Iceland is an excellent choice for a vacation. Depending upon the objectives, it provides the opportunity for a wide variety of experiences. For most parts, it is most exciting to visit the island nation irrespective of the time of year. The Nordic country is full of hospitality that starts as soon as you arrive at the capital and largest city is Reykjavík.
Iceland as a country has a higher cost of living. In other words, it is as
expensive as Switzerland, Japan, Alaska or Hawaii. It is worth the effort to plan and estimate the expenses because one can have options. The planning and its follow up with bookings and reservations need to be done well in advance.
The following factors may be considered:
- Duration: Most visitors plan a 10-day trip and go very pleased. It is possible to plan a shorter trip when you have a specific short itinerary. The most popular route is ring road which takes about 6 -7 days with very brief stops in the day and night halts.
- Weather: Weather is a big factor. Rain can be around any time and true waterproof jacket and trouser is a must. In the US, REI is an excellent source for travel-related merchandise, especially, clothing. Other layers are season dependent. Iceland is not very cold but wet and windy.
- Food: Food is excellent. Some American food chains like Subway, KFC, Dominos have a presence. Excellent coffee is available though not from chains in the US. Bye the way, in Iceland, they consume 4 times more coffee, per capita than in the US or Canada. Food in restaurants is good and expensive. A buffet may cost US$75. Fish and chips may cost US$25. Offering gratuity or tips is not the culture. Some may feel offended if you offer them a tip.
- Drive: Iceland has vehicles drive on the right side of the road, just as in the US or Canada and the steering wheel is on the left side of the vehicle. All road signs are in Icelandic and not possible to be guessed from the English base. The traffic speeds are in KM. In the cities, the speeds are maxed at 50 and on highway 80. Most roads are single without a median.
- Currency: Credit cards like Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere. American Express, too, is accepted but, maybe 20% places it is not accepted. American Express offers a card without a foreign exchange conversion fee of 3%. It is smart to use that and if insisted upon, use Visa or Master Card.
- Rentals: If you plan on driving in the country, you need a rental vehicle. There are a number of options from an SUV to a Camper Van. You need to plan well ahead of time. There are very smart ways to plan this through the specialist. It works to your advantage if you buy some prepaid fuel cards.
- Hotels: It is always better to book in advance most of the hotels. Some hotels have restrictions on check-in after midnight. Typically, the check-in is at 2:00 p.m. and check-out at 11:00 a.m. Nearly all hotels accept a request to inform you if Northern Lights are visible but you may have to request for it.
- Language: English is spoken and understood, by nearly, everyone. All official business is transacted in Icelandic.
Choosing the itinerary is a tough thing because Iceland has a lot more than one can cover in 10 days trip. Some of the most visited places are:
Snaefellsnes National Park.
Blue Lagoon, Grindavík.
Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve.
Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park.
Skaftafell Ice Cave, Vatnajökull National Park.
Dynjandi – Westfjords.
Stóruð – East Iceland.
Landmannalaugar – The Highlands.
Vestmannaeyjar – The Westman Islands.
Þingvellir national park.
Akureyri – North Iceland.
Flatey – Breiðafjörður.
The Blue Lagoon
Mývatn Nature Baths
GeoSea Sea Baths
Fontana Geothermal Baths
Geothermal Hot Springs
Kvika Foot Bath
Taking a Tour has the advantage that you will be driven around. The guide and driver would narrate some background and at times will join you. The journey becomes easier but you are part of a group. The bathroom breaks or restaurant stopovers become much bigger which may eat up the time for otherwise interesting stops. Definitely, there would be time-management that makes sure that you are not lost and most of your needs are met.
Typically, a family of 4 or more or a private group of more than 6 would enjoy better to have a private tour or drive on their own than joining the regular tour bus which would have as many as 14.