Are you planning a trip to Iceland? We’ve covered you with these essential Iceland Travel Tips to help you prepare!
Iceland, a small yet stunning Atlantic island nation, is known for its resilience and beauty. It boasts breathtaking landscapes, captivating waterfalls, and fascinating Viking stories. Considered part of the continent of Europe, it has no railways and is considered one of the safest places on earth, and yet has no armed forces. Talk about contrasts in the land of fire and ice.
I explored Iceland a few times, and this guide is updated with tips and learnings from past trips. My husband and I have explored together, and I have also traveled solo across the country (and it is one of the amazing places for first time solo travelers) we did that mostly on guided tours – so it is a-okay if you wish to avoid driving.
In this Iceland travel guide, we have also invited other travelers to share their insights from family trips, campervan journeys, and other clever tips and tricks they learned along the way, making this article a well-rounded and holistic trip planner that you can refer back to from time to time.
Planning a trip to Iceland: 27+ Iceland Travel Tips
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Our interactions with Icelandic people were warm and friendly. The horses and fluffy sheep are super cute, and not to forget the gorgeous landscapes! The downtown area of Reykjavik stands out among capital cities worldwide, with its unique charm where graffiti is funded and celebrated as an artistic contribution.
While Iceland is undeniably one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, it’s crucial to have essential travel tips for a successful visit. This comprehensive travel guide will assist you in planning your trip to Iceland, ensuring an unforgettable experience.
How to prepare for Iceland – Visa, flights, currency & more
1. Travel Documents & Iceland Tourist Visa
As always, all visitors to Iceland are required to carry a valid passport. Iceland (and Norway) belong to the Nordic Passport Union and follow the Schengen Agreement. This means that 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. The passport validity should be for at least three months from the return date.
- 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.
2. Use credit cards in Iceland Currency and money
The national currency of Iceland is the Icelandic Krona. Euros are extensively used in Iceland as well, followed by US Dollars. Very rarely, will you find anyone accepting Canadian dollars.
In some stores, and restaurants; euros are accepted, but the change is returned in Krona.
For conversion 1 USD$ = 140.20 Icelandic Króna
So, when you are out and about looking at grocery or restaurant menu prices, it is very common to see prices marked in thousands (like 1 bowl of lamb soup for 1,990.88 Icelandic Króna or 16 USD)
In our suggestion, for your Iceland trip, you are better off carrying your credit card for any unpaid trip expenses.
Credit cards are widely accepted across Iceland – even in small towns and snack stalls. This eliminates having to constantly pay for exchange fees or carrying different types (and lots of loose) of change.
3. Flying to Iceland: Airport Iceland Reykjavik
Iceland is serviced by Keflavik Airport. It is also called Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport. All of the international flights depart and arrive here. It is located about 45 minutes outside of the capital city of Reykjavik.
Although smaller than most international airports that I have been to, it is packed with awesome services. Car rentals, tour services, souvenir stores, and restaurants; you name it and they are all conveniently located at the Keflavik airport.
Keflavik airport is home to Icelandair and WowAir (now a part of Icelandair). Reykjavik has a domestic airport, to serve internal flights and flights to Greenland.
Reykjavik Airport is much smaller than Keflavik. I flew from Reykjavik to Akureyri twice and it was a good experience (it cut travel time from 5 hours of driving to a short flight).
4. Reykjavik Airport Transfer
Here are your options from Reykjavik to Keflavik Airport and vice versa,
- By Car – Pick up your rental car and drive to Reykjavik – 45 minutes
- By Bus – Book a Flybus via Reykjavik Excursions. You can either request to be dropped off at your accommodation (extra charge) or at BSI Terminal – central bus station. You do not have to book tickets ahead of time. You will always get a seat in the Flybus, it is guaranteed.
Read: Complete guide to traveling from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik
5. Saving Tips for flights to Reykjavik Iceland – Stopover Program
If you are looking for cheap flights to Iceland your first step should be to try Icelandair. This Icelandic airline is the creator of the stopover flight ticket concept. This means that you can fly from the United States to Europe (or in the other direction) with a free stopover in Iceland.
