Iceland is one of the most popular bucket list destinations on the planet, primarily for its spectacular Northern Lights and breathtaking natural landscape. The unique experiences this destination holds are boundless and extreme. Swap hectic swimming pools for otherworldly geothermal lagoons to soak your cares away in. Strolls along crowded beaches become treks through rumbling volcanoes and sparkling glaciers or witnessing geysers gushing from the forces bubbling below. There’s something mystical about this little island just south of the Arctic Circle…
Iceland’s climate is generally cold, cloudy and windy with rainfall days occurring around half of the year. With the contradicting elements of fire and ice playing a huge impact on the weather it is mostly unpredictable, but Iceland is prepared for this and it shouldn’t affect your trip if you pack well! Prices are highest from June to August when days are long and the activities are endless. Mountain roads open for 4-wheel drive experiences and hikers. Shoulder season sees fewer crowds along with breezier conditions and slightly shorter but still pleasant days. In low season the winter activities such as skiing, and snowshoeing are at their peak, and the short days with little daylight makes this the optimal time to witness the Aurora Borealis due to increased visibility.
The weather varies throughout the country, but we have included below are the average temperatures for Reykjavik.
High Season – June to August (Average 11˚C)
Shoulder Season – May and September (Average 8˚C)
Low Season – October to April (Average -2˚C - 4˚C)
The currency in Iceland is Icelandic króna. You can arrange a currency exchange before you travel, or exchange money once you have arrived. Nearly everywhere in Iceland accepts cards and cash is uncommon among locals so having a valid card to use is preferable but not necessary.
We have included below some average costs to help you budget for your trip.
1 Night in a Hostel dorm: £30 - £50
1 Night in a Guesthouse: £120 - £200
1 Night in a Luxury Double Room - £250+
Café Meal: £15 - £25
Top-End Restaurant Meal: £30 - £50
Blue lagoon entry: £55+
Northern Lights Guided Tour: £40+
Golden Circle Day Tour: £70+
Car hire per day: £55+
You can round up the bill in restaurants or leave a little tip if you appreciate the service in Iceland, but tipping is not necessary as service charges are nearly always included in your bill.
When you think of Iceland it’s very rare the first thing that comes to mind is the cuisine, although that may be because the visuals usually consist of vibrant dancing skies and dramatic icy glaciers. However, the traditional dishes you won’t find anywhere else will be an experience you’ll remember. As Icelanders are limited due to their climate, they create imaginative dishes with the ingredients that are in abundance around them. Beautiful seafood is a staple, as is Icelandic lamb in restaurants and supermarkets all over the country. In the east of Iceland, reindeer will appear on local menus, and you will even still find horse in some areas (referred to as foal). Fresh vegetables are an equally important accompaniment, and the combinations are based on simple, natural, elegant recipes.
Skyr – A local favourite made from skimmed milk into a consistency similar to yoghurt, and served with cream, sugar, and usually berries. You can find it in markets and on dessert menus.
Reykjavik's Hot Dog – Visit Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik for a fantastic quality hot dog made from beef, lamb and pork. Ask for it with everything, which included deep fried onions, raw onions, mustard and remoulade. You’ll need to order more than one!
Lamb Stew – An incredibly traditional, and equally delicious dish served all over the country, a hearty Icelandic stew will warm you up after a long, cold day of exploring.
Rye bread – Icelanders make their rye bread underground near geothermal spots and what comes out is an incredible cake-like dough which is then served with creamy butter and salt, or cream cheese and salmon, or even in pieces with ice cream (which Icelanders love to eat year-round regardless of the freezing temperatures!)
Icelandic language is closely related to other Scandinavian languages such as Norwegian, Danish and Faroese which all originated from ancient Norse, but none has retained its grammar as much. Almost all Icelanders will speak English to some degree but use these handy phrases below to impress the locals!
Hvar er strætónn/rútan til _____?
(Kvar er strigh-toh/roo-tan til _____?)
Where is the bus/coach to _____?
Já / Nei
(Yaw / Nay)
Yes / No
Þakka þér fyrir
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
1. Roughly 64% of Iceland’s population lives in the capital, Reykjavik which is the northernmost capital city on Earth.
2. The Icelandic language hasn’t changed much since Old Norse which means that ancient texts can still be quite easily read to this day!
3. Around 85% of Iceland’s energy is derived from renewable sources, and geothermal energy makes up for over half of this heating over 80% of houses.
4. Vatnajökull glacier, known as the Water glacier in English, is the largest ice cap by volume in Europe and is home to Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur as well as some of the most active volcanoes in the country.
Call 0161 440 6735 to discover Iceland for yourself!