I’ll come straight out with it: I didn’t like Reykjavik all that much on my first visit.I know lots of people visit there each year and I’m sure most have a great time, people rave about it, but I was entirely underwhelmed.
The whale watching trip was okay. The trip to Geysir and Gullfoss were in awful weather but they’re still interesting places to visit. The aurora trip was a shambles. But despite this, Reykjavik seems to be set up as a place which only serves to bus as many tourists around as possible in conveyor belt tours. Like a natural world Disneyland. I don’t buy in to the tedium of “experiencing it like a local” when I visit anywhere but in Reykjavik it seemed to be wall-to-wall tourists. Everywhere.
I took a trip with GeoIceland on the ‘Golden Circle’ covering the likes of Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir. Although the weather was awful (thick fog) it was a decent trip. The guide was great, it was entirely professional and it was a sociable group. The photos are awful due to the fog but on a nicer day this would be an excellent trip with what seemed like an excellent tour company.
The Northern Lights trip was with Reykjavik Excursions and was awful from the start. It was my third time for the Northern Lights. The best trip was in Tromsø where the aim was to ‘chase’ the aurora on a night that could end in the wee small hours if we had to travel quite far. The Reykjavik Excursions tour had one main aim: bus as many suckers to somewhere remote and don’t give a damn if they see anything. The setup from the terminal was painfully bad, with irritating delays. And then, despite the weather saying that there was a good chance of clear sky north east of Reykjavik, they announced we were heading towards Keflavik. Into thick cloud cover. From then on it was a pointless trip, but that didn’t stop the company taking hundreds of people out to the middle of nowhere for zero chance of a glimpse at the aurora. To caveat my frustration, even if there had been clear sky and great visibility of the aurora, the setup from Reykjavik Excursions could still only be described, at best, as utterly dreadful. Some great company on the bus saved it from being a waste of a night.
I wouldn’t rush back for a trip to Reykjavik unless it was a stopover en route to somewhere else in Iceland or further. Even taking into account that so much of what people do in Reykjavik is dependent on nature playing ball, the organisation is so geared towards moving tourists around in a manner befitting a theme park that is just wasn’t that much fun.
Iceland is a beautiful country and I hope to head back to see lots of other places and spend more time there but I’ll be happy to avoid a great deal of time in the city.
GeoIceland seemed like a good company to go with and do Golden Circle and South Coast tours.
The view from Hallgrimskirkja is excellent.
Every meal was fantastic. Highlights being Scandinavian for seafood soup on a miserable, cold night, Mikkeller & Friends for drinks, and the pizza place with no name. The pizza place is in the same building as Mikkeller.
Out and about