Some thoughts on traveling to Iceland.

First of all, if you’re thinking about going, just book a ticket and go.  Iceland is unlike any other place I’ve ever visited.  It’s an incredible experience.  A few tips…

1.  Go horseback riding.  Did you know Iceland is VERY well known for their horses?  They are small hardy animals that are 5 gaited (this is unlike most horses).  Even better, there is a fantastic company to go with.  I highly recommend Islenski Hesturinn, who will take care of you and make sure your ride is a great one.

Meet Somi, my awesome horse.

2.  Meet Chef Tyffi.  If you only do two things while in Iceland, go horseback riding and plan a dinner with Chef Tyffi.  Tyffi (aka ‘Tiffany’ while we visited) is a guide/cook who shows you a completely different side of Reykjavik (including dining in the Chef’s home!).  Do not hesitate – make this booking.  Helpful hint – drink plenty of water and bring a healthy appetite!

Do we look drunk? Because we are definitely intoxicated.
Appropriately named Black Death.

3.  See the Golden Circle.  If you can, try for a perfect summer day.

Gullfloss waterfall.

4.  Bring warm clothes.  If you are used to living in a desert environment, this is especially important.  I ended up buying wool socks, but should have brought some all weather pants, which would’ve seen a lot of use.  Given the constant changes in temperature and precipitation, plan for every outcome.

The dream jacket I almost bought by Cintamani (Icelandic outdoors company).

5.  Bring an eyemask (if traveling during summer).  The sun didn’t set for three days.  Literally.

This is midnight.

6.  Treat yourself to one really nice meal.  My recommendations include Dill or Grillmarket.  Opt for the paired menu – you won’t be disappointed.

Yum, rock!

7.  If you are stopping over in Reykjavik, stay close to the action.  Specifically, stay on Laugavegur Street.  There’s great shopping and restaurants along the length of this main street.

8.  Skip the Blue Lagoon!  Seriously.  While the pictures are pretty incredible, it feels grossly overpriced.  And if you do go, be sure to bring something to protect your smartphone.  Instead, try the Secret Lagoon (while it lacks the color of the Blue Lagoon, it is cheaper and easier visit).

Is this picture worth upwards of EUR60 per person?

9. Be patient.  Mainly, this is for me, because every pick up I arranged was late – causing me to freak out and wonder if they were going to show up at all.  Yes, they did.  Icelanders are super nice and friendly, maybe just not the most punctual of people.

10.  Bring plenty of money!  Iceland is not a cheap country to visit.  I’m not mentioning this to put you off, I’m just listing the reality of the situation.

11.  If you drink, be sure to pick up booze at duty free on arrival.  While wine and beer isn’t super expensive at bars and restaurants, any drinks with spirits cost a lot and picking up alcohol isn’t easy.  We only saw one wine shop while walking around Reykjavik.

As you might be able to tell, our itinerary was centered around Reykjavik.  We didn’t rent a car (and didn’t need to by staying in the city).  With all of our excursions, we saw most of what was within a 1-3 hour radius (which I felt was a good fit).  Looking back, I think this was the right decision for our trip.  I’m glad we didn’t drive around and need to repack every night.  If we were to visit again, I would most likely want to visit during months where the Northern Lights would be visible and I would avoid getting on a glacial river rafting trip with a bunch of crazy Cezch nationals.

Have you been to Iceland?  Do you have anything to add?