Apparently, Iceland is all the rage now! When a friend suggested a trip to the small Nordic island in Winter, I thought it was a bit random and a little crazy, so of course I said yes.
As with any trip to unfamiliar territory, I started my research and brushed up on my geography. I was delighted to discover Iceland is home to glaciers, volcanoes, geothermal springs, geysers, and lava fields—plus, it’s located so far North it actually touches the Artic Circle!
Since Iceland is the new hot-spot for tourists (and there were A LOT of tourists), the recommended way to traverse the island is by double-decker tour bus. My travel group opted for two tours: a full-day bus excursion around the Golden Circle, and an evening adventure with hot springs and a chance to see the Northern Lights. Both tours were wonderful and I quickly discovered why people visit in the winter—the breathtaking landscape and the Northern Lights!
In addition to the natural beauty of Iceland, I was enamored with the charm of the largest city and capital, Reykjavík. There’s a certain quirkiness about it with its vibrant colors and unique architectural design. I had fun trying to pronounce and decipher the Icelandic language on street signs and buildings—all part of the unique experience when visiting a new country.
Anytime you visit a new city or country, valuable lessons are learned along the way—either from your own experiences or from the people you encounter. Here are a few tips I’d like to share … for when YOU take the plunge and check out Iceland for yourself!
Tips and tricks for the future:
- Expect high prices. Iceland was ranked the World’s 4th most expensive country in 2015 and the cost to visit keeps going up! Costs aren’t high enough to be a deterrent … but make sure you plan for New York City prices.
- Rent a car. The large tour buses are nice, but if you’re looking for a little more freedom and authenticity, rent a 4×4 vehicle, block-off five days for adventure, and drive the entire Ring Road loop.
- Pay attention to details. If you are going the tour bus route (which is the main mode of tourist transportation), make sure to pay extra attention to which bus is going where. Large crowds of tourists plus dozens of double-decker buses with similar destination signs in the window, equals getting on the wrong bus!
- Northern Lights are not guaranteed. It may sound silly, but a lot of tourists think the Northern Lights happen all night, every night in the winter months. I learned that a lot of factors influence the Aurora Borealis forecast, including cloud coverage and solar activity. Be sure to check the forecast before you go!