My Instagram feed is loaded with photos from Iceland. It’s a little bittersweet because: it’s so freakin’ pretty but — le sigh — I’m not there. Of course, even though I’m slightly envious, it’s wonderful getting to see other people fall in love with Iceland, too.
Iceland in January was delightful, but looking at everyone’s pictures now, well, it looks almost like a completely different country. My journey to Iceland was snowy and cold. I wore multiple layers of clothing while traipsing landscape that was blanketed in white. I even visited the largest waterfall in Europe — a place you might imagine would be overrun with tourists — and encountered only four other people on the trail. I can only imagine how different Iceland is during the summer months.
I can’t wait to get back and see what an Icelandic summer is like. However, whether you’re planning your Iceland trip in the middle of July or the dead of winter, there are some incredibly useful sites to refer to year-round. Here’s where I turned to help plan my Iceland trip.
This isn’t your average tourism guide! Visit Iceland is the best place to start exploring before your trip. Learn more about the different regions (ps North, South, East, and West Iceland all have their own sites), customs, activities, and become familiar with the country. This is an excellent way to figure out what places interest you the most so you can start to form an itinerary.
A travel resource I use constantly. When planning a trip I almost immediately turn to Pinterest. I like to create inspiration boards for my destinations, and Pinterest is full of gorgeous travel photos. Pin with a grain of salt, though, since you’ll sometimes find photos that are mislabeled, which is always disappointing. But you will not be without options!
Pinterest’s stepsister, Trover, is also a good bet, since travelers use and love the site and share their insider tips. At the time I traveled to Iceland, there weren’t that many Iceland posts up on Trover, and they don’t link to articles like Pinterest does. That last fact alone always brings me back to Pinterest. I love the dreamy possibilities of all the images available to me. Whatever your preference, though, visuals of Iceland will definitely steer you in the direction of what you’ll be most interested in experiencing there.
Up-to-date and written by a funny and endearing Icelander, you will find lots of reliable posts from someone who truly knows Iceland. Auður at I Heart Reykjavik offers up great info on some of the most intriguing places in the country, plus awesome photos to boot. I’d say that a good 50% of the useful articles I found about the country came from here. She has posts to help you learn Icelandic, tips on how to save money, and a deal through Budget that can help you get a cheap rental car! The Budget rental we booked through her site was less expensive than any other option, by far.
From what I can tell it’s not as regularly updated as other blogs, but still definitely take a peek at Tiny Iceland. If anything, the #IcelandChallenge posts will give you a really wonderful taste of what the entire country has to offer and what an Icelandic road trip is like! I had wanted to use their directions and find the Navy plane wreck location, but weather was questionable my dude and I passed. Next time!
People who have been there
This should always be a resource you use any time you travel. Talk with someone who has been there recently and is willing to give you level-headed, honest advice about the destination, both the good and the bad. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum and Trippy are perfect if you literally don’t know a single soul who’s ever been but you still want to connect with someone who’s been there, done that.
Ask around, though, and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find someone (even a friend of a friend of a friend) who has been and is excited to share some wisdom with you. I checked in with my gal pal Angela at Goldenrod Pastries and she gave me some amazing tips. Without her, I may never have dined at Kryddlegin Hjörtu, a soup and salad bar in Reykjavik — and ever since I ate there, I’ve been dreaming of it. But her most valuable advice was that Iceland is like a “choose your own adventure” book. There isn’t a single part of the country that isn’t photo-worthy. Simply drive around and you will find something. Attractions are often marked by roadside signs, making it easy to figure out when to pull over or make a turn to see something cool.
Yup! These are the folks I did my snorkeling tour with. The have all sorts of amazing tours to choose from, though — scuba diving to exploring lava caves, horseback riding, and more. Because so much of my time was spent in a car and exploring freely, it was a relief to have a planned itinerary — planned by someone else — for even a half day, to see some of the amazing natural beauty in Iceland. The tours are worth every penny and since there are some places you just can’t explore there without a guide, this is the way to do it!
Of course, I didn’t use this as a resource when planning my own trip there, but I do have some good stuff here now for all you lucky Iceland visitors!
The weather in Iceland is notorious for changing almost constantly. Even if your trip only involves the main road around the island (Route 1 AKA Ring Road) make sure to check this site for road closures and conditions. I checked this site every day for a few weeks before my trip, just to get an idea of what the roads would be like. If you only want to use it while you’re in Iceland, it’s updated daily and will only take a few seconds out of your morning before you head out!
I’d never discourage someone from traveling to Iceland solo, but I am incredibly grateful I went with someone. Iceland, outside of Reykjavik, is best seen by car, so if driving around all by your lonesome doesn’t sound that great, Samferda can be the perfect way to gain a travel companion.
Samferda, which means “companion” in Icelandic, is a carpooling site. If you’re really not able to rent a car, this is the next best thing. Also, if you’re looking to lower your rental car costs a little, post your ride and this is a great way to get someone else to pitch in.
What sites do you like to use when planning your trips? Would you ever want to visit Iceland? What would you be most excited to do there?