Iceland the Land of Fire and Ice. There are not many places on earth that offered the same level of natural diversity as Iceland. Impressive waterfalls, hot springs, 50-mile-long heights with no civilization in sight.
Iceland has something for any type of traveler from the lush green summer months where the Sun never sets, to the dark cold winters illuminated by northern lights. Iceland offers a host of activities no matter the season.
Close to nature but rich with colorful tradition too, Iceland is a unique area to spend a captivating trip.
Icelanders are very welcoming people and always satisfied to share their stunning country with visitors on Iceland vacations.
If you are searching for a tourist vacation spot that offers you lots of fun and pleasure, then Iceland is the right destination for you. you’ll find numerous locations of traveler interest in this country.
But before you go to Iceland there are a few things you need to know before your trip.
The country’s currency is called Krona, where 1000 Krona is about $8 or €7.
Iceland is known to be an expensive country to travel to, its prices there around 60% higher compared to the European average, so if you’re on a budget, carefully planning out the travel expenses is a good idea.
The official language is Icelandic which is considered a Nordic language. It has not changed much from the first settlers of Iceland.
Danish and English are mandatory languages to learn, and the literacy rate is over 99%, which is the highest percentage in the world. Many people are known by their first names, as opposed to their surnames; for example, Horoson means the son of Horo; this can make it difficult to look someone up in the phonebook.
The majority of Icelanders are of Lutheran religion, although other faiths exist throughout the region. There is a small percentage of other faiths, such as Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, and Baptist.
There is a popular saying in Iceland, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.”
Weather can vary greatly due to its proximity to the ocean. Northern Iceland’s summer temperatures don’t get much warmer than its winter temperatures; Southern Iceland can get considerably warmer, sometimes reaching as much as 30 degrees Celsius.
Summer is the most popular season to visit Iceland. It is also the best season for anyone interested in hiking or exploring the highlands as many of the activities are accessible during the warmer months. however, since its high season expects inflated prices and tons of tourists.
Alternatively, you can lower your cause and avoid the crowds by visiting during the shoulder months of spring, and autumn prices are substantially lower due to it being offseason, however, the Highlands and the major hiking trails will be unavailable during this time.
Winter is the best season for Northern Lights and if you’re interested in exploring ice caves as some of them are only available during the winter months.
But the winter may not be ideal for a Ring Road trip due to the unpredictable weather, but it’s still possible if you really must and most would argue that.
Iceland is more scenic during the warmer months but I think that’s totally subjective.
Here is a list of the best applications you can use for your trip to Iceland:
Although considered a part of Europe, Iceland is not a part of the EU. The country is a part of the Schengen Agreement which means visa-free for most EU citizens.
For a foreign tourist, perhaps it is good to arrange for a hired car when seeing Iceland. This will really help save lots of time, particularly when traveling between many destinations and Accommodations. One can bear to see breathtaking views of broad open fields, with galloping around or horses grazing, and amazing water bodies such as valleys, lakes, and waterfalls.
You can also go with a 4WD, but in my opinion, they’re not really necessary unless you plan to explore the Highlands or drive on F-roads. Renting a 4WD will also cause and add a premium so overall it could be the most expensive option on the list, but it is the ultimate adventure car in Iceland.
Lastly a campervan. This is also the option I opted for it’s not the most expensive, nor the most affordable it sits in the middle in terms of price but it has the advantage of being your accommodation and transportation rolled into one with included benefits such as heating gas stove, etc.
Regardless of what vehicle you choose, it’s important to know the driving laws in Iceland.
Iceland promises not to disappoint any of the tourists that go there. There are many things to do, attractive locations worth seeing in Iceland which includes some of the most incredible places that you will ever experience.
If you get a chance to watch the midnight sunlight the sky in different tones of pink and yellow then you will have had a memorable experience already.
One might not be lucky enough to see a live volcano erupt but one can surely feel nature’s power by standing close to an active volcano that spews lava.
This Geothermally-heated pool has become Iceland’s must-do. Its water reaches up to 38° and its algae, minerals, and silica is said to condition and rejuvenate the skin.
The Saga Museum is the place to learn all about Iceland’s Viking history. You can even try some authentic armor.