- One of the best ways to save money on flights to Iceland is to book when your preferred airline has a sale.
- Also, make sure that you sign up for email notifications so that you know when the sales are happening.
- Another thing to consider is – when to book your trip. Normally, the earlier the better, and often the early part of the week (Mondays and Tuesdays) are the cheapest.
6. Public Transportation in Iceland
Unlike other European countries, there are no trains in Iceland. Bus services only operate in certain cities and suburbs. So if you are planning to explore the Icelandic countryside on a bus – it will be a tour bus for you. Otherwise, renting a car is another option.
There are no Uber taxis in Iceland. Only local taxis operate in Iceland. (download Hreyfill bæjarleiðir app – taxi tracker)
There are public transport services (called Strætó bs) that operate city buses in Reykjavik and surrounding satellite towns and suburbs like Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður, Garðabær, Mosfellsbær, Seltjarnarnes, and Álftanes.
These buses are recognizable by their bright yellow color. You can download the’Strætó’ app to check schedules and buy tickets.
‘Strætó’ is the short form of “strætisvagn” which means ‘urban bus’.
Not planning to drive? Here is an epic 10-day Iceland itinerary without a car
7. Tips for Driving in Iceland
By Kristen from Yonderlust Ramblings
Driving in Iceland takes place on the right-hand side. One form of traffic infrastructure frequently utilized in Iceland is the roundabout. Right of way in these roundabouts goes to the vehicle on the inside lane.
Iceland’s main road, the Ring Road, is also known as Road 1 and encompasses all of Iceland. Secondary roads that branch off of Ring Road are numbered in double digits, and almost always go in numerical order. Tertiary roads that branch off of secondary roads are numbered in triple digits.
There are certain driving precautions that are unique to Iceland. Livestock roams more freely here, so watch the road at all times. Weather can be erratic and affect the road and driving conditions, so take extra care in precarious weather conditions.
In Iceland, vehicle headlights must remain on at all times.
While entrance fees into many of the tourist attractions are technically free (for now), many popular spots charge for parking, which usually takes the form of a kiosk in which you buy a ticket and place it on your dashboard.
Gas stations are proportionately available, but they are far from everywhere. Do not get too low on gas before filling up.
Resources: 8 days in Iceland road trip itinerary
8. Car Rental Tips Iceland
It is generally cheaper to rent a car from Keflavik Airport than in Reykjavik. There are local car rental companies in addition to the big names of Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise. Some of these local agencies may be able to offer you cheaper fares, for a similar vehicle.
You will most likely experience long wait times in order to actually get possession of your vehicle on arrival. Expect to possibly wait several hours.
My “renting a car in Iceland tip” includes paying the additional rental insurance coverage for “sand and ash” coverage. Due to the erratic weather in Iceland, strong winds can pick up sand and damage vehicle surfaces.
Even with the larger rental companies, automatic vehicles are rare. If you are not comfortable with manual transmission and an automatic is a must, make reservations well in advance, and expect to pay slightly more.
Prohibited mountain roads are labeled beginning with “F”. This “F” indicates a required 4-wheel drive. If you get into a scrape while driving a regular rental vehicle on an “F” road, your insurance will be voided.
Rental vehicles in Iceland run primarily on diesel. Ensure that you are filling up with the correct fuel at the gas station.
9. Iceland Tours & Related Tips
Without a vehicle and not having to deal with a car rental company, the best way to explore Iceland at any time of the year is by taking guided tours. They are well organized, safe, and a great use of time while you are in Iceland for a stop-over or a short trip.
The tours in Iceland are not intrusive and are a great way of meeting people if you are traveling solo.
