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Things to know about Iceland for first time visitors

Since you clicked on this post, I’m going to assume that you’ve either bought a ticket to Iceland or you’re thinking about visiting. Either way – we’re happy to have you!

I have been working in Icelandic tourism for over 13 years now and for over 15 years I’ve been writing about Iceland online. Both here at I Heart Reykjavík from 2011 and at another Iceland-themed blog I wrote for 7 years before that. As you can imagine, I’ve heard just about any question there is about Iceland but yet after all these years and with all the information about Iceland available online, I’m still encountering questions I haven’t answered yet.

Often the questions require lengthy answers, like how to visit the Westman Islands on a day trip from Reykjavík or How to plan a winter camper trip in Iceland like a pro, but some questions can be answered with little blurbs too short for their own posts. That’s where this post comes in.

Below I’ve gathererd some frequently asked questions about Iceland that you, dear visitor, need to know about Iceland before you visit. If you have a question that is not answered in this post, please feel free to ask it in the comment section below. If I have already answered in one of the many posts on the blog, I’d be happy to provide you a link and if not – I’ll do my best to answer it.

Safety

Is Iceland a safe country?

Iceland is very safe, probably one of the safest countries in the world, and it’s unlikely that you’ll run into serious problems during your visit. Violent crimes are rare and there are not many situations I can think of where I would feel unsafe in Iceland. Overall, people are friendly and willing to help although there can of course be exceptions to that.

Visitors to Iceland sometimes behave silly because they’ve read how safe Iceland is and forget to take care of themselves. Although crime rates are low, that doesn’t mean we don’t have any crimes and there are no guarantees if you leave your iPhone unattended that it will be there when you get back.

So yes, Iceland is safe but you still have to use your common sense.

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Is Iceland LGBTQ friendly?

In general, Icelanders are very open to members of the LGBTQ community and hate crimes and harassment is quite rare. It’s probably one of the best/safest countries in the world for LGBTQ travelers.

The LGBTQ scene is not very visible in Reykjavík but there’s at least two queer bars and thanks to Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Reykjavík now has regular drag shows which I personally love.

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Is Iceland friendly to people of color?

Yes. Of course Iceland has its own share of prejudice and bigotry like anywhere but I would argue that that’s a very small portion of the nation. I think Icelanders are just generally open to everyone, albeit a bit clumsy at times.

Iceland is small and was very homogenous for a long time so we don’t have the same practice in cultural sensitivity as many other nations with bigger populations.

The majority of times, things that seem a bit off are done in ignorance rather than out of malice. When educated on these issues, most people will be genuinely sorry and try to do better next time.

Educate yourself about the conditions in Iceland

I already mentioned that Iceland is safe for travelers when it comes to crime but that’s only half the story.
Iceland is a wild country in many ways when it comes to the nature and the weather conditions. It’s also sneaky and volatile and you should never trust it completely. The conditions can be severe and cause a real danger to you so you have to respect them if you want to return back home in one piece.

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The weather in Iceland changes quickly and often

I get asked a lot about what the weather will be like at any given time in Iceland and I only have one answer to that question: The only certain thing about the weather in Iceland is how unpredictable it is.

In the same day you may experience warm weather, snow storm, 30 m/s wind and sunshine and rainbows. The weather forecast is basically a guess and although you can hope for the best, you always have to expect the worst too.

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Take weather warnings seriously and listen to local advice

I have met people here in Iceland who have proudly told me heroic stories of how they ignored all local advice they were given and how it was not a big deal. Just because you were not blown off the road in the storm you were told to wait out it doesn’t mean that you’ll get as lucky the next time. Ignoring advice from caring locals is not heroic, it’s stupid.

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Use a seatbelt

Although this isn’t really an Iceland specific recommendation, you should use a seatbelt everywhere, it’s alarming how many travelers that come to Iceland don’t use a seatbelt. The reason I know, is because many of them have been killed in car accidents where a seatbelt would have saved their lives.

Using a seatbelt is not a suggestion, it’s the law in Iceland. Also on buses.

Money

Iceland is an expensive destination

If you’ve read anything about Iceland online, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that Iceland is an expensive destination. It’s expensive for the people who visit and it’s expensive for us who live here.

There are many reasons why it is expensive and contrary to what many people online have you believe, greed or malice is only a minuscule part of the problem.

The main reason why Iceland is expensive is that the standard of living is very high, there are only a few of us who live here (around 350.000 people) and we’re on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where we have to import more or less everything.

I tried once to explain these things in more detail here on the blog but got a lot of hateful and nasty comments and I haven’t dared to venture into that hot potato swamp again.

What you need to know is that Iceland is expensive, probably more expensive than you think, and you should be prepared for that.

The currency in Iceland is called Icelandic Króna

The currency in Iceland is called Icelandic króna (plural: krónur) similar to the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish crown. The abbreviation for the Icelandic Króna is ISK but you will also see it written IKR which is generally not considered the correct form. On price tags in stores, you will see it written KR without the I in front of it.

We have 4 different bills: a 10.000 ISK bill (ten thousand krónur), a 5.000 ISK bill (five thousand krónur), a 1.000 ISK bill (a thousand krónur) and 500 ISK bill (500 hundred krónur).
When it comes to the coins, we have a 100 ISK coin, a 50 ISK coin, 10 ISK coin, a 5 ISK coin and a 1 ISK coin.

If you’re from the US, you may have noticed that I use a period where you would normally use a comma but that’s how we do it. This often causes a lot of confusion and we get quite a few e-mails from guests who can’t make sense of this.

What then adds to the confusion is that some companies in Iceland who mostly serve foreign guests will try to simplify things by using the writing form that you are used to and use a comma where there should be a period. So 10,000 ISK instead of 10.000 ISK. This is the case with our booking engine, for example.

A very simple rule to remember to avoid this confusion is that prices in Iceland are only displayed in whole numbers so the period or comma is only there to help you make sense of how many zeros there are (because let’s face it, there are a lot of zeros in prices in Iceland)

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You can use your credit card almost anywhere

Iceland is almost a cashless society meaning that we predominantly use our credit cards and debit cards to pay for things. Some people do use cash because it helps them track their spending better but the majority of us use our cards.

Because of that, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. In fact, in many cases, it’s the preferred payment option. The only exceptions are the Reykjavík Flea Market where many of the vendors only accept cash and sometimes if you’re buying vegetables and similar products directly from a farmer they only accept cash. Especially if they use an honesty system.

You will need a credit card with a 4-digit pin for many things

Icelandic credit cars use a 4-digit pin and if you are going to use any automatic services, such as pumping gas at unmanned stations, you will need a 4-digit pin. All payment machines in stores and restaurants will also ask for a pin but if you have a card with a chip, you can go around it for any purchases under 5000 ISK.
American Express credit cards are often not accepted
Although most travel businesses and restaurants will accept American Express, there are still a number of businesses that don’t accept it. The main reason is are the (ridiculously) high transaction fees for the vendor.

It’s not uncommon that businesses pay up to three times more in transaction fees for AmEx which is why they just refuse to take it.

The same goes for Diners.

Tipping is not necessary nor expected (but appreciated)

Tipping in Iceland is a sensitive subject for many because culturally Icelanders don’t tip and we assume, because of the strong labor laws that we have, that people get decent pay for the work they do.

Many people who work in the tourism and restaurant business in Iceland, however, really appreciate this supplementary income and therefore get really pissed off when travelers are told that you should never tip in Iceland.

The way I see it, tipping is not necessary and not expected (unless your doing a “free” walking tour where they live of tips) but always appreciated. If you feel like rewarding someone for a job well done, you won’t offend them or get them into trouble by leaving them a tip but you should never feel pressured into it.

Because tipping isn’t customary in Iceland, there are no rules as to how much to tip. I would say though that it’s better not to tip at all than tipping a tour guide who did a good job an amount under 500-1000 ISK as it sends a bit of a mixed message.

Leaving a tip in USD or EUR is perfectly acceptable as it’s easy to exchange money in Iceland and most people travel frequently out of the country where they can use it.

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You cannot expect places to accept Euros or US dollars (or any other foreign currency for that matter)

As I mentioned, the official currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna. Although many places in the tourism sector will accept major currencies such as Euros and US Dollars as payment, you can’t expect everyone to do it. It’s also not uncommon that you pay a premium for paying in other currencies as the exchange rate is almost always rounded up.

So I would recommend you either exchange your money into Icelandic krónur or use your credit card.

Apple Pay (and similar) is becoming a thing in Iceland but we still have a long way to go

Paying with your phone is becoming more common in Iceland but it’s not everywhere yet. Most major retailers will accept mobile payments but if you’re shopping from a small mom and pop shop somewhere it’s more likely than not that they will require a physical credit card. The same goes for gas stations and many automatic payment systems.

Language

The official language of Iceland is Icelandic

I get strangely many questions from our walking tour guests and those who join us for our family dinners about what the official language of Iceland is. In case you are wondering too, the native language of Iceland is Icelandic.

Icelandic is often said a modern version of Old Norse which was spoken widely in the whole Nordic region around the time of the Vikings. Due to the isolation of the country and many other factors, there were fewer outside linguistic influences in Iceland than in the Scandinavian countries so Icelandic didn’t evolve the same way as Danish, Norwegian and Swedish did.

We do learn Danish at school which helps us understand the other Nordic languages but they are different enough that if you don’t have that foundation, it’s not enough to speak Icelandic to understand them. Although the Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes often understand each other (if they really try at least), it’s unlikely they will understand much of Icelandic.

Because of the tourist boom in Iceland in the years between 2010 and 2018, we now have a lot more information signs and menus and such in English too but English is not an official language in Iceland.

Almost everyone in Iceland speaks English

One of the things that makes Iceland a very easy place to visit is the fact that almost everyone in Iceland speaks English. In fact, most people speak it well enough that they can easily communicate and explain complex issues using somewhat sophisticated vocabulary.

