Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts when visiting Iceland

I just got back from a fantastic long weekend in Iceland! It’s been a bucket-list destination for ages (along with New Zealand which is next year!) so I was super excited to visit. After a jam-packed four days (including my birthday!) i’m going to share my top 5 do’s and don’ts for visiting Iceland…

Do

Check out the Golden Circle. The Golden circle is a name for a set tour route which covers the Þingvellir National Park, the breathtaking Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, where you can view the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. You’ll also get to visit the no-man’s land between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and the original Viking Parliament location too! It’s the most popular tourist route and believe me, there’s a reason. Our tour was 10am-7:30pm and included highly informative commentary from a local guide.

 

Don’t

Expect the Northern Lights to definitely be on show. As our tour guide explained, the northern lights are like a VIP rock band, sometimes they show up and sometimes they don’t. We got a glimpse of them as a long green swirl across a dark sky but nothing at all like the postcards. We got very lucky in that someone else at the same tour had a proper long exposure camera and sent us the photos they took!

Do

Visit the Phallological Museum. As the world’s only museum entirely devoted to penises, this wasn’t a hard decision to make. Well worth a visit just for the laughs and ews as you gaze across a varied collection of penises- from pickled dog wenies to human dongs. I particularly enjoyed the penis shot glass tray and the enormous sperm whale penis!

Don’t

Underestimate the food costs. On average we found a normal meal was minimum £18 per person. Even grabbing a subway meal was £14! We were luckily staying at a B&B with breakfast included and so made the most of that. Even in a grocery store a sandwich costs £7:50 most of the time and a load of bread was £6!

Do

Check out the local cuisine. There are plenty of burger bars and Subways (though no McDonalds) but the best Icelandic food we tried was at the Icelandic Street Food eatery. With a teeny menu and tiny seating area it’s easy to overlook but the food is delicious and the staff exceptionally friendly. I had the seafood soup, served in a bread bowl and my partner had the lamb and both were super yummy. You also get a free soup refill included making it great value! The owner also shared a tray of free baked goods which was a nice touch.

Don’t

Forget to pre-book your tours. Lots of tours are incredibly popular and you don’t want to miss out! You’ll also very likely pay more if you book on the day so i’d definitely recommend booking beforehand. We booked through Grayline tours for all our tours and transport and they were fantastic and decent value. https://grayline.is/

Do

Visit the Geothermal Baths. If you’re on limited time or money the famous Blue Lagoon may not be an option for you. This was the case for us giving we had two tours booked already, but we keen to still enjoy the natural hot spring of Iceland. We opted for a stop at the Fontana Geothermal Baths as part of our Golden Circle tour. Here we were able to enjoy several hot outdoor pools whilst we enjoyed the beautiful scenery around us. There was swimsuit and towel hire available and a cute cafe to relax in too. Honestly I could have stayed in the pools all day!

Don’t

Rely on taxi services. Iceland taxis are incredibly expensive and if you’re flying in internationally, you’ll find yourself at Keflavik International Airport which is a good hour driving from the main city of Reykjavík. We pre-booked our airport transfers with Grayline which was a heck of a lot cheaper than a taxi (85 euro round trip compared to an estimated 400 euro!). You’ll also find there is no public rail service, though there are city buses.

Do

Wander around the city and check out the National Museum of Iceland. We spent a lot of time just walking around down the main shopping street of Laugavegur where you can find all sorts of shops and museums and wandering down to the Harbour to see the ocean view and ships. One of the best museums was the National Museum of Iceland which costs the equivalent 14GBP for entry and also gives to access to another museum the Culture House. The National Museum was full of interesting history about the founding of Iceland and its Viking history, Iceland through the ages and gave you the chance to try on some Viking gear (I needed a child-size helmet)! Culture House offered a huge selection of artwork, documents and a traditional dance show- well worth a visit.

Don’t

Underestimate the cold! Might sound super obvious but especially if you’re visiting in the winter season (November- March), doing a late night northern lights tour or visiting the Gullfoss Waterfall where you’re super exposed to the wind. I have chronic pain and am particularly susceptible to the cold and was wrapped up in four layers minimum the whole trip.

We had an amazing time visiting Iceland and i’d love to return one day to see more of this beautiful country. Hope this list helps anyone planning a trip 🙂

 

Ruthy, xo

3 thoughts on “Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts when visiting Iceland”

  1. Friends of mine went there recently too and said the Blue Lagoon was over rated, far nicer hot springs elsewhere. think you got a good one!

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