You have heard a lot about Iceland and want to spend your next vacation here? Then you are exactly right on our blog. In this article you will get valuable tips for your next Iceland vacation. Furthermore, we tell you how to get to Iceland and how much time you should plan for your Iceland vacation.
This article is intended to give you an overview of Iceland and thus forms a kind of guide. We have written a separate article about Iceland's north and south. Here you will find detailed information about possible excursion destinations.
If you can travel Iceland also in the current Corona situation you will find out below.
General information for your Iceland vacation
Iceland has besides volcanoes and geysers also beautiful landscapes to offer. Iceland has ca. 360.000 inhabitants. From this live alone ca. 130.000 in the capital Reykjavik. In addition to the inhabitants, there is also a diverse animal life. Horses (Icelanders), puffins, sheep and whales are only a small selection in your Iceland vacation. Speaking of sheep. There are about. 480.000 pieces. Eventually they will take over the world. But more about that later.
Iceland vacation in Corona times
Can I plan and execute my Iceland vacation even in times of Corona? The clear answer is: Yes, it is possible. For the trip to Iceland you should consider some things respectively. you should be aware that traveling is associated with restrictions. Which are those and how you can still travel, we tell you here.
One thing in advance – When you plan your Iceland vacation you are always subject to the current regulations of the Icelandic government. You can check this daily via this website.
Currently you have two options for entering Iceland
- 14-day quarantine
- 2 PCR tests and a 5-day quarantine
Where are the differences? With the 14-day quarantine you go 14 days in a self-quarantine and do not have to take a corona test on entry. However, you are not allowed to visit any sights during this time. So little useful. We advise you to choose option 2. Here you immediately make a first test at entry. After that you can go for a walk.B. drive with a rental car to a quarantine compliant accommodation of your choice. The nice thing about it is – you can choose them yourself for your Iceland vacation. You can find a list here. After 5 days you have to do a second corona test. After the result of the second test you can officially continue your trip and start your Iceland vacation.
When is the best time to travel?
It is hard to say when is the best time for your Icelandic vacation. Of course, it always depends on what you want to do and how often you want to do it. have already been there. Nevertheless, we would like to make a recommendation at this point with which it can be lived well.
Iceland you can actually travel all year round. You have the best chance to see a wide range of different landscapes from May to the beginning of September. Here the temperatures are still relatively pleasant with 10-20 degrees Celsius. Temperatures and weather can change very fast on your trip to Iceland. You should always keep that in mind. Iceland is influenced in the north by the arctic air and the cold Atlantic and in the south by the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean. This explains at this point also spontaneous temperature changes. So it can go down to 5-10 degrees in the summer or have a relaxed 25 degrees.
The special thing about Iceland for us are the green mountains and meadows. In summer you will see countless sheep on the roadside and the fields. With your car you can drive into the highlands and explore many remote places on the island. From September on many pass roads, so called F-roads, are closed due to snow.
In the north of your Iceland trip you can observe different species of whales all year round. The time plays here therefore rather a smaller role.
Northern or polar lights are of course also part of an Iceland trip. From 21. June is the solstice. Here it slowly gets darker again. You will only be able to see auroras between the middle of September and the beginning of March. How to find the aurora borealis is described in the following article.
In winter you will of course find frozen waterfalls, snow covered glaciers and landscapes, which can also be very beautiful. There are even some ski resorts on Iceland.
How to get to Iceland?
Since Iceland is an island, there are generally only two options. Either with a ferry from Denmark to Reykjavik or with the airplane. If you like to travel with your own car, the ferry is certainly a good choice for your Iceland vacation. But we describe here the arrival by plane.
Currently, IcelandAir and Lufthansa fly from many German airports to Reykjavik. You can find a flight via the common travel portals. If you z.B. from Frankfurt to Reykjavik you will need approx. 3,5 hours.
On the way with the car
Iceland can be traveled in many ways. Beside camper vans and normal caravans there is of course also the classic rental car. Since we were on the road with the latter, we would like to describe this variant in the following more closely.
Of course there are the classic car rental companies, also known in Germany. We have decided for the Icelandic provider LotusCar Rental,.
Which rental car should I book?
This question is of course quite justified with the multitude of possibilities. If you are on Iceland for the first time, there are only two options. A classic car or a vehicle with four-wheel drive.
