Hundreds of waterfalls, three glaciers, two tectonic plates and many fjords define the rough, volcanic, landscape of Iceland, the natural beauties are beyond impressive. There are however a few things you need to know about Iceland, before you start planning your trip:
Here’s what you need to know about Iceland
Money, Money, Money
Travelling in Iceland is all but cheap and thus not for the budget traveler. It’s not impossible, if you don’t mind staying in hostels, hitchhiking, and eating bread every day, you can travel here without spending too much money. To give some insights in the prices;
Rental car for 2 weeks: € 1800,-
Soup with bread with a soft drink: € 25,-
One course dinner with a soft drink: € 35,-
Hotel room for 1 night: € 150,-
Flies… Flies everywhere
What the brochures won’t tell you is that many places in Iceland, usually close to water, have a midget/gnat infestation! The annoying little creatures like to sit on your head, crawl into your nose, or poke your eyes. Most of them won’t bite or sting, but they are known to do so. According to the locals the flies are there early to mid-summer, but don’t worry if you’ve already booked your flights, just bring a mosquito net that you can wear around your head and you will be totally happy. I’ve heard that this can also be purchased in tourist shops and gas stations, but I haven’t seen this myself. If you can’t find a mosquito net, and are already in Iceland, a bandana with a cap and sunglasses will help as well.
Summer in Iceland doesn’t mean you’ll have nice, warm, and sunny, weather. It means an average temperature of about 11 degrees Celsius and lots of (rain) clouds. Only when there’s a high pressure area you will see temperatures rise above 15 degrees Celsius, so don’t be surprised if you’ll get more rain than sunshine during your trip. Don’t let this affect your decision to go, since it doesn’t get dark in the summer you have literally all day to do what you want to do. Actually, if you don’t want to be part of the busloads of tourists looking at a waterfall the best time to visit something is early in the morning (before 8am) or late in the evening (after 8pm).
The march of tourism
There are about 1.5 million tourists visiting Iceland every year, it doesn’t sound like much but one must consider that most visits take place in the 3 summer months. Most visitors are there for a short stay only, so many of the highlights closer to the capitol city will get most of these tourists. Anywhere outside of that region you won’t find that many tourists, especially on the northern and eastern parts of the island.
On the upside
If you have any doubts about going to Iceland, after reading the above, do know that it’s an exceptionally beautiful country, especially during the moments of sunshine! You might be pleased to know that:
It’s one of the most beautiful countries on earth,
Icelandic people are excellent English speakers,
There’s WiFi everywhere, even in the most remote villages,
No need to bring tons of Icelandic Krona, credit/debit card is accepted everywhere,
The tap water is the exceptionally clean,
There are people who believe in elves,
It’s the safest country in the world,
Europeans can access without going through security,
There are 800.000 sheep in Iceland, which is 3 times more than people.