How to Optimize Your Trip in Iceland: Our Tips

We are still arguing whether Iceland is the most beautiful country out of 60 countries we have been to: the trip to Iceland was too impressive. Although the Internet is full of advice on how to prepare the Icelandic trip, we would also like to contribute: we think we may say something new.

Rent a car
Travelling without a car is hard in Iceland. Your best impressions will be spoilt by heavy backpacks, wet clothes, harsh wind and the impossibility to move on because of the poor hitchhiking. A tourist in Iceland sees almost no Icelanders: most of the cars are driven by tourists full of people or backpacks. In our case we had a 4-seat car, but it was full of clothes and equipment which is why we could not pick anyone up, and this is the situation of the majority of travelers. The buses are also not so convenient. Because of this the car will save your good mood, time, dry clothes, and money. You can carry your tent and other equipment in the car and stay in campings: their price is incomparable to the insane prices for the hotels. You can carry a lot of food, which means not eating in restaurants and not dying from hunger because there is no supermarket nearby. You may see a lot of sights in a little time and save time and money on the period you spend in Iceland. The cheapest and the smallest car, such as Kia Picanto we rented, will fit most of Icelandic roads.
renting a car in Iceland

Take a lot of warm clothes with you
Many people write about it, but we will repeat. You may be coming to Iceland in July from Spain and imagining that it cannot be really cold in July. Yet, it can be cold, as well as windy, rainy, and even snowy. Everyone should bring a sweater, a warm wind-proof coat, a hat, a scarf, thermal underwear, and at least two pairs of shoes. Do not forget about the change: the hotels are sometimes too cold to dry your clothes, and the lines for drying in camping are huge. Otherwise you may get into trouble, like we could: once we were enjoying watching the seals and did not notice the tide, so we had to go back to the beach through the water. We were very happy to have change.
tips for Iceland

We often dried the clothes under the windscreen if it was sunny, while sightseeing. It took 1-2 hours for the clothes to become dry in such a way and this also adds to the usefulness of the car.
tips for Iceland

How to decide upon the itinerary: is it necessary to make a circle around Iceland?
Many travelers in Iceland consider making a circle around Iceland as a must, no matter how fast they have to make it. This time we went against our habits (remember that usually we have ants in pants) and decided not to rush. And we were very happy about it. Every region of Iceland deserves at least one week, and there is really a lot to see. Moreover, unlike most of tourists, you will not spend time in the crowds of major tourist points around Iceland, but will see many unique things in beautiful silence. Every region of Iceland has its website (for instance, https://www.south.is/), and you can plan your trip with its help. The free information booklets for every region are also available in any tourist information center.
Iceland itinerary

Golden circle
If you have only 1-2 days in Iceland, dedicate them to Golden Circle which includes the main typical sights of Iceland: geysers, waterfalls, national parks, and thermal baths. Although every attraction is full of people, we have to admit it is worth that.
Iceland itinerary

Start your day earlier
An average Icelandic tourist wakes up at 9 and gets at his or her first attraction at 10 or 11. At 12 it is hard to take a descent picture in popular places due to crowds of people. Because of this we recommend you to be smarter than the average Icelandic tourist: you will get to know a very different Iceland of you start your day at least at 8. You will be taking thermal baths on your own and enjoying seal-watching without listening to drones. This is what happens if you reach the attractions by the afternoon.
tips for Iceland

Camping
We recommend camping in Iceland as an alternative which is way cheaper than hotels. Also, you do not have to book camping in advance, which is why you may be more flexible and decide where you stay in the evening. Stay away from campings surrounding larger and more popular cities: for instance, camping in Vik was the dirtiest, the most crowded, uncomfortable, and expensive in our trip. In the meantime, the camping near Jökulsárlón in the middle of nowhere was the best. This rule does not quite apply to the campings near Reykjavik: they are expensive, but may be useful. There, the tourists departing from Iceland leave their unused food and equipment, including gas cylinders – everything you need if you have just arrived.
camping in Iceland

What to eat
Even at the gas stations, soups cost at least 10 euros, and main dishes – 15 euros. Many survive eating inexpensive hot dogs, but you cannot eat them throughout the trip. We advise to bring canned meat, instant noodles and porridges, nuts, cookies, tea, and coffee from home for the first several days not to waste your time on shopping and looking for supermarket. Later, you may buy food in Bonus supermarkets – it is not extremely more expensive compared to the rest of Europe. In the last days, we were buying the meet for the dinner and looking for camping with grill – in such a way we had great dinners.
camping in Iceland

In the mornings we had instant oats, sandwiches, and filled in the thermos with hot water to use it for the lunch: tea, instant noodles/mashed potatoes, vegetables and canned food.
camping in Iceland

Equipment
To make your trip to Iceland very comfortable and cheap, you have to prepare at home. Have warm sleeping bags, a waterproof tent, a gas oven, a thermos, cups, and a torch ready. Many of our readers may imagine a very rough hiking trip with ticks, mosquitoes, and the possibility to meet wild animals. Yet, the majority of tourists in Iceland travel with such equipment, since it allows not only saving a lot of money: such tourism in Iceland is very comfortable. Iceland does not have insects and is great for camping, which is also very romantic after all!
camping in Iceland

Do not waste your money on organized tours
Iceland is too huge and wonderful to pay extra money to see it. You may visit most of the sights on your own for free and spend money in a more useful way. For instance, we spent 80 euros per person on the 3-hour sea trip looking for whales. This is what we saw:
tours in Iceland

Needless to say that we would have seen much more in three hours on our own, and could spend 160 euros on 2-3 extra days in Iceland.