35 Things To Know Before Visiting Iceland And Iceland Travel Tips For First Timers – All the cool facts about Iceland and things to know before visiting Iceland for first-timers. Click here to book online Iceland activities and tours
This post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Iceland and what awaits you from amazing nature, places to visit, how to move around to delicious food to try in Iceland.
Iceland is the “Land of Fire and Ice” is home to many natural attractions including numerous active volcanoes, thermal pools, large glaciers and even crystalline ice caves. And of course, there are the Northern Lights if you are traveling in winter.
Iceland Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Iceland For First Timers
1. IS IT SAFE ICELAND?
Is it safe travel to Iceland? Yeah you should know that Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. If you travel to Iceland, safety won’t be a problem. You can feel safe everywhere, literally. Make sure that you keep your valuables with you in crowded places and that should be more than enough.
2. VISA IN ICELAND
Visa for Iceland US Citizens may enter Iceland for up to 90-days only for tourist and business purposes without visa. Staying more than 90-days needs visa. Iceland belongs to Schengen. Read here our article for the Schengen Visa Philippines where Rachel explained step-by-step how to get Schengen Visa Philippines.
3. CASH AND ATMS IN ICELAND
Things to know before visiting Iceland you can pay everywhere with credit card in Iceland you don’t even need to withdraw cash from the ATM. The currency used in Iceland is Icelandic Kronur (ISK). The exact currency of Euro to dollar is A €1 = 155 ISK. You can use debit cards everywhere in Iceland. ATM’s are available and accessible in all part of the country.
4. BEST TIME TO VISIT IN ICELAND
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. In summer never gets dark and you will have daylight 24 hours.
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 you can visit in winter when you will be able to see the Northern Lights.
5. HEALTH TRAVEL INSURANCE
Things to know before visiting Iceland we recommend always bringing a travel insurance when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems. You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease.
Just make sure you are ready since it can be really expensive if you get a big surgery or problem in Iceland.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
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FACTS ABOUT ICELAND
6. ICELAND IS SO EXPENSIVE
Iceland is really expensive. If you have been traveling around Europe prices are expensive but Iceland is even more expensive for food and accommodation. Click here to book online Iceland activities and tours
Alcohol and restaurants are so expensive but there are no entrance fees for most of the places to visit. Also if you do wild camping or you rent a van you will save money on accommodation. Keep reading below!
ACCOMMODATION BUDGET TRAVEL IN ICELAND
Accommodation in Iceland you can access a dorm that can go up to €30. And while a hotel that is a double room in a budget can go up to €90.
FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL IN ICELAND
Food budget travel in Iceland can go €30 per day. There are typical dishes in Iceland that you can try for €15 per person in local restaurants. Fast food like a hot dog or a burger can go around €7-10 USD in Iceland. You can find beers for €6. You can cook on your own to go down your food budget travel expenses in Iceland. Make sure your hotel or Airbnb provides a kitchen
TOURS AND ENTRANCE FEES IN ICELAND
For entrance fees in Iceland we have to say that most of the places in nature are free of charge. Even parking can be free and you can enjoy waterfalls in the middle of nowhere for yourself.
Tours are really expensive you can spend around €100-150 per person for a half-day tour. If you are planning to visit the Blue Lagoon the entrance fee is €85.
7. WI-FI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN ICELAND
Internet in Iceland works great in big cities and you will have internet connection in most of the places you will have 4G except in remote areas. You can access free WiFi at hostels and hotels and there are lots of restaurant that are offering free WiFi.
SIM CARD AT REYKJAVIK AIRPORT
I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at Reykjavik airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in Reykjavik. Read here best Iceland sim card for tourists and best Iceland eSim.
You can find the cheapest Iceland eSim with Airalo Iceland eSim prepaid for $4.5 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%). For $9 USD with 3 GB data and for $13 USD with 5 GB data valid for 30 days.
