Dyrhólaey, Iceland

Iceland: All You Need to Know Before Traveling to Iceland

October 25, 2023

Iceland is an island country located in the Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Scotland. It has a very small population of just a few hundred thousand people. However, it is visited by many tourists, because Iceland has become a very popular destination in recent years.

Many people call it the land of fire and ice because of its extreme but wonderful characteristics. Iceland really does have a thousand faces: magical waterfalls, bubbling geysers, active volcanoes, aurora borealis, ice caves, breathtaking fjords and canyons, fascinating wildlife.

In the following paragraphs, we will be detailing what you need to know about Iceland as a tourist if you are planning a trip there.

Who is Iceland the perfect destination for?

Iceland is the perfect destination for those who like to explore the nature. Iceland is a place where you will find a wealth of natural attractions. That’s why we recommend it for nature and hiking lovers. Traveling around Iceland, you can see volcanoes, glaciers, lava fields, flower fields, beautiful horses and cute sheep, as well as endless stunning mountains and waterfalls. Iceland is a land of extraordinary colors and shapes.

For the same reason, we also recommend a trip to Iceland for photographers. There is no more interesting place in the world to admire and photograph nature than Iceland.

In terms of age and physical fitness, Iceland is a really good destination for younger people and anyone in good physical condition. As there is a lot of walking, hiking and traveling to see the main sights, which are far apart and not always easily accessible, this is why we are writing this. Of course, anyone can travel to Iceland and enjoy the easier activities along the southern coast. These include lagoons, geysers and waterfalls, which are easily accessible and not overwhelming.

Who is Iceland NOT recommended for?

Unfortunately, Iceland is not the kind of destination we would recommend to everyone. Poorer than usual infrastructure can be a problem even for a more active couple. This should be kept in mind, especially for less mobile people.

Therefore, it is not particularly recommended for people with young children, because of the amount of hiking, the harsh weather conditions, the long and difficult drives and the sometimes poor infrastructure.

The other group for whom traveling to Iceland is less recommended are people with reduced physical fitness. In their case, traveling to Iceland may be difficult. Hospitals are rare, and the road network makes health services difficult to reach. Of these two groups, if you do decide to travel to Iceland, you will need a very well-prepared and considered itinerary.

Weather and when to travel to Iceland

In Iceland, these two themes are strongly linked, because the weather will determine the purpose and content of your trip. Some attractions are worth visiting in winter, others in summer.

Iceland is one of the coldest countries in the world. Winters in Iceland are snowy, windy and cold. It is difficult and dangerous to travel on the roads. In winter, the nights are very long. For winter travel in Iceland, you should be especially well-prepared in terms of clothing, food and car.

Summers in Iceland are short and mild. The average temperature during the day is 10-15°C, but this is very variable and precipitation is frequent in summer too. Important information is that the highlands are only accessible to tourists in summer, from about June to September.

The weather in spring and autumn is difficult to describe, anything can happen. Many roads are still closed in spring, so we think it is worth waiting until summer or autumn.

Early autumn is a good time to plan for those who want to take a chance on the aurora borealis, but also want to hike in nature. If you definitely want to see the aurora borealis, read these northern lights tips.


This depends a lot on the season you are traveling in. Winters in Iceland are always cold, and you should be prepared to wear layers of warm, waterproof clothing. Most people travel to Iceland in the summer, when any temperature between about 5°C and 20°C can occur. So in summer, be prepared with thinner but layered and waterproof clothes because it rains a lot. Always carry a windproof raincoat with you. Be prepared with hiking boots too, even several pairs. Hiking boots will be your most essential piece of equipment in Iceland. You may also need a good backpack and sometimes the hiking poles. If you want to try the Icelandic baths, be prepared with a swimsuit. Iceland has fantastic lagoons and baths.

Costs in Iceland

Iceland is an expensive country. Travelers from wealthier countries may not be surprised by the price level, but it is expensive for people from an average economic background.

Pretty much everything is expensive in Iceland. Hotels are expensive too, with the average 3-4 star hotel costing as much as 5-star hotels elsewhere in Europe. But the quality of service is excellent. We have never experienced a broken shower head or dirty bed linen in Iceland.

Driving is also by far the most expensive of all the places we have ever been. Car rental prices are horrible, but the service is excellent too, with new and well-equipped cars.

