Wanderling Guide to

Iceland

Jenn Vargas

Curated by Jenn Vargas

Reykjavik is an ideal starting point for your Icelandic explorations. The city itself has lots of great architecture, sights, and food, but take every opportunity to venture out and take in the awe-inspiring Icelanding landscape.

Currency
Icelandic Krona
Plug
Airport
KEF
Ideal Trip Time
1 week

Great for...

Scenic views, outdoorsy adventures, a photographer's dream. It's a bit pricey for the backpacker budget, but there are often amazing airfare deals that will help keep your budget in check. Iceland is one of my favorite places to travel.

Getting Around

Reykjavik itself is rather walkable, but there are also taxi services that will get you wherever you need to go. You'll be remiss if you don't head outside of the city to explore and for that you'll need a car. A tougher all-wheel-drive car will give you the most flexibility in your destinations, but you'll also do just fine with a regular sedan. You'll save money if you know how to drive a manual transmission.

Must Do

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja

Standing out in the center of the city, Hallgrímskirkja is a beautiful church with a great view of Reykjavik from the top of the tower. It was designed to look like cooled lava, which you'll see if you visit Vik!

Harpa

Harpa

Harpa is no ordinary concert hall. The facade is a an amazing steel structure with colored geometric glass. You can take the stairs or elevators higher in the building for even better vantage points. There are often exhibits inside for your browsing.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

While the Blue Lagoon is technically outside of Reykjavik, it's en route to and from the airport. It's not cheap for admission, but it's a really fun experience and the spa mask is cool. Plus you can swing by on your way to the airport to end your trip on good note! Get there early to avoid the crowds.

Get out of the city!

Get out of the city!

Iceland is soooo much more than Reykjavik. Get outside of the city as much as you can. The landscape is beyond amazing. Drive the golden circle, say hi to some Icelandic horses, hike a glacier, your options are endless. Plus you'll have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights!

Vík

Vík

This black volcanic sand beach feels like it's from another planet. There are cool caves, mind-boggling rock formations, and while you're there, might as well dip your toe in the freezing cold ocean.

Must Eat

This sounds crazy, but you have to try an Icelandic hot dog, aka "Pylsur". They're available at every gas station, convenience store, and the like, but for the best of the best, check out Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. It's recommended by the locals, so you know you're not getting stuck in a touristy spot. Don't forget the crunchy onions!

Beyond the hot dog, there are local delicacies for the daring such as fermented shark. Icelanders love their licorice, so you'll find plenty of that around. And they're well-known for their "skyr" or yogurt. In fact, they take pride in their dairy products overall, so don't forget to try some of their ice cream too! My favorite was at Valdís. They have a Kinder Egg flavor!

Don't forget to pack...

This really depends on the time of year, but in the colder months you'll definitely want to layer up and plan for the weather to vary drammatically in a given day. Waterproof shoes with good traction will be your best friend.

Key Phrases

Icelandic is known as one of the most difficult languages to learn. In the major tourist areas, you'll do fine with English, but it never hurts to know a little "hello" ("hallo") and "thank you" ("takk").

While you're there...

If you're in Iceland, be sure to get out of Reykjavik itself. Travel the Golden Circle, visit the waterfalls, glaciers, and other natural wonders. There's so much to do.

Bonus: A few airlines offer Iceland stopovers en route to European cities like Paris, London, and Amsterdam. You can get 2 trips for the price of one!