Holafly Iceland eSim for less than $65 USD if you use our code GAMINTRAVELER you will have unlimited internet for 30 days in Iceland for just $2 USD per day. Nomad Iceland eSim for $6 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. For $12 USD with 3 GB data, for $15 USD with 5 GB data and for $26 USD with 10 GB data valid for 30 days.
8. ADAPTER IN ICELAND
In our Iceland travel tips you should know they use 230 V and frequency 50Hz the European will fit. A few places make it possible to fit your American adapter in the plug because they provide adapters. If you are coming from American countries, we recommend you to bring an adapter to be able to charge everywhere.
9. Transportation in Iceland
Transportation in Iceland can be challenging so you make sure you rent a car or a camper van if you don’t want to depend on the tours that they are so expensive.
There are public buses to move around the main cities and you can even try traveling by bicycle if you have time as I did a few years ago traveling by bicycle from Madrid to Norway by bicycle.
TIPS FOR BUDGETING IN ICELAND
10. RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND
Renting a car will be our favorite option for transportation in Iceland. The prices for renting a car in Iceland can be around €30–40 the cheapest one good enough up to 4 people. Especially if you are planning to explore outside Reykjavik since most of the things are outside the city.
11. RENTING A CAMPER VAN
Renting a camper van in Iceland is made easier by booking online. Cozy Campers has a website where you can browse and book campervans in Iceland. Consider the features of each campervan that fits your budget and look into what you may (or may not need) to pack for the trip. Also don’t forget to ask questions, such as where it’s legal to park your camper overnight.
12. FREE PARKING IN ICELAND
You can find free parking in Iceland in most of the places. There are a lot of spots in the nature where you can park your can or van for free in Iceland. In the cities isn’t allowed to park for free in city center. You can use Park 4 Night App so useful to find places to park and to stay at night.
13. WILD CAMPING IN ICELAND
Things to know before visiting Iceland wild camping is allowed in Iceland and that’s amazing. Make sure when wild camping you keep the place clean as you found when you got there. There are also campsites where you can pitch your tent and enjoy their services for €15-20.
14. COOK YOUR OWN FOOD IN ICELAND
You can cook your own food in Iceland for budgeting. There are supermarkets where you can buy food and cook in your van or Airbnb. Since prices are expensive if you eat breakfast and dinner on your own you will be able to save a lot of money.
15. ALCOHOL IS SO EXPENSIVE IN ICELAND
Things to know before visiting Iceland. Alcohol is so expensive in Iceland and it’s not sold in the supermarket just 2.5% wine and beer. You have to buy alcohol in the Wine Shop (Vínbúðin) owned by the government in Iceland. We recommend you to rent a car or van at the airport and buy alcohol in the Duty Free wine, beer or strong liquor for a cheaper price than bars and restaurants.
16. Pack Smart In Iceland
You have to pack smart in Iceland since the weather can be cold/hot and rainy in the same day. What to bring in Iceland? Make sure you bring a jacket, raincoat, swimsuit, gloves, warm shocks and sunscreen.
17. ENGLISH IS SPOKEN EVERYWHERE
English is spoken everywhere in Iceland. You will find locals are able to speak English in touristic and remote places too. For reading the signs can be challenging but you can use Google translator app for this.
18. FREE WATER EVERYWHERE IN ICELAND
You will find free water everywhere in Iceland just make sure you bring a refill bottle water. I was able to refill my bottle anytime in fountains in parks, in the middle of he nature and even in the middle of city center. You can drink tap water tastes great and it will not be a problem for your health since is safe!
19. There is No Mcdonals, Starbucks And Burger King
Things to know before visiting Iceland. There is no Mcdonald’s, Burger King and Starbucks in Iceland. The big chains aren’t operating in Iceland anymore since 2009. Iceland prefers to support local buisnesses. It’s not very usual thing happening in Western countries.
