[3 MIN READ]
I wrote an article about why Iceland should not be on people’s bucket list if it’s not geographically convenient for them to reach the land of fire and ice. Being there for a week, I also learned things that I really wish someone had told me before I spent almost 24 hours to get there, and naturally, I thought it would be helpful to share with you fellow travelers who are planning to visit. They are things like general information about the weather to some really specific things about the car rentals.
HELPFUL THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE PACKING FOR ICELAND:
- Do guided tours like glacier walk/ hike first because they are operating on a time schedule. For attractions like waterfalls, lava crater, black sand beach, glacier lagoon, you can pretty much go anytime by yourself. They won’t shut down. Especially if you go during the summer, daylight is pretty much 24 hours so you’d still be able to take decent pictures at night
- It rains a lot, and by a lot, I mean all the time. Some raincoats or umbrellas will come in handy. Even during the summer, it is very cold, prepare warm winter clothings so you won’t freeze like I did
- Try to move hotels. A lot of the attractions are located quite far from each other and you’d get a better and much more relaxing experience if you switch hotels when you’re going to different parts of Iceland. I stayed at the Golden Circle area for the entire trip but wished I was staying for at least a couple days in the southern area. I thought it was the most beautiful region on the island
- It’s expensive. I’d heard this plenty times about Iceland and the Northern Europe regions, but I didn’t know how much. Just to give you an idea, a mediocre lunch will cost you around USD 35 – USD 45 per person. If you’re dining somewhere fancier, it could easily cost you double that. We cooked a lot of steaks and pasta on some days, but even groceries were expensive. Rough calculations, buying grocery and eating in will cost you about USD 20 – USD 25 per meal, but at least you get steaks
- Their meat of the day/ soup of the day will most likely consist of lamb. I’m not against lamb, but you know how lamb has that strong smell not everyone will love?
- Although a part of the Schengen country, the currency is Icelandic Króna (ISK) and not Euro. This is not really a problem because you won’t really see a place where they accept only cash. It’s not like New York City where you can buy hotdogs or pretzels from food trucks. We used credit cards all the time when we were there
- It’s a huge island country, but it’s just land. Everywhere you turn, you see huge vacant land. It’s beautiful in a way, but again, it’s just land
- According to Iceland Travel, there are 800 hot springs and 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. I made a mistake of trying to see every supposedly famous/ beautiful waterfall in the country and that took up a lot of time and made it boring. Pick a maximum of 4 waterfalls and even that would already be too much
- Do research on the routes to your destinations. There are areas in Iceland you can’t reach in a regular AWD car like Landmannalaugar for example, where you’d need a big 4WD. I didn’t go to the eastern part but I heard there are sandstorms that could damage the paints in the car (that regular insurance won’t cover). So always get full insurance coverage to avoid problems. GPS will come in handy too when you don’t get signals from Google Maps (happened quite often to us back then)
- Plan ahead. Some people like to be spontaneous and go with the flow when it comes to traveling and I like to do that too sometimes. But for a place this far, I don’t think it’s wise to go with the flow. Most of the attractions are located far from each other, so plan your itinerary based on the regions and make sure you have enough time to explore them
I think that’s pretty much it. Enjoy Iceland, and I hope you’ll like it more than I do =)