10 tips for your Iceland trip

I feel like every man and his dog has been to Iceland lately, but in reality that’s just because I spend a lot of time seeking out people who want to talk about Iceland! If you haven’t been, I hope I’m convincing you to go – and that these tips for your Iceland trip will help you get the most out of it.

10 tips for your Iceland trip

1. Consider the light

It might be light all the time or dark all the time – it all depends on the season you pick for your Iceland visit – but you should definitely think about this ahead of time. Travelling with a child during mid-summer was probably not the absolutely smartest idea because he never wanted to go to sleep and ended up pretty grumpy at times (but if your child likes sleep more than mine you might be okay). Similarly, travelling in winter without much light at all will restrict what you can see and do each day (but will mean you have a chance to see the Northern Lights, which I didn’t).

2. Don’t drive too far

When you’re planning your driving trip around Iceland, don’t judge the distances as you would at home. Assume it’ll take you longer than you expect, partly to take account of road conditions and weather and partly because it’s very likely you’ll keep finding places you want to stop and take photographs. The scenery changes around every corner in Iceland and it is all incredible!
Scenic Iceland - 10 tips for your Iceland trip

3. Self-cater sometimes

Food is definitely not cheap in Iceland. You could eat hot dogs every meal (although we couldn’t find many of them in the countryside) but as delicious as they are you’d probably get sick of them. Because we were staying in self-contained accommodation then it was even more sensible but even if you’re staying in hotels I’d be very inclined to have some simple supermarket meals fairly regularly. I didn’t find Iceland restaurant food so spectacular that I’d be happy to spend that much (it’s pricey!) for every meal. Look for the Bonus supermarkets found pretty much everywhere (and avoid Hagkaup which I believe is the expensive version of grocery shopping).

4. Book in advance

I had a busy year and only started booking accommodation about two months before our trip – and this for the truly peak time, the middle of summer. Lots of places were already booked out and although it worked out pretty well with the Airbnb places we rented, I definitely could have saved us some money by booking a bit further in advance.

Accommodation near Jokulsarlon - 10 tips for your Iceland trip

5. Pack layers

Summer? What summer! At least half the days we spent in Iceland in the middle of their summer were far colder than the worst day of our winter. Occasionally, after a good walk and one of the rare doses of warm sun, I’d be down to only two layers, but for most of the time I was very glad of having quite a few layers to keep me warm. And of course this would be even more necessary outside of summer.

6. And pack your swimwear

It doesn’t matter what season you make it to Iceland, there will be lots of opportunities to swim or dunk in a warm thermal bath and I heartily advise you come prepared for them.

7. Be sure your camera’s ready

Iceland is ridiculously photogenic. Make sure you have plenty of memory cards and also keep your battery freshly charged – it can run down much faster if you’re in the cold (and that cold can happen even in the so-called summer).

Gulfoss - 10 tips for your Iceland trip

8. Have a bank card with a PIN

I loved how it was easy to pay with a card all over Iceland – even just for a two-dollar hot dog. I had a travel money card from my home bank (with a PIN number) and a credit card with a PIN and it was easy to use either of these – but we did come across some semi-stranded tourists who couldn’t get their card to work in a self-serve petrol station – so do make sure you have some options of bank cards that you can operate without having to sign.

9. Take your vitamins

Iceland is not well-known for delicious fresh fruit and vegetables (I was sorely disappointed!) and you may not eat as you usually do – especially if you’re on a budget – so throw in some multivitamins or something to help. (If you’re there outside of summer, your Vitamin D will be deficient too without much sunshine!) I don’t think it’s particularly surprising, once you’re there, that the vitamin supplement section in Icelandic supermarkets is large and prominent!

10. Plan in down-time

Travelling anywhere seems to put me in a mood to think, dream and plan the future, but Iceland and its quirkiness and massive landscapes made this urge even stronger. Don’t plan your Iceland road trip so full that you don’t have time to sit and daydream – I am sure you’ll want to.

 

Iceland

Comments

  1. I think you forgot to talk about Northern lights, Iceland is famous for its Northern lights..!!
    Interesting post about Iceland, I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, it will be helpful for me.

  2. I must say, as local, that this is one of better tips I have seen by foreigner about visit here to Iceland. But about 5. We have all kind of weather here. We say sometimes that we don´t have a weather, just a sample 🙂 This summer was great and we really don´t have had winter this year.
    But we can have very bad weather and the trick is to be preparing for all kinds of weather in the day. it´s not unusual to have sun and then heavy rain in few minutes are sun again etc.

    And we have good vegetables, you just need know about where to buy it. We use the hot water to let is be good.

    Keep going with great site;

    Jóhann icelandinformationtravel.com

    • Thanks so much Jóhann! Much appreciated to have the local perspective. I definitely need to do more research about the vegetables next time – that one took me by surprise. But there will definitely be a next time, I really love your wonderful country.

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