Iceland: Westfjors and West Iceland / Golden circle tour
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 12, 2012 5:35 AM Last Post By: morena74
Nov 10, 2012 10:46 PM
Iceland: Westfjors and West Iceland / Golden circle tourHi,
First of all a Short disclaimer: I'm not mixing up Ireland and Iceland. :-) You'll now after a few lines why I'm telling that...
At the moment, I'm doing som planning on our trip to Iceland.
Some key facts on the trip:
- 13 days long
- 2 adults, 35 years old
- hired car available (4x4)
- want to see puffins (close-up if possible), volcano, geysir, Thingvellir valley
- no whale watching (we've done this in Norway and Alaska)
Now, a question occurs.
I most every guide book or forum you get the advice on doing the Golden circle tour.
This reminds me of our tour to Ireland - there it is :-) - when most every guide book or forum told us to do the Ring of Kerry. All friends who had been to Ireland told us to skip it. Too many tourists, better places to see I.e. Ring of Beara. After doing both tours, no we tell everybody to skip the Ring of Kerry...
Now back to Iceland. Here are my questions:
1. Is a Golden circle tour somehow similar to the Ring of Kerry? Is it worth going or can we see similar things in the Westfjord, too ( and where there)?
2. Any must-sees in the Westfjors and West Iceland?
3. Does anybody know a source for finding short hiking trips there?
4. Any recommendations on B&Bs or guest houses in the Westfjors and West Iceland?
Nov 11, 2012 5:04 AM
Nov 11, 2012 11:29 AM
2Travel guides. I've got copies of both Lonely Planet and Rough Guide (though not the most recent edition of either). Both are reasonable guides offering similar coverage and similar organization of information. Both are fairly comprehensive and both are written in a fairly 'conversational' style; neither author is afraid to express a blunt opinion. Take whichever guide is more recent, or whichever your bookstore has in stock.
Golden Circle. The sites/sights along this route are worth seeing, though if it's more convenient to your schedule or itinerary you can visit the attractions in a non-standard order or on separate days. (For example, a couple of years ago I did a loop from Reykjavik to Thingvellir via Nesjavellir, then headed north off the Circle along the Kaldidalur interior route (route 550), west past Barnafossar, Hraunfossar, and Deildartunguhver and back south along the coast. I spent another full day hiking on Hengill above the geothermal power plant at Hellisheiði, and I saw the other Golden Circle sights on a different day.)
While waterfalls are a virtually unavoidable feature in any part of Iceland, you won't see anything like Gullfoss in the Westfjords. It is a stunning waterfall, and you can get quite close to it. The geysers at Haukadalur are just a short distance away (including the mostly-quiescent grandfather of them all, the Great Geysir), making the trip more than worthwhile. The geyser Strokkur erupts every five or ten minutes to a height of up to 40 meters; it's a real crowd-pleaser. (If the wind is blowing, stand on the upwind side to avoid steam and scalding water.) On your way back along Route 35, stop and stretch your legs with a short walk around the crater at Kerið.
Nov 11, 2012 10:38 PM
3Tanks for your help so far.
Couleur you Tell me, of a round trip is possible to be done without stress?
I World like to See Myvatn, too.
Nov 12, 2012 12:47 AM
4There are always tourists on the Golden Circle route in the summer. The trick is to not be there at the same time as the tour buses, which all seem to be on the same schedule (I remember arriving at Geysir and seeing 5 buses in the parking lot). If you travel independently, e.g. by rental car like you're planning, you can set off earlier than the tour buses and be there ahead of them.
As for the West Fjords, the Dynjandi waterfall is magnificent and worth seeing, as is Látrabjarg. Rauðisandur is also worth a visit at low tide. If you can, a visit to the island of Vigur is worth the time, especially if you are there when the puffins are on the island (and yes, you can get pretty close to them). Hornstrandir is also recommended - I can't really comment as I haven't been there myself but my father and brother keep going back there for hiking trips.
In west Iceland, a drive around Snæfellsnes is definitely worth it, with stops at Arnarstapi, Djúpalósssandur, Lóndrangar, Hellnar, and possibly a trip to the glacier.
Nov 12, 2012 3:47 AM
Thingvellir is probably the sight on the Golden Circle that most tourists would find the least spectacular, though you have put it as one of your must-sees. I like it, because all the cracks everywhere give a very real sense of the earth being pulled apart that you don't get in many places.
If you want to see puffins close up, then Latrabjarg in the Westfjords is definitely the best/easiest for that. It is also a lovely trip out to get there. How important is it for you? You should be aware that they are really only there to be see about May to July. Latrabjarg has a lot of other birds too, it is the largest bird-cliff in "Europe", so if you have any wider interest in birds it is a must-see.
The basic ringroad is about 1300km around, so you are talking about making progress on average of at least 100km a day in a 13 day tour, in addition to sight-seeing trips. You also want to visit the Westfjords, and probably a trip which takes in the Ring, the westfjords and west Iceland is going to be at least 2000km. So your call on what's a lot of stress. You have a 4wd so you can cross from N to S across the interior and leave the east of the country for another trip, if you don't want to do too much driving.
Nov 12, 2012 4:54 AM
6Tranks for your thoughts so far.
At the Moment I'm putting all tips in a Google map.
I think we will do a round trip skipping the east of the country.
Thingvellir is a must - a unique place to see and we like geological sites.
We've seen puffins in Norway, but no close-up.
So we really would like to do this.
But I'm dealing with a more general question, too.
We'll be going from 23.06. to 05.07.
We would love to stay in guest houses, B&Bs and maybe hostels if they have double rooms with private bathrooms.
Do you think that it is necessary to pre-book the accommodation?
Nov 12, 2012 5:12 AM
Likely any accommodation in known "honey-spot" areas very popular with tourists
You will find a general tightening up of availability as your holiday proceeds you are getting into the high peak, which is July.
Take some sleeping bags so you can stay in sleeping-bag accommodation (eg hostels) to increase your flexibility.
Nov 12, 2012 5:35 AM
I have already booked our 1st night in Reykjavik, as we're arriving in the middle of the night.
It's the Centerhotel Köpp. What do yo unthinkable? (I could still change it).
We will take summer sleeping bags, up to +10 degrees, but I World ratzet Not Take the tent Dur to the Werther.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$236.10 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$20.86 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$58.54 per night