Traveling around Iceland: What to see and visit

Planning a trip to Iceland.

Independent travel to Iceland - how to plan

An independent trip to Iceland is not that difficult! A lot of companies are ready to prepare you a trip plan, put you on a bus with 20 more of them and take you around stopping wherever it’s planned. But it’s much better to be able to choose what you want to see, to see the sights of Iceland that are interesting to you!

So you decided to visit Iceland on your own, now it’s necessary to plan your own trip to Iceland!

Air tickets to Iceland - how and from where it is cheaper to fly to Iceland

Air tickets to Iceland – how and from where it’s cheaper to fly to Iceland.

If you’ve decided to spend a vacation or weekend in Iceland, the first question is the plane tickets to Iceland, preferably cheaper.

So how and from where you can inexpensive.

When to go to Iceland?

When it is better to travel to Iceland – the first answer that begs is the summer, when it is warmer and more stable weather, and the precipitation is a little less. But. There are quite a few buts.

Why are you going to Iceland? It is quite possible that you want to see the northern lights and then summer is the most inappropriate season because there is almost no dark nights. And if you want to go to the mountains, it is possible only in summer, because in winter the roads are simply closed and you have to start on foot almost from Reykjavik.

The good thing about an independent trip is that you can choose the place and time by yourself and not to be guided by other travelers.

If you’ve already decided what you want to see, we’ve written a detailed article about what to consider when choosing a time to go to Iceland on your own:

Weather in Iceland. Best time of year to visit Iceland!

Weather in Iceland. The best time of year to visit Iceland!

The weather in Iceland is variable, when is the best time to visit Iceland? What is the temperature in Iceland by month!

How to travel – by car, public transportation, on foot?

For me, when planning a trip to Iceland, this was the hardest question to answer. In making the final decision, I would advise to be guided by a few things:

  • time
  • the sights you want to visit
  • participants
  • budget

Time – if you have an unlimited amount of time, there is no such a question. You can always drive, then go on a hike, or maybe even just fly to the other side of the island. But more often than not, you only have a vacation or maybe even a few days. If you only have one or two days, a good solution is to rent a car or just buy a tour and visit the Golden Ring of Iceland.

Read about what tours come in, how and where to find them, and what you need to know about them in general here:

Iceland tours

Iceland Tours

Iceland is one of the most popular destinations for nature lovers, so popular Iceland has become quite recently and is now experiencing a tourist boom. More than 2 million tourists have come to Iceland to enjoy the Icelandic nature and wildlife tourism.

Well, if you do not know what the Golden Ring of Iceland is, then read it right away:

Iceland's Golden Ring - the most popular itinerary

The Golden Ring of Iceland – the most popular route

The Golden Ring of Iceland is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland, and not without reason. This itinerary includes the Gullfoss Gullfo waterfall.

If you have a week, or even two weeks, it’s already worth considering. One great itinerary for your first introduction to Iceland is to take the first highway around Iceland. This trip can fit in 1 week, but it’s still best to leave a little more time. We drove Highway 1 in 9 days, and could have added a couple more days.

Iceland in a week, travel itinerary!

Iceland in a week, travel itinerary!

Planning trips, and specifically itineraries, always takes a lot of time. That’s why this, ready-made, 7-day Iceland trip itinerary is just what you need! In Is.

If you choose to drive on Highway 1, you won’t need a four-wheel drive vehicle. But if you go to some of the landmarks that have an F (mountain road) marker, you’ll definitely need a four-wheel drive car. One of these attractions is the Colored Mountains:

Colorful mountains and thermal springs of Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar Colored Mountains and Thermal Springs

Landmannalaugar, often in russkoy.

If you go by car, you can always stop in beautiful places, take pictures or just relax. How to rent a car in Iceland and what to look out for

Rent a Car in Iceland - Tips and Reviews

Renting a car in Iceland – tips and reviews

The easiest way to travel in Iceland is by car, although there are a large number of tourists on motorcycles, bicycles and those who walk and hitchhike.

