“We love nature, good food and adult beverages. We want to experience Iceland's natural beauty, culture and cuisine. We are really interested in hiking the laugavegur trail and staying in the mountain huts along the way. We would prefer a guide since this is our first time and I read that weather can be unpredictable in September. We would like to do more strenuous activities (hiking) in the beginning of the trip and more relaxing and touristy activities in the later half. We want to go to the blue lagoon (after hiking to recover), hopefully see the northern lights, and visit Skogafoss or another waterfall. We are open to other activities not listed as well.”
Chris McCarty, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.
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Trip planning highlights
Laugavegur Trek, Reykjavik, Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Trip planning conversation
We are probably going to use AirBnB for lodging. We are trying to keep those costs down ($100 USD per night) so we can have more money for activities.
Hi, welcome to kimkim! I will start putting together a base itinerary for you to include the things you want to do. Did you want to book airbnbs on your own or should I look into more budget friendly options for you? I'm currently traveling around Iceland and had been able to find guest houses that don't break the bank. One nice thing about them is that check in times are flexible, so you don't need to worry about meeting someone at a certain time and not be able to stop for a quick waterfall hike.
Do you know roughly how many days you want to do active activities vs. culture/soaking?
Hi Chris! Budget friendly guest houses sound great! We were thinking 6 days for active activities and 3 for culture/soaking.
Ok great. What type of cultural activities do you like the most?
For the hike, people do it from 2-4 days depending on how far you want to go (4 more common) and you can also add
On another trail for an extra day if you want.
For cultural activities, we like trying local eateries, local beer, and checking out artisanal shops/locally made wares. It would be interesting to learn about the history of Iceland but probably not more than a day or 1 activity that focuses on that. Beyond that, we are open to other experiences that are uniquely Icelandic.
4 days sounds good for the hiking part.
Iceland is known for its fish and lamb especially. Lots of great options. Several new craft breweries popping up, but beer was illegal until 1989 so they are making up for lost time
And you can try the "fire water" and fermented shark if you really want the local tastes. It may be best to try the shark after you've had plenty of the fire water though.
There's a great museum in Reykjavik that covered all the history which could be a good option on a last day since you will fly out through there. There are also a number of locations north of there that played parts in the different sagas, including the saga exhibition center in Borganes
That all sounds really good! I will definitely need some fire water before trying the fermented shark!
Ok, based on all this my suggestion would be to spend your first day in Reykjavik to handle some of the jet lag and give yourself a day before starting the hike, then hike for the 4 days, and then renting a car to drive around Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where there are some other cool geologocal features, lava flows that go into the beach, black sand beaches, golden beaches, a ship wreck, a hidden waterfall in a cave, and a few places of historical/saga significance. You could also go to Thingvellir which is where the parliment meetings were held and where "law rock" is (where someone stood each year and recited all the laws before all the regions met to discuss any legal matters). Along Snaefellsnes there are places to hike if you are still up for it (most relatively flat, along cool cliffs or lava fields), or you can also just view a lot of the places as well, including the volcano that was the entrance in Journey to the center of the earth.
I can also recommend 2 great restaurants in this area, one has great fish soup and is in a small cafe on the water (you can hike 2km to get there along cool cliffs, or just drive), and another has some great local mussels, also located right on a harbor. There's also the shark museum where you can try the fermented shark. Then you can end with a final day in Reykjavik for some more museums or a few pools (all warm), the harpa cultural center, etc. and on your way to the airport stop at the blue lagoon for a final soak to make sure you sleep the whole flight back.
I just explored the Snaefellsnes area less than a week ago and crowds were light, so your dates should be good to avoid that. You may even be able to catch some northern lights, but its at the beginning of the "season" and weather dependent. If you don't see any, there's a northern lights museum in Reykjavik with a virtual reality section so that you can experience it as best you can.
Thanks for putting this together so quickly! It sounds awesome!
I'll reach out to some guides to get a quote for a guided trek and get back to you.
Ok, thank you!
Hi there, I'm still looking through more options/quotes but wanted to give you an idea. The guided treks are about 3x the price as it would be to stay in the huts and pay for 3 meals a day (for 3 days equivalent).
