Planning A Trip To Iceland This Fall

Filed Under: Travel

One habit that I’ve changed lately about my travel planning is that I’ve started booking further in advance. As much as I enjoy the quest for last minute award availability, there’s also something really nice about planning a trip many months in advance and being able to anticipate it.

Birthday trip planning

Every year for my birthday and Ford’s birthday we try to go somewhere special. While we already have a trip planned for my birthday in April, Ford’s birthday is in October, and we’ve been trying to decide where to go.

This year is different than other years, because we have two big trips planned around October — one in September and one in November — so originally we just wanted to go somewhere nearby.

Our plan was to go to Napa Valley and stay at Las Alcobas, which is the Luxury Collection property there that looks beautiful, and which I wanted to lock in before yesterday’s Bonvoy rate change.

But then somehow Iceland came on our radar.

When we travel together, Ford and I love going to places that are all about nature rather than cities. So whether it’s Hawaii or Easter Island or Longyearbyen, we love hiking and beautiful scenery.

I’ve only been to Iceland once before in the summer, and I went alone. I remember how beautiful it was, though to be honest traveling solo to Iceland, especially for an introvert, probably isn’t nearly as great as it could be with a loved one.

Ford and I have talked about going to Iceland for years, and it seems like the stars finally aligned.

How we’re flying to Iceland

Icelandair had pretty good business class fares nonstop from Tampa to Keflavik. For our dates they had roundtrip business class fares of ~$1,200 per person.

Sure, Icelandair’s business class isn’t amazing, as it’s more like domestic first class than international business class. However, at that price I thought it was a good deal.

Ford and I are both Alaska MVP Gold members, and we’d earn 350% redeemable miles for those tickets, meaning we’d earn over 25,000 miles per person.

In addition to that we earned an additional 6,000 Membership Rewards points per person for our credit card payment (5x points on airfare). So based on my valuation of those points currencies, that’s nearly $600 worth of points on a $1,200 ticket, which I’d consider to be a great deal.

Where we’re staying in Iceland

Originally this was just supposed to be a long weekend trip, so we ended up booking five nights in Iceland. I know we could easily have spent longer, but we had time constraints, so that seemed perfect.

What’s nice is that over the past few years there are some nice new independent points hotels in Iceland, and there’s even one outrageously expensive (non-points) luxury hotel that has interested me, which I’ve been wanting to check out.

The points hotel that has most interested me in Iceland is the Ion Adventure Hotel, which is located outside of Reykjavik. It’s a Design Hotels property, so you can redeem Marriott points here. That’s exactly what we did for two nights, at the rate of 60,000 points per night, compared to the paid rate of $500 per night (that’s not an amazing redemption, but…).


Ion Adventure Hotel, Iceland

Then we were going to spend two nights in Reykjavik. I know you don’t go to Iceland for Reykjavik, though I figure it’s going to have a better food scene than the Ion Hotel, and we can also do day trips from there. We’re trying to decide between the two Marriott Design Hotels options — 101 Hotel and Ion City Hotel. Has anyone stayed at either, and have any preferences? They’re the same cost.


Ion City Hotel, Reykjavik

Our plan is to spend two days there, and use that as a base for exploring. Though we’re also open to doing three at the Ion Adventure Hotel (or elsewhere), and only one in the city, or another combination.

For our last night we’re totally splurging, though I think it will make a good review. About a year ago Retreat at Blue Lagoon opened, which is one of Iceland’s only “true” luxury hotels.


Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland

I have to be honest — I visited the Blue Lagoon last time I was in Iceland, and it was my least favorite part of my trip there. It was so overcrowded, and as a germaphobe I found the public changing facilities were disgusting. I’m curious to see if Retreat at Blue Lagoon leaves me with a different impression.

Anyway, that’s what we have booked as of now, and obviously we got this all planned way in advance. If anyone has experience with any of these places or thinks we’re making big mistakes here, please let me know.

We’d of course also love to see the northern lights, so does anyone know how good of a time mid-October is, and how we can maximize our odds? I’ve done a lot of research about this online, but would love to hear from readers with firsthand experience.

