travelwell

March 22, 2017

8 Tips for Your First Trip to Iceland

Iceland Waterfall

So it’s your first trip to Iceland, and beyond the excitement and anticipation – I’m sure the same questions that I had are running through your head right about now. After traveling to Iceland for the first time in December, I learned some do’s and don’ts that will help you to look like an expert on your trip. So read these Iceland travel tips and get ready to be a true Icelander, or at least fake it until you make it, as you embark on your journey of the land of fire and ice.

The weather outside is…

EXTREME! Iceland is known as the land of extremes. If it’s raining, it is a torrential downpour. If it’s snowing, the snowflakes are the size of golf balls. If it’s sunny and blue skies, prepare yourself to see the bluest skies you’ve ever seen. And get ready for the weather to change at the drop of a hat. Most locals will joke and say if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait five minutes. December was cold, but not as cold as you’d expect; however the wind at times could blow your phone right out of your hand while trying to take that once-in-a-lifetime photo. Braving the elements kept us on our toes, and made each adventure different from the other. Which brings me to my next tip…

Skogarfossl waterfall

What to wear:

Since the weather will be quite extreme, be prepared for any type of weather, even if you are traveling in the warmer months. In the winter, WATERPROOF and WIND RESISTANT EVERYTHING! Your jacket, pants, boots, hat, and gloves should all be water resistant. I highly suggest a base layer of tight fitting warm gear, followed by another layer for extra warmth, then a waterproof layer of everything. And bring plenty of layers for each day. There is no such thing as being over prepared. Comfortable boots that are waterproof will ensure you will remain comfortable throughout the entire trip. When traveling in warmer months, still be prepared for multiple climate changes, and be sure to have a waterproof layer of clothes.

iceland seljalandsfoss waterfall

Easiest way to be spotted as a tourist:

Carry an umbrella. Icelanders are so used to the wind and rain, they never carry umbrellas! As strange as this may seem, a few of my fellow travelers learned the hard way. The wind is so strong at times, it will blow an umbrella right out of your hands. A good hood and waterproof layer will keep you dry, without having to worry about flying away like Mary Poppins in the Icelandic wind. Icelanders can spot a tourist from miles away, simply by identifying them as the people with umbrellas.

iceland vatnajokull glacier

What are the people like:

Friendly, friendlier, and the friendliest. It’s amazing how proud the Iceland people are of their beautiful country. But now having visited, I understand the pride they hold. The native people are so happy and welcoming. They make four hours of sunlight a day in December seem fun. And talk about learning to dance in the rain, the native Icelanders have mastered this way of life. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with them, and if you are – just give it time – they will surely ask you how your day is going and what brings you to their beautiful country.

iceland skaftafell

What the food is like:

It’s always fresh, it’s prepared with care, and there is lots of it! Iceland has some of the most interesting delicacies. Whale, horse, beef tongue… you name it, and they have it. But what they are known for is their fresh seafood and their amazing lamb. Each meal started with the soup of the day, and let me tell you… all of their ingredients are fresh! Farm to table takes on a new meaning when dining in Iceland. Salmon was prepared in every imaginable way, and the lamb was the best I’ve ever had.

shark meat

If you’re questioning whether or not to visit the Blue Lagoon… the answer is always YES.

Before I had left for our trip, I heard mixed reviews about the Blue Lagoon. Naturally I needed to experience it for myself before I jumped to any mislead conclusions. This was one of those life changing moments that I will never forget. Visiting in December made the experience even better, who wouldn’t like a geothermal spa in one of the most beautiful countries in the world right? Complete with a swim up bar, available massages, and a silica mud mask that will make your skin feel 5 years younger – I would take a dip in this mineral rich water every day if I could.

blue lagoon

Contrary to what the popular 90’s song suggests, go chasing waterfalls, every day…

The waterfalls were captivating, and at times took my breath away. It didn’t matter how many we visited on our trip, each one was better than the last. From the view atop the famous Gullfoss Waterfall to gaining a new perspective standing behind the beautiful Seljalandsfoss, there was nothing quite like these natural masterpieces.

GullfossWaterfall

Last but not least, let this country in

My last tip is to take moments every single day. Take moments to breathe in the fresh air of this beautiful island. Chase those perfect photos, and be sure to capture your memories, but don’t be afraid to put the camera down and take those pictures with your own two eyes. Iceland was one of the most beautiful countries I have every laid my eyes on, different from all the rest. I challenge you to take in that beauty every day and enjoy every minute of your adventure. Iceland stole my heart and if you let it in, it will most certainly do the same for you.

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