Guest post: A First Trip to Iceland

Last time we heard from Grace, she had booked her first trip to Iceland and was really excited about going. Now that she’s back from her trip, I wanted to see how it all went and if there’s anything other first-timers can learn from her experience. All photos below are from Grace’s trip.

How did you decide what time of year to go to Iceland and how far in advance did you book your tickets?

I booked my tickets about a month and a half before I left. Next time I’ll plan ahead better and book farther in advance – cheaper that way. I decided on October mostly because my September was way too busy. I wanted my first Iceland experience to still have some decent daylight, so I didn’t want to go later in the fall. And I knew that summer was the most expensive time to go, so I had already decided to go sometime after September 1.

Did you have to buy anything especially for your trip?
 
I should have! All I bought was a lined jacket with a hood – which I was very glad I bought! Wish I’d bought more sweaters/sweatshirts ahead of time, and some water-proof boots.
 
How did it feel when you were landing in Iceland?

My first thought was “Thank you, God, for the smooth landing.” I don’t mind flying – it’s the take-off and landing that gets to me.

Was the driving hard in any way?

Not really – just those infernal roundabouts. Traffic circles are a rarity in most places in the US, so I always feel like I’m jumping onto a moving carousel when I drive around one.

How did you choose your accommodation and was there anything special or unique about where you stayed?

I booked a room through AirBNB.com (unpaid plug for that website!) I stayed with a nice family who had a room to rent. Way cheaper than a hotel, and I enjoyed the homey atmosphere. The family’s apartment was situated above a bakery and candy shop, so that was fun.

What did you think of the food?

I ate at Subway a lot, because the shops were everywhere, and I knew what to expect from the food. Lame, huh? I did try some more traditional Icelandic salmon, and some lamb on rye, and enjoyed both.

Overall, was anything better than you thought it would be?

I guess I got lucky, but there was wet weather only one day that I was there. Full sun for two straight days!

There must have been some bad things too – did anything NOT live up to your expectations?

The street maps of Reykjavík were a tad confusing, so I got lost more than once – both driving and walking. Also, I wasn’t expecting the grocery stores to close at 6pm on a Saturday.

Do you think you will visit Iceland again, and if so, what would be the plan for the next trip?

I’ll definitely go back! This trip I stayed pretty much in the city of Reykjavík, so I didn’t get out to see any waterfalls or volcanoes or glaciers. Next time I’ll book some day trips with a guided tour group so I can go see some of the Icelandic wilderness. Lots of beauty and nature in and around the city, though, so I didn’t regret staying in Reykjavík the whole time.

Anything else you’d like to add that might help fellow travellers?

I did Iceland all on my own – I didn’t book any tours, any group packages, nothing. I bought a plane ticket, booked my room, rented a car, and showed up – and had to wing it from there. My reasons for doing this were a) to save money (not sure if that actually wound up being the case), and b) because I wanted to explore things at my own pace.

I learned from this experience that if you’re going to travel solo (or as a couple or with friends) and explore a foreign city all on your own with no guides or assistance, Reykjavik is a good place to do it. It’s easy to get around by car, by city bus, or on foot (once you figure out the map thing). Everyone is very helpful if you have questions, and everyone speaks English. Most people use credit/debit cards, so if you don’t want to struggle with counting kroner and getting a wagon just to lug around all the heavy Icelandic coins, it’s no big deal – just use the plastic.

Booking a group excursion probably has its advantages, too, like saving you the trouble of trying to figure out Icelandic parking signs, and the bus driver actually knowing how to get to the waterfall/horse stable/volcano so that you don’t drive yourself and get lost in the middle of a lava field.

All in all, I loved my time in Iceland, and am looking forward to my next trip!

Grace normally blogs at StorytellerGirl. Thanks for the great guest post!

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10 thoughts on “Guest post: A First Trip to Iceland

    • Your picture of Hallgrímskirkja is very good indeed – that’s an interesting angle that I guess most people (including us) don’t bother to seek out.

      With regard to the roundabout/traffic circle thing – just be thankful you don’t normally encounter them on a daily basis while driving on the left! Taking regular turns on “the wrong side” is relatively straightforward because there is usually quite a lot of visibility, but approaching a roundabout and taking it in what would normally be against oncoming traffic is a bit unsettling. Having got used to that, it’s even worse when you get home and for the first few you really do have to think hard about which way to go around them … 🙂

      It’s cool that you want to go again – there is a LOT more to see, but at this time of year I think your 3-day taster was a sensible choice.

  1. Pingback: A First Trip To Iceland | StorytellerGirl

  2. Thanks Grace and you, Eva for giving her the opportunity to write about her experiences. Very interesting how other people experience Iceland for the first time.
    Have a nice day! 🙂

  3. Thank you Grace for sharing your experience in Iceland! I would definitely love to go sometime in the future with Sasha and Freyja once they are old enough!!!! Iceland sounds beautiful, exciting and just great all around. I know I would love it…the roundabouts sound scary though!!! Just because I am a nervous driver!

  4. Pingback: Guest Post: Who Wants to Go to Iceland? | I'd Rather Be In Iceland

  5. Pingback: Looking Back, Looking Forwards | StorytellerGirl

  6. I just got back from Iceland. The most awe inspiring tour was the Reykavik helicopter 5 hour tour.If you can afford this extravagance I highly recommend it. The other tour that was magnificent was the super jeep tour by arctic adventures in the South. We were picked up at the Ranga Hotel. The guide, Jon, was the best ever and the tour was particularly fun for our family of six. I would skip the Blue Lagoon – too touristy. The Golden Circle was just o.k.

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