If you don’t have a driver, but want to drive around the island, the so-called “passports” are a great option. “Passport” is essentially a pass for the buses of a particular company and provides the opportunity to travel on buses according to the plan. For example, there are passes that allow you to travel on the first highway with an infinite number of stops, but only in one direction, and the ticket itself is valid for 2 weeks or even a month. Quite a good alternative to renting a car, but not cheap. If you are 2-4 people, then renting a car will be more profitable and you do not have to constantly check the schedule.

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However, before you make a choice in the direction of “Passport” look at what “passports” offer at the moment, as recently there are less and less and for shorter routes.

Read about how “passports” – fares work and just about public transport in Iceland:

Buses in Iceland, routes and schedules

Buses in Iceland, routes and schedules

The easiest and most popular way to travel in Iceland is to rent a car. But what to do if for any reason this option does not suit you?

If you decide that all this driving is not for you and you want to be alone with the wild Icelandic nature, a great choice is to go hiking in Highland. Highland in Iceland is the name given to the areas that are spread out in the center of the island and exceed an elevation of 1,000 meters. There are many marked trails and thousands of people hike them every year. The only downside is that there are no good topographic maps of Iceland freely available on the Internet. But you can always buy them online or in a bookstore.

Icelanders thought that a lot of people want to travel independently through the mountains and it would be nice to get them comfortably to the starting point of the trek and then pick them up from the trekking and take them to some major city. And so please there are several bus routes that pass through the Highlands at the start/end of the trekking routes make stops and drop off or pick up tourists.

Litlanesfoss waterfall in Iceland, independent travel in Iceland

Where to live in Iceland?

When choosing where to stay when traveling in Iceland, it is worth looking at your budget. After all, even seemingly inexpensive hostels in Iceland are expensive. And houses with rooms for 4-6 people in the sightseeing area will cost you a lot of money. For example, the camping on Lake Myvatn is an opportunity to stay not only in a tent, but in a comfortable cottage with rooms for 4 people. A room for 4 people in the summer cost us $160, that is $40 per person for a room with beds, we had sleeping bags and it saved us $10 per person. After all, if you want bedding, add another $10 to the $40.

Don’t forget that if you’re traveling through the wilderness of the Highlands, you can pitch your tent almost anywhere, most importantly don’t forget to leave anything behind and take all the trash with you.

Where to live in Iceland: hotel, farmhouse, camping

Where to stay in Iceland: hotel, farmhouse, camping

Whether you’re traveling on a budget or like a comfortable vacation, you’ll find accommodations in Iceland to suit your needs. From luxury hotels .

What to take on a trip to Iceland?

What to take very much depends on the style of travel, but there are still some common details.

Iceland is not a cheap country and if you plan to eat only in cafes and restaurants, you will need to prepare a very tidy sum. Or worry about food a little in advance, for example, bring or buy in a supermarket in one of the cities, something for breakfast, snacks for lunch, and maybe even dinner. For example, every supermarket in Iceland sells disposable grills (usually enough for 1-1.5 kg of meat) and most importantly marinated lamb! It’s not very expensive and it’s very, very tasty. It’s definitely worth stopping by the cafe a couple of times, if only to try the crab soup :)

And in Iceland the weather is constantly changing and blowing strong winds, so no matter how you decide to travel, and take a windproof and waterproof jacket is necessary.

All the same reason for the frequent rains, it is worth concern suitable waterproof shoes, which will be comfortable to move on the rocks. After all, even if you come by car to the attractions, it may be that another 1-2 km have to go through quite wild space. The paths are treaded by tourists, but it is better to have sneakers/shoes, not stiletto shoes.

And if you decide to camp or you’re planning a wild hike through the Highlands, of course you’ve already thought about taking a tent, a sleeping bag, a karimat. Summer temperatures in Iceland are not very high, so it’s best to count on the fact that it might be around 5-10 degrees at night and take a sleeping bag with the appropriate comfort temperature. And even if you decide to stay in hotels and lodges, you can find places where you will sleep under the roof and on the bed, but in a sleeping bag.

Another very useful thing on a trip to Iceland is a thermos! After all, it’s hot tea or coffee from a thermos that will warm you up in the cold Icelandic wind.

