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HOME > Iceland


8 days ,  Dec'13



INTRO ICELAND (note: we were travelling in wintertime, the following might not be fully representative of summer travel)

Kind of travel:
Me and my wife Elisa with our 1 year old daughter INES (her first travel!) in an independent travel

27th Dec'13- 04th Jan'14 (yes in the hearth of winter!)

Do I need a visa:
Show up with your ID and it'll be enough

How many km:
1400km by a rented car

How I moved:
we rented a car picking up and leaving at the airport (all the agency have an office at the airport). Don't need a 4wd unless you are planning off-road. To monitor the situation of the road on line is a must. Take into consideration also the cheap domestic flight by icelandair!

Freezing or baking:
No, in winter time Iceland is not Siberia! Don't even think about -40 deg, Iceland is mitigated by the gulf current so along the coast (on the roadring average is -2C) but when we were there it was 4-6C! The only point is the wind so don't forget scarf and heavy cap! Take into consideration there'll be 5 light hours (sunrise 11.00, sunset 16.00) (read tips)

Where I slept:
In Reykjavik we were staying in an ensuite apartment in downtown ( for 100€/night: we had a 1yo baby otherwise it's plenty of guesthouse with dorms for 25€/bed. While outside the capital choices are more limited beyond medium budget hotels for around 110€/night. (read tips)

What I liked:
The icebergs floating to the seaa in Jokullsarlon, the artistic vibe in Reykjavik, the Christmas decorated Icelandic windows, English is widely spoken and overall the Notherns Lights (read tips)

What I disliked:
Wind can be annoying, costs can easily soar up and limited accommodation outside the capital won't help to limit your daily budget. If you are in Iceland in wintertime without managing to see Aurora that'll be what you'll dislike most! (not our case luckly!). If you are sensitive to darkness take into consideration you'll have 5 hours of light each day

How much daily:
yes it's true in 2008 there has been the Icelandic Korona collapse (loosing 80% of his value), but since then economy has recovered and the currency as well. So today Iceland is 20% more expensive than a travel in Germany and year over year there's a 5% increase. Daily budget: 110€/night for a double room, food 50€/day pp (launch fast food, evening: restaurant), car 60€/day, total per person 130€/day pp . Different thing of course if you travel in summer having a tent

What you do need:

Smart phone or Ipad to be updated on Aurora forecast (Aurora forecast) and road situation (road status) (be sure to have wifi in our accommodation). Don't forget the triples to take pictures of Aurora.



Iceland in winter time can sound not accessible given Siberian temperatures, meters of snow and unbearable wind. Only the latter might be true, for the rest Iceland in wintertime is a feasible destination. Yes there are just 4 hours (graph daylight hours + temperatures) but this is part of the charm and the light is as orange as a long sunset. As per moving around you can easily monitor the accessibility of the roads on line mitigating the risk of getting stuck.
We were well impressed by Reykjavik by his artistic and cultural vibe making worth spending more than a couple of days poking around. On top of this we found the Christmas atmosphere with all his lightings unique since there's not a single window not decorated.
I got impressed on how Iceland manages to preserve his cultures avoiding to have it mix by others (ie: no foreign names are allowed for new borns), but despite it you can see the influence of Nordic origins (Scandinavian family oriented tradition) + North American ones (hot dog + coca cola) making you feel a little bit outside Europe.
The last but not the least is the beauty of the Aurora the real highlights of the Icelandic winter; it was years we were waiting for it and it didn't disappoint our expectations. Anyhow don't take for granted you'll see Aurora since you need a little bit of luck (good Aurora intensity + no cloudness) even in wintertime.
The negative parts are the costs in particular the food and the limited choice in term of costs of accommodations outside the capital, it will make Iceland one of the most expensive destination in Europe.