If you are planning your first trip to Iceland, we highly recommend considering a tour. Get all the scoop on Iceland Tours here
We have helped many of our friends craft a perfect Iceland weekend trip with just day tours. Here are two examples below where we booked 3 days with individual day tours (with pictures),
Classic Iceland Itinerary
- Day 1: Arriving in Iceland. Visit Blue Lagoon, explore Reykjavik
- Day 2: Golden Circle tour
- Day 3: South Coast day tour with Jorkusarlon Glacier Lagoon
Alternate Iceland Itinerary
- Day 1: Arriving in Iceland. Visit Sky Lagoon, explore Reykjavik, and join a 3-hour food tour
- Day 2: Explore the Reykjanes Peninsula and an evening whale watching tour
- Day 3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula day tour
There are also lots of seasonal tours such as ice cave excursions, northern lights, winter hikes, etc. that you can add to your day’s activities.
Note: Excursions such as ice or lava caves, and snowmobile rides can be booked as an add-on – which means you have to drive to the meeting point (and no round-trip transportation is provided), so you have more flexibility.
Due to the nature of the activities, these excursions are led by an expert and cannot be done on their own.
10. Where to stay in Iceland
There are great places to stay in Iceland, just as unique as their landscape. Hotels, hostels, Airbnbs, campsites, camper-vans, igloos, bubbles (yes!) you name it.
And you don’t have to restrict yourself to the capital city of Reykjavik. Whether it is the South (Vik), West (Hofn), or North (Akureyri) – you will find amazing places to stay, for all budgets.
Here are a few helpful tips for choosing your accommodation in Iceland
- Book in advance for securing your stay, especially during peak seasons like the summer months (June to August) and December
- For a stop-over trip to Iceland, consider staying in the capital city of Reykjavik. There are hotels, hostels, and Iceland Airbnbs available close to the city center. Some offer free parking as well.
- Cheaper stays will be in hostels or campsites in the summertime.
- Prefer to stay in style? Consider booking one of the glamping spots in Iceland
- You can stay in a camper van in winter as well. You will have to reserve the camper van for a minimum of 3 days
- Hotels and Airbnbs in Iceland include special features like Northern Lights Alarm, staying in an igloo, or a transparent bubble. They fit different budgets and come with amenities to suit every traveler.
11. Tipping in Iceland
Unlike in other European countries, service providers do not expect tips or gratuities in Iceland. It is not the norm and hence not considered rude.
- Restaurants – Your restaurant bill in Iceland will probably include a service charge of 10%. If it doesn’t, then a tip of 10% is good enough
- Tour Guides – Tour guides do not expect tips either. They do like genuine (and positive) online reviews that help other tourists. If you are really happy with your guide, feel free to tip.
- Hotel Staff – They don’t expect you to tip.
12. Wifi in Iceland
Although nature’s paradise, Iceland is also very modern and technologically advanced. You will find free WiFi in the airport, hotels, and in and around Reykjavik City. All tour buses are equipped with WiFi.
When you are traveling outside of Reykjavik and are on the road, and if you need WiFi, here are a few options for you.
|Portable Wi-Fi Modem||Pre- Paid SIM for WiFi|
|Reasonable fee of 1000 KR/day||It is prepaid, and you control the costs|
|Great for traveler groups or families||Great for solo travelers or couple|
|The modem has to be charged every day |
for use or battery backup
|No extra device like a modem to charge|
|Portable modems can be picked up |
at the airport (for an additional surcharge)
|Can purchase at any 10-11 stores & airport|
|Popular Modem Options: |
Trawire | Handy
- If you are planning to use WiFi for basic browsing or uploading pictures occasionally, then depending on the number of users either a SIM or a modem is a good choice
- If you are using WiFi for navigation purposes, then consider getting a portable WiFi modem instead of a prepaid sim card. The cell towers might drop off in certain (remote) locations in Iceland. But modem hot-spot connectivity is really good nationwide.
- Pro-Tip – You can save on GPS rentals if you get a modem for $10/day
13. Iceland Apps to travel easy before your trip
Your time in Iceland will be extra-smooth with these handy apps. Download them ahead of time to save data.
- Maps of Iceland offline – As the name suggests, it is an offline maps app. This is an essential app to download if you do not intend to purchase a portable Wi-Fi modem. Maps.me is also a great option. Downloading it ahead of time saves you money on SIM cards or modems.