I hear expats make fun of Icelanders a lot because they say we think our grasp of the language is better than it actually is but I would still argue that most people are proficient speakers and those who aren’t almost always understand much more than their lack of practice in speaking English would suggest.

Another good thing about Icelanders speaking English is that although some of us have quite thick Icelandic accents, it’s not difficult to understand.

I get asked a lot whether people in Iceland speak English because of the school system but although we’re taught English in school, I think it has more to do with exposure through all kinds of mediums such as TV, radio and last but not least the internet.

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Icelandic people don’t expect you to learn any Icelandic before your visit

Whenever I travel somewhere new, I try to learn to say at least “good day” and “thank you” in the native language and preferably more. Many people who visit Iceland want to do the same, out of respect to the local population, but I’m here to tell you that nobody expects you to learn Icelandic and we won’t get offended if you speak English.

Most Icelanders realize that Icelandic is a difficult language to learn (but maybe not as impossible as we have you believe) and that you probably won’t have much use for it in the future.

If you move to Iceland, however, that’s a whole different matter and all of a sudden it becomes imperative that you learn Icelandic.

Food and Drink

Drink the Icelandic tap water

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: If you’re one of those tourists that go straight from the plane to the supermarket to buy 10 liters of water for your stay – we will secretly make fun of you behind your back. Drinking the Icelandic tap water is completely safe and there’s nothing in it you have to worry about. You don’t need to filter it and you most certainly don’t need to buy water. The reason you can even buy water at the supermarket is that someone has caught up on your water insecurities and is trying to gain from it financially. It’s the same water!

You may find a smell that many say resemble rotten eggs (where have all these people been in contact with rotten eggs is my question) but that’s the smell of the geothermal hot water (sulfur to be exact) and not the cold. If you can smell it when you run the cold water just wait a few seconds and you should get rid of it. In some areas the cold water will smell a little, like in Borgarnes for example, but even when it smells it’s still safe to drink

What food do I have to try when I visit Iceland

Iceland is maybe not know for any specific traditional dishes but rather the ingredients such as fresh seafood from the ocean all around us and lamb that grazes the mountains freely in the summer. So that’s what you should try when you visit.

Iceland’s most famous product, and one of the oldest and most traditional, is Skyr – a dairy product that tastes like yoghurt but is actually more related to soft cheeses. Although the Skyr of today with its mango and apple pie flavors is quite far from the Skyr of yonder, it’s still been eaten in some form in Iceland since around the year 1100.

You have probably heard about things like our rotten shark and boiled sheep heads online and although they are a part of our culinary history, most people don’t eat those dishes more than once a year during a special celebration of our traditional food.

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What is the average cost of meal in Iceland

For budget meals, you can expect to pay anywhere between 1500 – 2500 ISK although you can find things cheaper than that.

A midrange meal is around 2500-5000 ISK and a meal in a nice restaurant would be anywhere from 5000 to 10.000 ISK – depending on what you get.

A common price for a tasting menu (5-7 courses) in a nice Icelandic restaurant would from around 8.000 to 15.000 ISK but then you can go to a restaurant like Grillið where the menu is around 16.500 ISK or Óx where a seat at the table is 32.500 ISK (including food and drink pairings though).

If you go out for a nice meal in Iceland, the price of food is relatively OK compared to restaurants of similar caliber in other countries but what really gets you is the price of alcohol. If you do a wine pairing with your tasting menu, for example, you can expect the cost of the meal to roughly double.

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Do Icelanders really eat whale meat

Most people in Iceland do not eat whale meat. It used to be a part of the diet back when life in Iceland was very difficult and we had to eat everything that we could get our hands on. That’s not the case anymore

There may be some of the older generations that grew up eating whale meat that may still eat it but I don’t know any young people who would cook it in their homes. Whale meat is mostly just on offer in Icelandic restaurants because tourists buy it so if you don’t agree with hunting whales – don’t order it.

Is it possible to find fruit and vegetables in Icelandic supermarkets?

Yes, This myth that there are not fruits and vegetables in supermarkets in Iceland is strangely persistent. We may not have the same selection as the best super markets where you come from but we have enoug that we have a selection.

We also grow tomates, cucumbers, potatos and carrots and many more things right here in Iceland.

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Where can I buy alcohol in Iceland

There are two ways to buy alcohol in Iceland: You can go to a bar or restaurant, buy a drink and drink it there or you can go to a state run alcohol store (Vínbúðin they are called although Icelanders usually refer to them as Ríkið) and buy alcohol in containers you can take home with you.

There is no alcohol in supermarkets, not even beer.

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Should I buy alcohol at the duty free?

There is actually a third place where you can buy alcohol but since it’s only available to those traveling to Iceland from a foreign country, I feel like it deserves its own section. I’m talking about the Duty Free (Fríhöfnin).

Icelanders will always tell you to buy alcohol in the Duty Free shop at the airport because it’s a lot less expensive there than in the state run alcohol stores. If you plan to stay in your hotel room and drink then that’s a great idea but it’s actually more likely that you’ll go to a restaurant or a bar and have a drink there.

Even if the alcohol at the Duty Free is less expensive than the state-run alcohol stores it’s probably more expensive than what you pay at home. So unless you are likely to drink more than just a beer here and there during your trip, I would think twice before you buy your whole duty allowance.

How long do bars stay open in Reykjavík

The general rule is that bars can stay open until 1 am on weekdays and until 4:30 am on the weekend (Fridays and Saturdays). It depends a little bit on where the bar is located, the bars downtown for example tend to have a licence to stay open longer than bars in the suburbs for example.

Opening hours during public holidays can differ depending on the holiday and these are usually advertised especially. So make sure you check that out if you’re visiting Iceland around Christmas or Easter.

Are there open container laws in Reykjavík

Not that I know of. If there are such laws, they are not followed and not enforced. The police may intervene if you’re inebriated to the extent that you cause a threat to yourself or others but overall we’re pretty relaxed about these things.

It is illegal to buy a drink in a bar and take it away but if you have an open container many bars will allow you to take your drink with you if you put it in a plastic glass before you leave. If the bar is caught selling alcohol to patrons that are obviously bringing it home with them (so bottles that are still closed) the bar can lose its licence.

How much can I drink if I’m driving

There’s a zero tolerance policy in Iceland when it comes to drinking and driving so you should never drive after you’ve had a drink. Officially, the legal limit is .05 although there have been talks about lowering it recently. Drinking and driving is a major cultural faux pas in Iceland and people will call the police on you if they see you do it.

Is weed legal in Iceland

Weed is not legal in Iceland and it has not yet been decriminalized either. However, I’ve heard that if you’re busted with a joint or small enough stash that it’s obviously just for your own consumption that there are no real consequences to that. You are breaking the law but it’s unlikely to result in charges or any trouble.

I have to say that I have no personal experience with this as I’ve smoked weed maybe 2 or 3 times in my life (which I did not buy myself) and once had a very fun night with some brownies but that’s about it. So I have no other insight

Icelandic Quirks

You must shower in the nude and wash before you enter an Icelandic swimming pool

I’m sure you’ve heard, either from you horrified friends that visited before you or at one of the many Iceland info websites online, but if you want to soak in one of those super nice Icelandic geothermal pools you will have to shower naked before entering. My advice is to just get over it because there’s no way around this.

I for one hate the walk from the showers (in my bathing suit of course) to the pool more than the showering part and I don’t really see the big deal with other women possibly catching a glimpse at my lady-parts. It’s not like a bikini covers much anyway.

After visiting America multiple times I also find it kind of funny that it’s mostly Americans that complain about this but they all happily use public bathrooms in America with their gaps in the stalls where everyone can see you do your business (seriously, what’s up with that?). If I had to choose between peek-a-boob and peek-a-poop I’d happily flash every time.

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Seemingly abandoned baby carriages

If you see a seemingly abandoned baby carriage while strolling down Laugavegur, fully equipped with a sleeping baby, don’t call the police until you’ve made sure its parents are not sipping coffee at a nearby coffee house.

It’s completely normal in Iceland to leave a sleeping child outside (most Icelandic children sleep outside every day from a young age) and rest assured that there is someone watching that baby, either through a window or with a baby monitor.

It’s not child neglect, nobody is going to steal that baby and all is well with the world.

The Icelandic language doesn’t include the word please

I’ve been told many times that Icelanders are super rude because they never say please but there’s a very good reason for that: it doesn’t exist in the Icelandic language. At least not the way English speakers use it. Therefore, it doesn’t come naturally to Icelanders to use it in English either. Nowadays, though, most people have learned to use it to avoid being called rude.

Do you have more questions?

If you have more questions about Iceland that I haven’t answered here, please ask in the comments below. If I’ve already answered the question here on the blog, I will reply with the appropriate link but if I haven’t answered it already I’ll do my best to answer.

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  1. I’m a bit puzzled at the toilet stalls with the large gaps that you can see through, I’ve never come across one like that. Where did you encounter them?

    1. It was like that in most public bathrooms I came across: at JFK and The Empire State to name a couple. The worst bathroom related incident in the States this time around was when I was sat at a toilet in Burger King (I think) on 5th avenue in NYC when one of the staff members decided to open the door from the outside. Fun times 🙂

      1. I laughed sooo hard when I read the part about the gap in the stallsky because here in Houston, TX it is so true!! But I do have a question, How are Icelandics towards colored foreigners? I’m a Tan Mexican American and I want to visit so bad!

        1. I think we are pretty nice to most people. I had a American of Indian decent at one of my dinners one night and he mentioned to us that he was so pleasantly surprised how nice everyone had been to him and how his race didn’t seem to matter at all. So his experience was good at least.

