You may think that Iceland is rather a complicated place to go to and one of Europe’s more popular tourist destinations is easier and quicker to reach and navigate but you’d be wrong! Iceland lies between Boston and London and takes about 4 hours to reach either from the U.S. or Europe.
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik has all the tourist amenities and conveniences as any other popular tourist destination but is not as over run or as over done.
You will find Iceland a refreshing travel destination with some unexpected plus points, like the beautiful women, the raving nightlife on weekends and the breath taking scenery and natural wonders.
These travel tips are just some interesting points which I picked up on during my visit to Reykjavik, Iceland and they may make your trip to Iceland more pleasurable.
1. Weather and visiting Reykjavik, Iceland in the winter
Although cold in the winter don’t think you have to go during the summer. The winters have been mild in the past 5 years, with hardly any snow fall in the south, although you still get the snow capped mountains and icy glaciers. This means you can still easily navigate the roads around Reykjavik during the winter even if you are not used to driving in winter conditions. Traveling to Reykjavik, Iceland in winter also means a chance to see the northern lights, cheaper prices, fewer tourists and all the tourist attractions are still open. The only things you would miss out on if traveling in winter to Reykjavik, Iceland is the whale watching and Puffin birds.
2. Whale watching in winter in Reykjavik, Iceland
There are whale watching tours during the winter but you are more likely to see dolphins. We took a whale watching tour in Reykjavik during January and enjoyed the boat trip, although you need to go knowing you will most likely not see the mighty mammal. If you can look at it simply as a pleasant trip along the Icelandic coast then do it but if you have your heart set on seeing a whale then rather go in the summer months to avoid disappointment. We did however see a school of about 100 dolphins who ducked and dived around the boat and that was great.
3. Neighborhood ice cream parlor in Reykjavik, Iceland
Using the tourist map of the city of Reykjavik which every hotel hands out, follow your nose and taste buds to this small neighborhood ice cream shop which overflows with locals and plenty of character. Get away from Reykjavik’s main street for a while, about a 20 minute walk west and you will find an ice cream parlor run by a regular mum. The place is small but locals love it. You can have regular ice cream or frozen milk, and either come topped or blended with a variety of about 30 toppings. You will find it at: 67 Hagamel Street and can read more about the most popular reykjavik ice cream parlor here. Don’t miss out on all the wierd and wonderful traditional Icelandic foods as well!
4. Where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland
Look at a map and choose a hotel walking distance from the main street - Laugavegur . Reykjavik is spread out with many of the hotels being far from the main street which buzzes with cafes, pubs, restaurants and all the amenities you will need. Although many trips to Reykjavik consist of simply staying at a hotel and then being picked up everyday from your hotel and being taken on an adventure into the incredible Icelandic nature, you may want to leave your hotel at some point for a coffee, a beer or simply to window shop. If your hotel is not close to the center you will have a hard time getting to the center as buses are not that regular and there are plenty of hotels to choose from around the main part of town. Don’t miss out on the Reykjavik nightlife and café culture by choosing a hotel too far away from the center. I recommend one of the Centerhotel chain hotels, Thingholt, Plaza or Klopp, all of which are central, and vary in price range, there is also a hostel right on the main drag.
5. The Golden Circle Tour, Reykjavik, Iceland
Combine your trip to the Golden Circle with some other attraction. Although the Golden Circle is exciting, unusual and breathtaking you will find that it takes a while to reach the attractions along the way as you come from Reykjavik, however if you have some other distraction it makes the day just that bit more special. You can combine the Golden Circle tour with snowmobile riding, glacier climbing, super jeep rides, horse riding and even snorkeling or diving. We did the snorkeling and it just broke the monotony of driving from one site to another getting out, being amazed, taking a photo and returning to the van. A note about superjeep riding, ask your tour operator if the jeep will actually be going off road, otherwise you might as well be in a car or van.
6. Reykjavik, Iceland tours
I had read many times on the net that there is no need to book tours before you leave home, but I found this hard to believe and went ahead and booked all our tours in advance. Once in Reykjavik I found that there were other tour options, tours that combined tours I had booked separately and that we needed some breathing space between tours. So definitely don’t book all your tours in advance. However book your first day’s tour and any special tours that you are scared to miss out on. The hotel reception or the local tourist information can book tours for you on the spot. For example there is no need to book northern lights tours too far in advance. We even booked a tour which was leaving in 20 minutes time, and they came to pick us up from the hotel.
Writer: Petal Mashraki
Writer: Petal Mashraki