For a moment in Reykjavik, the sun almost came out. Almost.

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140 comments

  1. Damn, unlucky man. Went there for a week in July and we had 4 days of absolutely gorgeous weather while going along the southern coast.

      1. Haha. Luck had something to do with it. I was checking the weather and it turned just last week. We’ve had some sun though, but yesterday was just pissing sideways!

      1. Here ya go: [Critique](http://docdro.id/tTkFNec) (EDIT: I am not done yet obviously)

        I am adverse to going to Blue Lagoon since it is so expensive and there seems to be a billion other hot springs (Blue Lagoon isn’t even natural!!!)

        1. I can only advise from what I saw (upto Diamond beach from Reykjavik), consider visiting [“Secret Lagoon”](https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g608871-d6869489-Reviews-Secret_Lagoon_Gamla_Laugin-Fludir_South_Region.html) for a managed hot springs experience, their pool is definitely natural. There are a number of blogposts out there with locations of springs locals go to.

          Bonus is the cheapest supermarket and we used it a lot for buying food supplies. The Icelandic icecream game is on point, we quite loved Valdis icecream in Rekjavik. The pictured building Harpa is beautiful on the inside, do not miss it.

          Enjoy your epic trip 🙂

          1. Another vote here for Secret Lagoon. It’s not huge, but very chill. There is a little geysir that goes off in the corner like every 10 minutes. Pretty neat!

            You can hit it on your way back from Gulfoss (if you drive the Golden Circle). It’s kind of on the way back, sorta.

        2. We’re going to be there in a couple of weeks too! I think we’re going to check out Laugarvatn for our hot springs experience, it looks really nice and less touristy than the Blue Lagoon.

        3. We were just there 3 days ago. I would highly recommend you see more around Lake Myvatn near where you have marked Dettifoss. Leirhnjukar with it’s fuming lava field. That is right down the road from Hverir (mud springs / steam vents). And many more in and around as this area is ripe with geothermal activity.

          Agree with you on the Blue Lagoon. Lake Myvatn also has an area. Also expensive. Also man-made. But far fewer people.

          I also wanted to see Vik for the black sand beaches. But really everywhere you look in Iceland you see the black sand so wasn’t really worth a stop. Cute town though.

          Seljalandsfoss was cool. How many waterfalls do you get to walk behind? Be prepared to pay like equivalent of $7 USD +/- to park there. And bring a rain poncho. You will definitely get wet. This was the only place we went where we had to pay to park.

          Definitely stop at the Jokulsaflon glacial lagoon.

          And some advice on driving:
          * we had heard that some gas stations will put an X hold on funds if you use a debit card and say you want to fill up. The first station we stopped at was called N1. Basically you can get a gift card for certain denominations and use this to keep filling up. There are many of these stations.
          * Speaking of filling up – I recommend you fill up each time you pass a gas station. Even if you have a half or so tank. It seems like sometimes we would go hours without passing one. Better safe than sorry.
          *Avoid the “non-paved” roads if at all possible. Trust me on this one. We had GPS but also bought the National Geographic map with listed the roads that are paved and not. Helped us to detour around.

          Have fun! Iceland was amazing!!!

        4. Go to Secret Lagoon. I thought it was a much cooler experience than the overly touristy Blue Lagoon. Plus, secret lagoon is natural and was used by real vikings!

        5. Agree with the idea that there are better places to go with Blue Lagoon.

          That said, if you’re in a time crunch or have a longish layover, it’s not a bad visit since there are buses that take you to/from KEF directly.

        1. About a mile or two. Uphill. Worth it thought. We were only there for 5 days. Could have spent months though; we plan on going back soon.

      1. Yes! I didn’t want to leave. A beautiful hike and just so surreal looking at the mountains while relaxing in the hot springs

        1. I had a lot of people to wrangle. Not quite 5 yr old but a 15 yr old, my MIL and 13 other people the majority of whom depended on me to be their main guide lol. Here are my recommendations:

          Blue Lagoon. (If you have not booked your tickets now book them)

          Gulfoss Waterfall.