20. ICELAND IS A PARADISE FOR A ROAD TRIP
Iceland is a paradise for a road trip landscapes are amazing especially exploring small villages around the mountains. Many places to park your van during the day and at night to enjoy lakes and views in the mountains. Short distances for driving in Iceland make so comfortable for exploring by car.
21. Drive The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is one of the more popular road trip in Iceland. The Golden Circle starts at Reykjavik, you can visit Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Hot Springs in Haukadalur. You should add the Blue Lagoon to the Golden Circle.
22. Hiking in National Parks
There are Three National Parks in Iceland: Þingvellir National Park, Snæfellsjökull National Park and Vatnajökull National Park. You can visit the nature of these places with your van in Iceland glacier, mountains, waterfalls beaches and amazing landscapes.
FACTS ABOUT ICELAND FOOD
Skyr yoghurt is one of the most popular food to try in Iceland. Skyr yoghurt is made of milk and cheese and it tastes similar to Greek yoghurt. You can have with fruits and cereals.
24. Dried Fish (Harðfiskur)
Dried Fish (Harðfiskur) is one of the most popular snacks in Iceland with high protein. You eat Harðfiskur with salt or butter and it’s great partnering with beer.
25. Kjötsùpa (Lamb Soup)
Kjötsùpa (Lamb Soup) is one the traditional Iceland dishes to try. Kjötsùpa is made of lamb soup with herbs/vegetables like carrot, potatoes and onions. You can eat Kjötsùpa with bread. Prices are around €15 per dish in local restuarants.
26. Hot Dog (Pylsur)
Hot Dog also called Pylsur is the cheapest food that you can find in Iceland. The hot dog with crispy fried onions, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Prices are around $7 USD. We told you Iceland is so expensive!
Brennivin is is the most popular liquor to try in Iceland. Brennivín is distilled from fermented grain mash and then combined with water and flavored with caraway. Brennivín is usually compared with vodka in Iceland.
More Iceland Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Iceland For First Timers
Places To Visit
28. THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
See the Northern Lights in Iceland, 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. Northern Lights you shouldn’t miss this when visiting Iceland especially during mid-September and mid-March.
29. BLUE LAGOON
Blue Lagoon is a must place to visit in Iceland. 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. Don’t forget to book in advance because it is required. Prices are around €85 for a day tour.
30. Waterfalls in Iceland
Things to know before visiting Iceland has amazing waterfalls some of them you can access direct from the road. And other waterfalls you will have to hike to find them. Gullfoss Waterfall is the most popular one inside the Golden Circle.
31. VISIT BLACK SAND BEACHES
Things to know before visiting Iceland has beautiful black sand beaches. One beach you can go to is the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach which is one the most famous black sand beach in Iceland. 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!
32. Volcanoes in Iceland
There are 30 active volcanoes in Iceland and every few years they are erupting. The most popular eruption was in 2010 Eyjafjallajökull erupted and collapsed the airplane traffic in the whole world.
33. Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon is 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.
34. VISIT MUSEUMS IN ICELAND
There a few museums to visit in Iceland. You can visit LAVA Museum in Hvolsvöllur focused on volcanoes and earthquakes. You can experience an earthquake simulator, a cinema, and a viewing platform overlooking three beautiful volcanoes: Katla, Eyjafjallajökull, and Hekla. You can also visit Reykjavik Maritime Museum, Whales of Iceland and National Museum of Iceland.
35. WILDLIFE IN ICELAND
You can find wildlife in Iceland. If you love watching animals Iceland is rich in birdlife in Lake Myvatn one of the best in the world. There are also seabirds like kittiwakes, puffins, and skuas which nest on sea cliffs around Iceland. Polar bears occasionally visit the island.
These polar bears come from Greenland and they travel through icebergs. Marine Life includes whales, dolphins, seals. There are many tours in tin Iceland for whale watching.
Hope you liked our Iceland travel tips. Let us know if we missed things to know before visiting Iceland and facts about Iceland in the comments below.
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