About 15 minutes outside of Reykjavik is the Laxnes Horse Farm. Fun fact: Icelandic horses have five gaits, which is two more than any other breed.
Only around in winter, the ice caves at Vatnajökull glacier have to be seen to be believed.
A lot of travelers visit Iceland just to see this amazing and natural phenomenon. The best time to see these lights are in the winter when the weather is clear.
It is most likely to find them from September to April. The colors and sheer vibrancy were something you’ll never forget.
Seljavallalaug is a secret geothermal pool. To get to it, you drive to the end of road 242, leave your car and then hike the rest of the way through a breath-taking valley. It’s not the easiest of routes but it is worth it.
The black sand beach in Vik is called by its local Reynishverfi, and since it is famous because of its black sand and basalt sea stack, tour guides are more willing to take you 10 km just before you reach Vík.
Recommended Read: Best places to stay in Iceland for all budgets
Iceland offers every attraction that a traveler dreams of seeing. Whether they are active volcanoes, biggest glaciers, or hot springs, Iceland has everything for everyone. As told earlier, every city of Iceland deserves to be seen at least once.
Following are some well-known and less-known attractions and destinations of Iceland.
This city has its importance because it is called the entrance of Iceland. It is about 1 hour away from Reykjavik.
Most visitors and tourists see it because it is the closest city to the international airport in Iceland.
This is the most famous route in Iceland. The golden circle is the name given to a route taken by almost 90 percent of tourists who are on their vehicles.
In very little time, tourists can feel the beauty of Thingvellir, the famous geothermal area of Iceland, and superb Gullfoss waterfalls.
Located between two tectonic plates. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site,
and probably the most important historical place in Iceland as it saw the birth of the national parliament.
Is a nice place to take a stroll and win some of the unique natural landscapes of the area.
It’s striking red cliffs and aquamarine-colored lake Kerid. Is a relatively young volcanic Crater lake,
its age plays a key role in its colorful appearance as these striking colors are remaining minerals and rocks as well as the minerals seeping into the water below giving it this green town.
Iceland is best known for its geysers and also has ‘Geyser’. The Strokkur geyser is a famous one that erupts every few minutes and can reach up to 130 feet in the air.
It is truly a sight to behold. This is something one will definitely want to include on their tours to Iceland.
The majestic Gullfoss. its name translates to the golden waterfall it also where the golden circle gets its name from, and its impressive waterfall and one of the main highlights of the loop.
Although there is a more famous hot spring in this region, my personal favorite has to be the Hrunalaug hot spring.
This small secluded hot spring is nestled away between hills and requires a little bit of searching to find it but it’s well worth it, and it’s a charming little place that’s absolutely beautiful.
Fridheimar is a geothermal tomato farm. famous for its tomato themed menu and is a beautiful place for lunch other than the food.
you can also pay a visit to the greenhouses and learn more about the process of greenhouse horticulture in Iceland.
For example, you learn how they’re able to cultivate their tomato crops in such a cold climate by using the Earth’s geothermal energy.
After finishing the Golden Circle, we continue towards the southern part of Iceland and find one of the most iconic waterfalls Seljalandsfoss.
With its 60-meter waterfall drop, Seljalandsfoss is part of the Seljalands river that has its origin from a volcano glacier it’s unique as you can walk behind the waterfall itself and really get a sense of its scale.
There’s also a nearby cave with a hidden waterfall of its own, worth paying a visit while you’re there. Further, along the route, you can find one of the many pools in Iceland, and this has a particularly difficult name to pronounce.
it’s quite a bumpy road to get to the parking area of this pool and from there it’s a relatively short 20-minute walk to reach the pool and to be honest, it was a rather warm pool rather than a hot pool. so, if you want to enjoy the place for yourself get there early.
Not too far from the pool, you’ll find Skogafoss which is another famous waterfall in Iceland is one of the biggest waterfalls with a width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters.
Continue along the route you will find these Solheimasandur plane Wreck. this is where you find the abandoned US Navy plane which crashed landed here in 1973.
You have probably seen plenty of photos of this place and as always get there early to avoid the crowd as it’ll take a good and either 30-minute walk from the parking area to reach in plain sight.
