Iceland Travel Tips

Iceland is such a completely unique country – and there are a lot of important things you will want to know before you travel there!  This blog post lists out all of the important Iceland Travel Tips you need to prepare for your Icelandic Adventure!

Most people decide to travel somewhere warm in January, like Tahiti, Hawaii, Australia, or even South America.  Me?  I like to mix things up, shake it around, and do something totally crazy.  So I find a $100 one way flight to Iceland from Chicago.  Do I live in Chicago? Nah, but who needs to get home when you can get to Iceland from Chicago for $100?   I was not disappointed in my spur of the moment decision.  January allowed breathing room in what has become a country newly excited with excessive tourism, a chance to see the northern lights, and beautiful snowy landscapes that just can never be reproduced anywhere.  These Iceland travel tips will help you plan out your Iceland Vacation in the summer or the winter!

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Do you need help planning your Iceland Itinerary?  You’re in luck!

I am a travel agent with Explorateur Travel and would absolutely LOVE to help you plan your trip!  All quotes are complimentary and there are never any hidden booking fees!  To learn more about my services go to my Travel Design page, send me an email, or fill out this Inquiry Form!

Iceland Travel Tips- Tip No. 1: Iceland is Pricey – but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot!!

Iceland is not the cheapest place to go in Europe by far, but that doesn’t mean it should scare you off from visiting just because it may not fit in your budget.  In a week we spent about $800 per person, including flights.  (We flew Wow Air just a month before it shut down for good.  A week after we returned flights from Chicago ceased.)

There are a few things you can do to save money in Iceland

Stay in farm stays & air BnBs, not hotels.

We didn’t stay in a single hotel in our time in Iceland.  In Reykjavik, we stayed in an apartment-like hotel thing, but it definitely wasn’t a standard hotel.  We made all of our bookings through Booking.com.

– Hey, don’t forget to save these links for later  – once you click them to add them as a favorite in your toolbar so you can come back and book!-

VIK – Solheimajaleiga Guesthouse 

This farm stay was adorable! It had great rates & a great location near Vik where you can venture out and do several things in the area.  We also saw the Northern Lights here!

SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK – Horgsland Guesthouse or Horgsland Cottages

This place was out in the middle of NOWHERE & let me tell you this is where you feel truly at peace.  The guesthouse is like a farm stay, a bunch of rooms in an old farmhouse, but the cottages are incredibly nice and are each on their own if you have a little more money to blow.  There is no kitchen in the guesthouse, but they do make food on-site for dinner if you want, and it comes at a very reasonable cost.  We enjoyed our time here!

SELFOSS (Near Golden Circle) – Hjardabol Guesthouse

Easily our favorite place that we stayed in Iceland!  They had it all!  Hottubs! Cute dogs! Cute Cats! A great room! Very welcoming small family!  The story of this family is great too!  They just owned a little farm and slowly started letting people stay there as the tourism boom in Iceland took off, and they slowly built more and more houses.  Great breakfast, and being able to watch the northern lights from the hot tub is something I will never forget.

REYKJAVIK – Downtown Reykjavik Apartments

A little kitchenette, a laundry room, and its proximity to the food and bars make this apartment a great place to be in Reykjavik.

Don’t travel during the busy season.

Summer is THE popular time to hit up Iceland!  If you want to beat the crowds and save some money, opt for visiting in fall, winter, or early spring (when you still have a chance to see the northern lights!)

Opt to cook your meals at your farm stay instead of eating out every. single. meal.

When we had 2 croissants and a cup of coffee that cost us nearly $15 our first morning in Iceland, we quickly realized that eating out for every meal was not going to be an option for us. Thankfully all the places I had booked for us included breakfast so that just left us lunch and dinner to figure out.  We often found ourselves on the road for lunch, so we would make a PBJ in the car or would just stick to snacking.  Lots of granola bars, bananas, etc to get us through until dinner.  When we got to a new town, we would hit up the grocery store, pick out a few things for dinner for the next couple of evenings.  This was a HUGE money saver for us.

