Welcome to Iceland Travel Blog & Planning Guide
Planning a trip to Iceland? You are at the right place. In this Iceland Travel Guide, we share our best Iceland posts and resources to help plan your trip!
Iceland is a wonderful country, located on the continent of Europe.
With tons of stopover flights and cheaper airfares via IcelandAir, it makes Iceland the desired destination for a quick trip or a weekend getaway.
Iceland Travel Blog: Travel guides, itineraries & tips
Discover the best of Iceland through our itineraries, detailed travel guides, and tips!
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Quick Facts Iceland Travel
✔️ Official known as – Republic of Iceland
✔️ Capital City – Reykjavik
✔️ No of states or regions – 8 regions
✔️ Population – 368,792 (2021)
✔️ Iceland Tourist Visa – Schengen
✔️EU Member – No
✔️ Currency – Kronas/ISK
✔️ Language – Icelandic, but English is widely spoken
Getting ready for Iceland – Travel Visa
Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is an island nation lying between the European and North American continents. It is not a member of the European Union.
Iceland (and Norway) belong to the Nordic Passport Union and follow the Schengen Agreement.
🗸 If you require to get a Schengen visa for most countries in Europe, then you will need it for Iceland as well.
🗸 Nationals of EEA (European Economic Area) countries need not apply for a visa; however, they do need to carry their valid passport.
🗸 For citizens of the United States and Canada, no visa is required. US and Canadian passport holders can enter and stay in Iceland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
Flight Tips for Iceland
The international airport to Iceland is located in Keflavik Airport, which is located 45 minutes from the capital city. It is also about 20 minutes from the famous Blue Lagoon Spa.
When traveling from the US or Canada, you will arrive at the Keflavik Airport, the airport in Reykjavik is small and we have only seen flights leaving for Greenland from here.
You will find everything you need at the Keflavik Airport – from car rentals, buses, portable wifi modem, sim cards, food, and tour operators.
If you are renting a car, you can reserve car rentals and pick them up from the airport. There are bus transfers available from the airport to Reykjavik. You can book your transfer here
Flight bookings: IcelandAir is the official (and the number one) carrier to Iceland. They usually run deals in the spring and you can book flights all year round. We enjoyed traveling via IcelandAir. They also have a ‘stopover’ program that you can use to make a brief stop in Iceland and then make connections to other European destinations.
Leaving Iceland: Departure from Keflavik Airport is a pain if you have bags to check-in. The waiting time and line-ups are long. So arrive at the airport early if you have to check-in bags. The less you carry on your flight to Iceland- the better.
Budget airlines in Europe have a strict baggage limitation and you will have to pay additional for bags. We say stick to hand luggage or carry-on to save money and hassle at the airport!
Best time to travel to Iceland
Iceland experiences 4 seasons – spring, summer, autumn/fall, and winter. Although official dates overlap, especially in the fall and winter, other seasons do crossover into other months as well.
Here are the official seasons in Iceland (note the overlaps),
- Spring: March to June
- Summer: June to September
- Autumn/Fall: September to December
- Winter: December to March
Iceland experiences variations in temperatures, as you move from the southern to the northern part of the country. This holds true for high altitudes as well.
Winds are very common all year round, which makes it cooler even in the summer months. Summer temperatures are not scorching hot, but it is warmer as compared to Iceland’s fall or winter months.
🗸 Peak Seasons – Iceland has a concentrated tourist season, from mid-June through August, which is the summer months in the country. Summers are busy and crowded and are often considered to be the best time to visit – to see natural landscapes in their true and pristine colors.
Summers are also great for driving, and camping in Iceland due to the weather. Iceland also experiences a phenomenon known as the ‘midnight sun’ in the summers. The term “midnight sun” refers to the consecutive 24-hour periods of sunlight experienced in the summers, especially in the north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle.
🗸 Off Seasons – Spring, fall, and winter are the best time to visit as crowds and prices are dramatically lower for airfares, car rentals, and accommodations.
Winters are slowly becoming popular due to the amazing activities like ice cave tours, hikes, chasing northern lights, etc.
