As a country with a tiny population isolated by the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, Iceland has always been somewhat of a mystery to the outsider. There was a time when it was but a question mark on a map.
Now, its exceptional natural beauty and unique north Atlantic culture has put it firmly on the map as one of Europe's most desirable holiday destinations. Yet, from the weather to the language and currency, there's still a lot to learn about incredible Iceland when booking a trip.
To help you decide when to book your trip, how long for, and how you might like to spend your time in Iceland, take a moment to read these top 14 frequently asked traveller questions. We divulge information on how expensive Iceland really is, how long you should spend visiting, when to see the Northern Lights and much, much more.
Iceland is often labelled as one of Europe's most expensive countries because prices for food, drink, and other consumables are relatively high. However, there are other areas of expenditure like travel and transport can be very affordable, making it a pretty accessible country for tourists to visit overall. For example, there are several budget airlines operating in Iceland which offer extremely good deals. In spring, early summer, and early autumn, you can find flights to Iceland for as little as 50 euros. Another great way to save money on travel to Iceland is by hiring your own car to see the sights rather than forking out on group tours. Plus, it gives you more time and greater freedom to explore.
- A Guide to Visiting Iceland on a Budget
- A Guide to Rental Car Insurance
- How to get to Reykjavik from KEF Airport
The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland are highest during the winter months (from November to February) when the days are shorter. However, there's also a good chance of seeing them in September, October, March, and April, the months shouldering winter too. Tour operators often stop running Northern Lights tours in the summer (June, July, and August) because the days are much, much longer, and the chances of seeing them are, therefore, much lower.
Although it is a seasonal country, Iceland is a year-round travel destination. In the spring and summer, much of the winter's snow has melted, clearing the roads and hiking trails for adventurous souls to explore the country further and wider. By midsummer (July), you can also expect up to 21 hours of daylight in Iceland, allowing for more time to spend outdoors.
The days are much shorter in winter and the roads and hiking trails are more difficult to navigate due to snow and ice. However, it's the perfect time of year to see the Northern Lights, soak up Iceland's wintery scenes, and immerse in the local culture. Find out more about the best time of year to visit Iceland in our month-by-month guide.
To see all of Iceland's best highlights including Thingvellir National Park, blue Lagoon, and Skaftafell, hiring a car is strongly recommended. While bus tours enforce strict itineraries and schedules, you can visit all of the sights you want to see in your own time with your own vehicle at hand.
A hire car also gives you the opportunity to spend more quality time with those you're travelling with and make more heart-felt memories on the Icelandic roads. Surprisingly, it often works out cheaper to hire your own car as a group rather than pay individually for tours. Check out Iceland's best car hire deals here.
In general, Iceland's infrastructure is exceptionally well-built and maintained, and the roads are easy to navigate and drive on. As temperatures often dip below freezing in winter, the roads become prone to snow cover and black ice. However, they are carefully monitored and controlled to minimise the risks of adverse weather and help ensure road safety during this time.
Iceland also has a system of gravel mountain roads called F-roads which are largely unmaintained and partially obstructed by unabridged rivers. Due to their tougher conditions, it is illegal to drive on F-roads without a 4x4. Whether you plan on sticking to the paved roads or not, it's worth hiring a 4x4 in Iceland to enhance the driving experience on your adventurous road trip.
Road safety tip: Since there's as little as five hours of daylight during the winter months and some roads in Iceland are unlit, we recommend that those with visual impairments only drive in Iceland during the spring and summer.
While Iceland experiences four distinct seasons, its temperatures don't vary greatly. It often comes as a surprise for people to know that, despite its shiver-inducing name, Iceland's temperatures average at 0°C in the height of winter and rarely dip below -3°C. In the summer, temperatures only reach up to around 13°C, but average around 10 or 11°C. Although this is pretty low for summer, it's an optimal temperature for hiking and other strenuous outdoor pursuits! Overall, Iceland's climate is mild and fairly predictable, making it accessible year-round. Click here for a more detailed monthly breakdown of Icelandic temperatures, rainfall, and daylight hours.
You can tick off some of Iceland's top tourist attractions in 4-5 days, but you'll need at least a week to experience it to the full. Most people start with two to three days in Reykjavik to immerse in Icelandic culture and visit famous landmarks, museums, restaurants, and bars. After that, the amount of time you spend in Iceland depends on how adventurous you are feeling and how much more of the country you want to see.
You can drive around Iceland's famous Golden Circle route in a day or two, which circumnavigates Thingvellir National Park, the Gulfoss waterfall, and the Geysir geothermal park. Meanwhile, the Westfjords and South Coast Way (encompassing Reynisfjara black-sand beach, Skaftafell, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon) each deserve a dedicated three to four days.
From the Westfjords to the South Coast Way, the Ring Road and beyond, the opportunities to explore iceland are endless and so the longer you stay, the more you will get to see, and the harder you will fall for this majestic country. Don't forget to reserve a day to relax and soak in Iceland's famous lagoons too!
A beach holiday is always fun, but nothing beats getting your kids into the great outdoors and showing them some of nature's most magnificent creations. As a place suited adventurous souls of any age, Iceland is an excellent place to enjoy nature with your family.
While there are hiking trails and other outdoor pursuits that should be reserved for adults with good levels of fitness and endurance, all of Iceland's most famous sights, trails, and activities are accessible to children. Many of them, including Skaftafell, Geysir, and the Blue Lagoon, don't actually require any physical exertion at all! You can simply pack the family comfortably into a car and drive from one stop to the next.
Icelandic Króna (ISK)
Most nationalities can stay up to 90 days visa-free in Iceland. Find the list of countries eligible here.
As in most European countries, cars drive on the right-hand side in Iceland. Find more about driving in Iceland here.
Iceland uses the standard European plug socket. It is characterised by two rounded prongs.
The official language spoken in Iceland is Icelandic, but most locals speak good English too.
Iceland's main transport hub is Keflavik International Airport (KEF), which is 50 km south of the capital Reykjavik. The best way to reach the capital from the airport is by car.
Check out our guide to Keflavik Airport.
Now that you have all of the information you need to book your perfect Iceland holiday, you're ready to start planning it! First up?
Find your ideal hire car with the help of our driving experts by getting in touch with us here. From spacious SUVs to swanky sports cars, our range of hire cars is selected to suit all kinds of driving needs.