I’m a beach girl. Traveling to Iceland during its winter season was a learning experience for me. While I recommend anyone who loves nature and adventure to visit Iceland, there are a few things I wish I had known beforehand. Here’s a few Iceland travel tips to know before you book that flight.
1. It Gets Dark Early- Plan Ahead
Iceland experiences some extreme daylight changes throughout the year. During winter, the days get shorter, and during the summer, they experience almost 24 hours of light.
During my December trip the sun didn’t come out until 10:30 AM and the sun set at about 4:30 PM. So if you’re trying to take photos for the gram in daylight, you have a really short window to do that. Make sure to plan ahead because who wants to leave Iceland without clear photos of the Geyser because you waited until the afternoon to go visit?
My biggest regret was visiting the Blue Lagoon on a tour. We arrived at the Blue Lagoon at 4:30 PM and it was already pretty dark. Therefore, my photos did not come out very clear. If you want that iconic Blue Lagoon water photo, go early.
2. Rent a Car When Traveling to Iceland
Booking excursions are a great way to see the beauty of Iceland, but most of them are pretty expensive. They typically run between $170- $300 dollars each. To see most of Iceland’s major attractions, you would need to book about 3 tours. I really wanted to see the Northern Lights and although I got to see them, I think chasing them on my own would have been a better experience. Compared to others, I was very disappointed.
3. Be Flexible When Traveling to Iceland
Seeing the Northern Lights (aka the Aurora Lights) is one of the main reasons why people come to Iceland. Many excursions will allow you to redo your tour if you don’t see the Northern Lights the first time you go out. That’s great but it seems like the Northern Lights don’t come out vibrantly until after 1:30 AM, and most of the tour companies stop their tours at midnight. Most of the people I met on my tour were a bit disappointed in their experience.
I did the 4×4 tour and had fun. My tour guide seemed very knowledgeable and even served hot chocolate, but I think chasing the lights with a photography group would be your best bet. I recommend joining Aurora Iceland and Aurora Hunters Iceland because they share live updates about where to see the Aurora Lights best.
4. Dress Properly When Traveling to Iceland
Wearing layers in Rekijavik is a must. Layering works because it creates pockets of heat. I recommend wearing two layers of bottoms, two pairs of socks, two tops (including one thick one), a hot coat, a hat, and gloves. These hand warmers worked terrific as well!
5. Book in Advance
Iceland has 2 Michelin Star restaurants that foodies rave about. Reservations are usually sold out about 6-8 weeks in advance so book early. I recommend the same for hotels. If you don’t have a car, I recommend staying close to Reykjavik City Center because there’s a lot to do in walking distance. Spa Days at Blue Lagoon also sell out quickly so I wouldn’t bank on getting same-day tickets (although it’s possible.)