23 Mar First trip to Iceland. Everything you need to know.
Let’s go to Iceland!
First things first…How to get to Iceland!
To reach Iceland you have to fly to the northernmost capital of the world, Reykjavik and more specifically to Keflavík International Airport (REK). Reykjavik also has Reykjavík Airport, which serves domestic flights. There are no direct flights from Greece to Iceland, so you will have to fly through an intermediate station. A very popular intermediate station is London. You will find both low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air & Ryanair as well as conventional airlines. The airline you often come across in your search is Icelandair, the country’s national carrier! The average travel time you will usually need, together with the connection, is 8-10 hours, depending on the route you choose.
Currency Exchange and the Internet.
On the first trip to Iceland what you need to keep in mind is that it has its own currency, the Icelandic krona. The exchange rate is about 1 Icelandic krona = 0.75 euros. In Iceland, they use credit cards a lot for their transactions so you won’t need a lot of cash. If you want to have cash, the best solution is to withdraw with your card directly from an ATM there. You can find ATMs at the airport on arrival, but you can find many in Reykjavik too. As far as the Internet is concerned, you will find wifi in many places, shops and of course hotels. However, if you are planning on making a road trip to Iceland we recommend buying a SIM card. It’s crucial to stay connected especially in winter when the weather is unpredictable and you never know what might happen to you on the road. So it’s good to be able to contact someone for help. That’s why we recommend choosing a package with data and free calls. We got a SIM card from the airport (on arrivals, opposite the luggage straps), with 10GB and talk time and cost us 25 euros.
Transportation in Iceland.
When it comes to transportation things in Iceland are a bit restricted. The reason is that public transport is restricted to Reykjavik and buses (there is no subway or trains). So if you want to move out of Reykjavik you have two options. The first is to rent a car and the second is to be a part of an organized tour. Each of the options has its advantages and disadvantages of course. We decided to rent a car with Blue Car Rental and we were very happy, both with the price and the service. If you are planning a road trip in Iceland we strongly recommend them. Also, what would be helpful on your first trip to Iceland is how to get from the airport to the city. If you do not rent a car, you will either arrange a private transfer (which however is very expensive) or use a bus. The main company is Flybus, with access to many hotels in the city (from 25 euros – one way – depending on the route). There is also a public bus (straeto) bus 55, which is even more budget-friendly (about € 15 one way).
Iceland in winter or summer?
The BIG question is when to make your first trip to Iceland? When is the best season? The answer depends on what you want to see. Iceland has fewer hours of light in winter, which is from October to March. We visited Iceland at the end of November and there were about 5.30 hours of daylight. So, if you choose winter keep in mind that your daylight will be limited. Also, we cannot forget to mention the cold. Oh, it can get really cold! However, if you enjoy the winter scenery then it is ideal, and of course, if want to see the Northern Lights! The best time to do so is in wintertime! Iceland in the summer (May-August), where it is considered high season, has many hours of daylight, higher temperatures (don’t compare with Greek summer of course) as well as the so-called white nights. Nature is at its best and you will be able to see more in less time. So it’s a matter of taste and what you’re interested in experiencing.
What to pack for Iceland.
Something to keep in mind on the first trip to Iceland is the weather, which is completely unpredictable. At one point it may be sunny and in just one minute it may be raining. On the one side of the island, it may have snow and on the other, it may have sunshine. To be prepared, especially in winter you will need warm clothes, a good jacket, isothermal, waterproof, the right shoes, gloves, a cap, and a scarf. In the summer, things are better but you will still need warm clothes, as the weather is unpredictable as we said. The best solution is to “play” with “layers”, layers of clothing so you can adapt to the weather. As for shoes, perhaps the most important part is being waterproof and comfortable.
How expensive is Iceland?
Iceland is an expensive country. To be honest it’s probably the most expensive country we’ve found. Indicatively, a dish at a restaurant costs around 15-20 euros, while a sandwich costs around 5 euros. The cost of a single double room starts from 100 euros per night. To reduce costs you can stay in a hostel, or a shared bathroom apartment and cook there. Tours are also relatively expensive, depending on the tour you choose and the size of the group. However, even though it is an expensive country, at the same time it is one of the most beautiful countries we have visited and we would gladly visit again. So it’s worth making a trip to Iceland and a second and a third maybe?!
See more about our trip to Iceland on Instagram (highlights stories #ICELAND).