“We'd like to try to fit in the highlights but don't want to overdo it. It would be nice to have 2 hours before dinner to relax...
We like boutique hotels. We'd like luxury, if we could afford it, but value is important to us. I would also add that we are particularly interested in finding good restaurants. They don't have to be fancy, but good food, and a good variety.”
Bjorn Gudmundsson, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary based on Introduction to the Land of Fire and Ice in 5 days.
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Trip planning highlights
Trip planning conversation
Hi and nice to meet you.
My name is Bjorn and I am a Iceland travel expert at kimkim. I am born and raised in Iceland and I know my country well by experience.
I am very happy to assist you in planning your Iceland adventure for your anniversary and your wife's birthday! Will those dates be falling in on your travel days in Iceland?
I will start by putting together a quote for you with some of the highlights and suggestions. It would be great if you have any budget idea in mind so we know how much we can include.
Also do you have flight information yet that you could share with me?
I will of course recommend some great restaurants.
Look forward hearing from you.
Hi Bjorn -- I don't have flight information yet. We will probably arrive on a red eye early Thursday morning the 15th (that's actually my wife's birthday, our anniversary is in August), and leave sometime during the day on Monday. But it's possible we could arrive late on the 14th. We would consider staying until Tuesday if we can't do everything we want to in 4 days, but in either case, we'd like to be around $2000 (not counting the airfare). But let us know the trade-offs. For example, If we need a car for four days, we realize that may be a bit more expensive. Or if you recommend spending on night outside Reykjavík let us know how that would affect the budget.
Hi and thank you for the information. I will start working on a quote for you and send it to you as soon as it's ready. Speak to you soon. Have a great day.
Hi, how are you?
Attached here you will find a quote that is around your budget.
This plan would have you stay 2 nights in Reykjavik and 2 nights in the countryside where you could explore some of the must see's and highlights on the South Shore.
Note that the quote depends on available accommodation.
Please take a look at this and let me know what you think and if you have any questions.
Hi Bjorn -- This sounds intriguing. Could you just give me a sense of the timeline each day? For example, roughly how much time touring/visiting sites, how much downtime, how much driving etc. Also, if after agree to the quote, if we decide we don't want to do something, like the Northern lights hunt, would that be deducted from the cost? I'm not saying we wouldn't want to do the Northern lights hunt, but it probably depends on how likely it is we would see the Northern Lights at that time of year, how much other downtime there is etc. Thanks!
Hi. Of course.
Day 1 - Arrive early in the morning. Spend the day in Reykjavik exploring and unwinding after the flight. We will provide you with more details about sights in the city. There is an option to do a planned city walk. In the evening go to dinner at a nice restaurant we recommend to celebrate your wife's birthday!
Day 2 - Explore Reykjavik. We will provide you with more details about sights and activities in the city. In the evening go for a hunt for the Northern Lights. The tour starts at 10 pm and usually lasts around 3 hours.
Day 3 - Pick up the rental car and drive to Vik and explore sight on the way. The drive is just over 100 miles so you will have plenty of time for stops and enjoying the sights. We will give you more information about the must see sights.
Day 4 - Drive back and see the famous Golden Circle. Spend the night at a hotel or a guesthouse in the Golden Circle area. The drive from Vik to the Golden Circle area is just over 100 miles.
Day 5 - Drive from the accommodation in the Golden Circle area to the Blue Lagoon and enjoy geothermal sights on the way. From the Blue Lagoon there is only a short drive to the airport.
If you decide you don't want to something it will definitely be deducted from the cost. This plan takes aim of you arriving early in the morning and leaving late in the after noon. We will arrange the plan accordingly if your flights will be different.
