Iceland is one of the most popular bucket list destinations. There are absolutely no words to describe the beauty of the country- some parts of it look like a cosy backyard you have always wanted to relax at, and some parts of it look like the most beautiful alien landscape you have ever set your eyes on! This Iceland travel guide will help navigate you this vast and beautiful landscape and craft your own epic journey..
Iceland Travel Guide
A trip to Iceland will definitely blow your mind, but there are a few things you should figure out before traveling. What is the best time to visit? What are the places you must definitely not miss? Let’s take a look!
Best Time to Visit Iceland
It is generally agreed that the best time to visit Iceland is during the summer months, especially between June and August. The summer temperature is rather pleasant, and most of the popular tourist destinations are open during this time. If you want to explore the full length and breadth of the country, this is the best time to visit. And it is important to research this, just like when planning the best time to visit Machu Picchu.. Iceland is not a land of the Midnight Sun, but there will be over 17 to 18 hours of daylight every day, giving you more time to explore.
Iceland has some spectacular icy vistas, and if you’re a fan of skiing, you should visit during the low season, between October and April. There are a number of winter sport activities available in the country, from skiing, to spelunking in ice caves. Moreover, the northern lights are best spotted during this season.
- High Season: June-August
- Best Season: June-August, October- April
- Low Season: October- April
Top 5 Must See Destinations in Iceland
There are no words to describe the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Think of the peninsula as a mini Iceland – for a trip to the peninsula will introduce you to more kinds of landforms than you never thought were possible. The peninsula is named after an active volcanic glacier Snæfellsjökull: a place so magical Jules Verne placed the entrance to the Earth’s corewithin it! If you’re a wildlife fan, you should definitely visit Ytri Tunga, where you can see one of the largest seal colonies in the world. Finally, take a trip to Arnastapi, or Hellnar, to explore the otherworldly coastal beauty of Iceland! One tip I can highly recommend in this Iceland travel guide is to visit this Peninsula.
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is the most popular tourist circuit in Iceland, and for a good reason. It will lead you through some of the country’s most spectacular vistas. The Golden Circle is home to the Þingvellir National Park, where you can find Iceland’s best diving spot- Silfra. Gullfoss, one of the most popular waterfalls in the world, is also a stop in this tour. You will also get to tour the stunning volcanic crater of Kerið, and the magnificent geothermal hotspots at Haukadalur. This is one trip you should definitely not miss!
The moment you set foot in Skaftafell, you will feel like you’ve fallen through a wormhole into a brand new planet. The landscape in the park is surreal- with black sand deserts, glaciers, surreal waterfalls, and impassable mountains. There are a number of hiking trails that will lead you through the park, amongst the most popular landmarks, including Svartifoss Falls (a breath-taking falls surrounded by basalt columns) Jökulsárlón glacier (where you can go boating amongst the mountains of ice that continually float away from the glacier).
The Blue Lagoon
Icelandic geothermal spas are world renowned. After all, these are natural spas that can calm you down, and heal you with the magic of rich minerals present in the waters! Blue Lagoon is the most popular spa in Iceland, and for a good reason. The waters of the lagoon are a striking milky blue, and it is surrounded by lava beaches. It’s quite close to Reykjavik, and is rather accessible as well. Make sure you look up what spa treatments you want to get, and get an appointment well in advance! This is a must see when backpacking Europe. There are a lot of fun facts about the Blue Lagoon.
It would be a sin for you to go to Iceland and not visit a volcano. Iceland is densely populated with volcanoes, and Hekla is an active volcano, making this the ideal destination for the daredevils. Hekla is a part of a unique volcanic landscape, and has started to attract tourists from around the world.
It is possible for you to hike to the top of the volcano- but it is highly recommended that you do not do this without a guide, as there is a chance Hekla might erupt all of a sudden. This is an adventure like no other on the earth for a reason, after all!
Tips and Tricks for Visiting Iceland
- Iceland is a card-friendly country, so you do not need to carry a lot of cash with you.
- Definitely consider taking a road trip. Iceland is ideal for those who love the road!
- Iceland offers VAT refunds for those shopping for over 6000 ISK, so when in the airport, look for a tax refund form, and drop it off there. Retain your shopping bills and receipts to show it to the officer, in case required.
- Tipping is not compulsory, but it is encouraged.
- If you are going on road trips, save some hard cash to pay for the tolls, as some of them do not accept cards.
- If you are going on a road trip, make sure you fuel up your car early- many gas stations close around 9-10 pm!
- Do factor in the price of gas when budgeting your trip, as it is definitely not cheap!
- Choose when you want to visit wisely- if you’re traveling Europe in summer, be prepared for constant daylight, except for a couple of hours of ‘night’ time.
- Carry lots of snacks with you- while driving, and while exploring attractions. There are cafes and shops, but they might not be open.
- The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable- do carry a jacket wherever you’re going.
- Wear season appropriate clothing, and get the right gear you need. If you’re going hiking, you will definitely need hiking goods.
- If you want to explore the glaciers, make sure you have a guide with you. The icy glaciers can be rather tricky to navigate- and you would not want to get lost, or lose your footing.
- Be respectful of Icelandic people, and their etiquette. Get a local guide to understand what the right etiquette is.
- Pack a pair of flip flops or slippers to wear indoors, as many Icelanders remove their shoes when inside.
- Do not drive off-road in Iceland. It is illegal, as it has adverse effects on the environment.
- Do take the time to go on a tour. There are some amazing tour guides, and you can get one to view the northern lights, trek up a glacier, or even for whale watching.