Iceland is a highly regarded vacationer vacation spot, nevertheless it takes a good quantity of planning to arrange an Iceland trip if you’re visiting for the primary time. In contrast to visiting Paris or Rome the place everyone seems to be acquainted with the primary points of interest, Iceland remains to be a little bit of an unknown. To get you began, I’ve shared my greatest Iceland journey suggestions primarily based on my a number of visits to Iceland and serving to over two dozen households plan their journeys.
When you learn the following tips, you should definitely additionally try my posts on what to pack, easy methods to put collectively an Iceland funds, my 5-day Iceland itinerary, evaluations of various actions, and the greatest ages to take youngsters to Iceland.
I hope these Iceland suggestions are helpful! In case you nonetheless need assistance, join with Andrés from Go Ask A Native! He’s a Reykjavik-based information and tour operator who makes a speciality of meticulously deliberate self-drive journeys and in addition presents journey planning consultations on Zoom.
TOP Iceland Journey Ideas
Notice: This submit incorporates affiliate hyperlinks. In case you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I’ll obtain a small fee. All opinions are my very own.
1. Plan early!!
Significantly. Accommodations e-book up at the very least six months prematurely in well-liked areas, particularly in the summertime months as tour operators will block off a lot of the out there stock. This has gotten significantly better as new motels have been constructed and Iceland has expanded its tourism infrastructure however it’s nonetheless a preferred vacation spot so it’s a good suggestion to e-book early.
Until you’re staying in Reykjavik in your whole journey, discovering the provision and dates that you really want will be like piecing collectively a jigsaw puzzle so it actually helps to plan early.
2. Finances correctly.
Don’t let low-cost airfares idiot you, Iceland is an costly nation. Until you’re utilizing a camper van or trip leases, a week-long journey can run anyplace from $4,000-20,000+ relying on the variety of folks, the place you keep, and what number of actions you select to do. Take a look at my submit on how a lot a visit to Iceland prices.
In fact there are a lot of suggestions that you should utilize to save cash, like staying in an Airbnb or vrbo and cooking your individual meals, tenting, or sticking to free actions like mountaineering in Thingvellir Nationwide Park.
3. Plan on a number of driving.
You will want a very good 10 to 14 days to take a highway journey alongside your complete Ring Street across the nation, however even if you happen to don’t have that a lot time, you’ll nonetheless be doing loads of driving. If you’re visiting Iceland within the winter, one of the simplest ways is to base your self is in Reykjavik and let another person do the driving for you, because the roads can shut down completely for storms.
Iceland could not look huge on the map however with slender, winding highways it takes a very long time to get from place to position. So even if you’re simply visiting one area, just like the Golden Circle and the South Coast or the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, there may be nonetheless a number of driving concerned. If you wish to get to extra distant locations just like the West Fjords, plan to spend at the very least every week in Iceland.
4. Anticipate to maneuver.
Until you need extraordinarily lengthy days driving backwards and forwards to completely different points of interest and actions, you have to to maneuver motels or lodging fairly a bit. Plan on spending one-to-two nights in about three-to-four areas on a median journey.
I do know this isn’t excellent as you received’t really feel very settled, however belief me after I say that transferring motels is simpler than including all the additional hours within the automotive.
5. Be Sensible together with your Automotive Rental.
It’s tempting to seize an inexpensive rental automotive deal whenever you see it, however take note of the main points! To begin with, if you wish to drive on any of the inside F-roads, you have to a automotive that’s rated for these roads. You may simply drive a lot of the highways with a normal sedan, however whenever you get to the F-roads or the gravel roads within the West Fjords and different locations with poor highway circumstances, you’ll most likely need an SUV. And if you’re visiting the winter and plan on driving, a 4WD automotive is important.
On the Snaefellsnes peninsula I noticed a automotive caught in a cratered car parking zone simply hanging on a bump surrounded by potholes. To keep away from this and make for a smoother journey, an SUV or one thing with the next clearance is only a lot simpler.
