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3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

Toronto
Level Contributor
300 posts
8 reviews
3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

hey,

like most everyone else, i'm getting a 3.5 day "layover" trip in iceland.

2 years ago, i spent 2 days in Iceland. Stayed in Reykjavik, daydrove to the sites northeast and southeast or Reykjavik but didn't explore the city itself much.

This time, I'm going with my wife, who has never been.

Day 1, we're landing at around 4. So we'll optimistically be in Reykjavik after 5 and will just spend the night likely having beer at Skulli's.

For days 2,3 and 4 (need to be at the airport for 3:30), does anyone have any suggestions on what to do? We'll have a car, we'll be mindful of the weather possibilities (although I'm used to winter driving but would still want to avoid it).

We'd rather do things on a budget i.e. not pay for high priced touristy tours. self-guided is the best unless there's something exceptional.

Hiking is totally cool with us as well.

8 replies to this topic
Cologne, Germany
Destination Expert
for Iceland
Level Contributor
12,759 posts
88 reviews
1. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

Late October is winter. So even if you are experienced drivers on potentially icy roads in strong winds, I would not venture too far from the city/the airport on a short stopover, because icy roads, storm warnings or a road closure could cause you to miss your flight.

So I would suggest sticking to the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Golden Circle or the South Coast until Vík and back. You could see parts of the Reykjanes Peninsula on your departure day, since the airport is located in the area. If the weather cooperates you could also hike to Reykjadalur geothermal river for bathing, either on your South Coast day or as a 4+ hour excursion from Reykjavík.

If your flight is at 3.30 you should be there at least 2.5 hours before your flight. From your description I wasn't sure if that is your flight time or the the time you plan to be there. If it's your flight time, there won't be a whole lot of time for exploring that day.

It depends on what you have already seen and what your interests are.

Just keep in mind that you should monitor the conditions and the forecast for your route every morning and only then finalize your plans, since in winter the weather will make or break any plans. If there are icy roads in combination with strong winds or storm alerts, then you should stay put in the city.

Toronto
Level Contributor
300 posts
8 reviews
2. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

Thanks for the quick answer. We're leaving at 5 pm, so we were aiming for 2 hrs before the flight. already had penciled in Reykjadalur for the day of our departure (hopefully we don't get on the plane smelling like sulphur hahahaa).

I did the Golden Circle the last time. wasn't wowwed by our visit at Þingvellir (the weather did suck that day), but maybe i didn't see its best parts.

you suggesting we just stay in Reykjavik? if so, that drive to Vik and back would be pretty long...but worth it?

Cologne, Germany
Destination Expert
for Iceland
Level Contributor
12,759 posts
88 reviews
3. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

If you haven't seen the South Coast then the drive to Vík is well worth it with the waterfalls, the Lava Center, the black sand beach and basalt columns and maybe a glacier hike on Sólheimajökull. It would be a long day, so I would only do that if the weather (and forecast) is fairly good.

In your case with only two full days I personally would avoid staying overnight far from the city, although you could try doing this on day 3 and stay in Hveragerði for your hike early the next morning.

There is a mountain pass on the way back to Reykjavík / the airport, though, that can be challenging in bad weather or even closed, so pay attention to the forecast over the course of the day and if in doubt, cancel your hike and stay close to the airport.

The Golden Circle has a lot of historical and geological significance, but may not be as impressive without the background knowledge or if you have already seen geothermal activity elsewhere. Alternatively you could drive the Reykjanes Peninsula or do an adventure activity like snorkeling Silfra, snowmobiling, horse riding etc.

Edited: 10 June 2018, 02:08
Toronto
Level Contributor
300 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

thanks for the reply.

so the Vik option gets tough when it comes to booking places to stay in Reykjavik or near Vik. Either you book or you don't. couldn't cancel staying on the south coast (you would pay for the stay) and then find a last-minute place in Reykjavik. so that's a bit of a challenge i'll have to chew over...

Cologne, Germany
Destination Expert
for Iceland
Level Contributor
12,759 posts
88 reviews
5. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

I would not stay in Vík in your case. If the weather turns you may be cut off from returning to the city and the area can be dangerous to drive in inclement weather.

I would monitor the weather, and if the forecast looks good, get an early start, drive to Vík and turn around there at the latest and then maybe stay in Hveragerði for your hike the next morning.

I would try to avoid driving in darkness as well.

Edited: 10 June 2018, 02:32
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,864 posts
4 reviews
6. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

Unless the weather is bad (or the forecast is bad) we found the drive to Vik and back took a nice length of time for a day trip. Maybe you could schedule this drive early in the trip in case you want to postpone it for a day. There is a wonderful variety of scenery, and a good balance of exploring and driving time. Kim’s suggestion of staying somewhere overnight on the route back is an excellent one. Staying out in the countryside will add a real dimension to your trip.

Highly recommend that you find time to fit at least a partial drive around the Reykjanes Peninsula into your trip (three hours minimum). You could do this drive before you head to the airport for the trip home. The landscape was the biggest surprise of our trip, and very different from anything else we saw. Amazing place!

Thingvellir is funny. I found it a somewhat ordinary walk with some interesting spots. My daughter was blown away by the geological and historical meanings of the place - loved it! On my upcoming trip with my husband (his first) we’ll include it, because you never know what appeals to different people.

One final suggestion, try out one of the many geothermal public pools, maybe during an evening after taking in the sights all day. There are nine or more pools in Reykjavik alone. Open until 9 or 10 p.m., about $10 pp, and imagine sitting up to your neck in a hot pool under the stars or the Northern Lights!

Toronto
Level Contributor
300 posts
8 reviews
7. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

thanks!

geothermal pools: some in reykjavik looked to be quite pricey, so I was looking at some of the ones outside the city (unless you had suggestions).

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,864 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: 3.5 day trip, late October. 2nd time in Iceland....thoughts?

I’m suggesting the public geothermal pools that Icelanders themselves go to. They’re the equivalent of municipal pools in Canada, but most pools complexes have indoor and/or outdoor swimming lanes, heated hot tubs of various depths and temperatures, some have saunas and water slides as well. There are numerous pools in Reykjavik as well as local pools in most towns and villages. Admission is about $10 pp, with an extra cost if you want to rent a towel. Most are open all day and well into the evening.

The pools are a great bargain compared to the touristy places, as well as a place to experience an important part of the culture. It’s a normal part of many Icelanders’ day to go to the local pool to soak. Google “public geothermal pools Reykjavik” (or town location.) and follow up the results. You do have to be willing to take a shower with soap in an open shower area with other people (in gender separated locker rooms), but it’s normal for Icelanders and not a big deal. You get a locker with key to keep your stuff in in the change room. We tried out different pools on different days.

Have a great trip!

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