Traveling to Iceland this year?!? Here are a few things to know before you go
1. The main airport is not in Reykjavik
Keflavik is the airport you will fly into when arriving in Iceland, but it’s a 40+ minute drive to get into the main city of Reykjavik from the airport.
Options of getting to the city without a rental car:
- Flybus* - Probably your best option. Good Price. Base option will take you to BSI bus terminal or you can pay extra and they will take you to your hotel. Can add a stop at the Blue Lagoon with your ride., which would feel great if you had a long travel day. You won’t have to wait too long for a bus because they run very frequently.
- Taxi - We used a taxi because there was a group of 6 of us and it ended up being the same price as the flybus. If you aren’t with a group this option will be expensive.
- Private Car* - This may end up being cheaper than a taxi but we weren’t able to use this option due to our group arriving on different flights.
- Public Bus - Cheapest option, but you are dependent on their schedule instead of the ease of schedule for the other options.
2. Your wallet may hurt
Iceland is currently the 4th most expensive country in the world to visit. Be prepared to pay high prices for everything. As our guide told us, water and energy are the only cheap things in the country. Just to give you an idea, we paid around $80 to fill half a tank of gas, and it wasn’t uncommon to spend $70-$80 (for both of us) on a fairly normal meal when we ate out. Of course there are some budget friendly options available by visiting the local grocery stores and gas stations.
3. Be prepared for all weather
The weather in Iceland is a spectacle to behold. One day we had beautiful sunny weather and actually shed most of our layers while on a fairly easy hike. The next day the wind was absolutely crazy, high constant winds with gusts strong enough to blow you over if you weren’t careful, rain and snow constantly coming down, it was a fun sight to see and even stand in but I am glad that we didn’t have to drive in it.
Make sure you are ready for all of the weather you may experience, good or bad.
4. The Northern Lights aren’t always expected
If you are there during northern lights season it’s always a toss up if you are going to see them. They may be super strong and going all night, but if you have cloud cover, you won’t be seeing them. As our guide told us, the lights are always going but the weather dictates your chance of viewing it.
This also means that northern lights tours get cancelled frequently due to weather or inability to see the lights.
Check out this website and you can see how strong they will be that night and if the cloud cover is going to block you or not.
5. The people are incredibly friendly
Everyone we met was super helpful and always seemed happy to help. Some places we have travelled in the past haven’t had people who were quite as welcoming as the people in Iceland.
6. The food is delicious
We had someone in our group who was a foodie and brought what essentially was a binder containing a list of the best places to eat and the main dishes to try.
It was super helpful to have all of that information as she would point out places on her list and then we would go in or make a reservation to eat later.
You also have to try as many bakeries as you can. Its something to do with the Icelandic butter, but oh my goodness are their pastries delicious.
We walked in to every bakery we passed and grabbed something because they all looked, smelled, and tasted amazing.
7. Be ready for lots of travelers
Chances are, you’re going to want to see all of the highlights of Iceland. Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, famous waterfalls, etc.. If you are going to any of the major sights then be ready for everyone else to be there too. This also means you should plan ahead, booking a car, hotel, or tour last minute probably isn’t the best idea. Especially during the summer months things will get booked out quick.
8. Car rental requires some thought
Renting a car can give you all of the freedom to stop and spend as much time in different places as you want. We had a car for 3 days and enjoyed all of the freedom it afforded us.
There are lots of things to think about when renting a car though
- Winter weather can get crazy and its not uncommon for roads to close during that time. We had a road close behind us as we left and another closed forcing us on a longer route. This website will give current road conditions, check it every day before you leave.
- Everyone rents a car or camper in the summer, which means less options and higher prices.
- There are a ton of insurances. Collision, Super Collision, Sand & Ash, Gravel, Tire, Theft. Some places include them in the prices shown and other places don’t, which means you may see a cheap car and have sticker shock after the insurance is added.
- No insurance covers your door getting damaged due to wind. The wind can be crazy and easily blow your door right out of your hand and cause damage which you will have to pay for. Open your doors with care and a tight grip.
- Are you planning on driving any F-roads? If you want to go into the highlands you will be driving on F-roads and may be required to cross rivers. Make sure your driving skills are ready and that your rental car company allows you to drive those roads.
9. Enjoy your trip!
Iceland is a beautiful country and we fell in love with it. It's a place you could go back to over and over and still have new things to experience every time. Be respectful to the people, nature, and wildlife and you will for sure enjoy your trip.
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