Hello, Today I share with you my Ultimate Guide to visit Iceland. The greatest trips I’ve ever done!
Welcome to the ethereal landscapes of Iceland—a realm where nature’s grandeur unfolds in a symphony of glaciers, waterfalls, and otherworldly vistas. I’m thrilled to take you on a journey through this island of wonders, providing tips, must-visit locations, and practical advice to ensure your Icelandic adventure is nothing short of magical.
Here is my Ultimate Guide to visit Iceland
How to Get to Iceland
Your Icelandic escapade commences with a flight to Keflavik International Airport (KEF), conveniently situated near the capital, Reykjavik. Various airlines offer direct flights from major cities, making Iceland an accessible destination for globetrotters. Keep an eye on flight deals, as Iceland is often a layover destination, presenting an opportunity to explore this captivating land.
Best Season to Visit Iceland
Choosing the ideal time to visit Iceland is like selecting the palette for your adventure canvas. Summer, from June to August, bathes the landscapes in the Midnight Sun, offering extended daylight hours for exploration. Winter, from December to February, transforms the scenery into a winter wonderland, with the mesmerizing Northern Lights dancing across the night sky. Spring and fall provide a balanced mix of daylight and potential aurora sightings, making them favorable transitional seasons.
Renting a Car in Iceland
Unlock the true essence of Iceland by embracing the freedom of a road trip. Renting a car is the key to navigating the island’s diverse terrain at your own pace. Numerous rental agencies, both at Keflavik Airport and in Reykjavik, offer a variety of vehicles. Opt for a 4×4, especially if you plan to venture into the Highlands or explore off-the-beaten-path locations. Booking your rental in advance ensures availability and allows you to secure the best rates.
Try CampEasy, that was my favorite option.
15 Places to Visit in Iceland
- Golden Circle
- Highlights: Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, Thingvellir National Park.
- Tip: Start your Icelandic adventure with this iconic route for a taste of the country’s geological wonders.
- Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss Waterfalls (My favorite)
- Highlights: Walk behind Seljalandsfoss, witness the power of Skogafoss.
- Tip: Visit during the shoulder seasons for fewer crowds and captivating lighting.
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (A must)
- Highlights: Floating icebergs, boat tours, Diamond Beach.
- Tip: Capture the ethereal beauty of the lagoon during sunset for magical hues.
- The Blue Lagoon
- Highlights: Geothermal spa, silica mud masks, otherworldly ambiance.
- Tip: Book tickets in advance and indulge in the rejuvenating powers of the lagoon.
- Vatnajokull National Park
- Highlights: Europe’s largest national park, Vatnajokull Glacier, diverse landscapes.
- Tip: Explore Svartifoss waterfall and the stunning Skaftafell area within the park.
- Thingvellir National Park
- Highlights: Tectonic plate rift, Althing historic site.
- Tip: Dive or snorkel in Silfra Fissure for a unique underwater experience.
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Highlights: Basalt columns, Reynisdrangar sea stacks.
- Tip: Beware of powerful waves and heed safety warnings on the beach.
- Highlights: Rhyolite mountains, hot springs, Laugavegur Trail.
- Tip: Accessible by F-roads, ideal for those seeking a highland adventure.
- Highlights: Northern Iceland’s charming town, Botanical Garden.
- Tip: Explore the nearby Goðafoss waterfall and Myvatn Nature Baths.
- Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik
- Highlights: Iconic church, panoramic views from the tower.
- Tip: Visit during the evening for stunning city lights.
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Highlights: Snaefellsjokull National Park, Kirkjufell Mountain.
- Tip: Experience the diverse landscapes, from lava fields to coastal cliffs.
- Highlights: Whale-watching capital of Iceland, charming harbor.
- Tip: Join a whale-watching tour for a chance to see majestic marine life.
- Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
- Highlights: Unique lava waterfalls.
- Tip: Visit during the summer to witness the contrast of greenery against the black lava.
- Glymur Waterfall
- Highlights: Iceland’s second-highest waterfall, hiking trails.
- Tip: Embark on the trail for panoramic views of the waterfall and surrounding landscapes.
- Highlights: Remote fjords, Dynjandi waterfall, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
- Tip: Ideal for those seeking tranquility and untouched landscapes.
