Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts when traveling to Iceland

I was fortunate enough visit Iceland a few months back. For me, it was a chance to explore a new place with people I care about. To experience untouched nature at it’s finest, and to absorb the pure beauty of the land of fire and ice.

If you’ve ever been to Iceland or heard from someone else, you know the flights can be cheap! WOW Air flies directly from a few different cities on the east coast. We snagged our tickets for $320 – round trip – out of Baltimore.  However, we all know that discount airlines are that way for a reason, which brings me my first point:

  • DO BRING FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT FOR YOURSELF.  Nothing is free on board. So if you know what you’re getting yourself into there won’t be any disappointment.

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Upon arrival, the first order of business was to get our transportation.  It’s not a bad idea to set up base in Reykjavik and then do some guided tours from there, but to get the full experience – rent a vehicle – and do things on your own time.  You’ll thank yourself later.

  • DON’T DO THE BUS TOURS.  We rented this sweet manual transmission van to traverse the majestic Icelandic landscape. You’ll want something roomy because it’ll take some time to get from place to place – and like I mentioned before, you’re not restricted by the schedule of a tour.
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Many hours were spent in this van listening to Brian’s country music

 

  • DO FIND ACCOMMODATIONS WITH AIRBNB. We really lucked out with the house we found – it was technically off-season so there were a lot of options.  Staying in someone else’s home gave our stay more of an authentic touch. We hunkered down in a quaint farmhouse in the south near the town of Vik. The washer and dryer were crucial after trekking outside all day.
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Home sweet home for 3 days

 

  • DON’T EAT OUT ALL THE TIME.  Our first stop on the way to our Airbnb was the grocery store. In addition to store and restaurants being few and far between, going out to eat is quite expensive in Iceland! A quick grocery run will save you some much-needed $$ to do other things while you’re there.
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Enjoying our home-cooked meal paired with a crisp and refreshing orange drink.

 

  • DON’T CROSS A RIVER THAT IS CLEARLY SOURCED FROM THE GLACIER ABOVE YOU.  On our first day we frolicked over the mountainside on our way to one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools. We found ourselves on the wrong side of a stream with the adrenaline of being in a new country still coursing through our veins. No biggie – we’ll just take our boots off and cross when we find a good spot. We knew the water was going to be cold – it was obviously glacier runoff. But I’m not exaggerating when I say I took one step and my leg instantly went numb.  Nonetheless, we crossed without incident and took a dip in the lukewarm water of an overrated “hot spring” pool – Seljavallalaug.
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Those legs are looking good, Rich.

Which brings me to my next point;

  • DO FIND A HOT SPRING THAT IS ACTUALLY HOT. Everyone raves about the Blue Lagoon – I’m sure it’s great but it’s also heated as a direct result of the geothermal plant that is located right next door. And why pay anywhere from $60 (basic entrance fee) – $250 (Luxury package) when you can enjoy one of many hot springs found around the country for free.

 

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Hveragerdi Hot Spring River Trail.  It was a strenuous 2 mile hike but well worth it.  In mid April we had the place to ourselves.  Just 5 dudes lounging in a hot river.

 

  • DO TAKE THE TIME TO VISIT KVERNUFOSS.  Well known Skogafoss is that way for a reason.  It’s an incredible sight to see.  The tour buses line the parking lot as hundreds of tourists flock to the edge to stand in awe of its beauty.  But there’s an equally as great, if not better, waterfall just around the corner that no one visits.  We literally had it to ourselves.

 

 

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The wind was blowing so hard you could lean into it.

 

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Joe – rocking the classic arms crossed pose. A lot of these photos were taken by him.  Thanks for being the photographer we needed.
  • DON’T MISS THE BLACK SAND BEACH (REYNISFJARA).  It’s gorgeous.  It was mid April and the Puffins were nestled in the cliffs above.  You can climb the Basalt rock formations or just take a stroll like this cowboy and his bride.
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Country music video or wedding photo shoot?

 

  • DO FIND A MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB. Our farmhouse was situated at the base of this peak.  It’s not in the frame below, but our neighbors house is.  Whether it’s the national park, or one of the many hiking trails around the country, just about anywhere you go is absolutely stunning.
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The neighbors probably thought we were nuts.

 

 

 

After sliding down a mountain and making it back to civilization i.e. Reykjavik…

  • DO EAT A HOTDOG. We ate our fair share of hotdogs in Iceland.  Hotdogs are the unofficial national food – they are ubiquitous and you should at least try one.  I’d like to not think about what they’re made of – but when in Iceland…
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They’ll ask you if you’re sure you want this dog.  Just say yes.

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