View Full Version : Iceland Vacation Suggestions

2011-Dec-11, 10:30 AM
I'd like to go to Iceland, so I'm looking for suggestions on where to stay, who to rent a car from, etc. I've been looking at Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and such. Trusted opinion forums and travel sites would be useful.

What I'd really like is an organized outing with a science emphasis, but I haven't found one that doesn't involve too much hiking. Although I'd love to explore the volcanoes and the rift, I have bad knees and hips, so my mobility is somewhat limited.

Is it worth hopping over to Heimaey? The 1973 Eldfell eruption has fascinated me since reading John McPhee's essay on the efforts to battle the volcano (The Control of Nature).

This would be a summer trip.

2011-Dec-11, 03:56 PM
Sounds like a great trip. I'm a big fan of TripAdvisor, but I otherwise have no suggestions.

2011-Dec-11, 04:37 PM
Having lived there for two years, the place is rugged. Any science trip is more than likely going to be hard on knees and hips. Even trips to the more popular sites in Iceland may be hard. There are few that I can think of, unless you are planning views from a distance. I seem to remember some places where you can hire your own tour guide and plan your own trip, at your own pace, but those can be pricey (of course, with the current exchange rate (somewhere around 120 IK to the dollar) it's less pricey than when I was there (I seem to remember the rate was around 45 IK to the dollar, about three times less). I'll see if I can find some references for you.

2011-Dec-12, 08:11 AM
Sounds like a great trip. I'm a big fan of TripAdvisor, but I otherwise have no suggestions.

An endorsement of TripAdvisor is meaningful to me. Thanks.

I'll see if I can find some references for you.

Thanks in advance.

2011-Dec-12, 08:33 AM
If Ivan Viehoff doesn't post in this thread, try sending him a PM. He's posted some stories of holidays in Iceland in the past.

The Backroad Astronomer
2011-Dec-15, 06:12 PM
try the fermented shark I hear from Anthony Bourdain its great.

Ivan Viehoff
2011-Dec-16, 11:56 AM
Typically in Iceland the car park isn't right next to the attraction, so often you will need to be able to walk, up to say 20 mins (a fit person's walk time) from the car park to the main attraction. Also some geologically interesting sites are scattered attractions that need walking around: for example the volanic attractions at Krafla near Myvatn, you might typically spend a couple of hours pottering around the site (and the car park is a good 10 mins from the edge of the site too...)

Subject to those issues, there are a lot of sites of geological interest that can be easily accessed.

There are standard bus trips that allow one to see things. But be aware that the full range of trips to interior sites typically only run from around 4 July to 20 Aug approx. The things I refer to are daily or regular tours run by local operators and bookable typically at fairly short notice locally, not a package tour. So for example, I expect you would find these interesting:
A trip to or via Landmannalaugar
A trip over Sprengisandur
A trip over Kjolur
A trip to Askja (day tour out of Myvatn) - but it is about 30 mins walk each way from the car park to the sights at Askja

I don't recomment a trip Kverkfjoll, because you do need to be able to do a strenuous day hike to get full value from that.

The first 3 you can do yourself if you hire a fairly basic 4wd - if you don't hire a 4wd these roads are closed to you and they have enforcement, typically in the form of an aprox €1500 fine when you return the car. Askja requires a high clearance 4wd.

But if you just drive around the country in a 2wd, you can do a lot, easily fill 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5...) weeks albeit that the deep interior is closed to you other than in daytours.
The standard "Golden Circle" sites are easily accessible, and this is probably a much nicer way of going to them than on a tour.
There are interesting lava tubes and the like to be visited around Borgarnes and Hveragerdi, each not very far from Reykjavik.
The southern shore is a fascinating drive for the geological vistas.
A lot of people rush through the Eastfjords, but actually there is a lot of interesting geology there if you have some materials to draw it to your attention. An under-rated part of the country.
A little off the beaten track in the Eastfjords is Borgarfordur Eystri (also known as Bakkagerdi) - few go there and it is unusual and special.
Dettifoss now has a paved access road on the west bank (from the south only), so is now much more easily accessible. Unfortunately the interesting sites from Dettifoss (W bank) towards Asbyrgi are on a 4wd-only road. Asbyrgi is also easily accessible via paved road, but by a circuitous route from Dettifoss if you don't have 4wd.
Allow at least 2 days for pottering around the Myvatn area, there is a lot to see there.
Snaefellsness is also very interesting geologically - the most interesting parts are the far western tip and the northern shore.
The far NE part of the Westfjords, ie the Strandir coast N of Holmavik, is the most geologically interesting part of that region.

But Iceland wears its geology very prominently, and just about anywhere you go will be of interest to the geologist. In general the country is much nicer to visit once you get more than 100km from Rekjavik, and thus beyond the influence of most of the day-trippers.

2011-Dec-16, 02:51 PM
Thanks very much. I imagine I'll need to study that information on a map.

2011-Dec-17, 03:28 PM
I think that I'd want to see Bobby Fischer's lonely gravesite. He was a jerk of monumental depth, but still the greatest chess player ever.

Edit: "Monumental depth"? Is that possible. "Abysmal depth" perhaps?