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Hi all, Mrs SC and I are planning a week or 10 days holiday in Iceland, we are thinking end of August early September but it doesn't have to be.

Some of you have been before, what would you suggest as "must see" and when in the year would you recommend? 

Many thanks SC 

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5 minutes ago, SC said:

Hi all, Mrs SC and I are planning a week or 10 days holiday in Iceland, we are thinking end of August early September but it doesn't have to be.

Some of you have been before, what would you suggest as "must see" and when in the year would you recommend? 

Many thanks SC 

Warrior and I are also planning to go to Iceland for a week this year. We were thinking a bit later...maybe November, to stand a better chance of seeing the aurora borealis. Can I piggyback SC's post please? :D

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Probably best that I haven't seen "Trapped", Rendrags!! -  S.C., I can  recommend the middle of Winter (we went early January); the half light which precedes the mid morning sunrise is just wonderful and other worldly, as are the sunsets. Aurora Borealis is jawdroppingly awesome - correct use of the word here. Waterfalls, Geysers and Rift Valley on the Golden Circle tour were spectacular in the snow and ice clad landscapes too. Whale watching lovely on a glittering sea; and Into the Glacier for a ride in an ex-missile carrier up and onto a glacier before exploring a man made ice cave; extraordinary fete; a sculpture which will sink and melt with the glacier over the next 100 years. A piccie form the Laundromat Cafe would be good to add to the gallery! We walked everywhere in Reykjavik and loved the variety of architecture and sculptures both going through the city and on the harbourside - I'll say no more - go discover for yourselves! :):)  Needless to say, there is so much more to discover and enjoy in Iceland - the South Coast tour, Puffin watching, Glacier Walking, exploration of lava caves and the being lowered into a volcano in a cage (H's idea) are some of the things on the list. There is so much to choose from; Reykjavik Excursions run heaps of tours/activites etc. Everything is very easy in Iceland; very well organised; excellent communication; everything you could wish. Campervans can also be hired if you want to tour and do your own thing. Useful to know that there is no right to roam; the landscape is protected by law, so you have to keep to numbered roads and marked trails for walking. Sounds restrictive, but when you're there, you can appreciate why and don't mind complying. Check out the music scene too, and the thermal baths ... oh the list goes on!...... :):) 

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6 hours ago, SC said:

Hi all, Mrs SC and I are planning a week or 10 days holiday in Iceland, we are thinking end of August early September but it doesn't have to be.

Some of you have been before, what would you suggest as "must see" and when in the year would you recommend? 

Many thanks SC 

 

Hoping we aren't talking the supermarket, or i'm going to look very very silly now haha!

Yes, we went to Iceland, in November of last year, and we stayed in the downtown area (Room with a view, Laugavegur, lovely, would recommend that) of Reykjavik. One thing i would recommend, is bringing a lot of money, if you don't follow the happy hour around (it usually goes bar to bar in sequence, very helpful), you will be paying about £9 a beer!
But i cannot recommend it enough, the place is beautiful... infact, seeing as this is a festival forum, it's worth noting that they have a music festival called 'Airwaves', in November, we had no idea, and when we got there, every single shop on Laugavegur has live music, and they are all pretty good, Hot Chip and a few others played last year and i think the Music hall charged £35 for all 4 days.

Anyway, onto the proper juicy bits, I'd recommend, that if you aren't going to drive, then definitely do the tours like we did. My girlfriend (god bless her she tried!) did her finest to avoid using the company 'Grayline' when booking trips, because unlike other tours, they literally book 100-200 on each trip, and it's not quite as cosy and sweet as you'd have wished, because, well.... there are at least 200 people there. We used Gateway to Iceland, for two trips, we used them for a trip to the South of the Island, and it was magnificent (except for me sliding on my backside 100ft down a muddy mountain, :lol: probably not recommended!), we spent all day exploring loads of different sights, and the tour operator was excellent. We also used them for the Golden Circle, and if you were Glasses (like I do!), all i can say is, good luck! The wind is so erratic, and it blew a hooly all day, changing direction to seemingly whatever way we were walking in, but yes you get loads of excellent waterfalls, and hot springs here, we had a ball, we really did, i can't emphasise that enough.

