Whenever someone asks me about my best trip so far the answer is always “Iceland” and yes it is THAT amazing. This little country located between Europe and North America is absolutely beautiful is truly like none other. With only 340,000 inhabitants Iceland is a true democracy boasting a very high living standard and literacy rate and not to mention the natural beauty that is innate and exclusive to the country. The terrain to food to culture to people, everything is very neat, prim and proper and absolutely beautiful and the best part is you can see most of it in 4 days from the black beach to Geysir and everything in between and don’t forget the blue lagoon.
Iceland’s other claim to fame is the Northern Lights; the absolutely gorgeous, beautiful and spectacular lights that we didn’t get to see despite trying hard, it just wasn’t meant to be…
With Iceland teeming with tourists in summer I would highly recommend visiting in winter when you can see the country in all its natural beauty and trust me it’s truly spectacular.
The Racism Factor
Icelandic people are some of the most literate and open minded on the whole planet. The thing I really loved is that there’s hardly any ‘labelled’ places like ‘gay’ bars or ‘gothic’ castles. Everyone is welcome everywhere.
The Gay Factor
With only 340,000 locals the gay population is quite small and being very blunt they have very Viking-ish features but guys are really friendly on Grindr and most of them have me excellent suggestions and tips about our trip. Homophobia is not common and like I said Iceland is a very tolerant place.
Value for Money
Iceland is not cheap in any sense of the word with a single meal costing upto £50 and fast food setting you back by £25 this place seems even more expensive than Switzerland. Don’t forget to save up before your trip you’ll need a lot of money bags for this trip.
We landed in Keflavik Airport on a nice crisp Thursday February afternoon and spent a day and a half in Reykjavik. An evening to celebrate my birthday was dedicated to a good dinner and blue lagoon.
The other two days we covered the black beach root with two waterfalls and the last day we covered the Golden circle.
Since we were 4 people we got a place through Airbnb in the city centre on Sudurgata which was equidistant from most places. The flats generally are very well kept and run down places are very rare owing to such a high standard of living in the country. You do need to book it well in advance because the longer you wait the more expensive it will become for you and remember this is not a cheap country especially for summer.
With a small country importing pretty much all its food Iceland surprised us the most when it came to food. Every single meal we have had was marvellous including that magical dessert I had for my birthday, even the junk food we had was so delicious we got instantly jealous. It’s is not cheap by any standard though with the birthday dinner costing up to £100 per person. Oh and don’t forget to try whale (It’s minke whale and comes from sustainable farms) along with other delicacies if you have the stomach for half rotten meat ?
Phone & Internet
Phone reception and internet throughout the country is absolutely flawless and even though I used my own roaming you can check the details of network providers here. Free wifi is also readily available and quite fast.
Cash & Cards
I have no idea what Icelandic Krona looks like, that’s how extensively Cards are used in Iceland. You can pay everywhere with card including contact-less payment very common including taxis. Cash machines are also available extensively but you should keep some cash for emergencies because there’s quite a lot of distance between villages at some places.
- Winter clothing is probably the most important factor when you plan to visit Iceland. I would highly recommend getting a big jacket or coat which is for Arctic and has feathers in it to keep you warm. Another revolutionary but very affordable range is Uniqlo Heat Tech Winter wear. A T shirt, Legging later you won’t need those extra 3 layers, this stuff is truly magical (Japanese Technology eh!) and obviously don’t forget gloves, scarves, hats, and boots with winter socks.
- Keep an extra power bank with you for your tablet, phone etc. because after a certain temperature your phone will suddenly die and you will need it to revive the poor thing especially if you are going to a far off place and need a phone for emergency.
- I found the Tours in Iceland ridiculously expensive and if you drive yourself you can reduce the cost but if you want to book the tours you need to book very much in advance.
- Dog sledding – There’s quite a few dog sledding companies that offer tours but again do book months in advance because I tried booking in December for February and the earliest available dates were in late April so you get the idea…
- Blue lagoon – Again book the tickets well in advance and do not rely on just turning up because it is very busy in every season. You can buy the tickets here and I would suggest an under water massage, its amazing.
- Make sure you buy a pair of sturdy shoes with good grip because terrain is rough and can be very slippery in some places.
- You can go for Scuba diving in Iceland and while I didn’t do it ,my friend who did absolutely loved it, you get to see some amazing places and you will need around 6 hours for it.
- Get a car! This will save you more money than anything else in Iceland. With tours really expensive this is really amazing and you will be able to stop and take pictures wherever you want.
- Make sure you get a Tom Tom or navigation tool from Iceland instead of relying on Google maps. It is fairly common for 3 or 4 places to have the same name in the country.
- Make sure to check with Tourism office before heading out of Reykjavik aout programming your navigation tools because of naming confusion, the folks in there are really helpful.
- Catching the Northern lights or Aurorra Borealis is purely down to your luck but you can check the forecast on the website of Icelandic weather forecasting agency and head in the direction of lights accordingly. You will need to be in a dark place out of city if the lights are faint but some times the lights are quite strong and you can even see them in Reykjavik.
- Be Respectful of the nature and terrain, Iceland is a very delicately balanced eco system and even the smallest shrubs and plants takes decades to grow. Make sure you respect the beauty of this amazing place.