        2. the Chinese and there behaviour is unbecoming very popular, watched chinese throw cigarette butts out at the Ice Lagoon , just about murdered them myself. also a menace on the roads, almost lost our lives 3x by chinese tourist muppets driving across the centre line.

          1. I don’t think we should be singling out certain nationalities – I’m sure there are plenty of respectful Chinese tourists. But bad behavior is bad no matter where you come from.

          2. The Chinese are bad drivers anywhere in the world so it’s not just in Iceland. Call that racist if you want but it’s so absolutely true that it doesn’t matter what you all it.

          3. I jus think it’s unfair to blame one nationality since there are all kinds of people getting into all kinds of accidents in Iceland.

          4. It may sound racist but it is factual. The Chinese cause traffic accidents wherever they go. Many do not drive much or at all in China. If they do, it is allowed only a couple days a week. When in China, you can see for yourself….plus they yell and scream at everything. We had big issues with the Chinese drivers while in South Island, New Zealand where they flock now especially during their New Year celebration in February. They are the speeders and they do not yield. A lot of Kiwi roads are in mountains and are curvy and narrow. They ride the center line on the curves so that they can go faster. Dangerous? Of course. We also found a great deal of rudeness….standing at a gorgeous photo stop with camera ready to shoot..and here comes a van (nearly always rent a van) and it parks right in front of where I stand. !! All hop out, take a shot, and speed on….then I get my chance. Many times this happened. No it wasn’t just the Chinese, but it was mostly the Chinese. Almost every day for 10 days, front page newspaper had lead story and picture on a tourist car accident and some were fatal. While we were there, they were all Chinese-caused except for one Brit. New Zealand was considering a regulation that tourists could not rent a car until they had been there for 24 hrs. Except for the Aussies, tourists arrive with sleep deprivation because of the location of New Zealand. Imagine a sleep-deprived Chinese tourist speeding on the center line on a mountain road with no shoulder……downright dangerous and scary for all. Sounds like a typical New Zealand well-thought-out regulation.

          5. Post comment

            Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

            There are good and bad drivers from everywhere (I’m Icelandic for example, and I’m a terrible driver and aware of it). The good news is that road accidents with Asian drivers have gone down in numbers between years, and the Icelandic authorities are getting better in informing drivers – from all over – on the challenging or dangerous parts of driving in Iceland. For example, we are not terribly good with painting lines at the side of the road, so no wonder people think that it’s OK to stop there. We also try to point out that a tired driver is not a safe driver, since people often arrive in Iceland after an overnight flight.

          6. Thanks Auður for keeping the discussions fair and away from racism or nationalism. Generalizing all Chinese, all Americans, all Asian, or all whites to be exactly the same simply because of their race/nationality is like blaming you for bad behavior from your cousin, neighbor, or a random stranger from the same country.

          7. TNT, FRANKIN, CJC, Do you think because three skunks here we should wipe out all your nation? CJC , I am sure you are not Native New Zealander. Then your family should not exist from the day your grandparents moved to New Zealand. Three of you far more worst than people throw cigarette butts or bad driver.

        3. We are in Iceland right now (leave tomorrow) and I’ve found the people here to be extremely nice and incredibly tolerant of everyone, much more so than the tourists we see all around us.

          There are certain races/nationalities that I’ve gotten pretty sick of on this trip due to behavior and not knowing/learning how to drive courteously. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing or not, one nationality in particular is extremely nice in person but if you see a car partially blocking the road, cutting you off, etc. you can almost count on it being them.

          For god’s sake people, don’t block the road so your entire carload can exit the vehicle and take pictures of the horses! We came around a blind curve to see a car blocking half the lane on a small road with no shoulders and everyone (including, I assume, the driver) taking pictures of horses.

          Enough griping from me, it’s a beautiful country and we will be back.

          1. I can guess who you are referring to 🙂 we had the same experience. if it is who I think it is I would say it is a cultural thing as whilst I grew up thinking this particular nation was extremely respectful ( from my personal dealings with them in my country’s capital ) I subsequently found that when travelling abroad in various other regions, not so much. it may be a generation thing – I find myself increasingly frustrated at the modern trend of being completely oblivious to anyone around you.

      2. Hi
        My daughter is going on geography field trip next month – she was asking for a bikini – will she really have to shower naked before and enter the geysers ?

        1. Please tell your daughter not to enter any geysers, bikini or not!

          But at pools and places like the Blue Lagoon, yes she will have to shower naked before she puts on her bathing suit.

          1. You are hilarious. And thank you for this. Very helpful. Spending 3 days in Reykjavik – my first time. Staying at Hotel Borg. Doing a walking tour. And the next day a horse back riding trip then onto Blue Lagoon. SO very excited – recommendations.

          2. I plan on going with my 17 year old son…would I have to shower in front of him??

          3. Post comment

            Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

            No – there are gender-specific changing rooms.

          4. been to blue lagoon they have showers with foggy glass for privacy and you can change is restroom of the change room to put on a towel or robe which they give you. I would not take the towel and robe and slippers to the lagoon pool as other tourists will steal yours and leave you with their wet ones or none at all. Leave your stuff in the lockers they provide. Pool is huge so you will not be able to watch your stuff when you go to get your silicon mask or drink.

      3. I too have been in toilets with the large gaps, most of the toilets have them in places like airports, large restaurants and places where there are Large restrooms.

    2. ive been visiting the states regulary since 1990 and almost every public bathroom stall has had massive gaps in the side. i really really hate it. toilets need privacy!

    3. The worst bathrooms are the ones with the gaps from the floor that are on a level with the seats. The door gaps are no biggie, because it’s not like people are trying to peek through them anyway, but those floor gaps? The worst! The bathrooms in Pike Place Market in Seattle are like that. I hate it, and I’m from here. I’m for peak-a-boob all the way!

      Also, thanks for the tips :). The baby thing is weird.

    4. I’m actually a bit puzzled that you don’t seem to know them. In all the years I’ve spent in the US, I’ve hardly ever come across a public restroom that DID have basic standards of privacy that I was used to growing up in Europe.

      It starts with basically having one room with all toilets in them, separated by not much more than a piece of pressed wood, sometime more than a feet from the ground. And if you’re unlucky, with a huge gap between the door and the wall and a lock that’s half-working.

      I must say, I have gotten over a lot of shame and anxiety, I guess, but I still thoroughly hate it and can’t rhyme it with the fact that Americans are prudish about everything else. (Except maybe having cleavage and short skirts… 🙂 )

      1. Exactly! Nothing worse than your American board going to the bathroom with you at the same time and continuing her conversation with you while you hear her pee!! Disgusting and unprofessional. And yes it has happened to me more than once.

      2. I have been seeing many people talking about Iceland like it is some type of paradise I spent one year there in 1989 and 1990 with the USAF at Keflavik and the Icelandic people were some of the most prejudiced people that I have ever met and when we arrived there we were warned about this by the military and to top it off single military troops were under a curfew to keep us on base at many times I was tolerated by the people because I was white with blue eyes Like I said I was tolerated not everyone was horribly prejudiced and racist but many were unless Iceland has drastically changed I would investigate before you go sure Iceland was unique but at least I had the military base to stay on

        1. Post comment

          Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          I have to say that things have changed a lot in the last 30 years.

          Back then Iceland was much more isolated than it is now and I believe people were more ignorant about certain things because of that. I would say that although we, of course, have our problems today like any other country, Icelanders are generally open and accepting. Sometimes we lack a certain finesse because Iceland is still fairly culturally and ethnically homogenous but I can say with absolute certainty that Iceland has actually changed drastically in this regard.

          I should also mention that Iceland’s relationship with the base in Keflavík was always complicated. A lot of people didn’t want it there and maybe they took that out on the individuals that represented it, unfair as that may have been.

          1. I understand that a lot of people did not care for Keflavik NAS but that never made much sense to me because Iceland did not have a military of their own only a Coast Gaurd so you would have thought that there would have been a little bit of appreciation for people who were giving up a year of their lives to give some ungrateful people some security Hell I did not see my son until he was seven months old because I was doing my duty in Iceland

          2. Post comment

            Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

            I think there are just many sides to this and it’s difficult to understand either side’s perspective if you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.

    5. I live in Los Angeles and have traveled to almost every state. It’s common to have 1/2″ gaps in toilet stalls. I have never understood if it’s simply laziness in design or some passive aggressive method to make sure one can’t get too comfortable in a stall. The first time I experienced a properly enclosed European stall, I was amazed.

    6. I am from the USA and I thought everyone world wide had large gaps with ill-fitting doors in public restrooms. I was in my late 50s when I finally left the states and went to Ireland and saw properly fitted doors with no gaps. I was quite upset! Why on earth have we citizens of the USA had to put up with small children peeking at us when the rest of the world lives in a more civilized way! It goes to show a thing doesn’t bother you until you realize there is something better out there.

    7. That is really common in America.
      Basically the units are prefabed and always have gaps around the doors and frames.

      1. Post comment

        Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

        Doesn’t make them any nicer 🙂

    8. everywhere in the U.S. compared to anywhere else in the world where they have doors that work like actual doors.

  2. Don’t forget that you can also buy alcohol at the airport duty free store on your way into the country (I saw returning Icelanders seemingly stocking up as I passed through the last time).

    1. That’s right Alicia, I’ve talked about it so much before that I forgot to mention it here 🙂

      1. I was just going to suggest you edited that into the original post – definitely useful information for tourists! 😉

    2. I’m flying in from the UK – do I buy the alcohol in the UK airport or at the airport when I land in Reykjavík? Thanks

      1. I don’t know what they do in the UK airport but in the airport in Iceland you don’t have to pay the taxes or duties of the alcohol in the Duty Free so the difference in price from the alcohol shops in town is dramatic.

