1. Book everything ahead of time.
Unfortunately, Iceland is not one of those places where you can just “wing” it, especially if you’re only going for a long weekend like we did. The Blue lagoon sells out & excursions book up quickly. For example, I went online about 2 weeks ahead to purchase our Blue Lagoon tickets and every single day except one was sold out. I was shocked! We also booked FlyBus to/from the airport ahead of time so we didn’t have to waste any time buying tickets once there.
Travel Tip: If you’re there for a 24 hour or less layover, I would recommend just renting a car and doing your own tour. It will be cheaper, easier & more flexible. You can squeeze a lot into 1 day if you’re your own driver.
2. It’s expensive. Like, insanely expensive.
The only other place I’ve ever been to that even compares is Zurich, Switzerland where we paid over $50 for a B. Good salad & sandwich. Iceland is, well, and island so things are understandably priced higher than anywhere in the U.S. Food, drink, hotels, excursions – you name it, it’s expensive. I remember drinking a 12 oz Heineken Light at happy hour for “half off drinks” and my beer was $9. Yup, you read that right – that’s almost $20 for a can of beer. As long as you do your homework and you’re mentally prepared for this, you’ll be fine.
Travel Tip: Make sure you book a hotel with breakfast (most of them include it) to save!
3. Bring your own booze & snacks.
For risk of sounding like the biggest cheapass on the planet, let me explain…so given tip #2, you’ll want to pack a variety of snacks to save money during flights and excursions. (The excursions last 8+ hours so trust me when I say, you’ll get hungry!) Also, bring water bottles to refill instead of buying bottles of water.
Travel Tip: You can buy booze & snacks duty-free at the Keflavik Airport as you arrive.
4. Pack layers.
Trust me on this one. You can read my post HERE regarding what to pack.
5. The wildlife is so different
Yes, this is kind of a random fact; however, I couldn’t stop talking about it! It’s one of those bizarre things that we noticed a few hours in…where are the birds? Does nobody here have pets? Am I in the twilight zone? Haha. Our tour guide from our Golden Circle Tour told us that in all of Iceland, there are no snakes or scorpions. There are minimal animals and very few native ones. All we saw were Icelandic horses and a few sheep. Believe it or not, I only saw 2 dogs the whole time I was there…two! We weren’t sure if that was because it was mostly raining or if people just don’t have as many house pets.
6. It’s not all snow
After all, this is the “land of fire and ice”. We were interested to find that although much of the land is desolate and covered by ice or rock, there are over 600 types of moss in Iceland. The moss (and the grass) cover a vast majority of the land and is insanely lush and vibrant shades of green. The water is unbelievably blue. The color are truly out of this world. It’s one of the many lures of Iceland
Travel Tip: Take many, many pictures. You won’t even need filters as the colors are beautifully saturated on their own.
7. Everyone speaks English
Maybe not a surprise to most, but it’s helpful to know. Language barriers can add an additional level of stress to travel so rest assured that you will have no problem getting around or communicating with the locals.
8. Drink all of the water
Literally. Bring a water bottle to fill up – don’t be a sucker and buy bottled water. The water everywhere is glacier fresh and ice cold – hotel sinks, water fountains, bar dispensers, you name it. This is not only a huge cost saver but their natural water is seriously the best of all!
9. Get ready to walk
In a good way! Bring shoes that are warm, comfortable & waterproof – no matter the season. We walked over 16,000 steps on day 1, over 11,000 steps on day 2. There were a lot of stairs & a lot of climbing. We felt great and exhausted at the end of each day.
10. Come with a plan
If I could give one main piece of advice when visiting Iceland, it’s to make a plan (as I mentioned in #1, #2, #3 & #9!) There’s a lot to be prepared for – the weather, the food, the cost, etc. The list goes on and on so it’s really just best to do as much research as possible. This way, you will enjoy your trip much more!
I hope this post helped any of you planning an Iceland trip – I cannot recommend this beautiful country enough. Feel free to email me with any questions!