Iceland is a destination that inspires wanderlust in all travellers, be they young or old. For that reason I’m not going to try and sell you on the country because I know it’s probably already on your tick list after hearing friend raving, seeing Walter Mitty or Game of Thrones. What I would like to do is give you a few tips on the nation to make your trip a little easier and if its not on your list, maybe might inspire you to put it on.

Inceland Glacier photo Dave Casey

Weather

Iceland is located at the junction of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans and it sits on the Arctic Circle, so it’s cold. Average temperatures max out at 13°C in summer and a fresh 2°C in winter while the minimums average 8°C in summer and -6°C in winter. Its can also be wet and very windy. The old saying “if you don’t like the weather come back in 5 minutes” rings true. We spent 8 days travelling around Iceland in mid autumn and we had everything from low teens through to below freezing, rain, snow, sunshine, rainbows and lots of wind.

Kirkjufellsfoss-and-kirkjufell-Iceland-photo-Dave-Casey-small

Clothing

To best way to combat the wild weather is to layer. We had Icebreaker merino thermals, light Patagonia fleeces, Patagonia Nano Air synthetic filled jackets, trekking pants and The North Face waterproof shell and pants. Not to mention warm merino socks, beanie, gloves and Scarpa waterproof hiking shoes. On any given day all of the above was generally put on then taken off numerous times.

Camper best

Getting around

You are going to want a rental car to get yourself around and what’s better than a car you ask? A camper van! Yes there are buses or tours, but they run to a schedule and when you see an amazing waterfall, want to pullover and get your Kodak moment to make your friends jealous on Instagram the bus will zoom on by. Happy campers will send a man with a fancy sign to pick you up at the airport, drive you the hour into Reykjavik while giving you all the local tips you want, you check the van over then on your way. Our cosy Ford Transit Connect had a fridge, gas cooker, bed for two, easily ticked along at the speed limit and gave us the freedom to go wherever, whenever. Bonus tip is to take a couple of sleeping bags which you can use as a doona to give you some extra warmth as the blankets supplied won’t cut it if you feel the cold.

Food

Bonus is a grocery chain found in most towns, just look out for the pink pig logo. The prices compare well to Australia so it’s cheap for Iceland, which is impressive as Iceland needs to import most of its food. If you don’t go the camper van option at least get accommodation with a kitchen, doing this will save you a heap of money and you will then be able to eat out at a couple of quality restaurants instead of many mediocre which are still super expensive. Having a camper van will also allow you to cook a hot lunch, don’t underestimate this as your lady, man or buddy will think that a 2 minute noddle soup is a 3 hatted dish after trekking around in the rain and wind all morning.  If you like a wine or beer with dinner grab some duty free when you arrive as alcohol is taxed heavily in all the stores.

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Waterfalls & Horses

If you aren’t a fan of waterfalls or horses before you go to Iceland you defiantly will be once you get back. They are literary everywhere and each one will amaze you. Keep your eye out for the word foss (Icelandic for waterfall) on road signs or maps and follow it. You may have to do some short hikes but that’s a good way to stretch the legs and the lazy tour bus people won’t bother you.

Horses Iceland photo Dave Casey

Blue Lagoon

Pack your swimmers as Iceland is smack bang on the junction of European and Nth American tectonic plates and with all this volcanic action there are hundreds of geothermal pools. The most famous one is the Blue Lagoon, its crazy expensive, can be packed full of tourists but you will love it and hate yourself for doing so. If you have the option go in the evening after the bus loads of tour groups have left, have a few $15 beers or wines and relax your aching muscles away for a few hours. While you travelling around take advantage of local swimming pools that are found in almost every town, they are really cheap, have numerous heated pools, waterslides, saunas and if you speak Icelandic you can eavesdrop on the local gossip. Just make sure you follow the body washing instructions before you go for a dip so you don’t cop the evil eye from a local Viking.

Be warned that after visiting Iceland you will want to go back as soon as possible. We were only there for a week and barely scraped the surface but the locals are friendly and the landscape was jaw dropping. We are just crossing our fingers that the Australian Dollar bounces back against the Icelandic Króna before we get back!

Iceland Rainbow photo Dave Casey

About The Author

Dave Casey

Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe. In his spare time Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber while also dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking. He is currently working at Paddys as the National Account Manager, to fund all of the above.

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