          Hallgrimskirkja Church

          Vatnajokull Glacier.

          Black sand beaches in Vik

          Eat at Aktu Taktu a fast food place that is MUCH better than our fast food places. I enjoyed the chicken sandwich with some sort of creamy sauce.

          Not to self promote but I made a blog about prepping for iceland and my time there: https://laceymcarroll.com/traveling-iceland/

          Also there are some good YouTube vids about visiting with kids. Look up Wolters World on YouTube. They have a ton of videos for you to look at.

        2. can’t remember the name of it but there’s a really cool ravine thingy that’s a bit off the beaten track between hof and vik. it’s pretty popular but still awe inspiring as you walk up towards the end. also a very easy walk so your 5 year old will be sweet, although it is a ravine so make sure you hold onto their hand. i’ll look up what it’s called but here’s a picture a mate took
          https://imgur.com/a/erAfg

    1. Skip the blue lagoon and go to myvatan nature baths. Much cheaper and less touristy. Also would highly recommend going to hverir in the same area. The Lonely Planet Iceland Road Trip is a great guide for the Ring Road

    2. Whale watching in Húsavik on the northern coast! Go for the RIB boat tour, I got to speed along a pod of orcas, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!

      Also make sure to go up to the antenna thing outside town for a [beautiful view of Húsavik](https://i.imgur.com/ytSLyFc.jpg).

    3. Went last year. I’d recommend if you can rent a car and drive down to Vik it is totally worth it. there’s some Amazing waterfalls you can stop at along the way and in Vik is the black sand beach as well as a really good local restaurant that was turned from a house into a restaurant. And if you do decide to do that most gift shops I visited all around Iceland were selling small vials with gems and rocks in them, buy one before hand empty it and when you get to the black sand beach fill it up with the sand, makes for a nice souvenir. I still have mine on my bed frame

    4. One thing that I wish I would have known when I was there was that the country has a freedom to roam policy. It’s technically legal to walk mostly anywhere that you’d like. I had assumed that essentially all land in Iceland was either national and off-limits or private, and off limits, unless otherwise obviously noted to be available to the public. That isn’t the case.

      However! With that being said, if you plan on camping anywhere:
      http://www.ust.is/the-environment-agency-of-iceland/tourist-information/notes-for-visitors/

      >“Camping with no more than three tents is allowed on uncultivated ground for a single night, unless the landowner has posted a notice to the contrary. However, campers should always use designated campsites where they do exist. Do not camp close to farms without permission. If a group of more than three tents is involved, these campers must seek permission from the landowner before setting up camp outside marked campsite areas.”

      In general, don’t be an ass, but you can go *mostly* wherever you want to! Please read through that whole link and keep those notes about your rights, recommendations, and safety in mind.

      Sorry I didn’t have a specific recommendation in mind. I saw Gullfoss, which isn’t a long drive from Reykjavik, and it [blew](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gullfoss_Iceland.ogv) my damn mind.

      1. > the country has a freedom to roam policy.

        Please don’t tell people this without all the caveats in place. Tourists are doing extraordinary damage to landscapes that will probably never recover by walking over incredibly fragile ecosystems, and stepping off marked paths. There is so much misinformation about the function of the Freedom to Roam/wildcamping laws already, and so much harm being done, and ‘don’t be an ass’ just doesn’t cover it if people can’t identify a fragile moss landscape and wander all over it just because there’s no fence. 🙁

        1. You’re absolutely correct, and those reasons are why I assumed that the country was mostly closed to the public, except for specified places.

          This is the only time that I’ve personally ever made note of it to anyone. But I absolutely agree with you, and it’s why I stressed in my post to really read that link.

          I know I myself wouldn’t wander off path, but based on all of the pictures you see in /r/earthporn, I’m sure there are a lot of people who, like you said, would trample fragile environments, one, because they haven’t had it explained to them how fragile the environment is, and two, they may think, “Oh, it’s fine, I know what *I’m* doing”.

