Adventures in Iceland - Last day, Tips and recommendations !

March 16th rang our last day for our short (too short !) trip to Iceland. In this post I'll show our half day itinerary as well as maybe answering a few questions everyone might have, and give my personal suggestions.

On that day we packed our bags to a dark and early morning once again. We were leaving Iceland, but not without first having a pit stop at the Blue Lagoon, and a lunch at a small fisherman's village before making our way to Keflavik International Airport.

The way to the Blue Lagoon is very easy, especially if you are going to the airport afterwards. Follow the road to the airport by following the signs and there will be one exit to take towards the south to head over there. 
We had booked the 8 AM slot, and I'm glad we did. No waiting time, all lockers were available for us to choose, the showers were clean and free, we had time to change. 
However, by the time we went out (11h-11h30~) I did find the locker rooms to still be in good shape, there was staff controlling showers and traffic in the changing rooms, so I do believe anytime is good for arrival depending on your schedule, but we did appreciate our early spot. 

The lagoon is bigger than I thought it would ! Even when it became more crowded by 10 AM, it definitely still was comfortable and not overwhelming. Of course, it's a popular spot, but being concious of this, it's totally acceptable. The water is very comfortably warm (37~39°C), and at the entrance you can check their TV plan of the lagoon letting you know the temperatures of the day and warmer spots on it ! 

In there you leave your robe, slippers and towel, and you head outside ! For the courageous like us, Canadian ladies, you can just open the door and walk in the very windy 3°C to go down the slope in the water, or you can go the other more conservative route of the indoor steps to get into the water before exiting through a door. (You can also leave your towel on racks outside, but I wouldn't, considering it's cold and I wanted to come back to a warm towel when coming back inside.)

By the time we had changed and showered, we entered the lagoon by around 8h30 am. We stayed in the water for about 1.5 hour, taking our time, a couple pictures, getting a silica mask and an included in-lagoon drink (Skyr smoothie !) and then we went upstairs to get some hydration (very important as the hot water and sun will dehydrate you a lot !) and relax on their lounge chairs. 

We ended up staying there until around 11h20, when we had to go out to go change, refresh and dry ourselves to make our way for lunch and head to the airport in time.  

Out of the Blue Lagoon, which is on an alternate road off road 43 to Grindavik, we went back on the main road and drove on the mountainous moss plateau to get there, where we found a little parking on top of the mountain with a great view of the small village ! 

Our destination was a small restaurant in the harbour that we read good reviews about, and we were not disapointed ! A very nice lady tended the place where they offered hearty soup as well as a couple choices of open face sandwiches. Café Bryggjan. 

For about 2000 ISK you can get all you can eat vegetable soup, icelandic bread and butter. For a couple hundred kronas more, you can get their lobster soup, which only has good reviews online. We both took the vegetable soup which was very delicious (even for me who's a picky vegetable eater!). I also had a salmon open face sandwich, and my friend tried the chocolate cake which as you can see, she got a very generous portion of (haha). The view is pretty, the staff is very welcoming, the ambiance is very marine/harbor and I do suggest you stop there before or after the airport or Blue Lagoon, or during a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula ! 

And then we drove off to give back our car at CarsIceland/Blue Car Rental (they are associated). And off we were, back to Montreal, which was, to our surprise, colder than Iceland... (haha)

View of Greenland from our plane ~ Maybe a next destination ? :)


Now for some more info !  Q+A !

How much did it cost ? (Canadian dollars approximate conversion for March 2018)

Round Trip Ticket : Montreal - Keflavik (WowAir) - March 12/16  360$
Seat Choice (Optional) : 14$ x 2 (to and from)
Baggage : 1 Carry on added fee 56.95$ x 2 (to and from)
TOTAL : 501.00$

Car Rental (CarsIceland):
March 12th 5:00 PM - March 16th 2:00 PM - Kia Rio 2018 (small 2WD) + 4G Wifi 
TOTAL : 39600 ISK (515.00$) (**divided by two passengers)
(I messed up and reserved one day too much.... Wanted it to be March 13th and not 12..lol)

3 nights SOLO room - Original price 325$
(***We got an on site surprise deal for a rebate to cut price down to around 17000 ISK)
TOTAL : ~~220$

Sandholt Bakery breakfast 22$
Lunch at LOKI café : 1800 ISK ~20$
Ut I Blainn Restaurant (Perlan) dinner : ~60$ (no drink)
Bonus Groceries for snacks and lunch the next day : around 18$ (x2 since we split cost)
First take-out breakfast from hostel : 12$
Coffee in mornings : around 500 ISK each, so 15$ for the trip.
Bakeries in the morning : 900 ISK (Hveragerdi), 1200 ISK (Mosfellsbaer) : 25$
Efsti-Dalur Farm II lunch : 2300 ISK ~ 28$
Dinner at Noodle Station (ramen) : 23$
Grindavik lunch : 22$
Airport snack : 12$
Other snack at corner store : 8-10$
Bathroom in Hella 200ISK, Bathroom in Hveragerdi 100 ISK, bathroom in Skogafoss 200 ISK
TOTAL : approx. ~ 280$

Miscellaneous Parking/Entrace Seljalandsfoss : 700 ISK (card accepted)
Gas : 3000 ISK x 2 + last fill up 4000 ISK (to give back the car with full tank) : 130~$
Gifts : 3x~1000 ISK : 3000 ISK
Kerid Crater entry : 400 ISK per person
TOTAL : ~185$

Total for 4 day trip (for 1 person travelling with 1 friend) : just under 1500$
*Note* : you CAN absolutely go cheaper since as you can see here, we got solo rooms (instead of sharing or even taking a dorm which was available there), ate at the restaurant a couple times but could have bought more groceries and ate home made lunch (there was a kitchenette at the hostel which would have allowed us to cook dinner or breakfast). We would however suggest renting a car, since we save about 100$ individually for not taking tours for the same places we wanted to go, except we made our own schedule and stayed as much as we wanted at places. Your decision ! 


