As I proclaimed in a recent Instagram post: Iceland was never on my bucket list. I am perpetually cold. Why would I want to shoot myself through the air only to land in a country that has the word ‘ice’ in its moniker and has a total warmth of 11 degrees centigrade even in JULY?
Well, I’m a convert. I’m just back from a four-day prance in the wilderness (and Reykjavik), and it currently stands as number two in my ‘worlds’ most beautiful countries’* list.
To be fair, in retrospect, I was always going to like it. The mysteriously eerie buildings lining the streets of its capital made me feel like I was starring in my very own murder mystery thriller, with myself, naturally, as the detective, murder victim and murderer, of course. The crop haired men and women of Reykjavik, dressed stylishly-goth-mod with their ‘netjes’ black shirts and bomber jackets that looked straight out of some hipster bands newest music video moved gracefully through the streets in packs of three or four, sashaying past us tourists in our ski jackets and bobble hats. But actually, they were lovely, all of them. So, so polite. They always answered to a ‘thank you’ first in their own language ‘Þakka þér fyrir‘, before repeating the English back to us.
The wilderness, though. That‘s what really got to us all. Iceland is rough and majestic all at once. With bulbous volcanic rocks sprouting out from the earth, black and moss covered; the darkest, roughest sand strewn across their beaches; and the pops of orange and red against the milky blue pools of boiling hot, sulphuric water, there was more than enough to be in left in awe at.
We spent a good portion of our days there driving along the coast, or through the countryside, on the hunt for waterfalls, forests, and geysers. Luckily enough, we came across them all, and managed to tick of the top four of the top ten sights-to-see-in-Iceland within the first two days, whilst we happily stumbled onto some more hidden gems after being advised to hit the south coast by a great guide in the tourist centre on one of the latter days.
Check my next post for the start of a more detailed furrow into Iceland, but for now, let me leave you with a few tips that helped us have one hell of a wonderful weekend…
My top tips for surviving a trip to Iceland.
Here are some of the best pieces of advice I can conjure up if you’re headed to Iceland for 5 or fewer days:
• Rent a car if it’s a possibility. Although expensive (which believe me, is a theme in Iceland), it is by far the best way to see what you want to see without having to wait on time schedules or other people.
• Staying in Reykjavik is a good idea, UNLESS you want to discover a little bit more out in the wild. With the daylight hours being few (about 5 or 6 per day in the winter), you won’t be able to drive more than an hour/an hour and a half out of the centre if you also want to actually see something of the nature. Nobody wants to be driving in the dark, wet, and sometimes icy conditions that come with the territory once 5pm comes around, so be sure to get yourself the right kind of accommodation – whether that be hotel, apartment or camper.
• Buy groceries where possible. Iceland is known for being the most expensive country in Europe and it’s not a lie. Iceland’s currency is the Krona. You’ll get about 7.50 per 1000 Krona. But a regular sized glass of beer or cider is approximately 1,200 Krona, so around 8.20 Euros for less than a pint. Steep.
• Wrap up warm. Ok, it sounds dumb, but honestly, we almost left for Iceland without our ski jackets because we weren’t forecast any snow, and the temperatures were due to stay above 0. Don’t fall for the weather forecast every time.
• Go exploring. Even though you probably have the most recent guide book, with all the top sights cemented into place, don’t think that going off on your own little adventure won’t show you all the beauty that Iceland has to offer. One of our best sight-seeing days included a complete change of plan in the space of one hour. Unless you want to be followed around by other tourists all day, breaking the pattern and going off on your own can make for a breathtaking day! Always ensure to stay safe if you decide to do this though. Don’t get caught out in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm.
Have you ever been to Icealand? What are your thoughts?
Until next time!
*Number one is New Zealand, and will never be beaten.