- 112 Iceland – 112 Iceland is the application for the Icelandic Emergency Services.
- Vedur – Iceland’s top Weather app.
- Iceland Road Guide app – This app provides all road sign information and safety. Download here for iPhone users & Android users
- WAPP – WAPP is an application developed by hikers for hikers; and it features on-and-offline trail maps, information on hike lengths and locations, and even advice (in English and Icelandic) including safety tips. Download it here
- Taxi App – Hreyfill bæjarleiðir – This is a taxi app for Iceland. I can’t pronounce the Icelandic street names, so this taxi app is handy. Download the App here
- Straetor –This is the Iceland Public Bus App. The app allows you to check bus schedules and plan the most efficient routes from a customized map, as well as book tickets.
Other Favourite Apps include
- Iceland Activity Guide App – This app lists all the activities near you in Iceland with a description, contact information, and a map.
- Gas Station Locator – Eldsneyti is an Icelandic gas station locator. It shows you all the gas stations around you and what prices they offer. When you’ve found the right gas station, it also helps you to navigate to it.
- Icelandic Phrases App – Most Icelanders speak English and/or other languages, it’s always very educational and fun to learn the local language
- Þingvellir National Park App – This is a very handy app to keep while hiking around Thingvellir National Park. This is an official National Park app from the park authorities – with GPS navigation, activities guide, etc.
14. Safety in Iceland
By Constance from the Adventures of Panda bear
One of the most important travel tips in Iceland is to stay safe! Even though the country is full of beautiful landscapes, it is also, in a way, full of wilderness. Here are a couple of examples that will hopefully help you travel to Iceland mindfully.
Throughout the country, there are tons of amazing hiking trails, but keep in mind that you hike them at your own risk.
And though it might seem really cool to get close to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall (where you can walk behind the waterfall), it might not be the best idea since people have actually slipped off the edge and fallen. So make sure you are wearing the right shoes and are cautious.
Another thing to pay attention to, is the insane rip tides in Iceland, especially on the southern coast.
The Black Sand Beaches in Vik are known for their bright yellow signs showing a black figure being swept away. That actually does happen in real life. Make sure you stay away from the waves to prevent it from happening.
15. Solo travel in Iceland
Icelanders nurture a sense of community, of belonging with one another. Almost 98% of the police force in Iceland do not carry guns. Harassment is rare, almost non-existent.
What this means for solo (female) travelers is that – Iceland is safe for solo travel. English is widely spoken here. All the trips can be planned and organized, leaving less worry.
People are helpful in case you need assistance.
The crime rate is low. You are safe to walk downtown streets late at night.
If you are driving to unknown areas at night, you have to be cautious due to natural calamities, etc. not due to crime. You don’t have to worry about pick-pockets or a taxi driver charging an exorbitant amount of money.
Budget tips for your Iceland trip
16. Food and eating in Iceland
By Bistra from The Magic of Traveling
Iceland is an expensive country, but luckily, there are several ways, which can help you to travel to Iceland on a budget. It is important to plan ahead and apply money-saving tips where possible.
- One of the suggestions would be to limit eating out and buying food from grocery stores. Grocery stores near Keflavik and Reykjavik carry a wide variety of food items that are not only affordable but can also be handy when you are out and about exploring the countryside.
- At the grocery store, choose food items that you can quickly prepare, and are not perishable.
- Bringing your own food and snacks while road-tripping in Iceland will save you a lot of money.
- Another option is to bring a camping cooker and make your own meals. Even better – if you come from a country where food is cheaper, bring some with you.
- Also bring alcohol, if you want to drink as alcohol prices are very high in Iceland. That being said, it’s also good to try some local food once in Iceland. The cheapest products you will find in the supermarket Bonus, located in the cities and towns.
17. Accommodation Tips – The cheapest way to stay
By Aga from Worldering Around
The best way to spend less on accommodation in Iceland is to camp, sleep in the shared hostel rooms, or guest houses, or use Airbnb or Couchsurfing.
