Travelling to UK with stop over in Iceland

posted 2 years ago in Travel
Post # 16
Member
903 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

djbeats :  We are from Oklahoma, so the flight was definitely the most expensive part for us. No direct flights to any of the major European cities from here lol We survived off PB sandwhiches and skyr (kind of like yogurt) most of our time there. If you do want a nice meal in Reykjavik, I reccomend Hofnin. Seriously the best salmon I’ve ever had! And I was 6 weeks preggo so basically everything made me vomit, but not the food there ๐Ÿ™‚

The language is pretty different, but most everyone speaks at least a bit of English. We pretty much stuck to the Ring Road with driving, and there are pretty good signs that point to the landmarks even if we couldn’t pronounce them! Driving in Iceland was super easy for me, and I’m really not a great driver, because there’s not actually many people there so the roads are pretty empty. There are some sketchy parts if you drive out to the east coast, but otherwise it’s not too bad at all.

I did find the Tube in London really simple, they have nice maps in most of the stations and you can buy guidebooks that have a full Tube map in them, which I definitely reccomend. We rented a car in Scotland, and honestly it was the most stressful part of the whole trip. Not only driving on the wrong side of the road, but the roads are SUPER narrow and often only one lane, so it takes a lot of concentration to drive safely if you’re not used to it. The train system is seriously good there, and you can enjoy the view of the countryside instead of watching the road. There are some rural areas you can’t get to without a car, but for a shorter trip I think the trains are just fine.

For 8 days, it really depends on what all it important to you. I lived in Wales for 6 months and made 4 trips to London, and then we spent 4 days there this time around and I still haven’t seen everything I wanted to. We are super nerds though, so we did the British Library, British Museum, V&A, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Globe, The Tower of London, and the National Gallery in London, in 2.5 very long days, and then did a day trip to Oxford and a day trip to Canterbury/Dover/Hastings. You can do a lot of London in 4-5 days, especially without day trips, but you have to run around pretty much all day. We like that pace for our vacations, but some people prefer a bit more relaxation.

Edinburgh we did in 4 days as well, with one of those being a day trip to Stirling, and that was plenty of time for us to explore and see everything we wanted. I think it all depends on the pace you want to keep up, and if you want to stop in the countryside betwen the two cities or not. 

 

Sorry for being so long-winded lol I love planning vacations so I always have way more advice and opinions than necessary ๐Ÿ™‚ But it does seem that we have similar vacation styles so maybe this will help a bit!

 

Post # 18
Member
24 posts
Newbee

Iceland is so gorgeous!  The people are amazing and helpful, and the country is safe (in Reykjavik the ladies leave their baby carriages – babies and all! – outside the cafe unattended while they go inside for a coffee).  The natural beauty is unmatched.  At times it feels as though you are on a totally different planet.

If you are looking for a cheap meal in Reykjavik, Icelandic hot dogs are amazing!  Very different from anything I’ve ever had before – they are topped with a special sauce and crunchy onions.  There’s a well-known stand called Bæjarins beztu near the harbor area.  We hit the grocery store (Bonus) for a loaf of bread, fruit, and yogurt – very cheap breakfast.  For lunches we usually ate at cafes and had the house soup or a grilled cheese.  We then spent more on going out for a nice dinner.  I honestly didn’t find the prices that high, although I am from an expensive American city so maybe I’m just used to it?  I can’t remember the exchange rate at the time so it’s possible that it was favorable for me.

Did you mention when you are going?

Post # 21
Member
903 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

djbeats :  I mean, Soctland is one of my favorite places in the world, so I would definitely go evn if just for a couple of nights. The train is like 6-7 hours from London, so really not that bad and you get to see a lot of beautiful countryside on the way up. You could always do London for a few nights, train up to one of the smaller places in the north for a night or two to get some time in the country, and then a couple of days in Edinburgh. The highlands are SO worth a trip at some point, but I know what you mean about being so close. It’s hard to justify going back to a place you’ve practically just been to, especially if you have other places you want to visit. I think it’s doable, depending on how much of England you just HAVE to see this time around ๐Ÿ™‚

We saved some money on the car rental in Iceland by picking a standard, but I was going to get charged a young driver fee even though I’m the one that can drive stick. We put it in DH’s name, but they pulled it right to the front for us to drive off, so I had to frantically try and coach him to get it out of the parking lot. It was easily one of the most hillarious moments on our honeymoon lol 

Post # 22
Member
24 posts
Newbee

djbeats :  It’s hard to say because I was there for longer and didn’t do any driving myself (we used a tour group) – not super helpful I know!  I will say that because you are going in the summer, you will have more hours of daylight which should keep you making the most of your time there!