Is it worth it ? 
Yes. Of course, it is a touristy spot, but it is large enough that it isn't too crowded (especially early morning and evening, at least in march), it is comfortable, you can spend as much time as you want there, and it definitely is relaxing either after a long arriving flight or after a long adventure of walking and discovering Iceland !

What package to get ? 
We got the Comfort package (cheapest one, 9990 ISK) and that was perfect. We had one drink included at the Lagoon Bar (in the water) as well as the silica mask and that was fun ! I'm not sure if the higher priced packages are that worth it (12900 and 53000 ISK respectively), especially if you don't plan on dining at the Lava restaurant. In any case, you can get the cheapest one and add services on site if you change your mind with the help of your magnetic bracelet that serves as a payment chip. My friend added a bathrobe to her comfort package, which you can also do.

How is it there ?
Very clean (more than I was told it would be), comfortable, staff is helpful, there are some staff in changing rooms to make sure it stays clean (making sure you dry off before venturing in the changing areas vs shower area), the water was clean, we really did have a comfortable time.
For people not comfortable with nudity, there are showers with frosted doors, but some people in the changing rooms will walk around naked so it's to consider.

4WD or 2WD ?
Of course it depends where you go and when but if you are going from March to October and only plan on visiting Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, South Coast and maybe Snaefellsness peninsula, you do not need a 4WD. We got a Kia Rio 2018 2WD (with studded tires since it's still considered winter) and we had absolutely no issues as all roads are paved, and even in a snowstorm we dealt very well. Even if you aren't too experienced in driving, it will be absolutely ok.
**If you go up north or in the dead of winter (december, january, february), maybe consider 4WD.
***I would suggest automatic (2WD or 4WD) if you aren't used of slopes and very curvy roads. A couple 8-10% slopes got me nervous a little so I definitely wouldn't have wanted to deal with a clutch at that time haha.

Insurance ?
UNLESS you have a good coverage with your credit card company or else, I suggest you take the whole package (you can however possibly skip sand and ash protection if you go in heavy winter time). Some companies have it included (It was for us with CarsIceland)

GPS ? 
My opinion is that you don't need it. Even in my own city that I know, you sometimes get in trouble because the GPS will send you off on a road that has some construction on it or some detours, so I don't trust them much. On top of that, the roads are few and far between in Iceland, so in the worst case, you'll pass your destination and have to come back a few meters (happened to me a couple times lol). I think you are better off with WIFI ! We had a laptop with us (my friend was my copilot) so we could check maps, road quality websites, weather, etc... Which does way more than a simple GPS.

Groceries ?
I found a lot of the things affordable like bread, peanut butter, hummus (we made sandwiches with those), small juice boxes, some fruit were expensive but some were reasonable, snack bars were affordable, pasta as well (we didnt buy any but it wasn't too expensive). I would recommend stopping by a Bonus or Kronan to get some snacks at least for the road during the day, even if you have some restaurants lined up.
Note : Places like 10-11 (more of a corner store) are more expensive, so beware of those.

They will most likely be more expensive than what you are used to. Should you still go ?
Absolutely. We had very good food at all places we went to. One thing that we didn't know but figured out, usually waiters will not bring the bill to the table, you'll have to stand up and go to the counter to pay once you are ready to leave. Also, there is no tipping and most places have tax included so no need to calculate that !

You will encounter toilets which are 100-200 ISK to use. Should you pay it ? Absolutely.
Look, no one is around making sure, but some places had cameras. This shouldn't be like an incentive to pay because I think it's just making your part in helping them taking care of the place. For some places we didn't see any card operated system (it was a small coin box on the wall) but I heard some places do have it.

Cash ? Card ? 
Even though you can probably use a card everywhere, I suggest to change a few thousand kronas before departure (usually banks can order them for you if they don't have it as a currency that's popular). For us it was useful for entrance to a couple places like Kerid (400 ISK), and using toilets. We also used our cash for small purchases like coffee at the gas station for example. It was a fun experience so I suggest it ! We changed around 10000 ISK (around 100$~) and could have dealt with only 3000 ISK but at that point, changing it is a little useless.

Crampons ? 
For coming in March-October if you stay in the west, Reykjanes Peninsula, Reykjavik, Golden Circle and South Coast (even at waterfalls) or major attractions, you will not need them. I had bought a pair of the small rounded flat stud ones, and terrain was snow/ice free 99% of the time. If you go glacier or ice cave exploring, tours usually give them out for the tour, so that isn't a worry. I say don't buy any or don't bring any !

Clothes ?
I can't speak for everyone, because I'm easily warm/hot and not easily cold at all (Canadian lol). During the few days we were there, temperature was around 2-6°C (35-42°F). I wore stretchy pants (jeggings) and leggings and was 100% fine, and had a t-shirt, long sleeve hoodie, and a windbreaker parka and was also 100% fine. So I would say bring layers (as much as you need) but the most important for me was a waterproof and wind proof layer on top of the rest. But as I said, for me, a normal top, one warm and long sleeve layer and the outside layer was way enough.
We did get drizzly rain and hard wind gusts, but no heavy rain nor snow, so consider this.


All in all, even if you have a couple days of layover, I strongly recommend you spend the time and money to visit Iceland. However if you want to break rules to have a perfect Instashot, walk on the moss, climb on rocks and destroy nature, not respect signs and other tourists, stay home. 

This was a PSA. 
Have fun in Iceland ! 


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