Last month I spent 3 days in Iceland but before I went there I actually didn’t know that much about it. Apart from the basics like the Northern Lights, the geo thermal pools, and a volcano that caused the ash cloud a few years back, that was about all I knew so I had to research fast. Whilst scanning every blog and site out there, I made a few notes to compile in this blog post, hopefully making it easier for those of you asking the same questions before you go to Iceland.
Will I See The Northern Lights In Summer (August)?
Let’s cut to the question we all want to know about – The Northern Lights. I know I researched this a lot and it was even the first question I asked when I got into Reykjavik; “will we see the northern lights?”. The answer is no because it doesn’t really get dark during this time of year. I went from 8-11 August 2016 and even though they say you have a chance of seeing them from mid August, I don’t quite know how that is even possible. The sun would set at 10:30pm although it wouldn’t really get dark. If you go to Iceland when the lights are visible (between Sep – Mar) they say you can even see them in Reykjavik although it’s best to drive out of the city for better visibility.
How do I get around Iceland?
So I was deciding what was going to be best for our short trip – do we jump on a tour, get a hire car, base ourselves in Reykjavik? The list is endless. After researching a lot and given the time we had, I decided to pick up a hire car at the airport, base ourselves in Reykjavik and go on some day trips towards the South of the island where most of the tourist sites were.
Do I need a 4×4 to Drive around Iceland?
Our car in Iceland
If you are going in Summer you don’t need a 4×4. Iceland is made up of pretty much one road called the Ring Road, which circles the entire country over 280 miles long. We hired our car with Green Motion. They pick you up at the airport, drive you 5 minutes around the corner to their depot. Only big hire companies like Europcar are based at the airport. Green Motion was the cheapest I could find – £200 for 3 days car rental. I then took out car insurance for any knocks and gravel which to be honest, I don’t think you need if you’re over there in Summer. I did find it difficult to drive an automatic for the first time and it was quite stressful driving on the other side of the road (they drive on the right) to begin with. Parking in the middle of town was easy and costs £4 for 5 hours.
What is there to see in Iceland?
We drove down to Vik on our first day stopping off at the sights including this waterfall. It took us from 9am – 11pm to do this. We then spent the next two days in Reykjavik, going to the golden circle and to the Blue Lagoon aswell. One thing I did find was this genius map making it a lot easier to plan the trip.
A post about my trip to Iceland and what there is to do there will be coming soon!
Where to stay in Reykjavik
Our accom we absolutely loved, right in the middle of Reykjavik
I researched a lot about Reykjavik and where the town centre was. But I’ll make it easy for you with the map below so you can find it here.
Laugavegur – the main street in Reykajik
Without really realizing it, I had booked us into the most beautiful Airbnb on the street pararel to the main street. Reykjavik is actually really small so everywhere is in walking distance. Read my Where To Stay In Reykjavik post here.
How expensive is Iceland?
Vegan Food at Glo Restaurant
Iceland isn’t cheap. We actually went to the supermarket a lot and bought our own food but I did notice at tourist sites you’ll be looking at paying £14 ($30 Aus dollars) for a burger and chips or £13 for a soup. We paid out £40 for basics like musli, almond milk, some snacks etc. Vegan food was easy to get too, even vegan sandwiches in supermarkets and a healthy vegan café in Reykjvik. To go to a nice restaurant it was looking at £30 for a main meal ($60 AUS).
What to wear in Iceland
Everyone, and I mean everyone is head to toe in hiking gear. I was told this before I went but bizarrely that’s what tourists wear over there. I on the other hand lived in my boots and jeans which was fine. It is chilly in August – I was wearing a t shirt, two jumpers and 2 jackets in the daytime but had to take layers off from time to time and it’s colder at night.
What I wore in Iceland
I do recommend wearing some good hiking trainers/boots though as some of the waterfalls are quite slippery and you might want to do some longer walks etc when there.
Are there many tourists in Iceland?
We were shocked at the amount of tourists in Iceland. There were bus loads at all the tourist sites, people cycling around the country to people hitch hiking.
I’m sure once you start to travel around the country, there are less tourists, but you could even camp at some of the tourist spots as well.
You can still get that ‘I’m the only one here’ photo. The key is to wait it out. Wait until the tour buses leave and you’ll be able to get that shot. All three photo’s are were taken at the same tourist site within 15 minutes of each other.
Is Iceland worth visiting?
Absolutely yes. There’s no other country like it. The air was the cleanest I have ever witnessed and it literally feels like you’re on another planet. There is total silence outside of Reykjavik and a real sense of space, an unusual beauty that I’ve not seen anywhere else in the world. The combination of waterfalls, volcanoes, and black sand beaches make this country worth visiting alone.
Thanks for reading