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Courto05

Iceland help

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Hello. I apologise if I have posted this in the wrong area. This is my first post. I am going on a cruise around the world. There are 3 stops in Iceland. One I don’t need help with. Another is Akureyri and the other Reykjavík. I have never been to Iceland. I’m interested in the nature side of things, as well as the town/city side of things (I enjoy seeing how and where other people live - the culture, architecture, food etc). My thought is for one place I would spend majority of time in the town and in the other port do nature. I’m wondering for people who have done both, if you could tell me which you enjoyed more. Below is what I’m thinking as options. I’m open to any other ideas. Please note hiring a car is NOT an option for us - we are not confident driving in a foreign country and on the wrong side of the vehicle and road. So we would be doing a tour (local preferably but perhaps ship). We are in akureyri 10am-8pm and Reykjavik 7am-6pm - July

 

Option 1

Akureyri 

Godafoss, laufas, Xmas house, Kaffe ku farm, city tour (4.5 hours), rest of time spent in town

 

Reykjavik 

golden circle tour - National Park, geyser, waterfall (7.5 hours) - probably no time for town

 

Option 2

Akureyri 

godafoss, myvatn baths (5 hours), rest of time in town

 

Reykjavik

golden circle

 

Option 3

Akureyri

godafoss, Lake Myvatn, (possibly baths as well), skutustadir, dimmuborgir, namaskard (6-8 hours depending on tour), no time for town or at best small bus tour at the end 

 

Reykjavik

town

 

 

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If you're interested in nature, I would definitely recommend Option 3 for Akureyri. The geothermal area at Námaskarð (also variably referred to as Hverir, Hverarönd, and Námafjall) is an impressive collection of boiling mudpits and volcanically-shaped landscapes. I wouldn't worry too much about spending time in Akureyri itself. It's a fairly small place, and the most striking thing about it is the abundance of plant life -- unique in Iceland, but somewhat lost on visitors coming from elsewhere. In fact, many lists of top attractions for Akureyri focus on the surrounding area more than the town itself. Within the city, the two main sights are the church and the botanical gardens (impressive for Iceland and pleasant for a stroll, but definitely not a must-see when you only have two days in the country).

 

If you really want to see some of Icelandic city life, I would do so in Reykjavik, where there's a lot more city sightseeing available. However, it's still a compromise between seeing the city and seeing the surrounding area, and the Golden Circle is well worth the trip. The geysirs are fairly unique, especially with Strokkur erupting so often. And if you're interested in geology, Þingvellir is a fantastic place to observe the continental drift. Personally, I was less impressed with Gullfoss, partly because of the crowds. That owes a lot to our visiting at the tail-end of a long trip around the country, and we'd already had the chance to visit Goðafoss and Dettifoss, which were also beautiful and spectacular but had far fewer visitors.

 

To me, Iceland is a place to focus on nature and scenery. The lifestyle is certainly unique and interesting, but I'm not sure how much of that you can pick up on by spending a day in one of the two cities. It's more noticeable in how people live in the remote countryside or by learning how the small population and societal structure influence people's lives. From the surface, I don't think Reykjavik seems drastically different from similarly-sized Scandinavian cities.

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1 hour ago, Courto05 said:

Hello. I apologise if I have posted this in the wrong area. This is my first post. I am going on a cruise around the world. There are 3 stops in Iceland. One I don’t need help with. Another is Akureyri and the other Reykjavík. I have never been to Iceland. I’m interested in the nature side of things, as well as the town/city side of things (I enjoy seeing how and where other people live - the culture, architecture, food etc). My thought is for one place I would spend majority of time in the town and in the other port do nature. I’m wondering for people who have done both, if you could tell me which you enjoyed more. Below is what I’m thinking as options. I’m open to any other ideas. Please note hiring a car is NOT an option for us - we are not confident driving in a foreign country and on the wrong side of the vehicle and road. So we would be doing a tour (local preferably but perhaps ship). We are in akureyri 10am-8pm and Reykjavik 7am-6pm - July

 

Option 

Akureyri 

Godafoss, laufas, Xmas house, Kaffe ku farm, city tour (4.5 hours), rest of time spent in town

 

Reykjavik 

golden circle tour - National Park, geyser, waterfall (7.5 hours) - probably no time for town

 

Option 2

Akureyri 

godafoss, myvatn baths (5 hours), rest of time in town

 

Reykjavik

golden circle

 

Option 3

Akureyri

godafoss, Lake Myvatn, (possibly baths as well), skutustadir, dimmuborgir, namaskard (6-8 hours depending on tour), no time for town or at best small bus tour at the end 