Read our guide to Winter Tours: Guide to Iceland winter tours
🗸 Our Pick – Late September – October is the best time to visit Iceland, as it is a crossover season – giving you the best of summer and winter, minus the crowds. Read our guide on Iceland in October
- Best time to visit: September – October
- Peak Season: Summer
- Off-Season: October – November, February, March
Average Temperatures in Reykjavik
- Winters: -1C/30 F
- Spring: 5 C/41 F
- Summer: 15 C/59 F
- Autumn: 5.5 C/42 F
- Aldrei fór ég suður Rock Music Festival: Easter
- Icelandic National Day: June 17
- Secret Solistice (music): June
- Reykjavik Art Festival: June
- August long weekend (camping): August
- Reykjavik Pride: August
- Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF): Sept – Oct
- Iceland Airwaves (music): November
Festivals in Iceland:
Iceland, although a small nation, is jam-packed with amazing music, and arts festivals. The Secret Solstice music festival is one of the most popular in the country, and it pulls a lot of international crowds. This event takes place in the summer (June).
They also host a lot of film and arts festivals that are held in the capital city of Reykjavik. We enjoyed Reykjavik International Film Fest when we visited the country for the first time.
Icelandic National Day is celebrated on June 17, every year – all across the country.
What to pack for Iceland? Iceland Packing List
Iceland experiences all the seasons, however, what is true in all months is that it is windy and slightly unpredictable. And so carrying warm clothing (like a light windbreaker jacket or a light fleece jacket) is recommended at all times of the year!
Summers are warm in Iceland. But you will still need a nice insulated jacket, and full sleeve tops. Comfortable walking shoes are a must plus a waterproof light jacket.
Don’t forget your swimsuit as there are a ton of hot pools and thermal spas in Iceland. Or hiking gear for those hitting the trails (poles, compass, etc).
Autumn kicks in cooler temperatures, and we recommend bringing in something warm (a scarf, cardigan, booties, etc) along with the summer clothes. Read our guide on what to wear in Iceland in October through winter
Same for spring months.
For winters, carry a warm jacket or a parka, and snow boots. Snowfall and minus degree temperatures are common in Iceland in those months. Layering is key to staying warm.
Here is your packing list for Iceland
- Top: Mix of long and short sleeve T-shirts
- Bottoms: Jeans, pants, thermal leggings
- Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes, hiking boots (summer), winter boots (winter)
- Outerwear: Winter Parka, wool coat (winter). Light waterproof jacket (all year)
- Winter Accessories
- Scarf (winter)
- Gloves (winter)
- Warm socks (winter)
- Beanie (winter)
- Beach tower
- Toiletries: Moisturizer, sunscreen, toothpaste & toothbrush, shampoo, body cream
- Your cellphone.
- Sim card
- Charger: Like this multi charging cable to power up multiple devices
- Universal travel adaptor: Europe uses a plug with two round pins (type C), unlike the flat ones in North America. Don’t forget to carry your universal adaptor
- Camera: Don’t forget your camera. We carry our Sony Mirrorless Camera and Sony A7iii.
- SD Card: To back up all the photos
- Laptop: Optional
- Travel Documents
- Passport: Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in Iceland. The passport must be in good condition and not torn or tempered.
- Visa: If you require a Schengen Visa for Europe/Iceland, do apply for it prior to your trip.
- Currency and Credit Cards: Don’t forget your credit cards and currency. We mainly used our credit cards in Iceland and it is accepted everywhere
- Travel insurance (medical, trip cancellations, etc): You can get a quote in minutes from Worlds Nomad Insurance
- Transportation: Driver’s license, flight tickets, or any tour confirmation
- Hotels: Confirm hotel reservations, and save your emails or a screenshot of the booking email.
Budget for Iceland Travel Tips
Prices in Iceland are super expensive for budget-minded travelers, but it is possible to enjoy affordably. Read our guide on free things to do in Reykjavik
Truth be told, we splurged on our very first Iceland trip and enjoyed every bit of it. Food and eating out in Iceland is an expensive affair.
Our hotel was a mid-budget pick, for which we paid $110 USD per day (twin-share with attached bathroom). Flights were affordable from Canada through IcelandAir (return trip was $550 USD per person).
We booked tours that averaged $125 USD per day per person.
And these prices were similar to most European cities, but it’s the food and eating out that costs a lot. You can definitely save money by buying groceries.