The private campsites still have a fee, which is usually around 1700-2100 ISK per person. However, it is considerably less than any other type of accommodation. It’s also possible to wild camp in Iceland, although this might be more challenging at times.
18. Camping for free in Iceland
Oliver from Travel Tips Europe shares a great tip about how you can actually camp for free as long as you follow these rules.
- You have to be tenting (so no camper vans), and can only set up a tent for one night at any given location.
- It has to be on uncultivated public land.
- You can camp on private land or farmland as long as you have the owner’s permission.
Before you go, always check if certain areas have any specific rules. If you do decide to camp this way, it is really important to be respectful and leave everything the way you found it. So the obvious thing is to take all your garbage with you. That includes human waste.
Yeah, there’s the catch. If you get caught leaving it behind, they will force you to clean it up.
It is important to rent a proper vehicle if you plan on doing this, as most of the places you will find to camp will be off the country’s F-roads. This means constantly changing terrain of sand, rocks, rivers, and dirt.
Iceland Packing Tips
By Sinead from MapMadeMemories
Iceland’s weather poses challenges at any time of the year you choose to visit. Essential items to pack for any season would be a windproof, waterproof jacket for the unpredictable climate and a sturdy, closed-toe shoe for exploring Iceland’s wilderness at all times of the year.
19. What to pack for Iceland in Winter? Iceland Packing List
By Jenny from TraveLynn Family
Traveling in winter comes with its own challenges. Within the first few hours of our Iceland road trip, we experienced rain, sun, wind, snow, hail, and even saw a rainbow.
For Iceland winter wear, it is a good idea to carry a long-sleeved thermal top and layer it with a t-shirt and then a 3-in-1 jacket (where the top waterproof layer can unzip off to reveal a fleece).
Also, consider wearing fleece-lined walking trousers with a woolly hat and gloves to beat the winter blues.
And don’t forget your sunglasses too for when the sun does actually break through, it is quite bright. As mentioned, layering is the key, especially when traveling to colder climates such as Iceland.
Here is a handy list –
- Long underwear is essential for layering. Don’t buy cotton; it’s a poor insulator, will drain heat dangerously when wet, and takes forever to dry when you wash it. Go with synthetic, wool, or silk.
- Pants – Carry one pair of quick-drying hiking pants. Perfect as they can be dressed up or down.
- Midlayers – Super important. Carry lightweight, synthetic mid-layers.
- Jackets – There are 2 kinds of outerwear jackets needed. The first is a lightweight, insulating layer. The other jacket is a rain layer. In warmer weather, this can be worn by itself as a windbreaker or rain jacket. In cooler weather, it was combined with the insulating layer to make a warm combination against cold, wind, and rain.
- Toiletries – Toothbrush, travel toothpaste to share, deodorant, and a hairbrush (and/or make-up)
- Shoes – One pair of waterproof hiking boots and/or sturdy shoes. Trail running shoes have soles with grip for trail and rock, as well as a strike plate in between the sole and your feet. Great for long walks on city streets.
- Socks – Socks made of quick-dry wool. Recommended socks include ones made of Smart Wool and Icebreaker Merino wool socks.
- Single-use laundry detergent packs.
- Hat and gloves
20. What to pack for Iceland in summer? Pack warmer than you think
By Christopher from TravelingMitch
Note that the temperatures in Iceland in the summer are not super warm or hot, but it is always chilly and windy. So regardless of the season – summer or winter, you need to pack warm.
Waterproof hiking shoes are a must as you explore the city of Reykjavik and head to various natural attractions.
Don’t forget to pack plenty of sunscreens and a sun hat as there is little shade on the Golden Circle or at the south coast tourist attractions.
21. Packing a thermos to store food
By Claire from Past the Pot Holes
Keeping in mind the expenses in Iceland, here are some additional items that you must consider carrying with you. Bringing in a Thermos will be handy on the road. With a Thermos, you can eat warm lunch on the go, without spending any money.
It also helps when the hotel you stay in, has access to a kitchen so that filling the Thermos each day is easy. A good quality flask will allow you to fill it the night before and remain hot for lunch if a kitchen isn’t available in the morning.