        1. Thanks so much for your swift responses 🙂

      2. Either, I discovered. I visited last week…Zurich to Reykjavik to Toronto. No big deal.

  3. I know what you mean about the gaps in stalls. I’m going to be in Reykjavik for very brief stay and appreciate the advice. Thanks! The water point amused me, as I very occasionally buy water in bottles – Icelandic water ;-). It transports me there magically in my imagination. I plan to drink tap water when I’m there, however.

  4. I went it iceland for 3 wonderful weeks. I do not recall nude soaking, which although I’m American I prefer it. Suits were required. Where are the clothing prohibited soaking pools?

    1. Uhhh, I think you are misunderstanding me. You need to shower naked before you put on your bathing suit and then you go to the pool. Just don’t actually swim naked 🙂

      1. Thanks for the information. I am thinking of travelling to Iceland so this is useful.
        I also thought you meant you had to be naked in the pool. In Japan at open air hot springs you have to be naked to go in the pool (but there are separate mens and womens areas and you can’t see each other). Also in Japan, you have throughly shower before you can get in.

  5. “Peek-a-poop.” Have to add that to my vocabulary. Unfortunately, I think we’re all used to the door gap at this point. But on the rare occasion I’ve walked into a stall with door and walls to the floor, I wonder why the hell that’s not the norm.

  6. About money, I spent two weeks in Iceland without using any actual cash – only credit cards – and then had to get cash on the last day to pay a parking ticket… (getting the cash was easy, as was paying the ticket, once I got someone to translate it to me)

  7. I am coming to Iceland for the first time this may on vacation. I can t wait. I am knitter so am looking forward to doing a bit of yarn shopping and also seeing the sites. Will be an American woman traveling alone but from all that I have read it will be perfectly safe to do so. I will follow your blog…lots of good info here. Thx Susan Ainsworth

  8. Is it required to remove waterproof make-up before entering the pool?
    I usually swim wearing it for more than hour (in the chlorinated water) and everything stays on its place..

    1. Nobody is going to tell you to clean your face before entering – just do what you feel is appropriately hygienic 🙂

      1. My family of 4 want to come to Alaska but want to down hill ski also. Is this possible at this location??

        1. Post comment

          Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          I think you have to ask someone in Alaska – since we’re in Iceland 🙂

  9. ” If I had to choose between peek-a-boob and peek-a-poop I’d happily flash every time.” That is pure gold. I will remember this sentence when I visit Iceland in July!

  10. Thank you for your advice. I am travelling to Iceland for the first time in just 2 weeks. I will be going with my husband, his brother and his girlfriend and his sister and her husband. My husband’s great-great grandfather immigrated to Canada from Iceland in the 1880s so I’m calling this trip “The Return to the Motherland”. I even tracked down a long lost relative who will be bringing us to meet other relatives while we are there! But I digress – I love your blog and found it a few weeks ago when I was doing some planning for our trip. You have given me such good advice and it really comes across how much you really do Heart Reykjavik.

    1. Wendy,

      My husbands grandparents came to Canada in the late 1800’s as well! We are travelling to Iceland in 6 weeks. I look forward to reading about your experience and any further tips & pointers for “us” fellow Canadians.

      1. I will be happy to share my experience with you. Let me know how to get ahold of you and I’ll put you on my list for updates. I am trying to get my blog going so if that works I’ll send that URL to you too.

        1. Wendy, there is a “comment” form on my web at: http://www.mariaegilsson.com and if you forward your blog, when it is up and running, I will be sure to look up your posts.

          Awesome!

          Maria

  11. Great info about the money seeing that we are coming over near the end of May. I love your posts by the way!

  12. Not just Americans! Us uptight Brits none to keen on getting bits out in public either, I was incredibly relieved to find the blue lagoon had cubicles for washing!

  13. OMG, I just about died. Finally someone who notices those darn gaps in the bathroom stalls!!!! I moved to the US from Germany and have always been puzzled about this. Thanks for the shower advice, had no clue. My best friend and I will be traveling to Iceland in a month, we are so excited.

    1. I’m with you Susie! I moved to the US from Germany too. Hate the gaps. And while we’re at it, I really despise having to look under the gap to see if someone is in there. I wish more American doors had green/red (vacant/occupied) indicators like European locks. I’m always so relieved when I get back to Frankfurt airport and can have a private moment. 🙂

  14. Hi! As an American, I’ve never even given the gaps in the stalls a second look. It is just common courtesy not to look through them. Sure you CAN see through them, but you are never supposed to LOOK. I’ve been to Germany but don’t remember what the bathrooms were like? I can’t wait to see what they are in Iceland haha. And we need the gap under and above the door. Have you never gotten trapped in a bathroom stall and had to crawl out under the door? Yeah that happens… 🙂
    Love your blog!

    1. Haha! This comment is a bit old, but I have to add my 2¢. As an American, I both dislike and appreciate the under-door gaps (the side gaps can be gotten rid of). The most useful feature of the gap is for toilet paper passing. Who hasn’t sat on a toilet, only to realize too late that the toilet paper is empty? The gap is a life saver! No need to get up, just ask someone (preferably a relative or close friend) to pass it under. Also, although I’ve never gotten stuck or had a medical issue, I was always comforted with the idea that I could crawl out or in during an emergency. Honesty, the only things you can see in those gaps are shoes, socks, and maybe underwear if someone lets them drop to the floor (eww), it’s not that embarrassing.

      1. Had to laugh at the “gaps as life saver” comment. I used to do security at a famous concert hall in San Francisco, and I can’t tell you how many times I had to crawl through the gap under the door INTO the stall to help some poor, inebriated (and sometimes passed out) girl get herself out of the stall. It wasn’t the most pleasant part of my job, but if it wasn’t for the floor gap, we might never be able to leave work at the end of a long, loud night!

        1. Everyone is use to what their use to…in Asia they have squatters instead of toilets (I’m not a fan) but I notice the locals prefer them, in Europe public restrooms are oftentimes dirty and have mile long lines IF you can find one, in Africa you have to pay everywhere you go to pee and there may not even be toilet tissue or soap! However, speaking of all that privacy…my daughter and I were in London, Paris…somewhere in Europe and she locked herself in the gapless stall and started completely freaking out because she couldn’t open the door or climb out lol. It’s funny now but not funny at the time because she was terrified and no one was even attempting to help. I finally got her out when I got out of my stall, but I remember thinking at the time that a room full of grown women (at home…USA) would not have stood there…watched and do nothing while a child was obviously under distress and panicking. She was 6 at the time.

  15. I love Iceland, – went there back in 2008. reading your article made me travel in time. I actually want to visit it again. soon. greetings from Rio de Janeiro!

  16. Recently visited Reykjavik for a week, great experience! The blue lagoon did have private showers 🙂 the doors didn’t lock, but private stalls nevertheless. Updating my blog as we speak!

  17. Awesome article! Very entertaining! I personally really liked #5. Being from a small town I can somewhat relate to being in a place that is safe enough to leave a baby in a carriage semi-unattended although I have to admit I laughed out loud! I can’t wait to visit Iceland!

    Cheers,
    Katie

  18. Thanks for the tips! I am planning on visiting Iceland in the next few years and have just started researching. The money is very interesting; can you post more pictures? The directions were also helpful. Do you wear a swimsuit in the geothermal pools?

    1. Yes, you were swimsuits in the swimming pools – you just have to shower first.

  19. I am so glad that I have now been forewarned about both the naked showering as well as the baby strollers! I’m glad to hear from the British poster that the Blue Lagoon has private cubicles, that’s where we’re planning to go. I’m also going to suggest the idea of your tours to my husband, I think it would be a great idea to go on a tour of the city for a couple of hours on our first day there, that way we’re still getting out and exploring but not doing anything too strenuous like hiking around for miles while we’re adjusting to the 6 hour time difference from Denver to Iceland!

    I am happy to have discovered your site and look forward to hopefully meeting you in the near future! 🙂

  20. I love this post! I love the way you write, i’m so sick of long winded travel blogs that have little of interest to your average traveller. I’ve never been to Iceland and didn’t have it on my list but I do now 🙂 do you write books? Because you should.

    1. Hi Samantha,

      Thank you so much 🙂 When I was young I always thought I would become a writer – I even started a guide book to Iceland in my early twenties (when there still were no guide books to Iceland and before the tourism got booming). Who knows, I still might publish a b book one day – until then this will have to do 🙂

  21. hi i too am travelling to Iceland but in March 2015 its part of a package tour but my girlfriend and i are more of an adventure seeking couple and like the unbeaten path if that makes sense . could you suggest anywhere to visit and will there be any financial surprises like hidden cost that i need to be aware of x we recently visited Venice and were almost crippled by the cost of water taxis , any info is much appreciate Richard .

  22. Hi thank you for this information its great. We are going mid Dec any must do or see tips. Never been before so very novice. Thank you

  23. Question; I guess this is because I’m so vain haha, can you shower after the pool? I have curly hair so it gets so frizzy if I don’t put any conditioner on it. So, after the pool, can I go shower again so I can put conditioner? thanks!

  24. Thank you for all your tips. I’m just preparing to arrive Iceland in 2 weeks.

  25. This is an awesome write-up. I’ve been in Reykjavik for about a week now and wasn’t aware of a couple of these. Dumb question though… so I went to Sundhöllin the other day and was kind of confused by the order of things when showering. They don’t have anywhere for you to put your bathing suit or soap while showering. Are you supposed to return to the lockers/changing area *after* showering to put your bathing suit on and THEN go to the pool after that?

    1. No, you just bathe, put it on and go out. I haven’t been to Sundhöllin in a while but usually I just hang the swimsuit on the thingymajingy where you turn the water on and off 🙂 And I use the soap provided so I don’t need a place for soap 🙂

  26. Awesome tips! Thanks, Auður!

  27. Strætó (the bus company) has recently released an app that allows passengers to pay with a credit card. So carrying currencyi s absolutely unnecessary in Iceland.

