This year instead of going on our annual ski trip to Breckenridge, CO, my friend and I opted to head to Iceland. We didn’t do much planning, which is good for you guys -- I’ve found that I learn most about a city/country when I’m forced to figure it the hell out once I’m there.
The only things we booked ahead of time were our flights (obviously), our hotel, and Blue Lagoon (I’ll get to that in a second). We decided to depart from Boston and explored that incredible city for two days. There’s so much to do in Boston that I’ll have to make a separate post about everything we squeezed in during our 48 hours there.
We flew WOW Air and it was surprisingly pleasant; based on the ticket price, I expected it to be worse than a Spirit flight. WOW Air doesn’t include anything (no free bags, no inflight entertainment, no food/alcohol.) So before our flight I downloaded movies onto an iPad and ate at the airport before the flight (I suggest you do the same.) When we boarded the plane I was relieved to see the seats had USB outlets to charge our phones/iPads. The best part? I had the entire row to myself during both the flight there and the flight back.
We landed in Iceland at around 4:00AM GMT. We didn’t have a plan as to how we were getting from the airport to Reykjavik, but once we landed and saw the cost for the charter bus was $120 a person, we decided to rent a car (best decision we made). These are my suggestions:
Transfer from the Airport to Reykjavik:
If you’re with a group of people it might be cheaper to rent a car rather than pay $120 a person for the charter transfer. Some tour packages will include an airport transfer so if you book a package (which I suggest you should) you don’t have to worry about it. The benefit of renting a car is that we were able to explore more of Iceland on our own time.
Blue Lagoon is 100% worth it. It’s near the airport, so what most people do is go to Blue Lagoon when they land or on their way home. I suggest going on your way home; it’s a great way to end the trip.
BOOK BLUE LAGOON AHEAD OF TIME ON THEIR WEBSITE (http://www.bluelagoon.com/). The dates/times sell out quickly so book Blue Lagoon as soon as you book your flight.
There are several packages and it includes your first drink. You can stay as long as you want; I suggest going in the morning so you have good lighting for pictures.
There is a 3 drink maximum (they won’t sell you any more drinks after you’ve had 3), so sneak in some booze/food (they don’t check bags)
If you book a tour package it’ll probably include the northern lights. If it doesn’t, you can book one locally for around $40 or $50. If you rent a car and don’t have a prebooked northern lights tour, ask a local where they go to see the lights and drive yourself there. To capture the lights you have to download the “Northern Lights Photo Taker App”; without the app you won’t be able to see the lights in your pics. You can also use a DSLR camera if you have one.
Book Tours Ahead of Time
Though I enjoy spontaneity, I don’t suggest going to iceland without a prebooked tour. I’d use this site to book: https://www.greatvaluevacations.com/vacation-packages/europe/iceland
Even if you don’t use that site to book your travel, they have an easy to digest list of tours you can check out.
The food in Iceland is less than impressive. And it’s expensive as hell. Don’t expect to taste anything mind blowing, and expect to spend a lot of money on food. For alcohol, buy enough bottles to last you the entire time you’re there from duty free at the airport when you land. Otherwise you’ll be paying a lot for drinks.
What To Pack
I feel like a hypocrite when I tell people to pack light since I never do, but seriously pack light. Take one big waterproof coat and wear it on the plane to save room in your luggage. If you fly WOW Air try to pack a small carry on to avoid additional fees. Also, pack a pair of waterproof pants for excursions.
Aside from the food being subpar, Iceland is worth the trip. I usually try not to visit the same place twice in hopes of visiting more parts of the world, but there is so much to do in Iceland that I know I’ll be back soon. My biggest tip is to plan ahead of time. There’s so much to do and maximizing your time will only happen if you plan your days out.