nice views over the ocean and Reykjavík. http://icelandreview.com/icelandreview/ ... _id=308647

If you don’t go to the Blue Lagoon, at least try to visit a local swimming pool, like Laugardalslaug in Reykjavík. The pools are outdoors. There are also some hot pots with different temperatures.
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