What you should know about Iceland!

View from Perlan, Reykjavik, Iceland

It was definitely not our last time in Iceland and we want to share some of our experiences. Some of the following might be familiar to you, but nevertheless this list might be really helpful to you.

Þingvellir, Golden Circle, Iceland

The language!

It sounded a little bit crazy, maybe a little bit odd. While on the road, we sometimes listened to Icelandic radio. It was strange as we just couldn’t assign it.

But Icelanders are so friendly and helpful. Actually almost everyone speaks English. But everyone is happy, when tourists at least know some words in their language.

Hello = Halló

Thank you = Takk/ Takk fyrir

Please = Plís

Sorry = Afsakið

Bye = Bæ

The first letter in Þingvellir is pronounced like ‚th‘ in English. The letter ‘ð‘ like in Hellisheiði is pronounced simirlarly but softer.

Jökulsarlon, Iceland

Iceland is clean!

I’m taking it a little bit too serious when it comes to cleaning. So Iceland is a dream for me. It was clean everywhere. Even in some trucker diner somewhere in the Icelandic outback, they make a good job in keeping everything clean.

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is expensive!

Especially travellers from Germany or generally from middle- and southern Europe will be shocked seeing the prices here. The price level is really high in Iceland.

But there are good news for you: You don’t have to pay entrance fees at most spectacular sights. Even popular attractions like the Geyser or Gulfoss don’t charge you for entering. There are exceptions like the Blue Lagoon (extremely expensive) and some museums or the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik (normal prices).

Iceland

Except for one tunnel north of Reykjavik, there are also no road charges. Gas is just a little bit more expensive than in Germany.

For sure, eating and drinking out is really expensive in Iceland. Of course, we knew that before we came. But it took until we had a look at the first menu to realize it.

Reykjavik, Iceland

You can save tons of cash cooking at ‘home’. We were lucky with our homestay as it included a kitchen and we could make sandwiches for our trips.

You will see the differences in the supermarkets as well, but it’s nevertheless a good alternative to expensive restaurants.

Especially Reykjavik is said to have a huge variety of high class restaurants and of course, you should definitely give it a try. But we were just too stingy with that.

Furthermore there is another way to eat cheap: Just contact your inner ethnologist, observe the natives and act like them. We made an astonishing observation.

Iceland

Gas stations – All substance and no show!

You shouldn’t mistake our gas stations with those in Iceland. Just like many buildings in Iceland, they don’t look very good from the outside. But they’re surprisingly good looking from the inside.

In general, there’s a Grill 66 in all ‘Olís’ Gas Stations. The diner is included and their burgers are delicious. A burger with fries is around 8€ which is great value for your money.

Iceland

We want to mention one special Hot Dog place: Pylsuvagninn in Selfoss. Actually, we were on our way to Subway when we noticed all the cars standing in line for this unimpressive booth with a happy sausage logo. Of course, we had to try what this was all about. Result: Best Hot Dogs ever!

To sum it up: Trust Icelanders. They know what’s good.

Jökulsarlon, Iceland

Iceland is cold!

The right wardrobe for your Iceland trip is easy to find: warm! Even in summer, the temperatures are higher than 20°C and it rains very often.

In winter, you should take one warm jacket and good shoes with you. They’re the main basics. If you don’t have much money left, you should choose warm over stylish. If you have the money, you can do both. Personally, I love the 66°North clothes, as they’re perfect for Iceland.

We were really lucky with the weather and all the sunny days, but it was just a few degrees over zero. Together with the wind, it was insane sometimes. All in all, the temperatures are actually mild regarding the northern location. Compared to similar regions of Norway or Canada, it is really warm.

Snaefellsness, Iceland

Rental car and traffic!

All guides and almost everyone in the internet recommend an all-terrain vehicle to see Iceland. It depends. Frost and snow are no problems on normal roads, if you have a compact car with good winter tires. And winter tires are obligatory in Iceland.

If you want to explore more off the beaten track, you should definitely take a 4WD. In case of damages on gravel roads, insurance won’t cover the costs for a ‘normal’ car and this could be quite a huge amount of money.