  28. i dont have a probably showering before going to pools, but i just dont understand why there cant be stalls to do so – even prisons have a modesty curtain in the showers! i appreciate its a cultural thing but i am unbelievalby insecure and i do not want to shower naked with my friend! if it was just boobs then ok, but everything? i have nightmares about being naked in public places so it’s just so terrifying to me. you mention a bikini hardly covers anything, i wear a full swim suit and swim shorts when i go in pools, that’s how much i am not comfortable being in public in not a lot of clothes. i know you can pay extra at the blue lagoon for private rooms, but just all i want is flimsy curtain :-(((

    1. Now of course I don’t know what your story is but maybe if you would have grown up in an environment like we have here in Iceland, where the naked body is a natural thing, you wouldn’t feel like that about your own body. As much as I have things about own body that I don’t like I think this system we have is healthy and instead of feeling bad about myself when I go to the pool I am often reminded that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that’s OK. I’m not saying that I want to be naked in front of people all the time but you know what I mean. I’ve also never once witnessed someone being intentionally mean to anyone at the pool. And if someone stares or says something that is inappropriate they would probably feel more embarrassed about it than you if you just politely tell them that this is not cool.

      Maybe this is also part of this Nordic egalitarian approach to life: It doesn’t matter who you are, the president or a nobody, we all have to go through the same thing to go to the pool.

      1. I think the problem is that America tends to sexualize all forms of nudity for some reason so the concept of nudity ends up getting deemed as “private” or “intimate” when there’s really no need for it to be. I was visiting Reykjavik for 5 weeks and any time I went to Sundhöllin or the locker room at the crossfit gym, everyone was very casual and carefree. When I was leaving, I stopped over at Blue Lagoon and overheard so many Americans devising ways that they could hide their bodies on the way to the showers (“Just put your towel over your shirt and then take it off!” or “Here, I’ll make you a privacy curtain while you change!”) — as an American myself, it was really embarrassing and weird to overhear… I was aware of it before then, but visiting and doing the geothermal pools really made the whole thing more obvious.

      2. I understand what you are saying, and understand that it probably sounds disrespectful to Icelandic culture (and that’s the last thing I’d want to do) to have such a problem with it. For me, I don’t know where my issue stems from, but it’s not really about thinking anyone is doing to mock me or point at me or whatever. I dont go to gyms, swimming pools (hate swimming) or anything so it’s not something i encounter very often, and my issue with it is probably why. And when i saw i have nightmares about it, I mean, its a reoccurring theme throughout dreams/nightmares i have. I just wish there was just a few areas with a modesty screen, as well as the communal area, and then the relaxed and groovy folk can be relaxed and groovy and those of us with issues can have an area too. I may be troubled, but i can be trusted to wash my bits, even if im behind a modesty curtain.

        1. If you hate swimming then there’s no problem, you just skip going to the pools 🙂

          There is actually a stall or two in the Laugardalslaug pool where you can get more privacy. I really do feel bad for you if this terrifies you so much. Maybe you need some help with that?

          1. I enjoyed the Blue Lagoon, and the hot tub thing at a guest house in Vik – i like bobbing around in hot pools etc – but i don’t enjoy swimming so i dont go to pools at home where i might get used to changing rooms and nakedness – is what i meant 🙂

            its been a while since i went to BL (2006 & 2007) but there was a private cubicle in the changing areas, but not in shower area which made no sense to me.. from the comments above, maybe there are privacy stalls now. i dont plan on going back though 🙂

            yeah maybe 🙂 it’s just tough when tourists get blasted or made fun of for having an issue with it, when just some options would help and that it’s not that we are dirty old hags, its just scary and we dont mean any insult to Iceland by being freaked out about it, so i get a bit defensive 🙂

          2. btw on further reading i think there may be more options at blue lagoon for privacy so maybe one day i might venture a long again if i’m feeling rich 🙂

        2. I was at the Blue Lagoon just a few months ago. There were a number of totally private shower stalls with 3 walls and a door, and some more that were the same just without the door. No one should miss out on this place because of modesty. Maybe they have just updated it recently? I wish more people knew this! I wrote a post about it recently as well as I think a lot of people hold off on these activities because of the assumption that nude is the only way. 🙂

          1. Thanks for the info. I should have checked properly what the status was there now, as it was 7 years ago now, and I forget how much tourism has progressed & how much development has taken place.

            I’m glad to have an update as I wouldn’t want to misinfirm anyone, as it did put me off because the sort of hoo har that surrounds it (or that I created for myself!)

            Going back isn’t a priority when I visit, as there’s so much to do & I’ve been twice but its good to know there are more options for those of us with issues, but still plenty of space for the relaxed & groovy too 🙂

  29. It’s funny how so many people have mentioned the one observation about American toilet stalls! As an Englishman living in the States, I HATE the toilet stalls here! As well as the gaps at the sides, it’s the gaps above and below that also annoy me. What’s the price of a little dignity?! 🙂

    1. I’m with you Peter. I moved to Philly from SW London 7 years ago and I still fail to understand some things. for a country that is so prudish in some ways it seems contradictory to have that lack of privacy where you would most want it. And yet they sexualize everything way more than most cultures – maybe it’s due to the censorship levels ? weird.

  30. I’ve spent the better part of this evening reading through your various posts. Long ago I had dreamed of visiting Iceland and only recently that far-flung wish was rekindled. After reading your pages, my desire to visit Iceland has become an inferno, if you can imagine. You truly are an amazing ambassador!!! Thank you for all the hardwork and dedication you’ve put into these pages. I sincerely hope to visit late this winter. Cheers from Tokyo!

    1. Thank you for the kind words 🙂 Hope to see you here in Iceland soon!

  31. I’m so glad I found your post, it’s really helpful 🙂

    I have some questions that I would really appreciate your help with if you don’t mind?

    We’re traveling to Iceland for a wedding in November with a toddler in tow. I’ve been before in the summer and it was amazing, I absolutely loved it 🙂 however it was so cold even then that now I’ve no idea what to dress the baby in for winter in Iceland (maybe just dress her in everything??)

    Also, we thought that the golden circle tour and blue lagoon would be great things to do with a baby but can you suggest anything else baby friendly?

    Good to know we can leave her in the buggy outside cafés if she’s asleep. We don’t do that in England so I’ll have to prepare myself for it 🙂

    Thanks again!

    1. Maybe this post would be helpful to you: https://www.iheartreykjavik.net/from-my-readers-reykjavik-with-a-toddler-by-jenn-pici-falk/

      I’ve never had a toddler myself, I didn’t meet the princess until she was about five, so I am maybe not the best person to ask about how to dress one. I know that children here wear a lot of wool (merino wool as base layers and maybe wool sweaters) and fleece. If you don’t have those things both Cintamani and 66°C have a lot of options when you get here. I would also absolutely bring a waterproof trouser and jacket. I also often see small children wearing overalls that are weather proof (both for water and the cold).

  32. Hello Auður and greetings from Toronto!

    I will be travelling and celebrating my birthday in Iceland in late March for a week, then Norway and Sweden…

    I just stumbled upon with your website and find it fascinating!! Good job with all the tips and tricks we should know (specially before going).

    My plan is to travel around (driving) as much as possible and my idea is to spend one day in the “west cost” then another day in the “south cost”, one day doing the golden circle… do you, from your experience, think this is possible? I might be a bit ignorant in terms of distances, so any help from you would be appreciated.

    I also heard that some of the tours can be extremely expensive, so it is better to rent a car and do it your own. Is that true?

    Lastly, if you were to pic 7 places in Iceland (with a few hours driving distance), what would those 7 spots will be?

    Thanks so much!

    Raúl

    1. Yes this is possible, you might want to read these posts: https://www.iheartreykjavik.net/tag/drive-it-yourself/. Regarding whether the tours are expensive that entirely depends on the tour, how many you are and such. If you plan to do the golden circle with one person then its probably less expensive to rent a car in winter but in summer the rental price might be higher than what you pay for the tour.

  33. Hi! Your blog is amazing. My husband and I will be arriving in Iceland at 6:40 am on This Monday. We really wanted to do the Blue Lagoon straight from the airport but the website says it is not open until 10am. Is there anything we should do in the airport prior to going or other places around the Blue Lagoon that we can experience before it opens? Is it very far from Reykjavik? Also, we were interested in your walking tour but are not very in shape. How strenuous is it.

    1. Hi Angela,

      Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been out of town and just returned. If it was summer I would advice you to just drive around the area and see some of the sights but it’s going to be pretty dark until around 8:30-9:00 so you won’t see much. But you could drive into Grindavík, it’s a pretty cute town and maybe they have a bakery where you can have breakfast before you head to the lagoon.

      As for my tour, it’s not strenuous at all – you’ll be fine. I have people all ages, shapes and sizes and so far they’ve all managed just fine 🙂

  34. So… you’re saying that there is not even BEER on stock in supermarkets? What about alcohol free beer?
    Anyway I’m more than thrilled to go there on june!!! How is whalewatching? Can you see whales on every boat tour?
    Do you know if there is going to be any concert of Sigur Ros around end of june and start of july?
    Do you know how your camping sites works? It is good to order the Icelandic camping card? Do you pay for persons and car or just for place to stay in camp? Is there extra charge for showers?
    Is it wild camping forbidden? How long is day light on june?
    Thanks

  35. Found this article very useful. I’m traveling solo at the end of April for the 1st time and I can’t wait to explore everything Iceland has to offer. I arrive at 6:40am and then hoping to grab a bus into town to drop off my luggage. Would love to take your tour 1st thing that morning was just curious whether or not you think I can make it there by 10am? My rental is only like a 5 min walk to the church.

    1. Sorry, I somehow missed your comment 🙂

      People do come to my tour straight from the airport basically every day so it should be fine 🙂

  36. First time in Iceland & planning to drive the ring road. I’ve checked out the Drive-It-Yourself site on this blog (thank you!), but is there another source for planning how long to spend where? We’ve got 10-14 days and will travel in a camper van.

