Iceland is one of the must see destinations in this world but there are several things I learned while visiting Iceland with friends! Keep reading to get the lessons learned in this FREE Iceland travel guide!
While taking a journey through Iceland, I learned a great deal of information that I wish I would have known before I went for the first time. So to save you the trouble, here are seven lessons I learned while in Iceland in which you need to be aware of.
The country of Iceland is EXPENSIVE, particularly coming from the United States. As of December 16, 2020, the exchange rate is 1.00 USD = 127.27 ISK (Icelandic Krona). The exchange rate looks good but when a burger is about 17 USD (when in the US it could be on average $8), it makes a big difference! So plan your budget wisely when booking your trip to Iceland. I recommend saving at least 2K USD before heading to Iceland to have a comfortable trip.
Once you leave the city area, there isn't much variety in food. Everywhere we stopped, it was usually burgers, hot dogs, pizza, fries, and maybe a fish/chicken sandwich. If you plan to leave the city, stock a cooler with food to cook in a hotel with a kitchen or get your tastebuds ready!
If you plan to stock a cooler, you can stop by one of their many affordable grocery stores. And it is best for you to stock up in Reykjavik as they have more options but don't worry as the small towns have some options also.
I know for some people, drinking water from the tap is a major concern for your health. And yes, there are some places in the world you can't rely on their tap water. But Iceland is one of the places where you can drink water directly from the tap! Their water is AMAZING! I mean it is probably some of the best tap water I have ever had!
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Iceland is a great place to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) but the conditions must be right! The following criteria must be met to see them: it must be dark, preferably from the months of September to April, and absolutely no cloud cover! NONE!
We tried to see them several nights while in Iceland. One night we saw the green lights but there was cloud cover, so not the best view. I was able to find a Northern Light forecast website for Iceland which was very helpful to determine if the conditions were right. Check it out here!
Luckily, we were able to see them slightly our last night in Iceland despite being in Reykjavik (too many city lights). If in Reykjavik, you must go to the lighthouse and not just the parking lot! Walk the dark scary path all the way to the lighthouse!
P.S. We were too afraid to walk that scary path lol!! So we just saw a whitish stream of lights flowing through the air.
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Be cautious of what websites you visit! When I first visited in September 2017, a lot of places we stayed or visited did not have secured networks. I mean it was so insecure that my work computer wouldn't allow me to connect to those networks. But over time, their security has increasingly gotten better. But still be alert!
This is such a random fact but I thought it was cute! Icelandair names each of their planes after one of Iceland's volcanoes as the country has approximately 130 volcanoes. So they have enough names to go around!
But another amazing thing about this airline is their stopover flights! This is how we went to Iceland. We flew Icelandair for a round trip stopover flight with our final destination being Copenhagen. But we stayed in Iceland for about five nights (six days) for no additional cost. Learn more about their stopover flights here!
Asking for Help
Tourism has been growing in Iceland rapidly especially after the introduction of Game of Thrones. Per Skift, in 2011, Iceland saw approximately 500K international visitors while in 2018 there were well over 2M international visitors.
But with the rapid increase in tourism over the last decade, it makes it hard for the locals to keep up in one area...suggestions. Once leaving the city area of Reykjavik, not a lot of people are able to provide suggestions or know how to get to your must see place. We experienced this on several occasions when asking for assistance around the country.
COVID-19 Update December 2020
As always, the pandemic changes every single day, so be sure to catch the latest updates in Iceland here. Here are SOME of the current rules for travel into Iceland:
Icelandic borders are open to the residents and citizens of the EEA and Switzerland, and Iceland.
Those citizens must pre-register for arrival into Iceland.
You must undergo two PCR COVID tests with five days of quarantine or avoid testing with a 14 day quarantine.
Be sure to visit Iceland's website to know, understand and follow their COVID-19 most updated rules.
Watch my Iceland adventures on YouTube here!
I hope you find these lessons learned valuable for your future trip to the country! If you have visited Iceland, comment below some of the lessons you have learned.