What I Wish I Had Known About Iceland

In recent years, the number of travellers visiting Iceland has increased enormously. Summer isn´t anymore the most popular time to visit Iceland, all other months of the year have also gained popularity. Even though many travellers arrive well prepared and have read a lot about the country, there are some things you just can´t find online and tourists wish they had known before arrival. We asked tourists what they would have like to know before they arrived. We have summed up a few of the answers for you so you will have a little extra knowledge when you arrive!

“I didn´t know how accessible Iceland is”

To many it is a surprise how easy it is to drive the ring road. You can make stops at so many lovely places, spend the night at various guesthouses and hotels around the country, and you can enjoy the country to the fullest in your own time. In winter the ring road is usually open. However, if you aren´t used to driving in snow and on slippery roads, then tours might be a better choice for you.

“I wish I had realized to bring normal clothing to wear in the city”

Icelanders dress very normally and it is like they almost ignore the cold. It is truly not necessary to wear hiking gear in Reykjavik and I wish I had known that before I arrived. It is not as cold as it can get in winter in central Europe as the air is dry, not humid. So, next time around I will pack some normal winter clothing to blend in with the locals and leave the hiking gear for the tours out in the country!

“I wish I had known that alcohol can´t be bought in supermarkets”

In Iceland there are special government run stores (called Vínbúðin) and that is the only place where you can buy alcohol apart from bars and restaurants of course. I wish I had known that it is closed on Sundays and on public holidays. So, if you want to buy anything – beer, red wine or something stronger – make sure you go to the Vínbúð during opening hours. If you forget, then your only option is your local bar or restaurant if you want a glass of wine.

“I didn’t know that bottled water in Iceland is the exact same thing as tap water”

I´m used to travelling and everywhere I go I buy bottled water. When the locals in Iceland told me I was buying the exact same thing as I would get from the tap, I was very surprised. I decided to try the tap water and to make a long story short, the locals were right. Definitely the best tap water I´ve tasted!

“I wish I had known how unspoiled the nature really is”

If someone had told me how the nature in Iceland is truly unspoiled, I would have definitey stayed longer and enjoyed some extra days out in the country. It is amazing how you can feel the nature all around you. It is unique!

“I didn’t realize how quickly the weather changes in Iceland”

It was a surprise how the weather chances quickly. You can get up in the morning and the ground is covered with snow. A few hours later the snow is gone and the sun is shining. You can even experience all in one day – snow, rain, sunshine, wind, no wind and hail! You truly need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, both in winter and in summer!

“All the beautiful photos online are real! The landscape and scenery is in reality truly breathtaking. However I never imagined how fresh the air would be!”

Before I finally decided to visit Iceland, I had browsed the internet and read book. All the beautiful picture you see are real. The scenery is breathtaking and the pure nature really blows you away. What I had never thought about was how truly pure everything is! The air in particular – not a hint of pollution, especially when you leave the capital. The air in Iceland is as pure as it gets I would say!

“I didn’t know how friendly Icelanders are”

I’ve often read that Icelanders tend to be cold and distant. After my trip to Iceland I truly can´t agree with that! They are very helpful, friendly and have a big heart. I wish I had known that so I would have used my time to get to know as many Icelanders as possible!

“I wish I had known that the main street in downtown Reykjavik is heated”

By the main street in Reykjavik, Laugavegur, you will find many stores and boutiques. What tourists don´t know is that in winter you can walk up and down the street without worrying too much about the snow and ice as the main street and the sidewalks are heated. I wish I had known that so I wouldn’t have gone shopping in my hiking boots!

“It would have been helpful to know how strong the sun is in winter”

Even though the hours of daylight in winter aren’t that many , the winter sun can be very strong so don´t under estimate it. If I had known that I would have brought some sunblock for my snowmobiling tour and sunglasses! I was though surprised how easy it was to find sunglasses and sunblock in Reykjavik in the middle of winter. I just went to the next pharmacy I found and got both.