Essential information for your travel to Iceland

Tuesday February 7th, 2017 no comments Posted in Consejos, Europe, Iceland

Camper van

Often when we travel, we always try to collect information so that we do not forget anything, do not carry our suitcase with things that we will not use and find what will be useful during your stay.

Here I have compiled what I think is essential when preparing your trip to Iceland.

 

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FLIGHTS TO ICELAND

We arrived in Iceland via the low cost airline Primera Air from Alicante. The return we made it with Wow Air (also low cost). The total cost of the flight, checking in a suitcase, we spent about 300 € each. In this trip we were accompanied by some friends and they traveled from Madrid with Iberia, but the prices were not exorbitant either.

Iceland Air flies in high season from Madrid or Barcelona and Vueling does so from the latter.

WEATHER

In spite of being so close to the Arctic, Iceland enjoys average temperatures of countries located souther of the globe. This is due to the big influence that the stream of the gulf has on the island, which softens the temperatures making them much more pleasant and less extreme. In summer, temperatures reach up to 15° C in various part of the island, such as Reykjavik, while in winter they go down until -2.

In any place you will find that the best time to travel here is in summer (June, July and August). The climate is better and the almost 24h of light a day allows you to make the most of the days. It also has its charm to do in winter: there will be fewer tourists and you can see the northern lights. We traveled in summer and were  very cold. It is true that we know people who went a couple of weeks later and  the weather was better, but the coat, hat and gloves  are a must even if you hear the word August.

You will hear of the white nights. We were surprised that despite being more north than Norway, there was more darkness at night than at the same time. That is, about 12 at night is practically at night and at 3-4 in the morning it begins to dawn, but there is quite a bit of darkness.

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We went in the middle of summer and still were a lot cold. Not only the few degrees we could have (we do not exceed 10ºC), but the wind. The temperature sensation was always less than the real one. I advise you to wear a good windbreaker and even if it is summer, wear a coat, fleece, hat, gloves, neck pants, thermal shirts, fat socks, etc … In the end you will go as onions, in layers, And depending on the time of day you will need more or less layers.

Do not forget the sunglasses, which although it is cold the sun usually appears a lot and in snowy areas, when reflecting, is very annoying. And sun cream too. We were cold yes, but we came back suntanned!

Of course, the shoes should be waterproof and with good sole that grips in wet areas and snow. We bring the mountain boots and a pair of hiking / trekking shoes, so in case you get wet, you’ll always have something spare.

It is true that the climate changes a lot and on the same day it can be sunny, windy, raining, etc … In fact, there is an Icelandic saying that “if you do not like time, wait five minutes”. This must be taken into account, especially for those who want to do trekking on the island (100% recommended). Tools such as the website of the Icelandic meteorological service (en.vedur.is) is very practical and reports the forecasts of the weather with a lot of precisión

DURATION

If you want to go around the whole island I recommend a minimum trip of 2 weeks, if you want to see it without any stress. In 10 days it could be done but with the  tongue sticking out.

If you just want to get a first impression, just visit Reykjavik to the lagoon of Jökulsárlón, traveling along the ring road in the south.Si queréis recorrer la isla entera yo recomiendo un viaje mínimo de 2 semanas, si queréis verlo sin agobios. En 10 días se podría hacer pero con la lengua fuera.

ICELAND ROADS

The main road that circles the island is called number 1 (or Ring Road), is mostly paved, less a few sections in the eastern fjords, nothing complicated. It has a lane for each direction well delimited. It could be perfectly a secondary road in our country.

The maximum speed allowed is 90 km / h on Ring Road. In urban areas it is forbidden to pass 50 km / h. Although you find many straight on your way, I recommend you not to exceed the speed, since there are fixed and mobile radars and traffic fines in Iceland are expensive (fines of more than 600 € for exceeding the limit 20 km).

As for the gas stations, there are not many. Keep in mind that between town and town there are many kilometers and in between there is usually nothing. I recommend that whenever you get off the half tank, fill it at the next gas station you find.

In this country, gas stations are self-service. You put your card in a reader, indicate how much fuel you want and ready. Do not worry about calculating, if you put a large amount, the amount that you pay back into account.

If you see a road sign with an F in front (example: F32), it means that it is only accessible for 4 × 4 and that if something happened to us here, the insurance would not be responsible for damages to the vehicle (nor ours, of course) .

It is convenient to look at the Icelandic traffic website www.vegagerdin.is/english where you can check the conditions of the road updated to the minute. You can even see the different sections per webcam. Especially useful when there are snowstorms where roads suddenly cut. There are different colors that define the situation of the road, the green being the “Easy to pass” and the red “Can not go through here”. In between there are shades like white (snow on the asphalt), yellow (scattered ice sheets), blue (elusive), pink (difficult driving) or black (poor road conditions).

These indications should be taken into account, because when there is a temporary weather in Iceland visibility may be minimal or there is a serious danger of being trapped in the snow. 112 is the Icelandic emergency telephone number.

ACCOMMODATION

Like anywhere, Iceland has hotels of a lifetime, farms (Farm Holidays group, they say it has a good search engine), guesthouse of particular, hostels, caravans and campers. There is also a great variety of campsites.

