Help Me Plan a Trip to Iceland!

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Over Labor Day, I am taking a trip to Iceland with my brother and sister. While we used to travel all the time together when we were younger, we haven’t enjoyed each others company on a vacation in quite some time, so this will be a nice bonding experience! We will have only 4.5 days in Iceland and would love readers recommendations on things to do. The first two nights we are staying at the Radisson Blu, the third night a hotel in Vik, and the fourth and fifth night again at the Radisson Blu. I currently have reservations at both Radisson Blu hotels so am open to opinions on which one is better!

Any suggestions to help build on this itinerary would be great! Things to do, restaurants, tips and tricks, really anything you can think of. Our initial plan is to rent a car and do the Golden Circle on our own over the course of two days (and stay in Vik for the night). We then have two full days in Reykjavik, one on both ends. Also, our flight doesn’t leave until later in the afternoon (on the half day we have in Iceland), so we were thinking a trip to the Blue Lagoon on our way to the airport would work out well.

Thanks in advance! And hopefully this can help many other readers as well.

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  1. Enjoy Iceland – it’s an amazing country! My top pick would be to do “Inside the Volcano” ( where you can actually go inside a real volcano. The tour consists of a a short (and easy) hike over a lava field before being lowered into the volcano in a window-cleaning rig. It is amazing and totally unique.

    Reykjavik itself is a nice little city but there is very little to see there. I wouldn’t plan on spending any time in the city, other than dinner and staying there overnight – just use it as a base to get out and about and see as much of the country as possible. The landscape is incredible and varies depending on which part of the country you are visiting.

  2. Just came back. Blue lagoon on way to airport is good use of time. Recommend 8:00 am time slot. Gets really crowded. Also, while in Reykjavik, try the public thermal pools. Quite fun for $5.

    Zodiac boat tour to glacier and icebergs. About $50/pp. gorgeous.

  3. Reykjavik is not super big so you could see all the main sites in 2 days–go up the cathedral tower for the view of the city and harbor, eat at the hot dog stand Clinton ate, enjoy lobster bisque at this restaurant by the port and then visit the Maritime Museum nearby. You can totally go to Blue Lagoon twice, right after you land and before you take off, if you are gonna fly Iceland Air from North America. F&B cost is about the same as NYC. Get local packaged food from the chain supermarket with the pink piggy logo–cheaper. There are lots Irish pubs in town and maybe you’ll run into Bjork. One of the museums display the history of Vikings and the Irish. I forgot which one but I’m sure you can get all the info on wikitravel as well as Trip Advisor.

    Great you’re gonna have a rental car so you can control how much time you want to spend at sites outside of the city.

  4. On the way to vik stop at the seljalandsfoss waterfall. You can walk behind and get some great pictures. After that get your pictures of the skogafoss waterfall. And before you head into vik, see the basalt cliffs. The downtown if Reykjavík is nice with lost of stores and places to eat.

  5. Friends and I are going there the weekend after. We picked the Radisson Blu 1919 (or whatever it is called) that is downtown. Every review I could find said that if you are going to be staying up late and enjoying a few drinks, far better to stay there instead.

    Were only going for 2.5 days, but we are going to do Blue Lagoon, a few hikes, and hope for some northern lights if they cooperate.

  6. I highly recommend Grillmarkadurinn for dinner in Reykjavik. The food was fantastic (I went a bit out there trying the Minke Whale and the Horse filet – but let me tell you that steak was better than any piece of filet mignon I’ve ever had).

  7. I hope your not planning to drive the entire Golden Circle as it takes around 16 hours total! Vik is about the 1/3 point for the entire route, so you will have a 11-12 hour drive ahead of you to return to Reyjavik. With your limited time I would recommend going as far as glacial lagoon at Jokulsarlon with a stop at Skaftafell and returning the same route. Also there is a nice short hike at Fjarargljufur near Kirkjubaejarklaustur.

    • @Mark – My understanding is that it is only 3-4 hours to drive around the entire circle without stopping.

      • You’re right, sorry about that. I had in my head that you were going to drive around the entire country (which if you have several days is well worth it). In that case I would not go further than Vik as Skaftafell is another 3 hours to the east.
        One tip that I can offer is to go the duty-free shop in the airport and stock up for any beverages you might want to enjoy. It is substantially cheaper than buying at the liquor stores in country. Then on the way back buy some Brennivin to take back home (although it’s becoming more widely available in the US)

  8. Golden circle is a 1 day thing. Start early and go via the route to Thingvellir. Be there in 30 min from Reykjavik. Walk around and guess the Game of Thrones locations. Lunch by Laugarvatn in Lindin. On your way to Geysir area theres another great lunch option at a farm called Efsti dalur that sells excellent home made icecream. Gullfoss is 20 min away from Geysir and you will have done the Golden circle. Vik is quite doable from there and you will pass by both Seljalandsfoss and Skogarfoss on the way. The following day you might want to head east to Jokulsarlon. Dyrholaey or Skaftafell park might be on your list.

  9. Vik is a village. Go to sleep but nothing else other than a black sand beach. It’s got like 300 people no joke. In Reykjavik go to lokis cafe near the hallgrimska to try hakarl..the most notoriously disgusting food in the world. It’s rotten shark meat but you need to try it. Blue lagoon is cool but expensive, I echo the other commenter who said check out the town baths…cheapest meal is the hot dog stand…you’ll see it near “downtown”. Email me if you want more advice

  10. Interested in all the responses! I’m going there via Wow in October. The only thing I had planned so far is Blue Lagoon. I haven’t chosen a hotel yet. And recommendations besides Radisson Blu?

  11. There are a few things in Reykjavik you might want to checkout – the Reykjavik outdoor museum is a nice way to see how people in Iceland lived –
    Stay clear of the sheeps head/shark eating suggestions – and instead head for some of the numerous quality restaurants like Fridrik V, Fish Market, Fish Company, Sjavargrillid, Grillid etc.
    The walking tour is great fun – – or if you’re feeling lazy

    For fun bars – Kex Hostel, Loft Hostel, Bunkbar are all great options to run into fellow travellers – get the Reykjavik appyhour app to find out when there’s happy hour. Bars tend to be quiet until around 11 PM on the weekends when the locals show up.

    As someone mentioned, Vík is a small village. But that’s true for all of Iceland. Outside of Reykjavik most places will be on a small scale. In Vík you’ll be close to some nice scenic spots like Dyrhólaey and by making it an overnight stop you’ll manage to swing by Vatnajokull glacier before heading back to Reykjavik. An alternative might be Kirkjubaejarklaustur – it’s a bit further east, but equally small.

  12. I’ve been to Iceland many, many times. Here’s my list:
    Do the Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss (Golden Circle) tour one day. It is a must. If you have a nice weather day, plan to do this. It takes the better part of a day. The 13-14 hours is to go all of the way around Route 1 around the entire island. Golden Circle is much less.

    Walk/shop down the main street Laugavegur. You must go to the Sandholt Bakery on Laugavegur. A Reykjavik tradition. Best baked goods and coffee. Great way to start the day.

    If you want to buy 66° North clothing, there is an outlet store that is (slightly) less expensive. It is outside of the main part of town. Ask someone for directions:
    66°NORTH Outlet
    Faxafen 12
    108 Reykjavik

    My favorite restaurant for reasonable priced, good food is Hornid. I eat there two or three times each time I go to Iceland. Great pizza too.

    If you want gourmet cuisine and/or want to try Minke whale go to 3 Frakkar (3 Coats). A little pricey, but good.

    The best fish in town in my opinion is Gallery Fiskur. I was shown this out of the way place (in a business park) by a local. I go there at least once each visit. Weekday lunches only.

    The Perlan has a very nice restaurant and it rotates like the Seattle space needle. There is a museum in there too.

    Take the tour of the Harpa convention/music hall. It is an incredible building and an incredible tour. At night there are supposed to be light shows in the windows. I’ve been told it is quite cool. Might not be happening in summer.

    There is a brewery tour that will pick you up at your hotel in a bus, take you to the brewery where they get you very drunk, then drive you back to your hotel. Very entertaining and all you can drink!

    My bucket list item I have not been able to do yet is Jokulsarlon, the glacier lagoon.

    Of course, must do the Blue Lagoon.

    Have to go to the hot dog place (Bæjarins Bestu) – it’s right around the corner from Hornid restaurant.

    In the big building across the street from the hot dog place is a Saturday (maybe Sunday too?) flea market of a sorts. You can see a lot of local stuff in there.

    If you love museums, go see the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik

    There’s an outdoor museum of Iceland history called Árbæjarsafn with old houses and such showing how people lived.

    Lots to do!

    • Hi, as I am not driving a car, is it possible to reach 66°NORTH Outlet – Faxafen 12 by any means of public transportation? Thanks~

      • @SamC – I did not go to the outlet, so I am not 100% sure. There is a decent amount of public transportation available and taxis all over.

      • It should be, it’s not that far. It’s right off Miklabraut which is a main street/highway. Buses run on it. Short walk from there.

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