In Iceland there is a distinction between normal roads (e.g.B. the ring road 1) and the so-called F-roads, which can be found especially in the interior of the island. F-roads are characterized by very rough terrain and unpaved roads. Here a vehicle with four-wheel drive is even mandatory.
The ring road 1 leads you almost once around the island. Here you are on paved roads for the most part. A four-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary here. However, there are sights that can only be reached via a gravel road (not an F-road). For this purpose all-wheel drive vehicle is quite useful.
Our recommendation goes at this point quite clearly to a vehicle with four-wheel drive. In the end it is also a question of budget.
Which insurances do I need for the rental car?
If you are driving on Iceland's roads, we recommend you to take out an insurance for your rental car. In addition to the standard insurance, we always recommend to take out an ash and dust insurance, as well as an insurance against falling rocks. These two are mandatory if you want to spend a carefree Iceland vacation. Optionally, and this depends a bit on your planned tour, you can also take out an insurance for F-roads and an insurance for crossing rivers.
What is it with all these insurances? Since the last volcanic eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull in 2010, ash is swirled up again and again by storms. The ash can lead to scratching the paint on the car. How likely is it? I don't know – but you will feel safer and better if you have one – believe us.
Depending on the roads you are driving on, especially on gravel roads and F-roads stones can be thrown up. Such damages can also reduce your travel budget at the end of your Iceland vacation. Speaking of F-roads. If you drive through the interior of the country, you will have to cross rivers. Yes, read correctly. You can go by car through rivers. For this you definitely need a vehicle with four-wheel drive. But here caution is advised. Rivers can be deep and the current strong. So if this is what you want to do – start small.
How much time should I plan for my Iceland vacation?
Iceland can be reached relatively quickly from Germany. Nevertheless you should bring a little bit of time on the spot. A classic for Iceland is the Ring Road 1. With a length of approx. 1400km you can go around Iceland once completely and see many sights. Other destinations are the Golden Circle, the Snæfellsnes peninsula and the Westfjords. In the next two sections we want to give you an impression of what you can realistically do without getting into stress.
I have 7-10 days..
If you have for your Iceland vacation "only" 7-10 days you can still look relatively. However, we do not recommend a complete circumnavigation of the island. In our experience, this is too stressful and you might get annoyed afterwards because you just drive past many sights. For a stay of 7-10 days we recommend you the following possible tour.
Since you arrive in Keflavik by plane, your Icelandic vacation starts right here. It makes sense to take a rental car right at the airport. The first stop could be the capital Reykjavik. The lies ca. 50km east of the airport. From Reykjavik you can drive north to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The Snæfellsnes peninsula is also called compact Iceland. If you don't have much time you can see everything Iceland has to offer with little effort. Of course in a slimmed down form. Green meadows, sheep, Icelandic horses, the volcano Snaefellsjokull, lava fields, waterfalls, small fishing villages and snow-covered mountains are waiting for you. If you look closely you can even get in contact with elves and trolls.
After visiting the peninsula Snæfellsnes you can drive back towards Reykjavik. In Mosfellsbær you have to turn left to road 36 in direction Golden Circle. Here you can see the Thingvellir National Park, where the two tectonic plates are moving a little bit further apart every year. Divers get their money's worth here and can dive into the depths between two continental plates. Furthermore, the geyser Strokkur awaits you, which reliably sprays hot water into the air every 5-7 minutes. The road will lead you to the famous Gullfoss waterfall.
From Gullfoss waterfall you can drive by car towards Sellfoss. On your Iceland trip you are now heading towards the south of the island.
|Day 1||Arrival and drive to Reykjavik|
|Day 2-3||Drive to the peninsula Snæfellsnes|
|Day 3-5||Drive through the Golden Circle|
|Day 6-9||Drive to the south of Iceland|
|Day 10||Return to the airport to Keflavik|
I have 14 days and more time..
If you have more time, you can do more – who would have thought that?. For 14 or more days we recommend the classic Icelandic road – the Ring Road 1. This leads you with its ca. 1400km once around the whole island. We promise you already now that you will definitely drive more kilometers.
In general you can do everything we have described above. At this point we would like to put together a possible route for the complete time and show you in the following where you can make stops.