Day Transport Night Price Duration
1 Milan- Kopenghen- Reykjavik Flight

  750€ (back and forth) 2h + 3h
2 night Keflavik airport   Smari hotel (www.smarihotel) 110€/ double room  
2 Airport- Reykjavik Rented car     40km
2 Reykjavik On foot      
2,3,4,6 night Reykjavik   Apartment 110€/night  
3 Pingvellir-Geyser-Gullfoss Rented car    

Full day

4 Blue Lagoon
Rented car     50km
4 Aurora Boreale Bus tour   32€ (Reykjavik excursions) 9.00pm- 2.30am


Rented car      
5 night Near Jokulsarlon   Foss Hotel 110€/ double room  
6 Jokulsarlon-
Rented car     Full day
6 Aurora Boreale Rented car      
7 Reykjavik On foor      
7 night Reykjavik Airport   Smary hotel 110€/double room  
8 Reykjavik- Kopenaghen- Milan
Flight   750€ 3h+2h


We arrived in Iceland in the very late evening, so the only solution with our 1yo daughter (Ines) was staying in a hotel right in front of the airport for 110€/double room + baby cot. Smari Hotel ( is a nice place even if a little anonymous as most of the places around an international airport. In the morning we picked up the car by the Hertz counter inside the airport (50€/day) and while driving to cover the 40km to Reykjavik it was still dark despite being 10 am. Only around 11 am we could see the dawn far in the horizon.
I immediately liked our apartment (, 100€/day) since being placed 100m from the main pedestrian street (Laugavegur) and since big enough (2 rooms + bathroom) to have Ines crawling around.
The first day we poked around the capital, climbing up the steeple of the cathedral to enjoy the view, sliding with the stroller on the frozen lake Tjornin in downtown, visiting the tourist centre to understand how Aurora Tours work...
The following day we jumped on the car on the way to Pingvellir (mid-atlantic ridge), Geyser site and the well-known waterfall of Gullfoss. The road was iced but with the right level of attention feasible.
Pingvellir is the site of the first parliament in the world (around 1000 AC) and where the mid Atlantic ridge (the plates boundary) passes through, since as you might know Iceland is the only place where the ridge emerges from the depth of the Atlantic Ocean. There's a visitor centre and few trails where you can have a walk visiting the historic site.
In Geyser don't expect to see awesome spikes of hot water, since the biggest is at most 10meters high, but it's on the way so it doesn't take that much to stop by.
The real highlight is the frozen waterfall of Gullfoss. When we were there it was windy like hell: we parked the car near the visitor centre then we proceeded holding to the fence to avoid being swept away. Then the image of an outstanding sculpture of ice and water popped up in front of us. The amount of water is definitely less than the one in the summer period but the view is definitely worth it.
We dedicated then almost a full day to the Blue Lagoon: it is one of the most popular site of Iceland placed 50km from Reykjavik (very near the airport). It's as big natural pool of salty water you cannot miss it: there'r all the facilities you might need including shop, restaurants, changing rooms...
You can spend hours floating in the hot water while drinking a beer from the bar in the swimming pool or having massages or mud treatments,...
The trip to Jokulsarlon from Reykjavik takes at least two days. It's a long way but the landscape and the highlights you pass through makes it's worth: in particular the small town of Vik with his black beaches, the waterfall of Skogafoss and the view of Ejafjallajokull volcano from its feet (yes, the one that stopped flight of Europe in 2009). In winter there are few hotels opened, or better the only one we found was Foss hotel (110€/ double).
Jokulsarlon is a bay where the glacier ends, letting huge blocks of ice dropping in the water and then floating to the sea. Expect to see an Artict landscape with hundreds of huge iceberg in the water. The black beach itself with the iceberg stranded it's one of the things mostly surprised me.
Back to the capital given a promising forecast (medium intensity 4/10 and no cloudiness) at 10.00pm we left for an Aurora hunting by car (last time we took the bus tour). After 1h , about 50km from Reykjavik we saw green stripes appearing in the sky and after a while we where enjoying the amazing phenomenon in all its beauty. I took shots using a triple and keeping a 15 sec lens aperture. Two hours spent admiring the Aurora changing shapes has been the best farewell we could got by Iceland.


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