Iceland Trip Planning Page
Note: This is the planning page that we put up before our trip to Iceland. I've left it up here for archival purposes, and/or if for some reason you were interested to know what we had originally considered visiting in Iceland (as it turns out, we managed to visit quite a few of the proposed attractions). Many of these pictures I grabbed from the 'net, and I don't have attribution nor do I recall from where I obtained them. If anyone comes across a picture of theirs and wants me to remove it, please let me know. 2012/08/01 JAL
Hi, everyone. With the intent of getting spreading some awareness of what areas are potential things to visit, I've put together this page with a bunch of pictures I've grabbed from around the 'net. There is so much to see, there is absolutely no way we can see all of it in a week. Have a look over these images and descriptions, and let me know what catches your fancy. Or perhaps I should say: what catches your fancy most.
In order to orient yourself, I strongly suggest that you click on the 'map' button once you have opened one of the pictures. This will show a map display that gives you an idea where each of these attractions are located. Once you display the map, zoom out in to a level that gives you a good overview (and don't forget that you can change the map type, too).
There are plenty of short trips we can make in and around the Reykjavik area. Should be enough to fill our time on Friday the 6th and on Saturday the 14th. I'm personally game for the downtown strolling and touring the geothermal plant. Also I'm up for the Blue Lagoon - the big and famous commercial hot springs near the airport (note: cost for visiting Blue Lagoon is about $30 CDN).
Thingvellir National Park
Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant
Slightly farther away from the Reykjavik area are Thingvellir National Park, and some quite interesting geothermal areas - including one that contains geysers, and the original geyser, called 'geysir'.
Also, I've discovered a reasonably out-of-the-way hot spring that we could hike into and have a bit of spa bathing in true nature, rather than in a commercialized facility.
Non-commercial hot spring
Heading out of the Reykjavik area along the southern stretch of the Ring Road, there are a bunch of spots with fantastic mountain, coastal, and volcanic scenery. There's the area around Thorsmork and the Fimmvordoulas pass, where the big 2010 eruptions occurred, there's the Laki area, with a big chain of craters from a big volcanic eruption from a few hundred years ago; there's the Landmannalaugar area, which has particularly bright and multicolored volcanic slopes and hills (requires some inland mountain road driving to get to); and, there are several nice coastal locations. Vik especially seems to have some nice stuff, including some basalt cliffs that were seen in that video that Roland showed us a few months back.
Apparently there are some pretty interesting bird watching opportunities along the coast - we could probably fit that in fairly easily if the location is close to the main highway.
Coastal cliffs and seabirds
Caroline mentioned the Laki craters area - it is apparently quite interesting, geologically-speaking. Will require some interior road travel to get to, though.
In the south-east coast part of Iceland, there's the massive Vatnajokull icecap, Vatnajokull National Park, and our climb of Hvannadalshnukur, Iceland's highest peak. The climb to the peak is a technically easy but reasonably physically challenging day-hike from the coastal lowlands (approx 24km round-trip, elevation gain ~6500 feet). Those who don't want to do the climb will have many day-hiking opportunities in the park below the glaciers. Note: we will need to do some glacier travel practice/prep here in Ottawa before we leave on the trip - probably an evening or two in someone's back yard.
East of the highest peak are some interesting coastal-side attractions - a neat iceberg filled lagoon and some nice fjords in the east (there aren't any fjords along the south coast, as far as I can tell). Again, lots of nice waterfalls and plenty of day-hiking, assuming we have time.
Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon
Swinging around to the northeast, there's a very impressive set of waterfalls running through a narrow strip of Vatnajokull national park, and some interesting hiking trails leading to them. This includes the Dettifoss - Iceland's (and all of Europe's) largest waterfall. Also in the northeast is the Lake Myvatn area, which has lots of interesting hot springs, mud pots, boiling things, etc.
Hverarond hot spring area
I hear lots of references to how nice Akureryi is (Iceland's second largest city). Also nearby are some historic Icelandic homestead type stuff.
The northwest fjords area sounds really remote and interesting, but it is slow to get to and somewhat out of the way. With all of the other stuff to see, it's hard to imagine us getting into here - but if anyone is interested, do speak up.
Finally, the westernmost tip of Iceland is on a long peninsula that has a few interesting sights, including a nice glacier-capped peak (made famous from Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth) right at the end of the peninsula. The end of the peninsula is also where one of Iceland's better bird watching cliffs is located.