10 Tips on How to Get the Most out of Your Trip to Iceland

Thinking about visiting Iceland sometime this year? Then pay attention to these 10 tips to help you plan the best trip of your life.

Iceland is full of natural wonders, hidden gems, tourist attractions, and interesting places you should put on your travel plan. 

Tips for Your Trip to Iceland

1. Looking for solitude? Explore Highlands

The Icelandic Highlands are large and wild, with lots of amazing nature to see.

It’s rough and the weather can change fast. That means it is not a place for everyone.

But if you love adventure and want to get away from it all, best places in Icelandic Highlands are a must-see.

Ready to check out some wild spots? You’ll love it, just remember to play it safe in the tough weather.

What you should know

You can plan a multiple-day roadtrip around the Highlands with the spots in camping sites. You can find a paid tour and start the adventure with a guide.

You can pack your stuff and get ready for a multi-day hike.

Just remember – this region is very challenging so please be smart and get all the information you need before going on a trip deep inside of real Iceland. 

Tips on visiting

  • As it was said many times, the Central Highlands of Iceland is a rough place. It is only accessible by a very good 4×4 car (remember many places are accessible only with a river crossing) and only during the summer season when the weather is a bit better. 
  • If you want to visit this place, but you are not confident enough, don’t be afraid and get a guide with a car. This way you can truly enjoy your trip. 

2. F-roads for true adventure

Talking about Highlands, we definitely must mention F-roads because they deserve their own place in this article.

You probably heard about the famous Ring Road, which takes you all over Iceland. For many visitors, this is a line drawing their travel plans.

But if you are looking for more adventure, F-roads might be the perfect way how to get it.

What to expect

  • Exploring Iceland by F-roads will show you untouched nature, take you to places outside the main tourist destinations, and allow you to discover stunning, breathtaking scenery.
  • Here are some tips where you can get using F-Roads: admiring the colorful mountains of Landmannalaugar, visiting Maelifell – the stunning volcano, the fascinating Askja crater, hidden hot pools (for example Laugavallalaug), or Haifoss waterfall.

3. Soak and relax in hot springs

What makes Iceland so unique? One of the secrets is its hot springs. You’ve probably heard of the Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon – they’re great.

But the real magic is in the natural geothermal pools and hot springs located in the middle of the Icelandic wilderness.

Imagine relaxing in a warm, pool out in nature after a busy day or a week – that’s the kind of chill-out time you can find all over the place in Iceland.

What you should know

  • The popularity of Icelandic hot pots is rising, so you won’t be probably alone in them unless you visit the ones hidden deep inside the Icelandic Highlands or the ones that are not that popular yet. There is a map of all hot springs located in Iceland, check it out to find the best fit for you.
  • Going to a natural geothermal pool? Don’t be surprised when the temperature is as high as you expected. The temperature is not regulated by machines, but rather by natural aspects so it might happen that some places will be colder than was written in your guide.

What to visit

  • In Westfjords, you will find many public pools and hot springs which are available for use. Check them.
  • Doing some of the best Landmannalaugar hikes or planning to conquer the famous Fimmvorduhals trek? Then don’t forget to pack your swimsuits. There is a nice hot spring located near the campsite and base. 

4. Respect Icelandic nature

On your trip through Iceland, you will encounter breathtaking landscapes and places that will leave you amazed. But also unpredictable weather that you should be aware of all the time.

Temperatures from June to the end of August normally reach 14 °C in the southwestern part of the island, and in winter they stay at zero. However, the constant winds can make it seem a little colder than the thermometer indicates. 

Tips on visiting

  • Come prepared: waterproof and windproof clothes will be your best friend. Leave the umbrella at home.
  • Especially places in the Highlands like þórsmörk or Kerlingarfjoll are very delicate and have to be protected. Take special care there!
  • Regularly check the weather forecast and weather warnings. We recommend checking the safetravel.is where you find warnings and alerts, including road closures and many other important information. This is especially important if you are going to Iceland outside of the main season when the alerts are very common.

If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip, I always recommend Safety Wing for great prices and coverage abroad (they’ll cover medical expenses in case of any accidents, travel delays, cancellations, and much more).

5. Explore less touristy places

Iceland’s true beauty lies beyond the well-known spots.

Sure, places like the Golden Circle are pretty, but the real thrill is discovering those stunning spots off the famous path which is visited by thousands of people every day.

They might take a bit more effort to reach, but they’re totally worth it. So if you have the chance, seek out the less famous but equally breathtaking sights!