Where to Sleep in Iceland
- Hotels and Guesthouses:
- Reykjavik offers a range of accommodations. Explore boutique hotels for a touch of luxury or cozy guesthouses for an authentic Icelandic experience.
- Airbnb and Cabins:
- Opt for an Airbnb for a homey atmosphere or rent a cabin surrounded by nature. Experience Iceland like a local, with breathtaking views at your doorstep.
- Iceland’s camping culture allows you to connect with nature. Campsites, equipped with basic facilities, are scattered throughout the country. Check if you need a camping card for access to certain sites.
- Always look for a place to camp:
- Night is around 15 euros per person per night on many camps. There you will find toilet, showers (not all of them), electricity and more. What I did is very simple, look for a spot you plan to visit, then go to google maps and look for a campsite next to it. No reservation is required.
- Wild Camping:
- Iceland allows wild camping in many areas. Camp at least 150 meters away from lakes and rivers, leave no trace, and seek landowner permission if on private property.
- Weather Preparedness:
- Pack layers, waterproof gear, and a sturdy tent. Monitor weather forecasts regularly and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
Winter Activities in Iceland:
- Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) Viewing: Winter is the best time to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Head to locations with minimal light pollution for the best experience.
- Ice Cave Exploration: Explore the stunning ice caves that form during the winter months. Vatnajökull National Park is a popular destination for ice cave tours. Click here to visit their official website
- Snowmobiling: Take a snowmobile tour across the snow-covered landscapes of Iceland. Popular areas include Langjökull Glacier and Myvatn in the north.
- Hot Springs and Geothermal Pools: Relax in Iceland’s famous geothermal pools, such as the Blue Lagoon or the Secret Lagoon. The contrast of warm water against the cold surroundings is a unique experience.
- Dog Sledding: Experience the thrill of dog sledding in snowy landscapes. Tours are available in various regions, providing a chance to interact with friendly sled dogs.
- Winter Hiking: Explore Iceland’s national parks and scenic landscapes on winter hiking trails. Be sure to dress warmly and take necessary precautions.
Summer Activities in Iceland
- Midnight Sun Exploration: During the summer months, Iceland experiences the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun, where the sun doesn’t fully set. This provides extended daylight hours for exploration.
- Whale Watching: Summer is an excellent time for whale watching tours. Head to locations like Husavik for a chance to see various species of whales in their natural habitat.
- Hiking and Trekking: Explore Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes on foot during the summer. Popular hiking destinations include Landmannalaugar, Thorsmork, and the Laugavegur Trail.
- Bird Watching: Iceland is a haven for birdwatchers, especially during the summer when migratory birds arrive. Puffins are a particular highlight, and you can find them in locations like the Westman Islands.
- Fishing: Summer is prime time for fishing in Iceland’s rivers and lakes. Fishing tours are available, offering the chance to catch salmon or trout.
- ATV Tours: Explore the rugged terrains of Iceland on an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) tour. This is a fun way to discover the country’s diverse landscapes.
- Iceland has a reputation for being on the pricier side, but strategic planning can help manage costs. Accommodation prices vary, and self-catering can save money on meals. Dining out can be expensive, so consider local specialties. Fuel prices are high, so factor in transportation costs when budgeting.
Best Tips for a Smooth Journey
- Currency and Cash:
- Icelandic Krona (ISK) is the local currency. While credit cards are widely accepted, having some cash is advisable for smaller purchases.
- Icelandic is the official language, but English is widely spoken, making communication easy for travelers.
- Respect Local Wildlife:
- Iceland is home to diverse wildlife. Maintain a respectful distance, especially during nesting seasons, and avoid disturbing wildlife.
- Iceland is more than a destination; it’s an odyssey through a land of contrasts, where fire and ice coexist in harmony. As your friendly blogger, I encourage you to embrace the spirit of exploration, soak in the geothermal warmth, and let the beauty of Iceland leave an indelible mark on your heart. Whether you’re chasing waterfalls, gazing at the Northern Lights, or immersing yourself in local culture, Iceland invites you to be a part of its awe-inspiring narrative. So, pack your sense of wonder, embark on the road less traveled, and let Iceland’s magic unfold before you. Happy travels, fellow adventurer!
Thank you for reading my Ultimate Guide to visit Iceland