I had to look at google maps to refresh myself on Icelandic geography and see if you will be in the same areas I was.  Vik has the black sand beach which is beautiful, and you’ll pass a couple of waterfalls on the way there (Seljalansfoss and Skogafoss I think?).  I think Fludir is close to the Geyser park and also Gullfoss, which is this amazing huge monstrosity of a waterfall – just gorgeous.

We had more time in Reykjavik – there I liked the Hallgrimskirkja Church and Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden.  Cafe Babalu was the best cafe we found if you are looking for a funky atmosphere.  I know not everyone is into museums, but I loved the Settlement Exhibition and it is conveniently located and a quick one to get through.  Didn’t see much of the night life as we were exhausted but I’ve heard it’s great.  We did see a trippy Icelandic movie (with subtitles of coures) at the Bio Paradis which was a cool cultural experience.

Hope you share pictures when you get back!

Post # 24
Member
6292 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2014

djbeats :  I think you’re wise to skip Scotland as you will lose so much time travelling; the train takes around 7 hours, and flying isn’t much quicker (as you need to allow for getting to the airport/checking in etc), so 2 nights basically becomes 1-1.5 days. With Wales you’re looking at 2-3.5 hours (depending on which part you go to), so can likely get there mid-morning and depart late evening, giving you a decent chunk of time.

My suggestion before you book travel within the UK though is to really research all the places you’re looking at, and also be aware of travel times. A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking they have 8 nights but once you’ve factored in inbound and outbound flights and transfers this can end up being 7 days; so if you do do Wales you will get just 4 days in London, which is a major city with a seriously huge amount to see. So just be sure you won’t end up feeling you’ve had to make a ton of sacrifices to squeeze Wales in.

Post # 26
Member
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

djbeats :  UK Bee here… I’m  short on time writing this right now but I’ve lived in London almost 8 years (but not a lifer so did the touristy stuff when I arrived and when family visit) plus I’m originally from the north of England, have family in Wales and have extensively traveled the UK for work/study/fun/FI’s military postings when he’s not outside the country. 

 

If you have any questions or need any tips on places, trains, car hire, area recommendations, restaurants etc do give me a shout, I just don’t have much time to put together a post now ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 27
Member
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

djbeats :  ps Cambridge is lovely and very easy to get to from London by train from Kings Cross. Worth considering where you want to travel out to from London so you’re not too far from the relevant station.

Post # 28
Member
1468 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

We are doing almost this exact trip (leave in a few days!). Our days are balanced differently because my main goal was to get to Iceland. I have been dying to go for a few years. We’ll spend 4.5 days in England (mostly in London, but overnight and one day in the Avebury/Salisbury/Stonehenge area. Then we’ll spend 4.5 days in Iceland. We’re going to rent a car and drive the southwest coast to Joklusaron (the iceberg lagoon).

We’re staying mostly in Air BNB type places which I think helps save, plus I’m really excited about a couple of beutiful, remote cabins. In London we’re spending about $90 USD/night. In Iceland they’re closer to $150, though chepaer in Rekjavik then in the surrounds (we’ll mostly be out in the countryside, and there are fewer places to stay there). 

I’ve also done some looking around at food, which is like everything else extremely expensive in Iceland. We’ll be stopping at a grocery store and getting skyr (delicious yogurt, I’ve been eating it in preparation) and other snacks/breakfast/lunch foods. We’re also going to bring some snacks and dehydrated food for a couple of dinners. Since we’re staying mostly in places with kitchens we’ll be able to boil water for them. That will hopefully cut down on the cost there, and Iceland isn’t known for it’s cuisine anyway. Most of the places I found were at the very least $25USD per person for run of the mill food. Excessive I think. In England we’ll mostly be eating out becuase things are more reasonably priced and I’m excited to sample some of the fun international foods London has to offer in addition to traditional English things. 

I am a bit of an overplanner, so I’ve got detailed itineraries on Google maps. I can send them to you if you think they might be helpful. We’re doing mostly outdoor things in Iceland (I am obsessed with waterfalls and hot springs). In England we’ll be doing mostly historical things.

Post # 29
Member
903 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

djbeats :  That sounds like an awesome trip! I hope you have the best time ๐Ÿ™‚

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