 

Reykjavik

town

 

 

Thanks so much for your fast and detailed reply. You probably can understand that I don’t want to do waterfalls and mud pools and lava formations at both places so opting for one area for that and the other for in town keeps it a mix. On my trip I’m trying to do a variety of things. I’m aware there is whale watching but I can do that where I live. I’ll be doing glaciers in Norway.... It’s so hard to choose ‘the right one’. Your input is appreciated. I’ll be saving this post and filing it. You have confirmed my thinking that Akureyri is more about the surrounding area than the town itself although the town does look lovely. Thanks again. Edit: why has my original post copied? I would have thought replying would be simple but I’ve apparently pressed a wrong button somewhere

Edited by Courto05

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Reykjavik is a nice town, but it really pales in comparison to the landscape around it.  I would not spend the day there when you could go out and see Iceland instead.  If you don't want to do the Golden Circle, consider a south coast tour as far as Vik, to the black sand beach.  Or an Into the Volcano tour, or diving/snorkeling between the continental plates at Silfra.  A super jeep tour into the highlands of Thorsmork.  There are lots of options that are unique to Iceland. 

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Thanks ljandgb. I saw your msg on TripAdvisor- thanks. You’ve given me places to consider that I hadn’t known about or didn’t realise could be done from Reykjavik. You may have made my decision a little harder ha ha. Thanks. 

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We've been to/enjoyed Iceland twice (2009, 2016), stopping at Akureyri, Isafjoerdoer, and Reykjavik.  Sometime during that period I became aware of an Icelandic mystery writer--Arnaldur Indriðason.  I've now read about 5 or 6 of his books--they're available in English.  His protagonist idetective Erlendur and he works out of Reykjavik, although some of his cases are north of there.  I highly recommend them if you want to read about how gritty life (and death) in Iceland can be.

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OP: welcome to Cruise Critic!

 

My wife and I were on Holland America's 20-night "Viking Passage" a few months ago, during which we virtually circumnavigated Iceland and, among other port calls there, had two full days in Reykjavik and, as it turned out 2.5 days in Akureyri.  (We were only supposed to be in Akureryri for one day, but weather intervened to get us there early and keep us there longer.) All told, we spent nearly a week in Iceland, and our takeaway was that the country's varied and natural beauty is the reason to visit, not the towns.

 

No offense to the people of Akureyri, but we did not find it to be a very interesting place. In sharp contrast, the surrounding area was beautiful.  We did a full day tour --- the classic Myvatn area tour, which took us to, among other places, Godafoss, Lake Myvatn, the pseudo craters, Dimmuborgir, the Nature Baths, and Hverir.  It was a wonderful day, and so I'd say your option 3 for Akureyri comes closest.

 

We used our two days in Reykjavik to do the South Coast tour the first day, and the Golden Circle tour the second.  With only one day in Reykjavik, and so much beauty outside the city, I just would not spend that day in Reykjavik. (Of course, your interests may really differ.)  Also, while the Golden Circle tour is perhaps more famous than the South Coast tour, we thought the South Coast was far more spectacular and interesting (although walking alongside the North American plate in Thingvellir was a thrill). The South Coast is a very long day, and it's possible you might not have time for it, you'd have to check that out with a tour operator.  (BTW, I  highly recommend GeoIceland.)  

 

I'm happy to answer any questions.  Enjoy whatever you decide!

 

Reynisfjara black sand beach (South Coast)

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Skogafoss (South Coast) [You can, and should, walk right up to this spectacular waterfall.  And you will get wet.  It's thrilling]

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Sólheimajökul (South Coast)

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(photos by turtles06)

Edited by Turtles06

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We did an almost full-day tour out into the countryside, including provided lunch, the day our ship was docked at Akureyri. It's a small-ish city that looked nice, but don't regret only seeing the highlights from the coach on the way back to the ship.

 

I'd strongly urge you to see the outlying area if possible. Here are a some photos from that day to help you decide (convince you). 

 

a.  Famous waterfall more impressive "live" than my photo. 

 

b.  Sulphur flats - can't get the smell through, nor does my picture do complete justice to the smoke. Highlight of the trip for my mom. 

 

c.  We stopped at a City of Rocks, long pathway passing by various formations. There are folks up on this one, though difficult to discern perhaps without enlarging (pinching out). 

 

d.  A solitary cyclist making their way between the European and American (tectonic) plates. 

