If you want to explore waterfalls, glaciers, beaches, ice caves, hot springs, and lava rocks on your next holiday, you should plan to visit Iceland.
A beautiful country in Europe, Iceland finds position in the bucket list of millions of travelers. Once you are here, you will simply fall in love with its stunning landscapes and colorful dancing auroras lighting the sky.
There is something for everyone out here. If you enjoy clicking photographs, then you can spend your time with the mesmerizing waterfalls and landscapes. If you are an adventurous traveler then climbing glaciers and hiking through ice caves would keep you occupied. To have a relaxing vacation, you can visit the beaches, spas, and geothermal pools. Whatever you choose; one thing is for sure: you are going to have an amazing holiday in Iceland.
Best Months To Visit Iceland
The peak tourist season in Iceland is during the months of July and August, when the weather is warm and pleasant. If you want to experience 24 hours of daylight then you should plan your trip for the month of June. The winter season can be really chilly, but it is the best time to watch the Northern Lights.
Snowfall begins by the end of September and stays until May. December through February are the most freezing months so if you are planning for your Iceland trip during these times, then you should pack thermals and woolens. There isn’t a specific rainy season in Iceland, as it rains almost for the entire year. October to February experiences maximum rains so ensure that you pack your belongings well in waterproof backpack.
Things To Do In Iceland
If you want to explore one of the top 10 waterfalls in the world, then head straight to the Gullfoss Waterfalls, located in the town of Selfoss. Commonly known as Golden Falls, you can hire a taxi or drive a rented one to reach this mesmerizing place. Remember that you do not have to pay any parking charges out there. Moreover, you do not have to pay any entrance fees to visit the waterfall. It is a public space that is open 24/7 so you can view the waterfall during day as well as night.
Gullfoss falls is one of the major tourist attractions of Iceland as it drops 32 meters into a deep gorge. Also, there are several restaurants and cafés nearby where you can relax and relish some amazing authentic cuisines. If you are interested in shopping, then there are innumerable stores where you can purchase books, clothing, beauty products, jewelry, souvenirs, woolens and more.
To capture some of the most beautiful pictures of waterfalls, you should visit the Skógafoss falls, located on the Skóga River. The fall is 60 meters wide and 25 meters in height, which makes it a remarkably splendid sight. You should try to visit the place on a sunny afternoon so that you can see the mesmerizing views of single or double rainbows. Also, if you want to have an adventurous experience then you can walk to the top of the cliff and gaze at the panoramic views of the waterfall gushing down.
To reach the Skógafoss waterfalls, you can rent a car and drive to the falls while enjoying en route. It is about 155kms away from Reykjavik and you may allot an entire day in your itinerary to discover this beauty. Alternatively, you may book for a guided expedition that includes Skógafoss Waterfalls in their tour. You may even consider booking a room at Hotel Skógar for a night so that you can visit Skógafoss waterfalls several times since it is located a few meters away. While you are here, you can even explore the nearby areas like the Skóga Museum, Kvernfoss Waterfalls, and more.
Katla Ice Cave
Your trip to Iceland would be incomplete if you do not explore the Ice Caves. If you are traveling to Iceland in winters then you will come across some seasonal ice caves; but if you are visiting in summers then you should add the Katla Ice Cave to your agenda since it is open all year round. Located in South Iceland, the ice cave was formed when the Katla glaciers moved and made a hollow space. Visiting the ice cave is certainly going to be an amazing experience since you will be standing inside a living glacier.
You can book for the Katla Ice Cave package with one of the several tour organizers online so that they can direct you well. The guides would even provide helmets that have headlights and glacier crampons to make your walk easier. Since the glaciers are constantly moving, the ice caves too change each year. So, hiring a trained glacier guide would be the best way to explore the entire area.
Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights are a spectacular solar phenomenon, mesmerizing you with its range of colors swirling across the sky. Most of the tourists visiting Iceland have the Aurora Borealis on their bucket list. Although the Northern Lights occur throughout the year, they cannot be seen during the day because of the sunlight. The best months to see them are from September to April as the darkness of the winter months makes them clearly visible.
You can view the Aurora Borealis everywhere in Iceland; however, there are innumerable tour organizers who could take you to certain places around the island so that you enjoy a splendid sight. If you are not interested in hiring tour guides then you may consider renting a car and visiting remote parts of the country in the night. Whatever you choose, it is certain that you will experience a mesmerizing sight by viewing the incredible Northern Lights.
Getting Around Iceland
There are several bus companies that provide long and short distance services in and around Iceland. Buses are a convenient mode of transport; but are expensive too. If you are traveling in a group then you may consider renting a car as it might be cheaper than the bus fares. During peak tourist season, bus companies even offer touring services each day. However, remember that the bus services reduce considerably in off seasons so if you are visiting Iceland at that time then it is better to hire a taxi.
