Years back, traveling to Iceland may have seen like traveling to another world. But in today’s ultra-connected world, Iceland is becoming one of the planet’s hottest cold-weather travel destinations. With rolling green hills, frozen glaciers, wild horses, spectacular waterfalls, and whatever else you could imagine in a fairy tale setting, this country is simply magical. So, grab your hat and gloves because we’re sharing our best Iceland Travel Tips.
Well, actually, guest contributor, Meg Wert is here to tell us all about her amazing experience traveling to Iceland. From travel highlights to traversing the rugged landscape, her three-day trip (!!) will certainly inspire you to put Iceland on your travel bucket list!
Iceland Travel Tips
Early February in Iceland … the best adventure to be had!
The landscape is expanse. Just breathtaking in its beauty, openness, and sometimes baron countryside, Iceland is such a gem of a place to visit in winter. First, February? Yep! Perfect!! It is cold, but we wanted adventure, so we packed a lot of layers and hit the icy road in front of us.
There are vast differences in weather depending on which part of the country you are in, and from what I can tell, there is beauty to be had on each part. Our trip was quick, we left the east coast of the US on a Wednesday after work arriving about 5am EST on Thursday morning in early February and found ourselves back state side by Sunday eve. Some structure was planned, leaving the door open for side trips and meandering adventures, if we were to come across any.
How to Get Around in Iceland
Day 1: First we landed in Keﬂavik (which is near Reykjavik) .There is a free shuttle over to all the car rental places. We had booked in advance and used Blue Car and got a nice discount.
Some things to be aware of when choosing your vehicle:
- Diesel is cheaper per liter and has a better fuel economy (and gas is quite expensive).
- All Wheel Drive and Standard over Automatic are better for the roads in the winter.
- This was a great blog our daughter found, Live Life With A View.
After getting the car we actually took a recommendation and went to the Viking Museum. They opened at 7:00am and had a great breakfast where we ate under a replica of one of the original viking ships. We then explored the history, migration patterns, tools and culture of the Vikings.
What to See in Iceland
From there we traveled down to Blue Lagoon (which we also planned and purchased in advance). We found this to be great. I knew since we took an overnight ﬂight we would be up for 30 hrs – and this allowed us to just ﬂoat, relax, and enjoy. Truly worth it! Bigger than we realized and with plenty of space (which is nice). We went in on regular price not deluxe and after being there, that’s what I would do again.
The contrast of below freezing temps with magical Blue Geothermal Spa waters was absolutely wonderful. We then stayed at the Northern Light Inn which was less than 10 minutes out. The hospitality was nice and the rooms are clean, and spacious, and we even enjoyed “the happy hour stand” where you can make your own wafﬂes with fresh whipped cream and jam. There were games and hang out area and they also asked if we wanted a call if the Northern lights came out.
Day 2: From the Blue Lagoon (which is South East Iceland) we drove east toward Jokulsarlon, which is a part of the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull. We knew that we would have full day of driving with stops for spontaneous adventure (and the plan of going into a glacier on day 3). Our ﬁrst stops were at the Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi waterfalls. Absolutely beautiful. We didn’t get the chance to walk behind the falls because of the ice and high winds but would imagine you could at another time.
Next up, we spent time at the amazing Reynisfjara Beach with pitch black sand and massive geological formations. This beach is magniﬁcent. As we continued on we stumbled across a Rutshellir Cave. It is believed that there are up to 200 of these manmade caves which were partially dug out of the mountains as a type of shelter. When we stopped, we were able to go inside and see the entrance structure that was built.
Glacier Tours in Iceland
Day 3: We had booked in advance a Glacier Ice Excursion tour through Ice Explorers – and it was incredible! To say we had no idea what to expect is an understatement. The glacier was closed the day before due to such rough weather, and they explained that the glacier changes every day. The tour guides were incredible drivers with a depth of knowledge in reading the ice, the snow cover and the potential of newly formed ﬁssures.
Their company custom builds these monster trucks which traverse these incredible formations. Once on the glacier, they took us into a cave and gave us so much information on every aspect. This tour group was beyond compare with depth of knowledge, safety, good humor and ability to give an unparalleled experience.
From here, we drove over to In Reykjavik where we would spend our last evening and next morning. We had booked a stay at Hotel Reykjavik Centrum. This was the best hotel of whole trip with great hospitality, beautiful rooms and open areas as well as great walkability to surrounding city. Just excellent. Also being newly built, and over what was once a viking area, they had to create a museum around their excavation.
Once we settled in, we walked a few blocks over to a cafe/bar called Kafﬁ Vinyl. This was the best food (happens to be vegan) of our whole trip and the space was small and nice with a great relaxed vibe. I had the BBQ Portabella Mushroom Sandwich. We also walked around the city center, which is all of the surrounding blocks to the hotel, and saw beautiful architecture, a night time fun run with babies in strollers to college kids and older people all enjoying the night.
Day 4: The following morning, we enjoyed a breakfast at a charming rustic coffee house on the neighboring square. Reykjavik seems like an incredible city within an incredible country where you feel completely safe, the people are so friendly, and it’s also ﬁlled with so much to do! Next time we go, we will have a city tour to get the feel, history and culture vibe from locals, take a whale watch ride and cover the Golden Circle which covers the northern area of Iceland.
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