Iceland is a country where you feel yourself in a fairytale. Whether you visit in winter or summer, you will have amazing experiences. It is a Land of rainbows!
Iceland is a European island and has 332,000 population. Local people are super friendly and speak good English. Their official language is Icelandic. The capital of the country is Reykjavik. Like in the all Nordic countries Iceland has its own currency called ”Icelandic krona”.
Most likely, this trip will be a one-lifetime experience that you will never forget, and it will be expensive. (At least we have found the country quite expensive, but it is worth to see – so cannot complain :))
Anyway, we have answered the frequently asked questions about Iceland and written about our trip, including tips that can save you money during your trip to Iceland. Everyone loves saving money, right?
We hope that this article somehow will help you during your trip. You’ll learn about car renting, what to see in and where to stay in Iceland.
WHEN TO GO TO ICELAND?
When we have been to Iceland in October, the weather wasn’t so cold, some parts of nature were still green.
We assume that one of the reasons you want to go to Iceland is Northern Lights. Locals are saying that the Northern Lights are visible for eight months a year, from September to April. But of course, it just depends on your luck. Before deciding on your trip to Iceland, you should consider a few facts.
If you are willing to rent a car in Iceland and explore the island with a car, winter could be dangerous due to the adverse weather conditions.
If you are a hiker and willing to discover the Icelandic nature in winter, there could be brass monkey weather. If so, you wouldn’t enjoy Iceland in winter, go in summer.
If you are planning to go in summer, there is a little chance that you will see the Northern Lights. Anyway, you can make enjoyable activities in Iceland during both summer and winter. But, if the northern lights are the only thing that you want to see in Iceland, you should better visit in winter.
As we said before it will be a fantastic trip!
WHAT TO WEAR IN ICELAND?
We were wondering about what to pack for Iceland. Weather conditions in Iceland can change quickly and often, so you should bring many layers of warm, comfortable clothes such as thermal leggings, long-sleeved t-shirts, sweaters, and pants.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ICELAND IN WINTER
If you are going to visit Iceland in December, January, February, it will be cold! You should make sure that you have good quality winter clothes.
You should take clothes made of wool or polyester and should avoid cotton. There could be dry or slushy snow; you should take winter boots that are water resistant.
Thermal underwear is a must. You should take thermal leggings to wear under your pants. We make you sure that it will keep you warm in COLD COLD weather.
Thick, soft and comfortable layer, hoodie or pullover.
Waterproof jacket and pants. If you are going skiing, winter hiking or any outdoor activities, it is essential to get a coat that keeps you warm and anti-sweat. Sweating too much is suffering and can make you sick.
Accessories such as hats, gloves, and scarves are mandatory in Iceland. If it is colder than -10C, you do not want to remove your gloves even for a second. Having a thick pair of gloves is good.
A swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops are mandatory if you are planning to enjoy the beautiful geothermal spas such as Blue Lagoon.
European electrical adaptor – Iceland has standard European electrical sockets which are type C and E ( do not mind this if you have European appliances).
WHAT TO PACK FOR ICELAND IN SUMMER
If you are going to visit Iceland in May, June, July, August consider our tips for packing.
In summer you will averagely have around 10-13C. If you are lucky, some days might be over 20C. Anyway, it could be rainy and windy. That is why we highly recommend you to have clothes which are wind and waterproof.
Waterproof walking shoes – in summer, you will be walking a lot in Iceland. The beauty of nature will keep you motivated to go on the track.
Waterproof jacket – if you don’t like carrying an umbrella, you need a waterproof jacket. We don’t like umbrellas. An umbrella makes everything harder for us; it takes space in the backpack. Besides, you cannot take photos with your camera and umbrella at the same time.
Underwear layers that would stop the wind.
Pants – even though you are not a hiker, you will become one in Iceland. As we mentioned before, Iceland is perfect for hiking. With good weather, you can walk long ways to great photo-spots. Honestly, we took jeans in winter. It took forever to dry. Take some waterproof rain pants; you will later appreciate us.
Sleep mask. Iceland is bright in summer, very bright! It stays light 24 hours a day in the Nordics. It is a different experience, but it is definitely not fun when you try to sleep.
Swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops. Go to hidden geothermal spas and enjoy the hot tub after a long day of hiking.
