Before traveling to Iceland, I read a lot about what to pack and what to expect and now that I’ve seen this breathtaking country for myself, I put together my own list to help the next person planning a trip to Iceland.
Back in January, I took an amazing 9 day trip to Iceland and spent my time exploring the Golden Circle and Ring Road which was quite the adventure due to the crazy weather. You can read about all that I got up to and see more photos in my Iceland Snapshots post.
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely planning a trip or already have a trip planned to Iceland.
Anytime I have a trip coming up, I like to do research on the destination so I have an idea of what to expect and little tips to make the experience smoother.
With that said, here’s a list I’ve compiled based on what I read and what I experienced during my trip to Iceland:
1. No need to get cash
Don’t bother exchanging currency before your trip because cash transactions are pretty much non-existent. Every place we went to in Iceland, even in the small towns along the Ring Road accepted debit and credit cards.
2. Meals are crazy expensive
Food in Iceland is SO expensive, don’t even bother looking up the conversion before you purchase something or else you might change your mind. If you want to save money then go to Bonus, one of Iceland’s discount grocery store, to stock up on snacks and pick up easy meals.
3. There are no stop signs, only round-a-bouts
Thankfully in Iceland they drive on the right side of the road, so that wasn’t an issue but once you reach civilization then you will encounter lots of round-a-bouts so be ready to “slide” and always be cautious of other cars.
4. Credit cards require a pin
Our biggest obstacle in Iceland was refueling the car because credit cards in Iceland require a pin, so if you try to use a credit card to pay for gas at the pump you won’t be able to because the machine will keep asking for a pin.
If you don’t have a debit card then find a gas station that can pre-authorize the pump for you, so you can pay inside after pumping. The cashier will physically hold your card while you’re pumping, so there’s no trying to get a five finger discount.
5. Kids walk the streets by themselves
This was probably one of the wildest things I saw, because it’s not something you casually see in the U.S. I read that during the warmer months in Iceland, you can even see parent leaving their babies in their strollers outside to enjoy the fresh air while they go into stores and eat at restaurants.
6. Everyone speaks English really well
Another thing that was shocking was how well everyone spoke English, no one even hesitated. Although, all the signage is in Icelandic, you’ll have no trouble asking someone for help.
7. There’s lots of Subway’s, KFC’s and Domino’s
The only fast food places that were familiar were Subway’s, KFC’s and Domino’s which was odd to me because in my opinion those aren’t the best satisfying wise when it comes to fast food options, but to each his own. I also saw a Taco Bell, but there was only one in Reykjavik.
We didn’t try any so I can’t say if it tastes better than in the states or not, but if you do let me know in the comments.
8. All attractions have way-finding signs
Something that made us a bit uneasy was the thought of having to drive in Iceland, but it was actually way easier than driving in the West.
There was one road in and one road out and multiple stop points along the road with a map, so you generally always knew where you were. There was also lots of look outs, maps, and way-finding signs as you drive across Iceland, so you don’t have to stress about being lost in a bad way.
9. Icelandic horses are super friendly
One of the favorite things to see in Iceland besides the stunning nature was the Icelandic horses. As you drive down the 1 you’ll see horses on the side of the road and sometimes they’re close enough to the fence for you to pet and take pictures with.
The horses were so beautiful up close and incredibly friendly because they let you pet them and stand next to them for pictures.
10. There’s virtually no crime
The idea of traveling to Iceland can be daunting but it makes it easier knowing that it’s one of the safest countries in the world. For much of the trip, my friend and I were on our own in the middle of nowhere and we felt safe and didn’t encounter any weird interactions.
I had the greatest time in Iceland and am sure you will too, it will be so different than any place you’ve ever traveled to. Next time I experience Iceland, it will have to be during the summer months.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!