 

 

 

 

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thanks for all your responses. Between cruise critic and TripAdvisor (as well as the beautiful photos), I’m convinced my original thinking is wrong. Not one person thinks seeing the towns is worth it. So I will be taking the advice and definitely doing nature. Now just to see whether I do golden circle or south coast (if time). Very glad I asked the question. Thanks again

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On 11/21/2018 at 10:07 PM, Turtles06 said:

. . .

Reynisfjara black sand beach (South Coast)

. . .

We have done the Golden Circle and the southern shore as well.  Thought it was interesting that the black "sand" beach is actually made up of pebbles, not grains of sand.

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This summer we did a cruise that included Reykyavik and Akureyri. We booked trips at both places with FAB Tours. We had a small bus with 8 people so there was a little flexibility how much time we spent at each place. The tours were fantastic and we did the Golden Circle tour and your Option 3. We saw so much in the limited time we had and the driver took us drive round Reykyavik and dropped us for a few minutes to take photos. Similarly in Akureyri we asked the driver to drop us in the town so we could walk back to the ship. I could really recommend this company and we didn't pay until we met with them. They gave us a discount as we booked both trips with them.

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On ‎11‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 10:33 AM, BarbinMich said:

We've been to/enjoyed Iceland twice (2009, 2016), stopping at Akureyri, Isafjoerdoer, and Reykjavik.  Sometime during that period I became aware of an Icelandic mystery writer--Arnaldur Indriðason.  I've now read about 5 or 6 of his books--they're available in English.  His protagonist idetective Erlendur and he works out of Reykjavik, although some of his cases are north of there.  I highly recommend them if you want to read about how gritty life (and death) in Iceland can be.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I have now ordered a couple of his books.  Looking forward to reading them before my trip to Iceland.

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On 11/21/2018 at 10:07 PM, Turtles06 said:

. . . Also, while the Golden Circle tour is perhaps more famous than the South Coast tour, we thought the South Coast was far more spectacular and interesting (although walking alongside the North American plate in Thingvellir was a thrill). . . .

 

Before we visited Iceland the first time (2009), I did a lot of research about it and the "meeting" of the North American plate with the European plate intrigued me.  It's easy (or was) to have a foot on each plate at the same time, which is pretty amazing!  In the mid-60s I had a geology course in college which dealt with the various plates that make up the earth's crust/surface so it was a thrill to finally see that juncture in Iceland!  For me it's hard to pick which of the two tours is better because they offer such different scenery.  They both offer spectacular waterfalls; one offers Thingvellier, the other the southern coast with its black "sand" beaches, off-shore sea stacks, caves, access to a glacier..

Edited by BarbinMich

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On 11/21/2018 at 1:33 PM, BarbinMich said:

We've been to/enjoyed Iceland twice (2009, 2016), stopping at Akureyri, Isafjoerdoer, and Reykjavik.  Sometime during that period I became aware of an Icelandic mystery writer--Arnaldur Indriðason.  I've now read about 5 or 6 of his books--they're available in English.  His protagonist idetective Erlendur and he works out of Reykjavik, although some of his cases are north of there.  I highly recommend them if you want to read about how gritty life (and death) in Iceland can be.

 

Very glad I stumbled across this thread.

 

I *love* reading books set in the location we will be seeing in the future.  (Thus far, my favorite is a series set in Venice, where the inside of the cover - if one has the hardback copy - shows a map, with a few key locations pointed out.  It was rather amazing when we got there, how much I had a sense of where things were, and were *we* were, and in a place where there certainly aren't streets all at right angles to each other!).

 

GC

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21 hours ago, GeezerCouple said:

 

Very glad I stumbled across this thread.

 

I *love* reading books set in the location we will be seeing in the future.  (Thus far, my favorite is a series set in Venice, where the inside of the cover - if one has the hardback copy - shows a map, with a few key locations pointed out.  It was rather amazing when we got there, how much I had a sense of where things were, and were *we* were, and in a place where there certainly aren't streets all at right angles to each other!).

 

GC

Glad to hear you were interested in my Iceland fiction suggestion.  May I ask what author you read re Venice?  My sister put me on to Donna Leon's detective series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, including Death at la Fenice [the opera house there which I insisted we find when we were in Venice pre-cruise in 2011 <g>].  It's very ornate inside.  The last one I read is her latest:  Earthly Remains.  I also read and enjoyed John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels.  Finally, I also enjoyed Marlena de Blasi's A Thousand Days in Venice.

