Iceland is a captivating destination for any traveler and with a host of low cost flight options from North America, Europe and India there has never been a better time to visit the land of ice and fire. Volcanoes, glaciers, the wind and the sea merge to create a landscape that is like nowhere else on Earth. Whether you come for the eternal sun of summer or in search of winter’s Northern Lights nature is sure to put on a show. If you’re looking to plan your visit here are a few tips for your first trip to Iceland.
Iceland is called the land of fire and ice for a reason. A country of extremes, the island is a juxtaposition in itself with glaciers located next to volcanoes and the most unpredictable weather patterns. You can expect to experience huge wind, ice, rain, snow, and sunshine all in one day.
1. Get out of Reykjavik and explore the countryside. The northernmost capital is both forward-thinking and traditional when it comes to design, music and literature making it a worthy contender for your time however what really makes Iceland special is what lies outside the city limits. Spend a day or two here but be sure to go explore some of Iceland’s natural wonders or book a day trips from Reykjavik.
2. Gas is expensive compared to the US and should definitely be factored in if you are trying to stick to a budget.
3. For a true feel of Iceland be sure to stay at at one of the many family run guesthouses and farmstays that dot the countryside.
4. If you’re visiting in the summer be prepared for nearly constant daylight. While it does allow you to pack a lot of sightseeing into a day it can be exhausting if you don’t keep track of time. Most hotels and guesthouses will have light blocking shades but if you plan on camping or are a light sleeper I recommend bringing an eye mask. Also be aware that many restaurants and gas stations close around 9pm.
5. While it’s always a good idea to learn a few words of the language where ever you travel everyone I encountered spoke excellent English.
6. Some parts of Iceland look like Montana, some areas look like the moon. Most of Iceland looks like nowhere else on Earth. You will run out superlatives to describe Iceland’s landscape when you return home.
7. Be prepared for any and all kinds of kind of weather. Rain is common and the clouds are some of the most dynamic I’ve ever seen. As one Icelander I spoke to put it, ” There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”.
8. Don’t try to schedule too much into one day. Driving distances tend to take longer than you think and you want to leave plenty of time to explore and enjoy Iceland’s natural beauty. Choose the best guide that give your more personalized experience.
9. Brought to Iceland by early settlers or native to the country, the animals you might meet in Iceland are all friendly and also really cute. Most of them are wild and living free in the nature so be aware that they can be quite shy when it comes to human interactions. Here are some of the animals you may spot on your trip.