Renting a car would be the finest option for those traveling in a group. Moreover, you can explore the various destinations at your own pace. During peak season, the rent of the vehicle for each day would be high in comparison to renting a car at off seasons. If you are getting your own car then ensure that you are carrying your driving license and requisite documents. Remember that driving could get dangerous in rivers as there have been several cases of drowning so it is better to avoid it completely.
There are several touring companies that offer their services for every attractive destination in Iceland. You can hire them for watching whales, glaciers, northern lights, hot springs, lakes, islands, volcanoes, and everything else. So, whenever you want to visit a place, you can book them online and have a complete package of pick-and-drop facility as well as a companionship of a knowledgeable guide who would explain the history and culture in detail. There are certain tour organizers who offer their services for certain hours while others provide services for several days. So, depending on your requirements, you can hire them.
What To Eat In Iceland
You need to be a real foodie to try out some of the traditional cuisines of Iceland, which include shark, horse and whale as the main ingredients. If you do not want to try them out, then you can stick to the various lamb, cheese and fish dishes. Depending on your preference, you can relish lamb and beef in various forms like roasted, smoked or as a stew. You may have dark rye bread that is served with various meals. You can even purchase the rye bread from various grocery stores.
The national dish of Iceland is Hákarl, which is fermented shark. One of the most common dairy products found in the majority of restaurants is the Skyr, which is similar to yoghurt and made up of cheese. It is served with milk and several sweet fruits as toppings. To have a wholesome meal you can buy hot dogs, which comprises of pork and lamb. Icelanders prefer to start their day with a cup of hot coffee, so you will come across various cafés in every street. The national alcoholic beverage of Iceland is Brennivín, which tastes somewhat like vodka. You may even try the various brands of beer that are easily available out here.
Where To Stay In Iceland
Galaxy Pod Hostel
Located in Central Reykjavik, the Galaxy Pod Hostel is a pocket-friendly accommodation for backpackers. You will be staying in pods that have doors or curtains for privacy. A locker, electric plug to charge your gadgets, shelf, and mirror would be provided. There is a kitchen with all amenities where you can cook meals easily. Their huge lounge with nice mountain views is the best place to meet fellow travelers or simply watch TV.
Reykjavik Downtown Eco Hostel
If you are not interested to stay in pods, then you may consider booking single beds in Reykjavik Downtown Eco Hostel in its dormitory section. Those traveling with family can book for family rooms with double beds and various facilities like private bathrooms, bed linen, fully-equipped kitchen, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry services. Various restaurants, cafés, shops, and cultural attractions are a few minutes away from the hostel so your stay would certainly be a pleasant one. Women solo travelers can reserve a bed at the female dorm and have a comfortable stay.
Hotel South Coast
To have a luxurious stay in South Iceland, you should book a room at Hotel South Coast. It is a 4-star hotel, which is located in Selfoss and is about 58kms away from Reykjavik City. Some of the amenities that you will get here are bar, fitness centre, restaurant, spa, sauna, and more. Each room is equipped with a TV, hairdryer, kettle, and shower with private bathroom. You can enjoy continental buffet breakfast every morning. Complimentary Wi-Fi and parking facilities can be availed by each guest.
Travel Tips For Visiting Iceland
- Iceland is an expensive country so you need to start saving pretty early to have a wonderful holiday. Also, you should book hotels and flights well in advance so that you can avail early bird discounts. The tour organizers can be costly, so do your research well and select the reasonably-priced ones.
- Since you will be traveling a lot from one tourist destination to another, it is recommended to wear compression socks that will provide some foot comfort. Moreover, long flights require you to stay seated for a prolonged period of time and compression socks would reduce swelling in legs.
- To sleep comfortably on flights or long tours, you should pack a travel pillow in your handbag so that you can use it whenever required.
- While going for long drives, pack some healthy snacks and beverages for the way. You may notice that several highways do not have a restaurant or café.
- If you are planning for a trip to the waterfall, carry a raincoat or waterproof pants as you may get drenched. It is advisable to take an extra set of clothes and a towel.
- While driving on your own, do not rely completely on Google maps. It is better to ask your tour organizer for the best routes or ask for help from the friendly locals. Also follow all rules and regulations while driving the car.
Iceland will not disappoint any traveler. There is so much to explore in this beautiful island that even in a weeklong trip, you won’t be able to see it all. The culture, its people, and spectacular landscapes make Iceland special and unique. So, plan your itinerary by following the aforesaid Iceland guide, pack your bags and get ready to experience the most beautiful days of your life.