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Darryl and I have just returned from a four-day trip to Iceland, the land of fire and ice, and I’ve been dying to get my first post live!
We booked this trip last April so had plenty of time to plan and prepare, and now having been, we have learned so much more about this country and how incredible it really is.
Are you planning on going yourself? If not, you should be! Read on to discover all there is to know about planning the perfect holiday to Iceland.
See more: Iceland Travel Vlog
Things to know about Iceland
Where is Iceland: Iceland is a Nordic island country north-west of the UK and east of Greenland. From London, the flight takes between 2.5 – 3 hours. Its capital is Reykjavik in the west, which is about 40-minutes from Keflavik Airport.
Icelandic currency: the national currency is the Icelandic Krona. At the time of publishing, 1 GBP equals approximately 160 ISK.
Tipping in Iceland: 10% is about average, however most bills include service charge.
What you’ll spend in Iceland: everything is more expensive than the UK, but there are way to do things cheaper if you do your research and sacrifice luxuries.
The weather in Iceland: it can be glorious sunshine one minute and a snowstorm the next, so keep your wits about you when exploring.
The language in Iceland: the locals speak Icelandic, but almost everyone speaks excellent English. Some also speak Nordic languages and German.
Seeing the Northern Lights: Iceland is a great place to go aurora hunting. It can be very hit or miss getting to see them though, so I’ll be doing a post soon to help you increase your chances of spotting them.
The land of fire and ice: Iceland is nicknamed this as it is home to volcanoes and glaciers, amongst many other natural wonders such as waterfalls, geysers and geothermal lagoons. It also experiences earthquakes as it’s home to a UNESCo site, Þingvellir National Park, which has a visible meeting point of two tectonic plates.
Viking ties in Iceland: many many years ago Iceland was settled by Vikings from Norway. There is even a sculpture in Reykjavik called The Sun Voyager which resembles a Viking ship.
Driving in Iceland: it’s perfectly easy to drive around Iceland, just be wary of sporadic weather changes. And remember that they drive on the right-hand side!
Iceland’s laws and regulations: there are some watertight laws in Iceland, such as it being illegal to pull over on a main F road, so check these out before you go to be on the safe side.
Icelandic wildlife: you’ve heard of the Icelandic horses no doubt, but Iceland is also known for its puffins and whales in the summer months. We also spotted a seal in a glacier lagoon during our trip.
When to visit Iceland
Iceland has the same seasons as the UK, however is known for its long harsh winters. Each season offers a totally different landscape, so personally I’d like to try out the country in every season!
When you go also depends on whether or not you want to see the Northern Lights. The best time to see them is between September and April.
Where to stay in Iceland
If you’re only there for a few days I’d recommend staying in Reykjavik, where there are a ton of hotels, Airbnbs and guest houses. If you plan to go for longer, you could book a few different places as part of a wider road trip.
We opted for an Airbnb in Reykjavik, as everything we planned to do over the four days was within a few hours drive of the country’s capital. This worked well for us as we were leaving the room before dawn and arriving back in the middle of the night.
Top things to do in Iceland
The below suggestions are perfectly doable in a trip as little as four days (if you’re prepared to sacrifice some sleep!).
- Reykjavik town (home to The Sun Voyager and Hallgrímskirkja Church)
- Blue Lagoon (40 minutes south west of Reykjavik)
- Golden Circle (6 hour round trip east of Reykjavik)
- Snæfellsnes National Park (3 hours north of Reykjavik)
- Solheimasandur Plane Wreck (2 hours south east of Reykjavik)
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (2.5 hours south east of Reykjavik)
- Vik (2.5 hours south east of Reykjavik)
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach (5 hours south east of Reykjavik)
Have a read of my itinerary to see more on this!
Getting to and from Iceland Keflavik Airport
You can get a Flybus into Reykjavik for about £19 each, or you can rent a car. We did the latter which was perfect for the amount of exploring we planned to do.
The drive from Keflavik Airport into Reykjavik is approximately 40-minutes and it absolutely beautiful. Their roads are also pretty straightforward (and bizarrely quiet) so its easy enough to get to grips with your rental car if that’s what option you choose.
How to get around Iceland
As I mentioned, hiring a car is the best way to get around. You can book tours for peace of mind but this will add up to significantly more than hiring a car.
That said it can be dangerous, so weigh up whether or not you feel safe driving in potentially bad weather. We decided to drive what we could, and book tours for the longer journeys.
Read more: 8 Tips for Driving in Iceland
What to pack for Iceland
Even if you only go for a few days, you’ll need to be sensible with your packing to prepare for all weathers. Key items should include:
- Normal clothes to go over thermals
- Hat, scarf and gloves
- Waterproof coat (thick if you go in winter)
- Walking/hiking boots
- Swimwear for the thermal lagoons
- Camera and charger
- Hard drive (to backup your photos on the go)
- Tripod (if you plan to photograph the Northern Lights)
- Phone and charger (use Google My Places to get around)
- Portable phone charger (as you phone will quickly die in the cold)
- Your driving licence (for car hire), plus the card you paid with
- Currency and bank cards (as not everywhere will take cash)
- Snacks (as Iceland is expensive)
- Refillable water bottle (as you can drink from the taps)
- European adapters
What we spent in Iceland
Iceland is notoriously expensive, and even doing everything on the cheap added up to a pretty expensive short break. Here’s what we spent on our four-day trip to Iceland:
- £331 return Easyjet flights from London Luton Airport (this includes a £60 fee to change our flights to an earlier departure and one hold bag)
- £30 airport parking
- £306 Airbnb
- £135 currency (to cover food and any park entry fees)
- £369 car hire (a 4×4 with Platinum insurance to be on the safe side)
- £150 Blue Lagoon entry
- £127 Reykjavik Excursions Small Group Northern Lights Tour* (3 hours)
- £254 Reykjavik Excursions Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon Tour* (15 hours)
- £136 additional fees on card (including food and fuel)
Total trip cost: £1,838 / £919 per person (£229.75 per day)
Reykjavik Excursions gifted us these two trips in exchange for an honest review, however I have included the costs in the above total spend to represent a realistic spend.
So as you can see Iceland is a bit pricey – and yes it can be daunting because of the unpredictable weather conditions – but it is without a doubt the most spectacular place I’ve ever visited. You need to add it to your bucket list right now!
See more posts on Iceland.
Have you been to Iceland before? Would you like to go?