Thanks Bjorn -- This is really helpful. Let me look into flights and get back to you. There is a possibility, that we would stay Monday night as well so we could be more relaxed that day, though I realize that would add to the costs. We are pretty good in getting around to explore cities on our own, so I don't know if we would need the city walk, regardless we can discuss all those things once we figure out a quote. We've actually lived in Oslo for a year and visited all the other Nordic countries at one time or other so it is great to have a local's perspective and to get beyond some of the more touristy aspects. I will try to get back to you later today.
Great to hear, looking forward hearing from you :)
Hi Bjorn -- Trying to make the flights work here, and it's a little complicated. If we arrived first thing Wednesday morning and still left monday, probably mid-day, would the itinerary still work (basically with just an additional night added in Reykjavik and the whole thing starting Wed. rather than Thursday)? And what would that add to the cost?
In general it would not change anything whether you would start the Itinerary on Wed or Thursday if the flights are around the same time, we would just add a day for relaxation and exploring in Reykjavik or you would have the possibility to add a day tour or activity for that day if you want (perhaps a Northern Lights hunt), it is up to you of course :)
Extra day would take the total cost up to around 2.700 USD but the final price would depend on availability of accommodation so it could range a little up or down. We will always try to find you the best value for your stay at each place.
Hi Bjorn -- so we're just about set. The flights didn't really work out for extending a day. so we're coming in on Icelandair on Flight FI622 From: EWR To: KEF. I think it gets in about 6:15 AM on the 15th. Then we're leaving on Flight FI623 at 5 on Monday the 19th. So we just don't want to pack too much in that day, but the Blue Lagoon certainly sounds good. In terms of the car, if it's a stick shift only one of us can drive a stick so we don't need an additional driver and we do have Hertz gold and sometimes can get a AAA discount, but let us know what works best. Do you think a 4 wheel drive is necessary or is standard vehicle okay. We probably don't want to do much if any off-road unless necessary. Let me know if there is anything else you need from me, and let me know what the cancellation policies and we can figure out the next steps. Thanks!
Great that you found your flights. The last day would be a generally relaxing one driving from your last accommodation to the airport and some optional stops for sights on the way and then a relaxation in the Blue Lagoon before your flight.
In September we generally do recommend a 4x4 car since the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and the roads might be starting to get icy by then, the 4x4 are therefore safer on the road. The car we included in the quote is an automatic.
Regarding the Hertz gold and AAA discount, unfortunately it's not possible to use.
Attached you will find the cancellation policy.
The next step would be for you to pay a deposit of 30% to secure the booking.
Joost will send you a payment link. After the payment has been made I will start making all necessary booking arrangements and send you your itinerary.
Hope this sounds good to you and let me know if you have any questions.
Hi Bjorn -- All this sounds good. I assume that there is some flexibility in terms of accommodations , dining etc. so that if there are different options, you and I can discuss which one is best (recognizing of course that different options might reflect different prices). I hope that is helpful to you and not a pain. I figure it is the best way to make sure it all works out! So send along the payment link, and thanks again!
We received your payment. Your trip is now confirmed.
Hi and thank you for the payment. Like Joost said your trip is now confirmed and I will start with all the booking arrangements.
Nothing is a pain for me, I am here to help and make your trip to Iceland great :).
I am checking few accommodation options for you now and I will hopefully have few available that you will be able to choose from. I will send you information about them as soon as I have it.
I will send you recommendation for restaurants and I will happily make reservations for you.
Here are some available options:
Reykjavík September 15th -17th
Fosshotel Baron a 3 star hotel that stands prominently in the heart of Reykjavík, near the seafront, within walking distance from many popular shops and attractions. Fosshotel Baron is perfect for families or small groups travelling together, offering both hotel rooms and apartments. Enjoy a scenic walk by the seaside, visit the prestigious Harpa Concert Hall and try some of Reykjavík's great restaurants and cafés, all just a stone's throw from the hotel.
Storm Hotel is a 93 room 3 star hotel in Reykjavik city centre offering stylish and comfortable quality accommodation. The hotel is located between Reykjavik's main business district and Laugavegur shopping street. Storm Hotel offers a Nordic-inspired designed combined with functionality, quality and style. Every guestroom has a sleek bathroom and an ultra-comfortable luxury bed as well as free Wireless internet connection.