Hotels in Iceland are quite expensive and there is very little hotel offer. It is difficult to find where to sleep if you do not book it in advance (in June, July and August the hotel beds are exhausted). My advice for finding good prices is to plan this trip with time. People usually book from one year to another, so if you’re planning your summer trip in February … hurry up because you’re already late! (Be aware that a 3 star Iceland is far away compared to a 3 star Spanish – the quality of our hotels is much better)

Hotels are identified in a different way when we see them from the road. Indications in yellow indicate specific populations (with the road number), and the farms (or guesthouse) are marked on blue posters.

We opted for the campervan option, which we booked through the kuku campers company. The price of 13 days was 1000 € approx. (I repeat, this is the cheapest option, since it is the price of the rental car + accommodation). They are small vans that have been conditioned so that the rear seats are removed and coupled with a matrimonial mattress and shelves where you take the food, gas camping, camping table and chairs, plates, frying pans etc … all you need is Go to the campsites to be able to take a hot shower, but allows you to camp wherever you want * and eat where you want, in the middle of the road.

* Here I must admit that we had a hard time finding where to stay overnight in the campsite, since in Iceland all roads lead to somewhere (house, village, etc …) and there is no shoulder. In addition, the few areas of rest that there are or beautiful places are expressly forbidden to camp.

Camper van
Camper van
Interior camper van
Inside camper van

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To us it seemed a very adventurous experience, which we will remember with much affection, but we must recognize that perhaps it is not the best country for it. We were very cold and sometimes there was so much wind, cold or rain that we had to eat inside the car (without even being able to cook).

ECONOMY AND SAVING IN ICELAND

The currency used in Iceland is the Icelandic krone (1 € = 125 isk). We had read that the trick to finding the euro translation quickly was to translate the crowns to the old pesetas, but we realized after that it was a bit longer. For example, 166isk should be € 1, when in reality it is € 1.35 approx.

In Iceland, as in the Nordic countries, you can pay practically everything with a card, up to the bread (except the city bus, which is why we took out some cash at an ATM)

Iceland is expensive. It seemed even more expensive than Norway or Sweden. A meal in a normal restaurant (food for two, one main course per person, entree to share and two beers) costs about € 50 per person approx. To make the trip cheaper, what we did was to buy food in the supermarkets of the cities (there are not many, but at the gas stations also usually have a variety of products). Prices are still expensive compared to Spain but at the end of the trip you will have saved a peak. (Do not forget to try the typical skyr – yogurt made in Iceland, I loved the blueberry one!)

In some gas stations they have a bar where they serve hot soups and it is usually cheaper (6-10 €). In the cold, something warm was always welcome.

SECURITY

At the level of robberies, crimes, etc… Iceland is the safest country I have ever been to. I think there are 2 crimes a year all over the island. For you to get the idea, until recently the Icelandic police did not carry weapons. So you do not have to fear anything about it. (We forgot some new shoes for hours in a playground and no one touched them.)

SAFETY

We have to pay attention when we make trips through volcanic areas with fumaroles, geysers and wells of boiling water (something quite usual in Iceland). We must pay attention to the posters we find and under no circumstances should we leave the marked paths because we can put our lives at stake if the ground gives way. Every year there are tourists who suffer serious burns. Heeding the indications of parks or nature reserves is a matter of logic.

SCHEDULES

As in northern Europe, in Iceland the lunchtime is usually between 12:00 and 14:00 and the (stronger) dinners start at 18:00 and end at 20:00 or 20:30. From that hour it may be difficult to find something open for dinner.

OUTDOOR BATHS

Icelanders love outdoor baths. The volcanic activity of the country provides hot water almost everywhere. In almost all the towns there is its public swimming pool outdoors for very reasonable price (yes, prepare your noses because it smells of sulfur … although also do the showers of the houses / hotels, so you’d better get used to it). Cold water can be drunk from anywhere (the Icelanders even say from the river as well).

WIFI and GPS

There is free internet in virtually 100% of the accommodations, gas stations, restaurants, cafes and many public places. As for mobile network, in most of Iceland there is a terrible signal. We downloaded an application called maps.me, which allows you to download the maps before the trip. The main difference with google maps is that it also includes hiking trails that people have introduced and this in Iceland is essential.

The plugs are the same as in Spain. If you are going to rent a camper van or a caravan, I advise you to bring a car charger.

 

CAMPING IN ICELAND

There is a camping card that it costs around € 50 and you can camp in all the campsites you want during the trip, but we did not know what nights we would sleep in campsites and which ones in the middle of the road, so we did not buy it and finally spent the same approximately.

Campsite with real time availability: https://www.camping.info/islandia/campings

There are about 125 campsites registered, among which the following are very well conditioned: Husafell, Isafjördur, Laugarvatn, Myvatn, Akureyri, Eglisstadir, Jokulsargljufur, Reykiavík, Skaftafell, Thingvellire and Varmahlid (they are open from June to mid September ).

You can also camp in the National Parks and even on some farms, with the permission of the owner.

There are quite a few differences between some campsites and others, since some offer amenities of all kinds (hot showers, kitchen, washingmachine, bbq…). Some of them are very bad acconditioned and quite far from everywhere. Camping is cheaper than hotels. The best part, most of them are located in the middle of amazing ladscapes  and you don’t need to book it in advance. Campsites in Iceland open from june to septembre. Price varies but it costs around 5€ and 10€ per person/night.

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