Iceland – a winter in heaven!

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There’s something magical about this country, in everything you set out doing while there. No wonder they believe in elves. And, recently started to worship Norse gods again!
So you want to go to Iceland. Some practicalities first:

Getting there

I mentioned WOWAir. At the time of our travels, and then living in Brussels meant that WOWAir was not the most convenient option to fly.
So we ended up paying roughly 450€ per person for a connecting flight on Brussels Airlines/Icelandair through Oslo (and Copenhagen)

Accommodation

Iceland is a notoriously expensive country, possibly the second most expensive in the world after Switzerland.
And although getting there has been made easier by some low cost airlines such as WOWAir, hotels are pretty expensive, in a price range close to New York City.
Even a double bed in a dormitory room of a hostel, or a double room of 10 sq meters in a guest house can cost 80€ or more per night.
Average price per night for a double room in a hotel will cost you, depending on the area, between 140€ and 270 €.

If you’re lucky and travelling in a group, I strongly recommend you look no further than AirBnb.
Erna’s place has a minimum 8 night policy, so there’s that, but if you’re in a group and planning to slow travel through Iceland for at least a week with your home base in Reykjavik, I most wholeheartedly recommend Erna’s Airbnb listing.
It costed our group of 5 people 1.086 € for 8 nights, bringing us to an average of 27 €/ person/night!
What’s great about AirBnb is the fact you’re in a proper home, so you’ll have access to a proper kitchen.
Everywhere you look you’ll read about self catering while in Iceland.
We did the same and I am very happy to say we actually splurged in great food, which we cooked ourselves in the evening (instead of spending time at the restaurants).
The day we arrived we went to Bonus supermarket for grocery shopping, and between the 5 of us, spend an average of 50€ pp for the full week.

What to do, what do do

If you’re flexible and willing to rent a car and drive around, Iceland is actually pretty cool.

We were visiting all day long for the full week!

Admittedly, the definition of daytime in Iceland in December is quire different from what most of us are used to, as the sun rose at 11.30 and set at 3.30.

Most of the nature attractions will be free of cost, so you can delight yourself with waterfalls, craters, lava fields etc  as they are all free.
Free: Jokuslaron, Skaftafell, Skogafoss, Seljalandafoss, Golden Circle

Activities under 100€

Activities under 100€ & affordable :  Blue Lagoon,  Thorsmark,  Whale Watching,  ‘Game of Thrones’ Filming Locations,  Golden Circle Classic Tour

Blue Lagoon

 

Entrance price to the Blue Lagoon varies depending on the season and package, and starts at about 40 €. See their prices here.

Assuming you don’t have your own towel/ bathrobe, I’d recommend you go for the Premium package, at roughly 70 €.

 

Note that, if you’re going sometime in the next months, Blue Lagoon is undergoing renovations for expansion, which will be completed sometime in 2017.

So there will be ongoing construction works in some of the areas surrounding the lagoon.

Set out late to see the Northern Lights

If you spend a week in Iceland in wintertime, you’ll be quite unlucky to not see any northern lights.

Most tour companies will let you know the day of the trip if there is a chance of sighting, and if not suggest an alternative date for when you’re in the country.

Buses usually depart for the northern lights hunt after 10PM, which is great because a reschedule is not going to impact your other travel plans too much. Maybe just your lazy beauty sleep.

Activities between 100-250€

Activities between 100-250€ – not cheap, but money well spent:  Silfra Snorkelling, Glacier Hiking on Sólheimajokull, South Iceland day Tour

Snorkel at Silfra

Silfra, in Thingvellir National Park, is where  the Eurasian and American continental plates meet.
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Silfra, snorkeling in purest waters, with almost 100% visibility.
Full disclosure, I can’t swim (yet!) So this interaction with water was actually the first where i did not panic, and it was amazing!
The company provided us with a warm one-piece suit and a dry-suit that makes it pretty much incapable of going underwater, even if it fills up with water (which it won’t, thankfully).
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Adventures.is Diving in Silfra
So it’d require real effort from your part to end up in a bad situation once you’re in the water.

South Iceland day Tour:  Vik black sand beach

 

Selfoss Waterfall

The tour operator will probably take you to the same restaurant we went to for lunch (it’s not like there are too many options out there in the wild) so if you’re not a vegetarian, the lamb soup is an absolute must!

Activities 250€ and more

Activities 250€ and more – Expensive : Ice Caves (Lava cave, Glacier Ice cave, Crystal Cave, etc.) , Snowmobile tours, Helicopter tours.

We actually used GrayLine for some of these tours, but I’ve linked them all to Viator for inspiration, there’s a good list of attractions so you can then shop around and see if you get better options.
I will cover Activities in Iceland in a more detailed  separate post.

Reykjavik’s Sun Voyager sculpture

Head back to Reykjavik for a stroll in the city and admire the beautifully cold Atlantic views from the Sun Voyager sculpture.

Reykjavik's Sun Voyager sculpture

This modern looking Viking ship sculpture is the work of Jon Gunnar Arnason, and makes for a cool shot whenever you go.

Any tips for us other wanderlust animals? Share it in the comments.

Happy wandering!

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