What to take with you to Iceland

What to take with you to Iceland

List of equipment for a trip to Iceland. What to take with you in summer or winter.

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For those going to Iceland for the first time – read on to know what will come in handy .

Useful links when planning an independent trip to Iceland

We’ve compiled many of the sights in Iceland on the Iceland Sightseeing Map

Information about when the mountain roads are open can be found on the official website www.road.is. This site also has information about the current state of the roads, which is very useful if you are traveling in Iceland in winter. After all, sometimes even the main highways are closed due to heavy snowfalls.

The official website of tourism in Iceland is www.inspiredbyiceland.com, but it is worth noting that the Russian version of the site is very limited and essentially contains no useful information. So if you want to use this site, it’s in English.

If you want to use the services of local guides or car rental companies, the best aggregator of tourist services in Iceland is guidetoiceland.is. The only problem is that not all content is yet available in Russian, so it is worth looking in English.

Trip to Iceland for 300 euro – is it possible.

Travel to Iceland for only 300 euro - it's possible!

Iceland is so far away and alluring, and also very expensive. So once again you put off a trip to Iceland. Can’t afford it. We will tell you and share our experience, how to go to Iceland, have a lot of fun and still fit into a fairly modest budget!

Iceland – quarantine and rules of entry during the coronavirus

Iceland - quarantine and rules of entry during the coronavirus

Flights come and go to many countries, but Iceland as it opened and is not going to close. So, what does a tourist need to get to Iceland in 2022 during the coronavirus pandemic and the associated quarantine. Is it possible not to sit in a 14-day quarantine, and do you have to do a covid test! And who is allowed to enter Iceland at all.

Weather in Iceland by month. Helpful tips

Weather in Iceland, Iceland Monthly Weather

When someone hears the name Iceland for the first time, it immediately comes to mind that the country, which has the word ice in its name, can’t be warm. Although Iceland is quite warm. Or at least it is warmer than many people think of it, especially considering that it is located near the Arctic.

Iceland in April – travel features

Iceland in April: Features of the Trip

April is an amazing month to visit Iceland. It’s a time when the weather starts to change more intensely! It means the first signs of spring, the first flowers, and Iceland also celebrates the first day of summer in April! More specifically, the Icelandic National First Day of Summer, which is celebrated on the first Thursday after April 18. Where else can you start summer in April!

Where to go and what to see in Iceland?

Where to go and what to see in Iceland?

Residents of Iceland are often asked: Where is the best place to go in Iceland? What are the most interesting and unique tours in Iceland? Where to find the most beautiful places and attractions of the country? What must see in Iceland?

Read on and we’ll tell you and show you what must-see and where to go in Iceland.

Whale Safari in Iceland – everything you need to know

Whale Safari in Iceland

There aren’t many easily accessible places in the world where you can see whales, and Iceland is one of them.

All you need to know about whale safaris.

25 places to visit in Akureyri! Free!

25 places to visit in Akureyri! Free!

Akureyri is the second largest city in Iceland, a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle. We’ll show you the best places to enjoy Akureyri without spending a single crown. Named the “Capital of the North,” Akureyri has many interesting attractions. From incredible sculptures to exotic gardens to the Northern Lights, many of the city’s best attractions are completely free to visit.

How to travel to Iceland on a budget

How to go to Iceland on a budget

When we were going to go to Iceland for the first time, we really missed this article. It contains all the useful information on how to organize a budget trip to Iceland on your own.

What to bring as souvenirs from Iceland?

What to bring as souvenirs from Iceland?

What gifts and souvenirs to bring from Iceland? It’s simple – a sweater, a rotten shark, cosmetics!

And a couple of other interesting things.

What to take with you to Iceland

What to bring to Iceland, the list of equipment

List of equipment for a trip to Iceland. What to take with you in summer or winter.

For those who go to Iceland for the first time – read to know what comes in handy and what doesn’t. After all, the weather in Iceland is very variable, even in summer. To not get soaked in the cold rain and wind – read what clothes are best to bring with you to Iceland.

