2019 has so far been a year of travel and I am LOVING every second of it! In March, Jordan and I took our first big trip of the year and finally visited beautiful Iceland.
If I’m honest, I’d always been put off going on a ‘cold’ holiday, and this trip was definitely more Jordan’s choice than mine. Nonetheless, I was completely proven wrong and I wouldn’t hesitate to get my snow boots back on and visit another cold country soon.
There was something about Iceland that completely captivated me. It is like no country I’ve every visited (on the drive from the airport to our cabin I couldn’t stop squealing “I feel like I’m living in a water bottle label!”) and if you go to the right places, Iceland offers a total sense of serenity that has to be experienced to be believed.
I got TOTALLY carried away writing this post and quickly realised that I was going to have to split it into two posts, so stay tuned for my ultimate 4 day itinerary for a holiday in Iceland, which will be coming soon!
Today however, I’m sharing my top tips for travelling to Iceland, so keep scrolling to read everything I learned about visiting this incredible country.
Currency: Icelandic Króna, however cards are widely accepted.
Language: Icelandic, although you will find that most people speak English. I would usually suggest learning some basic phrases out of courtesy (especially because the locals are so polite and friendly) but Icelandic was exceptionally difficult to read and pronounce, so stick to English if you’re not sure.
Getting there: There is a common misconception that Iceland is far away but you can actually expect to get from London Gatwick to Keflavík (the main airport in Iceland) in just over 3 hours! If you can, fly with Icelandair – we were very impressed by their planes for a short haul flight.
Getting around: Although you will find tours aplenty in Iceland, I would highly recommend hiring a car and finding your own routes around. You’ll find more on this below.
Where to Stay: We stayed in a lovely cabin just outside Selfoss, which suited us perfectly. Again, I’ve included some more details on why we chose Selfoss below.
You will find so many tours and excursions available in Iceland but I would HIGHLY recommend hiring a car and finding your own way around. It will give you so much more freedom and, as you will quickly realise once you’ve visited Iceland, there are SO many photo opportunities available that you won’t be able to resists pulling over to take in the scenery. We hired our car from Geysir and we experienced no problems. Although the main roads are relatively clear, you can expect snowy driving conditions on some of the smaller roads during the winter, so I would recommend hiring a 4×4 if possible, and make sure that your hire car has winter tyres.
This goes without saying for any new country you visit, but do your research! We based our itinerary each day on some of the biggest sights in Iceland, but then spent a generous amount of time googling to find any lesser-know sights to stop at along our route, which ended up being some of the trip highlights for us. Icelanders are very proud to show off the hidden gems of their country, so look for blogs specifically written by Icelanders to find some sights that you might not have considered.
From what I’ve researched, there doesn’t seem to be a bad time of year to visit Iceland, however to be in with the best chance of catching the Northern Lights, visit between September to March. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see them during your trip (I naively thought they would be much more common to see than they actually were), however the Northern Lights truly were a magical sight to see and I would DEFINITELY recommend that you try to view them at least once in your life.
One of the things you will hear most when you tell people you are visiting Iceland is how expensive this country is, and they’re not wrong – Iceland is relatively pricey compared to most other European countries. Don’t let this put you off, however. Iceland is perfectly doable on a budget, just be prepared to be a little strict with your spending. My biggest recommendation would be to choose accommodation which allows you to self-cater. We cooked for ourselves or packed lunch supplies in the car for almost every meal, which really kept costs down.
Iceland was, for us, the ultimate place for an adventure BUT that shouldn’t stop you from being cautious where necessary. Be respectful of any roads or paths that have been closed off due to dangerous conditions, take care when driving in snow or ice and always have emergency road assistance numbers to hand just in case you need them.
We chose to stay in Selfoss (around 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik) and I think it was one of the best decisions we made for this trip. Although a very pretty city, Reykjavik definitely wasn’t our favourite place that we visited (it is also very expensive) and Selfoss was much more centrally located for the other parts of Iceland that we travelled to. Our cabin was conveniently located close to route 1, the main ring road around Iceland, and it provided a beautiful, secluded and cosy place to relax between our busy days of exploring.
Of all the pairs of shoes that I own, I never thought that it would be a pair of winter snow boots that would steal my heart but I am SO glad that I invested in these before our trip. My snow boots were the only pair of shoes that I packed (this is officially the only holiday we’ve been on where Jordan has taken more pairs of shoes than me!) but they kept my feet warm and dry all holiday so I would definitely recommend!