If you fly to Iceland by plane, you will land in Keflavik. Here you take a rental car and off you go. On the way to Reykjavik you can decide if you want to start your Iceland vacation clockwise or counterclockwise. We have chosen the second one and would like to describe this way. Going the other way around is of course just as well.
From Keflavik take road 41 in the direction of Reykjavik. In Reykjavik you can drive north and turn off at Mosfellsbær onto road 36. Here comes soon the first highlight in your Iceland vacation – the Golden Circle.
What you can expect on the Golden Circle you can read above. You can do the Golden Circle as a day trip from Reykjavik. Here you come to ca. 250km. After the three sights Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Strokkur and the Gullfoss waterfall we recommend to take road 35 towards Sellfoss. This saves you quite a few kilometers and a possibly double way in Iceland's south. From our point of view it does not make sense to drive around the whole Golden Circle.
In Sellfoss you come to the ring road 1. From here you can continue your journey through the south of Iceland. A complete article about Iceland's south with the most popular sights and places to stay can be found here.
The town of Hofn
Hofn is with ca. 1700 inhabitants a small fishing village in the southeast of Iceland. If it fits in time we recommend you to spend a night here. You can replenish your supplies in a supermarket and fill up your car for the next stage.
For Hofn we have three recommendations to go out to eat at this point. At Ishusid Pizzeria you can get a very tasty pizza within seven minutes. Pizza can be ordered by phone and costs between 2000 ISK and 3600 ISK. (12 – 20 euros).
If you like to eat fish, the restaurant Pakkhus 1932 is highly recommended. It is said to be one of the best restaurants from Iceland. It is a bit expensive, but you get the pleasure of eating lobster. You can also find the Pakkus at the harbor.
If you want to spend less we recommend Hafnarbuðin, which is also close to the harbor. Hafnarbuðin is more of a snack bar than a restaurant.
East Fjords – From Hofn to Egilsstadir
From Hofn, continue north on your Iceland vacation. Your way leads you through the East Fjords of Iceland. Here is rather the way the goal. We don't want to devote a separate article to the East Fjords and described in this section what to expect along the way.
Shortly after Hofn you will find a small Viking village with the connected Viking Cafe. The village was built in 2008 as a backdrop for a US movie, then unfortunately never used. The entrance costs approx. 7€. Nearby you can also visit Stokksnes lighthouse. Since the lighthouse is on private property, again there is a small fee to pay.
A next possible stop could be the place BreiðdalsvIk. BreiðdalsvIk is located ca. 160km from Hofn. For the distance you should spend ca. 2.Allow 5h. The route is really beautiful and invites to some photo stops. The site has ca. 130 residents. In the purchase pielagid Art& Craft Cafe you can get a coffee and a small snack before you go on.
How to find auroras?
Before we approach the question where you can best find auroras, I would like to briefly explain what auroras are in general. Auroras are solar storms. Solar storms contain particles consisting of protons and electrons that hit Earth's poles. In interaction with the earth's magnetic field, these beautiful colored lights then appear in the sky.
In the past, magic and higher powers were thought to trigger these phenomena. Today it is known that these are purely physical features.
As mentioned above, the time for auroras in Iceland starts in September. Here the intensity of the solar storms increases. What do you need to see auroras during your Icelandic vacation??
First of all of course a clear sky. If it is cloudy, you will not see auroras. So if it rains that day, you can go to bed at night with peace of mind – you won't miss anything.
If you have a clear sky, of course, it is always worth looking at the sky. If the solar storms are suitably intense, you can spot the auroras with the naked eye. If you see "veil clouds" in the sky, this could be an indication of auroras. If you have a camera with a tripod, why not make a long exposure (ca. 15-20s). On the picture you can then check if it is aurora or not.
Furthermore, apps can also help you to determine the appropriate forecast for the evening. The so called KP value is measured. This describes the intensity of the solar storms. With a KP of 5 you will definitely see auroras. Try the Aurora Forecast website from Iceland. Others are Aurora Alert or "hello aurora".
Another tip for seeing auroras is the issue of light pollution. For this, find a place where it is possible to be dark. So avoid the center of town or your hotel room.
Now I wish you a lot of fun in your Iceland vacation with many impressions and great experiences. If you have any questions, feel free to write us anytime. We will try to answer your questions promptly. Should you find that information here in the article is no longer correct or is wrong, then write us gladly that.