Interest in Iceland has exploded over the last few years. I plan many trips a year to Iceland and thought I knew it pretty well based on research and suggestions from DMCs. I was totally amazed on this trip with all I didn’t know. This educational experience was sponsored by Iceland Travel, Signature Travel Network’s number one destination manage company for Iceland. They are based in Iceland and know the product better than anyone. Started out flying on Delta through JFK. Arrival is about 630 am and it is about an hour from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. We saw and had breakfast at the interesting Viking museum on the way. They have a beautiful Viking ship replica inside. Then on to the city. After seeing some nice Icelandair hotels we checked into the Ion hotel. The location was great. I had a wonderful suite with a sauna and city view. We then visited Hallgrimskirkja the beautiful Lutheran cathedral and took a city tour. Dinner was on our own so we visited some of the fun pubs and nightlife for dinner. Who knew you could get some of the best pizza of your life in Reykjavik!
We were up early the next day to visit Krauma the geothermal baths. The experience was going between very hot baths then plunging into ice cold. I definitely felt invigorated! We enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Next on to Husafell Hotel, an amazing resort at the base of the glacier. We then got to go into the heart of a glacier. We tracked up the glacier in super Jeep’s with huge tires made for the climb. Inside the glacier was amazing. It was incredible to hear the history of glaciers in Iceland and how they are shrinking drastically due to climate change. The Husefel restaurant that evening was a treat with such fresh salmon and cod. We went to Thingvellir National park the next day to see some breathtaking waterfalls and geysers then on to Fridheimar Greenhouse. Iceland is famous for lots of greenhouses because of all the geothermal energy used to heat them. They grow the most delicious tomato’s. We were treated to a fantastic tomato soup and fresh bread lunch. On to more incredible waterfalls and lava fields. This night was my favorite hotel Hotel Ranga on the Eystri-ranga river. The rooms were so cozy and the views were astounding. This was one of the best places to see the northern lights. We enjoyed a fresh seafood experience that evening.
The following day was the highlight of the trip. We drove to Vik in the southern area for an ATV ride in the black sand beaches. As we drove through rivers and gullies we were treated to incredible the incredible scenery of the crashing ocean waves. We saw the famous airplane remains on the beach and got some great pictures. After the ATV we saw the awe inspiring waterfalls of Rangarping Eyrstra and climbed the 550 steps to the top to look down. Back to Reykjavík that night for a 7 course dinner at Kopar restaurant which specializes in fabulous local cuisine.
Our last wonderful day was the Snæfellsnes mini bus tour. This 12 hour tour around the western Peninsula was a must see for anyone who comes to Iceland for beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls and glaciers. Our day ended with a farm to table experience at a local horse farm for an amazing meal.
A few takeaways and things I learned from this trip. Iceland is fantastic any time of year but almost better in winter land early spring to avoid the crowds and see northern lights. Iceland very rarely gets heavy snow just lots of wind and pretty cold temperatures. The wind is always blowing but if you have a good waterproof coat, waterproof shoes gloves and a good hat, no worries.
Iceman day is very expensive. An average lunch when we were on our own was about $40 for soup and a small salad. There are some incredible sweaters and knitted items but they are very pricey. Iceland has a booming tourism industry and they have taken advantage.
The food was incredible. If you love seafood you are in heaven.
People are very warm and friendly. The locals speak great English and are happy to give advice and directions.
The Blue Lagoon is very touristy but on most people’s must see list. It is a good idea to do this experience on the way to the airport at the end before you fly home since it is 15 min from the airport but about 45 min from the city. Taxis are very expensive. Take the Fly Bus from the airport to the town center. It’s around $20 vs a $150 cab.
I loved Iceland and would love to go back and do some more intense hikes, horseback riding, glacier climbing and perhaps seeing Iceland during the Christmas holidays. I am so lucky to have experienced this amazing country.
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