In case of snow storms, Iceland is well organized clearing the roads. You just have to be careful and there will be no problem. Think about it twice as an all-terrain vehicle costs double the amount of a compact car. This can easily sum up to a few hundreds of Euros.

Hellisheiði, Iceland

But just as said before, it depends on what you’re up to. If you’re willing to stay at your hotel while the weather is bad, you can easily travel in Iceland in winter. The people here do a great job clearing the roads.

Regarding insurances, we don’t want to make a recommendation here. You have to decide on your own. As always we took a comprehensive insurance. We didn’t add sand and ash insurance, as the risk of damage is low when it rains regularly and there isn’t so much wind.

Iceland Horses, Iceland

Icelandic Horses!

They’re everywhere and beautiful. There’s not much to say despite they’re one of the most beautiful creatures on earth. Their hair might make some people jealous.

Iceland Horses, Iceland

Iceland Horses, Iceland

Iceland Horses, Iceland

Iceland Horses, Iceland

They’re very photogenic and we had the feeling they loved posing for the camera.

Skyr, Golden Circle, Iceland

Hipster Mecca Iceland!

Long, thick beard and lumberjack shirt? 66°North and others seem to be responsible for what hipsters all around the world fill their closets. You can buy great stuff here in Iceland, but it’s really expensive.

But it’s not only the cloths, which show the Hipsterism. All supermarkets offer various kinds of Skyr (Icelandic yoghurt with a lot of proteins and less fat), and thousands of gluten free, lactose free and vegan superpowersmoothies! To be fair, they taste delicious.

Þingvellir, Golden Circle, Iceland

Icelanders believe in elves!

It’s not only Icelandair telling you about this. This is no joke! A lot of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. There’s even an elf school and experts checking building land and planning street bypasses.

If there is proof that once elves were or are living in certein places, it’s not allowed to build. A woman named Erla Stefánsdóttir, inofficially named ‘elves commisioner’ became famous for her work as a seer. Icelandic building companies or private people contacted her for her expertise. Just as said, her title was never given officially. But you can see how important this matter is for Icelanders as it is their national treasure.

You may think it’s funny or not: We think it’s totally cute and makes Icelanders even more likable. Sagas and stories are passed from generation to generation. If we find the time, we’ll definitely engage more with this topic.

Snaefellsness, Iceland

Civilization doesn’t go without saying!

Men won’t care so much, but for us women, it’s a plague. There aren’t many opportunities to find a restroom. Just because of this, I recommend not to drink too much, if you’re not a fan of public urination.

We saw people parking on the roadside and women looking ashamed, because they didn’t know what to do. We could guess their problem on their stance. Especially between Vík und Jökulsárlón it was a true nightmare – nothing for a weak blatter.

Conclusion: Use every restroom you can, Ladies. It may take a while for the next opportunity.

Selfoss, Iceland

Hot Tubs – the best thing you can do in Iceland!

Almost all villages in Iceland have baths, no matter how small they are. In addition a lot of people have their own Hot Tubs. Best geothermal water with very pleasant 42°C.

Yes, we know, there are snow storms and the cold. If the weather forecast tells you about it, you should take it serious. This applies especially to Iceland. It’s annoying when it happens, but this doesn’t mean the day is doomed.

You shouldn’t stay too long in a Hot Tub though, as it might be bad for your circulation.

Þingvellir, Iceland

Northern Lights!

Who doesn’t want to see them, those green, dancing lights? If you want to see the Northern Lights, you have to travel to Iceland in winter.

To be precise in September/October and from March to April. These are the months with the highest probability to see the Northern Lights.

Read here, if you want to know how to make pictures of them!

Snaefellsness, Iceland

Plan some time here!

The weather can make it happen: You can’t move on for while, therefore you shouldn’t plan too much for your trips when in Iceland in winter. Or you do it like we did: Have one permanent base and plan day trips.

And: Iceland allows a maximum speed of 90 km/h, so it takes more time to get around than on German Autobahn.

We hope, this list helps you a little bit preparing your Iceland adventure. As we’re willing to head to Iceland again, any further advice is more than welcome!

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2 Responses

    • Jan

      You’re welcome…if you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

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