ESSENTIAL TRAVEL GUIDE TO ICELAND

ESSENTIAL TRAVEL GUIDE TO ICELAND

Hi there and welcome to my blog post on ‘Essential Travel Guide To Iceland’. Where I will be highlighting a few things that you might need to know, before coming to Iceland.

In this post, I will include basic knowledge on Iceland, so you know what to expect before you get on the plane.

So without any further ado, I’m going to jump straight in.

OK, let’s go!!

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My Thoughts on Iceland

In the early 2020, I had arrived to Iceland for my second visit.
The first time around was quite a few years back. When Iceland has only just started to get popular enough to hit people’s travel list.

The first time, I visited Iceland, I did it solo and went on a 3 days tour into South of Iceland. This time around, I went in a group of 4 adults and stayed in the capital and did day-trips to the surrounding areas for 8 days.

I have notice quite a few differences during my seceond visit to Iceland.
 
There are definitely a lot more choices now, from, the you things want to do, see and eat!! It feels more accessable now than the first time around.

 

Introducing Iceland

Iceland, is a Nordic island, originally belong to Denmark, however later became independent in 1944. Iceland is a part of Europe. Although, the western part of Iceland sits on the North American Plate.
So you can say, it’s also part of North America (in a geographic sense).
 
Iceland is known as the country of fire and ice due to it’s many volcanoes and glaciers. It is also famous for it’s dramatic landscape, geysers, hot springs and lava fields.
 

A combination, not offten seen in Europe.

Although, the island is quite small, most of the population can be found in the capital, Reykjavik. With everyone else dotted around the coast. I’m guessing, this is due to Iceland’s landscape of volcanos and glaciers which makes it differcult to inhabit. Plus, it must be easier to fish, if you’re nearer to the sea.

 

Languages

The official language in Iceland is Icelandic, however, everyone can speaks English. Street signs are in Icelandic, however anything that is cater to tourist does have English as well.

Therefore, no excuses not having a nice chat with the locals.

Fun Fact; I was told, Icelandic is a part of the Old Norse. Which most of the Scandinavia countries spoked back in the day. However, with Iceland being so secluded from rest of the world. The language hasn’t really changed much over the years.

Making Icelandic the only language in the present day, that is the closest to Old Norse as it was originally. While other Scandinavia countries have changed into something totally different.

 

Currency In Iceland

Although, Iceland is a part of the EU. Iceland actually has it’s own currency, the Icelandic króna (ISK).

Credit cards are widely accepted. Just make sure to inform your bank, before setting off.

The first time I came to Iceland. I had only brought my credit card and only had one situation, and that was because the card machine was broken. So to really say, you probably don’t need to being any cash.

However, if you do want to have some cash in your pocket for emergencies. There are cash points, dotted all over the capital. Just note once your out of the city, you will need to look for big supermarkets.

It’s worth noting, there is a charge on using the cash machine.

 

Transport In Iceland

The main form of public transport is more or less buses. However, that is for travlling within the capital.

Once you’re out of Reykjavik, its very hard to go anywhere without a car.
There are public buses but from what I’ve seen, these can be long and far between. Certinly not good for a day trip, especially in the winter, as I found out.

If you really want to do a day trip and see the sights, the only option would be by car or tours agenices.

Since I’ve never drove in winter conditions like Iceland, not to mention I drive on the other side of the road. I wasn’t confident in renting a car.
So if you’re in a similar situation like me, the only real option really, are tours agencies.

So transport is definitely a big expense when it comes to Iceland.

 

Eating IN Iceland

When it comes to eating in Iceland, you will be spoilt for choices.

Starting from the simple but famous hot dog stand called Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. It has been around before Iceland even became independent in 1937.

Now that’s history!!

Then, there’s the delicate but tastey pastries which are all freshy cooked in house. To satisfy the sweetest tooth, believe me, I’m one of them.

