Back in 2010, Iceland was catapulted into the spotlight when Eyjafjallajökull erupted causing chaos in the air across Europe. Iceland is a land of wild and untouched landscapes, filled with glaciers and waterfalls, as well as otherworldly natural beauties dotted around the country. For me, simply seeing scenes from one of my favourite films Walter Mitty longboarding through Seydisfjordur, I knew I needed to visit ASAP. Here are 12 things you should know about Iceland. You can read all my other posts on Iceland here.
READ MORE: A night at the Bubble Hotel in Iceland
The landscapes are unreal
Iceland isn’t called the land of fire and ice for nothing! Iceland is amazing – at every turn there is another stunning landscape, with countless volcanoes, sprawling glaciers, expansive fjords, raging waterfalls, exploding geysers and the northern lights. Iceland really has it all. When we visited Iceland we hired a car which gave us the freedom to explore Iceland at our pace and stopping at the tourist spots, as well as the lesser known. We got up early, and we got home late, making sure we got to see as much as we could throughout the day. Our busiest day was a 12-hour road trip to the south where we saw so many different and incredible landscapes.
The weather is unpredictable
We arrived in Iceland on a beautifully sunny afternoon however as the trip went on, and as we explored different areas of the island, the weather changed dramatically. We had rain, ice, snow, sunshine and more – plus everything in between. There were snow capped mountains beside luscious green forests, and black windy beaches, alongside glistening sunlight. Make sure you pack for the unpredictable weather too – you can see what I packed here.
It’s not cheap
Locking down cheap airfares may be a breeze, but the budgeting fun pretty much stops there. Iceland is bloody expensive! Overall we spent around £1,700 for two people for four days. Read my full post on how much money to spend in Iceland here.
Flights to Iceland with WOW Air with hold luggage: £300 / Accommodation for 3 nights at Frost & Fire Hotel in a double deluxe room: £450 (sponsored) / Four-day Geysir Car hire with insurance: £200 / Morning Whale Watching boat trip with Elding: £140 / A few hours at the Blue Lagoon: £150 / Spending money for lunches and dinner: £500 / Totals: £1,740 for four days for two people
It’s not as busy as it seems
Iceland may have a mass of tourists each year, but it doesn’t actually feel that crowded when you’re there. During the high season, places within about a day’s drive of Reykjavik (especially the south coast) can feel a little like a circus (unless you get up early, have a car and make your own way – then you can more of less beat them to the main hot spots) but the further away you drive, you’ll find yourself on an empty road in the wilderness having not seen another car for hours. We spent a lot of time driving on open roads, exploring major tourist spots with barely any people and spending time in solitude. Our hotel definitely helped with this too! You can read my blog post on this here.
Don’t try to see it all
Iceland may look small, but when you factor in stopping at every second bend for those unmissable photo opportunities, an unplanned detour through the black desert to the glacier over there on the horizon, a small walk on said glacier, a lunch break, stopping at every other waterfall, taking it slow along the four-wheel-drive tracks and a much needed tea stop, just driving 100 km can take you all day, especially when the sun shows no sign of setting anytime soon. By packing too much into your itinerary you run the risk of spending far too much time in your car rushing from place to place.
Go off the tourist trail
When you travel in a car you get the freedom to go off-piste and it was the best decision we made. If you’re going to Iceland, hire a car and then did our own thing. Considering the Ring Road is the route most tourists follow, getting away from it can be like a breath of fresh air, particularly on the often congested south side of the island. We didn’t go too far beyond the ring road, but by having the car it meant being able to stop off when and where we fancied.