As well as detailing our actual itinerary here, I wanted to share with you some points to know that could potentially either make or break your trip to Iceland!
There were certain things that I was told before my visit that I didn’t really pay enough attention to, so believe me when I say that the below points are pretty important to be aware of!
1. FOOD IS SUPER EXPENSIVE
I was informed multiple times that Iceland was expensive. I knew this already from browsing hotel prices but I didn’t quite realise that this really does apply to EVERYTHING. One night we had a pasta dish and one drink each and it was £70!!! It is pretty eye-watering, so when planning your trip you could maybe consider trying to get half-board with hotels, or stay somewhere that you can cook for yourself if your trip is going to be a long one.
I have seen many articles detailing that public toilets often make the news in Iceland due to being such a rarity, and that you should always go to the loo the second you see one. In reality, it wasn’t too much of a problem – at least where we went. We travelled along the South coast as far as Jokulsarlon and there was a toilet at least every 90 minutes. So unless you’re drinking ridiculous amounts of water an hour, it should not be a problem!
The hotels we researched had lots of different policies. Some required payment in Euros, others required pre-payment before arrival, etc. So, we actually considered not getting any Icelandic currency. When we were there however we decided just to get £200.00 worth: first of all to see what it was like (we collect currency from wherever we go) but also because we had read blogs stating that for certain places you do need Icelandic coins.
This applied to a couple of the public toilets, even if only for a donation for upkeep, and also for parking at some of the waterfalls. It is also always handy to have some local currency incase your card doesn’t work or something.
4. WATERPROOF TROUSERS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
I have to give credit for this tip to my lovely friend Marnie! She visited Iceland exactly a year before we did and I asked her for tips, her first answer was ‘WATERPROOF TROUSERS’. Most specifically for walking behind Seljalandsfoss whereby the spray from the water is pretty crazy.
This leads me to point number 5…
5. THE WEATHER CAN LITERALLY CHANGE EVERY 5 MINUTES
On the first day of our trip, within 10 minutes it went from bright sunshine and me needing to take my coat off, to torrential rain, hail stones and ridiculously strong winds.
You must pack for all weathers, lots of layers are best and definitely a warm hat/hood.
6. THE BEST WAY TO SEE THE ISLAND IS WITH YOUR OWN CAR
There is literally one road around the island, so once you’re out of Reykjavik it is very easy to navigate.
Iceland is also in Europe so you can use your data/Google Maps without any trouble (if you’re from Europe, and manage to get there before Brexit).
Having your own car gives you so much more freedom to explore, as tours obviously limit you for time in each location. If you have a car you can also go back to places when the weather improves – but please be prepared for the fact that in Iceland it is pretty impossible to see all the things you want to see in the weather you want to see them in!
7. BUT BEWARE OF HIDDEN INSURANCE COSTS…
We hired our car through Budget and went for a middle-range option for approx £200.00 for 6 days. It seemed like this included insurance however on arrival at the airport we discovered we weren’t covered for much at all. Because of the incredibly unpredictable weather, you do get a little scared into opting for the package with the highest cover ‘just in case’. This then cost us another £250 on arrival at the airport however it was worth it as we think somebody hit our car when we were parked at the Blue Lagoon!
8. YOU CAN SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS WITHOUT A TOUR
In Iceland you’ll see lots of Northern Lights Tours advertised. Basically, from what I can tell, you sit on a coach which drives you away from any city lights and from there you can sit and wait for them.
You can do exactly the same from your hire car but with more freedom. If you follow some Aurora apps/websites closely and they say your best chance to see them is at 2am, there is nothing stopping you from setting an alarm and heading out in the middle of the night. This way you’ll have a much higher chance of seeing them, and it is more special seeing it with just whoever you are travelling with as opposed to a coach load of others!
9. DITCH THE UMBRELLA BUT PACK YOUR SUNNIES!
I bet you didn’t expect me to say that?!
An umbrella is a complete waste of time in Iceland. When it is raining it is pretty likely to also be windy, so that flimsy piece of canvas ain’t keeping you dry!! Trust me, it was pretty funny watching people battle the winds with their brollies!
On the Southern ring road, it is pretty barren, so there aren’t any trees for shade etc. Therefore, when it is sunny it is SUNNY. We would have really struggled driving at times without sunglasses and it can be quite dangerous, so definitely add them to your packing list.
10. ACCEPT THAT MOST PLACE NAMES ARE UNPRONOUNCEABLE!
There are only a few places that we visited in Iceland that I could actually pronounce!!
Have a go at these:
- Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
- Hallgrímskirkja church
- Seljalandsfoss waterfall
- Dyrholaey viewpoint
Nope. I haven’t got a clue either!
Take into account the above points and just go and enjoy yourself!
Iceland is a beautiful country with so much to see and do, just make sure you save up enough first!