Going to Iceland

Olga Efimova, 33, lives in Moscow, works as a lawyer and runs two blogs – about music and travel. In May she traveled through Iceland with friends and shared with 34travel readers a ready-made travel plan.

Because at least once in your life you had to see the place where Björk was born and grew up. Besides from the tapes of friends and acquaintances Iceland with its woolly horses, blue ice and Martian landscapes kept pouring – and I decided to channel my envy of them in a productive way.

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It’s best to get your plane tickets in advance, because Iceland is not the kind of country to which one jumps off a week in advance. I bought my FinnAir tickets six months in advance which cost about $400 (tickets from Vilnius with a connection cost about the same, but you can buy them a few weeks before the trip – 34travel). I had to change planes: the flight from Moscow to Helsinki took a little over an hour and a half, and from Helsinki to Keflavik (Reykjavik’s main airport) it took another 1.5 hours. The only downside to planning so far in advance is that flights can be rescheduled, so my departures have shifted more than once in six months, but by no more than an hour. Also keep in mind that tickets during the high season, which runs from June to the end of September, can be more expensive.

How to travel in Iceland?

The best way to get around Iceland in May (and not only) is by rented car: shuttle buses for long distances don’t run yet, hitchhiking is unreliable, and it’s too cold to ride a bike at this time.

So we (and there were four of us) decided to rent a car. After studying the prices and conditions of rentals I chose Autoeurope: we took Suzuki Grand Vitara with manual gearbox (“manual” is traditionally cheaper). Renting a car for 10 days with a minimum insurance cost us € 689 (about € 172 per person). By the way, Iceland is considered the most expensive country in Europe in rental cars.

You can pick up a car at the airport. Another option is to take a shuttle from the airport to Reykjavik and get a car in town. Shuttle tickets can be purchased in advance on the Flybus website.

You can save money on a car if you book it at least three weeks before the trip, take your GPS (they charge extra money for it) and not to speed on the roads (then you can take the minimum insurance). I also advise to check if the driver has an international license, at least one year of experience and a backup driver in case of fatigue.

Roads in Iceland

The main thing to watch out for in Iceland, if you dare to drive, is the state of the roads. Moreover, Icelanders have thoughtfully created a whole resource dedicated to roads. Here you can find a complete map of the roads with the type of pavement, find out which routes are closed today, and even look at the roads in real time with webcams.

In May the weather and road conditions in Iceland are quite unpredictable, and a road open today may be completely closed tomorrow, so I highly recommend actively using these services.

As for the quality of the roads – the circular Route 1 is paved with excellent asphalt (but not illuminated with lights: reflective poles on the edges of the road are used as lighting), while gravel roads and lava roads are a little more difficult and unpleasant to pass, but all this is minor. Gas stations are fairly common along the way, even in the middle of nowhere there is bound to be a deserted gas station that accepts bank cards. Because progress!

How to dress and what to take with you to Iceland?

So, in addition to the obvious warm windproof clothes and comfortable shoes, it is worth bringing a swimsuit and swimming trunks – in Iceland, at every turn, there are hot pools, which is a sin not to bathe in.

It is rather presumptuous to plan buying clothes on the spot: my dream to buy an Icelandic sweater with reindeer, which I cherished before coming to Iceland, was crushed by its price (about 20,000 ISK, which is about € 135), so the sweater with reindeer is also better to knit in advance and bring with you.

For greater savings you can bring a minimum of bed linen and towels, because they often have to pay extra for them at the place of residence.

The food in Iceland is not very diverse: just a lot of fish. Most of the time during the trip we cooked by ourselves, using the kitchens of hotels and hostels, and went to cafes and restaurants about once every couple of days, so for food we spent on average € 20 per day per person.

The most important thing to remember about eating and drinking in Iceland – there is quite expensive alcohol, and it is usually sold in individual stores. But the most popular chain of liquor stores called Vinbudin can be found in almost every town.

Where to live in Iceland?

