Iceland (Icelandic: Ísland) is also known as ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’. This Nordic island nation, the most sparsely populated country in Europe, is defined by its dramatic landscape with hot springs, volcanoes and lava fields. Most of the Icelandic population live in the progressive capital city, Reykjavik, which happens to be run on geothermal power. When in Iceland watch the northern lights dance, dine on delicious Icelandic cuisine, zen out in a volcanic hot spring and while marveling at the midnight sun, consider the fact that you’re just a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle.
ICELAND TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Reykjavik, the country’s capital and largest city, is on the coast of Iceland. Reykjavik has a bustling bar scene, trendy cafes and high-energy clubs, the nightlife is awesome here with epic parties happening throughout the city. Once you’ve partied all night visit the the National and Saga museums which trace Iceland’s Viking history. This naturally beautiful town is as rich in natural beauty as it is in technology and is highly hip and progressive.
The Blue Lagoon
This geothermal spa in southwestern Iceland, called The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland‘s top tourist attractions. The spa is located in a lava field near Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, in a location favorable for geothermal power. Bathe in the warm water which is rich in blue-green algae, fine silica mud and mineral salts; all great for your skin. Most people stay for about 2 hours at the Blue Lagoon but for many 90 minutes is more than enough.
The Northern Lights
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. The Northern Lights occur high above the surface of the earth where the atmosphere has become extremely thin, at an altitude of 100-250 km. These incredibly beautiful scene is created by electrically charged particles that make the thin air shine, not unlike a fluorescent light. Finding a tour guide in Iceland will be easy and let them take you to the best spot for viewing this spectacular natural phenomenon.
Over the last two decades, Iceland has become one of Europe’s premier whale watching destinations and whale watching is a top thing to do in Iceland. The best time for spotting whales such as Minke, Orca, Blue Whale and Humpbacks around Iceland is the summer: June, July, and August. Whale watching tours are usually combined with sea angling and puffin watching too. Although the high season for whale watching begins in April and lasts until mid-October, many whales stay in the Icelandic waters all through the year.
Iceland is well known for its many stunningly beautiful waterfalls and there are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. The waterfalls are as diverse as they are many, and they are all worth a visit. The three top waterfalls that you must visit while in Iceland are Gullfoss (‘The Golden Waterfall’), widely considered the most famous of Icelandic waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss, another popular waterfall when traveling Iceland’s South Coast. This is narrow and tall waterfall, with a drop of 63 meters, that you can walk behind for a great photo. Godafoss is the only waterfall specifically featured on the classic ‘Diamond Circle’ route and at 12 meters high and 30 meters wide, is the most famous of the Skjálfandafljót waterfalls, and one of the most famous in the country.
Read more: 10 incredible things to do in Iceland
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Bucket Bunny List of the top 25 Europe travel adventures.
Run with the bulls in Spain, do a husky safari in Finland or take a dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. Enjoy browsing our top 25 Europe Travel Adventures and be inspired to tick off a few yourself.
ICELAND TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Winter Light Festival
The long winter days of darkness in Iceland become illuminated magnificently at Reykjavik’s annual Winter Lights Festival. Entertainment and art combine at this festival that lasts for three days. The aim is to create amazing light installations on separate buildings, in various public places, museums, concert halls and even swimming pools. Don’t miss ‘Pool Night’ that takes place at the city’s amazing thermal pools.
Food and Fun
A treat for the taste buds, this annual festival brings chefs from around the world to Iceland. As an extra serving of food and fun, chefs compete to create a three-course meal using Icelandic ingredients exclusively. People can sample the dishes and of course shake hands with the chefs.
Iceland National Day
Icelandic National Day is an annual holiday in Iceland which commemorates the foundation of The Republic of Iceland on 17 June 1944. This date also marks the end of Iceland’s centuries old ties with Denmark. The Icelandic National Day celebrations in Reykjavík take place annually in the city centre on June 17th from 10:00 in the morning until 19:00. Expect to see fun parades, street theater, sideshows, flag waving and dancing.
Language: The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. English is also widely spoken as many people who live in Iceland are fluent in English due to working in the tourism industry.
Currency: Icelandic Kronur.
Visa: Visiting Iceland will usually require a visa. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Iceland is required, which will depend on the country you are from, and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and also the cost.
Electricity: In Iceland the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Iceland, if the standard voltage in your country is between 220-240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Iceland: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN ICELAND
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Iceland are listed below. Don’t drool!
Skyr: Skyr has been Iceland’s signature food for nearly a thousand years, dating back to the 9th century. This Icelandic dairy product has become popular worldwide. It has the consistency of Greek yogurt, but a milder flavor and is low in fat and high in protein. It’s served with some fruit and milk and sometimes used in smoothies too.
Pylsur: If you are visiting Iceland, specifically Reykjavik, then try Iceland’s version of a “
Local Fish: An island nation will surely do fish well. In Iceland, you will get a huge variety of fish, cooked to perfection in a variety of ways. Caught in the morning these fish are as fresh as they get.
Rye Bread: Rugbraud, is an Icelandic straight rye bread. Icelandic rye bread is hearty, sweet, and delicious. It is traditionally baked in a pot or steamed in special wooden casks by burying it in the ground near a hot spring, in which case it is known as hverabrauð or “hot-spring-bread“.
Lamb Soup: Kjotsupa, an Icelandic lamb soup, is a traditional recipe that optimizes the flavors of root vegetables including carrots, rutabagas, and potatoes.
WHERE TO STAY IN ICELAND
Iceland is a reasonably affordable destination to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Iceland is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Iceland affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Iceland will not disappoint you.
If you’re traveling to Iceland during peak season (Europe’s summer time or during the Easter or Christmas holidays) or you prefer to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation well in advance and expect to pay a high price. A basic hotel room in Iceland can cost less than 100 euros. If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Reykjavik.
Whatever month you choose to visit Iceland, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Iceland is an extremely popular year-round destination with business travelers and backpackers.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Iceland. However, if you are backpacking in Iceland or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Iceland very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT ICELAND
The best time to visit Iceland is in the summer months when Iceland is at its warmest, this is in July and August. The month of June with its 24 hours of daylight, is another very popular time to visit Iceland and this month sees about as many tourists as the peak of summer. Still, even during the summer months, rain and strong winds are not uncommon.
ICELAND TRAVEL BUDGET
Iceland is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Iceland really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 100 to 250 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least 250 to 500+ euros per day.
IS ICELAND SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety does not need to be a huge concern for women travelers in Iceland which is considered a generally very safe country to visit. As with any country you visit, always be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Iceland aren’t as safe as other areas so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of travel in Europe I would never leave home without insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Iceland trip.
ICELAND VISA CHECKER
ICELAND FLIGHT DEALS
ICELAND TOURS & ACTIVITIES
ICELAND PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Iceland, like most other places in Europe, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Iceland.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Iceland. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip. If you’re visiting Iceland during the warmer months it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cold mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Iceland include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.