Those 2 are on a similar location and the price is similar.
Vík September 17th-18th
Hotel Katla is a nice country hotel that is situated 5 km east of Vík i Mýrdal, about 2 and 1/2 hours drive from Reykjavik. This countryside hotel offers spacious guest rooms in the beautiful surroundings of mountains, black sand beach and the Myrdalsjokull Glacier. Guests have free access an outdoor geothermal hot tub, great for relaxation.
Hotel Edda is found in Vík í Mýrdal, only 5 minutes’ walk from Vík’s black sand beach. Its rooms offer views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Vík Mountains.
Classic décor, as well as a TV and coffee/tea maker, are standard to each guest room at Hotel Edda Vík.
Strondin, the hotel’s restaurant, is just across the street. It offers a varied à la carte dinner menu and ocean views.
Only 10 minutes’ drive from Edda Vík Hotel is the Reynisfjara Beach, which offers spectacular views of Dyrhólaey Cliffs and the Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks. Edda Vík is just off Iceland’s scenic Ring Road. On-site parking is free for guests
Those 2 are on a similar location and the price is similar.
Golden Circle area September 18th - 19th
Guesthouse Fludir - Grund
Our guesthouse is situated in the heart of Iceland‘s south-countryside . Gullfoss and Geysir are just 25 minutes away. Guesthouse Fludir and Restaurant Grund are in the center of Fludir.
You are welcome to relax in a beautiful and peaceful environment, get to know fascinating nature and enjoy fine accommodation, food and drink in a cosy atmosphere at our place in the evenings.
The restaurant has 50 seats inside and during summertime around 30 seats outside. Everyone should be able to find something to eat as on the menu one can find soups, salad, burgers, pasta, lamb, ribs, fish and pizzas. Vegetables are fresh from local farmers. Good selection of sodas and wine.
Free parking and WiFi
This basic country hotel offers a restaurant with traditional Icelandic lamb and seafood dishes. Located by the Hvita River, it is just 3 km from Gullfoss Waterfall. WiFi is free.
Tea/coffee facilities, a TV and private bathrooms are in all rooms at Hotel Gullfoss.
A daily breakfast buffet is served in the hotel restaurant. A seating area and TV are found in the lobby. Double room is equipped with TV, tea/coffee facilities, private bathroom, wardrobe/closed, hairdryer. Room size is 19 m² and has two single bed. Very cosy, comfortable and warm.
The erupting Great Geysir is a 10 minute-drive away. Thingvellir National Park is 35 minutes from Gullfoss Hotel.
Those 2 are on a similar location and the price is similar.
Bjorn - These sound great! Based on what I can see and what I've read elsewhere, I think we'd prefer the Hotel Gullfoss and the Hotel Katla (given the more country-like setting and the hot tub!). In Reykjavik, the Storm Hotel sounds good, though a friend did recommend the Skuggi Hotel which I think is a "sister" hotel? Would you say they are comparable or is the Skuggi preferable (though I expect it's a little more expensive)? Thanks!
Hi great, glad you like it. I will book Hotel Gullfoss and Katla.
You are right Skuggi is Storm's sister Hotel. It is a little bit more expensive though. I would say that the room quality is compatable but Skuggi´s downstairs bar/breakfast area is bigger and it is a few minutes closer to the main shopping street. Those are both new 3 star hotels with different themes but are compatible. Would you like to consider Skuggi?
What is your full name for the bookings?
Hi Bjorn -- If Skuggi is a better location and not that much more expensive, let's go with that. Can you ask for a quiet room on an upper floor? you can use Thomas Hatch. Thanks!
I will book Skuggi and make a request for a quiet room on an upper floor. It is likely that they can´t guarantee it but they will do their best to fulfill the request.
