Planning a Trip to Iceland in October

Iceland in October

We got to spend two nights in Reyk­javik, Ice­land in Octo­ber last year on our way back from Scot­land. All the time I was there, I was wish­ing I had been some­where out­side the city, sur­round­ed by the out-of-this-world nat­u­ral land­scape that Ice­land is famous for. Noth­ing again­st Reyk­javik, mind you. It’s actu­al­ly one of my favourite cities in the world, if not THE most favourite. I just like nature more. I tried to talk the hus­band into rent­ing a car for a day but he was set on spend­ing the whole stopover in Reyk­javik. Oh well. Can’t say I didn’t try.

We have done a road trip around Ice­land before in May 2013. It was the best trip ever, and the best two weeks I’ve ever spent trav­el­ling. We’d been dream­ing of doing anoth­er Ice­land road trip ever since we got back from that trip. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in the years that fol­lowed, the Cana­di­an dol­lar only got con­sid­er­ably weak­er and the Ice­landic kro­na stronger. We’d had accept­ed the fact that we would have to save up for a lit­tle bit longer to be able to afford anoth­er trip around Ice­land.
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Reykjavik: A Lovely Autumn Day in October

Reykjavik in October

We took advan­tage of Icelandair’s free Ice­land stopover pro­gram­me and had a love­ly two-night stay in Reyk­javik in Octo­ber on our way back to Canada from our two-week road trip around Scot­land. We arrived on the same day Hur­ri­cane Nicole arrived in Ice­land! It made for an inter­est­ing flight with two abort­ed land­ings before we final­ly touched down safe­ly on the tar­mac of the Keflavik air­port.

After we got all our lug­gage back, which took forever due to the bad weath­er, we hopped on a shut­tle bus for the 45 min­ute dri­ve to the heart of Reyk­javik. There are two com­pa­nies that run shut­tle busses from the air­port to Reyk­javik and vice ver­sa, but we’ve always gone with Gray­line because they charged slight­ly less than the oth­er com­pa­ny. We’ve been quite pleased with their ser­vice so far.
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Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

Iceland in April

We’re cur­rent­ly plan­ning anoth­er trip to Ice­land in April. Plan­ning a trip to Ice­land or any­where is so much eas­ier when you’ve been there before. I remem­ber feel­ing quite over­whelmed when I was plan­ning our first trip in 2013. So much to see, so lit­tle time! (Two weeks is bare­ly enough time to see every­thing Ice­land has to offer, unfor­tu­nate­ly.) Though not being able to afford to rent a 4x4 vehi­cle did help lim­it our options a lit­tle bit. 

Plan­ning for this year’s trip in April is a lot eas­ier because we already know what to expect and we know what we want to see and where, how to get there and so on. Well, at least we kind of know what to expect. We’ve nev­er been to Ice­land in April before and googling “Ice­land in April” didn’t real­ly yield in any­thing that sat­is­fied my curios­i­ty (I tend to trust inde­pen­dent reviews from oth­er trav­ellers more, but here’s a sum­ma­ry from a hotel chain), or that basi­cal­ly said “go to Ice­land in April, it’s the best time ever!” which is what I’d real­ly like to hear. ;-)
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How to Circumnavigate Iceland Without Getting Terribly Lost

If you’ve been fol­low­ing some Ice­landic news sources this week, you would’ve read the news about an Amer­i­can tourist who, while dri­ving from the air­port to his hotel in down­town Reyk­javik on his first vis­it to Ice­land, got so ter­ri­bly lost and some­how end­ed up in a sleepy, north­ern Ice­land town of Siglufjörður, at least 5 hour dri­ve away from Reyk­javik. In his defense, he was tired after a red-eye flight and he just went where the car GPS unit told him to go, in addi­tion to the hotel not spelling the street name cor­rect­ly in the address. But still, had he used a lit­tle more com­mon sense, I don’t think he would have end­ed that far off course from his orig­i­nal des­ti­na­tion. He should’ve at the very least known that Reyk­javik was where he need­ed to go and that it was only less than an hour dri­ve away from the Keflavik air­port. He’s become some sort of a celebri­ty because of this mishap. Fan­cy that!

I found the roads in Ice­land to be pret­ty well-marked. We man­aged to nav­i­gate our­selves around Ice­land (even took some detours away from the ring road) with­out get­ting ter­ri­bly lost, and all we had with us was a copy of a good, old-fash­ioned, paper map of Ice­land, which we didn’t even use that much. Grant­ed, we also had an access to Google Maps on my tablet but we only ever used it to nav­i­gate our way around Akureyri and Reyk­javik, two of Ice­land big­ger cities, which our paper map didn’t cov­er very well. So, here are some tips I could give you in order to not get lost dur­ing your Ice­land road trip:
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West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur: Worth A Detour

I’ve been think­ing about our lit­tle detour around West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur (Whale fjord) a lot late­ly. I don’t know why. It could be that I’m just miss­ing Ice­land in gen­er­al and the dri­ve around Hvalfjörđur was the last item in our itin­er­ary before we head­ed down to Reyk­javik to spend the last two nights of our two week road trip around Ice­land, so it was one of my last mem­o­ries of Ice­land. But it could also be because it was sur­pris­ing­ly beau­ti­ful. Like, breath­tak­ing­ly beau­ti­ful.

Hvalfjörđur used to be a busy route because it used to be the only way for peo­ple in Reyk­javik to get to the town of Bor­gar­nes, which is like the gate­way to the beau­ti­ful Snae­fell­snes Penin­su­la. How­ev­er, in the late 1990s, the tun­nel Hvalf­jarðargöng­in was opened for pub­lic. For a small fee, peo­ple are now able to bypass the 62 km detour around Hvalfjörđur by tak­ing the tun­nel. When we were there two years ago, the Hvalfjörđur route had very lit­tle traf­fic. Dri­ving around the fjord on a driz­zly and fog­gy day, I felt like we were the last two peo­ple on Earth!
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Iceland Road Conditions and Weather Information

So you have a road trip around Ice­land com­ing up but you’re not quite sure what the road con­di­tions and the weath­er will be like (the weath­er part will also deter­mine whether you need to pack your win­ter coat or not). The fol­low­ing web­sites are your friends and they will show you just what you need to know. We found them very use­ful dur­ing our vis­it.

Road Con­di­tions

For road con­di­tions, make sure you book­mark Veg­agerdin (Ice­landic Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion) web­site. This click­able road con­di­tion map is essen­tial. Don’t hit the road before con­sult­ing it first. If that’s not enough and you need to know what road con­di­tions are like in (almost) real-time, there are road web cams, ready for your perusal.
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