Are you planning a trip to Iceland? Check out these helpful Iceland travel tips to help you get ready for an amazing trip. From finding a home base to maximizing your chance of seeing Northern Lights, and how to save money on food, you won’t find these in many Iceland guides. Pack your bags and head over to Iceland for an adventure of a lifetime!
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1. Road Trip or Reykjavik?
Before you head to Iceland, decide what type of trip to Iceland you would like. In the winter season, most people stay in Reykjavik for 3 to 4 days and take day trips out of town. In the summer, many travelers drive the Ring Road and stay in hotels on the road. However, even if you are visiting in the summer for just a few days, a base in Reykjavik is probably your best bet.
If you decided to drive the Ring Road, check out: “Ring road in 6 days, a comprehensive guide.”
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 most companies will give you a chance to go the next night and the next free of charge.
3. Before you rent a car, read the reviews!
Always check out online reviews for car rental car companies in Iceland. Some companies in Iceland are shady and will charge you for damage you didn’t cause. The internet is full of travelers who spend thousands on paying for car repair because they didn’t read the reviews. This is an Iceland travel tip that can save you a lot!
4. Don’t skimp on insurance
If you are driving in Iceland, gravel insurance is a must. Gravel roads are everywhere, and almost everyone gets a dint in their car. Car rental companies in Iceland examine the cars very closely and try to find even the smallest damage. Double-check to make sure the policy you get covers the windshield too.
5. Dine during happy hour to save major dough
Reykjavik is expensive. However, every bar in town offers happy hour specials. From 4 pm to 6 pm, certain food and drinks are only half price. If you are looking to save, eat during happy hour.
6. Read the airline’s fine print
Before you book a flight to Iceland read, the fine print. Many airlines to Iceland offer basic economy fairs that do not include a carry-on. This means you might have to pay more for even a small bag. Know the policies so you can compare apples to apples when you book your flight to Iceland.
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 in Iceland feature small restaurants. The food at the stations is fresh, cheap and good. If you are driving around Iceland, it’s the best way to keep yourself fueled.
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. It’s all included in the price.
10. Maybe skip Blue Lagoon altogether
11. Bring warm clothes
Even if you are traveling in the summer, bundle up. Weather changes quickly and without warning. A hat, gloves and a jacket are a must – even in the summer.
12. Hiking shoes are a must
Even if you are not planning on hiking, 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. Wear good hiking shoes!
13. You don’t need a car in the winter
If you are staying in Reykjavik, save yourself the money and the hassle of a car rental, and take day trips with tour companies instead.
- Check out best group tours to Iceland
14. Camping is an inexpensive way to travel in Iceland
If you are comfortable with camping, bring your equipment. 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.
15. Do the golden circle first
If you are doing the road trip, do the golden circle first. It’s just not very impressive compared to all the other incredible things you’ll see.
16. 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
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. Drink the water
Iceland’s water is clean and tasty – bring your own water bottle and fill it up in gas stations and stores.
20. You don’t need 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.
21. Follow the tunnel rules
Ever seen 2-way tunnels with only one lane? You will in Iceland. Drivers take turns letting each other pass. Be nice and play by the rules.
22. 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!
23. 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.
24. Get a Lopapeysa
The iconic Icelandic sweaters are perfect for Iceland – no matter the time of the year. They make a great
25. 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 in their farmhouse or they will send you to the village bed and breakfast.
26. Bonus Iceland travel tip: Behave yourself
In the summer, Iceland’s population swells to more than twice its winter 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.