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ICELAND: A Quick Guide to Pure Happiness

Once a hidden gem, Iceland has become a popular destination over the last few years. Beautiful landscapes, welcoming locals, and numerous points of interest have travelers flocking to the North Atlantic from all over the world. Outside of the winter months, Iceland is very easy to navigate to create your own adventure.


The summer is peak travel season in Iceland. While the weather is the warmest, the country will be flooded with tourists and everything will be more expensive from flights to hotels. April/May and September/October are the best times to visit Iceland. Keep in mind that while the weather doesn’t get much warmer than the high 50’s, average winter temperatures are in the 20’s and 30’s. Not much different than the northeast US.


Most people travel to Iceland in one of three ways:

1-3 Day Stopover – Based in Reykjavik and hit the top tourist attractions; Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, and Northern Lights.

4-5 Days – Based in Reykjavik for two days to hit the attractions mentioned above, then two days in a different part of Iceland. For example, spending time in Vik (2.5 hours south of Reykjavik) to hike the Solheimajokull glacier, explore the beaches, and visit Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls.

7-Days+ – Drive Iceland’s “Ring Road”. Route 1 circles the entire country and takes a week to complete. You pick your stops along the way including; Vik, Jokusarlon to visit the Glacial Lagoon, Akureyri Iceland’s second largest city in the north to visit Lake Myvatn, and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the west.


Your flight options are as follows from the US:

WOW Airlines – Your cheapest ticket price, but look at the total price. Add-ons include fees for seat selection, checked bag fees, etc. Airports include BOS, BWI, LAX, and SFO.

Icelandair –Iceland’s premier airline offers a nice in-flight experience. Airports include ANC, BOS, DEN, EWR, IAD, JFK, MCO, MSP, ORD, PDX, SEA and they partner with Jet Blue for connection service.

Delta – Offers seasonal service to Reykjavik from JFK. Connections can be made from numerous airports. The most expensive option, but you can earn miles with a US airline or use miles for free flights.

Keep an eye out over the next few months for international discount carrier Norwegian to offer flights with one stop in Norway en route to Reykjavik.


The international airport is in Keflavik, a 45-minute drive to Reykjavik. Unless you are renting a car, most people use flybus to get to their hotel. I recommend that you pay a little extra and do the flybus+ option which drops you off at your hotel vs. being dropped off at the bus station. Booking a round-trip ticket is helpful at the time of purchase if you know where you are staying and your flight information.


If you are doing paid excursions with transport, you don’t need a car in Iceland. In fact parking in the city center can be very difficult. If you have a hotel outside the city center, especially at the larger hotels, parking is available.

You will need a car if you plan to create your own adventure. Renting a car in Iceland is pretty easy and you can pick up at the airport or at different locations throughout the city. I would recommend getting a GPS and they will oversell the insurance…everything from volcanic ash to windshield coverage.

Driving was easier than I expected in Iceland, but you should google “driving in Iceland” to learn about some of the road signs and challenges. For example, if the road sign has an “F” attached to it, you will probably have to drive through a creek or river. You'll want to avoid those roads.


There are many housing options in Iceland. Small and large hotels, Airbnb, and B&B’s are available all throughout the country. TripAdvisor is a great tool to read reviews to find what's best for you. Staying in the city center will be the most expensive, but many hotels right outside the city center are only a five minute bus ride away.

If you are looking to use reward program points, Hilton and Radisson are the only US hotels currently with a presence in Reykjavik.


There are restaurants, bars, and cafes all over town. The restaurants in Reykjavik are smaller than the US, so you may want to make reservations in advance for dinner at the more popular places. In off-peak months, it’s much easier to just walk down the street and pick the restaurant of your choice. Prices may be higher than you are used to, but remember, you are on an island in the North Atlantic!

Alcohol in Iceland is expensive and similar to prices in large US cities. The locals “pre-game” before they go out in the evening and may only have one drink, to avoid the high prices at the bars. Happy Hours are very popular as the drink prices tend to be more reasonable.


Iceland’s currency is the Icelandic Krona (isk). As of this blog post 1000 isk = $8 US. The best way to calculate on the fly is to multiply the first digit by 8. If you see something that is 5000 isk, you know its around $40 US (5 x 8). Currency rates change, but always calculate what 1000 isk equals in US currency and use that as a multiplier to get a quick conversion. When you cross 10,000 isk, use the first two digits $80 (10 x 8).


One could write a book of all the things you could do in Iceland. Every traveler is different, so I encourage you to do your research and find the activities that fit you best. Here are a few recommendations though to get you started:

The “Must Do” – The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s outdoor geothermal spa. It’s one of the country’s most popular attractions and a personal favorite. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance to avoid lines and wait times, as they will limit the amount of people that can enter the lagoon at a time. I recommend the second highest ticket price that gives you a towel to use and a free drink at the bar in the lagoon.

Do You Enjoy the Arts? – Harpa is the beautiful arts center and concert hall at the old harbor of Reykjavik. The building will certainly stand out with its unique architecture and is perfect for pictures inside. There are plenty of concerts and shows each month and it's a great way to attend an event with the locals.

Get Out of Reykjavik – Reykjavik is a great home base, but you need to get out of the city to see the beautiful nature of Iceland.

Relax – Iceland is one of my favorite places on earth to get away. When you get there, relax and enjoy being far away from the craziness of everyday life. Avoid peak travel season if you can to have a more intimate experience with one of the worlds most fascinating places.

If you have any questions or are looking to plan your own Icelandic adventure, please feel free to reach out by visiting my website, Travel Man Dan on Facebook or by emailing me at

The Glacier Lagoon at Jokusarlon

Skogafoss Waterfall

A church in the fields of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

A sunset near Vik in South Iceland

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