If you can’t walk, there is a shuttle bus that goes from the parking area to the Wreck site for a small fee.
Reynisfjara is the most famous black sand beach in Iceland. The black sand is formed by lava hitting the ocean waves and turning the lava into small volcanic rocks and stubbles giving the beach its black color.
The beach is also famous for DS basalt columns formed by lava as well these two nearby sea stacks which according to the Icelandic folklore used to be trolls that were turned into stone when they were pulling ships into Shore.
Not far from Reynisfjara you’ll find Dyrholaey which means the door he’ll island it’s known for its rock art and the lighthouse of the same name.
Once you reach the top of the lighthouse, you’ll have a fantastic view of the southern coastline which is well worth the short height and the best thing it’s free.
As we continue east, you’ll come across the beautiful Canyon, a very difficult name to pronounce, but this Canyon was believed to be formed at the end of the last ice age. And I think it’s definitely worth a visit.
This glacier is what’s called an outlet or tong glacier of the much larger bot glacier which is said to be Europe’s largest ice cave.
It’s quite a surreal experience getting to see the glacier up close and it’s a place where you can really see the impact of global warming as many of the glaciers are unfortunately shrinking. at least one has completely disappeared, Highlighting the importance of us all contributing to the fight against global warming.
Nearby Svinafellsjokull you’ll also find Fjallsarlon, which is another outlet glacier.
The unique thing there is you can get on a boat and really get up close to the icebergs and the glacier itself if you’re interested.
Not too far from the two glaciers, you’ll find Diamond beach.
Although it’s not officially named that; but it’s a name it’s rather picked up due to the many washed-up pieces of glacial ice which creates a stark contrast between its black sandy shores.
Diamond Beach also marks the end of Southern Iceland.
As we continue along the road, we start entering the eastern part of Iceland.
Vestrahorn is one of my favorite places in Iceland, is also known as stock nests which are a set of pointing mountains often the subject of many landscape photos in Iceland,
It’s known for its reflective Shores where you can take some really cool shots caused a small fee to visit the place but the fee also includes a visit to a nearby Viking village film set which apparently was never used. the view of the mountains south, to be honest, is worth the entry price.
As we continue with this Iceland road trip, we head northeast following along the cliffside roads until we arrive at the small town known as Seydisfjordur.
Seydisfjordur is known for its rainbow-colored Street which leads up to the town’s landmark the blue church.
The town itself is surrounded by mountains and located near a Fuhrer. I also recommend popping into the Nordic restaurant or a nice little brunch before you continue on your journey.
You may also want to pay a short visit to a nearby small waterfall called Gufu it’s located just outside of the town. on the main roads that lead to Hengifoss.
Hengifoss it actually takes a good 30 to 40 minutes hike from the parking area to reach the waterfall. thanks to its red clay and black basalt patterns bring that perfect backdrop to its 128-meter fall.
Just getting to Laugarfell was an experience in itself and the hike was a great surprise with some wonderful waterfalls during the route I highly recommend doing this short to 3 hours hike if you’re in the area or at all interested in hiking.
Located in what’s known as the diamond circle. Dettifoss is regarded as the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
The waterfall is made of glacial water from several glacier outlets and it’s a great display of the power in the scale of Iceland’s remarkable nature.
First is the Hverir Geothermal area known for its bubbling pools of mud and steaming fumaroles.
The smell there is not surprisingly pretty bad due to the sulfur but it’s a unique location that is worth visiting at least once while you’re in Iceland.
You can also find a quirky shower located at the side of the road towards Krafla I don’t know the exact purpose of this. other than the water is quite warm and nice but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking a shower.
Not too far from there, you can find the Krafla Viti crater with his own colorful crater lake that is very similar to the Kari crater found in the golden circle.
The Hverfjall crater is a 2000-year-old crater known as a Tuff Ring volcano and about 1km in diameter.
It’s connected to the very active Krafla volcanic system and you can climb the crater and walk around its rim to get a better look at it. It’s definitely one of the most impressive craters in Iceland.
There are many other attractions to visit while you’re in Iceland including the beautiful lava cave with its own geothermal hot spring.
The cave was famously featured in the game of Thrones and you might be tempted to take a dip into it, but that’s unfortunately strictly forbidden so I recommend not doing that and following the rules as the cave is on private land.
