Iceland travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go

Shimmering ice caps and steaming lava fields sprawl throughout one of many world’s most intriguing islands, offering a visible information to how our planet was fashioned. Daring and dynamic, the panorama is ever evolving, and vitality fizzes from each crack and crevice. Waterfalls gush, mud pots simmer and now and again an energetic volcano lets rip.

Iceland is a vacation spot completely suited to journey and out of this world experiences – from lazing in a pure sizzling spring to hiking via a glacier. However there’s additionally sufficient room for imaginations to run wild, with tales of trolls and hidden folks making sense of a land stretching far past the realms of fantasy.

Journey restrictions and entry necessities

There are presently no Covid-related restrictions for travellers visiting the nation, no matter vaccination standing. Pre-departure checks have been scrapped in early 2022, together with pre-arrival registration varieties. Even masks sporting is now left to a person’s discretion. When you do begin to expertise any Covid signs whereas within the nation, it’s attainable to take a check freed from cost. Uncovered people are inspired to train particular precaution for 5 days, however there is no such thing as a authorized requirement to isolate. Preserve updated with the most recent information at

Finest time to go

Longer days and hotter temperatures make the summer season season (from finish of Could to finish of September) the preferred time to go to. To coincide with peak tourism, many eating places, cafes and points of interest solely throughout this era – significantly in distant locations such because the Westfjords.

In a vacation spot depending on climate, there’s extra to do right now of yr: calmer seas make it simpler to go to smaller islands; mountain F roads within the highlands are open for Superjeep excursions; and main mountain climbing trails in areas like Landmannalaugar are navigable beneath the midnight solar. The one draw back is larger costs and greater crowds.

Though days are shorter, winter is good for night-time aurora searching, with the strongest shows usually between January and March. When you can’t face the chilly and wind, September and October are wonderful months for combining the northern lights with daytime actions.

Prime areas and cities


Greater than 1 / 4 of the the nation reside on this planet’s northernmost capital – though in sparsely populated Iceland, that quantities to solely 100,000. However a close-knit neighborhood generates a dynamic inventive vitality, making this compact metropolis the place to pattern offbeat Nordic vogue, artwork and design. The most effective eating places are concentrated in downtown; dine on sushi, fish and chips or sizzling canine from quick meals stalls. Or comply with the brand new pattern for meals markets at Hlemmur Matholl and the Grandi Matholl within the cool Grandi district. Discover a surprisingly excessive variety of museums – starting from a research of cetaceans to a weird assortment of phallic varieties. The Secret Lagoon, a thermal infinity pool and spa constructed into the rocks, is a worthwhile various to the Blue Lagoon in Keflavik.

The Golden Circle

Three of Iceland’s geological highlights make up this standard 300km circuit, accessible by automobile or on coach excursions. Though waterfalls spill from gorges throughout the nation, Gullfoss is undoubtedly some of the highly effective and spectacular. Plummeting in two tiers, it thunders from the river Hvita river and will be safely seen from a roped-off walkway. A ten-minute drive away, the Geysir geothermal space bursts with effervescent mud pots, fumaroles and vertical columns of boiling water. However the largest attraction is Thinvellir Nationwide Park, a canyon fashioned in a rift valley between the North American and Eurasian plates. It’s attainable to stroll – and even snorkel – between two continents, in a web site the place Iceland’s first parliament was fashioned in 930.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Dramatic mountains, photogenic seashores and a mighty glacier tumbling in direction of the ocean have been sufficient to persuade Jules Vernes this must be the setting for his basic guide Journey to the Middle of the Earth. An energetic volcano dominates Snaefellsjokull Nationwide Park, which will be explored on mountain climbing routes throughout summer season months, whereas extra accessible Kirkjufell – an “arrowhead” mountain featured in Recreation of Thrones – supplies a formidable backdrop for northern lights images. A number of seashores will be loved year-round: stroll alongside the cliffs at Hellnar to observe waves breaking furiously on rocks; or admire shipwreck stays buried within the black sands of Djúpalónssandur. The peninsula is a two-hour drive northwest of Reykjavik.

Lake Myvatn

Accessible by home and a few worldwide flights, Akureyri is the gateway metropolis to this northern area. Other than its huge lake, a habitat for a number of chicken species, the world has its share of geological wonders. The Diamond Circle circuit consists of two incredible waterfalls: Dettifoss dazzles with its sheer quantity of water, whereas horseshoe formed Gullfoss is a magnificence to behold. Bathe in silica-rich waters at Myvatn Baths, the one different actually blue lagoon; stroll via a sculpture park of volcanic formations at Dimmuborgir; and admire the sulphur-streaked panorama of Hverir. Husavik, a small city on the coast, is considered one of Iceland’s greatest websites for whale watching excursions.

