With no denying, Iceland has been one of the top destinations to visit in Europe in the past years that it has gained popularity due to its beauty and unworldly grandeur. Nevertheless, if you’re a first time visitor, there are few general things you must know before your trip to Iceland that could help you decide when and where to go.
Things You Must Know Before Your Trip to Iceland
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General information about Iceland
When is the best time to visit Iceland?
This depends absolutely on what you want and when you can visit!
Winter season in Iceland starts from November to end of March.
Best time to see the Northern Lights and participate in winter excursions such as skiing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling (amongst others). That said, the nights are longer and the sun shines only a few hours a day, you must come prepared for this and dress appropriately for winter! The temperature can also drop as low as -5°.
Spring season in Iceland is during the month of April and May.
Spring is the perfect time to visit if you want to witness the puffin bird yourself as this is the time of the year they migrate back to Iceland (they stay until September). During spring you’ll start to get longer daylight, chilly warm breeze, and see the nature bloom. Expect lesser crowds as well and you can catch the winter prices before it spikes up for the summer season.
Summer season in Iceland starts from June to end of August.
My friends, Vincent and Saara, did a road trip around Iceland in Summer and had a wonderful time. This is the best time to avoid the harsh cold and discover the country without freezing your bottoms off.
Nevertheless, if you want to see the island in its full glory with little worry (avoiding the cold weather, heavy clothing, etc.) then Summer is the best time to travel to Iceland. Of course, she’s gorgeous whole year round so again, it totally depends on when you want and can visit!
However, just like in any parts of Europe, Summer is the peak season and you’ll likely be on the island with a bunch of other travelers and tourists. So remember that prices are at its peak during this time of the year and can double or triple!
Autumn season in Iceland starts in late August to early November.
The weather in Autumn starts to be a little chilly but you’ll see different shades of green and orange starts to pop all over the country. The darkness starts to be longer after the almost never setting daylight you’ll witness in Summer, the wind gets a bit breezier and stronger and the temperature starts to drop to as low as 10°C.
Autumn is also the beginning of the low-season in Iceland thus the prices starts to drop but with that said, some exciting tours also ends their season meaning there might be fewer tours for you take part of. Nevertheless, it is also an exciting time of the year to visit Iceland!
How to get to Iceland?
There are two ways to get to Iceland:
There are different airlines that can take you to Iceland depending on your destination of origin but Iceland has its own airline, Icelandair, that fly from certain main cities from around the world. Flying to Iceland is the popular choice by many!
Reykjavik, the capital city, is the main hub for incoming and outgoing flights and Iceland’s airport is Keflavík International Airport.
If you plan, however, to take your car to Iceland then sea travel is your bests option. The sea port you’ll likely to dock is in Seyðisfjörður and you can get to Iceland by sea from Hirtshals, Denmark, and Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.
Where to stay in Iceland?
There are plenty of hotels in Iceland you can choose from to stay at and as well hostels and few homestays.
How to get around Iceland?
If you’re only visiting for a short time, the best way to utilize your time is to take part in guided tours in Iceland so you can visit some of the tourist attractions in Iceland. However, if you do plan to do it all by yourself, the following are the popular modes of traveling around Iceland:
- Rent a car and go on an epic Iceland road trip
- Fly to destinations (List of airports in Iceland)
- Take a ferry between ports (Brjánslækur, Stykkishólmur, and Flatey, Breiðafjörður)
- Take the bus around Iceland
What is Iceland’s currency?
Iceland’s currency is called Icelandic króna. You can check the conversion rate to your home country’s currency through XE currency converter.
How expensive is Iceland?
It has been well-known that Iceland is an expensive place to visit but with little caution on your spending decisions, there’s always a way to budget your expenses! The verdicts that can really affect your budget are the following:
From Helsinki, a trip to Iceland cost about 280$ for a return ticket but depending on your point of origin, it can vary. For instance, a return flight from NYC to Reykjavik starts at 400$ and can go up to 800$. Also, as the season changes, the ticket becomes cheaper or more expensive. Booking in advance can help you snag a cheaper ticket but the general rule of thumb is that if it is peak season, you pay more.
Depending on where you end up staying, a hotel can cost you between 120-500$ per night and that is from mid range to luxury. Hostel, however, can cost you between 35-150$ per night.
I personally think that Nordic and Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland have one thing in common and that’s the cost of food – it can be very expensive! Most products and ingredients are imported thus the heavy price.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying that even in an expensive country such as aforementioned, you’ll always find a way to get your food expense down if you don’t eat out that much and cook your meals in (if you’re staying in hostels, camping, or rental apartments).
That said, if you eat out for each meal, you’re easily looking at 50$ a day spent on food and an average dinner out in Iceland can cost you from 23-30$ per meal depending on what you’re getting.
Tours and activities
Prices regarding daily excursions highly depend on the sort of activities you want to take part of, there are many Iceland tours packages to choose from. Give or take, an average tour around The Golden Circle, for instance, can cost you 145$ for an all-day tour (11 hours). Otherwise, you can always rent a car and tour the island yourself so this is something you can add to your budget when you decide to either join tours or not.
Nevertheless, a day tour in Iceland can cost starting at 95$ per tour.
Iceland Points of Interests
What are the best places to see in Iceland?
If you’re planning a trip to Iceland then I must say that you’re certainly in for a good treat as there are tons to see to feast the eyes. In a ballpoint, here’s a list of places you must not miss:
The capital city of Iceland and most likely your point of entry, don’t be afraid to explore this small city. However, remember that there’s more to see outside so split your time between places so check out some day tours from Reykjavík while you’re in there to make most out of your trip.
A geothermal are, the ground in Seltún is fascinating for being naturally hot and the water is literally steaming!
The Golden Circle
Not far from the capital city, you’ll find yourself some of the Iceland tourist attractions, namely: The Golden Circle, Selfoss, The Blue Lagoon, Vestmannaeyjar, Eldfell volcano, and many others along the way.
Located in the South part of Iceland, Hveragerði is the place where you’ll find natural hot springs and is famous for their geothermal park.
About 40km from Reykjavik and located in the Southwest of Iceland you’ll stumble upon Þingvellir, a beautiful national park and is one of the island’s popular tourist destinations. Þingvellir is famous for its scuba diving activities which you can partake and check out yourself the only place in the world where you can witness the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Vík í Mýrdal
Yet another famous destination in Iceland you must visit, Vík í Mýrdal, where you’ll find the world-famous black sand beach, Reynisfjara!
If you’re into hiking, there’s a lot of hiking routes in Skaftafell which you can take. Nevertheless, going for a walk to visit some of its picturesque waterfalls (notably, the Svartifoss) is also worth the sweat!
Jökulsárlón is located on the edge of the famous Vatnajökull National Park and the place where you can see the large lake where you’ll find some beautiful glaciers (even in Summer).
If you want to explore the Westfjords in Iceland, do not forget to also visit Dynjandi Waterfall & Latrabjarg Cliffs!