Darke, Andrew and Dawn – Iceland Stopover

October 19, 2016 | Lois Farley

Intending to use the Icelandair stopover program en-route to a visit to England, we were fortunate to find Great Canadian Travel Company in Winnipeg through a Google search, and enlisted Iceland Specialist Shauna Cook to advise and plan our tour.

Shauna was most helpful and informative and diligently developed a full 6-day itinerary for us. I am pleased to say that every hotel reservation, car rental reservation and pre-booked tour went flawlessly.

The Hotel Nordica in Reykjavik is excellent (although the breakfast is expensive if you check in early after arrival from Canada!). The hotels away from Reykjavik (Hotel Selfoss in Selfoss and the Northern Light Inn in Grindavik) were also very good, as was the “country accommodation” in a great location in Gerdi.

On the second day we collected our rental car and made an afternoon trip to Thingvellir, the site of the first Icelandic parliament. This is well worth a standalone visit although many tour itineraries include it in the one day “Golden Circle Tour” with Geysir and Gullfoss. We visited the latter two places after leaving Sellfoss on our last full day in Iceland and think this is the better way to visit these 3 areas.

Some highlights of our drive from Reykjavik to the area of Skatafell National Park on the southeast coast (all recommended by Shauna). This was a drive of approximately 1000km from Reykjavik to Gerdi and back:

  • The  Hallgrimskirkja (Church) in Reykjavik (go up the tower for a great view of the city)
  • Thingvellir World Heritage site – an interesting place to spend extra time walking around
  • The black sand beach and basalt columns at Reynishverfi
  • The Turf church in Hof
  • The Skogafoss waterfall – be sure to climb to the top, as well as viewing from below
  • The Glacier Lagoon cruise at Jokulsarlon – good idea to book in advance
  • Hiking in Skaftafell National Park – 7.5km trail (S5 and S6 on the park map) to Svartifoss (waterfall) and Sjornipa (great view over the glacier)
  • The visitor centre at the site of the 2010 volcano (Eyjafjallajokul) eruption that caused havoc for air travel – shows fascinating video footage of the impact of the eruption on the neighbouring farm
  • The Kerid crater lake – an unusual sight to walk around