As we exit the Myvatn area the next stop is Godafoss. Godafoss has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
Its name is literally the waterfall of gods it was giving the name from folklore when the country was converted to Christianity with a prominent person foreign all of his statue of the Norse gods into the waterfall itself.
The next one is yet another of the Ring Roadside attraction but definitely one of the more personal favorites.
The Grafarkirkja is a small turf church and is parently the oldest one in Iceland. with the oldest account of the church being from around the Year 1240. It sat on a picturesque backdrop of a wide-open field and a mountain range is just a beautiful location.
As we move towards the northwestern part of Iceland, we make a quick stop at Hvitserkur.
Located on the beach and the base of the stack has been reinforced with concrete to protect its foundations from the sea.
As we head west, we enter a region known as the Westfjords. although the Westfjords aren’t technically a part of the Ring Road experience but it’s definitely considered more of a sidetrack adventure.
You rarely saw any tourists while driving around which really gave that sense of solitude that the area is known for.
The lovely hot pool was definitely one of the best things in Iceland. It’s located on the side of a gravel road, the water was scorching hot, but it was nice to have the place all to ourselves after a long day of driving.
There’s also a short and easy 4-kilometer hike to the waterfall ravine called Valagil.
While exploring the Westfjords you also don’t want to miss Dynjandi the biggest waterfall in Westfjords and considered the jewel of the Westfjords.
If you’re interested in abandoned ships then visit the Gardar BA 64 which is a ship that was stranded there since 1981.
If you thought that all the beaches in Iceland were black then you should go to visit Raudasandur beach. the name Raudasandur means red sand.
As we move out of the Westfjords then back on the rainbow we start to enter the Stephanus Peninsula, you can find several attractions but the most famous one is Kirkjufell known as the church mountain.
This 463-meter-tall mountain is one of the most photographed places in all of Iceland and you can see why as this place is absolutely stunning.
Not too far from Kirkjufell you also find this lovely church.
There’s also this Svortuloft lighthouse And the Gatklettur rock arch.
There’s also the (Budakirkja) Buddha Church a small and beautiful minimalistic Church.
These were some of the famous attractions of Iceland, but still, Iceland has much more to offer and to be told.
Here are 11 things you should not do while visiting Iceland
If you just want to get delicious, freshwater from the glacier some of the cleanest water on earth, just turn on the tap in your hotel at the airport in your hostel, if you’re visiting somebody at a campsite, the water is fresh and coming straight from the glaciers right into the taps.
So many people think that if there’s just open land, it just means maybe drive wherever they want. don’t do it just stay on the path, stay on the road.
There’s also a huge fine if you do drive off-road just because you don’t see the police though doesn’t mean that you might not get in trouble, people who are regular individuals just like you either visitors or people who live in the country are encouraged to let authorities know if you see someone driving off-road whether it’s through pictures or something else, whatever so don’t be that person who drives off-road.
Don’t ignore warning signs at geysers, waterfalls, black sand beaches, and glaciers or anywhere where there’s a warning sign in essence it’s there for your safety and there have been Pictures going around of people basically almost at the edge of a very strong waterfall or being swept out into the sea by strong waves on the black sand beach or falling into a crevasse on a glacier. don’t be that person it’s totally not worth it
Don’t look at a glacier without an experienced guide. people underestimate how dangerous they can be on a glacier and there’s a possibility of you falling through some thin ice or in a crevasse and getting seriously hurt or killed. also not wearing crampons on a glacier is pretty dumb because your shoes don’t have any type of grip that’s necessary for such an icy surface and you’re potentially setting yourself up to get pretty seriously injured.
Find an appropriate place to safely pull over if you want to take a picture preferably at a space that is for pulling over meaning that there’s a designated area, mainly because it’s all too often that you might think there’s nobody on the road and all of a sudden someone comes up out of nowhere and maybe they didn’t realize that you would stop and it hits.
If you’re driving a car and you’re so excited about seeing there in lights because its super dangerous of course to take your eyes off of the road and also the Northern Lights are visible when it’s really dark out so the darkness on top of you being potentially so focused on the Northern Lights is an extremely dangerous situation to put yourself in.