Wonderful! We have learned that it never hurts to ask, so I appreciate that and all your help. This is shaping up really well. I'm ready to go!!
You are right, it´s better to ask. I´m sure you are going to have a fantastic time in Iceland! I will send you your final itinerary in the coming days.
Hi how are you? Just wanted to let you know that everything is booked and confirmed. In the next few days I will send you your itinerary and restaurant recommendations. I will then send you all necessary vouchers and information for your trip after the final payment. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.
Have a good one!
Hi Bjorn- That's great news! I'm looking forward to getting the itinerary etc. In the meantime, could you just let me know if the cost has gone up with the hotel change and if so how much? Thanks again for all your work on this.
Hi of course, it´s my pleasure. With hotel Skuggi the final amount comes to 2.490 USD.
Hi. Attached you can find your finalised itinerary.
Below are some restaurants in Reykjavik that I can recommend. There are many good restaurants in Reykjavik and if you would like some more suggestions just let me know.
The Grill Market - http://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/en/
The Fish Market - http://fiskmarkadurinn.is/english/
The Icelandic Bar - http://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/en/
Matur og drykkur - http://maturogdrykkur.is/
Please take a look at this and let me know if you have any questions or comments.
The Icelandic Bar - http://islenskibarinn.is/net/en/
Thanks Bjorn - The itinerary looks great. As I said before, I'm not sure if we'll want to go on the northern lights search, so can we hold off on purchasing that until after I share this with Karen (at the beginning of August)? I haven't had a chance to look at the restaurants yet, but I'll try to do so soon.
Hi. Yes of course, it´s totally up to you to do the Northern Lights tour or not :). There´s no rush. Take a look at it when you can and let me know if you want me to make reservations for you.
Hi Bjorn -- hope you are doing well. I really enjoyed watching the Iceland soccer team at the Euro's. Sorry they didn't go further, but it was amazing what they did! I'm finally getting around to looking for restaurants, and the grill market and fish market look great but a little expensive. Resto looks like it's not quite as expensive, but I realize that might not be available (preferably on Friday, but I know that's asking a lot)? If we could go to that, then it sounds like Matur og drykkur or the Icelandic Bar for Thursday night (depending on which you think is better. If Resto doesn't work, is there another somewhat like it you would recommend? Basically, I was thinking of going to a nicer place for Friday night to celebrate and Thursday night more informal, not as expensive since we'll be more jet lagged. Maybe 19:00 (7 PM) for the time?
Great, I will make a reservation at Resto for the Friday night at 7 pm. For Thursday I would think that the Icelandic bar would be a good choice. It´s casual and cosy with great food.
Hi Bjorn -- That sounds great, but I figured I would just email Resto once I heard you were on vacation, and that reservation is already set, so if you could just arrange for the Icelandic bar, I think we'll be in good shape. Hope you enjoyed your vacation!
Ok great, I will arrange the Icelandic bar. Thanks enjoyed it a lot!
Hi how are you? Hope you are getting excited for your Iceland trip! Attached you will find your vouchers and more detailed itinerary with necessary information. We will leave you a mobile phone at hotel Skuggi that you can use while you are here. The phone will have the vouchers in google drive, a map with your name and all necessary contact numbers including mine.
Please take a look at this and let me know if anything is unclear and if you need any additional information.
Hi Bjorn -- This all looks clear and good. As I mentioned earlier, the only thing we'd like to change is to cancel the Northern Lights Hunt, so I hope we can get a refund for that. We'd rather just have a nice dinner at Resto and maybe get a late drink somewhere (any suggestions where we can get a good cocktail or find some interesting icelandic nightlightlife?). That's great about the phone as well. We're looking forward to the trip and really appreciate all your help!