Water bottle and a thermos. You don’t need to buy waters in Iceland. It is safe to drink and very delicious. The water has filtered through lava, and it is pure clean. You can refill your wattle bottle from any tap.
A small backpack – good to stash all your gear.
Portable Charger – we consider that you will lake loads of photos in Iceland. Carrying one in Iceland might be wise.
European electrical adaptor – electrical sockets in Iceland are standard European socket types C and E. If you have European appliances, you do not need to take it. Otherwise, it will be frustrating not to charge your electronics in Iceland.
If you are wondering about what to do in Iceland, the activities vary between summer and winter. Here we have listed the best activities in Iceland:
SUMMER ACTIVITIES IN ICELAND
Some of our friends have been in Iceland in summer; they honestly couldn’t see the Northern Lights. But, Iceland looks fascinating in summer as well. It reminded me of the Shire from the Lord of the Rings.
In summer you can go caving and explore the underground and see different lava formations.
- Horseback Riding
If it doesn’t sound interesting to you, Iceland has adorable, super-friendly horses, you can go horseback riding in the beautiful Icelandic nature.
- Whale Watching
Well, there is another option, you can go whale watching! The summer is excellent for whale watching. Just get in a boat and explore the whales!
- Exotic Bathing
Exotic bathing, Iceland is famous for its geothermal bathing. Just go to a bath and enjoy it under the good weather. It also has many benefits for your skin!
The very last tip we can list for you is river rafting in Iceland. If you are an adventurous person, you can take in some exciting activity!
WINTER ACTIVITIES IN ICELAND
As we have mentioned it before, Iceland looks like a place from Tolkien’s world or Game of Thrones. (Yes, we like middle earth stuff.) Here is the list of the activities that you can do in Iceland – a winter wonderland.
- Northern Lights
Stunning Northern Lights is one of the reasons to visit Iceland in winter. Even though the Northern Lights are unpredictable, due to dark skies you have more chance to see it in winter. You can drive somewhere out of the town or book an aurora hunting tour to catch the Northern Lights.
- Ice Caves
You can go to explore the ice caves and glaciers. By the way, some of the cave scenes from the Game of Thrones was shot in Iceland. No wonder why the production crew has chosen this area. Hopefully, you won’t encounter any White Walkers; it is highly recommended to make this trip with a guide.
- Skiing and Snowboarding
Whether you are a pro or amateur you can enjoy skiing! Resorts are quite small in Iceland, but you can do downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and off- trail skiing. Mostly, the ski season in Iceland between November and May.
- Snowmobiling, Ice Skating, Ice Climbing, Snowshoeing
These activities you see above can be done in winter. If you are coming to Iceland in winter to do the specific activities mentioned above, you will need to book a tour. If you have never ridden on a snowmobile, you don’t have to worry about it. Instructors are professionals and teach you everything you need to know before start riding. Riding on a snowmobile is a fantastic experience.
We have just listed the most popular activities we had fun in Iceland. There are hundreds of activities that you can find. Whether with a guide, tour or yourself.
RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND
When we landed to Iceland the first thing we have done was picking up our car. As soon as you leave the airport, you will notice the signs of car renting companies. Just go through there with your documents and get your key.
For us, it was swift, and the firm employee was lovely, she described us very briefly about the car renting in Iceland, where to pick up the car and where to leave it.
By the way, the driver must have a valid driver license held for a minimum one year, and the minimum age rental in Iceland is 20 years for the passenger car. For renting a minibus, the minimum age is 23 years.
Mother nature can be hazardous in Iceland, during both in summer and winter. In summer you may face with sandstorms that can damage your car, in winter you may meet with ice and heavy snow. You will have to make extra insurance for these sort of events, and we highly recommend it to you to do so.
After you get your car, you will be wondering where to head off. That’s why it is essential to plan your road trip before your arrival. We have found this road trip on google, and it helped us a lot. You can easily save it in your google maps and use it in offline mode (you’ll have to enable the offline mode on google maps).
We have stayed for five days, and it was enough to travel through the south coast of the island.
Iceland has a sightseeing route called ”Golden Circle,” and it consists of three stunning locations in southwest Iceland: Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Þingvellir National Park.
If you are going to stay approximately 3-5 days, the golden circle is an excellent place to explore. You can see beautiful landscapes by just driving around the golden circle in Iceland.
Note: It is hard to find an open gas station on Sundays. Make sure you have gas or credit card that you can pay for your gas.
