Our Iceland trip guide!
Ben’s General tips: Bring versatile hiking boots that you don’t mind getting muddy, use a credit card for everything, be prepared for everything to be expensive, don’t tip (it’s already included in your total), pre-pay your car rental agency for gas fill up and definitely add car WiFi to your package for navigation purposes, don’t wear shoes inside peoples’ homes and be super clean if you’re staying in an AirBnB, have rain gear, don’t worry about trying to speak Icelandic because everyone speaks excellent English, check Instagram for cool places (most have coordinate tags), book the Blue Lagoon in advance and bring a waterproof case for your phone, bring your camera everywhere and take lots of photos!
More info about gas: If you want to fill up your gas tank completely, the gas station will charge you $200 and then refund you soon afterwards. I have no idea why this is but it happened to at least two different people who were also visiting Iceland while we were there.
Some other random stuff that Sarah wants to say:
- Pharmacies can be hard to find once you’re more off the grid, so don’t forget to bring tylenol, feminine products ect.
- Don’t forget to bring some comfy shades, scarves, gloves, hats ect. You’re going to be outside a lot!
- Iceland DOES NOT sell any form of sleep aids. This includes serotonin or cold medicine like nyquil. The first day or two were kind of challenging for us since we got off of our flight at like 5:30 AM and didn’t get any sleep, and then survived on naps at really strange times for the 48 hours following. After the first two days we were completely fine though!
- Bring a European plug converter for all of your american electronic needs (cell phone, laptop). Our first Air BnB had a converter to use but the rest did not. Luckily, we were able to buy one midway through our trip at random shop in Vik. Just a warning, these converters apparently do not work with hair styling tools such as hairdryers. If you’re really into styling your hair, I would suggest buying some european friendly stuff. Only two of our Air BnB’s had a hair dryer, as did the Blue Lagoon, but the one hotel we stayed at did not. It’s very hit and miss! With that said, my hair was a lot more wild than usual, but it wasn’t a big deal. I would say people in Iceland aren’t very fussy about the way they look so I didn’t feel out of place.
- Bring your own food on the plane if you want to save money. The airline does not provide any free food or drink at all.
- If you’re planning on cruising up to the highlands/f-road you are required to have a four wheel drive vehicle. We didn’t get to do this, but it looks awesome.
- Coffee there is very strong and bitter. If you’re more into sweet stuff, try a Swiss Mocha.
- The Blue Lagoon: It’s just as nice as you’re probably imagining it is. Very convenient. The locker room is sort of heaven because there’s tons of showers with hair product and body wash provided, vanities that include hair dryers, and lockers that automatically lock for you using your wristband. You have to shower before you get into the lagoon and immediately afterwards. I can only speak from my own experience but it took two full showers with multiple shampoo/conditioning sessions to get the silicon out of my hair. If you have places to go and people to see afterwards, maybe ask for a hair tie at the counter when you check in and just don’t get your hair wet 😉 The wristband you get with some of the packages let’s you get drinks from the bar and you pay later at checkout. Your first drink is free! The hottest parts of the lagoon are near the trash cans because that is where the heaters are located…You’ll see. Haha.
The Golden Circle is kind of swamped with tourists and frankly a little overrated, but if you find yourself making the trip, Gullfoss is a huge, beautiful waterfall worth the journey.
Skógafoss + Hike up the mountain
Skógafoss is another very large waterfall in south Iceland right off the Ring Road. There are lots of tourists, but there is a campground, hotel, parking, and a restaurant serving local Icelandic dishes. You can hang out at the base of the waterfall and get pictures with the rainbow or climb up to the top and then hike along the river into the mountains.
One of the most accessible glaciers in Iceland. We got there early and there was barely anyone there. Glacier hikes are also available. There is parking and only a short hike. Between Skógafoss and Vík.
A neat little town in the south, Vík’s claim to fame is its black sand beaches with interesting rock formations. One of the coolest beaches to check out in particular is a place called Reynisfjara.
Near the small town of Reykjahlíð, there are hot springs and a geothermal plant. The terrain is very strange and beautiful; it’s like being on Mars. Some of our favorite pictures were taken here.
The second biggest city in Iceland. It’s actually very small but a really cool place. Lots of good restaurants like Rub 23 and Fish & Chips. Great views of the largest fjord in Iceland, Eyjafjörður.
We only had lunch here, but this awesome hostel is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a place to stay or chill out with some wifi: https://www.akureyribackpackers.com/en
Glacier Lagoon. Pretty awesome but touristy.
The downtown area has lots of cool shops and restaurants. We can particularly recommend Sushi Samba; really fresh fish with an interesting Icelandic/Brazilian flair. Also Prikið for breakfast/coffee, Sjávargrillið for seafood, and this cool little arcade/toy shop Freddi.
Things we missed but you should go to:
Seljalandsfoss: Waterfall with super cool trail that leads behind the actual waterfall
Dyrholaey: Cliff on the water
Landmannalaugar: “The pearl of the Icelandic highlands” A cool lake/valley in Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
The Fish Market in Reykjavik is super expensive and can require a reservation far in advance, websites online suggest at least two weeks beforehand. Apparently it has the best/most fresh seafood and especially sushi, though.
Rub 23 in Akureyri looked really good but wasn’t open in the late afternoon when we wanted to eat lunch.
The DC-3 Plane Wreckage in Vik – look up the hashtag #icelandplanecrash to get exact coordinates.