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Iceland Guide: Tips for your adventure

Do you need an Iceland guide for your trip? Here's a complete guide that will get you through your adventure!

26 września, 2023

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For people traveling to Iceland, having a guide to know how things work there is important. People need to have a clear idea of how things are managed there and to know what they can do while being there. So, if you need an Iceland guide to help you in your adventure, here we will give you all the information you need to keep in mind!

Therefore, if you do have plans to visit Iceland soon, or at least have plans in the future, saving this guide for that trip will be quite helpful! And, if you know someone who’s visiting the country, you can share the guide with them too!

Northern Lights, Iceland. Source: Unsplash

General information about visiting Iceland

Before anyone travels to Iceland, it’s important for them to know what they will find there, at least in the general way!

So, before we move on with how to visit the country, what to do there, and some extra things, let’s talk about some general knowledge.

  • Weather: Iceland remains one of the coldest countries in the world, and temperatures mostly range from 13° to below zero depending on the month of the year and area.
  • Language: Icelandic.
  • Currency: Even though Iceland is part of Europe, they work with a different currency known as the “Icelandic Króna.”
  • Time Zone: Currently, Iceland works with the GMT time zone.

With this in mind, it is easier for people to have some kind of idea of where they are traveling to. It’s fair to say keeping in mind the weather is a must to enjoy the trip. Also, it’s important for travelers to know there are more hours of sun compared to other countries in certain months, and there are days with less sunlight, so be prepared!

Now that people have a bit more information on what to expect when visiting Finland, the next thing to do is to talk about how to prepare for a trip to the country. Therefore, let’s talk about things people need to have before traveling to Iceland!

Things to prepare before traveling to Iceland

Similar to what happens when traveling to other countries, it’s important to be prepared when traveling to Iceland. Knowing more about the local culture, the entry requirements, and even the safety, it’s quite important. And, of course, we can’t forget about the internet connection in Iceland.

So, with this information, it will be easier for travelers to be prepared to visit Iceland. Therefore, let’s go point by point to give detailed information about everything travelers must have when visiting Iceland!

Visa to visit Iceland

As Iceland is part of the European Continent, there’s a huge advantage for people who live in a certain list of countries. For people living in the “Schengen Area,” traveling to Iceland will be easier as there’s no need to apply for a Visa before traveling as the process is done entirely at the airport!

As for now, the list of countries that are part of the Schengen Area is the following:

  • Austria.
  • Belgium.
  • Czechia.
  • Croatia.
  • Denmark.
  • Estonia.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Greece.
  • Hungary.
  • Iceland.
  • Italy, Latvia.
  • Lithuania.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • Luxemburg.
  • Malta.
  • Norway.
  • The Netherlands.
  • Poland.
  • Slovakia.
  • Slovenia.
  • Spain.
  • Sweden.
  • Switzerland.

For people traveling from these countries, if their Visa is approved, they can stay up to 180 days in the country if they ask for an extension. Upon approval, people can stay 90 days in Iceland!

As for the rest of the countries, it’s required to visit the official Immigration Iceland website to know whether a traveler needs a visa or not. Overall, the process is quite easy to complete, and Iceland’s entry requirements aren’t as complicated compared to other countries.

Safety within Iceland

One of the main advantages of visiting Iceland is that it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. In 2023, Iceland is considered the third safest country in the world. But of course, even though it is safe, people need to have some things in mind before traveling there!

So, let’s give some overall safety tips for those visiting Iceland:

  • Get a travel insurance. You might not need it, but in case something happens to you, you won’t be in a rush.
  • Temperatures in Iceland aren’t as friendly as in other parts of the world. So, please pay attention to the weather to avoid having a bad time while exploring the country.
  • If you want to enjoy nightlife in Iceland, don’t drink too much, and don’t let strangers get too close to you.
  • Iceland has many places to visit, and this includes some volcanos, so please follow instructions to avoid accidents.
  • Rather than telling people to avoid going out at night due to robbery, it’s better to say that they should avoid walking at night due to low temperatures.
  • As hiking and nature-related activities are quite common in the country, always follow your guide’s advice!

Local culture in Iceland

When talking about local culture, it’s important to have two things in mind. First, let’s talk about the Icelandic roots. In this case, people can still find North Germanic traditions happening in the country. A clear example of this is the fact that, compared to other countries, the local language is well-preserved and is quite close to how Old Norse used to look.

Other than this, the local culture of people living there is established, mostly on independence and self-sufficiency, alongside some strong work ethics which will give people traveling to the country a great experience in terms of how they will be treated.