Hi, of course sorry about that. We will cancel and give you a refund for that. There are plenty of places you can go for a cocktail in walking distance. Most of the bars you will find on the main street Laugavegur but there is a place I like very much and it is popular for cocktails, called Slippbarinn http://www.slippbarinn.is/en. It is at the Icelandair hotel Marina and is located by the Reykjavik harbour https://goo.gl/maps/kJAWrCgFgNn. You could make your way down there and stop at other bars on the way on Laugarvegur that you find interesting.
For example: Barber Bar, Lebowski bar, 101 Hotel and Apotek to name a few.
Great! Thanks Bjorn.
Hi Bjorn -- We are definitely getting excited about the trip! Just a couple of questions as I'm looking over the materials. You indicated that they phone will have a map, but will that show a suggested route for getting to the key sights and the hotels on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday? Related to that, we are interested in driving to Þingvellir National Park but it looks like we would need to go there on Sunday, since our reservation at the Blue Lagoon is for 11 AM on Monday or is there another way to do it?
And what do you recommend in terms of dinners on Saturday and Sunday nights? Just eat at the hotels or...?
Thanks as always!
Hi, good to hear :).
Yes the phone will have a map and I will pin all accommodation and key sights there. Your car will also have a GPS and you will be able to put all destinations in there.
It would be best to go to Thingvellir on Sunday. Start the Golden Circle there from Vik and then go to Geysir and Gullfoss falls. See route on this map https://goo.gl/maps/NTji9XYHLGr
You can have dinner at the hotels but here are some other options:
Svarta fjaran - Black Beach http://www.svartafjaran.com
Gamla Fjósið - The Old Cowhouse http://www.gamlafjosid.is/?lang=en
Veitingahúsið Suður Vík - Restaurant South Vik https://lookaside.fbsbx.com/file/Matseðill%20sumar%202016.pdf?token=AWwwEl9oA4VgqnF_WivoGHbXRjRESOcl70lc_H85YNGX9Zd80TWWZBB48rw3Qs3BVD_UC8uVmwi1G6GYEZ0b91Q92k9GeoN2kpXluL76QM3KEZDuAXfMhDpVHdvjzQZNK54QIvnbb74k8f_jriqhVVWS
Ströndin - http://www.strondin.is
Efstidalur - Farm Restaurant http://efstidalur.is
Café Mika - http://mika.is
Lindin Restaurant - http://www.laugarvatn.is
Your refund for the Northern Lights trip should be on the way.
Let me know if anything is still unclear or if you have any more questions :)
Thanks Bjorn -- this looks like just what we needed. I know it's all a matter of choices, but by going to Thingvellir are we missing anything we would have seen if we'd gone to Geysir and Gullfoss falls more directly? And I think that should be about it! This is all really helpful.
Hi. No you shouldn't be missing anything by going to Thingvellir first. Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss are the 3 parts that are the Golden Circle so you will see all the important sights. If there is anything else in particular you want to see in the area it should be easily reached while driving from Thingvellir.
Great. Thanks! I was never entirely clear on what was included in the Golden Circle so that's very helpful. Looking forward to it!
Great :). Feel free to ask me anything you want if you have any more questions.
Hi, hope everything has gone well on your trip to Iceland. Look forward to hearing about it!
Would appreciate if you can leave a review once you have the chance :)
Hi Alex -- We had a great time and really enjoyed Bjorn's recommendations. We're happy to provide a review, but it may take a bit. Feel free to remind us if you haven't gotten anything by next week.
Glad to hear it. No worries, will keep an eye out for it.
I am very happy to hear that you had a great time in Iceland and that all went well!
Look forward to see your review, and hopefully work on your next trip if we support your next destination (I believe you said South Africa?).
We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and appreciated the recommendations for restaurants and hotels. We don't usually use a travel agent, but for Iceland it was hard to know what to fit in for a quick 5 day trip, and Bjorn was great. Very easy to work with and responsive to our requests. He not only arranged airport transfers, he also set up a ride to the rental car, made sure we had a gps loaded with key spots, and gave us a phone to use with his contact info as well as all the other information we needed.