Iceland really is a place like no other.
I spontaneously booked my trip there after a receiving a press release that mentioned it and less than a month later I was on a bus from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik.
I can honestly say it’s one of the best trips I’ve ever been on and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much astounding natural beauty in one place. From breath-taking icy waterfalls and thermal springs to exhilarating geysers and Northern Lights, this is a must-see for anyone who really enjoys seeing the world.
There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when visiting Iceland, aside from basics like currency and public transport. Here’s your need-to-know Iceland Travel Guide.
Icelanders are as chill as the climate
They have a really flexible view on life and schedules, which is incredibly refreshing, especially if you come from a busy city. Icelanders get things done, but they don’t freak out over delays or setbacks – it is what it is. They really do get what life’s about and will actually close their businesses on random days during the summer just because the weather is uncharacteristically warm.
You are a slave to the weather
This is probably the main reason Icelanders are so relaxed. You may arrive, armed with a list of things you want to see and do, but realistically, you’re at the mercy of weather conditions. We often complain about the ever-changing weather in Ireland, but this is nothing compared to the swiftness of weather developments in Iceland. At one point on my first day, it was lightly drizzling; 20 minutes later, I was standing in a blizzard and 10 minutes after that I was looking a sunny blue sky.
Iceland is a lovable but bizarre place
Dogs were banned in Reykjavik until 1984 when a newly elected mayor overthrew the law so he could move to the capital with his beloved dog. A road was built around a rock because a local ‘elf whisperer’ said elves were living in it. It’s also a country with three hen whisperers and 25 jedi knights are registered in its national phonebook. Basically, Iceland is awesome.
Beware the fur
It’s not a great destination for anyone planning a shopping trip, but if you do wander around shops, be warned – real animal fur is on sale in a lot of places so be careful what you pick up. I handled a few hats and shrugs thinking they were fake before spotting a wolf rug and having the girl at the counter inform me it was all real.
The showers can smell like eggs
Don’t be alarmed – it’s perfectly safe to use. The smell is just caused by high levels of sulphur in the geothermal hot water, and interestingly, I left the country with my skin in the best condition I’ve ever seen it.
Bonus: ‘The land of ice and fire’ is not a phrase you come across in Iceland. There are no tourism posters boasting the title at national land spots and you’d be hard pressed to find a mug or fridge magnet with the phrase written on it (believe me, I tried).