Visiting Iceland

We spent a week in Iceland this March on a family holiday.  It was a fantastic adventure that was close to home and yet presented many interesting differences to enjoy.  This is a bit of a diary of our six days.

Looking east at Eyjfjallsjokull from Dyrholaey

Looking east at Eyjafjallajokull from Dyrholaey

Planning

A trip to Iceland is easy to plan on the Web.  We have used a variety of Web tools for planning other trips, including mapping, lodging, and selection of places to visit.  I used a couple of travel sites, including Kayak.com and Expedia, to monitor airline ticket prices.  High season in Iceland is late summer and early fall, so we were well away from the highest prices.  There are still some ups and downs in pricing in the off-season, though, and that guided our timing.

What We Saw

or you can just look at the photos!

Visiting in the Off Season

Things are open less often in the off-season and for shorter hours.  This didn’t impact us since we were mostly outside Reykjavik and visiting natural sites.  But if you’re planning your trip, you may find that museums don’t open until 10am or noon and close at 4pm or 5pm.  We found ourselves having dawdled longer at one place and unable to make another because of timing.  Fortunately, Iceland is relatively small so it was easy to squeeze the missed site in two days later when we were looping back past it.

The weather in March was nearly identical in Iceland and our area in Canada.  Temperatures hovered just above freezing and sometimes went up to 40+ F.  The wind was the big difference for us and it was often bitterly cold.  One day we had sand storms rocking the car and the first day any exposed skin was quickly frozen by a wind whipping past us.  A wind advisory sign noted winds in excess of 30 knots one day, and these signs are common in the south and west of the Iceland.

We packed as though we were going camping.  Everyone wore multiple thin layers so that they could quickly peel off or add on.  In addition, we each had a single heavy coat plus hat and mitts.  Since the ground was cold, there was no chance of mud.  Our footwear tended towards sneakers or hiking shoes but not real boots.  The toughest ground was the lava, where it was very sharp and uneven.  But any shoe with a good thick sole will be fine in most areas.

Just as with camping, though, we took a first aid kit.  We were frequently away from anyone and it would not have been immediately obvious how to get medical care in many of the places we visited.  The help number is 112 rather than 911 but that assumes cell phone coverage.  In the end, we didn’t need it but a fall onto any of the volcanic rocks could have caused a nasty cut.

Google Map with our itinerary marked out.  We drove nearly 2000 kilometers in 6 days but the longest drive was out to Jokullsarlon and back.

Google Map with our itinerary marked out. We drove nearly 2000 kilometers in 6 days but the longest drive was out to Jokullsarlon and back.

Next:  Driving in Iceland

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