22. Iceland Tourist Season & Traveling Offseason
One way to help cut down on costs on a trip to Iceland is to visit off-season. Iceland’s main tourist season is in the summer (July and August). During that time costs for accommodation and tours are higher, and attractions become more popular.
However, visiting Iceland during the winter season is not for everyone, as the conditions can be extremely cold and may hinder road trip plans if there is a sudden change in weather.
For the best of both worlds, visit during September or October. This is the perfect time to visit Iceland, as you can catch the tail end of summer weather and still benefit from the reduced off-season costs of hotels, car rentals, etc., as well as fewer people at popular attractions.
When is the Best Time to Travel to Iceland
October is truly the best month to travel to Iceland. You will not only have the chance to see the Northern Lights but also the beauty in the colors of the fall foliage that provide a surreal backdrop to (or perfectly framed up) the glacial waterfalls.
Autumn or fall is a great time to visit anywhere really, but this is especially true for Iceland.
It’s typically before the arrival of heavy winters; however, be ready for winter anytime as it could be rainy, cold, windy, and occasionally snowy even as early as the first week of October. Icelandic weather is very unpredictable that way!
23. Craft an EPIC Iceland itinerary
When planning a trip to Iceland, crafting the perfect itinerary can seem like a daunting task. With so many amazing things to see and do, it can be overwhelming to choose which activities and locations to include in your trip.
We have explored Iceland on a stopover, a long weekend to 10 days long trip. You can surely pick a few natural attractions and excursions based on your interests and then plan your itinerary accordingly.
Here are some itinerary suggestions
Best of Iceland itinerary 4 days: South Coast
- Day 1 in Iceland: Arrive at Keflavik Airport and enjoy the Blue Lagoon. Overnight in Reykjavik
- Day 2 in Iceland: Take a day trip to the Golden Circle highlights
- Day 3 in Iceland: Check off south Iceland waterfalls and Vik and black sand beaches
- Day 4 in Iceland: Trip to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
5 days in Iceland Winter Itinerary: Northern Lights, and winter activities
- Day 1: Arrive, stop at the Blue Lagoon, and explore Reykjavik museums (indoor activity suggestions)
- Day 2: Golden Circle Route with Secret Lagoon + Northern Lights tour
- Day 3: Full-day South Coast tour
- Day 4: Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
- Day 5: Ice Cave Tour Vatnajökull National Park in Southern Iceland (+ Sky Lagoon)
8 days in Iceland itinerary: Discover the south, southeast, and west of Iceland
- Day 1: Reykjavík (stay in Reykjavik)
- Day 2-3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Day 4: Þingvellir and the South Coast (part I)
- Day 5: South Coast (part II) (stay in Vik)
- Day 6: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach (stay in Hofn)
- Day 7: Activity Day
- Day 8: Drive back + Sky Lagoon or Blue Lagoon
Read the full guide here: Iceland itinerary 8 days
10 day Iceland itinerary
- Day 1 in Iceland: Arrive at Keflavik Airport and enjoy the Blue Lagoon. Overnight in Reykjavik
- Day 2 in Iceland: Explore Reykjavik. Optional northern lights tour
- Day 3 in Iceland: Take a day trip to the Golden Circle highlights
- Day 4 in Iceland: Check off south Iceland waterfalls and Vik + Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (optional)
- Day 5 in Iceland: Visit the Snaefellsnes peninsula
- Day 6 in Iceland: Learn about Icelandic sagas in the Highlands
- Day 7 in Iceland: Activity day (volcano hike, snowmobile tour, glacier walk, ice caving tour)
- Day 8 in Iceland: Travel to Akureyri in north Iceland. Overnight in Akureyri
- Day 9 in Iceland: Day trip to Myvatn Lake area and waterfalls
- Day 10 in Iceland: Return to Reykjavik and soak in Sky Lagoon
What to see in Iceland and how many days do you need?
