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Iceland

Iceland - Travel Tips

all seasons in one day
View Faroes & Iceland on IainT's travel map.

Keflavík Airport

Keflavík Airport

I arrived in Iceland on Atlantic Airways from Vágar in the Faroe Islands. The flight cost £219, including a checked in bag (23kg) and seat selection. I left on easyJet for Edinburgh, at a cost of £149 - also including a checked in bag (15kg) and seat selection.

Iceland’s international airports is at Keflavík, 49km (30 miles) west of Reykjavík. Do not confuse it with Reykjavík Airport, which is in the city. It is mostly for internal flights, plus some Greenland services.

Keflavík was excellent on arrival and departure.

Three coach companies transport passengers between the city and Keflavík. I used Flybus. It has its city terminus at BSÍ, close to the city centre. The other bus services use different city termini. The bus cost me £20 for a single ticket. The journey takes about 50 minutes.

I had an Airbnb apartment for 5 nights, in a suburb close to the city centre - I like to be somewhere quiet. It cost £101 per night. With two bedrooms, it was large for my needs and gave me plenty space. It came with a selection of bikes to use, and so I had little need for public transport in the city.

On my last night I stayed in an airport hotel - B&B Hotel - because I had a 9am departure. It was ideal. The cost was £144 for - bed and breakfast. They start breakfast at 4am which is great if you have an early departure.

06:00

06:00

It is a few kilometres from the terminal, on the former US Air Force base. The hotel operates a shuttle but I had my rented car to get me to the airport.

B&B Hotel

B&B Hotel

I rented a car for 3 days from Sadcars. I did that in spite of quite a few negative reviews on social media. I like their concept of using older cars and offering lower prices as a result. My Hyundai i20 was fine for what I needed. It had 169,000 km on the clock, and occasionally its age showed, but 99% of the time I was very happy.

Sadcars has an airport depot and one in the city. They only charged 5,000 ISK (£31/€35) extra to drop the car at a different location. Only…

Sadcars' Sadcar

Sadcars' Sadcar



You have to be careful with car insurance for Iceland. First, a normal saloon car should never be driven on an F road. It is illegal. The insurance will be invalid.

Next, even “normal” roads may have a gravel surface in places. Make sure you take the option for cover against paintwork damage caused by gravel. You can be as slow and careful as you like on gravel, but when (not if) some *ickhead in a 4X4 flashes past you at full speed, the damage will be done.

The total cost was 35,000 ISK, including the airport drop off and full, gold plated insurance. That is £221/€246.

Whilst that is a big outlay, full day excursions by coach to the places I visited were priced at upwards of €53, so even on my own the rented car was good value given the flexibility it provided. For a couple or 2/3/4 people sharing, the savings could be significant.

South Coast

South Coast

Fuel - petrol in my case - cost 238.5 ISK per litre (£1.51/€1.68).

I took the city bus once and it cost 470 ISK (€3.30/£2.97). You can pay the driver in cash but you must have the correct money. You can buy a ticket in advance from selected outlets, or like most transport systems, download an app and buy your ticket on it.

The cost of living is high in Iceland. I drink very little alcohol (these days) which saved me a lot of cash. I had one beer in my time there - that is not unusual for me, even on holiday. It cost 900 ISK (£5.70 or €6.35) in the hotel bar.

Refreshing

Refreshing

As always, I have converted prices at the exchange rates listed at the time of writing.

Posted by IainT 23:43 Archived in Iceland Tagged planes island transport flights iceland airlines reykjavik vágar Comments (0)

Iceland - Part 2

all seasons in one day 12 °C
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Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Exploring Iceland beyond Reykjavík presented me with several options.

I thought of taking an internal flight, perhaps to Akureyri in the north or Ísafjörður in the Westfjords, but when I looked into it the area close to the capital seemed to offer plenty of opportunities for the time I had available.

Then it was a question of how best to grasp them.

Excursions by coach or minibus were on offer from every website I looked at, but I am not very good at fitting into the regimented nature of those. They also seemed to be expensive.

Car hire has a reputation for being very expensive in Iceland, but someone who visited recently recommended it as being cost effective as compared with excursions, as well as much more flexible.

A rented car is what I opted for - not for the whole of my 6 night/5 day visit, but for 3 days.

My first outing took me east from Reykjavík along the south coast, just past Vík í Mýrdal to the Mýrdalssandur glacial outwash plain.

Vík lies directly south of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which itself is on top of the Katla volcano. Katla has not erupted since 1918, and this long dormant period taken with the volcano’s past history has led to expectation that an eruption is overdue.

Reynisdrangur at Vík

Reynisdrangur at Vík


Mýrdalssandur is like a desert of black sand, and remarkable to see. So is the black sand beach at Vík í Mýrdal, with the sea stacks of Reynisdrangar in the background.

Mýrdalssandur

Mýrdalssandur

Vík í Mýrdal is 187 km (116 miles) from Reykjavík. Much of that distance is on a 2 lane road, with a speed limit which never goes above 90 kph, so you have to be ready to take your time.

The glacier at Sólheimajökull was the highlight of that day. It is really impressive, and being able to get very close quite easily was great.

