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~~ Iceland megathread ~~

  • 27-01-2015 11:17am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 116 ✭✭Claire de Lune


    Hi!

    I am looking for a holiday destination for the month of June and I am looking into Iceland. We are a family of 4, children will be 5 1/2 and 1.

    The Nordic countries have the reputation of being very family friendly, is it the same for Iceland? Average temperatures in June are 15 degres, so good enough for us. (We are not into sun holidays!)

    I am only starting to look into it, but wowair.ie are opening a new route in June, Dublin-Reykjavik and so far the prices are reasonable. Ideally we'd like to spend a few days in Reykjavik and then rent a car and visit a few National Parks. Accommodation would be Airbnb (haven't looked into it yet)

    Our 5 year old is quite well traveled and can happily walk medium distances, and the 1 year old is super happy in a baby carrier on our back.

    Does anyone have any advice on Iceland with children? What national park shouldn't we miss?

    Many thanks :-)


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭Greg81


    To rent a car www.geysir.is

    Jökulsárlón is a must. Amphibia trip is awesome.
    Golden circle route is a must.
    It You travel north Husavik or Akureyri are great for whale watching.
    Vatnajokull National Park is great with Askja. I think they are opening roads in the middle of June. You need to check that first.
    Dettifoss waterfall is huge.
    And many many more amazing places to visit.

    BE AWARE: Roads could be tricky. In Iceland only 20-30% is Tarmac. Rest- gravel.
    Keep your kids close. There are no rails or Barriers in 90% of scenic view points or waterfalls.

    Drop me a PM if you need to know something in details. I will try to help if possible.

    Iceland is amazing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 116 ✭✭Claire de Lune


    Thank you Greg81! I will check those locations and get the Lonely Planet guide at the library to start planning. I'll definitely have more questions then :-)

    Exciting stuff!


  • Registered Users Posts: 622 ✭✭✭H2G2


    Iceland is great for kids and summertime is best for smaller kinds. I've brought my kids many times and they loved it. There is lots to see and do, just consult any of the many websites, etc.

    A car is mandatory as public transport is poor and private transport very expensive. The roads are mostly fine. The current stat is 40% paved roads, but all the main roads are paved, but the "fun" ones are not. But you do not have to drive off road unless you want to, but its the best way to see the interesting isolated sights. In summer you do not need a 4x4 for the main unpaved roads. As other post says there are no rails or barriers so be careful of small kids, especially at waterfalls and hot pots which can be dangerous.

    Distances are deceiving. North to Akureyri and beyond is wonderful, but its a 6 hour drive from Reykjavik and thats if you don't stop to see the many wonderful sights. I would allow 3 days to see the sights en-route. Usually its not a first time visit destination. Flying (from Reykjavik domestic airport) is so much easier and the views are breathtaking.

    Honestly for a first time visit its enough for a week to stay in area of Reykjavik and visit its surrounds such as Reykjanes (southern peninsula below city), golden circle, Selfoss, Vik. A day trip (take the car) to Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) is fantastic... Heimaey is tiny and climbing Eldfell volcano with kids is great fun.
    There is a huge amount of [cheap] public pools and the kids will love them. The best for kids is Arbaejarlaug which is in Fylkisvegur a 10 min drive from Reykjavik. The Blue Lagoon isn't great for kids... over priced, too hot and no slides/fountains. You should visit a thermal pool once per day... really !

    Not sure what you mean by visiting "a few National Parks". Apart from Thingvellir which is a car day trip from Reykjavik and great for kids, there is only 2 other official national parks Vatnajokull and Snaefellsjokull. Both of these are really for trekkers and not kids. For Vatnajokull, you can drive to Skaftafell easily, but that the limit. To actually "walk" Vatnajokull national park you need some real kit, be prepared to wade through streams/rivers, climb over large rocks and be knee deep in mud. To go on the glacier itself you have to have (genuine risk of death) a guide and proper gear... its amazing to climb on the glacier and there are lots of great guides you can hire to have a safe trip, but I wouldn't bring the kids until then are 12+.


  • Registered Users Posts: 116 ✭✭Claire de Lune


    Thank you, this is very helpful!


  • Registered Users Posts: 659 ✭✭✭KevinK


    If you haven't booked yet Easyjet from Belfast seems to be significantly cheaper than WowAir during the summer months. Depends where you are based I suppose


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 245 ✭✭ Saul Dry Lamb


    There are some super things to do, very very child friendly. The public pool in reykavick is lovely, all sorts of fun stuff for kids. There are also trips out to the islands to see the puffins, which are lovely. There is a great volcano cinema and museum at the back of a local mans house in town too that is quite good. All of society is really geared up for you travelling with kids. The museum is very good.