    1. Some things you just have to decide for yourself because no one can tell you how much time you need to experience different things. If you just like to see things and then drive off you need little time there but if you like to take a little walk around the area or sit down and really enjoy something then maybe you need more time.

      If you are having a hard time planning your trip yourself it might be a good idea to get help from a travel agency that can tailor make your trip.

  37. Great tips – thanks!
    Question regarding cards/money: You can use standard UK debit cards you mean? Or would you recommend a travel credit card? I only use cash normally to travel to avoid hidden charges or cards not being accepted.
    Thanks!

    1. I don’t know what your take on credits cards is, but I took out an aqua rewards credit card – it is one of the few cards which does not charge fees abroad for purchases. They have a few cards, only this one and one other has no fees. It starts with a low credit limit that can be increases every 6 months & the Apr is high so it has to be paid off every month – but I just use it for travelling & any foreign transactions I make in the UK.

      I’ve thought about travel money cards but they all need to be front loaded and I don’t really manage my money that way.

      1. You just have to find the best way for you – whether it’s a credit card or something prepaid.

        1. Oh for sure, was just recommending a UK card that’s not that well known or publicised for it’s no foreign fee.

    2. As long as they have chips I would think you can use them. I can use my debit card when I travel but I prefer using my credit card because the rates are better for me (I have a card designed for travel because of all the traveling I was doing when I got it)

  38. Hi, thanks for info! i’m off to iceland this sunday- still not sure what to do about money altho the general consensus like yourself, appears to be just pay for everything with a card- my only concern is how much will i be charged by my bank hsbc? will they be able to tell me? does it vary from bank to bank!? don’t want to get loads of charges..! is the exchange rate better this way?
    thanks,
    alice

    1. The only way to know is to check with your bank how much they charge. I’ve had e-mails from people where they tell me they get a better rate exchanging their currency to Krónur once in Iceland than back home but I don’t know which rate your credit card issuer uses. The Exchange rate my credit card company uses is usually a bit more unfavorable than the bank rates but not so that it stops me from using my card abroad.

    2. oops, i hate using mobile devices….

      i was going to say when using a credit card in the states and other places ive travelled, ive usually got a better rate then if i had exchanged cash for the trip. i dont know if this happened for iceland as i didnt not exchange any cash.

      my credit card doesnt charge for overseas transactions – but i think most usually end up about 3%, and some kind of charge per transaction if you are taking out cash, so if you are taking out cash its best to do it all at once, rather than as you go along. you’d thikn HSBC as “the worlds local bank” you wouldnt get international fees! I’ve spoken with them before about travel when i had an account with them so im sure there’s someone friendly at the end of the phone waiting for your call 🙂

  39. Hi, I’m travelling to Iceland on Tuesday and feel better prepared after reading the comments above. Can anybody tell me about travel adaptors as I want to be sure that my camera is fully charged at all times!
    Many thanks

  40. My family and I will be traveling to Iceland in July, and I have enjoyed all of the comments. Do I understand correctly that the shower would be unisex? If so that should be OK with us, having done the Japanese hot springs already. I grew up in the states, and the gaps are pretty much everywhere. I never considered the issues with the gaps in the stalls, it’s always a unisex bathroom, so never thought it was a big deal, I guess it’s just what you grow up with. To extend that discussion, I feel compelled to mention a recent trip to North Western Italy, and seeing a train station bathroom, with no door on the stalls, and a broken door to the platform (straight through visibility) along with a hole in the floor you squat to use (instead of a toilet). After having to stand guard while a family member used the facilities, I am feeling pretty OK with our unisex 1cm USA door gaps. 🙂 Of course, it would be better to raise the bar up to make everyone comfortable (especially in an airport with so many different cultures coming together).

    Anyway, on a totally unrelated note, we have some vegetarians in our family, that is to say that some of us do not eat anything from the animal kingdom (cows, pigs, chickens, fish, jellyfish, spiders, worms, etc). 🙂 Is this something that we need to plan for? Is vegetarian fare commonplace? I suspect that we’ll be hitting grocery stores and making veggie stews with a little hot pot as we go, but I thought I’d ask.
    Thanks so much,

    1. No, the changing rooms are not unisex – there’s a male changing rooms and female changing rooms.

      There’s not a great selection of vegetarian options in Reykjavík but there’s definitely something.

  41. Americans do not understand that our bathroom stalls are weird until we travel outside the country. My first time in a European stall I was thinking, “Woah, I’m inside a closet!” But it wasn’t until I lived in another country for over a year that I realized just how open our bathrooms are. When I returned to the US I was freaked out.

    Very happy to hear that I can drink the tap water in Iceland. I’ve been to a lot of places where drinking out of the tap is a no-no. And I hate buying bottled water (odd for an American, I know).

  42. Hello – just wanted to stop by and say how great your blog is. A friend and I are heading to Iceland this Thursday (eeek) and have been using your site for tips. Sadly, I don’t think we will spend much time in Reykjavik this time around, but if that changes, we will definitely be in touch to book your tour!

    I have one question I wonder if you can help with – if, during our route around the ring road, we spot a small warm stream/river and decide to take a quick soak, would it be frowned upon to use shampoo/body wash? Obviously we wouldn’t do this is designated ‘pools’…

    Can’t wait to see your beautiful country!

  43. Speaking of Icelandic currency, I managed to get Icelandic Krona from an American Express Foreign Currency Exchange Branch. I live in Australia, so you can imagine my surprise when I asked them and they said they had it! I was definitely expecting to get a no! However, Visa/Mastercards work perfectly fine in Iceland!

  44. I am planning a trip in August. Your tour will be one of the first things on my Itinerary! I have learned more information on what to do and where to go from reading your blog than a day of searching the Internet on my own! I especially like the discounted Budget car rental! I was looking at 120 US a day for a 4×4! Way cheaper through you and Budget! I’m planning a short 4 day jaunt through the Southern portion of the Island for the first time there. Backpacking, camping, farm experience etc. I want to see a lot of the regional offerings, waterfalls, beaches, landscape, etc. I want to take some landscape photographs of the region as well. Great post! Thank you so much for this site! It is definitely helpful to a first time traveler! Following you on Facebook and Instagram!

    John.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog and that you found a good deal on car rental. Happy travels!

  45. I learned so much reading your blog. Heading off to Iceland in about 3 weeks now. I have a question about the Whale Watching tour. I have one booked but am concerned about how cold it will be. I am a senior and heading off to London for 10 days after and don’t want to arrive sick. Do you or does anyone have any pointers on the tour and just how chilly it gets? Thanks so much. Really excited about my visit.

    1. It shouldn’t be that cold in three weeks so if you layer up you should be fine. The boats also have overalls you can borrow if you get really cold.

    2. I recently spoke with a tour guide about open camping…. he told me the weather currently there is 9 celsius for the low and approximately 14 celsius for the high.

  46. In 5 hours I fly from Switzerland to Iceland on my way back to Canada (Toronto). I am booked on a Great Canadian Tour for 4 days and am travelling alone.
    I am very excited for this part of my trip and thank you to all who have participated both with the wonderfully informative blog as well as comments.
    Jo

  47. When paying by card is there a typical minimum spend required before you aren’t charged a fee?

    In the UK most shops and pubs etc. charge a fee if you spend less than £10 in any one transaction so it always makes sense to carry cash. Does this practice not exist in Iceland for small purchases like hotdogs etc?

    1. No there is no fee for smaller purchases

  48. This is really great information.I really did’nt know any thing about it…I’m taking a five night solo trip to Iceland next month and this was all very useful – thankyou!

  49. excellent article, thanks for the tips. I did know about the water and I am generally anti bottled water anyway. the showering thing is fine – it’s just about getting the right mindset and not allowing yourself to be insecure. As a Brit now living in the US I see the differences in US culture vs European and it amuses me frequently. My wife and I will be visiting early Feb and so far have just booked flights. so far we have not planned anything particular. we have 5 nights and of course hope to see the Northern lights. I am guessing the daylight hours are still minimal in early Feb so one question – is it worth hiring a car? we will probably hang out in Reykjavik and take a couple of trips. just not sure about driving at that time of year. if the daylight is only a couple of hours it seems that sightseeing is minimal. I also am trying to decide on accommodation. I am leaning towards an apartment in Reykjavik but probably not for all 5 nights. is it worth staying by the Blue mountains for a night? or two? ( again – if daylight is minimal the scenic view will be limited so weighing that up against the possible lack of nightlife….? ) Any tips for our trip are most welcome cheers 🙂

  50. My wife and I have recently returned from a week in Iceland, it was wonderful. It was good reading your information before we went out, it was really useful.
    One thing we did not realise was that the Northern Lights are not always really colourful.
    We booked an evening tour to see the Northern Lights, however it was not until the 3rd time of going out did we see them. We were pleased that the tour companies allow you to rebook for free, if you don’t get to see the Northern Lights on that evening.
    It was not until the 3rd time out did the guide actually tell us what to look out for.
    The pictures we took on our camera, using a long exposure, were great as they showed some of the colours.