If you wish to visit Iceland just once, then 10 to 14 days is ideal. And preferably a road trip format mixed with a few tours. And here is why. On paper, Iceland doesn’t look like a very big place. However, the reality is that the roads are often narrow and slow to drive.
There’s also so much beauty along the way that if you allow yourself a very short time frame to see everything, you’ll end up exhausted and feeling like you’ve seen nothing.
By way of example, the famous Ring Road is around 1,332 kilometers (828 miles) and takes you all the way around the island. You could probably drive it non-stop in 24 hours.
If you want to actually enjoy your holiday and stop at the major sights, you need a minimum of seven days. If you want to get off the Ring Road, do some hiking and activities on the glaciers, or visit more remote towns and villages, you’ll need more time.
If you’re short on time and have less than seven days to visit, consider skipping the entire Ring Road drive tour and instead base yourself in Reykjavík and doing some awesome day trips – for example the Golden Circle tour and the unmissable Blue Lagoon.
24. Northern Lights Tips
Seeing the northern lights is a bucket list item for many travelers visiting Iceland in the winter season.
Do you know what’s not on most people’s bucket lists? They freeze themselves to death staring at an empty sky a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle. In order to see the northern lights, it needs to be dark, the skies need to be clear, and there needs to be high solar wind activity.
Here are some additional tips for chasing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland
Get an Aurora Forecast App
An Aurora forecast app takes all of those factors into account and calculates the chance of seeing the Aurora at a given time and location. There are many such apps available for free: one good one is My Aurora Forecast.
Hotel with Aurora Alarm
By Leona from Wander Must Family
Another tip for seeing the Northern Lights is to stay at a hotel with a Northern Lights alarm! The northern lights are unpredictable and unless you want to go on an excursion every night to try and see them you may not have luck on one attempt!
If you stay at a hotel with a northern lights alarm you will get a chance to see them every night of your stay!
These hotels are usually outside of towns so there is low light pollution increasing your chances of seeing them! It also means that you don’t have to stand in the middle of a field in the cold but rather can stay tucked up in bed until the lights are spotted!
25. Blue Lagoon Iceland Travel Tips & Geothermal Spas
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is one of the greatest wish list items for Iceland for many. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located just 15 minutes away from Keflavik Airport.
The lagoon is powered by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal plant. The water here is filled with minerals that are good for your skin, mind, and body.
As much as Blue Lagoon is a sought-after place, many despise and avoid going there altogether for various reasons. The water in the Blue Lagoon completely renews itself every 48 hours.
Blue Lagoon has been criticized for being crowded, too commercialized, and overrated. It is a man-made lagoon and hence when there are many natural pools and the oldest swimming pools in the country, there is some stiff competition in the market.
Anyhow, if you are visiting the Blue Lagoon, here are some helpful tips,
- Blue Lagoon is located just 15 minutes from the Keflavik Airport, it is recommended that you book an entry ticket when you are arriving or departing from Iceland
- Blue Lagoon tickets sell out fast, so plan ahead
- Carry your towels and swimwear. You can also get them on rent at the Blue Lagoon
- Before you get to the pool, you will have to take a shower (naked)
- There are ample parking spots and luggage storage options for you to store your bags when visiting the pool
Blue Lagoon hours change every season. Current hours include
- Summer Hours – 07:00 am – 11:00 pm (May to June), 07:00 am – 00:00 am (June to August)
- Winter Hours –08:00 am to 09:00 pm
Blue Lagoon tickets
- Entry packages for Blue Lagoon start at 65 Euros (which includes a welcome drink and algae mask)
- When you purchase your ticket, it gives you a time stamp. Even if a paid (online) ticket, expect to see a lineup at the Lagoon entrance
- Many tour operators will include “Blue Lagoon transfers”, along with a comfort package (entry tickets)
- Reykjavik Excursions via Flybus offers transfers from the Airport to Blue Lagoon and return or Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik city for accommodation. Click to book your transfer here
- You can also book luxury-level packages with special treatments and hotel stay
Options if Blue Lagoon tickets are sold out
If Blue Lagoon tickets are all sold out or if you are unable to find a slot that works best for your schedule, then there are other options available aka Plan B. You can visit the Blue Lagoon and enjoy some time in the cafe, WITHOUT purchasing a ticket.
