»»————- ❄ The Land of Ice and Fire ❄ ————-««
Iceland Travel: A Quick Overview
The two big cities to visit in Iceland are Reykjavik (pop. 123,000, 2016) and Akureyri (pop. 18,000, 2015); Reykjavik and the six municipalities surrounding the capital make up the Capital Region (pop. 200,000+, 2012) which houses about two-third’s of the country’s population. As for tourists, the number has skyrocketed three-fold since 2010 to 1.7 million per year¹ . And for a country roughly the size of Ohio, Iceland’s infrastructure has struggled to accommodate the rising floods of fascinated tourists — with problems including a shortage of hotel rooms, an ever-rising cost of living, and vandalism². In 2016, visitors from the U.S. made up about 25% of the tourists coming to Iceland through the Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik³.
Budget and Trip Planning
When to Go
Summer in Iceland is the high season for tourism, so the preferable time to go (for me) would be between March and May — even though winters are relatively mild, I’d like the chance to drive around and view Iceland’s natural beauty. And as someone who doesn’t frequently drive in the snow and ice, I don’t know if I would feel comfortable renting a car in December or January — although maybe I’d just have to hitch-hike! As for how many days to spend in Iceland, I feel like between 5-7 days would be enough for a first-time adventure into the country.
Sights to See (Reykjavik)
❄ Blue Lagoon (pre-booking of tickets is required online)
– $60 USD for Standard — includes Entrance to Blue Lagoon & Silica Mud Mask
– $75 USD for Comfort — includes above + Towel, 1st Drink of Choice, & Algae Mask
❄ Hallgrímskirkja Church (website)
$9 USD Entry to the tower for Adults
❄ Exploring Reykjavik’s City Center
Main streets: Laugavegur, Bankastræti, Austurstræti, Lækjargata, Skólavörðustígur
❄ Harpa Concert and Conference Hall (website)
Southeast Iceland Scenic Road Trip (green)
Approximately a 4-hour drive (200 miles) from Reykjavik to Svartifoss Waterfall, with time spent at each of these beautiful scenic locations along the route. Here’s an article about the waterfalls in South Iceland.
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Kerið Crater and Volcanic Lake
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Beach
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
- Svartifoss Waterfall
Golden Circle Road Trip (orange)
The route runs about 190 miles looping into the southern uplands and back up into the capital city of Reykjavik. While actual driving time is only 3 hours, with stops along the way you’re looking at 6-8 hours of exploring. Here’s a great article on the top 9 detours to take along the Golden Circle!
- Þingvellir National Park
- Gullfoss Falls
- Kerið Crater and Volcanic Lake
$500 USD: Airfare from New York City (EWR) to Reykjavik (KEF) and back again.
$40 USD/night: Accommodation (Airbnb, Couchsurfing, or hostels)
$200 USD: Car Rental ($150 for 5 days) + Gas ($50)
$50 USD: City Transportation
$40 USD/day: Restaurants + Food ($25/dinners, groceries for breakfast & lunch)
$50 USD: Unplanned activities, souvenirs, etc.
Total for a 6-day (5 nights) trip = $1,200
Great blog posts/pages about traveling to Iceland:
- Iceland on a Budget: 11 Tip to Help You Plan Your Trip | Nomadic Matt
- Iceland | WikiTravel
- 37 Reasons Not to Visit Iceland | Guide to Iceland
- How Not to Blow All Your Money in Iceland | Young Adventuress
- How to Travel to Iceland | Travel + Leisure
- 20+ Iceland Travel Tips | We3Travel
- Iceland on a Budget: Reykjavik and Itinerary 2017| The Poor Traveler
Packing lists for Iceland:
- Iceland Winter Packing List | We3Travel
- Iceland Packing List (Girls) | Be My Travel Muse
- The Ultimate Packing List for Iceland | Under 30 Experiences
Great travel videos on Iceland:
- Sorelle Amore — Austrialian YouTuber who moved to Iceland in late 2015.
❄ Iceland for First-Timers (Top 10 Tips You Need to Know)
❄ Iceland for First-Timers Winter Edition (Things to Do & See)
❄ Are you sure you want to move to Iceland? (10 How-To Tips)
Her photography portfolio is stunning — check it out here!
- This gem from Expedia:
❄ Iceland Vacation Travel Guide