Iceland is a Nordic island located in the Norwegian Sea. Iceland was formed many years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. This is also the location of the rift that separates Eurasia and North America. Because of this unique geographical location, nature is extremely rich and majestic despite the harsh climate.
The name "flaming ice" comes from here as well, because Iceland's landscape is mostly snow and ice all year, but inside the ground, there are over 100 volcanoes, many of which are active. As a result, Iceland's scenery differs from that of other European countries, and it is surprisingly beautiful!
Iceland has two distinct seasons: cold and extremely cold. In the summer, the temperature ranges from 7 to 16 degrees Celsius. The hottest days in Iceland's hottest month are only 25 degrees Celsius. Winter temperatures can reach -10 degrees Fahrenheit, so dress warmly if you go in any season.
Iceland's beauty changes with the seasons. If you want to fully appreciate Iceland's scenery, to be amazed from one surprise to the next as the scenery changes, you should visit in the summer or autumn. However, if your main goal is to see the Northern Lights and glaciers, then winter is the best time to visit.
Wear appropriate clothing
The main point to remember about the dress code when visiting Iceland is to wear it for layers, not for fashion. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable; bright sunshine can quickly turn to cold showers, so the outfit must be equally adaptable.
I recommend wearing a waterproof shirt or pants because the Icelandic rains are extremely uncomfortable and will quickly absorb the cold if you get wet. Even if it doesn't rain, it's easy to get wet in places like ice caves, glaciers, and waterfalls with regular clothing. Cow clothes, in particular, should be avoided because, when wet, the fabric causes the wearer to absorb cold more quickly.
Plans to go to Iceland
The main, and in many cases the only, mode of transportation to Iceland is by plane. This is also the most cost-effective option because Iceland is an island in the middle of the sea, so there is no train or bus service to Iceland from anywhere in Europe.
It should be noted that there is a public bus from the airport to the city center, but it is extremely boring and expensive, so you should book airport transfer buses from private airlines first. You can also purchase it at the airport. Prices range between 20 and 25 euros per person and way.
Those traveling from Europe or the United Kingdom can use Wow Air or IcelandAir.
Food in Iceland is very expensive, so one way to save money is to buy hotdog/sandwich/soup-style fast food at gas stations, rent accommodation in homes with stoves, and cook for yourself. Pizza/hamburger-style food doesn't differ much from the dishes in the restaurant, which are so beautifully presented, so you can sometimes treat yourself to a delicious meal and be confident that it is worth it.
Furthermore, Iceland's tap water is drinkable directly, so you don't need to bring or buy water. If you do not go on a package tour, bring snacks with you because there is no place to buy things for long distances.
Hotels in Iceland frequently run out of rooms, especially in the summer when there are a lot of tourists, so you should book as soon as possible to have a variety of options. You should also be prepared in case you are unable to return to your hotel/property due to road closures. When booking a hotel, you should keep the following points in mind:
- Is your travel insurance going to cover hotel cancellations due to objective reasons?
- Is it possible to get a refund from a hotel if you cancel for objective reasons?
- If you are new to backpacking, you should book through a travel agent because they have general agreements with hotels on this.
Cash or credit card?
Although Iceland appears to be a wild old land, it is very advanced; I don't see any need to use cash except for a small amount of change for toilet and bus service; the rest of the cards are accepted almost everywhere. Of course, if you want to use cash, bring some with you, but keep in mind that the Icelandic currency is króna, and they do not accept Euros.
Car rental with self-drive
More and more tourists are considering renting a self-driving car when traveling, as it is both proactive and economical, not to mention that the road is too beautiful and has a lot of potentials. You can stop taking pictures whenever you want. However, if you choose this option for your Iceland trip, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Car rental in Iceland is very expensive, as is driving insurance (and don't even think about driving without insurance because it's both dangerous and impossible). Gas is also not cheap.