    The geysers are great too. If you do the golden circle you are sure to see them.

    And make sure you go to the blue lagoon!


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 19 little_scamp


    i hear its an incredibly expensive country


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭Greg81


    i hear its an incredibly expensive country

    It was about 3-4 years ago. At the moment it is just expensive.


  • Registered Users Posts: 622 ✭✭✭H2G2


    i hear its an incredibly expensive country

    As a frequent visitor I don't think its any worse than here really... depends on what you do. Car hire and tours are expensive. Food and drink isn't that bad. It just depends on where you eat. You can spend a fortune if you want, but that is true anywhere. Here is the menu prices for 3 of my personal choices in the downtown Reykjavik area (known as the 101, which is a postcode).
    http://www.cafeparis.is/menu/
    http://www.asia.is/hadegi/
    http://www.nudluskalin.com/english/menu


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭Greg81


    H2G2 wrote: »
    As a frequent visitor I don't think its any worse than here really... depends on what you do. Car hire and tours are expensive. Food and drink isn't that bad. It just depends on where you eat. You can spend a fortune if you want, but that is true anywhere. Here is the menu prices for 3 of my personal choices in the downtown Reykjavik area (known as the 101, which is a postcode).
    http://www.cafeparis.is/menu/
    http://www.asia.is/hadegi/
    http://www.nudluskalin.com/english/menu

    Iceland got one of the best one of the "worst" dishes i have ever tried.

    Did you tried "Hakarl"? If did not just to remember one very important thing. Never drink coke or any other fizzy drinks after that. NEVER!!!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 116 ✭✭Claire de Lune


    We booked the flights earlier this week, yay! It turns out that Wow Air flights from Dublin are fully booked for May/June/July and August! So we'll be flying from Belfast with EasyJet and it's indeed much cheaper (thanks KevinK above :-)) We'll have to drive to Belfast, stay in a hotel the night before and pay for parking but it still end up cheaper than flying from Dublin (and we live right by Dublin airport)

    We'll be going for 10 days in June. We've decided to tour in the Southwest area, Reykjavik and Golden Circle only as long drives and our young kids don't mix :-)

    I haven't booked accomodation yet but there seems to be several options for us on Airbnb. The idea is to spend 3 days in Reykjavik, then 2-3 days in Laugarvan and take day trips from there to Thingvellir national park and Geysir and Gulfoss. Then the next 2 nights either in Selfoss or Skogafoss depending on accomodation with possibly a day trip to Heimaey island. The last night/day, we'd like to stay in the Reykjanes Peninsula.

    Will look into Geysir.is for car rental, thanks Greg81

    Any comments/advice on the above is welcome �� It's our first holiday in a couple of years so we want to make sure we have a great time!

    I promised whale watching to my 5 year old son... Anyone knows where is the best place to take a trip at sea to see whales in the Southwest? I saw that there are trips from Reykjavik harbour, wondering if there are better ones. And puffins?? Where?? Oooooh, I am more excited than the kids ahaha!

    Thanks!!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 245 ✭✭ Saul Dry Lamb


    oh jealous!! you will have such a good time. There is a boat that does trips called the puffin express out to the islands which is quite good, but lots of people drive down to VIK there are puffin places nearby.its not so far to go. There is also a fjord called Kollafjordur, and there are islands here with loads of puffins. the organised trips are really good.

    the whale watching day trips from the harbour in Reykjavik are really good, we saw more whales here than in several countries where we went whale watching.

    don't forget to go to the blue lagoon!

    the tourist office there is also super to help book accommodation, i was surprised by how many people only book when they arrive with the tourist office.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭holyhead


    Fantastic country OP. The golden circle tour is a must. Geysers are amazing. The waterfall is spectacular and the national park where the Althing is is very scenic. Their is one waterfall you can walk behind down towards Vik. That was an amazing experience. The volcano house in central Reykjavik is fascinating. Cafe Paris is a nice place to eat. Decent supermarket opposite the Paris Cafe. The Hallgrimskirka is the imrpessive Cathedral in central Reykjavik worth climbing the tower for the view.
    So much more I haven't seen but my time there I have to say was memorable. Have a blast!