While I'm waiting to hear back, I can move forward with your first night accommodation in Reykjavik. Do you arrive in the morning? I recommend taking the flybus into town (45 minutes or so, one leaves every 30 minutes). They drop off at their station in Reykjavik and for a little more you can then transfer to a smaller van to take you to your hotel. Much more cost effective than a taxi.
Thanks for the heads up. My wife is sketchy about doing the hike without a guide so we'll have to bite the bullet.
Sorry I missed the arrival message. The flight will arrive at 04:30 on the 9th.
Nice and early. That's when I arrived and a flybus left within 30 minutes (had wifi and USB chargers too which was nice). I will find a hotel for your first night in Reykjavik. Do you want an option to sleep when you arrive (probably around 6am) or would you rather drop off bags and find a coffeeshop/cafe to start the day?
Probably drop off our bags and start the day.
Ok, I found some better guided hike options. You have 2 options:
1) you carry your share of equipment and food for each of the 4 days. First 2 days are 7.5 miles, last 2 are about 10 (but less food weight, net downhill);
2) You carry just a day pack and all equipment is transported for you.
Do you have a strong preference for other type?
We prefer option 2.
Perfect, what time is your flight out on the 17th?
Here is a rough Idea of what you can do.
Day 1: Land in KEF, flybus to Hotel in Reykjavik (TBD), breakfast, explore downtown, recover from jetlag. I'll recommend some restaurants and cafes. I listed more cultural activities with day 9, you can split these between day 1 and 9.
Day 2-5: Best hike ever! (and hot springs to soak in along the way), return to Rekjavik.
Day 6: Pick up car, maybe do the Glymur falls hike (tallest waterfall in Iceland, about 30 min to see it, 1 hr to top), visit some towns of histocial/culture significance: Thingvellir (old meeting place for parliament and all chieftans of Iceland from long ago), Hvanneyri, Reykholt, stay in Borgarnes (they have the Settlement center there)).
Day 7-8: Continue along Snaefellsnes Peninsula checking out some cool volcanic features: Gerðuberg Basalt Cliffs, Budhahraun Lavafields to the beach and Búðakirkja church, Arnarstapi and Hellnar villages with a cliff walk between them and great fish soup on the water, Djupalonssandur Black sand beach with shipwreck debris and heavy stones used to determine how storng the fishermen were, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall, Kirkjufell Mountain (most photographed mountain), shark museum (and fermented shark tasting), Stykkisholmur (great mussels at restaurant at the harbor). Lodging somewhere along Snaefellsnes depending on which of the things listed you want to see.
Day 9: Back to Reykjavik (or day before), see things you didn't on day 1: Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall, Hallgrimskirkja church, National museum. Blue lagoon on way back to airport.
15:30 on the 17th
ok, so you wont be able to do all of that on the last day, you can do the highlights of that part on day 1: National Museum, harpa center, and the church (with great views over the town and fjord from the tower)
If you like the look of this plan (we can change it later), please visit [redacted] to enter your payment details.
Then I'll move forward and book the airport transfers (+ blue lagoon stop on way back) and nights 1 and 5 in Reykjavik (same place if you prefer, we can check if they will let you keep other luggage there during the hike), and the guided hike. I'll then provide some options for the remaining nights depending on which parts of the plan stood out to you the most.
At first glance, this looks like an amazing trip! We may want to make a few changes (maybe to days 6 and 9) but want a few days to mull it over. Before moving forward with booking, would it be possible to get a cost estimate? We just want an idea of what things cost so we can make decisions about whether or not to include certain activities. Thanks again for all of your help!
Yes, definitely. I should mention that the hike with gear transport is 5 days (last day you do a day hike around the thorsmork area), I will also get you a quote for a 4 day option. The guided hike is the main cost: $1440 per person (which includes all food and 4 nights in huts guide, and transport to/from the trail).
Transfers to and from the airport including a stop at the blue lagoon and admission to blue lagoon would be $108. T
he remainder of the costs would then be 3 more nights of accommodation (targeting your $100/nt budget) plus car rental for a couple days depending on what type of car you wan to get (for the area I mentioned, you won't need 4WD).
Thanks for the details. That is about what we thought it would be. The 4 day option for the hike would be great so we have enough time to do the other stuff you suggested.
I have a random question for you. I am putting together a budget for food for this trip. Do you have a ballpark estimate for what it costs a day for food?