In the peak seasons, you can expect hotels to be expensive. A typical ‘mid-budget’ property will be $160 USD+. Hostels and pods in Reyjkavik are cheaper at around $60 to 80 USD.
You can camp in Iceland during the summer months. Campsites cost $15-25 USD per day, per person. There are family passes available for camping as well.
If you are planning to treat yourself, and want to splurge, there is no place better than staying in a bubble in Iceland. It is a transparent igloo and one can see the dancing green lights and the starry skies at night.
- Luxury: $400+
- Mid-Budget: $160
- Hostel: $60 (dorm)
- Restaurant: $50
- Fast Food: $18-25
- Car rentals: Starts at $250 per week
Keep in mind national parks in Iceland have no entry fees – they are free to explore. Public wifi is also easily available in cities, and tap water is safe to drink.
What to see in Iceland? Things to do in Iceland
Iceland is an amazing destination. Although a small country, Iceland is the perfect travel destination for outdoorsy lovers, road trips, and slow travel, and quick getaways at the same time.
The most popular attractions in Iceland are – South Coast, including the popular Golden Circle Route. There are tons of tours available, which makes it easy to include sightseeing for a quick 2 to 3-day trip.
So here is what you must explore in Iceland,
🗸 Reykjavik: The capital city of Reykjavik is often ignored visiting Iceland. But we highly recommend visiting it and setting aside a day at least for that. There are a few museums including the City Museum which is worth a visit.
As food is expensive, but you can arrange a food tour to experience all of Icelandic cuisine and drinks.
🗸 Golden Circle: The Golden Circle route is a popular tourist attraction in Iceland. Whether in a tour or self-drive itinerary, you get to explore Þingvellir National Park, geysers like the Strokkur Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall, Kerið Crater Lake, Faxi waterfall, and the Secret Lagoon.
🗸 Waterfalls and the southern coast of Iceland: Vik is the southernmost tip of Iceland, and this is where you can play with Icelandic horses and admire the black sand beach – Reynisfjara. The southern coast is sprinkled with waterfalls like the iconic Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss.
🗸 Hot Springs and Pools: Visiting hot springs like the Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and swimming pools are quite popular in Iceland. Blue Lagoon is located near the international airport, and Secret Lagoon is on the Golden Circle Route!
Myvtan hot springs are another must-visit, located in north Iceland.
🗸 After the south coast, the eastern part of Iceland is a tourist favorite!
In the winter, Iceland makes for a great visit for activities like ice cave tours, winter hikes, or walking on glaciers like the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
In the spring and summer months, whale watching and puffin tours are very popular.
Read: Our Iceland bucket list
We take pride in planning and crafting the perfect itinerary to make the most of our trips, and Iceland is no different.
Our most popular itinerary and guide are for 3 days in Iceland. This trip has all the popular highlights like Reykjavik, Golden Circle, and the southern coast via tours.
You can do the same by self-drive. Read: One day in Reykjavik itinerary
If you are planning to visit for 7 to 8 days in Iceland, consider doing a Ring Road itinerary that covers the south, west (with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Akureyri) to the north.
How many do you need in Iceland?
We recommend at least one week in Iceland to visit 2 regions, and the capital city (with museums, relaxation at the spa, etc).
Iceland Guided Tours
The best way to explore Iceland at any time of the year is by taking guided tours. They are well organized, safe, and great use of time while you are in Iceland for a stop-over or a short trip.
If you are planning your first trip to Iceland, we highly recommend considering a tour. Get all the scoop on Iceland Tours here
🗸 If you are booking multiple tours, you can score a discount
🗸 Try booking your tours online, to save more. This is also a great way to budget your trip to Iceland
🗸 The most popular tour is the Golden Circle Route, which covers a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a geyser, and the beautiful Gulfoss Waterfalls. It is a day tour and can be undertaken at any time of the year. The tour is for 6 hours and is ideal for your stop-over itinerary
🗸 Tours in lava or ice caves are conducted and led by a guide. You can reach the glacier or the park by car, but there is no way to explore the caves without a guide.
🗸 Amazing tour in Iceland also includes multi-day tours where you can explore the length and breadth of the country for 8-10 days. Options are available to explore Greenland and Iceland together.
