After wrapping up warm, Zoe Holmes, Travel Consultant at our Colchester travel agents, made the short trip to Iceland at the end of last year. Her jam-packed three days included snowmobiling, a trip to the Blue Lagoon and even a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Operator/Host: Regent Holidays
(Hotel names/Ship name): Reykjavik Centrum, Iceland Air Fludir Hotel
Airline: Iceland Air
Duration: 3 Nights
Iceland Air were excellent. The check in at Heathrow was very quick and efficient, with hardly any queues. The staff on board were very welcoming, friendly and the cabin had been made to look festive, with a few decorations on the overhead compartments and Icelandic Christmas music!
It only took three hours to fly to Reykjavik and I found the flight comfortable. I would recommend them to anyone making this trip.
We stayed for two nights at the 4* Reykjavik Centrum Hotel. As the name suggests, the hotel is located in the centre of this compact city, on one of the oldest streets. It is made up of three colourful 18th-century style buildings and has a traditional Icelandic feel. I found it very charming. I would definitely recommend this hotel due to an excellent location, friendly staff and comfortable accommodation. They also offer Nordic style apartments, which are ideal for families and groups.
If you are looking for slightly more luxury, I would recommend the Hotel Borg. Although we couldn’t have a full site inspection, we did go in and have a quick look around ourselves. This hotel is very stylish, is decorated in an art deco style and is a 1930′s landmark. Being opposite the Centrum, it is in a great location surrounded by bustling cafes and restaurants.
We also visited the two Radisson properties in the City.
- The Saga is about 20 minutes out of the centre, so not the best location. However, it boasts one of the city’s best restaurants, with panoramic views and is therefore well worth a visit! Due to its location, it is good value and suitable for those with a slightly lower budget
- The 1919 is a lovely hotel with historic charm, offering the style and service you would expect from Iceland’s leading hotel (5 years in a row). Due to its location, I would perhaps recommend this hotel over the Saga.
Our last night was spent at the Iceland Air Hotel in Fludir. As it is close to the ‘Golden Circle’, the location worked really as we visited the Fontana Spa and Blue Lagoon before heading back to the airport the following day. It’s a nice, spacious hotel, with a lovely garden complete with hot tubs. It’s ideal for a one night stay and is in an excellent place to see the Northern Lights – away from the bright lights of Reykjavik. We were lucky enough to see this amazing natural phenomenon whilst we were here!
We were lucky enough to be in the hands of the ‘Superjeep‘ company; a family run business that provides expert knowledge and a fun way to see Iceland’s best attractions. Highly recommend!
Superjeep Excursion in Search of the Northern Lights
Unfortunately, this trip was cancelled due to the weather and zero chance of seeing the lights. The good think about this company over others is that they will not take you out if they think there is no chance of seeing the lights. They have many different systems that they use to check activity and weather etc. This would have been an evening excursion which took us off the beaten track to search for the Aurora Borealis in a jeep designed for adventure!
Winter Whale Watching with Eldin Adventures at Sea
Due to bad weather we were unable to sail from Reykjavik harbour but they took us to another harbour which was about one hour away. We set sail for three hours in search of whales and dolphins. Unfortunately, they did not come out to play but it was still a fun and exhilarating experience. Thermal suits and motion sickness tablets were provided! If there are no sightings during your trip, they validate your ticket to come back within 12 months for a free trip.
Northern Lights Cruise by Specialtours
This was a 3-hour cruise from Reykjavik harbour. Again, thermal suits were provided and there was a cosy bar and singer onboard. The night we went out, it was cloudy so we didn’t get to see the lights on this trip – but every night is different.
Golden Circle Tour and Snowmobiling with Superjeep. This was amazing!!!
The jeeps are modified with huge tyres to take on the mighty challenge of Icelandic terrain (scary at times!). They’re also kitted-out with all the latest equipment, including GPS, and are driven by experienced off-road drivers. The tour took us to Thingvellir National Park where there was spectacular scenery in abundance. We saw the Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir geothermal fields where we witnessed Strokkur Geyser erupting. Our tour also included snowmobiling on the Glacier, and getting there was part of the fun in the amazing jeeps. Once on the glacier, we were provided with specialist clothing and an hour’s snowmobiling adventure. This was highly scary but great fun amongst amazing scenery!
After a full active day exploring the Golden Circle, we got to relax in the geothermal waters of Laugarvatn Fontana Spa. This was lovely after a busy, cold day! Some even rolled in the snow before jumping in the hot baths – I refrained from this experience but was able to unwind and enjoy the lovely hot tubs. It was on the way from here to Fludir Hotel when we eventually saw the Northern Lights. The Superjeep drivers are constantly looking out for them and literally stopped the jeep at the side of the road, surrounded by mountains, so we could get out and experience the truly magical lights!
The Blue Lagoon
We visited the Blue Lagoon on our last day, en route to the Airport. This worked well and is a popular excursion being only 20 minutes from the airport. It is one of Iceland’s top attractions and therefore it does get busy, so booking is essential. Situated in the middle of a lava field, the mineral-rich, geothermal sea water comes from holes as deep as 2000 metres, filling the natural spa with bright blue water. Known for its healing and wellbeing qualities, the 39 degrees water is rich in active ingredients including white silica mud which you can plaster all over your face and body. It is large and holds over 6 million litres of water, so there is plenty of space. You can also book an in-water massage – perfect after a busy weekend!
The Golden Circle tour on day three was absolutely amazing!
The trip was amazing and everyone I met was fantastic. The only thing I would do differently would be to have the whale watching and Northern Lights cruise on separate days. I spent about 6 hours in total at sea in freezing and rough conditions – a day apart would have been better.
I would, without doubt, recommend Regent Holidays when travelling to Iceland. These Iceland specialists are really knowledgeable (Joanne Wheeler in particular) and most have visited the Island. Superjeep were amazing and I would highly recommend them for any excursions. Such knowledgeable and friendly drivers, they made the tour fun and interesting and are all very passionate about Iceland and the Northern Lights. My trip was perfect and I would recommend my itinerary. You will get to see some of the best natural attractions and finest sights Iceland has to offer.
Must see? The incredible Northern Lights
Must do? Relax in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon
Must try? Snowmobiling on the Glacier
If you would like to travel to Iceland, just like Zoe, we can find the perfect package for you. Whether you are looking for a family break or a romantic trip for two, drop by one of our travel agents on the south coast or in East Anglia to speak to our friendly team.