Edited by BarbinMich

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3 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

Glad to hear you were interested in my Iceland fiction suggestion.  May I ask what author you read re Venice?  My sister put me on to Donna Leon's detective series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, including Death at la Fenice [the opera house there which I insisted we find when we were in Venice pre-cruise in 2011 <g>].  It's very ornate inside.  The last one I read is her latest:  Earthly Remains.  I also read and enjoyed John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels.  

 

Yes, Donna Leon :classic_smile:

 

I just recently read her most recent, Earthly Remains, but I had read most of them, one after another, about 3-4 years ago, in the months approaching our trip to Venice.

I love maps in general, so I was often referring back to the maps in the front of the books, even about areas that weren't specifically marked.

 

There are a surprising number of such series.  There are two for southern France, one in the Dordogne, and the other near Aix en Provence.  There's another set in Alaska, and that was great fun, too... until one of the later books in the main series *suddenly* got VERY grisly, and about a favorite character, and at a really bad time.  I couldn't read more of that set after that.  (Something must have happened in the author's life just as she was writing that...!?)

 

There is a tour in Venice that specifically highlights the locations in Leon's books.  We didn't take that, as DH hadn't read the books, and I can just imagine, his excitement upon hearing, "Here is where Commissario Brunetti lives" ! :classic_biggrin:

 

I've found that in some cases, reading them in order can be quite important, but usually only slightly, or even not much at all.

 

GC

 

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1 hour ago, GeezerCouple said:

 

Yes, Donna Leon :classic_smile:

 

I just recently read her most recent, Earthly Remains, but I had read most of them, one after another, about 3-4 years ago, in the months approaching our trip to Venice.

I love maps in general, so I was often referring back to the maps in the front of the books, even about areas that weren't specifically marked. 

. . .

GC

 

We haven't spent any time in inland France so I guess the series set in Dordogne and Aix en Provence wouldn't mean as much to me.  However, we've been to Alaska several times, so please let me know the author/name of that series.

 

I love maps, too.  We've traveled fairly extensively in the US and Canada and I did the navigating while DH did the driving.  My local AAUW group has annual book sales and I've picked up a number of older atlases, as well. <g>

Edited by BarbinMich

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8 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

We haven't spent any time in inland France so I guess the series set in Dordogne and Aix en Provence wouldn't mean as much to me.  However, we've been to Alaska several times, so please let me know the author/name of that series.

 

I love maps, too.  We've traveled fairly extensively in the US and Canada and I did the navigating while DH did the driving.  My local AAUW group has annual book sales and I've picked up a number of older atlases, as well. <g>

 

Good ol' Google :classic_smile:  I didn't even have to get up to go find one of the books (amidst the stacks of books... how *will* we ever downsize... but I digress...)

 

Dana Stabenow's series about "Kate Shugak".

 

It's mostly set in more of wilderness areas, so not really where we'd be (maybe if we were younger?).

But they were still very nice to give a flavor of "a slightly different way of life", etc.

 

But when you get to the one where a group of businessmen fly in for their own guided tour (or something similar; I'm not trying to relive it too much), well... consider skipping that one.  It is NOT like the others.  (Sounds like Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the others", eh?

But obviously others must have also liked that one.  I don't tend to "do" violence, in books, movies, TV.  Not my thing.

 

Enjoy!

 

GC

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Thanks!  I've just requested her first two books (actually one is a book of short stories by different authors) from my library and look forward to reading them.  I used to belong to the Mystery Book Club of my local AAUW, but we never read any of her books in the years I belonged.

 

I also have read a number of Jo Nesbo's thrillers (the AAUW Mystery group introduced me to him).  Usually pretty grisly and he's a "mess".  We've been to Oslo on a cruise so that helps being familiar with his "scene."

Edited by BarbinMich

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I have not cruised Iceland but we are doing a land based trip here soon.  I concur with the majority of Reykjavik and not being a city you must see.  We have 2 full days dedicated just to being in Reykjavik and we are struggling at things to do.  We are fine with that because we have full day tours and an overnight tour booked during our trip so we will enjoy a little relaxation. 

 

If you decide to stick to Reykjavik city, one of the things we are doing one day is the Hop on Hop Off Bus.  It is about $35 USD per person and there is a pickup right by the cruise dock.  I believe the tour if you don't get off is about 60 - 75 minutes.  One of the stops on the HOHO Bus is Perlan - Wonders of Iceland which is kinda like a museum plus a great observation point to see Reykjavik.  They have quite a few museums but none seem of interest to us.  

 

Another option is from Reykjavik they have puffin cruises as it will be puffin season.  They seem to be about an hour cruise from Reykjavik.  Not sure if you'll be seeing puffins in Norway but for us it would be neat to see them. 

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