          It really sucks. On the one hand, I’m sure it’s wonderful, economically, for Iceland to have so many visitors. On the other, (and this is hyperbole) I feel like the country needs to close its borders to outsiders or only allow people in after taking a class or something.

          1. I look forward to getting out of the city and exploring the countryside. Tips I’ve learned from research and experience elsewhere:

            -4x4s are required for any F road. You’ll basically be buying the car if you rent a Polo and take it on an F road.
            -Must stay on roads. The Icelandic powers that be take off-road vehicle travel very seriously and will charge you 10x what you planned to spend for your whole trip if you drive anywhere but the track.
            -Iceland is fragile. That means walking on moss is a no-no and going off trail in a thermal area can be deadly. Don’t want to fall through the crust into a boiling mud pool!
            -Black sand beaches are beautiful but can be deadly. Watch the tide and beware rogue waves if you near the water. Check for warning signs regarding ripcurrents if you plan to take a dip.
            -Wind is constant, but if you are near a Fall hazard like a cliff, rock, or crater, know that a gust can send you over the edge if not careful.

    5. If you’re into beer, check out Skuli craft bar. It’s near downtown and they have a great selection, awesome atmosphere and reasonable prices (for Iceland).

    6. I could have stayed watching icebergs at jokulsarlon all day, I’ve never seen lumps of ice so big. A walk along the beach where the small ones have washed ashore was amazing

    7. Wake Up Reykjavik food tour – 3 hrs of walking downtown in a small group, stopping at great restaurants eating truly delicious Icelandic food.

    8. Don’t cheap out on your rental car – get a 4×4. There’s a lot of cool stuff that you can only get to in a 4×4 (or on a tour)… The rental companies will not cover you if you get stranded on an f road in a vw polo with a tire blowout (source, had a blowout in a polo on an f road a couple days ago.)

    9. I would also like to know. Have a 20hr overnight layover there and want to know if I can leave the airport and wander around a little without getting lost.

    10. If you go to the blue lagoon there is a restaurant called Café Bryggjan that is like 10 min away. It has a killer lobster soup. Sigourney Weaver even says so.

    11. You should see a show in this building (The Harpa). I saw two comedy shows there and it was amazing. The Sagas is the best one IMO.

    12. Everyone is bringing up landmarks, and while visiting the attractions may be the heart of any international trip, a wise traveller knows that good food can make or break an experience 🙂

      *There’s a very well rated, yet little known local restaurant in Reykjavik, called [Kaffivagninn](http://Kaffivagninn.is). It’s straight off the docks and is highly atmospheric.*

      *I highly recommend the fish stew.*

    13. I highly recommend looking at Atlas Obscura for recommendations. It has some of the smaller attractions and the big stuff isn’t hard to find.

      Some really eclectic stuff in Reykjavik! (but skip the Elf School, just $20 to listen to a guy go on for 4 hrs about his experiences that sound tainted by magic mushrooms).

    14. Also, note that buying goods more than 6.600isk you might get tax reimbursement if you take the proper receipt back to the airport. Ask for tax rebate receipt. Most gift shops and goods stores will offer it.

      Good reason to make larger purchases in one place instead of “nickel and diming” a whole bunch of small purchases.

    15. Yes! Look up Super Jeep tours. Basically mini monster trucks that take you on private excursions. We had a guide do a 12 hour day trip. Decided on a whim to do it when we were there. I think it was about 600-800 USD for my wife and I. Totally worth it!!

    16. the golden circle is a classic. Just remember to respect nature and dont mess around. so many tourists die each year by nature, someone even died this year by falling down gullfoss, one of the attractions of the golden circle.

  2. I was in Iceland a couple years back, and even when it’s pissing rain it’s still one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever been to

    1. Actually no, i was betting the same and went on a hike up the mountains northeast of the city. Never knew rain could fly so horizontally and endlessly.