- If you're going in the winter, you should proceed with caution. Of course, many people will say it's fine, but unless you're a good driver and going on a road trip through a lot of complicated terrains, I recommend you don't do it because it's extremely dangerous.
- In Iceland, the term "F-road" is frequently used: It's a rocky mountain road with rivers and streams crossing it. Traveling on F-roads usually necessitates the use of a 4x4 jeep. F-roads are typically only open during the summer when the snow has melted and the roads are safe to travel on. (On the map, F-roads are roads that begin with the letter F). There are many sections of F-road that cross rivers and streams without bridges, necessitating hard steering and the use of jeeps. The ring road is the highway that winds its way around Iceland. This is a smooth and smooth road that is appropriate for drivers who are unfamiliar with the terrain.
- Off-road driving and camping are both illegal in Iceland and will result in fines.
Unlike other European countries with a strong tipping culture, Iceland has an almost no-tipping culture. Restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, coffee shops... all provide very professional and friendly service, but no one expects a tip from the customer as a matter of course. Of course, if you are pleased with the service, you can tip, and both the giver and the receiver are delighted at any time because tipping is entirely voluntary, not mandatory.
Must-visit attractions in Iceland
Reykjavik is a large city and a popular tourist destination, with colorful streets that blend in with the white of the sky.
Things not to miss in Reykjavik: winter moon gazing, midnight sunrise, and the stunning aurora borealis in autumn.
Gullfoss Waterfall (Golden Waterfall)
Gullfoss falls from a height of 32 meters and is interspersed with majestic mountains, creating a breathtaking natural scene.
Every year, a large number of tourists are drawn to Gullfoss not only because of its beauty but also because it is associated with heroic ancient stories. As a result, the Golden Waterfall is regarded as one of Iceland's most beautiful natural wonders.
Hot springs at Blue Lagoon
Traveling to Iceland in the winter is essential for hot springs. Soaking in the hot water at Blue Lagoon not only relaxes you but is also used to treat bone and skin diseases. Combining a dip and sightseeing in the steaming hot springs to create an impressive blur scene is a must-do when visiting Iceland.
National Park Thingvellir
This is one of Iceland's most interesting locations. Thingvellir National Park has a stunning natural setting alongside ancient architectural works, the most notable of which is the parliament building. You can rent a car and tour around Iceland's ocean belt, stopping in Thingvellir to enjoy the romantic and charming scenery.
Hverir, dubbed "a magical landscape paradise," has seemingly opposing but equally interesting scenes such as mossy barren lands, verdant grasslands, and muddy lakes or a large sulfur-containing area... It is these things that attract the curiosity of visitors and will give you an unforgettable experience.
Whale Watching in Iceland
Iceland is an excellent place to go whale watching. Diverse marine life can be found in cold offshore waters. During the summer months, the shores transform into veritable feeding grounds for many large marine mammals, allowing visitors to observe these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
Witness the Northern Lights
From September to April, it's time to admire a beautiful natural display: the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, also known as the Northern Lights. From September to April, Iceland is the epicenter of this spectacular light show.
Diving in Iceland
Iceland has a warm geological feature with many volcanoes and natural hot springs. Therefore, diving and snorkeling in the oceans and lakes is an interesting experience. You can leave the tub in the warm waters of the comfortable swimming pool for a view of a beautiful underwater world.
Cave exploration is also an activity not to be missed when coming to Iceland. With its location on the mid-Atlantic ridge, Iceland possesses many active volcanoes, creating many wonderful cave wonders. The most unique thing about this activity is that you can step into the crater's magma chamber (currently dormant) as only a few places in the world allow this.
The Sólheimajökull glacier in southern Iceland is the site of ice climbing at all times of the year. However, ice climbing on the glacier in winter is a unique activity in Iceland, you should experience it if you have the opportunity.
Above is an overview of the necessary information if you are planning to visit Iceland. Don't wait any longer without starting that plan now. Wonderful Iceland is waiting for you to explore.