Let’s not forget the street food, from both local and international cultures. Like the good old fish and chips.

Finally, to Iceland most unique and traditional dishes, using ingredients that you would never think off. Like reindeer burger or fermented shark.

The question is, can your taste buds and wallet handle it.

Don’t forget, as wonderful as the dining experience is. It is also an expensive one in Iceland.

One that will probably make your bank account cry, if you’re not careful. As basic dishes starting about £13.60/16.10EUR and a beer from a bar can cost you £7.36/10.20 EUR or so.

If you want to know how to save money on food in Iceland click here to learn more.

 

Accommodation In Iceland

Having been to Iceland twice, I have stayed in a hostel and a guesthouse. Both serve it’s purpose, with nothing too fancy. The most importance thing, is; clean, warm and has a cooking area. Which both covers more than adequate.
 
In term of prices, both are not cheap when compared to other European countries but that is to be expected. However, sometimes you can save a bit of money. If you are booking, well in advance or if you are willing to pay upfront without the option to cancel later.
 

The second one, is what I did and we ended up, saving quite a bit.

 

Places to visit in Iceland

The best things to see in Iceland, are of course the landscape! There is nothing quite like it in Europe.
 

Just be aware, all tours are weather dependable, especially in the winter. The weather can change so much in one day.

This time around, we went in winter and was caught in a storm for quite a few days. Most tours were cancel. As the roads headed out of the city were close, due to the sudden change of heavy weather.

Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir)…

Is a historic site on east of Reykjavík. Between the 10th and 18th century, the site was where Iceland’s parliament was held.

What is also intresting about the park is, it sits in a rift. Where you can actually see a valley that is caused by 2 tectonic plates, moving away from each other. The Eurasian plate and the North American plate.

Therefore, the country is actually growing about 2 cm or so, every year.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Also known as the Golden Falls and is one of the most popular destination when visiting Iceland. Usually one of the first tours, people do since it’s quite close to Reykjavik.
 
The view from the top is very impressive, as you get to see the river before it forms into the waterfalll. In the winter, it’s even more of a sight as you get to see the ice that surrounds the river.

Geysir Hot Spring

Is another well know tourist spot, along the Golden Circle. Here, you will see a highly active hot spring, that is known to spouts hot water upto 30 metres (100 ft) into the air.

Of course it doesn’t happen every second. As it can take up to 30 mins wait, so you’ll have to be patient. However, once it go, it really is a sight to see.

Fun Fact; I read online and found out that the hot springs have been active for more than 1000 years and the site itself has more than a dozen hot spring holes.

But from what I’ve seen, there is only one hot spring that is active while the rest, only produce smoke.

Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara, near the village Vík í Mýrdal, known for it’s black sand and basalt columns which is quite unique and stunning.

There is a restaurant and toilets if needed. However, I have visited this place twice and I have yet to see the restaurant open so it might be a good idea to bring some food just in case.

If you are there during the morning and it’s low tide. The sight is amazing, as you can get some really beautiful pictures of the big columns in the sea in front of the sunrise.

However, you need to be careful, as beautiful as this place is. The waves from the sea, are extremely quick and powerful. They can actually wash people away. We were told there was two case just last year.

So remember to be careful when visiting this place.

Skógafoss…

A stunning waterfall, about 2hrs from Reykjavik. Skógafoss is quite massive, one of the tallest I’ve see in Europe.
 
You can actually walk quite close to Skógafoss compare to the other waterfalls. However, remember to be careful especially in the winter, as it can be slippery. Also, the closer you get, the more you will get wet.
 

Definitely a sight to see.

So that was ‘‘Essential Guide To Iceland’.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this post and found it useful.

Tell me what do you think, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Want to read more about Iceland?? Then check out these blog posts here. Or, if you would like to read, my other travel stories, then click on this link.

Don’t forget to visit my Instagram to see my daily adventures.

Till next time, friends!!

 

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