Trip itinerary review

I’ve got the message through Lonely Planet forum (names and other non-relevant details are skipped) asking my opinion about trip itinerary. I decided to post my answers here for one simple reason. It’s more convenient because I can use images and links as I wish  (Lonely Planet policy limits my options too much).

Here is the first message:

I am going to Iceland with my husband and kids for 10 days in July and I am doubtful about the itinerary since I my kids, although used to travelling are quite young (4 and 6). This is what I thought:

Day 1- we land in early afternoon and sleep in Reykjavik

Day 2 – Golden Circle, Seljalandfoss, Skogafoss and sleeping in Vik

Day 3 – From Vik to Hofn visiting Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon on the way (is it reasonable or should we sleep somewhere in between?)

Day 4 – Driving through the East fjords to Seydisfjordur

Day 5 – Driving to Husavik passing through the Vatnajokull National Park and the Jokulsárgljúfuril canyon

Day 6 – Whale watching and than going to sleep in the lake Myvatn area

Day 7 – Visiting the lake Myvatn area and going to sleep in Akureyri

Day 8 – Driving to the Snæfellsnes peninsula and sleeping in stykkisholmur

Day 9 – Visiting the Snæfellsnes peninsula and sleeping in Borgarnes (I don’t know if it is worth to stop here but would like to see the Snæfellsnes peninsula well and also have time to go the the Blu lagoon on the last day

Day 10 – Driving back to Reykiavik, going to the Blu Lagoon to relax and sleeping close the airport since our flight takes off very early the following morning

My first responses were:

I’ll look into your itinerary and tell my opinion.
But right now I can tell you – don’t worry. Iceland is a perfect place to travel with small kids. very easy and comfortable. Because Icelanders used to travel with kids around country a lot – so they make it really kids-friendly :-) And July is the best time overall.

I looked through your list – in general it’s fine with few exceptions. But before I’ll be more specific I would like to know a couple of things.

1. I assume you will rent a car. What kind – 2WD “regular” or some kind of “off-road”? And what is your driving experience outside town streets?

2. What type of overnight stay would you prefer – tent in camp, budget hotels or “luxury” ones?

3. What is you food preferences? It’s not a big deal for vegetarians to travel in Iceland but anyway this is meat and fish place mostly :-)

4. You ignore Reykjavik area. Why so? In fact it’s possible to spent a whole week here trecking and camping right in the town – and see animals, forests, waterfalls…almost everything except volcanoes and glaciers.

And in any case – keep in mind that washing clothes and getting shower (swimming pools with “lakes” for kids included) – is a standard “package” all over country no matter of type of travel – in tents or in villas :-)

I’ve got the following reply:

here are the answers to your questions:

1. Yes, we will rent a car but since we have almost no experience in driving on “rough” roads we thought we could rent a standard car or something like a Niva (not too much more bexpensive but still suitable for small routes on F roads)

2. We are quite flexible with regards to accomodation but we do not have a tent ,so cottages, farm, hostels (we have the HI family card)  and guesthouse are fine for us (no luxury since we can’t afford it or we could do it for just one night saving money on another one!). We would prefer a private bathroom but we can do without it

3. We eat everything (also the kids :-) )

4. I am aware I am ignoring the Reykjavik area but we just have 10 days which is not much and Iceland offers things that can’t be found anywhere else and we were trying to see as much as possible of that. (Besides in August we will go in Austria with the bycicles so we will have plenty of forests and hiking there). For this reason we were also re-considering our itinerary and thought we could spend one more day in the area between Vik and Hofn (stopping one night in Skaftafell or Jokularson) to see more of the glacier and do just one stop after Akureyri (skipping the night in Bogarnes).

Well, this is my opinion.

Irrespective to the itinerary I want to mention few things that are relevant for any visitor.

1. Traveling in Iceland is easy and comfortable no matter of your budget and travel preferences. The country is really travelers-friendly and safe. The only danger might come from birds! They protect their territories and do this well.  So stay on marked paths or carry a pan with you to protect your head :-) How to know where these dangerous birds territories are? Don’t worry – birds will warn you first.

2. It’s a rule in Iceland to take care of yourself. Don’t expect that all possibly dangerous places are marked and fenced. It’s not possible to fence all cliffs, rivers and shores of Iceland. So if you see noting – this doesn’t mean you should jump or cross or swim. If you see just a low easy-to-go-over rope – this is it! Don’t go beyond that line.  Nobody will stop you nor shoot you but rescue team might be too late as well… If you see a sign «It is hot!»  it means exactly that – 100° C or 200° F. So you are free to check it but check your medical insurance first :-)
The rule of thumb in Iceland – use a common sense as much as possible. And watch your kids!

3. Swimming pools! I don’t know why but this “feature” is not mentioned enough (if at all) by “trip advisers”. It’s an excellent place to get relaxed after long day or get charged in the morning (for one more long day). Swimming pools are scattered all over country, open early, have comfortable showers (w-a-a-a-a-a-y much better than at camping sites,  guesthouses and many hotels), clean pools, hot pots and place for kids too. So this is really family places (and you can get towels there as well).

