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Lonely Planet Iceland (Travel Guide) Paperback – June 1, 2015
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Drive the Ring Road! Rent a car and do it! We drove the whole thing in 21 hours, and it was a fantastic experience! Sure we would have liked to have spent more time in many places, but at least we got to see them as we read about them in Lonely Planet! Beware of the speed cameras, though... They ticket 5kph above the limit.
Another small tidbit that ended up being incredibly useful was the advice that Icelanders use plastic for all their purchases. This worked magnificently. We had our first trip where we didn't have to change money at the beginning and then have to worry about changing back, or spending all the money.
- Highlights all the must-sees and should-dos
- Like all other Lonely Planet guides I've used, this is very thorough, has up-to-date and accurate information on a wide variety of destinations
- Prices and opening hours are largely accurate, but travelers should still try to confirm info online when possible (i.e., the Blue Lagoon opening hours, that sort of thing)
- Hypes up less exciting destinations... can be hard to pick out exactly where to go, though the essentials are mentioned
- Spends too much time on places no tourist should bother visiting (such as tiny towns with <1k population)
- Not exactly geared for photographers; i.e., does not attempt to highlight some of the cool waterfalls, viewpoints, or hikes that are so worth going to.
- Not enough information on hikes and more outdoorsy type activities, as compared to the Frommers easyguide
Knowing the above about Lonely Planet guides, which is true for most of the series, I still used this to plan the backbone of my trip to Iceland, and added on additional places based on additional research by word of mouth, online, and the Frommer's guide. Would highly recommend pairing this with the Frommer's guide for a more outdoorsy approach to an amazingly beautiful country. Will definitely go back to Iceland, and will definitely use this to plan my next trip.
My personal opinions/addendums:
- In 7-8 days, it is a little difficult to do the entire Ring Road, but perfectly easy to do the west, Golden Circle, and southeast. In 11-12 days, it is pretty easy to do the entire Ring Road. A section of the Ring Road in the northeast (between Egilsstadir and Myvatn) is both dirt road and a mountain pass.
- Try to rent a 4x4 (or Jeep, as Icelanders call SUVs) if possible
- Dettifoss and Selfoss are better photographically from the eastern side, which involves ~30km of bad dirt road
- Aldeyjarfoss is totally worth the ~30km of dirt road and ~5km of rocky 4x4-only F-roads
- Surtshellir offers a super unique lava cave/tube experience, though it's a long drive away from popular destinations and requires at least flashlights (though helmets and headlamp recommended)
- For US visitors, Geysir offers nothing special compared to Yellowstone
Overall, if you're looking for something handy to bring with you that you can easily reference while on the go, this is a good option. If you're looking for something more however, look elsewhere.