13 things you must know before travelling to Iceland

13-things-you-must-know-before-travelling-to-iceland

Visiting Iceland was on my bucket list for a long time. Amazing geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, beaches and mountains kept popping up on my Instagram feed making me jealous of not seeing them with my own eyes. This changed in August when I embarked on a 15 day road trip with my boyfriend.

As much as I’m eager to show you all the cool spots we visited, let’s start with all the things you need to know before visiting the country.

1. Money
Iceland is expensive. Coming from London I didn’t expect to find a big difference, but to my surprise I found most things more expensive than in the UK. We saved a bit by taking Wayfarer camping food in the country, but be aware there is a 3 kg per person limit on food you can take in and uncooked meat and milk products are not permitted, Their currency is Icelandic Krona. (ISK) We exchanged some money in the UK before out trip, as I’m very old fashioned and like paying with cash, but they accept debit cards everywhere.

2. Camping
Camping gives you a lot of flexibility as you don’t need to plan your days too much. We had a rough idea what we wanted to see, but nothing was set in stone. By hiring a small camper van, we could spend the night anywhere without worrying getting to a pre booked accommodation on time. Wild camping is allowed outside the national parks and away from houses. However I would suggest spending the night at camp sites as these have toilet and washing up facilities. Many has kitchen, which can make cooking easier. There are many camp sites all over the country and they have reasonable prices. We got a CampingCard which saved us a lot of money as well. Make sure you have a warm sleeping bag if you spend the night in a tent as it gets cold at night even in the summer. I was very grateful for sleeping in our camper van, so we avoided spending the night in a cold tent and pitching it up in rain and wind. Having said that if you are on a tight budget hitch hiking and sleeping in a tent is your best option.

Camp site in Vik

3. Toilets
There are toilets at most attractions, national parks, but it can take time from getting from one to the other, so using nature as your toilet is very common. Just make sure you don’t leave any toilet paper behind!

4. Renting a car
We rented a small two person camper van from Touring Cars. We were satisfied with them. The car was perfect for our needs, which was to have a proper roof over our head at night and avoid being cold in a tent. The car came with kitchen equipment (pans, cutlery, plates, kitchen stove, etc) which made preparing food easy. Make sure to have a credit card with you as most companies require that!

Touring Cars

5. Shopping
You can drive in Iceland for days without seeing a shop, so plan your shopping carefully. I found this site super useful showing where the supermarkets are located. Probably Bonus is the biggest and cheapest supermarket.

6. Driving
They drive on the right side of the road in Iceland. Me being not a very confident driver I left this job for my boyfriend. He was used to riving on the left side, but got used to driving “on the wrong side of the road” pretty quickly. Thank god for that as some of the road conditions were not great and not being an experienced driver could cost you your life. I imagined most roads won’t be busy, so driving would be a piece of cake. Wrong! There can be heavy wind or sudden rain which makes it tricky to drive. Many road are dirt roads (and I’m not talking about the F roads.) These get muddy and slippery after rain fall, so driving next to the abyss without any safety fence is extremely dangerous. Make sure you drive with caution! Oh and did I mention the mountain roads ? It’s also important to note that F-Roads are accessible by cars with 4WD only. The speed limit for cars in Iceland is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on rural gravel roads and 90 km/h on paved rural roads.

This website has a lot of good information about safe driving in Iceland and you can register your travel plans with them, so they can send a rescue team if something goes wrong. Having the 112 Iceland App will also keep you save, make sure you download it before your trip!

Dirt road in Iceland

7. Weather
Weather in Iceland is very unpredictable. It can be pouring down in one second and be sunny in the next. This website keeps you informed about floods, wind and rain.

8. Clothing
Make sure you wear many layers and have waterproof clothing. As Icelandic people say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing!

Waterproof boots, trousers, dry bag, rain coat and rain cover for my backpack
Waterproof boots, trousers, dry bag, rain coat and rain cover for my backpack

9. Water
Tap water is perfectly safe to drink and it’s delicious! 🙂

10. Adapter
Iceland uses Schuko/Euro plugs, so make sure you bring an adapter if needed.

11. Language
Icelandic language is sooooo difficult. I mean how are we supposed to pronounce the names of all these places? Luckily Icelandic people speak good English, so we never had to face any language barrier.

12. Hot spring
Iceland has many nice hot springs! I’m sure you will enjoy having a dip in them after a long day out on an adventure. One important thing you need to be aware is that it’s a must to wash yourself completely naked before you go in the water. They have signs about it all over the changing rooms.

Hot Spring in Iceland

13. Camera
Have a camera at hand as you’re gonna want to take pictures every second! 🙂

Take a camera

Make sure you read my blog post about the Golden Circle, South Iceland and East Iceland.

SINCE

14 Comments

Enikő

Hey, I’m EnikĹ‘!
I’m currently an au pair and I want to share my experiences with you. I’ve travelled a lot in the past years. I’m gonna teach you how to settle in to a new country and get free accommodation anywhere in the world.
Circle Enikő on Google+!

14 Comments

  1. Iceland Road Trip (Golden Circle) | Travel Hacker Girl - A blog for travellers.
    October 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    […] sharing all the information you must know before visiting Iceland let me show you all the amazing places that I’ve visited in the […]

  2. Candy
    October 26, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    All very useful tips! We did a 7 day Iceland Road trip and the only thing we didn’t do was go camping.

  3. Julie kern
    October 26, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I want to visit Iceland so badly! Your first reason, the fact that it’s so expensive is whats holding me back… anyways, thanks for sharing!

  4. Joy Sheehan
    October 26, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Iceland is high on my list of places I want to travel to in the near future! Thanks for all of the helpful info about camper van rentals and camping cards!

  5. Danielle
    October 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Great tips! Iceland has long been on my ‘must visit’ list – it’s so intriguing and remote! I’d never considered camping to be an option before but will totally look into it!

  6. Elisa martinez
    October 26, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Beyond glad to read this! Am definitely nervous to head there for my birthday in a few weeks. Toilet paper- much thanks on that lol. Cant wait to check this off my bucketlist too.

  7. Laura
    October 27, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Love this! I really want to visit Iceland soon but I know it’s going to be quite expensive. You laid out some really important aspects to traveling there. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Patricia
    October 27, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    These are great tips! I think the clothing one really hits home because I’ve been in more than one situation where sudden weather shifts have made things pretty uncomfortable. Love the touring car/van you used! I’d definitely shoot for that over pitching a tent.

  9. Naomi
    October 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I knew Iceland is expensive but to hear you say you found it more expensive than the UK (which I found very expensive) has me worry a bit! Jaiks.

  10. Tamason
    October 27, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    I love Iceland. We travelled in Feb/March so unfortunately it was far too cold.to camp but I would love to return in the summer months to explore in this way. I agree with you though, we are also from London, and we were shocked NY how much some things cost.

  11. Clare
    October 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I love Iceland it’s such a beautiful country. I would love to go back in summer as I have heard there is great hiking there. Would love to hire a car and drive around, I was there in winter and didn’t feel confident driving in the snow!!

  12. Nuria
    October 27, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Such a great post! Saved it for my next trip to Iceland next month 🙂 I am pretty excited!! Thanks for sharing girl xx

  13. Iceland Road Trip (South) | Travel Hacker Girl - A blog for travellers.
    October 27, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    […] Read my other article about the Golden Circle and usefel tips before travelling to Iceland. […]

  14. Iceland Road Trip (North) | Travel Hacker Girl - A blog for travellers.
    March 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

    […] Make sure you read my blog post about the Golden Circle, South Iceland, East Iceland and useful tips before travelling to Iceland. […]

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