Iceland is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations so we wanted to share these Iceland travel tips so you can get planning!
From the natural beauty of the northern lights to the welcoming population, Iceland is quickly becoming the place to be when it comes to embracing a new culture and way of life. The country offers an enticing landscape of scenic coastlines, picturesque waterfalls, and delicious cuisine to all its visitors. There is so much to see and do that you will want to spend at least 10 days in Iceland to fully explore the best sights.
So, if you were considering taking a trip to Iceland, then it is definitely a place you should add to your bucket list. Here we have put together these tips that will help to make your trip to Iceland even more enjoyable!
Best time to visit Iceland
When to visit Iceland is always the big question. Summer brings somewhat slightly warmer weather and longer days whilst Winter is perfect for the Northern Lights. Ideally, we recommend you visit from June to August to make the most out of the Midnight Sun and longer days. However, if you are set on seeing the Northern lights, make sure you visit in February, March, September, and October. It is worth noting that the northern lights are not visible in the Summer months.
Things to know before you go to Iceland
- Limited daylight – Visiting in Winter brings its own type of magic but you need to plan your trip carefully. Daylight is very limited in the winter months – with darkness for almost 20 hours a day on the shortest days of the year. You are much more likely to see the Northern Lights during this time but just plan your days carefully
- Book everything in advance – Iceland is incredibly popular but also very limited in the way of restaurants, tours and hotels. Book everything in advance, even restaurant reservations.
- Make sure you visit Reykjavik – The capital is charismatic and quirky, definitely a place you should visit during your trip. It is a great idea to use the city as a base and then travel out to the sights each day.
- Make sure to visit the sights – Many people say you should avoid the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon because it is touristy – it is overpopulated now but you still need to visit – these popular attractions in Iceland are gorgeous and a must for your visit.
- Rent a car – Getting around Iceland can be a challenge if you do not rent a car. You will need to rely on tours and public transport which can book quickly. Instead, book a rental car in advance and get exploring on your own.
- Use Credit cards – You can use credit cards across Iceland, it is practically a cashless society, making it easier to travel around.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol in Iceland is crazy expensive so avoid at all costs. It is not sold at the grocery stores, only in special liquor stores. However, you can get cheaper, tax-free drinks at the airport on arrival, so stock up before you arrive at your Airbnb or hotel.
- Don’t shop at 10-11, unless you have to – While Iceland is generally regarded as an expensive place to live and visit due to the importation of food items that must be brought into the country, some stores are more affordable than others. These stores include Hagkaup and Krónan. However, you should try to avoid the 24-hour store 10-11 which is renowned for hiking up their prices when you can get the same items for a cheaper price just around the corner.
While at first, you may be a bit confused by some of the typical Icelandic dishes that you will come across in Iceland, you should at least make sure that you give them a try.
Iceland cuisine is very unique and comprises many fish-based dishes, but they are delicious all the same. Even if you aren’t a fan of fish, then there will be something for you to enjoy. You should be sure to look out for the infamous Hákarl, which is also known as a fermented shark.
Learn the language (some basics)
When you visit any country that speaks a different language to yours, it is important that you give speaking it a go out of respect if nothing else. Even though the population speaks English, it is both fun and polite to learn a few simple Icelandic phrases to make your trip more interesting!
You may be surprised at how much the ability to speak basic Icelandic could positively impact your trip.
Icelandic basic phrases
- Hello = Halló/Góðan daginn
- Goodbye = Bless
- Thank you = Takk
- Thank you very much = Takk fyrir
- Yes = Já
- No = Nei
- You’re Welcome = þú ert velkominn/Gerðu svo vel
- Please = Vinsamlegast/Takk
- Excuse me = Fyrirgefðu
- Nice to meet you = Gaman að kynnast þér
- What is your name? = Hvað heitir þú?
Icelandic phrases for travellers
- Bus = Strætisvagn
- Airport = Flugvöllur
- Hotel = Hótel
- Room = Herbergi
- Reservation = Bókun
- One ticket to … = Einn miða til …
- Where is …? = Hvor er …?
- How much does this cost? =
- Hvað kostar þetta (mikið)
- I would like to buy … = Ég mundi vilja kaupa …
The Northern Lights
Many people head to Iceland to experience the beautiful and impressive Northern Lights which are a natural light display that appears in the sky. However, as they are a natural occurrence, nobody can be sure when or where they are going to appear, leaving many visitors disappointed.
However, it is important that you don’t give up on seeing the northern lights and remain patient. Believe us when we say they are worth the wait!
What to pack for Iceland
Always pack thermals or wool – No matter when you visit, you will need layers, thermals and/or wool. Iceland is cold, especially if you are visiting the Highlands or South Coast.
Bring a sleep mask – So Winter is dark but the summer is bright! The midnight sun should not be taken lightly; it shines almost all night so pack a sleep mask to be able to sleep. Most hotels have black-out drapes but it is worth bringing those eye masks just in case!
How to travel to Iceland
Iceland is an adventure of a lifetime, a must-see destination for any traveler. So, it’s only right to book a comfortable camper and hit the road to experience what the country has to offer.
If you are worried about the cost, there are affordable campervans in Iceland. Your camper will be your home away from home, so make sure it is well-stocked and warm ‒ a superb heating system is one of the top amenities you’d want to have for your van.
You could also choose to fly into Reykjavik and use this as a home base to take tours of the sights. Alternatively, renting a car is a popular option and allows you more freedom on where you choose to able yourself.