Locations you’ve by no means heard of:


Poking out from Iceland’s northwest nook, this blustery, distant area is a diversion from the ring street. A number of fjords lower into the shoreline, which splays into the Denmark Strait like a broad leaf. Undisturbed by crowds, Arctic foxes roam via the protected Hornstrandir peninsula, whereas hundreds of thousands of gannets, guillemots and puffins nest within the nation’s largest chicken cliff and Europe’s westernmost level, Látrabjarg. Cascading over a large staircase of rocks, the gorgeous Dynjandi waterfall is the area’s largest attraction. Pink sand seaside Rauðasandur and Vigur island, one other puffin colony, are shut contenders. A ardour for folklore and black humour play out in a number of quirky museums focussing on witchcraft, sea monsters and the mundanity of on a regular basis life.


Glowing glaciers, hovering mountains and effervescent volcanoes make up this uninhabited 40,000 sq. kilometre area in central Iceland. Typically, most areas are solely accessible between late June and September when snow has melted. Even so, it’s nonetheless greatest to discover with a information or on an organised tour. Surreal landscapes and journey are the principle draw. Highlights embrace the new spring valley of Hveradalir, the steep, misty canyons of Þórsmörk and Kerlingarfjoll, a mountain vary well-known for its vibrant rhyolite peaks.

East Iceland

Though accessible by way of the ring street, too few vacationers stick round on this sparsely populated area. Extra idiot them. Like the remainder of Iceland, there’s a lot to fill an Instagram feed: skip alongside the rainbow excessive avenue of Seydisfjordur; clamber via black sand dunes to witness the solar rise above the Vestrahorn mountain vary; or wander beneath a cover of timber (a rarity in Iceland) within the largest nationwide forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur. Reindeer, Arctic foxes and puffins are a number of of the species discovered within the wildlife-rich space. In Lagarfljot river, there’s additionally an opportunity to identify Iceland’s reply to the Loch Ness Monster.

Finest issues to do

Bathe within the Blue Lagoon

A part of an 800-year-old lava subject, Iceland’s premier geothermal pool is known for its skin-nourishing minerals, chargeable for creating its milky blue color. Altering rooms, swim-up bars and a connoisseur restaurant make it one of many best sizzling springs to entry. Positioned near Keflavik airport, it’s excellent for a pre or submit flight dip.

Take a campervan journey across the ring street

Keep on with the principle roads and it’s onerous to get misplaced in Iceland. Circling the island, Route 1 (or the ring street) connects many of the nation’s highlights. Gather a campervan in Reykjavik and cease off at a wide selection of campsites, however bear in mind wild tenting isn’t allowed. Permit 10 days to comfortably do the circuit.

Discover an ice cave

Carved yearly by geothermal exercise and meltwater, seasonal glacial caves have grow to be an astonishing attraction. Starting from sapphire blue to onyx black, the alluring areas shimmer like jewels, however should solely be visited with an expert information. Excursions happen in winter when the caves are steady.

Go whale-watching below the midnight solar

A combination of migrants and residents, a number of whale species will be seen in Iceland’s waters – generally even from the shore. Reykjavik (within the south) and Husavik (within the north) are the perfect locations to take whale watching journeys. Throughout summer season, night voyages present a chance to witness tail flukes silhouetted towards the midnight solar.

Getting round

A automobile is important for exploring additional afield. Luckily, a mixture of fabulous surroundings and good street providers make street journeys pleasurable. However even in summer season, the climate can change rapidly, so all the time seek the advice of for actual time particulars of street situations.

To chop journey occasions, flights function from the home airport in Reyjavik to key locations comparable to Akureyri within the north and Ísafjörður for the Westfjords. For non-drivers, organised coach excursions are an choice. Attempt Bus Journey or Grey Line. Strætó operates native buses in Reykjavík and different key cities.

Public ferries run to hottest islands, though timetables are seasonal. Airport shuttles between Keflavik and Reykjavik take round 50 minutes.

The way to get there

Least expensive:

Price range airways Play and easyJet function direct flights from a number of regional UK airports, taking round three hours.

Most frequent:

IcelandAir may not be the most affordable choice, however they do provide probably the most providers – from Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin. Departures are usually at extra sociable hours.

Cash-saving tip

Travelling by campervan is by far the most affordable technique to discover the nation. Happy Campers and Go Campers are two effectively established corporations. All vans should be parked at a campsite in a single day, which must be booked prematurely throughout peak season. There are various positioned throughout the nation; most have kitchens and showers. It’s attainable to rent a campervan throughout winter months, though there are fewer campsites open and a few roads are inaccessible.


What’s the climate like?

Any Icelander will let you know: “When you don’t just like the climate, simply wait 5 minutes.” Sunshine, rain and snow are all frequent in a day due to the impact of the Gulf Stream bringing gentle Atlantic air involved with chilly Arctic air. From June to September, daylight can stretch for 22 hours and the common temperature is 15C. In winter, from November to April, nights are lengthy and sometimes drop beneath freezing. However the largest influencing climate issue is the wind. Icelanders have 156 phrases to explain it.

What time zone is it in?

Iceland is on Greenwich Imply Time (GMT) year-round and doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time (DST).

What foreign money do I want?

Icelandic króna.

What language is spoken?


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