What Should I Do In Iceland For 5 Days in July?

Jul 9, 2013

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Although I’ve been enjoying summer so far on the east coast hanging out with family and friends, barbecuing, spending some time out on the water and generally just taking advantage of the gorgeous weather we’ve been having – when I sit still for too long, the travel bug starts to bite me. I have a few free days at the moment and I started looking around for where it might be interesting and offbeat to travel right around now and I came across some great low-level award availability on Delta to Iceland.

Delta low-level availability can be difficult to wrangle, especially if you live in a non-hub city and have to build in Delta domestic connections, but don’t discount your SkyMiles since you can usually use them to get to one interesting destination or another if you have a little flexibility. Earlier this year I went to Milan on Delta and Alitalia to/from Italy. Granted, it was a mixed award (Medium Delta there, low level Alitalia on the way home), but I still got good value from my SkyMiles.

I ended up booking a long weekend in Iceland from JFK to Reykyavik using just 100,000 Delta miles and $47 for business class. I had searched Expertflyer for Iceland Air business class availability to see how it compared to Delta’s, and there wasn’t a single seat available within the next two weeks on the JFK-KEF route.

Decent Low-Level availability
Decent Low-Level availability

I could have also booked the same trip for 125,000 Flying Blue miles and the same taxes, but I opted for Delta. I’d rather save Flying Blue miles (or transfer opportunities) for their half-price Promo Awards or maybe trying out Air France’s La Premiere first class one of these days.

The same ticket would have cost nearly $3,600. I know that’s super expensive (and I would never pay that) – especially considering the flight is basically the same length as flying from the east coast to San Francisco, but prices are prices. Economy was $1,200, so no matter how you look at it, SkyMiles saved me a good amount of cash.

I also used my new Club Carlson credit card to get me 4 nights of hotels for the price of two nights on points. For a total of 76,000 Carlson points I got 4 nights of rooms that were selling for 200 Euros (Iceland is not cheap), so each point got me about 1.3 cents each in value. For the night in between my two two-night stays I opted to stay at a non-points hotel in the center of town to experience something different. It is a top 10 TripAdvisor property that I was able to get reasonably, so stay tuned for that review.

Now onto the fun part- planning what to do! I don’t have enough time to do the ring road and I figure I’ll do that in the winter when I can see the Northern Lights/ Aurora Borealis. This time around I want to do some outdoorsy stuff like whale watching mixed with hanging out in Rekyavik and just taking in all the small-town capital has to offer. However, as always, I’m open to hearing what sage TPG readers have to offer. I’ve been reading a lot of differing opinions on what to do. Some say the Blue Lagoon is amazing.. some say it’s a contrived tourist trap, like fellow blogger LandLopers in this interesting piece “5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Iceland

I'm excited to cool off from the scorching NY weather
I’m excited to cool off from the scorching NY weather

Some of my initial thoughts: Midnight Sun Whale Watching, Jeep Tours on the Glaciers, Pony Trekking, Blue Lagoon, Thingvellir National Park, eating and drinking Icelandic specialties.

Any and all feedback is appreciated, especially if you have a tour guide/company that you recommend.

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