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Essential Things to Know Before Traveling to Iceland

Updated: May 28

Preparing for a trip to Iceland requires careful planning and consideration, as the country's unique climate and geography can present various challenges. Here are some comprehensive tips to ensure you're well-prepared for your Icelandic adventure:


Clothing and Gear


Layered Clothing:


Base Layer: Moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you dry.
Insulating Layer: Fleece or wool to retain heat.
Outer Layer: Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants to protect against rain and wind.

Footwear:


Sturdy Hiking Boots: Waterproof with good ankle support for trekking over rough terrain.
Comfortable Shoes: For casual walking in towns and cities.
Waterproof Socks: For added warmth and dryness.

Accessories:


Hat and Gloves: Insulated and waterproof options are best.
Buff or Scarf: For additional warmth.
Sunglasses: To protect against glare from snow and ice.
Swimwear: For geothermal pools and hot springs.

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE ICELANDIC WEATHER. WHEN IT IS COLD IT IS REALLY COLD. BE READY.



Travel Essentials


Travel Documents:


Valid passport and any necessary visas.

Copies of travel insurance and health insurance documents.
Copies of important documents such as itinerary, reservations, and emergency contacts.

Money Matters:

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted.
Some cash (ISK - Icelandic Krona) for small purchases or remote areas.

Electronics:

Universal Power Adapter: Iceland uses Type C and F plugs, and the voltage is 230V.
Camera and Batteries: To capture the stunning landscapes.
Smartphone and Charger: For maps, communication, and other travel apps.

Maps and Navigation:

Offline maps on your phone or a GPS device.
Physical map as a backup.


Health and Safety


First Aid Kit:

Basic medical supplies including bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications.

Travel Insurance:

Comprehensive coverage that includes health, trip cancellation, and adventure activities.

Emergency Contacts:

Save local emergency numbers and the contact information of your embassy.

 


Transportation

Renting a Vehicle:
4x4 Vehicle: Recommended for traveling F-roads and exploring the highlands.
Rental Insurance: Ensure it covers gravel protection and sand/ash damage.

Driving in Iceland:

Familiarize yourself with local driving laws and conditions.
Be prepared for narrow roads, one-lane bridges, and varying weather conditions.


Accommodations


Booking in Advance:

Especially during peak seasons (summer and winter), book accommodations well in advance.

Types of Accommodation:

Hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and camping options.


Activities and Tours


Plan Ahead:

Book popular tours (e.g., glacier hikes, whale watching, Northern Lights) in advance to ensure availability.

Activity Gear:

Gear for specific activities (e.g., crampons for ice walking) may be provided by tour operators, but check in advance.

Food and Drink


Dining Out:

Iceland has a variety of restaurants, but dining can be expensive. Budget accordingly.

Self-Catering:

Consider self-catering options for some meals. Many accommodations offer kitchen facilities.

Hydration:

Tap water in Iceland is safe and of excellent quality. Bring a reusable water bottle.

Weather Considerations


Check Weather Forecasts:

Regularly monitor the weather, especially if traveling in winter or planning outdoor activities.

Be Prepared for Rapid Changes:

Icelandic weather can change quickly, so always have appropriate clothing and gear with you.

Cultural Etiquette


Respect Nature:

Follow the Leave No Trace principles. Don’t disturb wildlife or plant life.

Local Customs:

Be respectful of local traditions and customs. Learn a few basic Icelandic phrases, though English is widely spoken.

Communication


SIM Card or Mobile Plan:

Consider getting an Icelandic SIM card for better local rates and connectivity. Compare the rates: Nova.is

Emergency Numbers:

The general emergency number in Iceland is 112.

Additional Tips


Midnight Sun and Northern Lights:

Summer: Expect nearly 24 hours of daylight, so pack an eye mask.
Winter: Long nights are ideal for Northern Lights viewing. Check aurora forecasts.

Respect Road Closures and Safety Signs:

Always adhere to road closures and warning signs. They are in place for your safety.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you're well-prepared for an unforgettable trip to Iceland, ready to experience all the natural wonders and cultural treasures this unique destination has to offer.

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