Hi fellow travelers!
We would like to share with you our incredible trip to Iceland!
We spent 11 days in the land of Ice and Fire and we definitely recommend you to visit if you haven’t done it already! It is a beautiful destination if you love nature, adventure, trekking… and bathing in warm pools 😄
Elena dreamed of visiting Iceland since forever, but when I, Barbara, finally decided I was ok to wear a winter jacket and scarf in the summer, we immediately booked the flight tickets (9 months in advance!).
We went to Iceland during August and we were really lucky because the weather was amazing and it rained just one day. August is a great period for visiting because of the weather and the light, but it is obviously also the moment when you’ll find more tourists. However don’t expect to meet lots of people, because you will be alone in the middle of nature for most of your time there, especially in the North of the island. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that Iceland has a population of 332k and it generally welcomes more than a million tourists each year, so it’s not always easy to find an accomodation, especially in small villages with 100 inhabitants. So if you are planning to visit Iceland during the summer we suggest you to check the availability in advance (you’ll be surprised how quickly rooms get booked!).
Before booking we gathered information to have an idea of the perfect duration for our roadtrip, the prices of car rentals and accomodations. You’ll find several travel agencies that propose easy packages with car+hotel+guided tours: it can appear appealing and practical, but you really don’t need it and it’s a lot more expensive! So we organized the whole roadtrip on our own, and it’s a lot more fun! If you are planning to do the same, here are our tips.
How to get there and how to move around
We flew with Icelandair, with a direct flight from Paris to Reykjavík, and it was extremely comfortable. Icelandair and WOW air are the main companies that can get you to this destination. In particular, Icelandair offers you the possibility of doing a stopover without additional fees if you are traveling between Europe and the US or Canada.
The best way to visit the island is to travel by car. If you are visiting Iceland during the summer it is really easy to move around because there is no traffic and one main highway, the Hringvegur, also known as Route 1, that makes tour of island. The road sings are very clear and you can almost always rely on GPS, but we suggest you to buy a detailed map that will help you find all the information along the road about oil stations, sightseeing places and camping sites. We choose the Freytag & Berndt map, and we found it extremely useful for its detailed plan of secondary roads (gravel and hard-surface). It also includes a zoomed map of the Reykjavík city center.
Pay attention on how you choose your car. Normally 4×4 cars are suggested if you plan to drive on F-roads, extremely uneven gravel roads that you will find on the so called Highlands (the central part of the island) and on the Eastern fjords. Otherwise, during the Summer you can totally move around with a 2×2 car. However, we suggest you to rent a 4×4 vehicle to be free to drive all around Iceland, since sometimes you will want to experience adventure and see where an inspiring gravel road will bring you. We were four and we opted for a 4×4 Dacia Duster, which was easy to drive and had enough space for us and our luggage. We don’t regret the choice at all. We rented it with Blue Car Rental, the best company that we could find after comparing reviews and prices. Their office and pick-up location is not far from Harpa theatre in Reykjavík and it’s a good starting point to take the Hringvegur for your roadtrip.
Remember that you should never go off-track, as it is dangerous for you and nature (and you will also get a fine for that!). Pay attention especially to animals, such as sheeps! They are extremely curious and even if they hear the noise of your engine, they may not be that quick in clearing the path. 😄
We found this video particularly useful and funny at the same time, as all the videos from Inspired by Iceland.
Packing for Iceland: what you should bring with you
Here is what is essential for your summer roadtrip to Iceland:
- Warm clothes, scarf, gloves and a beanie (wind can be tough!)
- A waterproof winter jacket
- Comfy trekking shoes
- K-way (useful when you approach waterfalls!)
- Sunglasses and sunscreen cream (even if not obvious)
- A good camera with a tripod and, if you have one, a GoPro or waterproof camera (for the waterfalls and the thermal lagoons)
- Food: we suggest it because restaurants are very expensive, especially in small villages in the middle of nature and supermarkets are not always easy to find… open! Pasta and canned food is perfect if you dispose of a kitchen.
- A good playlist to enjoy the hours you will spend in your car: don’t forget Sigur Rós, Björk, Emiliana Torrini and Of Monsters and Men if you want to go for some local artists.
Now you have all the basic information to start planning your own roadtrip to Iceland. Keep following us for more details about the itinerary and the places we loved most!
Go eat the road!