Extra tips for traveling

  • A less well-known place usually means fewer visitors. That means you can enjoy quiet time and a more peaceful atmosphere while traveling. 
  • Non-tourist destinations often provide a more authentic view of local culture, traditions, and ways of life. Do you want to discover the real magic of Iceland? Then put on your travel list more places than the ones written in the 10 places you should visit in Iceland. 
  • Many places are not ready for thousands and thousands of visitors so if you plan to go there, respect and protect nature. Try to stay on the trail, do not ride the cars off the road, and do not litter. 

Tips on visiting

  • As the conditions of these roads might be very different (from good quality ones up to the ones you need to be super careful), they are passable only with a 4×4 vehicle.
  • If you are planning to explore Iceland via F-roads, always check the road conditions, opening hours of the roads, and the difficulty. Some roads are super easy but many of them require some driving experience and a good car as there might be some deep river crossings etc. 

6. Leave the car and walk

The most breathtaking places are usually located in areas that are not accessible by car.

Don’t miss them by staying in the car all the time and include some hiking in your plan, if you can. Of course, you will be able to see more places in a shorter time if you take a car.

But, hiking (even an easy one) will show you the real Iceland, with fewer tourist places and you will get a chance to appreciate the country. 

Hiking tips 

Here are some tips for a few easy-to-moderate one-day hikes. 

  • The trail to the hot river in the Reykjadalur Valley will not only show you amazing landscapes but also be a treat for you. After the hike, you can bathe in the steaming water and get some rest while enjoying the views. 
  • A short and easy walk to the bluest waterfall, which is Brúarárfoss. On the way to the main waterfall, you will pass by two other waterfalls – Hlauptungufoss and Miðfoss. 
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7. (Almost) cashless country

We know you will ask, so here is an answer to a question that many travelers have. Yes, you will survive without cash in Iceland as it is one of the countries where coins and banknotes have been replaced by cards in almost all places. 

It’s quite common to use your card to pay on the bus or at a campsite in the middle of the wilderness. Maybe you will need some coins to pay to take a shower at the campsite but otherwise, there is no need to bring cash.

What you should know

  • Is it possible to travel low-cost in Iceland? Yes, it is, by Icelandic standards. Book accommodation with a kitchen and cook your own food to avoid going to restaurants. Instead of staying in hotels, choose to sleep in the campsites in a tent or a car, or stay in cheaper hostels. Shop in cheaper supermarkets, such as Bónus or Krónan. 
  • It is not common to give or receive a tip. In the restaurants, you can give a 10% of the bill. But it can happen that the waiter will respectfully reject it. 

8. Do you know your expectations?

Iceland is getting more and more popular. This stunning country lures with its natural wonders, scenic hiking trails, engaging museums, and exciting glacier and volcano tours.

On the other hand, with more to offer, easier to get overwhelmed while planning. That’s why you should perfectly think what kind of trip you want.

Tips on how to plan

Try to answer some of these questions:

  • Do you want to see as many waterfalls as possible, chill in the hot springs or pools, go hiking, or discover some Icelandic hidden gems
  • Do you want to do a road trip around the island, or do you only want to see the most famous places not very far away? Or you might want to do more active vacations and plan multi-day hikes.
  • Where do you want to sleep? In the hotel or the tent?

All of the questions will help you with planning. It will show you how many days you probably need, what type of car you need to book, or maybe you don’t need any car but need to search and book some tours.

9. Find freedom with a car

We may now be contradicting ourselves a little with what was written above, however, if you want to get the most out of your trip to Iceland, we recommend renting a car.

This is especially worthwhile if you are traveling in a large group. Whether you plan to travel around the island or you want to go on trips from one location, traveling by car is the most convenient in Iceland.

Benefits of renting a car

  • If you’re traveling with at least two people, renting a car is likely to be more cost-effective. In case you’re not planning to hitchhike.
  • You are free to do whatever you want, whenever you want. That means you are not dependent on times of guided tours or bus schedules. If you wake up feeling like you want to do something else than what’s on your plan, you can freely change it. In short, you are the main boss of your trip (together with your travel partners and the weather of course). 

10. Make your life easier and plan ahead

Since you already know what trip you expect based on your answers to the questions above, you can start planning.

Planning is important when it comes to traveling to Iceland as it is full of opportunities for exploring and adventures. The more you search for ones, the more overwhelmed you will become.

Believe us. We’ve been there. That’s why we summarized some tips on how to plan the perfect trip to Iceland. 

Tips on planning 

  • Don’t try to visit and see everything. Rather than going to dozens of places, visit fewer of them and enjoy them more. It isn’t even possible to visit everything if you have a limited amount of time.
  • Be aware of the weather, road conditions, and warnings. Iceland is a beautiful country but sometimes it shows us who rules. Also, always check the real driving time distance – so that you are not unpleasantly surprised that something is further away than it originally appeared.