Food is pricey. You can get a good breakfast for around 1800-2000 ISK (about $15-17, not including coffees). If you go to a bakery, the pastries are around 300-600 ISK ($3-5). For Dinner, a fresh catch plate could be around 3000-4000 ISK, I had a great lamb shank last night in the Lake Myvatn Area for just below 5k, but that was also at a farm so I went for it. Beers are usually around 1000-1200, most espresso drinks (latte, etc) are around 450-550
But then again, that's the full price you pay, not added tax or tip on top of it, so that actually makes it not too bad.
Hi, I did some tough research for you and personally tried the top craft beer places in Reykjavik with some tips from a local bar tender. There are also a couple places where you can enjoy a chef's tasting menu if you want to get a taste of several different types of Icelandic dishes.
At this point in the season the main trekking company is only offering the 5 day tour, but I'm checking to see what the price would be for a private trek for 4 days and hope to hear back within the next day or so.
While I am waiting on an updated quote for the hike. I looked into car rental and accommodations for the other nights.
The price estimate is 1680 to 1800 USD depending on a couple hotel options based on your hotel style preference.
- flybus transfer from airport to hotel (for 2)
- 5 nights accommodation (3 in Reykjavik)
- Car rental for 3 days (for a compact car, $25 less if you drive manual)
Waiting on quote for Laugavegur hike, which would cover remaining accommodation and meals during that time as well.
Optionally add on Blue Lagoon (or Secret Lagoon, which has fewer tourists but smaller. It's and not a "spa" but more of a natural hotpool with a geyser that goes off every few minutes (a few feet high).
This estimate does NOT include the kimkim service fee to make all arrangements and plans.
If you like, we can go ahead and reserve the first night in Reykjavik at Hotel Alda and the airport transfer.
Hi Chris, that's for scoping out the beer scene. Is the price listed above for guest houses or hotels? Also, I am out of town and left my credit card at the house but I'll enter my payment info when I get back so we can get some of the stuff booked.
On your first night and upon returning from the hike, the quote is for hotel Alda, a highly rated hotel on the main pedestrian/shopping/cafe street (Laugavegur), it also has a restaurant inside and a nice lobby.
On your final night Hotel Alda isn't available so I found a comparable hotel in the center of Reykjavik.
In Borgarnes it's for Egils Guesthouse very close to the water where there's a great view of the nearby mountains, a glacier in the distance, and a nice walking path around the shore.
In Stykkishólmur there are a couple of options I found ranging from around $160-200 depending on your style preference.
There aren't as many guesthouses in Reykjavik that are in the downtown area (aka walking distance from the craft beer places), but there are some apartment rental options there if you would prefer that instead.
Those sound great. Thanks!
Hi Chris, I entered my payment info so you can book the first night and the Airbus. For the blue lagoon, we wanted to do it right after the hike so we can book it on our own. The hotels/guesthouses sound good. Let me know you heard back from the guide about the 4 day hike.
Thanks. I'm happy to book the blue lagoon for you, since the timing will be dependent on the final times that the guide gives me. by right after, do you mean the same evening? I'll book it all tomorrow first thing in the morning if you don't mind (celebrating my birthday dinner tonight).
If I don't have a finalized answer on the 4 or 5 day version from the guide company by then, I can secure refundable hotels so that you have lodging but are flexible.
I will now add a proposal (and pay via the info you provided) to cover the kimkim service fee, and will reserve the airport transfer and first hotel. I'll send all confirmations to you (you may also receive them directly). I have heard back from 2 guides already this morning, so now it's just comparing the quotes and seeing if a couple more respond.
Hi, I have 2 options for the hike. A private hike can do the exact dates you want, but it will be more costly. A mini-group hike with gear transport is less expensive, but cannot start until 9/11 since it's at the tail end of the season.
Here are both options:
Mini group Laugarvegur 4 day hike
- 9/11 4 days
- carry day pack with lunch, water, rain gear
- 7am pick up Reykjavik, back at 22:00 on 9/14
- 351,980 ISK = $3072 for 2
Private Laugarvegur 4 day hike
- transportation of luggage every day, food, accommodation in mountain huts
- local private guide and pick up and drop off price
- Could start 9/10 (or even 9/9 if you wanted)
- 1,629,000 ISK = $14,220 for 2
If you choose the one starting on 9/11, here is an updated idea for how to spend the other days. The tour doesn't return until 10pm the final day, which is too late for the Blue Lagoon. You could either do it the next morning (it's a little out of the way since you would then drive north, but possible), or you could save it for the final day before your flight and I can find a hotpool area in Reykjavik that may be open late that evening or the next morning.
