Help Wanted: The Best Way to Spend a Long Connection in Iceland

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Help Wanted: The Best Way to Spend a Long Connection in Iceland

Joseph HostetlerHelp Wanted: The Best Way to Spend a Long Connection in IcelandMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Joseph:    At the end of the month, I have a 20-hour connection in Reykjavik.  And I need help making the most of my time.

I have tentative plans, but I’m easily swayed.  I’ve heard lots of rumors about Iceland from friends, and those things heavily influence my agenda.  If any of them are inaccurate, or if you have better ideas, I need to hear it.

Help Wanted The Best Way To Spend A Long Connection In Iceland
Iceland Isn’t as Icy as Some Folks Think!

These are the things I intend to do.

How To Spend a Layover in Iceland

WOW Air has made Iceland very accessible to lots of folks.  They serve 14 US cities, and regularly sell fares to Europe and beyond for just $99 one-way.

WOW Air operates as a hub and spoke, which basically means every single flight touches down in Iceland.  No matter your destination, you will route through Iceland.

Help Wanted The Best Way To Spend A Long Connection In Iceland
If You’re Flying WOW Air, You’re Stopping in Iceland

Many of WOW Air’s itineraries include a long layover (7 to 20+ hours) in Iceland.  Which is plenty of time for a quick expedition!  So I’m trying to find the best way to spend my time.

What I Do NOT Plan to Do

1.   Northern Lights

The northern lights are a bucket list item for just about everyone (if it’s not on your list, reevaluate).  I booked a trip last year to Tromso, Norway, to try and spot them, but had to cancel the trip.

Unfortunately, this trip will take place long after the ideal season to spot the Northern Lights.  Plus, there’s a full moon the night I’m there, which I’m certain will diminish any chances of seeing them.

2.   Blue Lagoon

I WANT TO DO THIS.  But I’m not going to for a couple reasons.

First, it’s not exactly cheap.  The least expensive ticket to entry is ~$70.  And you have to pay extra for luxury amenities, like a private room to change your clothes.

Help Wanted The Best Way To Spend A Long Connection In Iceland
The Blue Lagoon Is a Gigantic Artificial Hot Spring Lagoon

I’ve talked with a couple travelers who have recently visited Iceland, and they say the locals can’t stand the place.  They strongly discouraged a visit.

3.   Restaurant Hopping

Like most folks, if I’m in a new place I like to research the best places to eat.  But from what I’ve heard about Reykjavik, there aren’t many “ethnic” restaurants.  I don’t know what qualifies as Icelandic cuisine, but one of my friends found that Italian and Mexican are more commonplace than Nordic food.  And the alcohol is unreasonably expensive.

Someone please tell me this is incorrect.

What I DO Plan to Do

I’ll have ~11 hours of daylight once I get to Iceland.

1.   Walk Reykjavik

Everyone says Reykjavik is extremely walkable.  You can stroll the length of the city in less than half an hour.

Help Wanted The Best Way To Spend A Long Connection In Iceland
Hallgrímskirkja Church in Downtown Reykjavik Looks Stupefying

Most shops seem to close by 6:00 pm, though supermarkets are open until 11:00 pm.  So I’ll need to do any recreational shopping before drifting the countryside.

2.   Visit the Puffins

You can find puffins in Iceland from April to September.  Iceland is the home of 60% of Earth’s puffin population.  Akurey and Lundy are islands known for puffin colonies.  They’re on the east coast of Iceland, less than an hour away from the airport.

3.   Just Drive

If you’re in a country with drop dead gorgeous landscape, some of the most fun you can have is driving.  With imposing mountains, thunderous waterfalls, and forsaken tundra, Iceland is one of those places.

Help Wanted The Best Way To Spend A Long Connection In Iceland
Craving a Lonesome Road

Bottom Line

Iceland is an unbelievably cheap destination to reach, and I’m sure I’ll return within the next few years.  But I’m looking to make the most of my 20-hour connection next week!  Some popular activities for a long stop are:

  • Visit the Blue Lagoon
  • View the Northern Lights
  • Go puffin watching
  • Explore Reykjavik

I’ve added a couple of those to my itinerary, but I’d really appreciate alternate ideas.  If anyone has been to Iceland, give some recommendations for how I and other readers should spend a layover in Iceland!

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I know it’s expensive, but the Blue Lagoon is really quite an experience.

It was our last stop before heading home after a short 4 day vacation to Iceland. The facility is beautiful, and the restaurant was even amazing too.

I don’t regret stopping there and visiting the big “tourist trap”.

I LOVED Blue Lagoon and you didn’t have to pay extra to change clothes. The lagoon is huge and there’s so much mist you really don’t see the whole thing. It’s heavenly.
Traditional Icelandic food includes rotted shark head and rock moss/lichen. That should be enough to explain why your friends found Italian or other ethnic foods. Iceland is NOT known for it’s food. I brought a lot of my own and was very glad I had done so.
Iceland is green and fabulous!!! Have a great time.

Skip the Blue Lagoon, drive the Golden Circle, stop at all the sights.

Walk between two tectonic plates–Iceland is the only place in the world that you can do it!

Eat Icelandic Skyr–more nutritious than yogurt, with flavors like creme brulee and strawberry cheesecake, and you can purchase it at the airport near baggage claim. Not all brands are created equal. We preferred Skyr.is in the curvaceous container.

Go to a Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (it’s a hot dog chain) and eat a real Icelandic Hotdog with the works: https://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2014-08-21/the-one-dish-to-eat-in-iceland

Sample the bread that’s baked in the ground: http://www.bbc.com/travel/gallery/20170711-the-icelandic-bread-thats-baked-in-the-ground

Try Icelandic chocolate with black licorice bits.

Have fun!

Author
Joseph Hostetler

This is what I’m talking about!! Thanks, you two!

I second the hot dog stand. Bill Clinton ate there and if I remember correctly you order a “Clinton.”

The airport you land at is in Keflavik (about a 45 minute drive to Rejkjavik). The blue lagoon now cost $100 (USD) and requires advanced reservations. If you just want to see the lagoon you can drive there and see most of it for free. The Blue Lagoon is only a 20 minute drive from the airport.

You can only see puffins from early June to mid-August.

Author
Joseph Hostetler

Thanks for this! I’ll jaunt around the Reykjanes Peninsula, as well. It does look stunning!

Unfortunately the east coast of Iceland is an 8 – 10 hour drive from Reykjavik. A great drive from Reykjavik is the Reykjanes peninsular – only a 30 minute drive from the airport.

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