Bottom line

Usually I avoid cold weather at (almost) all costs, but in this case I’m excited to go to Iceland as the seasons change, and hopefully see the northern lights. I’m also thrilled by all the new independent points hotels there are in Iceland, which make the country more accessible in comfort for those looking to redeem points.

I’d love to hear any tips you guys have (including favorite Reykjavik restaurants)!

Comments

  1. Don’t stay at the Blue Lagoon. It’s not worth it and its away from everything. The public pools at night are a real treat for people watching and watching the stars from the town pool

  2. I was just in Iceland. Be sure to go to thringvellir and do one of the snowmobiling tours on the glacier.

  3. Don’t take this wrong, but you’re missing the whole point of going to Iceland. Avoid the Blue Lagoon, avoid fancy hotels… get out and enjoy the outdoors. Definitely spend a day doing the ‘Golden Circle’ (we actually broke it up and did it over the course of two days with a few other stops along the way). The best part of Iceland (especially after the tourist season) is getting out and actually feeling like you’re exploring and discovering. Throw a hunk of cheese and a loaf of bread in the car, drive off, and find a waterfall… or a canyon… or a beach… or a cliff…

    We spent two weeks in Iceland a few Octobers ago (driving the entire ring road and staying at 5 different stops along the way). There was nobody around in most places and we had entire parks almost to ourselves.

    While we all like fancy hotels and great restaurants, get out and explore!

  4. I was in Iceland in October a couple years ago, and it was…rainy. Most days had pretty consistent rain/drizzle. It was on and off, so not terrible, but really not fun. Dreary rainy cold, and grey skies. It didn’t ruin the trip, but obviously would have preferred no rain.

    While October is generally a good time to see the Lights, because of the grey cloudy skies you couldn’t see them – even though there was activity. Basically you need two things: Lights “activity” and clear skies. One night there was a break in the clouds, and the Lights were visible even from the city – so I assume even better where its less light polluted. There is an app that you can check the chance of seeing the Lights that directed us when to go outside or when to skip it.

    October is also nice as its not that crowded, airfare / hotels are a bit cheaper. But of course, food and drinks aren’t cheaper!

  5. I’d recommend the Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik. Great, modern hotel that’s very centrally located.

  6. Even though the Golden Circle is nice, as is the southern coast, they are about the most touristy parts of the country.

    As you want to have the wildest of nature – preferably all alone – I can highly recommend a day trip around the Snaefellsnes peninsula (which is doable as a day trip from Reykjavik). Get yourself a rental and research before what according to you are the nicest stops to make. This is a good guide to get started.

    https://iheartreykjavik.net/2015/04/drive-it-yourself-the-snaefellsnes-peninsula/

    IMHO the most beautiful parts are the Vatnaleið pass, Grundarfjörður is a nice town with great sea views (if lucky you can spot whales from the shore) and the most amazing mountain as a backdrop just outside of town, and Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach is equally great. It makes for a great loop. Even in the midst of winter roads were perfect enough for a small hatchback, so no SUV is required (but check the weather forecasts though in advance).

    For the Nordic lights – if lucky you can spot them, but it requires of course some.. you guessed it: luck! You essentially need 1) a clear day and 2) enough magnetic activity. If already one of these factors is lacking chances are big you won’t see it (or at least, not visible with the human eye in a grand green-and-blue coloured sky show as you are obviously hoping for). There are plenty of aurora forecast websites specifically made for Iceland. Check them a few days in advance and then again when you are in Iceland. If you have your own rental it should be fairly easy to drive to a place where you stand a good chance based on the cloud cover and electromagnetic activity maps.

  7. Thanks for writing this. I’m planning a trip to Iceland in 2020, so this is perfect timing for me. I’m trying to figure out where my points focus should be (Amex/Chase/Venture) so this is very helpful.

  8. Sadly I have to second what @Ben said about October. I was there in the middle of last October and it was overcast every single night so we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights. Be prepared for rain and/or snow/sleet at least part of each day. We rarely saw the sun. I’d love to go back during a different time of year.

  9. Hm. Look, if you guys are going to Iceland for the views (which is the reason to go), you should see the views. Do the Laugavegur trail. It’s stunning, it competes for the most beautiful trek I’ve done anywhere. You will be cold and dirty and tired, but that is the price you pay for actually seeing remote, genuinely unspoilt nature, and it is well worth it. Do the power plant spa afterwards if you really insist.

