Do you dream about a trip to Iceland? The country’s otherworldly landscapes, friendly people, and the northern lights make Iceland high on many of our “must-see” lists. Understanding your hopes for the trip and what kind of travel experience you want will make this truly a trip of a lifetime. Here are the answers to eleven frequently asked questions about visiting Iceland.
When should I visit Iceland? First, what do you want to see, and what do you want to do? Each season is unique in Iceland, so your list of must-see or must-do activities will dictate when you travel. Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing (chasing the northern lights or hiking into a lava tube)? Start planning with that activity in mind.
How far in advance should I book a trip to Iceland? Plan early! Summer is busy and nice accommodations, high quality tours, and popular activities fill up fast. Some areas have a limited number of places to stay, so booking 6-12 months in advance is smart. April and May and October and November are a less busy and more affordable time to visit.
How do I see the northern lights? Seeing the northern lights depends on many different factors and is almost impossible to predict. If you travel to Iceland between September and March, there is a good chance you’ll see the Northern Lights, but there’s no guarantee.
Is Iceland good for all ages and abilities? A visit to Iceland is an active vacation with a lot of time spent outdoors. The personalities, ages, and fitness level of your group members will limit the types of activities available to the group. Word to the wise, make sure you have the hard conversations before you book a trip. Is everyone really up for traveling long distances by car or fit enough to keep up on an active vacation?
Is Iceland expensive? Yes, Iceland is expensive. However, it’s possible to visit Iceland with a wide range of budgets, but the amount you spend will determine how you experience each location. Accommodations, transportation, and guides range from 5-star luxury to options suitable for backpackers. Midrange budgets can mix and match, for example, paying more for high-quality guides while saving at less expensive accommodations or renting a camper van.
What should I pack for a trip to Iceland? Wear layers and bring a waterproof outer layer. The weather fluctuates from day-to-day and even summer days get cold, windy, and wet. Pack hats, gloves, and scarves even for a summer visit and light hiking boots and good (warm) hiking socks are well worth space in your luggage.Tip: Bring an eye mask and melatonin (check with your doctor) to help with sleep during a summer visit. Between mid-May to mid-August, the sun sets for about 3 hours per day, so it is effectively light for the whole 24-hour period.
Should I visit the Blue Lagoon? It comes down to personal preference and if you like the idea of sharing a hot, mineral-rich pool with a lot of people. The Blue Lagoon is so popular guests are required to purchase timed admission tickets. Our recommendation, plan to go on the morning your arrive because the spa is close to the airport and, in the summer, it opens at 7:00 am. It is a perfect way to rinse off jet lag and kill some time until you check-in to your hotel. As an alternative, make an early morning reservation and stop by on your way home.
What’s the food like in Iceland? Adventurous foodies will love Iceland! The country is famous for its lamb and seafood, and chefs in Iceland do amazing things with fresh local ingredients. Meat or fish take center stage in most traditional dishes, but many restaurants also have vegetarian or vegan options. The water is safe and delicious! Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up everywhere you go.
How do I get around? The best way to see Iceland is to drive. Driving in Iceland is easy, but be mindful of the distances between locations and road closures because of the weather, one-lane bridges on the country’s ring road, and areas requiring a 4-wheeled drive. (Seriously, you will find yourself in trouble, with no cell phone coverage or another human for miles, if you ignore the warnings.) Plan to spend one or two nights in three or four locations to really experience Iceland. Tip: You’ll see traffic cameras everywhere as a deterrent to prevent speeding. Be warned, speed, and you’ll receive a ticket in the mail with an added penalty from the car rental company.
Do I need to plan out my trip or can I just “wing it?” Do some planning, but give yourself time to explore and enjoy stops along the way. Some locations get overrun with tourists, like Seljalandsfoss waterfall or Reynisfjara Beach. Visit early in the day before the tour buses arrive. Otherwise, you’ll enjoy the view with hundreds of other people. Keep in mind that some activities fill up during the summer months, so book ahead if something is on a must-see/must-do list. How do I plan an amazing trip to Iceland? Planning a trip of lifetime is. a lot of work. Hire a professional travel advisor to help you put it all together, so you can simply show up at the airport and enjoy an amazing vacation with your family and friends.
We visited Iceland with Villi Goði from Iceland Exclusive Travels on Janine & Amy Travel TV Live. Check out the full episode below.