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Iceland Travel Tips – Tip No. 2: Iceland is a One Road Country

Not literally, but pretty much!  There is one road that goes all the way around Iceland called the Ring Road.  In ideal conditions, it will take you about 18 hours to drive it completely.  Do NOT think that it will take this long in the winter though.  Snowstorms (and hailstorms, rainstorms, and who knows what else) can pop up in Iceland at any point in time and make driving conditions dangerous.  Even if you don’t need to pull over you will definitely need to reduce your speed.

This ring road will take you to all the main cities and attractions.  There are roads that offshoot from the Ring Road (also known as Highway 1) that will take you to specific places, like the blue lagoon. But, everything is very easy to find.  The highlands are not accessible in the winter. Usually, during the summer you will need a 4X4 or a tour to take you in there.

Read more about visiting the blue lagoon here!

Tip No. 3: It’s Cold Even in the Summer, But the Winters Aren’t As Cold As You Think

Summer is chilly (at least for me as a Floridian).  Temperatures average around 50-55 F (10-13C) and a really warm day can be 77F (25C).  Winter temperatures are around 32F (0C) but can get chillier.  The coldest we experienced on our trip was 21F (-6C).

Come prepared.


Iceland Travel Tips – Tip No.4: You will Need to Rent a Car – Unless You Want to Be on A tour Bus

The only way to get around is being on one of those mega tour buses (YUCK!)  or through renting a car.  Renting a vehicle gives you freedom of your time and your itinerary.  PLUS it is another way to save a few extra dollars, those tour buses usually aren’t the best way to get the most bang for your buck.  If we had been on a tour bus, we would have never been able to visit the stunning Reykjadalur Hot River (pictured below)

 

Worried about the logistics of planning a trip to Iceland?  Leave that to me!  I am a registered and certified travel agent through Explorateur Travel and would absolutely LOVE to help you plan your Iceland adventure! 
Fill out this Inquiry Link to get started on your FREE quote!

 

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Iceland Travel Tips – Tips No. 5: You are Going to Be Outside

If you aren’t a fan of the big outdoors, Iceland is probably not the place for you. There is lots of hiking to be done, heaps of nature trails, innumerable steep paths, plentiful thermal springs and much more waiting for you in Iceland.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit by any means, but if your idea of a holiday is shopping and eating, then this may not be your dream destination.  Plan on being outside and getting a little dirty.

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Iceland Travel Tips – Tip No. 6: DO NOT STRAY FROM THE PATH

When you are visiting attractions, if there is a rail with a sign that states clearly “DO NOT CROSS” – I would recommend not crossing.  These signs are not only in place for your safety, but the safety of the land.  Many tourists visiting Iceland are straying from the trails to get that perfect “instashot”. It is destroying the natural vegetation that Iceland needs to survive.  So PLEASE, just follow the rules.

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Tip No. 7: It’s Windy AF in Iceland

Seriously, WINDY AF.  There have been reports of people’s car doors blowing off because it’s so windy!! My hair extensions all literally turned into mini dreads, and then the mini dreads turned into GIANT dreads.  I procrastinated on brushing my hair for a few days, and let me tell you it was one of the most unpleasant things when I finally went to brush it out.  BE PREPARED FOR THE WIND AND BE SURE TO PACK DETANGLER!  If you would like more on my packing list for Iceland click here!

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Tip No.8 – Summer is the Busiest Time to Visit Iceland

If you aren’t a fan of crowds, you may want to reconsider visiting Iceland in the summer. Summer in Iceland is packed and there are way more tour buses and visitors in general.  Hitting Iceland in the offseason can up your chances for better photo ops, better experiences, and less hassle.

If you opt to travel in Spring, Fall, or even ~winter~, you could find yourself having a more enjoyable experience with fewer crowds and a chance of catching the northern lights.