Sólheimajökull

Sólheimajökull

The other notable sight I took in as part of that day out is the Skógafoss waterfall. It is very impressive, although by the time I reached it the weather had turned wet which made the visit a little damp.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

My other day trip took me inland, again to the east of the city, as far as Gullfoss. It is 125km away (78 miles), again on 2 lane roads most of the way.

The waterfall there was the main attraction - just amazing.

Nearby is Geysir, which gives its name to geysers. Geysir itself is dormant, but Strokkur a few metres away erupts joyfully every 5-10 minutes. The whole site is bubbling with hot water at 80-100⁰c.

Strokkur at Geysir

Strokkur at Geysir

That day was also cut short by wet weather.

Strokkur Erupts

Strokkur Erupts

What little I saw of Iceland on those days trips really gave me a flavour of how unique it is, and a desire to return to see more. The weather is a downside of course, as are the eye watering prices. Going there in the last week in June was an inspired decision, with 24 hour daylight to enjoy and midnight sun (if it was visible).

Posted by IainT 13:15 Archived in Iceland Tagged waterfalls beaches island iceland islandlife Comments (0)

Iceland - Part 1

all seasons in one day 12 °C
View Faroes & Iceland on IainT's travel map.

Sólfar

Sólfar

I suppose my visit to Iceland divides into two parts. First, exploring Reykjavík, where I stayed for all of my 5 nights. Secondly, my excursions out of the city.

Well first things first. Reykjavik.

I stayed in an apartment (Airbnb) on Laugalækur, at the start of the suburbs to the east of the city centre. It was very close to Laugardalur, or "Hot Springs Valley" which used to produce all the city's hot water. Now it is a laid back park, with botanic gardens and lots of sports facilities.

A choice of three bicycles came with the flat, and a nearby cycle path took me downtown in 10-15 minutes.

Laugardalur

Laugardalur

Ideal, weather permitting. As an alternative, the city bus passed by just 100m away. I used it once

As far as sightseeing is concerned, I had a good wander around and found a relaxed and pleasant place. It was easy tp spend time doing nothing. I visited the national museum and its two sister exhibitions - the Culture House and Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection.

National Museum

National Museum

I often use a national or city museum to get my bearings about a new place.

Culture House

Culture House

Hallgrímskirkja is an attraction to visit, partly because it dominates the skyline from its hilltop location.

Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection

Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection

In terms of eating, like everything else Iceland is expensive. Super expensive. I estimate it is about double British prices. As I was on my own, and bearing in mind the cost, I skipped the restaurant scene.

The city has lots to offer in terms of fast food and street food. My highlight was fish soup in Icelandic Street Food. Delicious. Afterwards, I discovered my guidebook (Lonely Planet) agrees.

Thermal Vents, Ingólfstorg

Thermal Vents, Ingólfstorg

Close behind came Fish and Chips Vagninn. I was tempted by Icelandic fish and chips. It was fantastic. Part of the attraction was a beautiful sunny evening, so I was able to eat outside on their picnic benches. By coincidence, my guidebook also agreed on that one.

I always enjoy it when I find a super place for myself and then find it is highly rated in the guidebooks!

Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat

Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat

For a flavour - groan - of prices, at the cafe in the museum I had a slice of quiche, a piece of cake and a cappuccino. It cost me 2,990 ISK. That’s £19.90 (€22.20). I reckon that is about double what it would have been back home.

Top Prices

Top Prices

My fish & chips rang the till at 1,790 ISK (£11.90/€12.60).

Reykjavik is not a city I would travel to visit for its own sake, but as part of a visit to Iceland it is well worth setting aside a day or two for.

Posted by IainT 23:31 Archived in Iceland Tagged island reykjavik Comments (0)

Reykjavík

sunny 12 °C
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Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja

Yesterday I moved north, and a bit west.

My time in the Faroe Islands came to an end, and I flew to Iceland. My airport shuttle collected me at 6:50 for the 40 minute drive to Vágar Airport and under an almost cloudless sky, it was really beautiful.

Atlantic Airways at Vágar

Atlantic Airways at Vágar

During my 3 days/4 nights in the Faroes I can only think of one disappointment, and that was the weather which greeted me in Klaksvík. Even that was more that offset by the enjoyment of the helicopter flight and the bus journey back to Tórshavn.

Atlantic Airways did the honours to get me to Keflavik on time and in good shape. The views of Vágar as we took off were even more amazing than on arrival - the sunshine made the difference!

My first sight of Iceland was the Vatnajökull icecap from the plane window. I hope it was an auspicious beginning.

Iceland Approaches

Iceland Approaches

By 11:30 I was in Reykjavík city centre, making that decision between the public bus and a taxi to get to my Airbnb flat. Let me just mention that Iceland does not seem to be any cheaper than the Faroes.

Reykjavík City Centre

Reykjavík City Centre

The afternoon was about orientation - the suburb where the flat is located, and downtown Reykjavík. It is a 10 minute cycle between them.

23:45 in Reykjavík

23:45 in Reykjavík

The evening highlight was sunset at midnight.

Quite a special day.

Posted by IainT 04:08 Archived in Iceland Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises flights iceland airlines reykjavik faroes torshavn klaksvík Comments (0)

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