What you need to know before traveling to Iceland

Yes it’s true, Iceland has rolling fields of green whereas Greenland is covered in ice and snow. Greenland, a place 3/4 of which is covered in ice, was named by a guy who wanted to trick people into thinking it was full of warmth and greenery. And Iceland was named by a guy who mistakenly thought it was full of ice and wanted to make sure nobody was fooled into thinking otherwise. Interesting right?

The trip in numbers

5h30 direct flight
7 days of travel
2500km covered
1000 pictures

Things You need to Know

Below are a few tips and tricks on several important bits of information that might help you plan your next trip to Iceland. Plan in advance but stay flexible. Sometimes you need to go with the flow and seize the moment. Take your time to enjoy places, people and landscapes. Iceland won’t disappoint!

Costs

Everything about Iceland is expensive. And when I say very expensive I mean it. Get over it and make the most of your trip. Their local money is Iceland Krona “ISK”. Even if you’re in the middle of nowhere you can pay with a credit card. I got a small coffee at the gas station, and let’s be honest it wasn’t my Starbucks Grande Chai Latte half sweet with almond milk haha, it was a gas station kinda coffee. Guess how much it was? 58 Kr (6.5USD $ or 9CAD $)

Tip: Instant coffee satchels may not taste as good as the real thing, but will save you a fortune.

What You Need To Bring

A pair of hiking shoes, a windbreaker, a good jacket, gloves, beanie, good pair of socks and a good camera. These are always good to have all year around. You might want to throw a cute bikini in if you go during summer, as Iceland offers beautiful beaches. During winter the weather is in average 0 celsius degrees and during summer it varies from 5-15C.

Internet

It is accessible in every gas station and it’s free. How cool is that! It was also available to us at our Airbnb. Wifi is accessible everywhere here so it is not a problem. SIM card prices are very reasonable here for some reason which is great for data and Google maps – check out some more info –https://www.siminn.is/prepaid/

Visa

You don’t need a visa to visit Iceland. Of course, if you do have a passport that is less “popular” you might had to do some extra research to be sure before booking your flights.

Tourist Traps

Don’t do all the tours available to you, otherwise you will empty your bank account. Just rent a car and do everything on your own. Driving around Iceland will blow your mind away. It is spectacular! There are  few places that require a tour, so brave it on your own! Make sure your car is covered with full insurance, especially if you have not had much experience on driving on slippery roads before. Better safe than sorry with these things.

Gas

Compared to other countries, gas is very expensive (2$/L). Our suggestion is to rent an economic car, you don’t need a big SUV. Filling up a small Volkswagen would cost almost 100$ CAD/ $80USD.

Food

Avoid eating out where possible. Not due to the quality of food but simply as the price is sky high. On our first night, since it was late and we didn’t have any groceries at our Airbnb, we decided to eat out. 2 Pad Thai + 2 Beers = 75$ CA/60$ US. I mean the Pad Thai was good but for 75$, we didn’t expect it to be so pricey. That’s when I realized what people meant by Iceland is expensive.

Hot Tip

Pack some food from home in your suitcase you’ll need it. Bring some peanut butter, tuna cans, Cliff Bars or any other little good that provide you with some energy but you can still stomach. These will save you a lot of money (if saving your money is something that you enjoy doing!!!)

Accommodation

AirBnB the way to go here. We stayed in Selfoss for most of our journey which is about 45 mins from Reykjavik. This location was perfect for us because it was central to a lot of places we wanted to explore. Don’t book the same Airbnb your whole stay, be flexible and try several. Hotels here are good quality but due to the demand being higher than the supply, prices have increased every season and keep going up.

Must see

Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen) it’s a glacial lagoon in southeastern Iceland. The blue waters are dotted with icebergs. The lagoon flows through a short waterway into the Atlantic Ocean, leaving chunks of ice on a black sand beach. If you’re lucky you might even see seals.

That glacier was just amazing 💙 #iceland #glacier #glacierlagoon #hofn #paradise #jokulsarlon #wheniniceland #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

I have no words for what I saw today 💎 #iceland #glacierlagoon #jokulsarlon #hofn #paradise #wheniniceland #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

Blue Lagoon: You need to book it weeks ahead if you want to be able to reserve a spot but there is a reason why. A must see place.

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral (located in Reykjavik): I don’t normally go to church but the architecture of this cathedral is just amazing. It took 41 years to build it and it is the tallest church in Iceland.

Harpa Concert Hall: Harpa is a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavík. The building features a distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. Pretty damn cool!

Sun Voyager sculpture: A sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason located in Reykjavík. Sun Voyager is a dreamboat, an ode to the sun.

Reykjavik Food Tip: Make sure to grab an Iceland Hot Dog, you won’t be disappointed.

Kerio Crater (Golden Circle): Is a volcanic crater lake located in South Iceland. Charge of entrance fees RE 400 ISK (as of July 2017).