The two main options for finding budget accommodation in Iceland (besides booking.com):

1. A worldwide network of hostels called HiHostels. Here you can find very cheap places in hostels, the most budget is probably to take a room for 3-4 people if you are traveling together and ready to spend a whole night with each other. The price of such a room ranges from € 25 to € 35 per night per person. In addition, you can buy a membership in the club HiHostels (when booking the first hostel or on-site) and get a 10% discount on accommodation in all hostels of this network.

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2. Several farms, also merged into a purely Icelandic network of Farmholidays. Almost every such farm grazes horses and serves local animal products for breakfast. Accommodation at the farms will be a little more expensive than a hostel, but it’s usually worth it.

Most of the time we stayed in HiHostels, a couple of times at Farmholidays, and two other places we booked through the traditional booking.com at the suggestion of friends who had traveled to Iceland.

The itinerary has been changed several times, redrawn several times in opposite directions, so I can safely call it hard-won. Meet: the result of hours of effort, the itinerary of an 8-day trip through Iceland.

In case you doubt your driving skills or don’t want to drive through Iceland at such a fast pace, the trip to the western fjords can be left for the next trip, driving exclusively on circuitous route 1, and the trip to the south of Iceland can be split into 2 days, spending an overnight in Vika.

You can safely multiply the time calculated by Google maps by 1.3-1.5, because they do not take into account possible accidents on the roads, weather and other momentary details.

Money and other little things

Since Iceland – a developed and progressive country, you can do without cash here: bank cards are accepted everywhere, from gas stations in the middle of the fucking nothing to the tents next to the waterfalls. But I recommend changing at least some money to look at the Icelandic change with the fish depicted on it.

We didn’t use any local calls because two of the company had European SIM cards, but a preliminary survey showed that the cheapest kind of connection in Iceland is the operator Siminn.

South of Iceland: What to do there?

Once we got to Keflavik, we met a companion who was already waiting for us in a rental car and headed to Reykjavik, stopping at the famous Blue Lagoon on the way. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon is hardly worth it (then there are much more suitable places, with fewer tourists and significantly cheaper), but you should certainly look at it, because the place is really beautiful.

Reykjavik, because of its capital, is full of museums and pubs, which we did not go to, but we walked along the waterfront at sunset and visited the main church of the capital Hadlgrimskirkja. Its tower, which can be climbed by elevator for 800 kronor (€ 5.5), offers a classic view of Reykjavik with its colorful rooftops.

The south of Iceland is the richest in tourist spots, so the trip through this part of the country was the most eventful. Here is the so-called Icelandic Golden Ring, consisting of Tingvellir National Park, the Valley of Geysers, Gudlfoss Falls, Seljalandsfoss Falls (which you can walk around) and Skogafoss Falls (which you can see from above by climbing a ladder).

There are benches with tables in almost every place that offers an amazing view, so you always have the opportunity to have breakfast or a drink with a view of, for example, a volcano. Most of the beauties of Iceland can be seen for free, and next to the tourist spots will certainly be a coffee shop with friendly Icelanders. For example, near the Valley of Geysers is the Geysir Café, which sells great coffee, and on the walls there are pictures about the national Icelandic wrestling – glima, according to the rules of which wrestlers grab each other by the straps and throw them to the floor (extremely educational).

After Skogafoss you can get to the southernmost point of Iceland, Cape Vik, where tourists usually stay for the first night of their trip and walk on the black sand beach.

We spent the night in Reykjavik in a triple room at Reykjavik City Hostel (€21 per person), and the next night was at Hof 1 Hotel, located between the Skaftafell Glacier and Glacier Lagoon (room for four cost €46.5 per person). It was from there, on the second morning of the trip, that we set off to explore the east coast of Iceland.

East of Iceland: everything you need to know about glaciers

The eastern part of Iceland is full of glaciers, and you should take advantage of it: for example, you can take a tour to the famous Skaftafell Glacier and see the locations where “Interstellar” and “Game of Thrones” were filmed (there are tours of the blue caves in winter). You can choose a suitable tour and book it, for example, on the site of these guys Mountainguides. We planned this tour of medium complexity, which began at 9 am and lasted about 4 hours (about € 92 per person, including rental of necessary equipment).

Further on, the road goes through Glacier Lagoon (for which I was going on this trip); if the weather and ice conditions are right, you can take a boat to ride between the icebergs.

