I am so glad you are reading this post .. it means you have decided to visit (or are at least curious about) the land of fire and ice and are looking for the best travel tips for Iceland! Just so you know, I am 100% in love with Iceland, it was my very first solo trip and I have been there twice, both times in the winter.
I probably think about going to back to Iceland at least once a day .. hopefully your experience will be just as magical as both of mine were. When I was planning my trip to Iceland, I was scattered about the internet looking for travel tips for Iceland. To make things easier for you, I put them all here.
I have done both Iceland on a budget and a luxury trip – both are possible! So keep that in mind when planning your trip.
Here are my BEST travel tips for Iceland:
- Currency – the official currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona. $50USD = $5347 (on today’s exchange rate). $50 Euro is $5631 krona. You can exchange money at your international airport or when you arrive in Iceland.
- Cash or Credit Cards? – Good news – I have never used cash in Iceland. Everywhere I went, even in the middle of nowhere, took cards.
- Pro travel tips for Iceland: PLEASE remember to let your bank or credit card know you are going to Iceland so they don’t deny your charges.
- It wouldn’t hurt to have some cash on you just in case. Even though I never needed it, you never know really.
- Getting there – If you live in North America and Europe, WOW air has opened up several flights to get to Iceland. I have found flights for $99 each way (but that did not include carry-on or checked luggage – so make sure you read about that).
- I live in the Washington, D.C. area and the flight is less time to get to Iceland than it is to the west coast in California.
- WOW Air IS a budget airline and because of this, you will pay for all the extras. Food, water, luggage, etc – not covered. However, as travel tips for Iceland go, airfare can be a costly expense to travel. Take advantage of their budget prices!
- Getting Around – One of my best tips is using Flybus: You can buy a round trip ticket and they will drop you off either at or close to your lodging in the city and pick you up for your return flight home. I used this service both times and found it to be the most cost effective and they have free WiFi on the bus. The ride is about 45 minutes each way depending on weather.
- Car Rentals – they are expensive and so is gasoline to run them.
- PRO Travel Tips for Iceland – do not speed if you rent a car! Even if you think you are in the middle of nowhere, you will find yourself with a ticket.
- Cabs – you will find them right in the center of town if you need one – there is no Uber or Lyft there. Uber in Iceland is not currently available. Reykjavik is the main hub for tourists and it is not that big. Iceland in general is a small a country and because so much of it is just land, Uber in Iceland will most likely never happen.
- Car Rentals – they are expensive and so is gasoline to run them.
- Where to stay: The good news is, Iceland has options from hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and Airbnb’s. PRO travel tips for Iceland: make sure to book early to get a decent rate. It will not be cheap. Iceland is expensive compared to other European countries and that is because of its geographical location.
- Cost of Food: I won’t lie to you, it is expensive. No matter how you shake it, you are going to spend some money. I just went back through my credit card to give accurate amounts and it looks like the average meal was about $25 USD. Don’t get me wrong, you can eat cheaper if you want to make ramen or just have the local hot dogs. But $20 for a sandwich and closer to $30 for fish and chips is standard. I went to the grocery store on my most recent trip and spent about $150 USD on very basic items to have at my apartment. Just remember that it is going to cost money to eat in Iceland.
- Primary foods are seafood and lamb
- Climate: Cold. It is Iceland after all. Both times I went were in the winter, so naturally it was cold and there was snow. My first visit had hurricane force winds and felt like a thousand stabbing knives. My second visit was pretty good and not as cold. It snowed once briefly at the end of my trip as I was leaving. It would be rare for it to be nice enough even in the summer to wear t-shirts and shorts. I say bring layers to be safe.
- Blue Lagoon Iceland? – I can’t even believe this is a question. I know people say it is overran with tourists, but its Iceland and its a hot attraction – both literally and figuratively. I have been twice and will always say to go. I think its amazing. The Blue Lagoon Iceland is what Pinterest boards and bucket lists grace. I say that the Blue Lagoon IS a major attraction and a must! I have heard through other friends though that there are many hot springs around the island that are less crowded. I have not been – but you could give them a whirl if you like.
- If you are planning to go to the Blue Lagoon Iceland – purchase tickets in advance because they are timed entry and can sell out.
