5 Things To Know Before Booking Your Trip to Iceland
After a whirlwind destination wedding and a two-week long honeymoon in Europe, I'm finally back in the States and back to writing my blog! Since Nic and I recieved a ton of questions about Iceland, I thought I'd start by sharing the information you should know before booking your flight to the land of fire and ice.
1. How to Get Around
While Iceland looks like a small country, don't let it fool you! Getting to a spot on the coast can take several hours and often on gravel roads. When booking their trip, some may assume they are flying into Reykjavik, but they're more likely flying into Iceland's main airport, Keflavik International Airport. As you can see in the from the Google Map below, it's about a 45 minute drive.
Luckily, there are a few options. If you're planning on staying in Reykjavik for the majority of your trip, you can catch a Gray Line shuttle for as low as €19. The shuttle even has Wifi! But if you're hoping to see beyond Reykjavik without a tour group, I recommend renting a car and picking it up either at the airport or in Reykjavik. Forewarning though, as soon as you begin reading rental company reviews, you'll find that almost all of them are negative. However, several of our guests, including Nic and myself, rented cars and had no issues. We rented a four-door sedan from Hertz, paid a little extra for wind a gravel insurance (this is especially recommended if you're driving around the country, as many of the country roads are loose gravel), and we have nothing but positive things to say about our experience. But be prepared to fill that baby up once you're done! Gas was near $8 a gallon when we were there.
2. The Value of the Króna
Speaking of costs, you should know that while getting to Iceland is cheap, everything in the country is expensive. I'm talking $30 for a diner burger and fries expensive. But don't let that deter you! There are plenty of ways to make do, one of the biggest ones is point 4 of this blog post (see below). So while you're saving up for your trip, keep in mind that pretty much everything will be listed in krona.
The króna is the main currency source in Iceland (though some places accept euros) and, as of October 2017, 1 Icelandic króna is worth 0.0095 US dollars. Which means an item that would cost 25 USD, would be listed at 2,619.17 króna. You can either use a currency converter or you can do what we did, which was to simply move the decimal over two spaces to get a rough estimate.
3. The Sulfuric Water
Iceland high concentration of active volcanoes, (due to its location on the mid-Atlantic Ridge and a divergent tectonic plate boundary) the hot water stinks of sulfur. Making the warm water in your sink and your shower smell like eggs. Thankfully, the smell does not linger on your skin after showering and if you let the tap water run cold for about 30 seconds, the taste disappears. The smell of the water was the one aspect of Iceland I didn't know about until we got there.
4. Grocery Shop When You Can
As I mentioned above, things in Iceland can be expensive. Especially if you're eating out for every meal. To save a few bucks, I highly recommend stocking up on snacks and drinks at grocery stores. From light, morning eats to evening cocktails, you can find items for much cheaper at a grocery store than at a restaurant. Our grocery store of choice during our visit was Krónan.
5. Go to the Blue Lagoon... But Come Prepared!
Yes, the Blue Lagoon is considered one of the top tourist spots in Iceland, but it didn't like a "tourist trap" to me. The Lagoon is huge and you can easily get your own space in the warm, relaxing, thermal water. Like most places, it's busiest on the weekends, but we went on a Saturday at 6 pm, and had a blast. But do your research before visiting!
In order to get into the Lagoon, you'll have to book tickets for a specific time slot. I recommend doing this as early as possible because time slots can fill up and it would suck to miss it because you can't find a slot that fits your schedule. Also when booking your ticket, you'll have to select what kind of package you'd like.
We did the premium package, and boy, am I glad we did! The slippers aren't anything to write home about, but the robe was seriously helpful for keeping warm before and after our swim. Before diving in, you also must remove all jewelry, glasses, or contacts, because the water can strip metal, ruin lenses, and dry out contacts. Lastly, ladies should think twice before putting their head underwater. Just like your jewelry, the mineral-rich water can strip away your most recent dye job and will leave your hair dry and crunchy. To avoid that, I coated my hair with a ton of conditioner (the Blue Lagoon provides this for everyone) to keep mositure in my hair and my color safe.
Have any questions about visiting Iceland that I didn't cover? Leave them in the comment section below!