And, I do know everybody asks, do I actually need to purchase full automotive rental insurance coverage in Iceland. The reply is sure! You will want to spend money on the additional insurance coverage that covers gravel and ash. This may actually add to the worth of your automotive rental so funds accordingly, however you don’t wish to pay for all these dings and dents make from flying rocks or gravel.
6. Select Actions correctly.
There are such a lot of actions to do and a lot of Iceland’s lovely outdoor, like pure sizzling springs, waterfalls, nationwide parks, and lava fields are fully free to get pleasure from. In case you plan on taking excursions, they will get costly and prices can add up quick, so select correctly. As an alternative of staying in Reykjavik and solely taking excursions, hire a automotive and discover by yourself.
Nevertheless, there are occasions whenever you completely must take a tour. For instance, you have to to take a tour if you wish to stroll on the glacier however if you happen to simply wish to see the glacier, you are able to do that by yourself.
Similar with the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon — you possibly can see numerous icebergs from the seaside however if you wish to get shut you’d have to take a ship tour. In fact, a guided tour provides you the advantage of native data and you may study a lot extra in regards to the panorama, geology, folklore, and Icelandic tradition.
We’ve partnered with Hidden Iceland on excursions and located the workforce excellent. Not solely are all of them professionals (there are volcanologists, geologists, and others on the workforce), however the firm additionally focuses on sustainable enterprise practices and training. It can save you 10% off scheduled group excursions with Hidden Iceland with promo code WE3TRAVEL and if you’d like a customized journey or non-public tour, simply you should definitely inform them I despatched you whenever you contact them.
7. Craft an itinerary.
Iceland attracts those who simply wish to roam freely and discover. And that’s superior. However until you’re tenting (and even if you’re as you possibly can’t free camp all over the place), that is the form of nation the place you really want to plan forward a bit and know what you wish to do.
Every part is so unfold out that you simply’ll want to arrange your itinerary to reduce driving time. It takes some time to get your head across the varied locations so I extremely suggest following a prompt itinerary or utilizing a mapping app to avoid wasting the areas and map out distances to be able to get a way of how a lot time you have to and the place you possibly can keep. Simply ensure when you find yourself crafting your itinerary that you simply additionally depart your self sufficient time to hop out and discover a waterfall, take footage, and luxuriate in nature alongside the way in which.
It can save you 10% off scheduled group excursions with Hidden Iceland with promo code WE3TRAVEL!
8. E book your actions prematurely.
I do know it’s tempting to simply flow, however if you’re going throughout a busy season, actions promote out. Particularly at locations just like the Blue Lagoon. Even ferries to the Westmann Islands can e-book up weeks prematurely.
Nowadays there are typically sufficient tour firms round that you will discover somebody out there, nevertheless it actually helps to e-book prematurely.
9. Don’t trade a lot money.
You should use a bank card for almost all the things. The one issues we paid money for have been suggestions for tour guides. I’ve had a number of enjoyable purchasing on the airport to make use of up my leftover króna however why waste cash if you happen to don’t have to. Simply don’t take out a lot money to start out with.
10. Know your bank card pin.
In case you have a debit card or bank card with a chip and PIN, ensure you know your PIN, you have to it to get fuel at unmanned fuel stations. As is frequent in Europe, you possibly can simply pay with a chip and pin card at handheld terminals at eating places and in outlets. Since many US-based playing cards don’t routinely difficulty a PIN, you might have to request it from the financial institution or bank card issuer.
Making purchases received’t be laborious with out the pin, as you’ll simply have to signal a receipt such as you would within the US. The one time that is actually an issue is on the unmanned fuel station (see extra on that beneath.)
11. Get your VAT again.
If you buy souvenirs higher than 6,000 ISK, it is best to get a kind to get a refund in your VAT (value-added tax). Even if you happen to don’t, it’s straightforward to deal with this on the airport. That is frequent sufficient in European nations however if you happen to haven’t executed it earlier than, that is what you do.
