When one thinks of Iceland, it’s hard to not imagine volcanoes with glaciers in the backdrop, the northern lights as well as an army of elves, and trolls all over the island. Iceland is also where the #1 rule of dating is to make sure you’re not cousins. With such reputation, it’s hard for Iceland to not capture the imaginations of many.
From natural wonders, stopover campaigns ran by Icelandair and WowAir and Iceland’s uniqueness in terms of being a holiday destination, people are really taking note and making their way to this little island in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, Iceland receives more visitors than its own population annually!
If you’re thinking of making your way there, here are a few of my observations and tips about Iceland before you leave.
1. Be Respectful of the Environment
This goes without saying, but any time you are visiting another place, city, or country, you should always be respectful of what’s around you. Not only is it respectful to the people living in the area, and to those people who hasn’t had the opportunity to experience it just yet, it will keep you safe.
Please, please, please, as tourists, be respectful of the incredible natural wonders that this island offers. I get it, you are excited about the Northern Lights, geysers, glaciers, black sand beaches, and that’s barely scratching the surface. Being aware and respectful at all times will make your experience a much pleasant one and make it an experience for others too. Respect the warning signs posted around the geysers (don’t get too close – a quick reminder, it’s scalding HOT water that’s being spurted out) not getting too close to the water at the beaches because they can suction you out into the ocean in a matter of seconds are just a two quick ways to keep you safe on your trip.
There are a few posts written by Icelanders themselves, providing a few important things to keep in mind to keep yourself safe during your trip to Iceland. Here is a post from I Heart Reyjkavik (Please don’t be Stupid Or How to Return from Your Trip to Iceland in One Piece) and Guide to Iceland‘s informative post on Things that Can Kill You in Iceland.
2. It is really that safe.
On a lighter note, I will run out of superlatives when it comes to describing why Iceland is considered the best spot for anyone – solo female travellers, families with young children – Iceland is simply a vacation from paranoia and fear! In my 4 days in Iceland, I have only seen 1 policeman (on one occasion) and I’ve been told that they don’t carry guns, or taser, or any protective weapons except for a mace.
Consider this, I was on a day tour where the tour guide left the car key in the fob, and our bus door opened for 60 mins while we grabbed some snacks… Our valuables – DSLR equipments, bags, and anything else one might carry during a day trip were left with the door wide open – nothing went missing.
3. It’s a “Plastic” Country.
I never felt like I had to have a krona on hand (which is awesome because it would be hard to convert back), but Iceland is truly a plastic country. Even hot dog stands on the street have a credit card machine.
4. Don’t Dress for The Temperature, Dress for the Rain & Wind.
In looking at Instagram photos of Iceland, and many tour brochures, I had assumed that going to Iceland would require my warmest winter jacket possible. I had the foresight to leave it behind and worried the entire length of my trip that I had made a mistake. Well I didn’t. Layering helped keep me warm, but the most important lesson I learned was to dress for the wind and rain (whether it be wearing a wind-braaker, a beanie to protect my head from the wind, and rain jacket) because did it pour!
5. The City is Walkable
No need to spend money on taxi or bus – you can get from one end of the city to the other in about 30 minutes! It would take less time if you don’t dally on the shopping areas or stop to take pictures.
6. Food is insanely expensive, so budget accordingly.
I survived an entire week on (delicious) Icelandic hot dog (get it made with everything – fried and raw onions, mayo with pickles, and mustard) which was the cheapest thing you could order at 399kr ($4). I had a sit down dinner one evening with a girl I had just met and wanted to try the famed Icelanding cuisines including fish and lamb… I had the best lamb of my life, but it was also the most expensive plate of lamb I’ve ever had (4950kr roughly $58 after currency conversion fees and exchange rate)
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Have you been to Iceland?
P.S. Don’t forget! If you’re looking for inexpensive flights, don’t forget to use Skyscanner or download the App on your smartphones so you can always find the best deals for your next trips!