This is one of the most geologically interesting countries in
the world, with a barren and volcanic element which gives it a great
charm, albeit somewhat weird.
Fantastic waterfalls, geysers, volcanic bubblings and blowouts,
snowy mountains, grassy plains, geothermal pools for bathing and
lava, lava everywhere. And trees? Nay, lad.
Iceland's 'Golden Triangle' consists of Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur
geyser and Snaefell volcano.
The midnight sun - almost totally light summer nights - is an experience
all of it's own, while
history buffs will love the Viking Saga stories.
Pollution and crime are close to zero, traffic jams and crowds do
not exist, life stress is low and just about
everyone speaks English.
- Prices are still quite high (even after the crunch) and may chill your bank account.
- Outside Reykjavik, cultural tourism is virtually zero.
- The weather is often dire, with little blue sky visible even in
- Most of country is devoid of vegetation above boot level, though
that is partly the attraction.
Best season: July and August
Worst: January - March
OK: June, and up to 15 September - everything shuts after that, though
December is lively in Reykjavik.
Minimum worthwhile stay, not incl. flights: Reykjavik only or including
a quick whizz around the 'Golden Triangle' - 4 days (include a weekend
for a taste of the nightlife)
Recommended: 2-3 weeks.
***Reykjavik - quirky and interesting,
with a colourful Viking history, modern Scandinavian architecture,
clean air and little crime. orld class nightlife and a great attitude towards culture.
the country's most popular region for tourism containing two of
its most famous attractions - Gulfoss fall and Strokkur geyser.
Situated near to Reykjavik.
**West - some good features all within reasonable distance of Reykjavik,
with Snaefell's extinct volcano forming the most northerly part
of the touristy Golden Triangle.
East - one of the better regions for things to see; the distance from
Reykjavik keeps the rampaging hordes away.
East - this holds the southern flanks of Iceland's largest ice cap Vatnajokull.
It is also home to the country's most excitable volcano, Lakr.
A Viking ship near Reykjavik
the Reykjanes 'Steamy' Peninsula is home to the most northerly city
in Europe, Reykjavik but is otherwise rather barren.
Fjords - one of the most rugged regions of Iceland with many fjords and
steep mountains. Excellent for bird life due to extensive cliffs.
North - one of the least interesting parts of the country with few attractions,
though popular with bird watchers.
East - quiet with few tourists, but still very accessible and with relatively
good weather. Boat arrivals from Europe often start here.
Highlands - an uninhabited wilderness area with mountains and glaciers as
well as lava fields and geothermal sites.
The Arbaer Festival
Third Thursday in April: First Day of Summer 'Sumardagurinn Fyrsti',
mild partying and a carnival in Reykjavik.
First week in June: Sailor's Day 'Sjomannadagurinn', watery
competitions and partying in coastal villages.
June 17: Independence Day, mainly in Reykjavik, costumes, parades,
street performers etc.
Beginning of August: Verslunarmannahelgi, camp based partying
in Iceland's car accessible scenic spots; extreme drinking and mayhem.
Walking and Hiking: pretty much everywhere
is walkable with lots of interesting geological features.
Nightlife: unbridled boozing and dancing
in the clubs of Reykjavik, with live music also on tap.
Horse Trekking: local ponies
are cute and calm, so trek into the wilderness regions on one.
Whale Watching: whales and
dolphins can be seen, though mainly just the Minkes.
Rafting: widely available though naturally the water is extremely cold.
The Blue Lagoon near Keflavik airport, Reykjavik
Geothermal Bathing: natural and man
made pools (spas) - but geothermally supplied water - indoors and
out. These are curative and social for most Icelanders.
Different pools have different curative powers - including arthritis,
asthma and eczema.
Reykjavik's outdoor Blue Lagoon is #1, rich in skin-healing properties such
as salts, algae and silica.
Snow scooters: Spectacular scooter
trails across the country during winter.
Bird watching: varieties of ducks, puffins and other
sea birds visible in the north, NE and SW.
Fishing: pricey salmon and trout
fishing. Possible but not great.
Mountain Biking: Not good as the weather
will deter most due to erratic winds and rain, with sand storms when
dry. And if that's not enough rocks are thrown up by passing traffic.
Climbing: lots of rock but quite
flakey. Great glacier crossings and ice climbing.
Skiing: Dec- April but if you are going to ski why pay ridiculous
prices for these second rate pistes?
A typical Icelandic camp site
Kronur is the currency but you won't need as much as as before the big cash crash. Credit cards are commonly used, Traveller's
Cheques OK and ATMs plentiful in urban areas.
Tipping is not necessary.
Nationals of West Europe USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore
and some other countries do not need a visa for up to 3 months.
- Domestic plane use is commonplace and relatively inexpensive with Air Iceland.
- Self-drive 4x4 hire is the most convenient way to get around, but
very expensive and cars should be reserved way in advance online. Hiring on-the-spot is not recommended as it will be more expensive and with less choice, if any! Full damage insurance is advisable as roads are often tricky gravel tracks. Fuel is also very pricey.
- Buses are efficient but not frequent. FlyBus runs regular (though not frequent) bus excursions to most parts of the country, especially around the Ring Road.
Electric sockets are 220v and take 2 round pin plugs.
Iceland is just about the safest place on the planet.
Don't even think about learning more than the basic courtesies.
Most people speak some English.
Generally pricey and often repulsive to boot -unless you fancy 6 month
rotted shark meat, pickled ram's testicles or roast puffin?
To be fair, there are plenty of fish dishes available and the smoked
lamb is excellent.
Reykjavik also has ethnic restaurants, fast food joints and buffets/salad
bars that are less expensive.