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Iceland is a volcanic island that sits in the North Atlantic between Greenland and the United Kingdom. It is a fascinating country with one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. From the volcanic beaches of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the bustling city of Reykjavik, and the epic valley of Thorsmork – a trip to Iceland will leave you astounded. To plan a trip to Iceland, you must consider what you want to see and do, and what time of year you would like to visit.
Consider the season
The landscape of Iceland dramatically changes from season to season. Winters are harsh with minimal sunlight and cold temperatures. In spring and summer, the land transforms – temperatures improve, and plant life starts to bloom. This should be a primary consideration – when you want to visit.
It will greatly impact what you see, and the impression of Iceland that you are given.
What do you want to do?
After looking at the time to take a trip to Iceland, consider what you want to do and where you would like to stay. Iceland has a plethora of awesome activities and tours such as glacier hiking, boat tours, and even ATV racing. In addition to this, you can visit brilliant destinations such as Keflavik, Reykjavik, and Akureyri. Choose where you want to go and what you want to see, and look at suitable tours and/or excursions that suit your needs.
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In recent years, Iceland has become a popular tourist destination. Why? Because it is one of the most unusual and beautiful islands in the world. This volcanic landmass has landscapes like no other – huge dormant volcanoes, epic glaciers, national parks bursting with walking trails, and some of the most dramatic waterfalls in Europe.
For those who want to experience the raw beauty of nature, there is no better place to do so than Iceland.
This remote island is truly epic and has so many opportunities for the intrepid adventurer. From the magnificence and power of Gulfoss Waterfall to the ruggedness and beauty of Thorsmork National Park, there is something for everyone.
Consider the best time of year to take a trip to Iceland
As mentioned above, the seasons in Iceland bring great change to the country. This has a major impact on what you can do, and what you can see. For example, winters are typically cold with less sunlight and a greater chance of snowfall and ice. This means that landscapes look barren and bleak – waterfalls such as Gulfoss have even frozen over. Alternatively, in summer, temperatures improve and the country bursts into color.
This useful site provides a weather chart and in-depth information about the seasons. It essentially boils down to:
- December to February – Colder temperatures, more ice
- February to March & September to October – Considered optimal times to see the Northern Lights
- June and July – Midnight sun with minimal darkness
- September to June – Best months for driving
Look at what you want to do, and correlate this with the best perceived months, then look at formulating your trip.
Look at the different excursions you want to do
Iceland is a land of opportunity for the adventurous. This is the type of holiday you can use to explore your wild side and try something different. There are a plethora of day tours and even longer trips too. The following are examples of some of the popular tours available:
- Horseback riding
- Golden Circle tour
- Volcanic hot springs
- Glacier hiking
- National Park tours
- Volcano trips
- ATV riding
The Golden Circle is the most popular tour – this involves visiting hot springs, geysers, a national park, and the mighty Gulfoss waterfall. Look at the types of tours you are interested in and use them to formulate your holiday.
Consider the travel options when in Iceland
This amazing country provides a myriad of travel options. In most European cities, it is common to simply book a flight and hotel, and explore the area yourself. Whilst this is possible in Iceland, there is a myriad of other options too, including: cruise, self-drive, guided tour, and city break.
Cruises typically leave from Reykjavik, or even from the United Kingdom. These cruises can travel to the west coast of Norway, and the east coast of Greenland. The ring road of Iceland (the main road that circles the whole country) also provides an excellent opportunity for a self-drive holiday. Consideration must be given to weather conditions if you want to undertake something like this. Look at the excursions you would like to do, and pick a suitable holiday that complements this.
Look at the different locations you can stay
The population of Iceland is just 300,000. This population is mainly concentrated around Reykjavik in the south and Akureyri in the north. These are likely the two main destinations you would use as your base. A high percentage of tourists will stay in Reykjavik – it is the most developed and serviced town in the country, and the capital. From here you can easily book tours and explore the country.
Look at other potential destinations for an extended trip
Iceland offers a myriad of extended travel options. Although the country itself is fascinating, some other nearby destinations could be worthwhile including:
- Faroe Islands
- Scotland and the Shetland Isles
Many cruises travel to several of these locations. Making the most of your time and looking at other destinations makes sense, especially if you are taking a trip to Iceland from further afield like North America or Asia.
Find suitable flights
Keflavik International Airport is the main airport for Iceland. It services international flights from a number of countries including Germany, Holland, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, USA, and Italy. Icelandair is typically the main airline operating flights but there is a variety of other airlines that make regular landings at Keflavik.
You should not struggle to find flights but we advise pre-booking a transfer to your drop off point, such as Reykjavik. This is because Keflavik is located in the southwestern corner of Iceland – 40 minutes from the capital.
Consider clothing options
As with any cold-weather location, clothing is important. This depends entirely on what time of year you visit Iceland. In winter, it is imperative to wrap up warm – wind chill can make the temperatures feel devastating. This is amplified if you are on the open waters. In spring and summer, temperatures improve, but we would always advise taking warm clothing just in case.
Choose a selection of excursions
Picking (and booking) excursions will help shape your Iceland adventure. Because the activities are so varied, choosing what you want to do will help define what type of holiday you book and the main locations you stay. Iceland offers a superb mix of guided day tours and longer excursions lasting several days. Research costs and timings then use tours as a starting point for your trip.
Choose a suitable holiday type
Once you have chosen a selection of excursions, you can look at holiday types. When traveling to Iceland, you can do one of the following: cruise, self-guided holiday, or group tour. Cruises often travel to Greenland and even Svalbard. Self-guided holidays are common – you essentially book flights and accommodation on your own. Some tour providers offer group tours too.
Book flights, if necessary
Finally, if you decide to do anything except a cruise, you will need to book flights to Iceland. The main airport is Keflavik – this is serviced with a host of international connections and lies approximately 40 minutes from the capital Reykjavik. When booking flights be sure to look at transfer times too.
About the Author
Paul specializes in travel and photography. His passion for travel spans back to his childhood and has been a life-long obsession. He has seen much of the world including cold climate destinations like Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard, and Iceland. This combined with a thirst for knowledge, and a love of literature, has allowed him to craft a successful career as a writer. Through his writing, he loves to empower readers to see the world just as he has.
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