  51. I’m a bloody Yank from Pennsylvania who doesn’t peek through bathroom stalls and doesn’t care if someone sees him naked. I’d liked to thank you for all the “good” information on your site. My wife and I coming over to ur Land of Fire/Ice in Late Oct for 7 days and though I’m chronologically old (71 not dead yet) I’m looking forward to renting a vehicle and driving around the Golden Circle and scuba diving. I was going to rent a SUV 4×4 but since reading your blog think I’ll down size the car and spend extra on alcohol. Keep up the good writing. Thanks, John

  52. I just wrapped a day visit … ICELAND is WONDERFUL … I am 77 and traveled with 72 year old sister and in his 30s grandson … We got a Suzuki with PHENOMINAL mileage and enuf room …we were at an AirBNB by the sea … like Seltjanes (Audur can correct that) We saw the Glacier !!!!! We went out for whales and instead got a riotous wild boat ride (I liked it – quite a few got sick) grandson used his replacement voucher next day and did see Minkes and dolphins … the in-Reykjavik hot pool place is the best (one in our N-Hood was closed !) Think name started with L … BUT – go to Secret Lagoon ! THIS WAS MY #1 FAvorite. and Geysir and Gullfoss ! OH MY OH MY … FIRST thing to do when you get your car at the airport (FairCar) is drive to the Bridge over the Continents (plates) … This is an excellent intro to ICELAND … truly another planet ! Money was my downfall … how much ? we learned to drop the last two digits .. then subtract 20% of the remaining digits that .. and you get the US $ cost !…. learned that at HARPA … ASTOUNDING BLDG ! My sister is planning her return ! Now I am in Amsterdam … LOVE THIS CITY … also Sensible ! Have a great visit … only regret .. I did not get to meet Audur … nor learn how to REALLY pronounce her name !

  53. I understand about showering before entering pools and such. My question – is there anywhere you can go nude? I have read conflicting posts on this and was wondering. I would probably never do it. Also, does Iceland now have a Brewery? I have heard it does and am always interested in that scene.

    1. There are no nude pools in Iceland. Some pools, like Sundhöllin, has an nude sun bathing area but of course if you find a hot spring somewhere and no one is around there’s nothing that stops you from bathing in the nude.

  54. Hello , Quick question on the Hot Springs … You have to showed naked , and must wear a suit in the water . But my question is where do you put your belonging while to are showering and while you are in the water ? Are there Lockers ? Also is soap and towels provided at these showers or do you need to bring your own ?

    1. It depends where you are going. If you are going to a swimming pool in town or the Blue Lagoon then yes – there are changing rooms and lockers. If you are going to the hot river in Reykjadalur for example then you just have to leave the stuff where you are kind of.

      Towels are not provided but can be rented and soap is provided but not shampoo.

  55. Hello and thanks for all of the good information. I am enjoying reading your site.

    My husband and I are heading to Iceland in about a week and I have a question about buying gas at unmanned stations. We plan on driving up to the Westfjiords and across the northern part of Iceland. American credit cards now have a chip, but it doesn’t work the way European cards work. It’s a chip and SIGNATURE system (NOT chip and pin-even if you have a pin number for cash advances, it’s not the same thing). So in a shop we can just sign for our purchases, but what happens at an unmanned gas station out in the country? Is a pin required to be punched into the gas pump in order to buy gas (or diesel)? I’ve read some comments on other sights about buying prepaid gas cards. What would you recommend?

    We are really looking forward to seeing Iceland!
    Thanks so much.
    Helen

    1. Hi Helen,

      Yes, you will need a pin for unmanned gas stations and you are right: People are buying prepaid gas cards to get around that. As long as you take gas during the day when the stations are open you should be fine.

  56. Couldnt be more excited to visit Iceland this winter. Based on your description of the nakedness at the lagoon – im envisioning an epic nude runway show where i would be on display for grimey men (im dramatic, i know) .. i live in europe so Im used to a more free approach to public nudity than in America, but im still American!! And really prefer not to be stared at by men that im not personally involved with. Are there options to cover up? or are you just saying that other women will be able to see you? Thanks

    1. There are separate changing rooms for the two sexes and you’re expected to wear a bathing suit at the lagoon so you won’t have any men looking at your naked body 🙂

  57. What’s the best way to get to Reykjavik from airport? I was going to take the Grayline Airport Express and stay at the Bus Hostel since its near the bus terminal in Rey. Unless there is another convenient recommendation. Flight lands at 17:20 and I need to make it to a boat tour by 21:30.

    Does anyone have recommendations for brewery or coffee house in Rey? And late afternoon/evening bars or lounges that are good for a single girl to mingle with locals on an off day like monday or tuesday?

    Thanks

    1. The Grayline bus terminal is far away from Bus hostel – the BSÍ, where the Flybus stops, is in walking distance from Bus however.

  58. A quick comment of avoiding the camera lens getting fogged in the cold when taking photos of N Lights

  59. we are coming back for our 2nd visit, for NYE, and will not be stopping at Blue Lagoon or hiring a car for this trip – so my question is, as we land around 5.30am on Dec 31st, should we hang out for a couple of hours at the airport or will there be anything open in Reykjavik at 6.30am or so? I know the bars will have closed around 5am from the Friday fun so where else is good to go? we will not be able to check in to our apt until midday or so……
    cheers
    Ray

  60. quick question about duty free – I always thought duty free was purchased at the airport prior to departure. I keep reading about people buying duty free when they land in Keflavik early morning – so it’s fine to just spend time doing some duty free shopping upon arrival in Keflavik? I am still presuming that duty free will be cheaper in at Boston airport than Keflavik right? ( does Keflavik have cases of beer by any chance? that would be cool 🙂 )

    1. Yes, unlike most places, you can buy duty free when you arrive, it’s right next to baggage claim. If it’s alcohol you’re after this will be the cheapest place in the country to buy it, as it will taxed heavily elsewhere. Yes they do cases/trays/6 packs of beer 🙂 – i don’t know myself how the prices in Boston will compare, but you won’t be able to buy Icelandic beer there, and if i was going to drink beer in Iceland, i’d want it to be Icelandic!

      1. thanks Danielle – very helpful. and I agree – I had some pretty decent Icelandic beer when I was there in Feb and more than happy to stock up with that in KEF 🙂

        1. Having only just started to drink beer, in 2013 when I visited when I saw an Icelandic woman leaving with a huge tray of beer, I was highly amusesd – this was before I knew why she was taking the chance to stock up! Ha ha

          Enjoy your trip dude! 🙂 I managed to get some Icelandic Xmas beers imported thru a website here in the UK so I’m looking forward to trying some over the festive season

          1. cool – i’ll look out for those while I’m there. I’m an ex-pat now living in Philadelphia and will be catching up with folks back home next year at some point 🙂

  61. My friend and I are traveling to Iceland in March from Detroit. We can’t wait!
    Being from one of the largest craft beer states in the US, is there any fun breweries that you’d recommend? Or any different places not so “touristy” We both like going where the locals love to go.
    Thanks

    1. There are not many brewery tours but I know Bryggjan Brugghús has some things for travelers to learn about Icelandic beer. As for bars, try Microbar, Mikkeler and Friends or Skúli.

    2. Reykjavik is full of great fun bars and the locals hang out all over. Friday night is the big night , drinking through until 5am. a pro tip is to get the Appy hours APP which will tell you what bars have happy hours and when. generally a lot of them last 3 or 4 hours so it’s fairly easy to stagger them and get reasonable priced drinking from midday until 10pm ish. after that it’s pretty much full price everywhere ( $12 + for a pint )
      Borg is probably the best brewery for tours.
      and don’t miss the Lobster Hut, and the best Hot dog stand – there are a few but there is definitely one that is known to be the best – same with the Lobster – there are good spots but the best for a Lobster sub is only there 2 or 3 nights a week and only for certain hours – you may have a long line but it’s worth it. you will fall in love with Iceland 🙂

      1. Thank you for this! I’m so excited to go!
        and when you were talking about beer prices, was that in USD or ISK? either doesn’t matter I’m just making sure 🙂

        1. during Happy hours you will be paying anywhere from 550 to 950 ISK which is between $5 and $9 ( most are around 700 ISK – so slightly under $7 ) – I normally just knock the last to digits off the ISK price for $ – if you base the exchange rate on 100 ISK to $1 you will be slightly overestimating – but in reality you will be pretty close – and it’s the easiest way. local craft brews such as Borg are more likely to be 900 ISK or so ( I know the English pub doesn’t include Borg in their happy hour – watch out for that ! ) – but you can get Carlsberg / Tuborg etc for between $5 to $7. the Viking classic was pretty good and reasonable prices – and as you don’t tip it works out fine.
          and do grab some duty free when you arrive in Keflavik – not the first duty free shop – you go past that to the bigger one just before the baggage claim 🙂 it’s a great place – enjoy

      2. I love lobsters!!! thanks for the tip! I’ll be there this August!

  62. Just learned about the showering at the Blue Lagoon. My husband is handicapped and will need help with showering and changing clothes. Are there separate accommodations for us? I hope so because I would hate for us to have to miss this part of our trip.

    1. From the Blue Lagoon website:

      “Every year, we welcome thousands of guests with special needs or disabilities.

      The main building is wheelchair accessible, with elevators and electric buttons to open doors. If you need a wheelchair once you are inside the building, just ask at reception. To read more about accessibility, click here.

      There is a pool access lift by the indoor lagoon entrance area, with a carrying capacity of 200kg/440lbs. We also have a non-metallic wheelchair available, which can be taken into the water and used in the shallow area.

      Our changing rooms are also wheelchair accessible, including the bathrooms and showers. A special changing room is also available for guests with physical disabilities, offering more privacy and a large enough space to be shared with an assistant. Shower chairs are available upon request.”

  63. Very useful site and comments – looking forward to my first visit (solo traveller – no car) to Iceland in early April – just for 3 days before heading to Toronto. Suggestions for the best tours? I’d like to see the northern lights and take in as much scenery as possible. Thanks!

    1. They are really friendly at the Blue Lagoon, last year we have visited with our little baby and we promtly get a special “family” changing room, with alot of space and private shower facility !

      1. I didn’t know that they did that -I only know that they have a age limit of 2 years.

  64. Hi! Thank you for your wonderful blogs. My boyfriend and I are headed to Iceland May 6th and we leave on May 9th. We have rented our own car and we are driving from the airport to Hotel Ranga. We would like to “drive it ourselves” and check out all of the sights independently. What is the weather like in May? Do we need lots of layers or is it starting to warm up at bit?

