Iceland is undoubtedly among the world’s top tourist destinations. In 2017 alone, the country received more than 2 million visitors. But why has it become so popular? Regardless of where you come from or your ambitions for traveling, you should know what to expect before you set out for Iceland. Here are some of the important things to know about Iceland when planning your visit.
1. The weather is not constant or predictable
We are familiar with places where we can predict it will rain in two days or the weather is going to be hot throughout the day. But Iceland is different; weather changes there happen swiftly and without warning. You cannot entirely know when things will change.
While driving in Iceland, you should prepare for pretty much everything. It is ideal to carry heavy clothes to counter the rain and cold weather that comes abruptly. You may need traction devices when driving through mountainous regions in the cold months, because ice may accumulate on the roads.
2. You can communicate in English all the time
You may believe that Icelanders only speak Icelandic, and Icelandic is the official language. But everybody in Iceland speaks English. In fact, their English is better than that of many of their visitors.
If you are planning a tour to Iceland, you won’t need a local interpreter to communicate effectively. This is one of the important things to know about Iceland that is a relief for many tourists who find it difficult to communicate with the local people in many places.
3. Iceland is not a cheap destination
Iceland is amazing, but the cost of traveling, accommodation, food and activities is not exactly affordable. For instance, daily activities in Iceland will cost anywhere from US$50 upward to US$1000.
If you are on a tight budget, it is ideal to visit during winter. Lodging, groceries and almost everything will cost much less than during the other seasons. Yes, winter is cold. But many European countries are colder.
Budget traveling also requires that you buy experiences instead of things. Avoid collecting things you do not need. And if you plan to stay longer, buy food in bulk, transport it on your car’s roof rack basket to your house to cut down on the transportation expenses.
4. Iceland has the best security in the world
If you want to visit the safest place in the world and feel at home all the time, then Iceland is your best destination. According to a recent report, Europe, and, specifically, Iceland, is the safest place anyone can live. You cannot compare it with any other countries in the world.
In matters of crime, Iceland gets fewer criminal incidences nationwide than a single city in the US. You need to experience the peace and freedom that Iceland presents. There is absolutely nothing to worry about when going for a day hike or a camping trip to Iceland. Security and safety in Iceland are some top reasons why people frequent the country every season.
5. You may want to avoid the Blue Lagoon
You may have heard that the Blue Lagoon is a must-visit place, and it is indeed one of the most visited places in Iceland. They say the Lagoon waters are healing.
According to people who have visited the place, it costs about $60 to enter the water, and you must book in advance. The place is also crowded almost all the time. Depending on where you come from, you may consider this affordable or expensive.
But one reason some people avoid it is that you will need to undress for a full bath before and after entering the Blue Lagoon water. Yes, not everybody is a nudist! The cultural and religious practices from various regions will not allow everybody to do it.
6. Not all major currencies are accepted
You can spend your US dollars on the street in many countries. Some regions may require you to visit an exchange bureau and convert your bills into the local currency. But Iceland is a bit different when it comes to accepting foreign currency.
Can you imagine that the Singapore dollar is like a piece torn from a newspaper? It is valueless as nobody accepts it for any trade. You can, however, shop with your debit or credit card in Iceland. It is acceptable in all retail outlets, bus and gas stations, cafes and elsewhere.
But with the currency conversion and international expense fees, you should have some funds on hand to convert upon arrival at the embassy or the airport in Reykjavík. You can also exchange your currency at the banks.
These important things to know about Iceland show that the many places to visit and activities to do in Iceland outnumber whatever you may have read or heard that discourages you. For instance, being the country with the highest security, you can stay and tour it with total confidence. Not to mention that Icelanders are welcoming people, too!