Preparing for Iceland

By Diane Harrison
This item appears on page 14 of the July 2015 issue.
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Iceland is a beautiful country that is very affordable in the winter, but the weather can change quickly. When my parents and I traveled there independently, Feb. 21-25, 2015, we had three days of gale-force winds and two days of significant snow, but we made the most of our vacation due to careful pre-trip preparation. Here are a few travel tips.

Wear good walking shoes. They’re essential. In the snow, slush and ice, most travelers wore boots. 

If you plan to visit the Golden Circle sites close to Reykjavík, consider taking crampons for your shoes. We toured Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park, but we didn’t have crampons, and the ice was so thick that we couldn’t walk up to view Gullfoss.

Prepare for the wind with appropriate headgear and eyewear. I didn’t wear my contact lenses due to concerns about dry eyes and blowing debris. The steam at Geysir affected my throat, so anyone with lung concerns should consider wearing a face mask.

Wear a good-quality winter coat. I wore a wool coat, but a waterproof coat is a better option in heavy snow.

Stay at a full-service hotel. You’ll want one that offers an excursion-booking desk and indoor activities. Excursions are often canceled in the winter, and desk staff can provide updates and rebook canceled excursions. 

In addition, when the weather is bad, it’s important to have indoor activities and a full-service restaurant.

We stayed at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Natura (Naut­hols­vegur 52, 101 Reykjavík; phone +354 444 4000, www.icelandair hotels.com/en/hotels/natura) and it proved to be an excellent choice. 

The hotel offered a library, spa, indoor art displays, a Bobby Fischer museum, nightly showings of the documentary film “Amazing Iceland” and real-time weather and airport updates. Its Satt Restaurant was first class and affordable; two gourmet pizzas cost ISK5,000 (near $37). I highly recommend this hotel.

Use city buses for transportation. There were 15 city bus routes. The No. 5 bus stopped in front of the Natura, and the hotel offered free city bus passes. The buses are a reliable and safe transportation option; they even ran in bad weather.

We made our reservations online at Icelandair’s website (www.icelandair.com). Our “Build Your Own Vacation” package included round-trip airfare from New York’s JFK Airport to Keflavík International Airport on Icelandair and three nights at the Natura, with breakfast, for $974 per person, double, or $1,079, single.

We also purchased round-trip airport/hotel transfers via Flybus (www.re.is/flybus) for $38. We found the transfers essential, since Keflavík airport is 45 minutes from Reykjavík.

DIANE HARRISON

Chesterfield, MO

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Iceland is a beautiful country that is very affordable in the winter, but the weather can change quickly. When my parents and I traveled there independently, Feb. 21-25, 2015, we had three days of gale-force winds and two days of significant snow, but we made the most of our vacation due to careful pre-trip preparation. Here are a few travel tips.

Wear good walking shoes. They’re essential. In the snow, slush and ice, most travelers wore boots. 

If you plan to visit the Golden Circle sites close to Reykjavík, consider taking crampons for your shoes. We toured Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park, but we didn’t have crampons, and the ice was so thick that we couldn’t walk up to view Gullfoss.

Prepare for the wind with appropriate headgear and eyewear. I didn’t wear my contact lenses due to concerns about dry eyes and blowing debris. The steam at Geysir affected my throat, so anyone with lung concerns should consider wearing a face mask.

Wear a good-quality winter coat. I wore a wool coat, but a waterproof coat is a better option in heavy snow.

Stay at a full-service hotel. You’ll want one that offers an excursion-booking desk and indoor activities. Excursions are often canceled in the winter, and desk staff can provide updates and rebook canceled excursions. 

In addition, when the weather is bad, it’s important to have indoor activities and a full-service restaurant.

We stayed at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Natura (Naut­hols­vegur 52, 101 Reykjavík; phone +354 444 4000, www.icelandair hotels.com/en/hotels/natura) and it proved to be an excellent choice. 

The hotel offered a library, spa, indoor art displays, a Bobby Fischer museum, nightly showings of the documentary film “Amazing Iceland” and real-time weather and airport updates. Its Satt Restaurant was first class and affordable; two gourmet pizzas cost ISK5,000 (near $37). I highly recommend this hotel.

Use city buses for transportation. There were 15 city bus routes. The No. 5 bus stopped in front of the Natura, and the hotel offered free city bus passes. The buses are a reliable and safe transportation option; they even ran in bad weather.

We made our reservations online at Icelandair’s website (www.icelandair.com). Our “Build Your Own Vacation” package included round-trip airfare from New York’s JFK Airport to Keflavík International Airport on Icelandair and three nights at the Natura, with breakfast, for $974 per person, double, or $1,079, single.

We also purchased round-trip airport/hotel transfers via Flybus (www.re.is/flybus) for $38. We found the transfers essential, since Keflavík airport is 45 minutes from Reykjavík.

DIANE HARRISON

Chesterfield, MO