Meals are also difficult to solve cheaply. For an average lunch for 2 people in a better-quality restaurant, we easily spent a total of 70-100 euros/dollars. We can’t even count on inflation, so prices can keep rising. Shops are also very expensive, although the selection is surprisingly wide. They are prepared for a lot of tourists, some of whom are camping and hiking. This means that there is a lot of ready-made food in the shops. By choosing from these, you can get your meals out cheaper than in a restaurant.

There is no entrance fee in most Icelandic places, so you can save on that. Some places charge a low parking fee.

And what makes a trip to Iceland even more expensive is the equipment. Whether you travel in winter or summer, you will need waterproof shoes and clothes. If you are going hiking, you will need a full set of hiking gear – shoes, poles, special clothing… etc.

It is hard to save money in Iceland. Iceland is not a low budget destination. You can probably save the most on hotels, flights and food. These depend on your needs.

For example, if you rent a camper van, it can be cheaper than hotels. But you should also note that wild camping is forbidden in Iceland, so in principle you should only overnight in campsites.


To be honest, the Icelandic infrastructure is not the best.

As villages are rare, shops, restaurants and petrol stations are available only relatively rarely. In Iceland, be always prepared with enough of everything in reserve, never leave meals, shopping or refueling to the last minute.

Unfortunately, the road network in Iceland also needs improvement. There are no highways on the island, only simple roads that are rarely paved. As a result, the roads can only be traveled slowly and carefully.

There is public transport on the island, but it is expensive and complicated to use. A car is much more recommended. It is worth renting a 4×4 car with extra insurance. Windscreen smashes and car tire punctures are common in Iceland.

There are also problems with the mobile network, and even though we asked for an extra network in the car, sometimes we stayed without internet.


Icelandic gastronomy has a surprising variety of culinary delights to offer for tourists. In Iceland, you can find the best fish & chips in the world. But the most famous Icelandic dish is the lamb soup, which is the best meat soup we have ever tasted. Fish dishes are generally popular, so this is a big advantage for seafood lovers. Fish is eaten in many different ways: fried, boiled, dried, smoked, in soup, with a side dish…etc. Curious travelers can taste specialities such as shark meat or sheep’s head in Iceland. Few people know that it’s Icelandic, but another very famous food is called skyr, a dairy product that is similar to yogurt. Because Iceland is a well-prepared place for tourists, traditional food is also available almost everywhere, like pizza, hamburgers, chicken breast with a side dish…etc. The only thing we missed was the selection of diet foods, so if you have a special diet, prepare in advance.

Practical suggestions

Icelandic people are very gentle and discreet. They don’t really interact with the tourists unless they have to. They are nice when serving you of course, but don’t expect much more from them, they won’t make friends. Don’t go near their private property, as you’ll be spotted quickly.

Iceland has many dangerous places that tourists should respect. You can’t wander freely on the beach in stormy weather, you can’t just climb up anywhere. Nature rules in Iceland and if you don’t respect it, you can easily die. So be always prepared and watch the weather signs and local storm warnings.

Please respect that wild camping is prohibited in the country. Rent a room instead, it’s much more comfortable because of the Icelandic weather. Or look for a campsite.

Although there are plenty of drone photos of Iceland on the internet, it’s actually rare that the weather is good enough to fly a drone. It’s usually windy and rainy. It’s also illegal in most places.

If you have a chronic disease, take enough of all medicines with you. In Iceland, you are better off not going to hospital, because hospitals are rare. If you are on a special diet, take food from home, you may not be able to buy everything in Iceland. Shop stocks are relatively large compared to the population, but for special diets you need to be sure.

Highlands are the most time-consuming place. The roads, open only a few summer months of the year, are very difficult to drive on, often involve crossing rivers and are prone to cause accidents or flat tires. It is easy to get stuck. Be prepared to hire a 4×4 car with extra insurance.

This is all the information we have collected for your trip to Iceland. We hope we have provided you with useful information to help you plan your trip. If you are interested in a little more inspiration, check out our other articles about Iceland, which will focus on Icelandic attractions.

Iceland is a very interesting country with characterful landmarks and attractions. You are guaranteed to come home from Iceland with an experience of a lifetime. If you have the chance, don’t leave it off your bucket list.

Photo Gallery

Want to see more photos?

Check out our photo gallery, where you can find all our photos categorized by country. In the photo gallery you can see photos from 6 years of travel and more than 20 countries. Discover the most beautiful places in the world!

Follow us on Instagram