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If you haven’t been to Iceland yet, you’re missing it out. It might just be my new favorite suggestion for a long weekend getaway. If you live on the US east coast, it’s actually faster to fly to Reykjavik than to California. Here are my Iceland travel tips for an easy and enjoyable trip.
Iceland Travel Tips
How to Get to Iceland
If you’re starting in the United States or Canada, hop on a nonstop flight hubs like from Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York, Minneapolis, Orlando, Seattle, Washington DC or even Anchorage! This is faster than connecting through other European cities because you won’t have to backtrack (continental Europe is pretty far out of the way).
Planning on visiting both Iceland and other European destinations? No problem: Reykjavik makes a great option for a stopover on your way to Europe. IcelandAir allows up to a 7-day stopover on your way to elsewhere in Europe at no additional charge.
Since Iceland is part of the Schengen treaty, you won’t need to pull out your passport when flying between Reykjavik and other European/Schengen members.
Do Americans need a visa to visit Iceland?
Nope, just show up. Passport control is fast and simple. We were through the line in less than ten minutes.
Is Iceland Safe?
When is the Best time to Visit Iceland?
The absolute best time to go to Iceland (at least in my opinion) is the month of September: weather is good, tours and activities are still running, most highland roads are still open, crowds are lower, and prices are cheaper. You also days with enough daylight to work with and perhaps even the chance to see a glimpse of the northern lights at night.
Even though the best weather is in summer, I’d avoid the peak months of June through August. Iceland is extremely popular now, to the point of being overtouristed (at least in the areas surrounding Reykavik, the Golden Circle, and down to the south coast near Vik). If you must visit in the summer, I recommend spending the majority of your time outside of these areas: head to the interior, the east coast, the north coast, or out to the west fjords.
If you’d like to visit Iceland in winter — I did! — my recommendation is to go in February or March. If you’re there in December especially, the days are short and dark because the sunrise is very late and the sunsets in mid-afternoon. Because of that, you won’t have a lot of daylight to appreciate the scenery.
Any health concerns?
No more so than at home. Feel free to sample the weirdest foods you can find (and I promise, you’ll find them) and drink water straight from the tap — it’s delicious! No need for any special immunizations or medications on this trip. If you head there during winter, dressing for the weather will be your biggest concern.
Is Iceland Expensive?
I was really concerned that Iceland would be outrageously expensive, and I won’t lie to you: it’s not cheap. However, I thought that costs were manageable as long as you budgeted ahead of time.
Overall, I’d say it was a tad cheaper than London with hotel rooms going for $100/night in winter or double that in summer. Watch out for guided tours that are insanely expensive (some day trips costing $300 per person per day), but luckily it’s easy to travel independently and save that way. Check out my related post on expenses in Iceland for more tips.
How do you pay?
What’s the weather in Iceland?
Icelanders are famous for saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” and although I’ve heard that around the world, it’s literally true in Iceland. We had blue skies followed by white-out snowstorms within the same morning and temperatures ranging from 10 below with the wind chill to a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit in December.
Summers stay mild, with temperatures frequently in the 50s or 60s and warm days in the 70s (the highest temperature on record is 86). No matter what time of year you go, dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket.
Are the locals friendly in Iceland? Any tips on making communication easier?
How do you get around?
Driving in Iceland was very straightforward; if you can drive at home, you can drive on the uncrowded roads of Iceland.
Was the food good in Iceland?
What should I see? Anything overrated?
I personally felt the Blue Lagoon, a geothermic spa, was a little overrated. It’s very expensive and dreadfully disorganized. I’d highly recommend going to an outdoor pool, but I wouldn’t say that it has to be the Blue Lagoon specifically.
What to Buy in Iceland
For a cheap Iceland souvenir, you may want to pick up a bottle of pylsusinnep, the sweet brown mustard beloved on hot dogs all over the country.