  10. Myvatn Nature Baths! Skip the Blue Lagoon… how many times do you get to sit in a ‘bath’ in the snow… looking out over a volcano crater. No crowds, better setting, no tourists, less than half the price.

    As for October, we had rain, snow, and sun… all in the same day most of the time. That’s part of the adventure… just remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

    I’m 0 for 7 or so on the Northern Lights (Alaska x 2, Yukon, BC, Jasper, Norway, Iceland)… so I’d never plan a trip around seeing them.

  11. Hope you guys have fun! I personally stayed at Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik and enjoyed it! As a Hilton Gold member, they have a great breakfast and they definitely acknowledged my status with a nice upgrade! It was a nice way to fill up before my excursions. My favorite restaurants Messinn and Mat Bar. Also recommend snorkeling in the Silfra fissure!

  12. Hey Ben,

    We stayed in Grindavik which is just south of the Blue Lagoon, A neat place called Harbor View. You should check it out, Very quiet and cozy with an amazing view. There is a restaurant called Papa’s in town and they had some of the best food we’ve experienced while traveling abroad. Enjoy!

  13. Lucky,

    Make sure you book a northern lights tour as early on in your visit to Iceland as possible. Almost all of the tour companies offer guaranteed sightings. If you don’t see the lights or they cancel due to weather, they’ll take you back out another night free of charge. Schedule it for your first or second night there to maximize your opportunities to see the lights.

    As for non-lights related events, I can’t recommend a tour with Moonwalker enough. They’re not cheap, but it’s definitely worth the splurge (instead of the blue lagoon). It’s a small, family-run operation run by true Icelanders. Bessi is passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about the country and it’s beauty. They make in fun and informational. They have one rating lower than 5 stars on trip advisor and it’s a 4-star. Seriously, look them up. You won’t regret it. It was the best tour we’ve ever taken in our lives.

  14. For what it’s worth, I stayed at Hilton Reykjavik last November. Reasonable award cost, walking distance to downtown, lovely water and mountain view, delicious breakfast spread. Lounge was small but nice, similar nice views. I had no complaints at all. Room was a good size too but nothing amazing. I can’t remember what the cash cost was to book.

  15. Generally-speaking, September is the best time to visit Iceland – bc you have the remnants of good summer weather, summer crowd has left, autumn has arrived, and the nights are also dark enough to see NL. October is fine too, but it will be a bit more chilly.

    Iceland weather is very fickle. You can have all 4 seasons in one day – sun one moment, then rain, then hail, then cloudy, then wind, then sun again.

    For NL, you need dark surroundings (leave the city to avoid light pollution), and clear skies. Do not go with the expectation that you will see it and you will not be disappointed. Consider it as a bonus if you DO see it. You can stay there for 2 weeks and if it’s cloudy all the time, you still wont see it.

    The best parts of Iceland are accessible only by car. For five days, it would be too tight to do the entire Ring Road. But I would at least venture out to Vik. Jokusarlon is something not to be missed.

  16. As much as Iceland is known for tourism, especially the northern lights, it’s actually not the best place to see them. As Konrad pointed out, it’s pure luck. Unfortunately due to its location in the north Atlantic, the weather pattern changes frequently and drastically where it’s not common to have a cloud free sky for a prolonged period of time required for a clear viewing. If you are lucky where the day you are there has a high aurora activity combined with a rain/snow free cloudless night, then you will see them. But just ask most tour operators there, there are more tours which don’t even depart or depart and can’t see them vs tours that do see them. Better places to see them are northern Scandinavia, Tromso for example, or closer to home, Fairbanks, Whitehorse, or Yellowknife all are more predictable weather wise.

    As to activities, if you like scenery and nature, the Snaefellsnes penninsula is a must, low key and not too full with tourists. For restaurants, try Ut I Blainn, located inside the Perlan that offers panoramic views of Reykjavik, just don’t be shocked when you get the bill at the end!

  17. What a charming place with $50 pizzas and $15 beer to boot! Agree with the blue lagoon being just about the most overrated tourist trap ever.