Is so infuriating you’re in this magically beautiful place and you’re leaving your crap behind don’t do it. whatever you bring with you take away with you any garbage that you accumulate while you’re in Iceland make sure you’re disposing of it in the appropriate bins but also don’t just leave it on the side of the road or if it does get caught up in the wind and it’s safe for you to retrieve it go and do that.
One of the things that surprised a lot of people about Iceland is that the Weather can be variable at any time of year. if you pack appropriate layers, then you’ll be prepared to don’t necessarily always have to wear all those things at the same time but having a perfect water-resistant jacket and pants with you in the car that you’re driving or in your backpack.
It is Iceland’s only city and there are cool things to do downtown and in the surrounding metropolitan area but I know that once you go out of the city and explore all of the gorgeous nature that’s available. Iceland will definitely capture your heart.
Don’t cross rivers whether it’s on foot or in a car if you really can’t read the river and you have no idea.
more likely you’re in a rental car if you’re gonna be doing that and if you damage there in the car meaning like a flood the motor or whatever you’re gonna be paying basically for a new car for the rental company your insurance will not cover that so don’t take the chance it’s better to get an experienced driver it’s also better to make sure that you have a car that’s equipped for crossing rivers.
don’t set up your tent or park your campervan wherever you want just because you think that’s a good spot rather look for designated camping sites or at least know where those camping sites are located so you can park safely and/or set up your tent in a place where you’re supposed to actually camp.
If comfort is the most important thing for you, then go with hotels they’re by far the most comfortable to stay you can get ask for the downsides other than a high cost you might find check-in times to be restrictive especially if arrived late at night so you may have to adapt your schedules accordingly.
Hostels or guest houses are a more affordable option but sacrifices some of the comforts, you’ll get from a regular hotel except shared bathrooms, kitchens in some instances sharing rooms with other travelers depending on your accommodation choices.
Finally, campgrounds by far the most budget-friendly option, and ideal if you’re going with a campervan or bringing your own tent.
since while camping in Iceland is illegal it can be the least comfortable option depending on the person, but what I like most about campgrounds is that you can arrive at any time, so if you arrive late at night and you find a reception to be closed just find a free spot stay for the night and make sure to pay the fee the next morning.
The price ring is between 1,500 and 3,000 Krona’s per person for a night. you can search for campgrounds on www. tjalda.is or search for one on Google Maps which I did several times when I was on the road.
Kjötsupa, an Icelandic lamb soup, is a traditional recipe that optimizes the flavors of root vegetables including carrots, rutabagas, and potatoes.
Plokkfiskur is one of the foods Icelanders grows up with and kids love it too.
It served in preschools and for lunch at schools, and foreign visitors can order fancy versions at most better Reykjavík fish restaurant
The Icelandic “Hardfiskur” or dried fish has been very popular with Icelanders throughout the centuries.
Providing Icelanders with a healthy snack that’s full of protein and nutrients. The Icelandic fishing grounds are also without a doubt among the purest in the world.
Pylsur is no exception to the rule here. The Hot Dog. Where Pylsur is indeed an exception, however, is in its composition.
Whereas most hot dogs would contain only random cuts of pork and/or beef, a true Icelandic Pylsur not only requires both, but it will add in a bit of its world-famous lamb into the mix.
Skyr is an Icelandic cultured dairy product. It has the consistency of Greek yogurt, but a milder flavor.
Skyr can be classified as a fresh sour milk cheese (similar to curd cheese eaten in Germany and Russia) but is consumed like a yogurt.
Is a traditional Icelandic dish consisting of a sheep’s head cut in half, singed to remove the fur, and boiled with the brain removed, sometimes cured in lactic acid.
Svið originally arose at a time when people could not afford to let any part of a slaughtered animal go to waste.
Is an Icelandic straight rye bread. It is traditionally baked in a pot or steamed in special wooden casks by burying it in the ground near a hot spring, in which case it is known as hverabrauð or “hot-spring-bread”.
Flatkaka is soft, round, thin, and dark with a characteristic pattern from the pan.
Traditionally, Flatkaka was baked on hot stones or straight on the embers of the fire, later on, small but heavy cast iron frying pans.
