Let me open this post by clarifying that one week was not nearly enough time for Iceland. This island country packs in such diverse geological features that it deserves weeks of dedicated time for exploration. With that said, Iceland is expensive, and a longer trip significantly dwindles your wallet size.
I try to plan a trip that is suitable for my parents every year, so that we have time to hang out and explore the world together. This year, I picked Iceland. Iceland first popped on my radar a few years ago when my wife and I were looking for multi-day hikes around the world. We researched extensively and made our plans, which, unfortunately, stayed just plans to this day. There were too many places on our list. So when I was researching for a place to travel with my parents, I thought of Iceland, again.
The tourism industry is mature in Iceland, meaning that there is plenty to do in locations that are easy to access. With excellent infrastructure like most of northern Europe, Iceland is fairly easy to get around. It also helps that everyone in Iceland speaks English in addition to their native Icelandic tongue. Their accent sounded faintly Nordic, Germanic, with perhaps a hint of Russian. I didn’t encounter anyone who didn’t speak English.
Adding to the exotic flavor, Icelandic language has a unique alphabet and many lengthy multi-syllable words. For instance, do you remember the name of the volcano that blew up in 2010, which grounded all flights in Europe for days? Eyjafjallajökull. Are you trying to pronounce it? Good luck.
I flew to Iceland from Anchorage following my trip to Alaska. My round trip flights (return trip was to Seattle) to Reykjavik was about $600, which I was lucky enough to pay it with airline points. I had grand plans in mind, checking off multiple tourist sites a day plus some gentle hikes. I wanted to check out the Golden Circle, south coast and east coast. But once we started traveling in Iceland, I realized that my plans were overly ambitious. My parents and I don’t travel at the same pace. We ended up spending the week around Golden Circle and went as far east as Vik along the south coast.
Because it was impossible to memorize Icelandic words, I found it super difficult to remember my own itinerary for this trip. When my parents asked me where we were going on a given day, I would usually reply, “Oh there is a waterfall” or “there is a cool geothermal thing” or “we will go check out one of the hot springs.” Because I couldn’t remember the names of these places, I also had a hard time locating them on a map.
To make things easier for you, I am posting my itinerary along with a map pointing out the location of these sights. As you can see on the map, there were more interesting spots in Golden Circle than what we had time to visit. You will also notice that we barely covered a corner of the island in seven days.
Day 1: Flight in; Reykjavik
Day 2: Thingvellir, Geysir, Bruarfoss, Secret Lagoon
Day 3: Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, Ice Cave Tour
Day 4: Climbed Skógafoss, Sólheimajökull’s Glacier Lagoon Kayak Tour, Reynisfjara beach
Day 5: Kerid Crater, Geothermal Energy Exhibition, Hike to the entrance of Þríhnúkagígur volcano
Day 6: Puffin Tour from Reykjavik; Blue Lagoon
Day 7: Walking tour in Reykjavik; flight out
What do you think? Have you been to Iceland? Other recommendations? Leave me a comment below.