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7 Facts You Should Know Before Your Visit to Iceland

7 Facts You Should Know Before Your Visit to Iceland

Published on September 14, 2018 by alan egan

7 Facts You Should Know Before Your Visit to Iceland

A trip to Iceland is a bucket list item for many, and you’ll need essential technologies like real-time GPS and local apps if you want to make the most of this journey.

The Nordic island nation is known for its stunning landscapes with geysers, volcanoes, hot springs, and beds of lava. The enormous glaciers are a national treasure, protected by the parks systems. Most people in Iceland live in the capital of Reykjavik, which operates on geothermal power. It’s where you’ll find some of the most famous museums, including the Saga and National Museum, which feature the long history of Viking lineage. However, there’s also plenty to see outside the capital.

Still, if you’re planning an epic journey to Iceland, there are a few things you should know before you go:

1. The blue lagoon is a tourist trap.

Does this mean you shouldn’t go? Not necessarily, but it is good to know that it’s relatively expensive at $60 per person and you need to book far in advance. As one of the biggest attractions in Iceland, you’ll be battling it out with fellow visitors from around the world. It’s just one of many local ponds, and some say other, less busy ponds are even more beautiful.

Try the oldest pool Kópavogslaug or Sundhöllin in the middle of the capital for great alternatives. They feature bubble beds, unlike the blue lagoon, and spots like the Grettislaug hot spring charge you under $10 and feature unbeatable views.

 

2. Always have enough gas and food.

Iceland’s weather is finicky, and severe storms can creep up with little notice. This makes driving visibility impossible. Nobody wants to get stuck with no food or gas to ride out a storm. Even if your destination is just a few minutes away, it’s possible to get stuck for hours on the side of the road waiting out the worst of it. You don’t want to get hangry in the process.

3. Keep plenty of local currency on you.

Many places in Iceland that still don’t take credit cards, including many gas stations. However, they are taking debit cards more regularly. Still, if you’re travelling abroad, even if you call and tell your bank about your travel plans (as you should) sometimes cards get turned off. Icelandic shops prefer debit cards over anything else, keeping a modest amount of cash on you (and the rest in the hotel lockbox) is a good idea

4. Iceland is the one place you’ll want added insurance on a rental car.

You’ll want the freedom to drive in Iceland in order to really enjoy the country, but you’ll also need that pesky additional insurance. Most rental companies ask if you’ll be off-roading, and you will—even if you don’t realize it yet. The additional coverage includes “windshield insurance,” which safeguards you from cracks caused by high-speed pebble damage. The environment here is rough and tumble, and you don’t want it showing up on a rented car.

5. Avoid taxis at the airport.

Although the taxi service from the airport is safe and reliable, it’s also expensive. Either rent a car from the airport or take advantage of the shuttle services. The most well-known is the FlyBus, which picks you up right outside the main terminal and arrives every 30 minutes. It will whisk you to all major hotels in the capital as well as the BSI bus terminal. It costs $25 compared to the $100 taxis and takes about 45 minutes to get downtown.

6. Take a chance in winter.

Although most promotional images of Iceland are snapped in the summer, the winter is a truly magical time of year. Iceland is unbelievable in the summer, but the winter kicks it up a notch. It’s sheer peace with total whiteness and storms that give you an authentic experience. It’s cold, and it’s dark, but it’s also haunting and honest. Plus, nothing compares to a New Year’s Eve in Iceland. The capital’s sky is lit up with thousands of fireworks, and there are plenty of local hot cocktails to keep you warm.

7. Become a Harðfiskur aficionado.

This local snack of codfish that’s dried and salted is simply divine. Full of protein, it comes in a variety of sizes and is available absolutely everywhere. It’s a little costly for Americans (around $10 for a snack size) but considering it’s an entire fish full of protein; it will keep you satisfied for hours. However, it takes some skill to eat. Tearing off the strips alone takes some work! It’s very flaky, which makes it a messy snack to consume, but it’s well worth it. Add some butter to the strips for an extra kick of goodness.

Here's a taster of other Icelandic dishes that await you...

 

A trip to Iceland means travelling into the heart of a very proud and beautiful country. Whether you’re going to stick to the capital or seriously off-road, plan ahead and come with an open mind. The tourist attractions are hot spots for a reason, but if you really want to experience Iceland then head off the beaten paths.

Meet The Author
Hello, I’m Alan and my wife, Lisbeth, and I own Vestervang, a small farm in the Middle of Bornholm – The small Danish island south of Sweden.
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