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That day we spent the night in the town of Seydisfjordur, which we had to reach in an evening snowstorm through a mountain pass, but it was all worth spending the night in a former hospital building. Here again we stayed in a room for four in a hostel called Seydisfjordur (it cost us €25 per person).

North of Iceland: the wonders of Lake Miwatn

To visit Lake Miwatn and its surroundings we can safely allot 2-3 days, but we do not have them, so we saw all the beauties in a day and a half.

On the way to the lake we visited two places: Detifoss waterfall and Viti crater, and around Lake Miwatn there is a lot of entertainment: Namafjall fumaroles (one of Iceland’s most impressive places, where the products of volcanic activity in the form of gas spurt right out of the ground), Hverfjall crater, on the edge of which you can stand looking at the area from above, Dimmuborgir frozen lava park and Myvatn Baths outdoor hot pools, where bathing is more beautiful, less crowded and cheaper than in Blue Lagoon (about €25.5 per person).

If you are lucky with the weather, you can fly a plane from the local airfield. The views from the plane are amazing, and you can read more about the tour on the website. The price for a 20 minute flight – € 105, but judging by the photos, every minute is worth it.

That night we stayed in two rooms, a triple and a double, at Skutustadir farm, which is a 5-minute drive from Dimmuborgir (and spent € 43 each).

The next day we drove through Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri, stopping along the way at one of the country’s most impressive waterfalls – Godafoss – where legend has it that Icelanders drowned their pagan gods when they adopted Christianity. It was a good place to choose.

The next overnight spot was our favorite: it was the Hofsstadir farm. Iceland’s friendliest horses, homemade yogurt for breakfast, and stunning sunsets guaranteed. Two rooms for two cost us €53 per person, as they say, shut up and take my money again.

West: SEALs and fjords

On the way to the West Fjords it’s worth visiting Osar, where you can see seals (if you’re lucky, you can see them up close), the town of Skagastrond, which has one of the most cosmic churches in Iceland, the place Broddanes and the witchcraft museum in Holmavik.

On the western fjords the most difficult and scenic road waited: the route to Bildadulur through Isafjordur turned out to be closed, so we had to drive through the southern part of the fjords and overcome at least 5 mountain passes during the day. Driving a little farther towards Isafjordur the next day, we found what looked like a nobody’s (but provided with a changing room) hot pool, a small waterfall and a herd of frightened sheep. And then our way was on to Cape Latrabjarg, which is considered to be the largest habitat of deadheads. Dead ends, unfortunately, we did not see, but the way to the cape is worth all the dead ends in the world: an abandoned rusting ship on the shore, uncovered plane, where you can climb inside and sit in the pilot’s chair, the beaches of white sand and a cafe, which serves free coffee.

You can get back to the mainland from the Western Fjords by ferry from a place called Brjanslaekur to the town of Stykkisholmur. You can see prices and buy tickets in advance on the website. All three nights in the west of Iceland we spent in hostels of the same network: mini-cottage in Saeberg (€ 25 per person) and the main advantage of this hostel is an open-air hot tub, so don’t forget a cap and a beer; a room for four in Bildadulur hostel (€ 37 per person) and Grundarfjordur hostel (€ 26 per person).

We spent the entire next day on the road to Reykjavik and in Snaefellsnes Park, stopping in towns along the way and gawking at Icelandic churches shaped like (if the description is to be believed) salt cod, walking near lighthouses, and goofing around in the stark Icelandic playground. In the park, of course, we found a cafe with excellent coffee and pastries from which to look out over the ocean and leaf through books about Icelandic horses. Although it is said that you can see tupiks and whales from the shore of this park (but again we didn’t get lucky).

On our return to Reykjavik we drank some local beer in a pub, slept in the first hostel we saw, and at 4 am went to the airport to board our planes.

Budget for one

Air tickets – € 365; Transportation (car, gas, ferry, toll roads) – € 310; Accommodation (9 nights) – € 310; Food – from € 200; Entertainments (sightseeing, bathhouses) – from € 300; Total – from € 1485.

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