Halló Iceland!

In March 2014, seven friends and I took a trip to the land of fire and ice. Iceland was altogether breathtaking, strange, overwhelming and exhilarating. 45 percent of all visitors to the country are under the age of 30, so it’s a great country to visit for a group of young adults looking for a quick getaway, but travelers of all ages will find plenty to explore in Iceland.

I’ve finally gotten around to writing my thoughts on the trip and some helpful tips for visiting Iceland. Njóta (enjoy)!

Getting There and Staying There

The members of our group paid approximately $580 each for a round-trip, non-stop fare from Washington – Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Keflavík International Airport (KEF) on IcelandAir. We departed on a Thursday evening and the rest of the group (I continued my travels solo) returned on a Tuesday afternoon. IcelandAir is a fabulous airline (I wrote about it in June) and the four-hour trip was virtually painless. Plus, our checked bags were free.

Our gorgeous home in Iceland.

Our gorgeous home in Iceland.

IcelandAir offers discount package deals which include transportation to/from the airport, as well a stay at the Hilton (or other budget hotels in the area). Because our group was so large, we opted to rent a house instead. We chose Rent in Reykjavik, and the company’s owners, Jenny and Kata, were just wonderful. We stayed in the Thomsen – Luxury home, and not only was it a gorgeous house, it was also centrally located in downtown Reykjavik, in walking distance to all the sights, restaurants and bars. There was a slight hiccup with our check-in, but other than that, our stay was perfect. For four nights, we each paid $220.

We also rented two cars (correction: two tiny cars that could barely hold four of us and our luggage) that cost around $280 each for four days. That means we each spent $70 for cars we kept for the entire trip. Gas was a bit expensive, but we appreciated having our own transportation. That meant we could travel at our own pace, stop along the way, listen to strange Icelandic music and enjoy the quiet and privacy we couldn’t get on a bus. It’s worth noting, however, that the rental car depot is off-site from the airport, so it’s important to look for your name placard held by an employee. He or she will drive your group in a van across the street to the airport to pick up the car. From the airport, it’s about a 40 minute scenic drive to downtown.

So, before we left the U.S., each of us spent a whopping $870 for a non-stop flight, MTV Cribs: Reykjavik-caliber house and two cars we could use throughout our trip. Not bad, right?

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Washingtonians, Time to Try IcelandAir

A few months ago, I organized an incredible trip with seven friends to Iceland (much, much more on that later), and we flew IcelandAir from Washington – Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Keflavik International Airport (KEF) outside of Reykjavik, Iceland. The price of our ticket? A whopping $580 (which is actually quite pricey for that flight in the winter). Our trip from D.C. to Reykjavik took less than five hours and we landed just as the sun appeared from behind the moss-covered cliffs of the Icelandic countryside.

If you can get past its staggeringly antiquated website, flying with IcelandAir is a great experience. There was WiFi available for the entire flight, and the seats were pretty comfortable. You have your choice of English language in-flight entertainment, both British and American, as well as Icelandic programming. IcelandAir also shows videos on Icelandic tourism on-board, which are both hilarious and informative. Even their safety video has garnered international attention for being, well, utterly Icelandic. Also, be sure to try the Icelandic Water they offer upon boarding the plane — it’s delicious.

I emphatically recommend visiting Iceland because it truly exceeded every expectation I had. After its economic collapse in 2008, the country sought to attract more Americans (and it worked — we saw Americans everywhere). The jaw-dropping flight deals are even sweeter when coupled with super low hotel rates. Now, it’s quite expensive once you actually arrive in Reykjavik, but getting there and staying there can be done quite cheaply.

But, you don’t have to be heading to the land of elves to fly IcelandAir. In fact, IcelandAir is known for its cheap flights from the U.S. to Europe. Since all of their flights to the rest of Europe stop in Reykjavik for a layover anyway, IcelandAir has a pretty savvy idea to attract tourists: you can enjoy a stay in Iceland en route to your final destination for no additional airfare. So, if you’re heading from New York City to, say, Copenhagen, you’d simply book your fare to Copenhagen using their special search engine and add a stay in Iceland (I’d recommend three days/two nights to see Golden Circle, Reykjavik and Blue Lagoon).

And if you live in D.C., there’s never been a better time to try out IcelandAir. The airline is celebrating year-round service from the capital city with a contest – #icelanDChase – that includes free plane tickets.

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