- You will need to purchase a round trip ticket to get to the Lagoon if you do not have a car as it is outside the city.
- You do have to shower before getting into the lagoon, take care of your hair. If you are planning to get it wet in the Blue Lagoon, load up with conditioner in your hair before getting in. Do not rinse it out. I made that mistake once and my hair was like hay for over a week.
- Yes! You can visit the Blue Lagoon with kids.
- When can I see the Northern Lights? – They are not out all year. It needs to be pitch black outsides to see this magical dance in the skies. Best time for viewing (and it is not guaranteed) is between September and April. If you are looking to also photograph them and do not know how to use your camera, I highly suggest learning how to set it up and get a tripod. It will be near impossible to capture them without it.
- One of the most requested travel tips for Iceland I am asked for is how to see the Northern Lights. If you are going to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, try and stay for 5-7 days and book your tour on the very first night. If the tour gets cancelled, you can move it to the next night and so on. You want to have the most available days for a chance to see them. Waiting until the last day to book a tour may not work in your favor.
- Where can I see the Best Views in Reykjavik? – that is easy – Hallgrímskirkja Church. You can ride the elevator to the top and then there are about 32 steps to get to the roof. If you can make the short climb – I assure you the view is worth it.
- The Water is Delicious! – You don’t have to head off to the grocery store to purchase water – the tap water is amazing and most importantly, safe to drink.
- Hours of Daylight – during the summer months you can see 24 hours of daylight which is the most and probably the best time to visit. It is also high season for the country. During the winter the sun rises around 10:00am and sets around 5:00pm. I loved visiting during the winter even with the weather elements. I feel like it would be a bit dryer in the summer and more options with the daylight being 24 hours.
- Things to do – Lucky for you, Iceland has no shortage of beautiful things to see. From walking the city, to going to South Iceland to see Glacier Lagoon or even driving the Golden Circle – you are going to fall in love with this country. Don’t forget the best hiking boots for Iceland.
- Waterfalls – they are everywhere. Just accept the magic and smile.
- Definitely Eat Fish and Chips – the Icelandic food is based heavily on fish and its really good. I had the most amazing fish and chips at Icelandic Fish & Chips .. I actually ate there twice in a week. THAT GOOD!
- Bring Common Medications with you – I will always tell you this – I tend to get sick when I travel and I like to have medications I am familiar with. Sometimes it IS hard to find what you are looking for – so just come prepared.
- Iceland CAN be done in a long weekend. With its short flights from the east coast, you arrive in Iceland around 6:00am and can start your day right away. You can plan to go to the Blue Lagoon after you land or even on your way back to the airport. You don’t have to spend a week in Iceland to experience it. My first trip was about 52 hours long and I did the Golden Circle Tour, Blue Lagoon and explored Reykjavik. I stayed for a week on my second trip and had more time to relax and take more tours. But just remember, you don’t have to do everything on your first trip.
- Shoes – I would highly recommend waterproof boots. You never know if you will be walking through snow or mushy ground by waterfalls. It is easier to be safe than sorry.
- Phone and WiFi coverage – I have found that the Flybus transportation and tours I took had great WiFi on their buses. Same for hotels and most cafes and restaurants. My phone did work if I turned it on and I think I was charged about $0.10 cents a minute through Sprint. I do use Skyroam which is a portable WiFi device when I travel. It allows me to hook up 5 devices to the hotspot and it comes with a spare battery.
- Summer is High Season – which means you need to book in advance and prepare to pay a premium. It is already pricey to visit this beautiful place, but in the summer its going to cost more. PRO travel tips for Iceland: summer is high season because of the nicer weather and 24 hours of daylight. Which means you have more time to see more of the country.
- Planning your Trip – decide on what is most important for you to see. Most things can be done in the winter, so if you are after doing this trip on a smaller budget. I suggest waiting until winter. Keep in mind, during the winter you will have shorter hours and no puffins to see.
- Safety – Iceland is an extremely safe place to travel. It continuously ranks high on lists of places for people to travel and is a hot spot for solo travelers. I won’t say nothing will happen to you because I cannot control fate, but the country is rated high for safety.
I hope all my travel tips for Iceland suit you on your trip. Believe me when I say you are going to fall in love with this country.
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