Also, even though it’s a cold place to be, people are rather warm in the way they treat others.

Lastly, religion is an important thing in the country. Most people living here are part of the Church of Iceland, which is closely related to the Lutheran Faith. There are other religions in the country, but alongside Christianity, these are the most common to see.

Reykjavík, Iceland. Source: Unsplash

Internet connection in Iceland

For people traveling to Iceland, it’s important to know how they will get an internet connection while in the country. Not having a way to communicate is something hard, especially for travelers, but there’s no need to worry due to how many alternatives there are to use in the country.

When it comes to getting to know the options available, there’s a handful to think about that will help travelers a lot when visiting the country. First of all, people will surely think about using a roaming in Iceland service, but there are other options as well.

Travelers will come across options such as Pocket WiFi devices, which are pretty useful but quite expensive too. But there are other options that are cheaper and easier to use for travelers!

As for now, the best option to use comes with an Iceland eSIM. With this, depending on which company decides to use, travelers will get an amazing internet connection. For us, the Iceland eSIM from Holafly comes as a great option; with unlimited data, phone calls, and other major features, it is a go-to option!

There’s another option for people to use as well, which is a traditional SIM card. For those who don’t have an eSIM-compatible device, this one happens to be a great option that will help travelers stay connected in no time!

And there’s free WiFi to use around the country as well. But, try not to rely all your trip on this option.

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Best dates to visit Iceland

Traveling to Iceland and knowing which are the best dates to enjoy as much as possible the country might be hard for some people. This is mostly due to how daylight works in the country, so knowing the best dates to visit the country will surely help more than one traveler.

Due to how daylight occurs in the country, the best dates to visit the country are from June to August, when summer takes place, and there are more summer-related activities to enjoy while in the country. And yes, even though it’s cold, there’s a lot to do in summer in the country.

As for people who want to enjoy other types of activities, September and March are great dates to visit the country. For those who want to see the Northern Lights, both months will give people great chances to enjoy this beautiful activity, and September is considered an off-peak season in the country!

When is the cheapest to travel to Iceland?

For people who want to save some money, it’s important to know what are the best dates to travel to Iceland. If people think Iceland is not a place to visit, well, it actually receives lots of tourists year after year

In this case, and similar to other countries, there’s an off-peak season where things will be cheaper, especially in terms of where to stay. So, traveling from September to May might be the best choice for travelers.

When traveling during these months, people will enjoy two seasons: Autumn and Spring. During these months, there are fewer visitors in the country, so for sure you will get some great deals while traveling there!

How to travel to Iceland?

Due to Iceland’s location, there are only two ways to travel to the country. The most common alternative is to go there by air, which will give people the chance to get there faster, but trips, depending on where people are, tend to last quite a bit.

Traveling by sea is also possible, so let’s talk about both options for travelers to think about them.

Traveling to Iceland by air

Due to the location, the easiest way of visiting Iceland is through air. But the good news about this is the fact there are lots of airline options for travelers from all around the world to have in mind if they decide to visit the country.

But one thing that’s important to remember is the fact there aren’t as many airports as people might think in Iceland. The Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is the only international airport in the whole country.

So, for people traveling from all around the world, this happens to be the best option to get to Iceland as soon as possible.

Traveling to Iceland by sea

For people who want to visit Iceland by sea, there’s only one option due to this. In this case, travelers can use a ferry to visit Iceland but to do this, it’s necessary to be in Denmark first, as most ferries start their way to the country from here.

Other than this, travelers won’t have another option to consider in case they want to enjoy a trip by sea.

Food in Iceland: What do Icelanders offer to travelers?

Compared to other countries from around the world, Iceland offers one of the healthiest foods for both locals and travelers. Even though local dishes aren’t, for many, as incredible as other cuisines from the world, there’s a lot to enjoy thanks to how local dishes are prepared.

First of all, it’s important that people keep in mind most food in the country is related to fish or lamb. Thanks to this, most local cuisines exist thanks to these, but the way they are managed to create unique combinations of dishes is great!

Other than this, Skyr, which happens to be a typical product of the country, is also a must-try for visitors. It’s important to note that thanks to its flavor, texture, and how good it combines with other foods, Skyr is a main part of Icelandic cuisine!

Holafly eSIM for Iceland for travelers. Source: Holafly.

