We did the aurora nights break and had a great time overall. Everything related to flights, hire car, and hotels ran smoothly. There were a few issues largely relating to the weather and driving conditions (we travelled in mid March), but what we did manage to do was amazing.
The blue lagoon was easy to access from the airport and was a brilliant experience. We booked the standard package and it came with a free drink and face mask. Facilities were clean and organised with free toiletries in the shower rooms, which helps if you’ve gone there straight from the airport.
The drive to Hotel Ranga afterwards was long but fine (check out the road on google streetview to know what to expect). The hotel and staff were great. We were limited to one option as vegetarians on the bar and a la carte menus, but the food was lovely and if you are a meat eater you will see options of unusual dishes like puffin and reindeer.
Our northern lights super jeep trip was cancelled on both nights due to a poor forecast, but we were lucky enough to get an aurora wake up call from Hotel Ranga the first night. We couldn’t use the hottubs as there are only a few and they were always taken in the limited time we spent at the hotel, so don’t go expecting to get lots of time in one and you won’t be disappointed. View them as an add on if you can time it right. We were travelling with an 11 year old, so we didn’t stay up really late. If you are a couple you probably have a better chance of getting one later on.
The glacier/volcano super jeep trip was outstanding. Our driver, Íbí was excellent. She went above and beyond and gave us such an awesome experience. We were also super lucky with the weather the first two days and had great views across Iceland.
The ice cave tour was also incredible and the guides running it were excellent. The group size was much bigger than expected (especially after the more exclusive volcano super jeep tour), but it was broken down into smaller groups that were managed well, with plenty of time factored in for photographs. There were several unexplained delays getting to the cave during the tour that meant we weren’t able to ‘mini tour’ the rest of the South Coast afterwards, so if you plan to do the ice cave don’t overplan for the afternoon as you may not have much time. Not a huge disappointment for us as we got to experience the cave, but I imagine someone who planned a full itinerary afterwards might be frustrated by the estamiated timings not always being right and subject to change with the weather (which was wicked that day).
Driving around Reykjavik was a horrible experience as we arrived around rush hour and weren’t prepared for all the traffic, having only experienced quiet roads along the south coast. It was difficult finding a parking space, so be prepared to drive around a little when you arrive. If you haven’t driven on the right before and are not a confident driver this could leave you feeling stressed. Again, check out the roads into Reykjavik on Google maps to get a sense of what awaits if you aren’t used to self-driving.
We didn’t get to tour the golden circle because of road conditions/ice/road closures, so we spent the day in Reykjavik instead. This turned out okay for us as we did some of the attractions (Lava Centre and Fly Over Iceland – both hughly recommended), but it ended up being an extra expense and we missed out on the golden attractions. Again, not a big issue if you are aware this could happen. The weather is so changeable that having a plan B is a good approach.
Weekend a la Carte sent us a text warning us about the bad weather conditions, which we’d already seen on the Safe Iceland app, but we were grateful for anyway. It was good to know they were looking out for us!
All in all, a remarkable trip, with some unique experiences. If you book this in the knowledge that nature will have her own way, and you may not see everything you want (especially in winter), you will have a great time. Ranga is definitely the best place to maximise your chances of seeing the lights.