I just got back from a summer(ish) Iceland vacation, and boy was it one hell of a trip. I spent about 4 days, 3 nights there and although it was a really short trip, I was able to fit in as much as I could in my budget. Since I only had 4ish days, I explored only Reykjavik and the South part of the Country. Prior to my trip, I researched extensively, but even with research, there were a few things I learned getting there that I didn’t already know which is why I gathered these 10 things to know before your Iceland vacation.
It is Cold and Rainy (even in Summer)
Being in cold climate is something I’m very well accustomed to as someone who lives in the Midwestern part of USA (Minnesota), although it wasn’t Minnesota winter cold, it was still cold enough for me to wear a winter Jacket, a scarf, mittens, and a hat (full winter gear) for all the 4 days I was there. It also rained for a few hours every day which sucked because I didn’t bring a raincoat, I definitely wasn’t expecting rain in June, therefore, I was stuck in my hostel for those hours.
Tip: Bring a raincoat and a waterproof comfortable shoe
KEF Airport is not in Reykjavik
This was a duh moment since the airport code is (KEF). Keflavik is a different city and it is a 45mins drive to Reykjavik. If you didn’t rent a car (I highly suggest you do), there are bus companies like flybus and grayline that transport to and from Reykjavik and Keflavik for around $30/each-way
Renting a car is the cheapest way to explore Iceland
Unlike most European countries, Iceland’s public transportation is very limited and to truly enjoy the flexibility and economize while exploring the country, a rental is required. Make sure to book ahead of time especially if you can only operate an automatic transmission as they seem to be very limited compared to the stick(manual) transmission.
Book Tours and Hotel/Hostel far in advance.
Another duh moment, but some of us have been guilty of waiting last minute or wait till we get to our destination to make arrangements, at least I have. Iceland is very touristy especially in the “summer” months, tours and hotels sell out fast. You could miss out on a tour or affordable hotel to book from if you wait too long.
24 hours Daylight (almost)
You will experience longer daylight hours and almost no “night” during Iceland summer months. You might ask “how do you fall asleep?” Bring an eye mask and close the curtains. Luckily most of the hotels/hostel in Iceland improvise by having solar shield curtains in the room, so it was not a struggle to fall asleep when I wanted to. The only struggle was reminding myself it was late because It sure didn’t seem like it.
Blue Lagoon isn’t really Blue
This wasn’t disappointing at all because I had a wonderful experience and totally recommend it and think it’s worth the price. I just thought I should mention;)
Click here to read 8 things to know before visiting the blue lagoon
You do not need cash
There’s no need to head to the ATM when you arrive because credit/debit cards are accepted everywhere around the country. I did not use cash even once during my visit, my cards including my Amex card was accepted in most places I dined and/or made a purchase.
English is widely spoken
It’s always a good idea to learn the basic phrases of the Country you’re visiting, it shows the locals you care, and they absolutely appreciate the effort. However, if you don’t or can’t seem to learn to pronounce basic Icelandic phrases; it’s okay, you’re not alone and you won’t have any trouble communicating as almost everyone speaks English as a second language.
Bring a waterproof case for your camera and phone
You probably plan on visiting the blue lagoon and taking amazing photos while in it, bring a waterproof case to protect your equipment. Also, when exploring the ring-road, there are lots of Waterfalls on your way and you will more than likely want to get up close to it and take some fun pictures if your camera/phone isn’t waterproof, I suggest buying one before your trip
Iceland is expensive! Especially the food!
Iceland is maybe third on the world’s most expensive countries. This is because most of the ingredients are imported from what I’ve heard. Expect jaw-dropping prices when you dine at a restaurant, go to the grocery stores and bars(if you’re a budget traveler, you could either buy your booze tax-free at the airport or skip it entirely because “ain’t nobody got time for that”).
I hope this helps in your Iceland vacation planning, and I know you will enjoy Iceland because I did:)
Have you been to Iceland? Comment below on tips you may have or question if you are planning a visit.
Traveling solo? Here’s a guide to help you plan your solo adventures.