Iceland travel will always be etched in my memory. When you experience nature so up close and personal, there is no way you won’t come out transformed. I have forever been a beach person but after my tete-a-tete with the mountains, I am in love with them. Honestly, I wanted to settle down in Iceland and had it not been for my family and kids back in India, I would have turned nomadic. Such is the power and beauty of nature!!
I have been blessed to have friends who take the entire onus of planning, booking and motivating me to join in, so will take no credit to that. It took six months of planning, visa applications, getting my hubby, mom, and house help aligned to get this show on the road.
We were a group of 7 who hiked in the untouched beauty of this Fjallabak Nature Reserve and did the Laugavegur Trail (one of the world’s most beautiful trails) for five days and if I start penning down I can go on my experience forever. So I have decided to break it into parts. This post I will share with you how I went about planning the holiday and that should help you with yours. Post 2 will be about things you will need to carry/buy for a hiking trip( this is very important as buying anything there is very expensive), Post 3 and 4 will be all about my hiking story.
If you are not into hiking then you should read this post to know what more you can do in Iceland.
Who to book with and all other minor details:
So while we streamlined everyone’s dates and started booking 6-8 months in advance as we wanted to do the hike on our own, you would be surprised to know everything was sold out. Iceland has limited availability when in comes to number of people who are allowed in the national park at a time for hiking and the camping grounds and then there are options of huts, which are warm and well equipped, slightly more expensive but so comfortable. But by the time we looked these were all sold out and so are only option was to book through a tour and guide agency, the Arctic Adventures. So while we didn’t get the huts we were promised cooked meals and camps and a guide and that sounded nice and we didn’t really have an option at this stage. We booked our hiking Iceland trip through Arctic Adventures and sighseeing through Guide to Iceland.
Getting to Iceland:
If you are traveling from India, there is no direct flight. You can take a connecting flight from London, UAE or through any other European city. If you are transiting through London, do remember to take a transit visa as well. Traveling through UAE means a longer flight, so I decided to fly via Paris. This turned out to be a good choice as transit was easy and they had a one minute or two minute wait time, exactly as stated at their counter. I would highly recommend this over traveling through London as my friend had to stand in long queues over an hour and a half in London. The connecting flight from any of these ports is by Iceland air. It takes about 1.5 hours to get from Paris to Reykjavik. My layover was for 7 plus hours and the airport terminal for Iceland has really nothing to do, so plan for it.
When to go?
The best time is summer time ie. all through April to September. You have good weather and twenty hours of sunlight. However, if you want to chase the northern lights then September to March is more like it.
Where to go?
The best place to visit and plant your base will be Reykjavik. More than 60% of the population of Iceland stays there and all tours and trips are a few hours from here. It is a small city, with lots of eateries and shopping. The city has two airports Keflavik and Reykjavik and you will need a 40-45 minutes bus ride to get to the city. When we went one set of friends landed at Keflavik and one set at Reykjavik and we didn’t realise that earlier. The city has a beautiful chapel and some museums that you can add to your itinerary but wouldn’t advise spending too much time there.
Some Cool Tips
Iceland Air is offering a promotion of a free week layover in Iceland if you fly with them. However, this airline only covers USA, Canada, Europe and Iceland. So if you are planning a trip from India, you should combine this with a trip to any of the above and plan a layover there and If you are from the above-mentioned countries, nothing like it. Also, if you are flying from India there is no direct flight and I would suggest flying through Paris as visa immigration and the waiting line is just 1-2 minutes over there and extremely hassle free as against hours at London Heathrow airport. Plus to pass through Heathrow you will need a transit visa which you would not need at Paris.
The currency is Iceland Krona and everything in Iceland is very expensive. So it would make a lot of sense to carry medicines, warm clothing, hiking shoes(you will need them for some tours too even if not hiking), toiletries and other things that you rather not waste your money on. Even a fridge magnet cost me some 1000 Krona.
Accommodation and food: Bed and breakfast with your own cooking space would be a good idea to do as eating out means at an average of about 1600 Kronos per person without drinking. In your own space, you can cook a good meal and drink to your heart’s content. This works better if you head there as a family or a group. The places to stay are not cheap though and they get booked out months in advance and they are not even fancy for the money you have to shell out. So plan in advance, look for deals and book. The most common form of accommodation in Iceland is a guesthouse and hostel combination which will have a mix of private rooms and dorm rooms, with shared bathrooms in down the hall.
Hope you find these tips useful and plan your next holiday in Iceland. Trust me it’s worth it!!