  18. Do yourself a favor and stay at Deplar Farm, one of the most magical places I have ever been!

  19. If you don’t plan on crediting your points from Icelandair to other airline account or whatever you can use them to buy duty free on your return flight as long you order a saga card. I did this on a recent flight with them and basically got a plane model for free.

  20. My “best of” Iceland list, from what I’ve experienced…

    Best Reykjavik hotel: Hotel Alda, right on Laugavegur (the big shopping street) [I haven’t stayed at the ones you mentioned]. We got an upgrade to a room on the top floor with a great view of the bay.
    Best restaurant in Reykjavik: Grillmarkaðurinn. So so so delicious and a beautiful restaurant. We each got one of the set tasting entrees (one meat, and one fish). If they still have the “Thorsmork” cocktail with Brennivín and Bjork birch liquor, get it, it’s a much better way to try Brennivin than with the rotten shark.
    Best restaurant in Iceland: Strikið, in Akureyri (consider adding North or East Iceland to your trip, incredible landscapes that are completely different from the south, I’m sure there’s great hiking, and fewer crowds).

    Best bang-for-your-buck tour/trip outside of the Golden Circle: Driving South along the Ring Road all the way to Jokulsarlon, the glacier lagoon. Including that amazingness, on the way you’ll also see the black sand beach at Vik, and at least two incredible waterfalls, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.

    Personally, I think the Ion is too far away from things for three whole nights, but YMMV.

    Now, for my space physics knowledge. *ahem*

    Here’s Iceland’s official aurora page: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ Definitely start here for a first look. The site is in English, and it’s very helpful for an aurora-cloud prediction combo.

    The 0-9 scale on the side is the Kp index, a measure of auroral intensity. If it’s 0-2 you probably won’t see anything, 3 maybe, 4-5 is very decent chance, 6-9 is holy sh*t go outside and look. Green on the map means clouds and it will probably be cloudy most of the time, but it’s worth a shot if there’s a local break through the clouds. Try to get away from light (so Ion is probably good for this).

    This page shows daily predictions of the aurora over Europe and lists the Kp index: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/Europe/20160315. Here is a 30 minute forecast that shows the northern hemisphere: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast.

    Finally, this might be too technical, but this is the solar wind data for the past 24 hours (the aurora occurs when the Sun’s solar wind interacts with our Earth’s magnotosphere, so this data drives the aurora): http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/ace-real-time-solar-wind (you can change the scale to 6 or 2 hours). This gets observed by a satellite ~1 hr before it hits Earth, so you’ll want to look at whatever happened an hour before to see if it’s good to go outside now. You want speed (the yellow line) to be high–above 450 for sure, above 500km/s is best. And you want Bz (the red line at the top) to be negative, the more negative the better. A sharp turn from positive to negative is best, but the wiggles (waves) from + to – to + again are good too.

  21. If you’re in Napa Valley, definitely plan to stop by Shadybrook Estate Winery – and plan to ride a horse as well. Message me if you like – I know the owners. 😉 Can arrange a private tour if you like!

  22. Ben please don’t tell me you are one of those prudish Americans who is abhorred at the thought of public showering, as it is at the Blue Lagoon? 😉

    I’ve travelled there numerous times over the last twenty years and my friend and her family own and run six hotels in Reykjavik, so here are my top tips:

    If you want peace and quiet and beautiful landscapes get as far away from Reykjavik as possible. A drive even two hours north or east will get you to unspoilt landscapes with not another tourist in sight, especially in September or October.

    Book a SuperJeep tour, but not one for the Golden Circle which can be done in a car. Get a jeep tour into the the interior, it’s quite the off-road adventure. They also drive up onto the glaciers too depending on the whether.

    Want to do a hotspring but not the over touristy Blue Lagoon? Then head to Landmannalaugar. Amazing scenery and hiking. Can be done as part of a jeep tour and then you can soak in natural spring tumbling down from the volcano, pretty cool.

    For the northern lights, don’t bother booking a tour, you can see them from downtown Reykjavik. Too many people are oversold on the lights and then are disappointed when they don’t see them. Take them as a bonus.

    Overall get off the ring road and go off-road (with a guide of course) in the interior. You’ll see the real unspoilt Iceland.