If you are interested in Icelandic food, you can check out the following article for more information:
Recommended Read: The Kavey Eats Guide to Icelandic Food
If you want to go away over a weekend you need to leave the destination blank then you need to click on flexible dates, then on weekends, go back to the map, zoom in on Iceland, and it will show you the cheapest dates across a weekend.
If you need to rent a car, then you can use a comparison site like the Icelandic website called Northbound and they were consistently cheaper.
Making a meal plan and then a shopping list and make sure you stick to it.
This is a controversial one but if you want to save money don’t go to the Blue Lagoon. There are so many geothermal pools that are cheaper or even free, and remember wherever you go to take your own towel with you because some of the places charge you for that.
Book a check-in bag. I know it’s an initial hit of money but seriously what you’re going spear to pack into that bag will save you lots of money in the long run, and if you’re traveling with someone else you can share.
Go in your kitchen before you leave and pack a box full of the basics. Also, use mini pots for things like salt, pepper, spices, washing-up liquid, oil, this will save you so much money.
Take a thermos with you, if it’s called you are going to be wanting some hot drinks to warm you up and they could cost you 4 pounds, several times a day.
When deciding on a hotel VS a guesthouse always goes for the guesthouse. The hotels in Iceland are pretty minimalistic anyway, so you’re not really going to be losing that much on style whilst they may be more basic. They have great facilities including a kitchen.
Make sure you book a guesthouse with the kitchen and that will save so much money by being able to cook your own meals.
Don’t forget Airbnb, there’s a lot of guesthouses on Airbnb too but my tip would be to always google them independently because you can only get them cheaper by booking them directly rather than through a third party.
If your parking at the tourist attraction lots of people who are just leaving as their parking ticket may still be valid you can just take it off them and put it on your own thing.
If you are a Costco member make sure you take your car because there is one in Reykjavik just 15 minutes outside and it’s just easily the cheapest place that you are going to get petrol on the entire country.
If you don’t have a membership don’t worry there’s another petrol station just up the road which is the second cheapest.
If your flight is getting in the late afternoon or in the evening you will probably find that you can’t find Bonus open, then you can go and shop at Netto or Kronan instead you will save more money by doing that than going out for dinner and waiting the next days to go to Bonus.
Before you travel you must have to check the travel restrictions to Iceland To have an idea before you go.
Check Out the sources below:
The best time to see Northern Lights is September through March. There’s an app called Aurora Forecast that you can track the Northern Lights on for your stay and that’ll give you a good idea of when you can come and see them
If you have a long trip you should take the tour operators. but if you’re gonna be in Iceland for 4 or 5 days longer definitely rent a car because that’s how you’re gonna see so much of the country.
The food is so expensive in Iceland. If you’ll want to go out for dinner I would say at least $50 per person. It is an island made out of kind of ice so they don’t have a lot of their own food. they do have greenhouses but they just import a lot.
Many people ask what shoes people should wear when they come to places and Iceland especially freaks people out, so pack two pairs and pack things that are gonna be a bit more waterproof and warm socks.
First of all, the flights are always pretty cheap, and the hotels aren’t crazy. Flights and the hotel are never your problems, then the ways to save your money bring your own food, buy it at the bonus which is the grocery store. the sights like the waterfalls all those things are free you can go to cheaper pools and much more free sights.
The easiest day trips from Reykjavik it’s gonna be the Golden Circle into the glacier. if you wanting up to the western fjords it’s gonna be south coast tours. so those are gonna be a three that you can do really easily.
No, not difficult, but you have to be VERY CAREFUL because the roads are not as good as the motorways of bigger countries. You should really inform yourself beforehand and not discard the advice of rental agencies.
No – no such animals can be found in Iceland. You can enjoy not having to worry. The worst I can think of are some bird species like the arctic tern or the great skua which don’t like people around their eggs or
young ones 🙂
Iceland has the best water in the world.
You can drink from the tabs anywhere, in homes, hotels, etc. And if you see a stream you can usually drink directly from it too.
Some things are definitely expensive but if you plan well ahead, you can really save yourself some money!
There are ways to remain within your budget, you just have to know
them. Just remember that a trip to Iceland isn’t about heavy mass tourism
where things often come cheaper.