Top 5 things to visit in Iceland

A country such as Iceland will give people a great opportunity to meet many unique places. But to make it easier, here’s a list of the top 5 things to know there:

  • Golden Circle: If you want to get to know as much as possible, Iceland as soon as possible comes with the Golden Circle. For visitors, getting to know waterfalls, geysers, volcanos, and much more in just one day comes as the perfect plan while traveling there.
  • Jokalsarlon Glacier Lagoon: The Jokalsarlon Lagoon is a bit far from the capital, Reykjavik, about 5 hours from the city, but it’s fair to say this is one of the most beautiful places to visit while in Iceland. The Breiðamerkurjökull collides with the Vatnajökull National Park and creates a unique landscape to meet.
  • Northern Lights: Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this is, without a doubt, one of the many things people need to see while traveling to Iceland. This phenomenon only takes place at certain places in the world, and Iceland is one of those. So if you are there in winter, it’s the perfect time to see Northern Lights!
  • Skaftafell National Reserve: With more than 4800 square kilometers, the Skatafell National Reserve is the perfect place to get to know as much as possible about Iceland and how things “work” there. With different landscapes, beautiful sights, and hiking activities, it is a go-to option for travelers.
  • The Westfjords: Compared to other places in Iceland, The Westfjords are way less visited. But there’s a secret about this place. It offers a unique experience that travelers won’t forget. There are glaciers, mountains, holidays, and much more waiting for people here!

What are the best holidays to enjoy in Iceland?

For people who want to enjoy their trip to Iceland, it’s time to know what are the best holidays to get to see while in the country:

  • First Day of Summer: Determined by the Old Norse calendar, which is still an important part of the Icelandic culture, the First Day of Summer is an important holiday in the country. This day marks the change between seasons, and even though it is mostly celebrated by kids, there’s always something to see as a traveler.
  • Icelandic National Day: From all year-long holidays, the National Day happens to be one of the most important holidays in the country. It is an ode to the local history, marking the freedom of the country, and also is a date to remember Jón Sigurðsson and his fight for freedom. Most people in the country celebrate this holiday, and there are parades, concerts, and much more waiting for travelers.
  • Bjórdagurinn: In English, “Beer Day” is one of the most important holidays in the country. After several years of beer being prohibited due to several reasons, in 1989, this became a holiday when the prohibition was lifted, and now, year after year, people hit the bars to celebrate it!
  • Midsummer Night: Also known as Jónsmessa, it is an Icelandic holiday. Celebrated on June 24, this one is a holiday that has a lot of importance for locals. During this day, and based on the local folklore, “it is healthy to roll naked in the dew-covered grass, cows gain the powers of speech, and seals become human.” Also, if people sit at a specific crossroad, elves will “attempt” to seduce them with food and gifts.
  • St. Thorlac’s Mass Day: St. Thorlac is the Patron Saint of Icelanders, and year after year, on December 23, there’s a mass in his honor. It’s also a date that celebrates the last day before Christmas arrives. During this day, fish is usually eaten, and depending on the location, locals and visitors can try out different types of food.

What do you do to enjoy the local culture of Iceland?

If you want to enjoy the local culture in Iceland, there are different activities for people to connect with it!

  • Pay for a full day: The best way to connect with local culture is to pay for a full-day tour. That way, getting to know more about the local culture will be a lot easier, and as there are so many things to know related to Iceland, this is the best way to make it possible!
  • Get involved in local activities: For people visiting the country, simply going out to get to know malls or squares might not be the best way to connect with local culture. If possible, participate in local activities that might help you know more about how things are in Iceland!
  • Travel in local holidays: If you want to know more about the local culture, especially in a place where the Norse roots are still present, getting to enjoy local holidays is a great way to make this possible. Travel during some of the dates we said before, and you’ll see it for yourself! 
  • Visit local historical sites: In a place such as Iceland, there are many historical places to visit. If possible, during your trip, the best thing you can do is to visit these historical sites to get to know more about the story of Iceland and how the Norse roots are still present.
  • Visit local churches: Religion is still important in Iceland nowadays, even more than people could think. So, if you are willing to get to know more about local religion and how things are there, this is a great way to connect with local culture in a different way.

How to practice ecotourism in Iceland?