While you get to the airport, BEFORE you verify your baggage, search for the indicators for the VAT refund workplace or Arion financial institution, fill out the shape and drop it off. They could have to see the products earlier than approving it however likelihood is, they are going to simply ask if you’d like a credit score or a verify — it’s easy and saves you cash.
12. Tipping not required.
Tipping shouldn’t be required however appreciated. The service and VAT are included within the worth, however I do know after I’ve tipped, particularly our tour guides, it was at all times welcomed with a smile.
13. Purchase a pay as you go fuel card.
In case you don’t have a chip and PIN card, cease for fuel close to Reykjavik, Selfoss, or one other massive city and purchase a fuel pay as you go card as a result of many fuel stations across the nation are unmanned.
In case you don’t have a pay as you go card or chip and PIN bank card you’re out of luck. N1 appears to be the most typical model so I might counsel an N1 pay as you go card.
14. Plan forward if you’re Out Late.
A lot of the fuel stations with comfort shops and amenities shut at 9 or 10 pm so gas up early if you’re making a protracted drive. It is vitally tough to discover a public restroom after the fuel stations shut so be ready! The panorama can also be extensive open so it’s laborious to discover a bush to go behind. 🙂
15. Obey the legislation.
Iceland is the most secure nation on the planet. You received’t see many police vehicles and also you don’t actually need to fret an excessive amount of about crime, however there are site visitors cameras so be careful!
We obtained a rushing ticket and we couldn’t have been going very a lot over the restrict on the time. We came upon from an e mail from the automotive rental company who additionally tacked on their very own penalty price — not cool.
16. Be ready.
Cease at one of many grocery shops (like Bonus) and fill up on protein bars and snacks. When you find yourself driving by the nation you might not see a spot to eat for an hour or extra. You must also pack a refillable water bottle as all the faucet water is secure to drink and there’s no have to no have to buy bottled water. You might, nonetheless, discover a slight sulfur odor in some areas.
Additionally, carry waterproof pants and a raincoat (we discovered nice offers at Columbia) for visiting waterfalls or you’ll get soaked! And don’t overlook flip-flops if you’re going to the Blue Lagoon! (See my full checklist of what to pack for Iceland!)
17. Test instructions.
Don’t rely completely on Google Maps. Likelihood is it’s going to ship you on probably the most direct route, which can embody roads which might be closed resulting from snow (even in the summertime.) If you’re assembly a tour operator, ask them for one of the best route.
We had a scenario the place I had deliberate on our drive to fulfill up with a tour taking about an hour primarily based on Google Maps. Fortunately the night time earlier than I have a look at the affirmation instructions extra fastidiously and I noticed I wanted to drive all the way in which round as a result of there manner a glacier within the center. That actually modified our outing!
18. Drive Safely.
Earlier than you head out in your drive, verify for highway closures and circumstances on highway.is web site. If heading off-road, log your plans on safetravel.is and obtain the 112 Iceland App. In case you do run into hassle, the Icelandic emergency quantity is 112.
I can’t stress this sufficient, particularly if you’re driving within the winter. It isn’t in any respect unusual within the winter to see roads shut for days at a time or to have journey restrictions in place due to storms or excessive winds.
And you would additionally unexpectedly run throughout sheep within the highway or backpackers strolling alongside the non-existent shoulder so listen.
19. Test the vacations.
If you’re visiting throughout June, Nationwide Independence Day is June seventeenth, and plenty of companies might be closed. In Reykjavik, you possibly can take part on the parades and festivities however remember that there could also be some political demonstrations too.
20. Prepare for mild (or darkish.)
If you’re visiting in the summertime season, you received’t see the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis however you’ll take pleasure in Midnight Solar so you possibly can benefit from the lengthy days to slot in a number of sightseeing and also you don’t want to fret about driving slender winding roads in the dead of night. Simply carry a sleep masks and possibly some melatonin to assist your physique know it’s time for sleep.