  • Registered Users Posts: 116 ✭✭Claire de Lune


    we came back from Iceland a few days ago, it was fabulous! We spent 4 days in Reykjavik and 6 days around the Golden Circle.

    We saw whales and puffins, ate in Cafe Paris, played vikings, hiked in Thingvellir National park, saw geysers and waterfalls, played in a black sand beach, celebrated the national holiday in a small town with the locals and spent countless hours playing and relaxing in swimming pools!

    It was really really good, and so easy to travel with the children. We stayed in an apartment in Reykjavik, but for our other accommodations we chose to stay on farms (through airbnb). It worked out really well, we met lovely people and my son got to ride icelandic horses, highlight of his holiday!

    We really loved the swimming pools there, even the tinyest village has one! We went almost everyday, in the evening. I wasn't mad about the blue lagoon, waaaaay too busy (we were there at 9 am!) and overpriced! I couldn't relax there. I found it quite hot too.

    Fantastic holiday! Thanks for your advice!


  • Registered Users Posts: 635 ✭✭✭SEANoftheDEAD


    I have been giving this some serious consideration recently and am thinking about going up in September for 5-7 days (Depending on what time work can give me off)

    Direct flights with WOWair make that part handy. So I suppose I'll be staying in Reykjavik and set out from there on the sightseeing front.

    Does an Irish person need a visa to visit Iceland for a week?


  • Registered Users Posts: 635 ✭✭✭SEANoftheDEAD


    Hey everyone,

    I'm looking for input on my upcoming trip to Iceland.

    I'll flying up on the 29th of September on my own for a week.
    Staying in downtown Reykjavik. I believe the weather at that time of year will be a little colder than here... But it is mean't to be good for the Northern Lights?

    I have a fare bit of cash saved so don't mind paying for food or drink, just as long as it's good. So pub and grub recommendations please?

    From what I have been reading The Blue Lagoon and Gold Circle tours seems to be a must? Any tips or advise on this?

    What else is a must? Was thinking about renting a car and driving across the island, if I was were to do this, what is the best route and where should I aim for?

    Any information would be much appreciated.
    Thanks
    Seán


  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty


    Good destination choice. :)

    I'm going to answer firstly in relation to driving. The #1 ring road goes all the way around and it's by a long way the best in terms of drive-ability and road surface. Even then, most of it is gravel. You would be quicker driving all the way around, than trying to navigate the interior roads.

    How long are you going for?

    We did an 11 day trip and took a lazy route around with lots of stop offs. We did it in July, so we weren't restricted by it getting dark. In September, depending on the time of month it's going to be dark any time between 8.30 and 7pm.

    The golden circle is definitely almost all you'll want to see on a short trip. You get the glacial lagoon, the geysirs, the massive waterfalls, and you can go up on one of the southern glaciers on snow mobiles. The snow mobile tours, for me, were unmissable.

    If you're there for longer. The Snaefellness peninsula is incredibly gorgeous.

    The Blue Lagoon is fab, and there are other hot springs around that you can swim in (if you can locate them). There's a pool on the side of one of the mountains on the south of the island, which was surreal.

    There are also ice cave tours on some of the glaciers, that we missed out on, and regret.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,574 ✭✭✭deaddonkey15


    Just returned from Iceland on Sunday. I would definitely recommend renting a car to get around. The scenery when just driving from place to place can be amazing. Not sure if you will be able to drive around the whole island in one week whilst also stopping to enjoy all the natural attractions. Especially as driving conditions be not be great at that time of year.

    We did the Golden Circle this day last week which took pretty much the whole day to get around. Gullfoss waterfall was a particular highlight. We went around it clockwise so if you do the same and are feeling peckish towards the end, I would recommend stopping in a town called Selfoss as they have a great restaurant called Surf and Turf. The prices there were reasonable too.

    Last Thursday we drove from Reykjavik down along the south coast to a town called Vik approximately 200km away. The black sand beaches were at Vik which are pretty cool however the weather was horrific when we got there so we didn't hang around too long. The scenery driving to Vik however is amazing and on the way you will get to stop at Kerid crater, which is basically a massive hole in the ground after a volcano collapsed in on itself once upon a time. After that is Seljalandsfoss waterfall - this is the famous waterfall that you can walk in behind. Very impressive and looks very cool as you drive towards it because you can see it from miles away. After that is Skogarfoss waterfall which is also amazing, much bigger than Seljalandsfoss - very high and powerful. You can walk up to the river it flows into and even have a dip in if your brave enough however it would probably be extremely cold at that time of year. You can climb up the steps alongside Skogarfoss to see it from the top. The view is amazing. Between Skogarfoss and Vik is a black sand beach where an american military plane crashed decades ago. No road signs for it so you will have to look up the location online. It's easily missed as it requires a turn off onto a gravel road. We tried it but had to turn back as it was very bumpy and our car wasn't insured for off road driving.