Swimming pool in Hofsos

This swimming pool is Hofsos – Icelandic “town” on the North (200-300 people?) – that offers magnificent views for free and excellent coffee and cake  after that at small restaurant (the only one – so you won’t miss it)  ;-)
GPS – 65° 53.757’N, 19° 24.670’W

So when planning your trip – keep in mind what I said above. And remember – swimming suits are a must in Iceland!

Now my opinion about itinerary.

1. Car.
I would avoid Niva (known in Iceland as Lada Sport 4×4). I wouldn’t mind to drive it alone – it’s really off-road car. But for a family of four to travel some 2,500-3,000 km? And I’m not sure it would be possible to place child seats at the back row (and now space left for luggage after that). I see no reason to get 4×4 car at all. All itinerary can be made with “regular” car as no F roads will be used (all roads are marked with 1-4 digits number and mountain roads are marked F and two digits). And it’s prohibited to drive rented “regular” car on F roads.

2. Accommodation.
July is really hot season here – so I would recommend to book rooms in advance. But don’t panic if you can’t do that.  You won’t left “on the street” and chances to find a room to sleep are 99.5% (after a few phone calls and driving 10-15 minutes to a next farm).
I would recommend to book with Edda hotels chain. In fact these are student dormitories used as budget hotels in the summer time. But they are really good. And their shared facilities are same as any such facilities in the family home (unless you have four bathrooms at home) ;-)

You might also find a place at camp site that offer cabins or rooms at guesthouses (a guesthouse -usually  converted regular house with rooms for 2-6 people and shared facilities).

3. Food.
The cheapest  and sometimes the only one (but not the worst one for sure) place to get food – gas stations. They serve both as store and cafeteria (and/or restaurant). You also can check my blog under “food” tag.

4. Itinerary (finally).

In general I agree with it but think you should correct it a little. Look at it as you proposed it

itinerary

Day 1– we land in early afternoon and sleep in Reykjavik

Good plan :-) Check the post about getting from Keflavik (sounds like “keplavik”) to Reykjavik. Don’t forget what I said about swimming pools – kids will like it and they are plenty in Reykjavik.

Day 2 – Golden Circle, Seljalandfoss, Skogafoss  and sleeping in Vik

Possible. Although you’ll visit 3 out of 5 largest waterfalls, travel from America to Eurasia in Thingvellir,  see Eyjafjallajokull volcano – you’ll have to reserve at least a couple hours for Vik and Dyrhólaey.

Day 3 – From Vik to Hofn visiting Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon on the way (is it reasonable or should we sleep somewhere in between?)

I recommend to sleep at Hofn at Edda. There is excellent swimming pool as well with excellent water slides for kids.

Day 4 – Driving through the East fjords to Seydisfjordur

Not clear why you want to visit Seydisfjordur but otherwise East fjords are something you should see. Try to drive by roads close to sea.

Day 5 – Driving to Husavik passing through the Vatnajokull National Park and the Jokulsárgljúfuril canyon

Rather boring shoulder and the road to Dettifoss (the largest in Europe waterfall) is not the best gravel road in Iceland ;-) Don’t forget to have drinking water and full fuel tank with you! Depending on how much time you’ll get – stop at Ásbyrgi and walk around


Day 6 –  Whale watching and than going to sleep in the lake Myvatn area
Day 7 – Visiting the lake Myvatn area and going to sleep in Akureyri

This is ONE day adventure. And whale watching might not happen due to weather (good weather don’t guarantee you’ll see whale either). But Husavik is a lovely town. And you must drive AROUND Myvatn to see it!

The drive time from Myvatn to Akureyri is 1.5 or 2 hours (if you decide to stop at Godafoss). So my recommendation – sleep at Akureyri and spent some time there – excellent town and even more excellent swimming pool. And Edda hotel next to it.

One place you MUST visit – Santa Claus home! Really! Only five minutes drive south of downtown (into the valley) – GPS 65° 34.804’N, 18° 5.496’W, place called Hrafnagil – you won’t miss it (opened till 10PM).

Day 8 – Driving to the Snæfellsnes peninsula and sleeping in Stykkisholmur.

Well, this will be Day 7 then and rather long gravel shoulder ;-) And if you miss whale watching in Husavik – you can try it there. Birds watching is also fun (but don’t forget to get good windproof and warm clothes unless you plan to seat inside).

Day 9 – Visiting the Snæfellsnes peninsula and sleeping in Borgarnes (I don’t know if it is worth to stop here but would like to see the Snæfellsnes peninsula well and also have time to go the the Blu lagoon on the last day

Day 8. Snæfellsnes is worth a full day travel. And you must go all the way around! Depending on weather you’ll either enjoy white  Shaefell peak or very mystique foggy places :-) And stop at Hellnar (but watch your kids)!

And stay at Borgarness – really nice town with excellent …right, excellent swimming pool and very good bakery (new one at the exit of town – building with black metal cladding).

Day 10 – Driving back to Reykiavik, going to the Blu Lagoon to relax and sleeping close the airport since our flight takes off very early the following morning

Day 9 and 10 – free days ;-)

By the way – I like the “blue lagoon” at Myvatn area better.

I’m sure I missed a lot but this is not really easy to cover everything you might see there. So visit my photo gallery (you can use Google to help translate Russian text but images are in English…yes). Also check this blog. And feel free to ask questions.

 

 

 

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