Cathy and I spent a few days in Iceland last week. The northern lights and a lava spewing volcano were on our bucket list. We saw neither however came away hugely impressed. Iceland is absolutely perfect for a 5 day vacation.
First about our travel logistics in this time of COVID resurgence. We flew Icelandair direct between Toronto and Reykjavic. (The picture is sunset over the North Atlantic off Iceland. ) There is a fair amount of paperwork to fill in – an entry form to Iceland plus vaccination certificate and negative COVID test taken in Toronto. On the return to Toronto, a completed ArriveCAN, a vaccination certificate and a negative COVID test from Iceland. And I was picked for a random on the spot COVID test on arrival in Toronto.
HINT: A few days before our flight, the airline sent Cathy a note that we could bid on upgrades to business class. She bid a minimal amount and ‘won’ upgrades for both outbound and inbound flights. Icelandicair does this right, so buy the upgrade if you can at reasonable cost – we got access to the lounges at both ends with food & drinks, and of course roomy seats and good food & drinks on the flights.
We booked everything through Icelandair Vacations so that if the trip was canceled, we would not have to deal with hotels and tours separately. We think that we got a really good deal – airfare, transport to and from the airport, 4 nights at the three star Klettur Hotel (in the old town) with breakfast, a spa day at the SKY Lagoon, hop on hop off bus, and an evening boat trip to see the northern lights. All for about CDN $1000 each. HINTS: Room 437 at the Klettur is recommended. And don’t miss eating at the Reykjavic Kitchen that is about 100 metres from the Klettur and is rated as the city’s #2 restaurant by TripAdvisor.
Everything is in easy walking distance in the Old Town and we used the hop on hop off bus to get to the National Museum. Cathy and I would recommend visiting this museum early in your visit. We liked having the context about the timeline of Viking, Norwegian and Danish dominance, the progression of pagan to catholic to lutheran religious eras, and the affect of the volcanos and earthquakes that are due to the rift that crosses Iceland where the European and American tectonic plates shift about 1 inch per year. I will include some pictures of the rift valley in a future blog.
Here are some pictures from our walkabouts in Reykjavic. Over the next few days, I am going to publish two additional blogs about our trip to the countryside and our food & spa experiences.
A couple of other things that friends have asked about. Reykjavik winter temperatures are about the same as Toronto in the range of 20 to 35 degrees F, or -6 to +2 Celsius. It is damp from the ocean so take layers of clothes, and the sidewalks get icy so take good boots. Also be ready for sunrise at 11:00 am, and sunset about 3 pm.