    Blue Lagoon is ok. A friend of mine went to Iceland recently and said it was the least impressive thing they did. 80% of tourists go there however so you may as well. I preferred the Fontana geothermal baths which are situated on the Golden Circle. Smaller, a bit cheaper and a bit more authentic. They are located in a town called Laugarvatn on the Golden Circle just after Pingvellir National Park.

    Food and drink is plentiful in Reykjavik, we didn't spend much time there in the evenings, only went once, however it seemed like a great spot for a night out. My friend went to a bar called Prikid which is where they got the best craic off the locals. My group last week went to a club called Austur which is on the main bar/restaurant street in Reykjavik. We were there at around 11pm though and nights out in Iceland don't really pick up until about 1 or 2am. We didn't stay long as we had snorkeling booked for early next morning. The bar was fairly swanky though, but it was a bit small. We didn't sit town because all the empty tables were reserved! There's a gentleman's club across the road from that then - if you're interested. I don't think stripping is legal in Iceland so I'm not sure how great that place would be!

    We went snorkeling on our last day in Pingvellir national park with the Acrtic Adventures company. It was in crystal clear waters (that you can drink!) between two continental plates. This is a bit of a lie however as the plates are some distance apart however on that snorkeling tour you get the best chance to 'touch' two continental plates at the same time. 110e was the cost for the snorkeling however it was a good experience. If you are into diving I would urge you to do it, looking down whilst snorkeling and seeing about 100m under water was amazing, diving down there is probably an incredible experience.

    If you are renting a car, I would recommend Lagoon car rental. We went with them as they were the most reasonably priced. However all of them rental places will rip you off as they know tourists come specifically to drive around the island.

    Some of my place names may be spelled incorrectly, my apologies if so.


  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭pilgrim pat


    Any one know what its like to get a job in iceland


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,804 ✭✭✭liam7831


    Just returned from Iceland on Sunday. I would definitely recommend renting a car to get around. The scenery when just driving from place to place can be amazing. Not sure if you will be able to drive around the whole island in one week whilst also stopping to enjoy all the natural attractions. Especially as driving conditions be not be great at that time of year.

    We did the Golden Circle this day last week which took pretty much the whole day to get around. Gullfoss waterfall was a particular highlight. We went around it clockwise so if you do the same and are feeling peckish towards the end, I would recommend stopping in a town called Selfoss as they have a great restaurant called Surf and Turf. The prices there were reasonable too.

    Last Thursday we drove from Reykjavik down along the south coast to a town called Vik approximately 200km away. The black sand beaches were at Vik which are pretty cool however the weather was horrific when we got there so we didn't hang around too long. The scenery driving to Vik however is amazing and on the way you will get to stop at Kerid crater, which is basically a massive hole in the ground after a volcano collapsed in on itself once upon a time. After that is Seljalandsfoss waterfall - this is the famous waterfall that you can walk in behind. Very impressive and looks very cool as you drive towards it because you can see it from miles away. After that is Skogarfoss waterfall which is also amazing, much bigger than Seljalandsfoss - very high and powerful. You can walk up to the river it flows into and even have a dip in if your brave enough however it would probably be extremely cold at that time of year. You can climb up the steps alongside Skogarfoss to see it from the top. The view is amazing. Between Skogarfoss and Vik is a black sand beach where an american military plane crashed decades ago. No road signs for it so you will have to look up the location online. It's easily missed as it requires a turn off onto a gravel road. We tried it but had to turn back as it was very bumpy and our car wasn't insured for off road driving.

    Blue Lagoon is ok. A friend of mine went to Iceland recently and said it was the least impressive thing they did. 80% of tourists go there however so you may as well. I preferred the Fontana geothermal baths which are situated on the Golden Circle. Smaller, a bit cheaper and a bit more authentic. They are located in a town called Laugarvatn on the Golden Circle just after Pingvellir National Park.