Iceland is a perfect place to practice ecotourism here. In fact, if you do travel here and would rather practice other types of activities, chances are that you want to buy another airplane ticket and visit the country with these recommendations:

  • Go hiking: If you are a hiking lover, one of the best things to do is to go hiking around the country. Not only are mountains a whole different thing to see, but as there are many snowy peaks and glaciers, chances are your hiking adventure will hit you differently!
  • Take a bath at a natural hot pool: Iceland is known for having a huge geological activity happening all year long. But thanks to this, natural hot pools are found around the country, and if you want to practice ecotourism, you might want to take a bath on one of these!
  • Watch the Northern Lights: Watching the Aurora Borealis is not something that you have to drive to a certain spot to enjoy. You can do this by simply walking a bit and looking at the sky. The best thing is the result, so you better give it a try.
  • Visit ice caves: Due to Iceland being such a cold place, ice caves are found all around the country. So, find a guide that will take you to the best ice caves, and you will get to see beautiful blue ice caves that will surely take your breath away.
  • Visit National Parks: If you want to come across some of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see, visiting National Iceland Parks is the best thing you can do. Sure, you have to walk, but that’s part of what ecotourism is about, so don’t hesitate to do this to meet National Parks in Iceland!

Moving around Iceland: What are the options to use?

Moving around Iceland isn’t complicated. Truth be told, there are fewer methods available compared to other countries, but believe us when we say it is not something so necessary for those traveling there.

  • Bus: The bus service will be the most reliable ally for people traveling to Iceland. Not so complicated to use and fairly cheap compared to other alternatives, the bus service remains as a great alternative for visitors!
  • Bike or scooter: Do you want to live the adventure of being in one of the less polluted countries in the world? Chances are you want to try to get some fresh air while moving around on either a bike or scooter!
  • Taxi apps: One of the most common services around the world nowadays. Taxi apps will give people the chance to move around in no time, and, at certain hours, this is the go-to option for travelers!

What to buy in Iceland?

Our Iceland guide is coming to an end, but before moving on, people need to know what they can buy in Iceland. In this case, there are different alternatives to consider using, and some of these are the following: 

  • Woolen Souvenirs: For sure, one of the most common souvenirs found in the country is woolen souvenirs. The most famous one is the lopapeysa, but due to its price, it might not be the best option for some travelers, but there are other souvenirs waiting for you!
  • Nature condoms: It might sound like something funny to buy, but this is actually one of the most common things people can take from the country. Nature Condoms are closely related to Icelandic landscapes, and this will surely surprise the person to whom you give it, or you might want to take some for yourself.
  • Skincare and beauty products: If you travel to Iceland, one of the best things to buy there are these products. There are lots of options for people to take, and being Iceland such a pure and rich destination when looking for these products, it’s a great option to buy!
  • Local chocolate: Do you want to try something new or take some to a person who loves chocolate? Well, local chocolate is surely different from those you tried in the past. You might want to take a few with you back home!

What’s the cheapest thing to buy in Iceland?

When it comes to telling what’s the cheapest thing to buy in Iceland, things are a bit complicated. This is due to the fact there are many options, and some options aren’t considered in this section.

For people who want to buy some things to take back home, your best shot is chocolates and Nature Condoms. Compared to woolen products, well, these will suit your budget a lot more.

FAQs for traveling to Iceland

Is it easy for travelers to get Icelandic Króna in the country?

Yes. People will get the chance to exchange their money, whether these are dollars or euros, at different exchanges once they arrive in Iceland.

Is it possible to get a digital nomad Visa in Iceland?

Yes. Currently, people can apply for a Digital Nomad Visa. If you want to know more about it, here’s all the info about how to get a Digital Nomad Visa for Iceland.

Is it better to stay at a hotel or at an Airbnb in Iceland?

This will mostly depend on each person’s budget. As for both options, there are lots of alternatives available, so you might want to spend some time looking for a hotel or Airbnb that will make you feel more comfortable.

Is English a common language in Iceland?

Due to their education system, one of the best things for foreigners when visiting Iceland is the fact they can speak two languages, English being their second most common language.

Are there Airbnbs available to stay in Iceland?

As a matter of fact, Airbnbs are becoming more and more common around the country. And, these are quite cool, which gives people the chance to live a unique experience while traveling there!

How much money does it cost to visit Iceland for a week?

This will depend on each traveler. People could spend around $80 to $90 USD per day, which means that a week of visiting Iceland would cost roughly $630 USD. But for people who want to travel to some other places and go out more, the budget can easily increase by a lot.

Is Iceland safe for solo travelers?

Yes. Being one of the safest countries in the world, you won’t have to be worried if you are traveling alone!

When is there more daylight in Iceland?

For people who are willing to see the sun all day long, from May to July, the sun basically doesn’t set. On the other hand, from December to January, there’s a lot less sunlight during the day.