Note 2: They have a lot of single lane bridges. When approaching a single lane bridge, stop by and look ahead if you see any oncoming traffic. If nobody else is seen, drive carefully over the bridge. If there is any other car approaching the bridge from the other side, the closest car has the right of the passage.
Note 3: Icelandic animals roam around the country free, especially the sheep. Be careful.
- What side of the road do they drive in Iceland?
Driving around Iceland is a breathtaking way to explore all those wonders. In Iceland, you drive on the ride side of the road.
The island is unique. We have felt ourselves on a different planet. Nature is untouched, really well protected which is why you will always have to pay attention to road signs. Please be aware that off-road driving is strictly forbidden by law in Iceland.
WHERE TO STAY IN ICELAND?
Thanks to technology we can easily find places to stay anywhere in the world. We believe accommodation plays a huge role in our trips. We need a place to stay where we feel at home. Before booking accommodation in Iceland, we had too many facts to consider such as price, reviews, services, etc. In our 5 days trip, we have stayed 4 nights in Airbnb, 1 night in a hotel.
In Iceland, you have two options:
1. Renting an apartment or room on Airbnb.
2. Booking a hotel room on booking.com
Let’s assume that you have booked your ticket, you have used the map we have given to you, and you have planned your road trip. You then will have to choose where to stay accordingly on your road trip.
If you are going to drive around Iceland, you need to find accommodations on the way that are located in your destination.
As soon as you leave Reykjavik airport, you will realize that the country is all about villages. So it is hard to find big hotels that you can spend the night comfortably.
In the 19th century, 70-80% of Icelanders made living by farming. These Icelandic farmers have decided to open their rooms to visitors. That is a massive plus for Airbnb. That makes the entire trip unique; you have the chance to spend time with locals and talk with them about anything.
Most of them have farms and horses; you can check it out for free.
It is a common thing that many Icelandic families turned their basement into a small hotel.
Nearly all of the Airbnb houses have a kitchen that you can use. Next to that, you can quickly meet with other people and share a cup of tea with them.
When we were driving through Hof, we could not find any Airbnb apartments around. We had to spend the night in a hotel; it was a pleasant experience for us. But, if you are on the budget, you cannot cook in the hotel so you will have to pay for any meal.
The hotel was on the mountain; we had big windows next to bed. It was lovely to wake up in the middle of the night and check Aurora Borealis while laying on the bed.
However, if your flight about to land at night or if you feel tired, you should consider staying in Reykjavik in the first night.
On the second day, you can drive towards Vik and spend the night there. After seeing the beautiful Reynisfjara a.k.a Black Beach, head off towards Hof, there you can find accommodation.
While driving towards Hof, you will see astonishing landscapes. You can pull over in a safe place and walk towards to wonders. On the way to Hof, there is a big national park, and you should stop by and enjoy the stunning waterfalls and caves.
Around Hof, you will see glaciers. All places have some spots that you can park your car, do not worry about finding a spot.
Just follow the way to the North and enjoy nature. On Airbnb or Booking.com you will be able to find places to stay everywhere in Iceland.
By the way, Icelandic Horses are very friendly. You can park your car next to the fences, and they will come to you. That’s how you can pet them.
HOT POOLS IN ICELAND
Iceland has tons of hot pools and geothermal spas. We have only listed the five of them.
- Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most famous places in Iceland. It is based on the highway linking Reykjavik to the Airport at Keflavik. Blue Lagoon has been trending on Instagram. That brought too much attention to it. There are so many geothermal spas in Iceland, and the Blue Lagoon is the most expensive one. Before you go there, you should mind that pre-booking is required.
- Secret Lagoon
Secret Lagoon hot spring spa, is a geothermal pool with a spouting geyser. Located in the Golden Circle area. The water temperature is around 38-40C.
If you like caves, this place is like a paradise. Grjótagjá is a small cave located in the Northern side of the island. It has a thermal spring inside. One Game of Thrones episode was shot here.
- Laugarvatn Fontana
Laugarvatn Fontana is a geothermal spa. It is located in the center of the Golden Circle. It has saunas and baths as well. You can find a restaurant inside. Considerably cheaper than the others.
- Mývatn Nature Baths
Mývatn Nature baths located in Jardbadsholum. Nature baths, hot mineral waters, and facilities are great!
Have fun in Niceland, NostraWorld!