  23. The Northern lights are the most powerful around the equinox, which will be September 23 this year. You need to be mobile and away from city lights so rent a car or get a private tour. Take a tripod and a real camera and have your camera set up BEFORE you go out. We were just in Norway and Finland and had 4 good nights of photography in 2 weeks. There are crazy good lights NOW.

  24. Iceland is a tourist trap. The entire country. They are very good in marketing, but you can get better experiences for hot springs, nature, ice caves, northern lights elsewhere. They are not very hospitable either.

  25. If you want “a better food scene than the Ion Hotel”, you should see if they can arrange some KSMLs for you. Especially the ones from Stogel, those are awesome.

  26. I agree with Roberto! Iceland was fairly disappointing to me versus the hype associated with the place. Myself and my partner are definitely lovers of the outdoors and natural environments…we are happy as pigs in the proverbial in New Zealand, Utah etc. Iceland has its spectacular scenery but great swathes of it are drab and challengingly over subcribed in the best weather months. It is a difficult place to plan getting around and while its expense is well documented, it is still a bit of a shock to get such generally poor food at sky high prices. Airfares to Iceland are in general cheap because the airlines own much of the tourist infrastructure…they get you there affordably but then it’s game on! Reykjavik is a bore too!

  27. @Roberto & Barry
    Iceland has always been expensive, even 20 years ago, long before the boom. Add in the boom and of course you are going to be paying Swiss like prices and then some. It should come as no surprise. 20 years ago flights were not as cheap too, a return from GLA was about $500 and that is if you originated in GLA, locals were stung with even higher prices.

    @Barry
    How is it hard to plan getting around? There is literally just one road around the whole country. You either rent a car or take a bus as you would anywhere else in world. If you want to go off-road there are plenty of options there too.

    Finally one man’s drab landscape is another man’s beautiful vista, that’s such a subjective comment to dismiss Iceland with. Some of us actually like bleak landscapes, each to their own!

  28. Ben
    Just finished off a wonderful visit to Iceland and stayed at The Retreat spa hotel at the Blue Lagoon. Top class hotel. It has its own private blue lagoon hot spring hence no need to go to public part at all (if you dont want to). I would highly recommend it.
    We were lucky to have seen the Northern Lights as well last Saturday night.

  29. Have stayed at both Ion Adventure (just okay but well located close to Golden Circle and reasonably located for the south coast drive) and Hotel 101. I did not stay at Ion City.

    Recommend the Hotel 101- just close enough to everything but not loud on saturday night. Ion City seems to be close to the nightclubs which would make for a louder experience.

    The Ion Adventure was a bit over rated but not many options out that way.

    I would do 2/2 nights as you have suggested.

    Don’t forget to get Duty Free on Arrival at KEF (Iceland Gin / Vodka). Prices outrageous as soon as you leave the airport!!

  30. If you’re looking for the Northern Lights and good hiking, I would recommend staying in the town of Hella, about an hour from Reykjavik, the Hotel Ranga there is supposed to be excellent, though I stayed at the cheaper (and still nice, though not anything special) Hotel Stracta.

    Hella is famous for salmon, early northern lights spotting, and has a really nice hike at a dormant volcano called Hveragerdi nearby.

  31. Hello Lucky,

    I have a little complaint concerning the current content. I have not done a statistical analysis of the average postings in the last months – but I have the feeling that the site is currently getting literally flooded with posts.
    Yesterday (March 5th), 10(!) articles were posted on OMAAT. I have a couple gripes about that:

    1. I cannot read them all – if I miss your blog for 2-3 days, there is no way to catch up or even know where I left off.
    2. Almost none of the content features reviews anymore – even though some are overdue. We get 30+ Articles about credit cards and programs, but no continuation of the St. Regis Bora Bora review in over a week?
    3. As hinted above, the current content is boring (for me at least). I don’t care about what make-up flight attendants have to (or not) wear or what Starbucks currently has on offer.

    Maybe its just me, but did you change your business model up a bit?

  32. No interest in going there. Let’s see you finish your latest trip reports. Eager to see them!

  33. I have found that the most beautiful and least touristic part of Iceland is the wild east/nord-east around Myvatn and Reyðarfjörður. No fancy hotels, no cool restaurants but amazing natural scenery. The best restaurants are in Reykjavik which has an interesting nightlife, even if damnly overpriced… Even Vik area is amazing.

  34. Just stayed at the Ion City and liked it. We were upgraded to a superior room and they offer welcome wine that you can bring back to your room. I also stayed at the Hilton Nordica which has quite basic rooms but the lounge and spa are fantastic, especially the free in-water neck massages.

    I would be curious to stay at the Canopy or the Consulate hotels. The future Édition will be stunning.

    Reykjavik is a fun little town. You will enjoy it. Dill is the best restaurant but you must reserve well in advance.

    You can visit the Aurora Experience museum to understand Northern Lights and get tricks to view and photograph them. Mainly depends on weather. There’s a great app to follow weather and solar activity: Aurora Forecast. October is not the best season though…

    Blue Lagoon is a must. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it’s crowded but if you don’t do it, you’re missing out. The last time I went, I was there right at the opening and experienced but night and day. Much more quiet as well. The morning light was amazing.

    Iceland is fun to explore, but staying a few nights, the western and southern part are very enjoyable… and not cold as Canada!

  35. Been to Iceland several times – the absolute highlight for us is driving to Akureyri. The drive is otherworldly spectacular and its a lovely little city with great restaurants. Lava fields/Mountain/Waterfalls/Fjords/Sheep – you name it, its on the route. Unlike the golden triangle – since you have to work for it bit, there are lot fewer tourists around. There are bunch of hot spring that are either free or 1/4 the cost of the blue lagoon up in that Akureyri area.

  36. I’ll third both the Hilton Canopy hotel and snorkeling in Silfra fissure. Also snowmobiling on the glacier.
    If looking for an inexpensive, neat hotel out near Gulfoss, try Litli Geysir. Great breakfast and zero light pollution, so if it’s a clear night you might get a great northern lights show.

  37. Agree with those chiming in about Silfra — it’s pretty incredible. Enjoyed Reynisfjara, too.

    We didn’t stay at the Retreat, but we did book a 5hr spa evening there our first night in Iceland. It was pricy, but not nearly as expensive as staying on-site… and it turned out to be a pretty fabulous couples experience. We had the large private lagoons mostly to ourselves… and thought ourselves incredibly lucky as we could see the swarms in the public lagoon from one of the observation decks.

  38. You might want to rethink Ion. I got married in Iceland and originally thought it would be a nice place for our wedding. Our planner recommended against it and I’m glad she did. We visited it one day on our travels for lunch, and the hotel seemed to be poorly maintained, and the service for lunch was awful. I don’t think the food was anything special either.
    Rooms looked Tiny, and the whole place felt claustrophobic. Would highly recommend Hotel Husafell for that cool modern vibe (although I don’t think its affiliated with any program)

  39. Lucky,
    Cancel a couple of the days in Reykjavik and book a domestic flight up to Ísafjörður (West Fjords). You’ll see a part of Iceland that is beautiful and overlooked by most tourists. You can book a day of sailing or sea kayaking to see parts of the nature preserve. And as a bonus, you get to fly into and take-off from one of the most challenging commercial airstrips in the world. Watch some of the YouTube videos of take-offs and landings at the airport. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viuzgYaVCXo

  40. I went to Iceland in December for my 35th birthday, and while there are some beautiful things to see there, it wasn’t all that wonderful. We based ourselves in Reykjavik at the Skuggi Hotel (probably 3.5* hotel, but it was less than $150 per night with a great breakfast), and it was easy to walk around town from there. Reykjavik is a nice enough city, but it doesn’t have the charm like some European towns do. It’s worth driving or taking a tour along the South Coast to see the waterfalls, black sand beach and anything else you can cram in during the daylight. We were only there for a 3 night stopover, so we didn’t have a chance to go to the Golden Circle. The Northern Lights were elusive while we were there. Our tour was cancelled on our first and second night, and that tour company didn’t have space to put us on our last night’s tour. So, we got a refund from that company and booked with a different company. It was a lot of driving around in a bus, stopping 2 places and at the last stop, there was a tiny hint of the lights…easier to view on camera than with the naked eye. You’ll definitely need a tripod for the long exposure times to take photos of the lights, and be sure to read up on what settings to use. My friend was able to get some decent photos on her Samsung Galaxy phone and a tripod, but my iPhone and Canon camera failed me miserably. We visited the Blue Lagoon before heading to the airport, and it was nice. As one of the first entrance groups in the morning, it wasn’t crowded and we watched the sunrise from the Lagoon which was gorgeous. The ladies locker room area was clean and staff was constantly maintaining it, so maybe that has improved.

