Tag Archives: reykjavik

Agent Trip Report: Reykjavik

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Downtown Reykjavik

Last week, WIT Agent Wailana headed out to Iceland to find out firsthand exactly why this small country’s tourism has exploded in the past 5 years. In 2010 alone, half a million travelers arrived on Iceland’s shores. Willamette Intl Travel has sent several clients there on layovers and road adventures, and the island continues to call to families and single travelers alike.

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typical street scene

 

Report by Wailana

I arrived at 6:45am from the nonstop over Seattle. The Reykjavik airport is quite small, and it was quite easy to pass through customs and passport control.

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Hallgrimskirkja

There’s a Saga Club Lounge accessible for Saga Class and Comfort Class travelers (Saga members can also take advantage of the British Airways business lounge in Seattle). It’s a perfect place to relax for a brief respite, with local artwork, fireplace and waterfalls filling the space.

At the arrivals terminal, rental car kiosks are abundant and it’s a painless procedure to go pick up your pre-paid car. You can also take the airport shuttle bus into city. It’s a bit of a 45 min drive from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik, but as soon as you arrive in downtown, it’s very easily navigated.

 

 

I definitely recommend spending the first day taking it easy as you recover from jet lag. After you’ve IMAG0559checked in to your downtown hotel, you can walk along the harbor, explore the petite streets, or pop into a nearby café for some local treats. The city has a great selection of restaurants, brunch joints, and cozy cafes—Icelanders love their coffee! Don’t forget to pop into a bakery for some fresh delights—I recommend trying the local wheat croissant!

The sky was overcast, but not too cold at about 60 degrees F. Reykjavik’s weather is notoriously unpredictable—there’s a local saying, if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change! The best time to go? June to August, summertime means mild climate and peak tourist season. Keep in mind, however, that prices tend to double if not triple during this time.

Highlights of Reykjavik:

–         Hallgrimskirkja Chuch, influenced by the basalt formations all over the country. Climb to the top of the 73m bell tower for some great panoramas.

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–         Austurvollur Square and the parliament building

–         Walk along the harbor at Saebraut street

–         Stop at the indoor Kolaportid flea market (10am-5pm weekends) for some snacks

–         Harpa Concert Hall, for a tour or world-class concert

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Harpa

–         Try seafood at one of the wharf restaurants on Geirsgata, lobster soup

–         For some cute boutiques try Hverfisgata street. Knitted wool is big in Iceland, so don’t forget to pick up some new mittens or cap!

–         Check out the 1200 years of history at the National Museum (10am-5pm daily summer)

–         If history’s your thing, check out the Culture House for a chance to see some medieval manuscripts (though at the time of writing, these were withdrawn for repair until further notice)

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Library in the Culture House

–         Most beer in Iceland is nothing to write home about, but Islenski Barinn specializes in more than 30 beers from microbreweries all across Iceland.

–         Dine out. As Iceland imports a lot of fruits and vegetables, food tends to be expensive. An entrée of lamb or puffin will easily be US$35-50. The plus side is that most main courses come with soup and/or salad, and in good portions.

–         For some nice walking after your meal, head up to Öskjuhlíð, a pine-forested hill and local landmark. Sitting atop the hill is Perlan, originally built as to house hot water storage tanks. Now you can find a couple souvenir shops and the Saga Museum.

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view from the harbor

Only there for a day or two? Take advantage of one of the spectacular day trips.

Tune in this Friday for: The Golden Circle (Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss)

Thinking about a trip to Iceland next summer 2014? Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to chat with one our agents!

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Iceland: 5 Easy Day Trips Around Reykjavik

Taking advantage of free stopovers in Reykjavik with Icelandair? Don’t know what to do with your extra time? Here are some suggestions for a few days in the capital city.

Strokkur (c) Emil Kepko, Creative Commons

GOLDEN CIRCLE

This classic day trip takes you out to the most accessible sights in Iceland. Stop at Geysir and Strokkur hot springs, then check out the powerful Gulfoss waterfall. Visit Thingvellir, the site of the oldest functioning parliament in the world. Your visit will also include a visit to the Nesjavellir power plant (weather permitting) and the charming village of Hveragerði.

Northern Lights (c) Steve Hicks, Creative Commons

NORTHERN LIGHTS

Don’t miss the exceptional opportunity to view and photography the Northern Lights! Only available from September to April, this tour will take you on a mysterious night trip far away from the city’s lights.

Blue Lagoon (c) Sarah Ackerman, Creative Commons

BLUE LAGOON

Only have a day’s window in Reykjavik? Head to the Blue Lagoon, one of the most valuable tourist destinations in Iceland. The Blue Lagoon lies between Keflavik airport and Reykjavik, allowing easy access for folks on layover. Bathe in warm waters or enjoy a spa mud treatment surrounded by lava fields and snow-capped mountains.

SOLHEIMAJOKULL GLACIER

Embark an adventure with an expert guide to hike and ice climb on this magnificent glacier! Explore the rugged terrain with provided ice axes and crampons—beginners welcome! View some spectacular ice formations on the glacier tongue, from crevasses, sink holes, and jagged ridges. Once you’ve had your glacier adventure, stop and admire Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls.

Jökulsárlón (c) Shadowgate, Creative Commons

JOKULSARLON

Take a full day tour to South Reykjavik and the stunningly gorgeous Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. Enjoy a scenic drive past picturesque villages, through the vast desert of Skeidarasandur, and pass Iceland’s biggest volcano, Oraefajokull. At the lagoon, you’ll enjoy a boat ride through the ice lagoon. This tour is seasonal, operating from 1 May to 31 October.

WIT Agent Wailana will be heading to Iceland next week. Stay tuned to her first hand account! Summer airfares are now open on the nonstop Seattle to Reykjavik! For more information booking a holiday in Iceland, call 503-224-0180 or email info@witravel.com. Did you know that you can book free multi-day stopovers in Reykjavik? Yes! Call us to find out how!

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