Monday, October 27, 2014

Iceland Travel and Tips

Spoiler Alert! 

There is little to no ice in Iceland. 

Thinking about going to Iceland on your next adventure? Yes! Do it!

Wether you are going to see Iceland's hottest new attraction or the famous Blue Lagoon, you will have an unforgettable trip.

A trip to Iceland is a fascinating exploration of massive waterfalls, tiny churches, pristine waters, and volcanic scenery. Combine that with warm, welcoming people, incredibly clean and well-maintained places to stay, safe communities with low crime, and better weather than most visitors expect and you get an ideal vacation spot.
A few tips that may help you:

  • The Ring Road (Rte. 1) encircles the island, but don’t hesitate to roam off the beaten path. Many roads are paved (and the number of paved miles increases almost every day) but even the dirt roads (with the exclusion of the “F” roads) are hard-packed and provide a firm, albeit dusty, driving surface, even for a compact car. Unless you are really planning to go into the central highlands you do not really need a 4WD car. If you are planning on taking those "F" roads, then you probably need something significantly stronger and bigger than a standard road 4WD.
  • There usually are no hairdryers in the guesthouses, hotels and B&Bs, so if that’s something you can’t live without, remember to bring your own with a current converter. The electricity is 220v - 2 round plugs.
  • The water from the tap is safe to drink everywhere in the country. Sometimes the hot water smells like sulphur (eggs) but that doesn’t affect the taste. 
  • Although the weather in July is generally good, always bring rain gear - waterproof pants (if you’re doing any hiking) and a waterproof jacket or poncho. Even in July it gets cool or cold on the bluffs near the ocean, so gloves can come in handy.
  • ATMs are common throughout the country.
  • English is spoken everywhere and generally spoken very well, often without an accent.
  • Many of the guesthouses have shared kitchens with pots, pans, plates, etc. so you can save yourself some money by cooking food that you buy from a grocery store. The Bonus supermarkets have some of the lowest prices.
  • If you are interested in activities such as glacier walks, whale watching etc, remember that these are going to take at least half a day. Book in advance, and, if possible, leave some flexibility in your planning so that you can postpone to the following day if the weather is bad - even in summer. 
  • If you’re heading to Vestmannaeyjar (AKA Heimaey Island) in the Westman Islands, the ferry ride takes about 35 minutes. The “Pompeii of the North” in the town of Heimaey reveals parts of some of the buildings that were covered by lava in the 1973 volcanic eruption. Don’t expect to see much; they’ll be excavating for years to come and there’s not much visible at this time.
  • Some atlases show the road to Gardur is unpaved and the same with the road south of Sangerdi,  both in the southwest of the country. Not so. Both roads are now paved.

A few tips on attractions NOT to see:
  • The Eden hothouses in Hveragerdi are no longer there. Sadly, they burned down.
  •  At the intersection of Rtes. 427 and 42 is supposed to be the Krysuvik church, built in 1857. Nope. It burned down in 2010.
  •  If you have any ideas about seeing the fossils at Ytritunga north of Husavik, think again about driving there. The road is suicidal! It’s one lane, dirt, very steep, and winding so you can’t see if another vehicle is coming. One side of the road is made up of the side of a cliff, the other side drops at least 100 feet into the ocean and part of it, in the narrowest spot, had washed away in a recent storm. God help you if you should meet another vehicle coming from the other direction. If you want to look for fossils, pull onto the access road and pass through the sheep gate and then PARK! Walk the rest of the way down. It's some kind of nightmare in a car.

These breathtaking photos inspired us.

Not inspired yet? These photos from Nomadic Matt should help, or visit the Iceland tourism board website for more information. Whenever you are ready, let us know and we can help plan the trip with you.