Holiday on an Island: Iceland

For the visitors who read part one of my island series: yes, we just went from a very warm climate to a country with an abundance of ice and snow. You might be shivering at the thought of Iceland ( part two) right now, although there are summers too on this beautiful island. Sure, wearing a coat is necessary but the scenery in this northern country is a.m.a.z.i.n.g

In this article you’ll learn about the joys of a daytrip to the Snaefellsnes peninsula, find budget-friendly tips and advice on how to travel without a car.

I stayed in Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik for three days during August 2017. On day 2 I opted for a small guided bus tour to the Snaefellsnes peninsula (situated north-west of Reykjavik). The black beach of Djúpalónssandur, moon landscapes, breathtaking cliffs and fishermen’s villages are all located in this area, you can enjoy these highlights on a daytrip. If your agenda allows it then do stay longer on this magical peninsula.

IMG_1721While strolling around parts of Reykjavik that have a view on the sea you can spot mountains on other coasts of West Iceland (if it’s not misty). When driving away from the capital towards Snaefellsnes the jaw dropping mountains come closer (first picture to the left). Interesting fact: the weather can be quite different on the other side of a mountain; at first when you take a picture it might be cloudy. About 15 to 20 minutes later when you’ve driven around to the other side of the mountain those clouds are gone and the sun is smiling at you. Magic? That’s Icelandic nature.

IMG_0824Another phenomenon on this peninsula are its moon landscapes, which are lava remnants from past volcanic eruptions. (second picture to the left).

 

 

 

savingPNGThe bus tour took us to the cliffs in the afternoon. Do take some time to photograph the breathtaking views. You can find more information about the tour organisation at the end of this article.

When talking about Iceland (or convincing other people ‘they should really go there’) the conversation quickly turns to the high cost of travelling to this destination (and it therefore being unattainable). If you want to travel for peanuts then Iceland is indeed not a ‘best bargain’ option. However with a bit of online searching and comparing, as well as saving up for this trip it is possible to keep the budget under control. You’ll be well on your way with the following 3 tips:

  1. Use a travel site to compare ticket prices of different airlines. Note that flights who have very early departure times such as 6 am can be less expensive. Getting up in the middle of the night to get to the airport in time can save you some money, it’s all about the adventure, right?
  2. Accommodation: staying in Reykjavik with Airbnb for instance is a budget-friendly option. I stayed in the part of town called Seltjarnarnesbaer. This area is calm and close to the sea. If you prefer to stay in a B&B or hotel then  booking early and checking for a good package deal is wise.
  3. Eating out: I lunched at the restaurant as a treat, while breakfast and dinner took place at the apartment. A cosy place I gladly recommend is Bergsson Mathús, they serve both breakfast and lunch. I had a tasty and colourful chicken salad, decorated with pomegranate and mango. They are located at Templarasund 3, 101 Reykjavik.

How to travel without a car

There are several reasons why one might choose other ways of transport; maybe you don’t have a driver’s license or you want to protect the climate for instance.
Good news: it’s possible to both move around the capital and make daytrips to other areas by public transport. Buses operate regularly between Keflavik airport and the city centre (you can purchase a ticket at the airport). These buses are operated by Straeto, you can of course also take a bus to get you from the outskirts of town to the centre. More information including a pdf map is available via straeto.is

As I didn’t have a driver’s license this meant that hiring a car to explore Snaefellsnes for instance was off the table. Luckily different tour operators in Reykjavik offer daytrips by bus. Very often there is a pick-up point in front of your hotel, or at various points within the city. I booked my daytrip through Kexland, who organise excursions in small groups. This is also an advantage for those who want to relax while someone else is driving. The guide will answer your questions – even ones about the Icelandic language – and help you make the most of the day by visiting several highlights in a very time efficient way.

Iceland made such a great impression on me, mostly by the beautiful nature. As a history fan there’s a lot to enjoy as well, whether you’re interested in Vikings or more modern Nordic agriculture . Stay tuned for part 3 of the island series, which will be published next month.

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