Transportation Options in Iceland
There are a few ways to explore Iceland. Driving or renting a car is the most popular one. Tours are also equally nice (as they are not intrusive).
We have already listed the guided multi-day tours – these tours cover transport, accommodation, and 1-2 meals.
Day tours are a great option too. We book all of our tours in Europe via GetYourGuide (they also have an amazing cancellation policy, so you are in safe hands when you book through them). Day tours start at $85 USD+ which includes a return trip and may include an entry fee and a meal.
Public transportation is not a great option to explore Iceland. There are no train networks to travel from Reykjavik to other major natural attractions. If you are not driving then tours are your best bet.
To explore Iceland’s off the beaten path locations, a car is essential.
When renting a car, remember that rental cars in Iceland will be a manual transmission. If you require auto cars, ensure you book in advance.
Roads are well equipped for trips, but just be mindful and drive safe in the winters. Iceland in winter, comes with its own challenges, especially if you are keen on driving on the F roads, or Ring Roads.
AWD (4WD) is a good option to consider in the winter, even if you have driven on roads with low visibility, blowing snow, slippery conditions, etc.
Prices do add up when you are renting a vehicle. The cheapest one will be around $250-$380 USD per week, depending on the season. It shoots up when you add accessories or insurance.
Your credit card/insurance provider may/may not cover Icelandic road conditions, so do check to confirm what is covered before your trip (in terms of insurance).
Drivers in Iceland drive on the right-hand side of the road, just like the USA and Canada.
Where to stay in Iceland?
If you are visiting Iceland for a short trip in the winter, consider staying in Reykjavik – the capital city, and then venture on day tours from here. You don’t need to have access to a private car to enjoy Iceland.
There are ample hotels and hostels in Reykjavik for all budgets. Hostels, dorms, and pods cost around $60-80 USD and can be booked online on Booking.com.
Mid-budget hotels (2.5 or 3-star property) will be around $110 to $200 USD. Prices are higher during the peak seasons in the summer.
Luxury properties hover around $325 USD. In the off-season, you can find a nice hotel for $250 with a restaurant on-site.
A lot of the travelers to Iceland in the summer months, prefer to camp, or rent a campervan and sleep in it. So other than camping fees (and gear) you are surely saving money by doing so.
Depending on your itinerary and the duration of your visit, you can also find hotels and Airbnbs in different parts of the country. Some also come with excursions or Northern Lights alarm features.
Read our complete guide to the best Airbnbs in Iceland here
We use Booking.com, and Airbnb to browse accommodation deals.
What to eat in Iceland?
Iceland’s food prices are exorbitantly high. But did you know that some of the best food in Iceland can be purchased in grocery stores and they are pretty affordable?
🗸 Try these items at a grocery store (budget food Iceland) – Skyr (one of the popular dairy products), dark rye bread (crust-less bread made by baking underground, near a geyser), Icelandic chocolate, dry fish, or fermented shark (Icelandic road trip snacks)
🗸 Popular Delicacies in Iceland include traditional lamp soup – served with bread, Plokkfiskur – fish served with mashed potatoes, Icelandic hot dog or Plysur
🗸 Ice creams are popular. You can try an ice cream at a grocery store or a place like Valdi’s
Safety in Iceland
Iceland is one of the safest and peaceful countries in the world. International relations with Iceland are stable. Internally, Iceland is safe for solo travel or for members of the LGBTQ community.
Violent crimes in Iceland are rare.
Unlike most of the popular European destinations, petty theft including pick-pocketing is not common. The thing you should be mindful of is weather warnings and natural terrain, which is sometimes unpredictable.
Iceland is a beautiful country, and its uniqueness lies in the fact that no natural sight is barricaded. It is free of obstructions, so use your judgment while exploring and stay safe outdoors.
Check the local news to be aware of any possible dangers. This includes road conditions, visibility, and natural terrain.
When visiting glaciers and ice caves, stay close to your group and tour guide, in order to stay safe.
One of the things we noticed about Iceland is that it is very very clean. Do leave no trace, when you are outdoors.
We hope you found our Iceland travel tips useful in planning your getaway. Have questions? Ask us!