  41. We’ll end up pushing out our trip but Iceland was to be the site of our 20th anniversary. I’ve been itching to go since Reagan/Gorbachev and not long after found the Sugarcubes. Throw in a college course of Icelandic culture and I really am behind in my trip…

  42. We did an economic tour in Reykjavik. Was amazing. You walk around and you get an amazing history of the bankruptcy

  43. I’ve got to make three recommendations:
    The Reykjavik residence hotel is great if you’re staying in Reykjavik, they have great breakfast both at the restaurant as well as the basket option where you’ll receive a basket full of cheese, fresh bread, etc which is really nice when we left and were able to take sandwiches to go.
    The second is taking a snowmobile tour where you ride a snowmobile on a glacier, it is very fun and recommended. and if you are looking for a guided tour in a small group with great guides I’d recommend season tours. we took their golden circle tour, it ended up being a private tour and was very fun!

  44. We visited Iceland last October. We stayed three nights at the 101 Hotel and really enjoyed it. Uber cool vibe and close to everything. The breakfast was great too. I rained nearly the entire time we were there, but we did get to see a little bit of the Northern Lights. Flew on WOW, and the day after we returned home WOW announced the were stopping service to St. Louis. Iceland was pricey but I would go back in a heartbeat.

  45. Heimaey , the only accessible one of the Wertman Islands is well worth a day trip. My favorite spot on my two week drive around the Ring Road was the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. And Diamond Beach is right across the street. A beach lined with sparkling shards of icebergs. Oh, and Into the Volcano was a great experience. You hike a couple of miles through desolate terrain to Thrinukagigur (I never could pronounce that) and they lower you by crane into the magma chamber of the volcano. Ridiculously expensive, but worth it.

  46. We were there the 1st two weeks of October 2018. Cold of course, some gray days, but also quite a few beautiful days. We did see the northern lights but we were in the northern part of Iceland. We drove the ring road and it was great! We only stayed at one hotel and that was in Jokulsarlon. Just so so. Everything else was Airbnb or guest houses. For two people who like to hike, I would highly suggest Reykjadalur Hot Springs. It’s about a 2 mile hike in, wear your suits and then take advantage of the natural hot springs at the end of the hike. Nothing like it! A fantastic restaurant experience is the Friðheimar. It’s out on the Golden Circle and needs reservations, for sure. It’s a restaurant inside a greenhouse. Fantastic.

  47. Went to Iceland last year in February with my partner we stayed in Reykjavik which was perfect base for trips out in the day and then walk around town at night.

    Did not get to see the northern lights as it was always to cloudy. We booked a tour that only ran if there was a good chance to see them and if after three rebooking (they simply booked you onto next day if it was cancelled) no lights then your got a full refund without even requesting it.

    Everyone raves about this blue lagoon but we took the hot golden circle tour which stopped at a place called the ‘secret lagoon’ which was much quieter, less commercialised and all natural hot pool.

  48. I stayed at the Hilton Canopy when it first opened and I disliked it so much I requested on the first day to cancel reservation and refund. I don’t remember what it was that was so bad–it was a few things–but they let me off the hook and I checked into 101 and really liked it. The SPG app (at the time) showed no availability but I just walked over there from the Canopy and asked at the desk and they had rooms. I really liked 101 and would stay again. As far as what to do, my Icelander friends always took us to Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. Icelanders go to West Fjords on their holidays and that is where I’d go first. I’ve been to Iceland maybe 10 times working and sightseeing. My favorite tourist museum is the Viking Museum it is so awesome beyond awesome, like some guy in the neighborhood made life-size dioramas of key scenes from the sagas using his friends and relatives for animatronics models…it is beyond belief cool.

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