Everything to do in Iceland
Everything we did in Iceland and how we prepared
Over fall break, my friend Becca and I traveled to Iceland. We are both graduating in December, and we wanted one last college adventure. :)
Through our adventures (and mishaps), we saw so many INCREDIBLE and BEAUTIFUL sights, and we learned what we would do differently if we went back. Here is our planning and traveling process:
HOW TO GO TO ICELAND
Fly WOW Air – the flights are cheap, but you get what you pay for, so have low expectations. Thin seats, little legroom and no food are not ideal for a 6-7 hour international flight, but it’s worth the price.
Read blogs about what to pack and do – Life with a View was an informative reference for us!
Book an Air BnB and plan activities – We stayed in this lovely home. Because we didn’t want to rent a car and waste our few days in Iceland potentially getting lost, we decided to take bus tours instead (read more about that below).
WHAT WE PACKED
Warm clothes (obviously) - Sweaters, fleece-lined leggings, jeans, wool socks and hiking/snow boots were necessities along with hats, gloves and a heavy, waterproof coat. I wore a cozy flannel around the Air BnB, and we each took one nicer outfit (jeans and a sweater) for our day in the city.
Snacks – The bus tours are long, and even if you are renting a car to drive, there are not fast food restaurants every mile. We brought an assortment of granola bars and trail mix each day.
Plug adapters – Our Air BnB had these, but we brought one just in case.
Cash and card – Although Iceland uses mostly plastic, I like bringing foreign currency home. I read that most gift shops would take euros and dollars, so I used some leftover euros to pay for souvenirs.
Lotion – The air is cold, dry and windy. At one point in the trip my hands were literally cracked and bleeding.
WHAT WE FORGOT
The Air BnB had a travel mug I used to carry warm tea with me on the bus tours, and I would bring my own if I went back.
We never absolutely needed a portable charger, but it would have been a nice security to have.
More layers! We both needed more shirts and sweaters to layer under our heavy coats.
WHAT WE DID
There are so many activities to choose from, and we had to narrow it down to these:
Icelandic horse tour – Horses in Icelands are smaller and shorter, and they have an extra gait called the tolt. Even though I’m from Kentucky, I had never ridden a horse before, but the tour we went on was perfect for a first-time rider to an experienced rider (like Becca). I would highly recommend this company – it was a fun adventure, even though it rained some of the time.
Museums and the city – On our afternoons in Reykjavik, we visited the National Museum of Iceland where we learned about the history of the island and the Culture House. We also went to the Maritime Museum, Hallgrimskirkja Church and the Harpa Concert Hall.
South Coast Tour – On this tour, we drove through the flat, vast landscape and saw waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers and more! Having only flown over the Rockies, it was incredible so see such large, craggy mountains.
Golden Circle Tour – It snowed on this day, so the mountains were white-capped. We saw waterfalls, geysers and volcanic craters, and we visited the National Park and stood in the continental rift. This tour was shorter than the South Coast tour, and we stopped every 10-30 minutes.
Eat - We ate at the Fish Company which, despite its Yelp review, is NOT casual. :) We weren't dressed for this upscale restaurant, but it was delicious. I ordered the fish of the day and Becca ordered the Moroccan Date fish. We also read how popular hot dog stands are in Iceland, so we had to try that, along with breakfast at Sandholt Bakery.
WHAT WE DIDN’T DO, BUT WISH WE DID
Blue Lagoon or thermal pool – Due to a mix up with our Golden Circle Tour, we didn’t go the Secret Lagoon like we had planned. By the time we started planning the trip, the Blue Lagoon was already fully booked on the days we wanted. We will book ahead next time!
Whale-watching – Our whale-watching tour was cancelled TWICE, but we did get a discount on an indoor whale experience... I would not do it again. Also, if puffins are the wildlife you were most excited to see, they are only a summer bird in Iceland and migrate to Canada in the winter.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY
City Card - this pass allows you to take public transportation and get into most museums!
Buy groceries - We only ate three meals out, and we prepared the rest of our food in our Air BnB after stopping at a grocery store.
Buy from shops in Reykjavik, not the rest stops. The rest stops were even more touristy than the downtown, and the prices reflected that.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of what we did in Iceland!
Where do you want to travel?