Beautiful... but worth the Price?
|Price Point:||(2.0 / 5)|
|Flight/Travel:||(2.5 / 5)|
|Accommodation:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Must Go?:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Average:||(2.9 / 5)|
We visited Iceland during the middle of February for 6 days.
Airline: WOW Air, Economy. 5-hour travel time from the East Coast.
Accommodations: Diamond Suites, Grand Hotel Reykjavik
Day 1-2: WOW Air is cheap, until you have luggage, and want to actually enjoy your flight to Iceland. It’s ideal for backpackers, but travelers looking for a place to escape and adventure to, it’s definitely not. They charge you $160+ roundtrip for one piece of checked luggage. They only allow a personal item for free, or you’re looking at another $80 roundtrip for a carry-on bag that goes in the over head compartment. If you don’t get a “regular” seat in time, you’ll need to pay for the ones with extra legroom (which was average for any other airline). What was $450 roundtrip for two of us, turned into almost $900 with all these fees. Not to mention any water, food, beverage, you need to pay for on the airline. Nothing is complimentary.
We arrived at 5am to the Diamond Suites, which is the ONLY 5-star accommodation in all of Iceland. They cover taxi travel to and from the airport, which is only about a 10-minute drive in Keflavik. Note: no tours pick up in Keflavik, nor is there much to do here. So unless you’re renting a car [which many people recommend to do] it’s quite far from everything. But, they do have a deluxe breakfast that includes everything from Icelanic cuisine, macaroons, fruit platters, cheese platters, and whatever you request. But they don’t know what pancakes are lol The suites are nice. Everything is Versace, and quite luxurious.
The main reason we went to Iceland was for the Blue Lagoon. It’s a huge tourist spot and they definitely capitalized on that. When you arrive it’s very similar to an amusement park. You wait in your designated line, and are given a wrist band which locks your locker, pays for your drinks, and your mask while in the lagoon. We chose the premium package which included a robe and sandals along with a free drink each and a drink at Lava, which is their restaurant [and delicious but pricey]. It was quite crowded in the entry and locker room, but once you’re in the lagoon, there’s so much space, it’s hard to feel crowded. It was a one of a kind place. When we went it was raining, as well as freezing, but we couldn’t careless because it was so relaxing. Of course we tried the silica mask which was fun and the drinks at the swim up bar were delicious as well. We probably spent around 2.5 hours there.
Days 3-5: We wanted to see Reykjavik, so we decided to stay at a greatly reviewed hotel, the Grand hotel. We took a taxi from Keflavik to Reykjavik which was about 35-40 minutes long and over $110. One thing that Iceland isn’t is cheap. This is why people rent cars, but gas in Iceland is some of the most expensive in the world. We received a complimentary upgrade at the Grand hotel, which was well appreciated. The room itself was really average and it was hard to believe we received an upgrade. Also, breakfast is not included. Which we found to be quite crazy because breakfast has been included in just about any hotel we’ve ever stayed in, anywhere. You can add breakfast for over $30 per person, per day. Again, not cheap.
Our favorite excursion was snorkeling in Silfra. It’s a spring that is in between two continental plates; the North American and Eurasian. Plus, the views are spectacular. We booked directly with Dive.IS and they were a lot of fun and picked you right up at your hotel. Now, be aware you’re put into this ridiculous dry suit equipped with an over the head mask, and onesie to keep you warm. The water is 35 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll be happy you wore that! The snorkel is cold. Your lips are exposed and it’s basically just a waiting game for them to go numb but this water is some of the clearest in the world. You can see over 100 feet straight through. It’s like nothing you’ll ever experience. Again, be warned, it’s so damn cold, but so worth it.
That evening we were really lucky to have gotten to chase the northern lights. We did this on a deluxe yacht with Harpa Yachts. I’d highly recommend doing this. It’s not that much more expensive and only a max of 35 people are on board, otherwise you’re with hundreds of people who are loud and you have no personal space. We saw the lights, and they’re as spectacular as you’d expect. A true phenomenon.
Our next day we took a private tour to the south of Iceland. This is a part of the country that has so much to see! We went with www.PrivateTours.io & it was just Travis and I. We could take as much time as we wanted at each location and our guide was really knowledgeable about all the spots he took us. We started at the black sand beach which looked like a black and white photo. Utterly incredible. Next we went to the Solheimajokull Glacier which was my favorite place. Perfect place for photos. It’s a little bit of a walk so make sure you have water proof shoes and warm clothing. Next we saw two different waterfalls, one of which we walked behind and we also got to see the “big volcano.” This tour really gave you the taste of Iceland and all of it’s natural beauty without being in a big group of people.
Our final full day in Iceland we went through Guide to Iceland to do the Golden Circle + the Secret Lagoon tour. It was raining, and we were anything but prepared for that. So just make sure you pack things with hoods and that are waterproof. The coolest part of the Golden Circle for me was the active geyser. I’ve never seen anything like it, so I was quite amused. The secret lagoon was also really neat. It’s a hot spring surrounded by active geysers that you can swim in.
One thing to know about Iceland, which we weren’t told until our last night, is that Reykjavik is the most expensive city in Europe. A dinner at the restaurant in the hotel was about $60 per person. Every meal is at least $40 per person. It’s a really expensive country and I’m glad we only spent 5 days there. Would we go back? Probably not. It’s beautiful, but the expense as well as the weather, it’s kind of like – once you see it one time, you don’t need to see it again. I’d definitely recommend it if you’ve never been though. The natural Icelandic beauty is not something you can find just anywhere.