9/9: Land at KEF, transport to Rejkavik
9/10: Reyjkavik (or can do day excursion like Golden Circle)
9/11-14: Laugavegur hike (7am departure, 10pm return final day)
9/15 North to Borgarnes for cultural area, stay along Snaefellsnes Peninsula
9/16: Snaefellnes Peninsula, back to Reykjavik for final night
9/17: Morning in Reykjavik, Blue lagoon, 15:30 flight out
The 4 day group hike sounds good. We would probably do the blue lagoon the next morning after the hike.
Ok, I have reached out to the trek guide company and expect to hear back tomorrow morning (it's late in Iceland now). Once that's confirmed I'll continue with the rest of the accommodation and car rental. I can also reserve the Blue Lagoon for the morning of the 15th.
Hi, I've reserved 2 places on the 4-day hut version with guide starting 9/11. This moved a few other things around, so I wanted to get your thought on these 2 options for lodging since I know you wanted to stick to a lower budget for hotels to save for other activities
3 nights in Reykjavik:
9/10, 9/11, then 9/14 upon return from hike. I can get the same place for the 3 nights (so maybe you can keep bags at the hotel in between), or you can change if you like.
- $297 with shared bathroom in guesthouse, a little more central
- $404 for more modern, private bathroom, close to the church but a few blocks further from main area
- You are spending the morning at Blue Lagoon. If you want to do the Glymur falls hike (2 hours) and have an easier day after that, Borgarnes for $127 (shared bathroom in guesthouse), close to water
- If you don't want to hike today because you've hiked the past 4, I recommend you stay in Hellnar on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to have more time exploring the next day ($132 in Hellnar, cool cliff walk and good fishsoup place nearby)
Hi, just wanted to check that you were happy with these updated itinerary and the hotels. Please confirm and I'll secure it all for you.
For the hotel on 9/10,11 and 14, the same place sounds good. We'd prefer the cheaper more central option. For 9/15 we want to stay in Hellnar. Thanks!
Perfect. I'll send along confirmations soon.
I booked the 3 nights in Reykjavik and one first night along Snaefellsnes. The place is actually in a small town called Budir about 10 min before you get to Hellnar. It's really close to this pretty black church on the water next to these lava fields that you can walk around right next to the shore.
It's refundable, so I can change you to the Foss Hotel in Hellnar if you prefer (that one is $188), but this should be a pretty nice spot. From what I remember from a few weeks ago there's a beautiful waterfall in the mountains very close to Budir.
Here are the confirmations for the nights so far (you will probably get confirmations via email as well, since I entered your email address)
Finally, for your last night I found a place in Stykkishólmur, which you will reach after seeing the rest of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula that day (and trying the fermented shark if you like). I can recommend a great restaurant on the harbor with fresh seafood and good beers.
Instead, if you prefer to cut off about 30 min of the drive back to KEF airport the next day, I can change it to the Langafjaran Cottages on the other side of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (fairly close to where you will stay the previous night), and they have a hot tub in that location (but you'll have to drive after dinner to get there). Let me know if you prefer that and I'll make the switch.
I have updated the trip proposal to include the price of the Laugavegur trek (previously it was just for the kimkim service fee). I will make the payment on your behalf now.
Hi, I'm reserving your Blue Lagoon time for after your hike and wanted to check on the package you preferred. Prices below are per person:
Silica Mud Mask
40 EUR = $44 USD
55 EUR = $60 USD
+table at Lava cafe
+sparking wine at Lava cafe
70 EUR = $77 USD
Hi Chris, the $60 one sounds good.
Perfect. I'll book that one for you.
Finally, I found a better deal on the car rental for $232 including collision, with 9am pick up on 9/15 and drop off around 1-2pm on 9/17 before your 3:30pm flight. It's a compact car, automatic transmission. I just wanted to confirm with you before moving forward since we never explicitly talked about the car rental portion.
That sounds good! Thanks!
Complete, here's the voucher, you should also receive an email from them directly. I will put together a pdf of your itinerary and all necessary confirmations / vouchers combined.