10 Tips For Planning Your Iceland Trip

10 Tips For Planning Your Iceland Trip
Cold is hot in travel, and the trend applies to cruise vacations as well. Today’s travelers are seeking out options for traveling to cold destinations via both land and sea. While Alaska sailings are some of today's most frequently booked vacation options, Iceland cruises are also rapidly gaining in popularity.

Iceland is well known for its dramatic landscapes and scenic beauty. Dozens of cruises depart directly from Reykjavik, Iceland and nearly eighty cruise voyages visit Iceland’s capital city annually. In addition, North American vacationers frequently take advantage of Icelandair's free stopover program and visit Iceland for several days on their way to or from their European cruises. Free multi-day stopovers are available on Icelandair year-round.

If you’re thinking about traveling to Iceland for a cruise or land vacation, here are ten tips for planning your visit:

1. Pick Your Season. When choosing the best time to visit to Iceland, it’s important to consider your travel goals. June through August is the most popular time to visit Iceland. The Land of the Midnight Sun offers travelers long daylight hours, warmer temperatures and plenty of whale watching during the late spring and summer months. Puffins can be spotted from early May through August as well. While land vacations can be planned throughout the year, most cruises visit Iceland between early May and early October. Those who wish to see the northern lights should book visits in September and October if cruising. The November through March time period offers good northern lights viewing for land travelers and ice cave exploration is also an exciting option during those months.

2. Allow Plenty Of Time To Experience Iceland. While it’s possible to visit Iceland for just a day on a cruise or Icelandair stopover, you’ll be missing a lot. Plan on spending several days in Iceland to fully savor its natural beauty. You’ll need a minimum of three nights in Iceland just to tap the surface of the scenic wonders awaiting you there. If Reykjavik is your cruise’s embarkation or debarkation port, arrange to stay for a few days to get the most out of your Iceland visit.

3. Explore With An Expert. To get the most out of your trip to Iceland, explore with a knowledgeable local guide. Guided small group tours with Hidden Iceland allow travelers to get off the beaten path and discover little-known spots and unique experiences. "We believe that a passionate and knowledgeable guide can turn a good trip into something truly unforgettable," said Ryan Connolly, Marketing Manager and Co-Owner of Hidden Iceland. Customized private tours and multi-day trips are available with Hidden Iceland as well. Guests can take an adventurous hike on a glacier, stand behind a thundering waterfall, stroll along a breathtaking black sand beach, explore cool ice caves, enjoy a delicious farm-to-table experience at a family-owned tomato farm, and find the perfect private vantage point for viewing the northern lights. While traveling in Iceland is popular, the company’s insider knowledge enables them to showcase special untouched places on their tours and avoid the prime-season crowds at Iceland’s iconic attractions as well. With Hidden Iceland, travelers can maximize their time in Iceland and return home with amazing photos and magical memories of their extraordinary experiences in Iceland.

4. Budget Appropriately. Flying to Iceland can be quite reasonable, particularly with sale fares, but expenses can quickly add up once you get there. If you’re planning to stay in Iceland for several days, research the costs of hotels and tours and budget accordingly. Dining out in restaurants can be pricey, but food items are more reasonable when purchased at supermarkets. Reykjavik Residence Hotel offers excellent apartments with kitchens. Some accommodations, such as Reykjavik’s CenterHotels, also offer a complimentary full buffet breakfast for their guests which is a huge plus. It’s generally not necessary to exchange much cash when traveling in Iceland. Credit cards are widely accepted and can be used for almost everything.

5. Book Excursions In Advance. Iceland’s popularity can lead to sold out tours and experiences, often weeks in advance. If you have your heart set on a certain tour or if there’s a specific experience that will make or break your trip to Iceland, book it as soon as possible. This is particularly true for certain excursions, private customized tours, Blue Lagoon entry time slots and even ferries. While some travelers prefer to wait to see what the weather’s like or how they feel, it’s better to be safe and make your bookings early. This advice also applies to accommodations in Reykjavik as well. While it's feasible to make last-minute reservations, success is more likely during the shoulder and winter seasons.

6. Dress In Layers. It’s possible to experience every sort of weather in Iceland over the course of several hours, so be prepared. Rain is quite common, clouds can roll in quickly, and Iceland’s windy chill can sometimes make temperatures feel much colder even during the summer months. In addition, certain areas have their own micro-climates - so it might be sunny and comfortably warm in Reykjavik and cool and drizzling on Iceland’s South Coast. Be ready for all kinds of weather as you head out, no matter what the forecast predicts. You'll want to experience Iceland's spectacular beauty, no matter what the day brings. As the popular saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Tours operate rain or shine, but certain activities can sometimes be cancelled if weather makes participation hazardous.

7. Bring Waterproof Gear. Don’t count on staying dry in jeans or water resistant clothing in Iceland. In addition to going out in rainy weather, adventurous explorers will want to go hiking on glaciers and get close enough to Iceland’s torrential waterfalls to get soaked in the spray. You’ll want to have fully waterproof gear including waterproof hiking boots, a waterproof jacket and waterproof pants. It’s also helpful to bring waterproof phone and camera cases to use while touring, glacier hiking or taking pictures in and around Iceland’s geothermal hot springs and lagoons.

8. Explore The Museums. Reykjavik is home to some wonderful museums. While you’re there, make sure to check out Perlan – Wonders of Iceland. This exceptional science museum contains a number of attractions including an 8K northern lights planetarium show, an interactive glacier exhibit, a 100 meter-long ice cave built with more than 350 tons of snow, and much more. In addition, Perlan’s outdoor deck provides magnificent 360-degree views of Reykjavik and its surroundings. A restaurant, café and gift shop are available as well. A free shuttle bus to Perlan operates from Reykjavik’s Harpa Music Hall on the half-hour and hour between 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily.

9. Soak In A Lagoon. Iceland is known for its geothermal hot springs and lagoons, particularly the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a world-famous spa that’s located close to the airport, so it can be a great place to visit at the beginning or end of your visit to Iceland. This beautiful spa is also quite popular with cruise passengers. The Blue Lagoon can be busy and entry is timing controlled, so make your reservations early if you’d like to visit. It’s important to point out that while the Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s top attractions, it’s not a naturally-created phenomenon. If you’re looking for a truly authentic hot springs experience, head to the Secret Lagoon. This geothermal lagoon has been frequented by locals for more than 100 years, making it Iceland’s oldest hot springs pool. Hidden Iceland includes a visit to the Secret Lagoon on their small group Golden Circle tours, arriving at a time that maximizes peaceful enjoyment and quiet beauty of this natural geothermal pool.

10. Bring A Water Bottle. Crystal clear drinkable water is available from any tap in Iceland. Don’t purchase bottled water while you’re there. Simply bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up as you go.

If You Go:

For more detailed information on Hidden Iceland’s tours, visit their website at https://hiddeniceland.is.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2023 by Nancy Schretter. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nancy Schretter. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Nancy Schretter for details.