If you just want to find out, what Blue Lagoon looks like and what’s the fuss all about, then you can still explore the place. Without a ticket. You won’t be able to enjoy the pool, that’s all.
There are many other options for experiencing a geothermal spa in Iceland and there are tons of them. Some of the finest options include
26. Photography Tips for Iceland
By Michelle from The Wandering Queen
Iceland is arguably one of the most unique landscapes in the world. Its staggering mountains, grand pastures, and striking beaches provide countless photo opportunities.
Taking snapshots of Iceland through a camera is fantastic, but what if you could have a bird’s eye view of the landscape you can only see from the ground? Your angles, lighting, and even video opportunities just rose exponentially.
Having a drone in your photography arsenal in Iceland is a must.
- It is critical to take out the drone on a few test drives before the trip. Familiarize yourself with its features and limitations as much as possible. Doing so will help with any headaches and maximize your battery and emotions while shooting.
- Secondly, many popular locations allow for droning but not all. Iceland’s designated national parks prohibit droning. If you have an itinerary, it would be worth researching where it is permitted.
- Rationing your battery life is critical. Carry three batteries on hand because most drone batteries allow for only 30 minutes of flight time. To help save batteries, we suggest scouting the whole area out first to have an understanding of all the different opportunities available.
- Lastly, always be vigilant for unique viewpoints, flight paths for videos, and landscapes with contrasting features. Illustrating unique perspectives and contrasts captivates your audience. Have a plan before takeoff, so you make the most out of your flight time.
Iceland has a landscape, unlike any other place in the world. These four tips will help you make the most out of your flight time during the trip of a lifetime.
27. Things to Avoid in Iceland
There are so many great things about Iceland that you should not miss. But here is a quick list of things to avoid in Iceland.
- Don’t buy packaged water – Water in Iceland is pure pristine and safe to drink. So avoid buying bottled water and instead carry a water bottle.
- Don’t exchange currency – Use your credit card in Iceland, it is easier than getting Kronos or Euros. Credit cards are accepted everywhere in Iceland.
- Don’t carry an umbrella – It is so windy in Iceland, that you will probably lose your umbrella. Carry a poncho instead.
- Don’t print your vouchers, and tickets – Almost all tour agencies, hotels, and stores will prefer to scan at a bar code on your phone or check your email, rather than keep a paper copy. Save the environment and help Iceland!
- Don’t buy items Made in “X” – Check your souvenirs, Nordic-style sweaters, or Ice-Wear goodies, and ensure they are made in Iceland. Don’t pay a hefty price for items that seem to be made in Iceland (but are actually manufactured elsewhere)
- Don’t just dive in – Always shower before getting into a pool or Spa (like Blue Lagoon or Secret Lagoon)
- Don’t Miss the Best – The best things in Iceland are actually free and marvelous. If you are visiting Iceland in the summer, stay up and watch the midnight sun. If you are here in winter, chase those northern lights. Treasure those moments; they are priceless.
- Don’t get off track – Drive and travel responsibly in Iceland, whether you are on the road or exploring a natural sightseeing location. Use common sense and be safe.
Tourism in Iceland has been blooming. A few years ago, the situation was different – Iceland was going through an economic slump when its national banks crashed.
There were huge protests including demands for changes in the constitution and referendum after the referendum was passed. Governments changed.
Then Iceland came out with an innovative way of tackling this economic crash. They didn’t bail out the national banks (like most countries do) – they let them fail, drafted a debt repayment plan, made it hard to borrow (whopping 18% interest rate), and instead, opened up domestic banks to sustain the economy on kronas. This happened in 2009 and look at them now – Iceland is economically growing, and tourism is booming.
Iceland worked hard and its results are showing.
We hope this post got you all excited about planning a trip to Iceland and enjoying the beautiful landscape that the country has to offer. If you have further questions, feel free to drop us a message.
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