The first few things that come to my mind when I think of Iceland are volcanoes, hot springs, insane landscape, and unpronounceable names. But the country is much more than that. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I bought the flights to this small island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, but it definitely exceeded all my expectations. It quickly became one of my favorite countries in the world after the first visit.
Here are just a few reasons why:
- One of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes out there
- Ever heard of Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, Interstellar, James Bond, Thor, etc.? Well they’ve all been shot here. It’s safe to say, that Iceland is becoming Hollywood’s new
favouriteplayground. Pretty much anywhere you go in Iceland, you might recognize the landscape from at least one movie/TV Series you know.
- Northern Lights. Your chance of seeing Aurora Borealis, especially in winter time is pretty high.
- If you are an adventurous nature lover type of person then this is a place for you
1. Best time to visit Iceland
The busiest and most expensive time to travel to Iceland is in the summer months (mid-June to end of August). Which makes sense, since the weather in Iceland is generally the best at that time. But if you’re flexible when it comes to travel dates consider traveling off-season. You’ll avoid paying the highest prices and also avoid the most crowded time in Iceland. March may not be the best month to visit, mainly because of unpredictable and harsh weather conditions.
It’s not uncommon that places you wanted to visit become inaccessible or closed, which is exactly what happened to us. I have to admit I was a bit upset about that, but you just have to take it into account when traveling – the weather is something you cannot control. Keep in mind that roads also might close due to weather and make sure you’re constantly checking out www.road.is and www.safetravel.is for the info, if planning on road-
2. South Coast ”Cities”
The world’s northernmost capital city and by far the biggest city in Iceland. Some of the main attractions we got to see:
- Hallgrímskirkja – the famous Lutheran church in town;
- Harpa – a concert hall and conference center situated on the waterfront and one of Reykjavík’s most modern-looking buildings;
- Brauð & Co.– hardly an attraction but their cinnamon buns are to die for
WHERE TO STAY: Vibrant Iceland Hostel
Vík í Mýrdal
Vík is the largest town for 40 miles in all directions with a bustling population of about 300 people, which tell you a lot about the population in Iceland. In China, this place wouldn’t even be considered as a hamlet. Very beautiful, nevertheless.
WHERE TO STAY: Puffin Hostel Vík
WHERE TO STAY: House on the Hill
3. Best places to visit on South Coast
Seljalandsfoss, tumbling over the huge rock wall, Seljanlandsfoss is definitely the one you shouldn’t miss. You can walk all the way behind the falls for some incredible pictures, preferably at sunset time ;). Sadly it was frozen and therefore closed this time around.
4. Iceland on a budget
One good thing about visiting Iceland in winter is that the prices of some things, such as accommodation and car rentals, are often a bit cheaper, compared to the busier summer months.
We also got very lucky with a cheap flight via Wizzair – we paid 77€/per person for the return ticket from Vienna, baggage included. And when you see a good deal like that, you take it… and think about the rest later.
Iceland uses the Icelandic krona (ISK). There is no need to bring cash as you’ll be able to pay with credit card pretty much everywhere. I recommend getting yourself Revolut card which, which gives you the best exchange rate of a local currency.
There are of course different ways you can save your money in Iceland. These include finding cheap flights, drinking the free tap water, cooking your own meals, carpooling + most of the attractions are free anyways. In total, 5 days of traveling cost us a little more than 500€ and that includes the flights and transfer to Vienna.
5. Travel Tips
- Book everything far in advance
- Bring a water bottle. Icelanders claim their drinking water it the purest you can get.
- Pack wisely to avoid unnecessary purchases
- Rent a car
- Buy food in budget grocery store chains, such as Bonus, Kronan and Netto (avoid the 10-11 convenience grocery stores, they are a lot more expensive). Also, make sure to stock up on food and snacks before heading on a long road trip.