Exploring Iceland: A Guide to an Extraordinary Icelandic Experience

Last updated on September 16th, 2019 at 01:47 pm

If you are an adventurous person who seeks new and unique ways on how to spend your vacation, then this blog is definitely for you!

This summer, why not treat yourself to a unique and adventurous trip to Iceland? Home of many volcanoes, geysers, dramatic landscapes, black sand beaches, and hot springs (to mention a few), Iceland is one of the countries that offer extraordinary adventure to tourists. With a small population of over 348 000 people, it yearly accommodates a not surprising number of over 1.2 million tourists!

Read here the perfect Iceland itinerary for a week!

Some Quick Facts about Iceland

Iceland is a small country, with an area of 4 000 square miles, located in Northern Europe.

Its capital is Reykjavik, which is more like a town than a city. You can find no skyscrapers around, unlike the usual capital cities in the world. Reykjavik is where two-thirds of whole Iceland’s population resides.

Icelandic is the national language of Iceland; however, English is also widely spoken. When visiting Iceland, don’t forget to have your money exchanged to their currency which is Icelandic Krona (ISK) or just prepare your debit and credit cards for your transactions.

Weather

If you will visit Iceland, make you sure you prepare warm clothes for the cold. Weather is unpredictable in Iceland. One minute it is sunny, the next minute it’s raining. You should be ready for this type of weather if you want to enjoy your stay in the country. Click here, to make sure that you have the last update of the weather.

Best time to visit

Like any other places, summer in Iceland is when people visit the most. It starts late May or early June and lasts through August. Exploring Iceland in the summer is recommended because the weather is milder and the days are longer, meaning more time for you to tour the island. But due to the high number of tourists and the peak season, expect higher prices of everything.

If you want to experience colder Iceland and lower prices, then you must also try visiting during the other seasons.

How to get there

If you are coming from other parts of Europe like London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Paris, flights to Iceland can be as low as $65 during off-peak seasons.

If you are coming from other parts of the world like the United States and Asia, airfare price is reasonable, too. Just make sure to compare flight prices to get the best price for you especially if you are on a budget.

The tip is to book in advance, preferably months before your travel time, to get the best and cheapest price possible.

Oh, and don’t forget about your Schengen Visa. You need one when traveling to Iceland.

Transportation

There are many ways you can explore Iceland.

  1. Rent a Car.It is so far the cheapest if you are traveling in a group (up to 5 people). Renting a car is also a convenient way to get around the island. Check here the ultimate Iceland road trip itinerary.
  2. Ride a shuttle or a minibus.There are hotels that offer shuttle or minibus rides. It is the recommended mode of transportation if it is your first time to visit or prefer convenience.
  3. Take a public bus.It is the usual mode of transportation of tourists. There are also private buses but taking public buses is cheaper.
  4. Group tours.If you are coming with a big group of tourists and travelers, getting around Iceland in a group tour is the easiest way. You won’t worry about the schedule and will avoid getting lost.
  5. Travel by bicycle. As I did myself in North Europe for 5 months.

What to bring

Pack smart! Here are is a list of what you should not forget to bring when traveling to Iceland. Make sure you tick-off everything in this list to avoid problems during or before the trip.

– Jacket/Sweater for cold weather

– Rainproof/Windproof jackets

– Sturdy shoes

– Headwear like hats, bonnets, and beanie

– Swimsuits or bathing suits

– Gloves

– Scarves

– Warm Socks

– Thermal Layers

– Lip balm (This is really helpful to prevent your lips from drying out.)

– Sunscreen

– Sunglasses

– Maps (or install an app on your phone with GPS tracking)

– Icelandic Phrasebook (or you can also install an app to replace this)

If you noticed, we included different suits that we think you might need. Remember that weather in Iceland is unpredictable and you have to prepare for it. If not, there are numerous renting shops and boutiques where you can rent/purchase these suits if you didn’t bring any.

Keep in mind that traveling in Iceland is expensive, most especially during peak season. Make sure you fill your wallets and prepare your debit and credit cards. Don’t worry if this trip will cost you a lot because it will be worth it.

Recommended trips and tours

This is our favorite part of this blog post as we are excited to showcase the most recommended places to go and activities to do in Iceland.

See the Northern Lights

Northern Lights, Auroras or Aurora Borealis is an event caused by collisions of electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. This causes bright colors in the air, that has been an attraction in Iceland and other northern countries.

guide to Iceland

This is something iconic and you shouldn’t miss this when visiting Iceland, especially during mid-September and mid-March. However, it is highly dependent on the weather and solar activities. We recommend that you visit on your first night in Iceland so that if you won’t get the chance to see it, you can look forward to the next night and so on to observe the beautiful and Instagrammable Aurora.

Dip in the Blue Lagoon

If you have seen those beautiful photos on Instagram where the people seem to be relaxing in a turquoise blue lagoon, then they must be in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is a man-made geothermal spa where many people go to relax and get the benefits from taking a bath in mineral-rich water. It is said that taking a bath here has benefits for the skin, especially for those who suffer from skin diseases like psoriasis. It is one of the most visited places in Iceland.

Don’t forget to book in advance because it is required.

Visit Black Sand Beaches

Iceland is home to majestic black sand beaches. One beach you can go to is the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

This beach is the most famous black sand beach in Iceland and categorized as one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in 1991. It has black sand, but not the typical fine sand. It’s actually lava that has dried up.

You can also find many basalt columns, lava formations, cliffs, and caves here. It’s really worth the visit!

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

One of the natural wonders of Iceland, Jökulsárlón Lake is one of the tourist destinations.  It provides people a magnificent view of the ice cap.

You can also ride tour boats to get a closer look at icebergs. If you are into this kind of activity, then you definitely must go to Jökulsárlón.

Go to Museums

You may visit LAVA, a state-of-the-art museum in Hvolsvöllur. It is unique because it focuses on volcanoes and earthquakes.

Photo courtesy of LAVA Centre’s Official Website

You can experience an earthquake simulator, a cinema, and a viewing platform overlooking three beautiful volcanoes. Katla, Eyjafjallajökull, and Hekla.

Catch Iceland’s Wildlife

If you love watching animals, then you will love Iceland’s wildlife! It is rich in birdlife and marine mammals. Numerous species of bird during the summer can be seen around the country. There are also seabirds like kittiwakes, puffins, and skuas which nest on sea cliffs around the island.

Wild mammals in Iceland include the Arctic Fox, rats, rabbits, mink, and reindeer. Polar bears occasionally visit the island. These polar bears come from Greenland and they travel through icebergs.

Marine Life includes whales, dolphins, seals, and over numerous species of fish.

There are many tours in the island that will let you watch over these animals. You should check out Guide to Iceland for whale watching excursions.

If you are worried that exploring Iceland will cost you so much, the key is to plan your trip ahead to get the best airfare, accommodation, and restaurant prices. With everything Iceland can offer, you’ll surely get the best experience ever!

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has traveled more than 70+ countries around the world. He believes in travel without money. Recently, he finished a bicycle trip, 9500 km, from Madrid to North Cape.

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