Visitors who are most interested in Reykjavík, with day trips along the Golden Circle, will be happiest based in the capital. There are no true five-star accommodations in Reykjavik yet, especially in terms of amenities and service, but the two four-stars I tried on a recent trip—Hotel Borg and 101—were charming and well situated.
Two of the newest accommodations in town provide luxury apartments equipped with full kitchens and are great for families or groups. Hotel Kvosin opened in 2013 with 14 rooms in a renovated 1900 building located right next to the Icelandic parliament and is currently expanding to add 10 additional rooms styled with tasteful and fun Scandinavian furnishings (expected completion: July 2014.) Also opened in 2013, the Black Pearl Apartments are situated by Reykjavik’s port, a quieter area that is still just a five-minute walk from the city center. These modern-style suites and apartments offer views of the ocean and the penthouse suite accommodates six people in comfort and style.
Adventurers who want to explore the interior and southeast coast should book a few nights at the smaller hotels in the countryside. One of the highly recommended options is Hotel Ranga, in Hella near the southwestern coast, from which most activities, including ice climbing, horseback riding, hiking, snowmobiling and deep-sea fishing, are less than an hour’s drive away. The new Ion Hotel, which opened in 2014, is less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik and adjacent to Thingvellir National Park. This stylish boutique hotel, which was recently named part of the Design Hotels group, makes a great base from which to explore the Golden Circle.
Icelandair (www.icelandair.com) flies direct from various North American and European destinations, including New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Orlando, Toronto, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and all the Scandinavian capitals. The flight from New York takes less than five hours, making Reykjavik closer to the East Coast than, say, San Francisco or Seattle.
In addition to regular flights from Europe (3 ½ hours from Paris; 3 from London) on Icelandair, several low-cost airlines including Wow Air and Easy Jet (www.easyjet.com) serve the country’s main international airport in Keflavik (KEF), which is less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik.
Self-sufficient travelers can easily do the Golden Circle route by themselves as long as they rent a car or van with four-wheel drive. However, exploring the rugged interior on your own is not recommended, as there are treacherous mountain paths and glaciers that require local savvy. Keflavik airport is about a forty-five-minute drive from the city, and most travelers pick up a rental car there. Flybus (www.re.is/flybus) times it’s schedule to accommodate all incoming flights to KEF, providing coaches that will drop you at your hotel or at Reykjavik’s main bus terminal (one way bus ticket is about $18 per person). You can also arrange pickups through hotels like the Borg and 101 or Indagare’s preferred partners.
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