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Iceland Travel Tips – 25 Things to Know Before You Go

Are you planning a trip to Iceland? My favorite Iceland travel tips will help you get ready for an amazing trip. These are the 25 things to know before you go to Iceland.

1. Road Trip or Reykjavik?

First, decide what type of trip to Iceland do you want? In the winter season, most people stay in Reykjavik for 3 to 4 days and take day trips. In the summer, many travelers drive the ring road and sleep along the way. Parts of the ring road are closed in the winter.

2. Maximize your chances of seeing the Northern Lights

If you are staying in Reykjavik in the winter, book the northern lights tour for the first night of your arrival. If the weather is inclement you’ll get a chance to go the next night and the next free of charge. Northern lights can be hard to capture, learn more about how to photograph Northern Lights.

how to increase your chances of seeing the northern lights - Iceland travel tips
The Nothern Lights in Iceland – creative commons – Diana Robinson – Olafsvik, Snaefellsnesog Hnappadalssysla, Iceland
3. Read the reviews!

Always check out online reviews for car rental car companies in Iceland. Some companies can be shady. This is an Iceland travel tip that can save you a lot!

4. Get Auto Insurance.

If you rent a car get the gravel insurance. The roads are full of gravel, and you are almost certain to get some minor dings. Make sure your windshield is also covered.

5. Save Money at Happy Hour:

Reykjavik is expensive. At happy hour (4 to 6) drinks and food are half prices.

iceland harpo building - travel tips for iceland
Reykjavik center, the Harpa building – creative commons – Thomas James Caldwell
6. Read the Airline Fine Print:

When you book your flight to Iceland read the fine print. Many airlines to Iceland do not include a carry on or a checked bag in your ticket. This means you might have to pay more for even a small bag

7. Pay for Your Bags Online:

If you purchase basic economy fare, paying for your bag online is significantly cheaper than doing so at the airport.

8. Eat at gas stations:

Many gas stations host small restaurants. The food at gas stations is fresh, cheap and good. Its the best way to keep get yourself fueled while you are on the road.

9. Reserve the Blue Lagoon Early:

Book Blue Lagoon tickets at least a month in advance. If you are short on time, book the shuttle to take you from the airport to Blue Lagoon and afterward to your hotel.

Iceland, blue lagoon - travel tips to Iceland
The Blue Lagoon
10. Bring warm clothes

Even if you are travelling in the summer, bundle up. Weather changes quickly and without warning. A hat, gloves and a jacket are a must – even in the summer.

11. Campgrounds are plentiful

If you are comfortable with camping bring a tent. You can sleep virtually anywhere – most hotels and many private homes offer their grounds as camping sites. The cost is usually about $10. If there is no campground nearby you can camp anywhere.

Iceland travel tips - the green Iceland
Iceland is much more green than you would expect. Creative Commons – Chris Goldberg – Vik, Vestur-Skaftafellssysla, Iceland
12. Do the golden circle first

If you are doing the road trip, do the golden circle first. Its just not very impressive compared to all the other incredible things you’ll see.

13. Maybe skip the golden circle

If you are pressed for time and are doing the ring road, don’t bother with the golden circle. Compared to the other sites on the ring road its just ok.

14. Budget well

Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. A Very low budget trip will run about $1000 a person for a week.

15. Get ready for hitchhikers

Hitchhiking in Iceland is very common. Feel free to pick up passengers – or try it yourself for an ultimate budget trip.

16. Drink the Water

Iceland’s water is clean and tasty – bring your own water bottle and fill it up in gas stations and stores.

Iceland Travel tips - where to stay in Iceland
Diamond Beach. Creative Commons – Fred Mancosu – Auster-Skaftafellssysla, Iceland
17. You don’t need much cash

Almost all merchants take credit cards. If you need some cash with you get it at an ATM machine – even with bank fees its cheaper than exchange rates.

18. Follow the tunnel rules

Ever seen 2 way tunnels with 1 lane? You will in Iceland. Drivers take turns letting each other pass. Be nice and play by the rules.

19. Do not speed – especially in the tunnels

Tunnels are equipped with speeding cameras. If you see a flash – you just got a free picture. The ticket will come in the mail in about 3 weeks. Be careful!

20. Beware of the dark

If you are visiting in the winter you’ll only get a few hours of daylight per day. This can be exhausting and depressing if you are not used to the environment. Get yourself ready.

21. Get a Lopapeysa

The iconic Icelandic sweaters are perfect for Iceland – no matter the time of the year. They make a great sourvenir too.

22. Bring a rainjacket

In addition to a warmer coat, grab a rain jacket with you. These are perfect if you want to get close to waterfalls.

iceland travel tips - arnesysla, iceland
In Iceland, you will find beautiful waterfalls and stunning views. Creative Commons – Gordon Shukwit – Arnessysla, Iceland
23. Hiking shoes are a must

Do not skimp on your shoes. Iceland is wet, and the rocks are very slippery. The last thing you want is to find yourself at the wrong end of a waterfall.

24. Just knock

If you really need shelter for the night just knock on someone’s door. Iceland is very safe and many people will let you sleep at their farmhouse or they will refer you to the village bed and breakfast.

25. You don’t need a car in the winter

If you are staying in Reykjavik, save yourself the money and the hassle and take day trips with tour companies instead.

26. Bonus Iceland Travel Tip: Behave yourself

In the summer, Iceland’s population swells to double its year-round size. As you can imagine, not all tourists behave themselves. Be kind, considerate and respectful and the local people will be glad to welcome you.

pingvellir national park, iceland travel tips
Pingvellir national park – creative commons – Mark Mason

I hope you have enjoyed these Iceland travel tips! Don’t forget to share on social! Thank you for reading and see you on the road –

Viktoria aka Travel Tipster.

Travel tips and budget ideas for Iceland. Includes things to bring in the #winter and in the #summer, how to save money, what famous attractions you can skip - and more. #iceland#traveltips#attractions#budget
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  • Avatar
    Kanika Bakshi
    September 3, 2019 at 1:37 am

    All the tips that you have mentioned in your blog are very helpful and useful I didn’t know that Iceland is such a beautiful place but after reading I want to visit this place with my friends. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

    • TravelTipster
      September 3, 2019 at 7:02 am

      Glad to hear that! Hope you have a chance to visit soon!

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