Just a bit cold 🏊🏻‍♀️ #seljavallalaug #seljavallalaugpool #iceland #rangarbingeystra #mountains #paradise #wheniniceland #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

Skogafoss Waterfall: One of the most visited waterfalls and with good reason. Photographers dream and very easy to access.

Seljavallalaug Hot Spring: You can’t see it from the road and will have to walk 15-20 minutes from where you park. Not a lot of people know about it, so try and find it!

Gullfoss Waterfall: One of the most popular in Iceland, you can’t really miss it. It is located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland.

Canyon Fjadrargljufur: The canyon has beautiful steep walls, and creates extraordinary serpentines. Be careful not to fall when taking pictures!

Northern Lights: Check the weather, google it, talk to locals. If you are lucky you’ll catch them and it’s amazing. It needs to be below 0 celsius degrees to be able to see it. Drive as far as you can from the city, it needs to be pitch black and very clear sky to be visible.

Just drive around, the landscape is breathtaking! Have a good trip!

Found a new friend 🐴 #iceland #grimsnes #horse #wheniniceland #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

Golden Circle 💦 #iceland #waterfalls #gulfoss #gulfosswaterfall #goldencircle #wheniniceland #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

Nature always wear the colour of the spirit 💕 #iceland #selfoss #mountains #paradise #wheniniceland #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

Sunset 🌙💜 #iceland #hofn #mountains #wheniniceland #paradise #wowair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Jessica 🐚❁ (@jessicaperigny) on

Hallo!
  • Have you ever visited Iceland?
  • Share with us your best story from there!
  • Don’t forget to book your travel insurance before travelling!

If you like this article, follow our Adventures on Facebook, YouTubeTwitter, Instagram @adventurefaktory, Snapchat AFtravels, to keep up with new posts and updates!

AdventureFaktory Guide for Iceland
Pin This Post!
More from Jessica Perigny

Barbados Travel Guide: Sandy Toes in the Carribean

I first went to the island of Barbados in September 2016, and...
Read More
  • Iceland is gorgeous. It looks amazing in your pictures. I never knew these interesting stories behind the naming of Greenland and Iceland. The waterfalls and the snow would be my reasons to visit Iceland.

    • Jessica Périgny

      There are so many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland!

  • Iceland just looks so incredible and I have wanted to go now for so long! I need to persuade the other half for a Christmas trip I think! This guide is so helpful so will definitely save it for our trip 🙂 Would love t see the Northern Lights – thanks for sharing!

    • Jessica Périgny

      The northern lights are breath taking! You can only see them in the winter. The weather needs to be below 0 degrees celsius with a clear sky otherwise you won’t see them. So make sure to check the forecast 🙂

  • Suma

    Visiting Gulfoss waterfalls and witnessing the Northern Lights is a dream come true for me. Hope to tick this off my bucketlist soon. Bookmarking this post for future reference, you covered all the important things to do in Denmark. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jessica Périgny

      Hi Suma,

      Let me know if you need more info if you decide to go!

  • I’m really keen to visit Iceland but the cost is putting me off a little at the moment! I had a similar experience in Oslo and thought £4.50 for a 7/11 coffee was bad but $6.50 for a gas station one is even worse! Your photos are phenomenal, especially the ones of the Glacier lagoon! What time of year did you visit?

    • Jessica Périgny

      Hi Dave, Iceland can be pricy but it’s definitely worth every penny. I would do it all over again. I went the second week of March.

  • Talin

    This is great! We almost went to Iceland last December for our Honeymoon part 2, but ended up going to Denmark instead. Maybe this year! I’m keeping this list for when we go, thanks!

    • Jessica Périgny

      Hi Talin,

      Let me know if you need more info if you decide to go!

  • Mel B

    I went to Iceland over 10years ago and I wished that blogging and posts like this were available before I went. Unfortunately I never got to see the Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and every-time I see beautiful pictures likes yours, it makes me want to go back and explore more. Btw, love your fact about how the name came about too, so interesting.

    • Jessica Périgny

      Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is beautiful. You feel like you’re on another planet! Might be worth going back 😉

  • I love these tips. I think it’s a great idea to drive around Iceland instead of taking a tour because then you can travel at your own speed. However, it’s also important to be able to drive Iceland’s terrain which may be very unfamiliar to some drivers.

    • Jessica Périgny

      I agree. I was surprised to see how clean the roads were even though it was in the middle of the winter. There was barely any snow on the roads.

  • Lisa Rivera

    I’ve been to Iceland, and yes it’s very expensive! I can’t believe you paid that much for 2 pad Thais and a beer; you should have spent that money on a local restaurant instead! I love your photos, I didn’t get to see everything, but Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve travelled to!

    • Jessica Périgny

      Hey Lisa,

      We paid that much because we didn’t have much options. It was our first night and didn’t have food at our Airbnb. Unfortunately, we got in too late and the grocery store was closed.