      Today is much better!

        1. Actually designed by one of my favorite sculptors/artists. Olafur Eliasson. Check out his stuff, it’s super mesmerizing. Not very evil in person at all.

  3. There’s actually a geocache almost right where you took this picture! It’s hidden in those big boulders along the coast right there. It’s actually the first one in Iceland and one of the first 1000 ever placed officially!

    1. It’s the same as Seattle, but the beer is more expensive so I guess the seasonal affective disorder is more acute and harder to treat.

  4. I’m in Reykjavik at the moment. It’s cloudy AF, and I’m booked on a northern lights tour tonight… sure hope it clears up!

      1. A little; the clouds parted briefly and there was a faint white glow but not the strong green we were hoping for.

        1. Sorry to hear your tour didn’t deliver much. Tonight is supposed to be much more active. I hope they offered you a discount on another tour!

          1. Unfortunately they didn’t, but I think we’re going to head up to the Pearl later and try to spot them!

  5. I just was in Reykjavik just two weeks ago and had some spectacular weather on a few days. I absolutely loved Harpa, though I wish I could’ve seen a show there.

  6. Was just in Iceland last month and we had 16°C and blue sky sunshine for all five days we were there and only was cold/rainy the day we were leaving. My friend said we were lucky since that rarely happens so far into the end of August.

  7. Taking a damn long vacation there, visiting a friend. God, I can’t fucking wait even though I’m leaving in like 8 hours. These past days I’ve just been staring at pictures of Iceland like an idiot. Thanks for this. I hate the sun anyway hahaha.

    1. Hahaha. Have fun here! You’ll be right at home! Sky should clear up tonight and there’s a high chance of Aurora activity if you can stay awake.

  8. Went there in February. It was day 3 before we realised there were mountains on the other side of the water. Still an amazing city.

    1. Still beautiful! Lived in Seattle for 4 years so this is pretty typical of Nov-May in the PNW, but the wind is something else! Two windproof/waterproof jackets have met their match and I’ll be lucky if I make it through the trip with no hypothermia!

          1. Harpa is where Fanfest is held, which you’ve probably seen pictures of, hence the confusion I’d imagine.

        1. You’re not actually being dumb. There’s a reason you’ve connected CCP with the hall – that’s where Eve FanFest is held, so you would have seen it in coverage of that.

  9. Waaaaay late but I visited Snaefellsjokull today and it was amazing, not as many tourists around and some fantastic photo ops if you are into that. Easy to get good pics without anyone else in them. It was raining most of today with the sun shining through on sone occasions and that didn’t even damper the day. I’ve been in Iceland for 4 days now and this drive around the glacier was the best 3hrs Ive spent here so far!! This is a must do drive.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I’m anchored to the city for the time being but I have a rental car reserved for early this week. I’ll add Snæfellsjokúll to my list!

  10. Isn’t the old saying “if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five minutes”. Went there a couple of months ago (recommend!) and the saying was correct! Grey as grey could be. Waited five minutes, and it got even more grey!

    1. They say the same thing in Colorado (home sweet home), but Iceland takes it more literally! Flip side, if you LIKE the weather, hopefully you’re already out because by the time you get out the door, it’ll be different again.

  11. What an interesting looking building – what is it?

    EDIT: Got it – Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre. Beautiful.

  12. I moved to Dunedin in New Zealand at the start of the year for studying (originally from Auckland). And the weather is absolute crap here, we haven’t had the Sun for 4 months now. I am thinking of dropping out and moving back to Auckland or Australia.

      1. Then you’re exactly what is wrong with people who visit Iceland. Treating it as if it were their own personal playground. Nice.

      1. Though there is an EVE monument by the pier just behind it! I’m not a player, but I’m a nerd and love all things SciFi. I’ll post a picture if I make it there in the next few days.

  13. I’ve heard they have a hockey tournament there. If anyone knows of folks who attend I’d love to hop onto a team. How could you go wrong with a beer leaguer from Texas? 😀

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