    Food and drink is plentiful in Reykjavik, we didn't spend much time there in the evenings, only went once, however it seemed like a great spot for a night out. My friend went to a bar called Prikid which is where they got the best craic off the locals. My group last week went to a club called Austur which is on the main bar/restaurant street in Reykjavik. We were there at around 11pm though and nights out in Iceland don't really pick up until about 1 or 2am. We didn't stay long as we had snorkeling booked for early next morning. The bar was fairly swanky though, but it was a bit small. We didn't sit town because all the empty tables were reserved! There's a gentleman's club across the road from that then - if you're interested. I don't think stripping is legal in Iceland so I'm not sure how great that place would be!

    We went snorkeling on our last day in Pingvellir national park with the Acrtic Adventures company. It was in crystal clear waters (that you can drink!) between two continental plates. This is a bit of a lie however as the plates are some distance apart however on that snorkeling tour you get the best chance to 'touch' two continental plates at the same time. 110e was the cost for the snorkeling however it was a good experience. If you are into diving I would urge you to do it, looking down whilst snorkeling and seeing about 100m under water was amazing, diving down there is probably an incredible experience.

    If you are renting a car, I would recommend Lagoon car rental. We went with them as they were the most reasonably priced. However all of them rental places will rip you off as they know tourists come specifically to drive around the island.

    Some of my place names may be spelled incorrectly, my apologies if so.

    Great post, what kind of car insurance did you get for the car?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,574 ✭✭✭deaddonkey15


    liam7831 wrote: »
    Great post, what kind of car insurance did you get for the car?

    Don't know the details. All I remember is that the most we'd have to pay if the car got damaged is 500 euro provided the crash/damage didn't occur when off road.


  • Registered Users Posts: 635 ✭✭✭SEANoftheDEAD


    Cheers for the information guys; I seriously cannot wait to get there!!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 245 ✭✭ Saul Dry Lamb


    It is brill, you will have a ball. The whale watching is pretty great. There is a v cool indoor market in town down by the pier at weekends that locals go too with food to try and knick knacks, retro stuff, try that. Nightlife doesn't start till late and people stay out all night!

    You could go to the local swimming pool, there are loads of hot tub baths there, quite cool, and the hot dog stand beside it is v good!

    The volcano cinema\ museum is v quirky.

    I've been to the blue lagoon quite a few times and it is fantastic.

    Hiring a car is handy but all the guided tours are brill and they all collect you from your accommodation. Do the golden circle, and try get out to hike on glaciers and out to the east or north west of reykavick to the national parks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 63 ✭✭liamjames1


    Hi I am looking to do this as a long weekend break.

    I am thinking of booking a package, it's just under 600 and includes

    Flights
    3 nights accom in a 3 star
    Transfers
    Gold circle tour
    Evening at lights

    Is this good value? The flights only seem to be coming in about 150. I have heard the taxi from the airport is expensive but wouldn't mind getting the bus which is 13 euro.

    In terms of cost of living how expensive is it as I imagine I will eat out a lot and probably have a couple drinks.

    Thanks everyone


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,574 ✭✭✭deaddonkey15


    liamjames1 wrote: »
    Hi I am looking to do this as a long weekend break.

    I am thinking of booking a package, it's just under 600 and includes

    Flights
    3 nights accom in a 3 star
    Transfers
    Gold circle tour
    Evening at lights

    Is this good value? The flights only seem to be coming in about 150. I have heard the taxi from the airport is expensive but wouldn't mind getting the bus which is 13 euro.

    In terms of cost of living how expensive is it as I imagine I will eat out a lot and probably have a couple drinks.

    Thanks everyone

    I think that's decent value. My flights were over 300 but I only booked about 2 or 3 weeks in advance. If you can get flights on their own for 150 it might be worth pricing accommodation options. There's no shortage of tours that can arrange yourself for the golden circle and northern lights. I think the best way to see Iceland is to rent your own car, but for a long weekend package I think you've got a good deal.

    Cost of living is expensive enough there, but worth it - it's a lovely place. Get the bus from the airport if you can.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Ali2405


    Hi all, I'm thinking of travelling to Iceland in January :):) anyone any advice on it.. or anyone like to meet up while over there??


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭Greg81




  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 16,551 CMod ✭✭✭✭faceman


    Thinking about taking a trip to Iceland. Has anyone done it before? Is it a more city break holiday or can you make a full holiday out of it?

    Completely clueless when it comes to the country so any advice recommended.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 176 ✭✭snoopy29


    I had my honeymoon there last year on a 10day self drive holiday, it was absolutely amazing.


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