    Do you recommend any specific sights in Southern Iceland that we could drive to?

    Any advice & tips would be much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Gabi

  65. hi, Thank you so much for this blog. I will be picking up beer before going to the hostel. I am from Québec and going solo in 3 weeks. One thing I would love to do is hang out with the locals and maybe watch a sports game of some sort with them. Is there a good pub or bar you would recommend for this? Really excited to go there. Thank you in advance

    1. Post comment

      Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Mike

      There are many bars down town that offer live sports. Bjarni Fel, The Lebowski Bar, The Drunk Rabbit, English Pub and The American Bar. Just to mention a few.

  66. My son and his Scout Troop will be going to Iceland in a few weeks. Its his first international trip I want to send him with a visa gift card but I can’t get information as to what kind I should purchase. He is only 17. Any suggestions?

    1. Post comment

      Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Kim,

      I suggest that you check with your bank, which card would work well for him. You can not buy an Icelandic card like that from abroad, you would have to do that here. A good idea would be to use a Visa or Mastercard, since they are the types most widely accepted here, there are some places in Iceland that do not accept American Express.

    2. I have only had one experience with a Visa gift card a friend sent for my birthday. It didn’t work at the shops. You certainly wouldn’t want your son to have issues while travelling. Might suggest finding some other method of providing spending money for him.

  67. Hi,

    My Husband and I will be visiting Iceland for 5 days in Early November to celebrate his 40th birthday! He is very interested in visiting the new beer spa “Bjorbodin” during our stay. We are staying in Reykjavik the entire trip. We do not plan on renting a vehicle or attempting any driving ourselves. Is there bus or shuttle transportation to this spa from Reykjavik? Do you think this will be practical for us?

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      The beer spas are on the other side of the country so your only option if you don’t want to drive is to fly up to Akureyri and do a tour from there that includes the beer spas.

      If you want, you can send us an e-mail (through the contact page) and we can check if such a tour is available.

    2. I am visiting Iceland for the second time mid August and will be travelling alone, a senior and will not be renting a car. There are many buses to get you anywhere for the tours, to the Blue Lagoon etc. You can check out tours on any Iceland site for ‘what to do in Iceland’ I have booked 3 events already from home and depending on your age and agility level, there are many many things to do. My first trip I took the tour of the Golden Circle which was amazing. Seeing the falls, the geysers and the divide between Europe and Asia was just thrilling. I am certain you can arrange many things to do and see when you get there but would advise at least looking up the lists of the activities you can take part in online. It gives you many good ideas. I am taking a boat tour to see the puffins, a horseback trip over the lava and a day lounging at the lagoon soaking up the minerals for my old bones. You will have a wonderful time and don’t worry about not driving around.

  68. Thank you for getting back to me! I do not think we will want to book any separate flights, but I appreciate the suggestion!

  69. I found this blog while planning our trip to Iceland in a few weeks. Quick question thought, I totally understand showering before swimming but do I need to wash my hair?

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      You need to at least rinse it with water.

  70. I have had a partial mastectomy, is there nowhere to shower in private before entering the pool, I have not been naked in front of anyone but my husband since the operation and find this daunting to say the least 🙁

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Most of the pools do not have privacy stalls and you must shower naked before entering the pool. However, Laugardalslaug has them and so does the Blue Lagoon.

      If it makes you feel any better, Icelandic people start going to the pools when they are babies and they are used to all kinds of bodies and no one really cares about what yours looks like. At most, you might have some kids wonder why you are different, if they even notice it, in which case I find most Icelandic mothers (I only have experience from the womens’ changing room 🙂 ) are pretty good at explaining that a) you shouldn’t stare or point and b) that all bodies are different.

      Personally, when I see someone at the pool with any type of scars I always think how badass and strong they are. But mostly I’m just minding my own business focusing on getting this over with and getting out to the pool 🙂

  71. Hi Auour,
    I will be visiting Iceland in February. I would love to go dog-sledding but would not have the physical strength or fitness to drive the sled myself. Is it possible to be a passenger, with someone else doing the ‘driving’. I will not have someone with me to do this.
    Many thanks,
    Geraldine

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Geraldine – dog sledding is about the only activity in Iceland that we don’t offer or book so I’m just not sure about this. I recommend you send an e-mail to the dog sledding companies to ask about this.

  72. Hi Auður,
    This is a great site to find for anyone’s first trip to Iceland, thanks. I think some of our friends have got a little bit too excited about your observation of American Toilet habits and I laughed loudly in my quiet office on your answer to somebody’s question on skiing in Alaska!
    Do you know if Scottish Distilleries are open every day of the year or only the days with a Y in them?
    All the best,
    Stuart

  73. Auour,
    I am contemplating a trip there with my 15 year old daughter next Feb. I was hoping not to have to rent a car so this is probably silly but do you have taxis or Uber available? We wanted to get in a whale watching tour, a little shopping and maybe a tour through the (haha) penis museum and the Viking museum. We would be staying at the Odinsve so I am trying to make sure that she and I will be good to go. Please feel free to bombard me with your experience and opinion.

    1. Post comment

      Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Julianne,

      There are taxis in town, but no Uber. There are also local buses to get around in the city. All the places you mention are within walking distance from your hotel, the center of Reykjavík is not big and is very walkable.

    2. You can walk most places which are actually in Reykjavik amd there are city buses as well. We took a “Gray Line” bus tour of the city where you can hop off and look around and then hop back on when the next one comes along.

      However, I would think if you’re staying there more than 3 or 4 days the city will get a little boring. As some of the older comments, including one of mine, mention, we rented a vehicle at the airport and drove all over the southern part of the country/island with only a few issues, none caused by locals.

      The tours from the city to other places can get expensive very quickly. We went to Thingvellir National Park almost every night to watch the Northern Lights (saw them every night we tried) and then went to the Geysir Park, and lots of other places. If you are used to driving in the US you shouldn’t have a problem driving in Iceland, just watch for the warning on the roads (big digital signs) that will tell you whether they are open or not.

      Iceland is one of the top two places I’ve ever visited, Hawaii being the other. This is primarily because the people are so nice and the country looks just like the pictures you see online and in the books.

  74. Excuse me, but aren’t you missing the point about door gaps and having to walk around in front of a bunch of strangers naked? I’ll take a small door gap any day. Also, unlike much of the world, you don’t have to pay to use public bathrooms in the U.S. Also, they come equipped with lots of nice SOFT toilet paper.

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I think you’re missing the point of this post: just a little bit of fun 🙂

  75. Hi Auður,
    My son and I will be visiting Iceland in about 3 weeks. W are coming from a farm in the northern part of the US, and are planning on van camping our way around the ring road before spending a few days closer to Reykjavík. We are interested in finding traditional Icelandic wool sweaters, and would prefer purchasing from smaller shops, perhaps from the people who actually make them. Can you give some recommendations on where we might find this sort of thing? We would also be interested in learning about traditional Icelandic farming practices.

    Thank you so much for all your insights. Your blog is a wonderful source of information.

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Don’t you worry, there will be plenty of places where you can buy lopapeysa and you don’t need any instructions on where to find them.

      As for farming in Iceland, there are some farms around that have petting zoos or some part of the farm open to visitors. Like Hólmur farm in the south-east/ East Iceland

  76. Love that you keep up with/reply to all these comments. I’ve read every last one. Super helpful! My husband and I leave in a month for Iceland for the first time and we are super excited. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge!

    1. Post comment

      Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      If you have any questions or need any help with planning your travels in Iceland, you can always send us an email 🙂

  77. Laughed so hard about the showers and toilets. Yes, our toilets have gaps. As for the showers… you haven’t been to the public baths in Germany yet where people walk around stark naked the whole time. Your masseuse gives you a massage while you lie on the table totally nude (he has only a towel around himself). And ladies sunbath topless in the Englischer Garten. We American’s are such Puritans!

  78. Really? An opportunity for visitors to learn about Iceland and YEARS later the comments are still about toilet door gaps and showering naked??!! Let it GO people! Thank you “I Heart Reykjavik”. I am very impressed with the way you remain kind and diplomatic even when the comments are questionable/racist. My question is with regard to appropriate clothing for early September. I am on a photo tour so will be outside for very long days. Would insulated rainproof pants be overkill or will they likely be too warm? Thank you in advance.

  79. What kind of credit cards are accepted in Iceland? Visa, Citi, Discover? etc.

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Most major credit cards but it depends on the business. All will accept VISA and Mastercard – some will accept Discover, Diners, American Express etc.

  80. Thanks for your sharing on those useful information 🙂
    may I know whether the accommodation in Iceland provide toiletries eg.body shampoo, hair shampoo etc.?
    I am struggling to reduce weight of my luggage 😛

    thank you

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Nicer hotels and such would but not hostels and guesthouses I would think.

  81. Me and my father will arrive this weekend in Iceland.
    It will be our first visit.

    We have one request: Please turn on the Northern Lights for us. 😉

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Consider it done 😉

  82. Thanks for all the tips. I was wondering, which place is better to see the Northern Lights, sea or shore? I see there are bus tours and boat tours too, which one would you recommend? We will be there in October 🙂

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      It just depends on where the skies are clear that night. Boat tours get canceled more though.

  83. I am actually delighted to read this webpage posts which
    consists of lots of useful information, thanks for providing these kinds of data.

  84. What friendship or link cites can I get. Been craving since 1984 when I had penpals had wanted to visit and marry an Icelandic then

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      There are no such websites that I know of – most people just use social media or Tinder and the likes to connect with other people these days.

      Maybe you could use a dating site like this one: https://www.einkamal.is/. It’s got kind of bad rep though and is all in Icelandic.

  85. I am vegetarian, no chicken, no fish. We are visiting in May. Am I going to starve?