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Tip No. 9: Icelanders Are Super Nice and Almost Everyone Speaks English

You don’t need to worry too much about a language barrier.  Most places people will speak English.  Unless you’re in the rural countryside, you won’t have any problems.

Also, Icelanders are super friendly, though they might be a little shy!  Make sure to say hello! 🙂

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Iceland Travel Tips – Tip No. 10: Don’t Bother With Hotels

As I mentioned in the first Iceland travel tips, don’t stay in hotels!  You will get a much more authentic experience and save some money staying at farm stays!

Tip No. 11: You probably won’t need to book a “Northern Lights Tours”

Unless you are only going to be in Iceland 1 or 2 nights.  Truthfully, if you have no idea how to use your camera and aren’t renting a car, then you may want to take a northern lights tour.  But, if you do a little research and learn how to use your camera, and have a car – you should be set. All you need is patience and the Aurora app.  Here is the link for iPhone. I enjoyed this app and was even able to see the northern lights in Scotland because of it!

Ask a local where the lights are usually spotted (it’s typically to the north), and check the Aurora App to see what the chances are to see the lights that night. In the winter, if the sky is clear, you will most likely see the northern lights!! I saw them 3 times in one week while I was in Iceland.

If you want to book a great northern lights tour, try these GUARANTEED Northern Lights Tours from Reykjavik!

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Tip No. 12: Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You Will Need for Travel & Visiting Sites.

I’ve heard of several people visiting Iceland and doing the entire ring road in 4 days.  To me, this is INSANE!  We did the south coast in 7 days and my boyfriend complained about all of THAT driving!  So I can’t imagine doing the whole 18-hour ring road in only 4 days.

Firstly, I truly believe that amount of driving doesn’t give you ample time to truly experience Iceland, and you won’t be able to do any of the cool stuff, often which takes an hour or so to get to by foot after you park.  In the winter you also need to allow yourself more time to get from one destination to the next, as the weather can change in a split second, and driving in the snow in a tiny car is not the same as driving in the summer when there are 24 hours of daylight.

Do yourself a favor and take it slow.  When people ask you about your trip to Iceland, is all you want to tell them that it was a lot of driving? No?  I didn’t think so.

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Tip No. 13: Everything is Photographable

Break out your camera, get clicking and get creative.  There are so many beautiful things in Iceland to photograph, so get original and share the beauty of this northern country with the world!

Worried about the logistics of planning a trip to Iceland?  Leave that to me!  I am a registered and certified travel agent through Explorateur Travel and would absolutely LOVE to help you plan your Iceland adventure! 
Fill out this Inquiry Link to get started on your FREE quote!

 

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Iceland travel tips- dreaming of an Iceland vacation? First timers in iceland have a lot to know about traveling to iceland on a budget, where to stay in iceland, and what to expect driving in Iceland! Iceland in winter and iceland in summer is spectacular and the question of when should you visit iceland is answered here! Also included is my free iceland packing guide! #iceland #traveltips #packinglist #europe #beautifuldestinations #northernlights #europetravel #gameofthrones

Iceland travel tips- dreaming of an Iceland vacation? First timers in iceland have a lot to know about traveling to iceland on a budget, where to stay in iceland, and what to expect driving in Iceland! Iceland in winter and iceland in summer is spectacular and the question of when should you visit iceland is answered here! Also included is my free iceland packing guide! #iceland #traveltips #packinglist #europe #beautifuldestinations #northernlights #europetravel #gameofthrones

 

Iceland travel tips- dreaming of an Iceland vacation? First timers in iceland have a lot to know about traveling to iceland on a budget, where to stay in iceland, and what to expect driving in Iceland! Iceland in winter and iceland in summer is spectacular and the question of when should you visit iceland is answered here! Also included is my free iceland packing guide! #iceland #traveltips #packinglist #europe #beautifuldestinations #northernlights #europetravel #gameofthrones