Likewise, if you’re visiting within the winter (and sure, there are some benefits), you have to to plan round very quick days with not many sunlight hours, when the solar rises at 10 am and units at 4 pm. You will have extra time enjoyable in sizzling tubs and fewer time driving lengthy distances, and plan on any excursions through the center of the day.
21. Watch out.
When visiting the black sand seashores, avoid the water’s edge, particularly if you happen to flip your again to the water. They have a tendency to get rouge waves and robust undercurrents that may take folks unaware and pull them out to sea.
Additionally, don’t enterprise too near the cliff’s edges. There should not many obstacles or fences in Iceland. In case you see a warning signal, it’s there for excellent cause and you’ll want to listen.
22. Not for choosy eaters.
Icelandic meals is predominantly lamb, seafood, and their conventional meat soup (lamb.) However if in case you have a choosy eater in your group you will discover mediocre hamburgers in most locations and even some pizza.
The meals scene has positively improved lately, particularly in Reykjavik. And I’ve had among the greatest seafood of my life in Iceland. However what you received’t discover are American fast-food chains or Starbucks, besides possibly Subway, if you are out and about within the countryside.
Don’t despair although, the fuel stations typically have some nice comfort meals out there and everybody must attempt at the very least one Icelandic sizzling canine!
23. Get your digital camera prepared.
Deliver additional batteries in your digital camera and a automotive charger in your cellphone, and possibly even an additional SD card as a result of you’ll take a number of footage! Some kind of waterproof case or bag can be useful close to the waterfalls.
If you’re visiting within the winter, you have to additional batteries as a result of the chilly drains them shortly. And, through the winter months if you happen to plan on on the lookout for the Northern Lights, ensure you perceive your digital camera settings to be able to seize the reminiscence.
24. English is welcome.
Whereas it’s at all times good to study just a few phrases of the language of the nation you’re visiting, you don’t want to fret an excessive amount of a few language barrier. Everybody speaks wonderful English. In case you can study just a few phrases, you’ll actually impress your mates again dwelling! Simply hearken to the locals pronouce Eyjafjallajökull and you will note why.
However when you get a dangle for a way the phrases are shaped, the names of locations begin to make extra sense. For instance, foss means waterfall, jökull means glacier, vik means bay, dalur means valley. It’s like decoding a puzzle when you study the that means of some phrases.
25. Pack sensible.
Be ready for vastly completely different landscapes and climate circumstances. You may want a jacket within the metropolis however not on the glacier or vice versa. Layers are crucial in Iceland!
I discovered it useful to be ready for no matter climate we would encounter. Discover my packing lists for Iceland in summer time and winter. Begin with a very good base layer and add from there. Our Columbia omni-heat lined jackets have been heat however very light-weight and didn’t take up a number of room within the suitcase. Be sure that to spend money on heat wool socks and waterproof mountaineering sneakers are an absolute should!
Within the winter, additionally, you will want slip on microspikes or crampons like Yaktrax when visiting waterfalls or different icy spots. Additionally ensure to carry alongside European energy adapter or converters to cost your digital camera and cellphone.
26. COVID Restrictions
Fortunately, as of February 25, 2022, there are now not any COVID-related borrder restrictions for guests to Iceland. Right now, all guests are welcome, no matter vaccination standing, with no requirement to pre-register earlier than visiting. You additionally now not want a PCR take a look at or to quarantine upon arrival.
Nevertheless, we now have all realized that these guidelines are topic to vary so I might encourage you to verify together with your embassy or fastidiously learn the Iceland COVID guidelines. And keep in mind that US residents or guests returning to america at present nonetheless have to have a damaging take a look at inside 24 hours of arrival.
Extra Data in your Iceland Journey
If you’re planning a visit to Iceland, you should definitely additionally have a look at these articles: