5 days in Iceland with G Adventures

#1
October marks one year since my wife and I went to Iceland. I must say that this is a magical place that has some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. We did a 5 day trip with G Adventures where we stayed in a guest house with our guide/host and approx 9 others guests/travelers.

Arriving:
We arrived in Iceland at KEF airport at approx 7 am via Icelandair. I won't comment much on Icelandair other than the flight was satisfactory. Nothing too special. I had arranged transport to take us directly to the Blue Lagoon via https://www.re.is. The cost was about $15 pp. The bus driver met us at approx 9 am which gave me ample time to take a short nap at the airport. A word of caution. The airport is pretty basic. Not too much to eat or do with the exception of a few coffee and sandwich spots. The bus ride to the blue lagoon from the airport took approx 30 min. When we arrived the Blue Lagoon was not open so we walked around for a little bit taking in the scenery. By 10 am when the Blue Lagoon opened up the parking lot had filled up considerably. We opted for the premium package that included a massage in the lagoon, robes, towels, and a free drink for around 65 Euros. The price is a little steep but it's well worth it. The Blue Lagoon is 100% touristy but it truly can't be missed. I suggest planning to go either to or from the airport because it is about 45 min from Reykjavik. After changing in the locker rooms we were required to shower (one lucky fellow ensures of this) we walked out into the lagoon and stepped into the warm blue waters and instantly felt relaxed. The massages we received as part of our package were done in the water as we relaxed on a floating lounge bed that made the experience all the more surreal. After about 4 drinks each and an hour or two in the pool we left for Reykjavik via the same bus company that took us there.
View media item 449Day 1 Reykjavik:
We arrived in the city center at our scheduled meet up spot for our group at approx 230pm. Our meet up location was an adventure/excursion booking business. Since our host wasn't meeting us until 6pm we left our luggage at the store and walked around the city center. Reykjavik is small town and we covered quite a bit of the city in the short time we had. We returned to meet up with the rest of our group and our host for the next 5 days. Our host Gilly gave us an introduction of himself and reviewed the itinerary. He then brought us to the guest house where we would be staying at. We left that night at around 10pm to hunt for the Northern Lights. It took about 2 hours to get outside the city center. We got to see them around 1 am and again on our way back in to town. The Northern Lights are really something that can't be described. They must be seen. No visit to Iceland is complete without seeing them. I highly suggest making the effort.
NOTE: Book your tour on the first night incase you don't see them. That way if they don't appear or there is too much cloud cover you have ample opportunities to reschedule.
View media item 451Day 2 Reykjavik:
The next day our host took us on a walking tour of the town. He gave us the history of Iceland and its people and we got to see the main square and the city center. The total population of Iceland is around 320,000 with about 2/3rds of the total population living in Reykjavik. For lunch we had hot dogs at http://bbp.is/en/. Another must do when you are here. The hot dogs are only 1-2 euros each. Afterwards we picked up some beer. Alcohol is VERY expensive in Iceland due to the high tax. If you want to drink I suggest going to a liquor/beer store and buying it. The alcohol in bars is quite expensive. After that we booked our excursions for the next two days at http://www.adventures.is and then headed back to our guest house for dinner. Our host cooked us a leg of lamb complete with potatoes and salad and I must say it was AMAZING.
View media item 450Day 3 Glaciers and the Golden Circle: (325 Euros pp) pricey but worth it
Our tour guide picked us up near our guest house and we set off on our Golden Circle tour. We visited Þingvellir National Park and saw where Europe and North American meet, Gullfoss waterfall which left us speechless, and Geysir where we saw the geysir burst every 90 seconds. Then we set off for our snowmobiling adventure on Langjökull which is Iceland's second largest glacier. The snowmobiling was an experince I wouldn't trade for anything. The whole excursion took about 10 hours. The glacier was a good two hours drive from Geysir. The golden circle is another must do if you visit Iceland. Whether you do it with a tour group like us or you rent a car and do it yourself it can't be missed.
View media item 453Day 4 Glaciers and Waterfalls: (155 Euros pp)
We left early with our host Gilly who was our tour guide for the day. We visited Seljandsfoss Waterfall, Reynisfjara black sand beaches, Skógafoss Waterfall, and hiked up the Sólheimajökull Glacier complete with pick axes and crampons. We also saw views of Eyjafjallajökull Glacier & Hekla Volcano. The black sand beaches were complete with various rock formations that look like trolls. The waterfalls are really something that is tough to describe. The shear beauty of them will leave you speechless. After arriving back at the guest house my wife and I had dinner at http://www.tapas.is/is/ which is one of the most popular restaurants in Reykjavik. It is a fusion of tapas and local Icelandic food. I highly recommend it. Especially if you want to try dishes such as puffin and whale.
NOTE: Pack warm and comfortable clothing and shoes if you choose to do glacier hiking. The weather can be very windy and cold. I suggest a rain coat as a top layer. It will also come in handy at the waterfalls.
View media item 452View media item 448View media item 447Day 5 Reykjavik
We spent the morning walking around the city and picking up a few souvenirs for back home before we took the bus back to the airport.

Final Thoughts:
Iceland is beautiful country with a landscape that makes you feel like you are in a Lord of The Rings movie. Our trip with G Adventures was great and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking to try something different. The itinerary was very loose and it allowed us the opportunity to do what we wanted to. Many people choose to rent cars and do the ring road and love it. I think we will do that on our next trip to Iceland. It's one of the countries I can't wait to go back to. Since the last time we went it was October we will probably opt for a summer trip so we can do some hiking. Feel free comment. I'd love to hear how some other people's trip to Iceland was.
 
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#8
I'd love to hear how some other people's trip to Iceland was.
We've been twice and absolutely going again! Once in Aug/Sept 2009 and Aug/Sept 2015.

I would highly recommend getting a car and driving to Vik for at least one night. (We stayed at the IcelandAir Hotel) From Vik, jump the ferry to Vestmannaeyjar Island. We were lucky enough to see a whale pod swim by the ferry. We hiked up Eldfell, visited Eldheimar Museum, held Toto the puffin at the aquarium (the whole place is three small rooms and Toto follows you around like a cat until you pick him up). We stayed at Hotel Vestmannaeyjar; our view was the volcano and parking a non-issue. Of course the National Museum and the Arbaer Open Air Museum in Reykjavik are great. Arbaer was closed when we were there but the young lady gave us and seven other show-ups an abridged one hour tour. Our favorite place to eat in Reykjavik is Ramen Momo....delicious and inexpensive.
 
#10
I'm headed to Iceland next month for the first time, and I can't wait!
Don't miss the Birch Snapps - any brand is great. It's the national alcohol of Iceland and makes the best cocktails (and best sourvenir). Prices are cheapest at the airport so pick up a bottle upon arrival and departure.
 
#12
Good to know -- I don't think I've ever even heard of birch snapps before, but it sounds like a great souvenir for all to try back home!
Drop by a Reykjavik bar and ask the bartender to make you a snapps cocktail so you can learn how to use it in a drink.

To clarify my earlier comment, Iceland has some big duty tax on all alcoholic beverages (even locally made beverages) so buying your supply in a duty-free shop is the way to go. Just make sure you have room in your luggage for the trip home. We fell in love with all these bark-based liquors that you can only buy in Iceland (and possibly NYC). Even now we have regrets that we didn't bring more than 2 bottles home.
 
#14
Another tip: skip the Blue Lagoon and instead make time for the local public pools (think YMCA). They are a fraction of the cost and are a great way to meet locals and other travelers. We loved pool hopping (typical feature is multiple small pools with varying temperatures, including lobster-boil options and at the other end of the thermometer, unheated). Nearly every small town in Iceland has a pool. In Reykjavik, there's a pool in every neighborhood. More here: www.iheartreykjavik.net/2014/12/the-6-step-guide-to-swimming-in-iceland/
 

R.R.

Level 2 Member
#15
Another tip: skip the Blue Lagoon and instead make time for the local public pools (think YMCA).
Interesting! Everything I read says to check out the Blue Lagoon for the ambience as well as the heat. Unfortunately, Spouse has a phobia of public pools, so I'm not sure how this will play out!
 

Suzie

Level 2 Member
#16
Another tip: skip the Blue Lagoon and instead make time for the local public pools (think YMCA). They are a fraction of the cost and are a great way to meet locals and other travelers. We loved pool hopping (typical feature is multiple small pools with varying temperatures, including lobster-boil options and at the other end of the thermometer, unheated). Nearly every small town in Iceland has a pool. In Reykjavik, there's a pool in every neighborhood. More here: www.iheartreykjavik.net/2014/12/the-6-step-guide-to-swimming-in-iceland/
I wholeheartedly agree with this! We did both and had much more fun with the locals.
 
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