One trip I won't forget (and nor will everyone I've spoken to since I returned, who can now recite all the details of my travels too), the tourist route in south Iceland takes in stunning scenery and completely surreal surroundings. Iceland is a geography textbook come to life, with an endless supply of waterfalls, live plate boundaries and an eternally moody sky. Though the Northern Lights never made an appearance on our trip, the country illuminates itself with pure exhilaration and beauty. Make sure to take in the Kerid volcanic crater, the geysirs at Strokkur and top it off with the Blue Lagoon on the way back to Keflavik Airport. And then bore everyone senseless with telling all your stories six times over when you're back home.
Fly into Keflavik International Airport, Reykjavik. Hire a car or use one of the numerous tour companies offering Golden Circle day trips (one being Netbus: www.bustravel.is/)
These are just brilliant- great people doing fantastic things. Many people find their daily free walking tour around Reykjavik a great way to find their way round the city. You will find them by the old harbour - look for the turf roof and totem pole next to Elding Whale Watching offices.
However the real treasures are the day tours out of Reykjavik. I have just returned from their Glacial Lagoon Day trip, and it was so much more than anyone could anticipate. I am still amazed at what I saw and did in one day
They go that extra mile and don't work to a strict timetable, but adapt to the wishes of the (small) group and the weather. On our day we not only saw (and took a boat trip) on the Glacial Lagoon where we saw seals, but were also taken to another hidden one, walked on a glacier, walked on black beaches, rolled on springy moss in a lava field, stood behind a waterfall in the midnight sun, bathed in a geothermal pool at the base of Eyjafjallajökull, and so much more, all the time being given a real insight into Icelandic nature, culture and history.
These are small group trips (there were only four of us along with our guide) with interesting people and so far removed from the scripted tightly timed tours one normally experiences, it really was like a day out with friends. And what a day - probably one of the most memorable of my life.
Don't let the published prices put you off. We were out for 19 hours and saw and did so much that it makes it excellent value - much better than the usual bus tours (and anyway one can't put a price on what one experiences with them). If you ever go to Iceland, well worth looking up- I can't wait to return!
Hugely popular with Reykjavikers seeking an affordable spot for lunch who come for its fresh baked bread, home made soups, and its fantastic fish of the day (fish cakes on the day I went), Ostabúðin doesn't seem to be on the radar of the tourist guidebooks.
Ostabúðin’s little hidden secret is its cosy restaurant on the bottom floor, open during lunch hours, (from 11:30 to 14:30). The small space only has a couple of seats and usually fills up quickly every day, but as the service is fast you don't have to wait long.
Interesting day trip from Reykjavik, although I went for a long weekend just for the diving. You get to scuba dive along the volcanic cracks where the European and North American plates meet. Utterly fantastic visibility of 100m or so underwater. You get guided through and can hire all equipment. The more experience you have beforehand the better to enjoy it rather than fight a hired drysuit for the first time. If you show you know enough they may take you to the lower levels, which are up to 40m deep and totally enclosed - great fun, but not for everybody. Go in wintertime as it is quietest then.
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