But yeah, a little more on why Grayline aren't so good. We read up in advance, using reviews about how they have 'deals' in place with local vendors, to stop at their places, which seems like a nice enough deal, the problem is that they stop easily 4-5 times during the course of the day, which is just extremely annoying. You pay alot of money to go on trips, and they let you 'explore' each site for about an hour, then drive you to a 'stop point' to have food and stop for 45 mins, I paid to see sights, not the inside of a cafe in the middle of nowhere! We went with them for two trips, and everyone was unhappy. The Northern Lights trip was farcical. The previous night, they cancelled the trip due to 'bad sight lines', and me and my girlfriend sat next to the big cathedral and watched them above our head.... for free! We asked for a refund as a result, and they told us there would be a new trip the day after, which we reluctantly accepted, and they just took us to a big field covered with clouds, and we saw bugger all! Seemingly not wanting to lose out on money, they just threw together a trip. What a farce.

 

But Iceland is beautiful, it's very 'chic', and all the shops have so much character and the locals are extremely lovely people! You'll need a lot of money to go, as it is extortionate, but it's 100% worth it. The place is full of nature and the sightlines are nothing short of spectacular. 

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Do the Golden Circle tour and have a swim in the hot springs.  (Don't forget to take your bathers). We went in November and had a fair few disappointments. Someone had forgotten to put a shilling in the meter so the Northern Lights weren't on.  We were driven out into the middle of nowhere in a coach, got off in a howling gale and stood around looking up and shivering for two hours but no lights.  Also our whale watching trip was cancelled because of rough seas.

But the hot springs were fun.  We also got taken to a tomato growing centre, where everything was heated from the hot springs.  Mrs GH thought the bossman, who conducted the tour, was quite dishy.

We stayed in a Radisson Blue hotel which was pretty good.

But, all in all, it was only a 5 out of 10 holiday for me.

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where do we begin

first off stock up on your drink at the duty free in the airport when you land

there are loads of options from accommodation so it depends on how much you want to spend and the experience you want.  We stayed at our house hostel which was fab!!

a tour of the golden circle is a great day out but if you could think about hiring a car or motorbikes and doing some more exploring on your own.

Get a Reykjavik card to use the public transport in Reykjavik, loads of discounts in the museums and free access to the thermal pools we save a packet

Go to Harper and if you can see a gig there

Don't go the blue lagoon it is a tourist trap

There are also loads of trips you can do but in august it may not get dark at night so forget seeing the northern lights or your brain know when it's time to go to sleep and also beware of whale watching tours which take place when the whales are not swimming past iceland

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We went in October 2014 and are going back in May this year.

If you are getting out of Reykjavik and driving around the whole island, which is easy to do on Road 1 (the Ring Road) then the one thing not to miss is the glacial lagoon at  Jökulsárlón which is simply magical. You can watch icebergs that have broken off the nearby glacier floating in the lagoon before they float out under the bridge and wash up on the black sand beach where big chunks of ice litter the beach. You can get an amphibious vehicle trip onto the lagoon most of the year and at the time you are planning to go the smaller Zodiac inflatable trips should still be running. They are more expensive but you spend more time on the lagoon and get closer to the icebergs. 

Other small tips.

If you got to  Akureyri the swimming pool is (according to Mrs Wookie, a keen swimmer), one of the nicest in the world.

The Lake Mývatn area is beautiful but the accommodation is quite expensive. On balance I'd say it is worth it for the natural beauty you see but don't expect any bargains in this area. I'd recommend  Vogafjos Guesthouse which is on the edge of the lake, has a lovely restaurant, and really friendly helpful staff. We stayed there when we visited in 2014 and are going back in May.

If you are going to drive around the country pay attention to the weather warnings. The weather can be fierce. We got caught in a snowstorm in the mountains during our trip and although it was siad to be about "averagely bad" by the locals was by far the most extreme conditions i've driven in. A brilliant experience in hindsight but a tough drive at the time. This should not be as much of a problem in August or early September but Icelandic weather is very changeable.

Cal and Del said to avoid the Blue Lagoon. It is true that it is a tourist trap but it is probably the nicest tourist trap you'll ever be trapped in. However, if you do visit the Lake Mývatn area the Mývatn Nature baths are a more laid back more natural version of the Blue Lagoon. We visited both but preferred the Mývatn baths.

We will be spending most of our time visiting the West Fjords when we return in May so i'll try to remember to post some recommendations about that area when I'm back.

Feel free to PM me if you want to ask any specific questions. 

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