Last month, before going to London for Aly’s wedding, I was in Iceland.
And before you ask—yes, it was cold.
But not that cold. *scoffs the Minnesotan* *who is currently using two blankets* *indoors*
Iceland was a “why not” trip. When the four of us bought our tickets and realized that we could have an extended layover in Iceland, we decided to go for it. I mean…why not?
Funnily enough, after we’d booked our tickets, it suddenly seemed like everyone and their brother was either going to Iceland or planning a trip in the near future. (Props to Iceland’s tourism board because they’re obviously doing good work.)
So if you’re one of those people, here are a few tips we picked up along the way. Plus a lot of pictures to really make you want to go/because I want an excuse to post all these. (I’ve left all these photos unedited, just FYI.)
Weather in November is temperamental. One minute, it’d be sunny. The next, snowing. Then hailing. Then sunny. Then raining. Then—you get the point.
It’s cold—duh—but the low temps are easily solved with layers. It’s the damp that’ll get ya. I was infinitely grateful for my waterproof coat and boots. If you go there around the same time, please make sure your coat is waterproof as well as warm!
Iceland has a lot of waterfalls.
A lot, a lot.
We saw what I assume to be the three most touristy ones: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Gullfoss. All of which were worth it. As of this writing, all of these are free to go to, though you have to pay for parking at Seljalandsfoss.
If you want to be really up close and personal with the falls, winter is probably not your time to go. You’re actually able to walk behind Seljalandsfoss, but the day we went it was slippery, so it was roped off.
You’ll want to rent a car. (Unless you’re willing to pay for tour buses all the time.) Reykjavík is great, but there’s not a whole trip’s worth of stuff to do there. The waterfalls, hot springs, Blue Lagoon, etc. is all at least 40 minutes outside of the city.
Iceland is not cheap. We knew this, but it’s one thing to see it and another to go to the grocery store where a pack of bacon is 30 U.S. dollars.
I googled free things to do in Reykjavík, and found a Top 10 list where the tenth free thing “to do” was drink tap water. So there’s that. The country is worth the trip, but just be prepared.
A few more tidbits:
- If you hate the outdoors, Iceland is not for you.
- Iceland is less than 3% woods and, except for the mountains, it’s pretty flat. According to our Airbnb host, a saying in Iceland is: If you don’t know where you are, stand up.
- September to April is Northern Lights time. But only if—and this is a big IF—the clouds cooperate. When we were there, it was too cloudy to see anything.
- I’m no tour guide, but I would say it’s probably not worth paying for any kind of Northern Lights tour. Not with the odds as they are. All you need to do is get just far enough away from the city lights and, if you’ve rented a car, you’re golden.
- The Blue Lagoon is pretty sweet. The water really is blue. I just don’t have any pictures to prove it because I drop things and was not about to bring my phone near there.
- The country is teeny. The entire population is roughly equivalent to the Twin Cities.
- I guess Icelanders have a thing about hot dogs? We didn’t get any, but I’d love to hear about it if you have!
So there you have it. Our whirlwind three days in Iceland was absolutely beautiful. And chilly. And great.
If you have any questions, please let me know! I’d love to talk more about it. And—believe it or not—I have even more pictures I could share.