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Iceland Tourism And Travel Guide
7.5° C / 45.5° F
October to August
5 to 7 Days
Keflavik International Airport
Iceland, the land of fire and ice, the country to chase Northern Lights… many identities surround this country. What makes Iceland so unique is its contrast in terms of landscape - active mountain volcanoes go hand in hand with glaciers and hot springs. Therefore tourism in Iceland has been so active and coveted.
There are many things to do in Iceland, as evident from the following travel guide. You will also find out an overview about the most ideal seasons for visit, shopping trends and souvenirs, as well as food habits in Iceland.
How to Reach
The best way to reach Iceland is by air, and then for domestic travel, road trips are preferred over other modes of transport.
The capital city of Iceland is home to one of the most important international airports - Keflavik International Airport, located 40 km from the city centre. Indian cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi etc have regular flights to Reykjavik.
Another way to reach this island-country is by travel through sea. The Smyril Line operates from Denmark to Iceland and has regular lines of ferries, cruises and vessels sailing between the two countries. Winters shut down all sea travel so then air is the only open route.
Iceland does not have trains or trams or other such means to commute. So the best way for domestic travel is by air or by road. Most travellers prefer to hire a car or a caravan and drive along, weather permitting. During winter, flights may also take a hit but mostly you can reach the tourist destinations by a combination of air and road.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Iceland can be termed and all-season destination because you have a ton of special activities reserved for every season.
Spring (March to May):
With a temperature range of 7-10°C and thawing of ice, spring season sees some lingering tourist traffic from summer that may be on budget to see the Northern Lights. Other than that, it is a quite time of the year. The expeditions for fishing, kayaking, diving, sailing down fjords begin as the waterbodies melt and flow again.
Summer (June to August):
The high tourist time for those who want to enjoy the outdoors in Iceland, July-August make for some of the longest days (21-23 hours) with the midnight sun hanging loose on the horizon. Most hiking, whale-watching, horse-riding and fishing expeditions are booked in advance and full to the brim. You will also enjoy the luxury Blue Lagoon-like hot springs, geysers and geothermal pools. The temperature remains between 15-20°C.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn in Iceland is shoulder season but also the beginnings of Northern Lights tours. October onwards the dark nights are tight enough to show you these phenomenal fireworks. Daylight hours decrease by the end of autumn and most of the summer fun is at its end.
Winter (December to February):
Winter time in Iceland means northern lights, something that most tourists come here for. You can chase the lights in Reykjavik itself or book yourself into camping tours that take you into the wilderness where the sightings are clear and more sure shot. There are also skiing, snow-mobile and sleigh ride expeditions.
Things to Do
Chase Northern Lights:
This is the star showstopper of Iceland, making winter tours the best. Most tourists come to Iceland for northern lights, and never go back disappointed. For all intents and purposes you can watch the lights right outside your hotel in Reykjavik if the cloud cover is thin and sky clear. Many tours are also readily booked to go away for the night.
Iceland is home to some great marine life, including whales and sharks. Whale-watching here is a coveted and highly taken tour, especially in the peak of summer. The best places for these tours include Husavik, Reyðarfjörður Fjord, and Eyjafjörður.
Walk the Labyrinth of Ice Caves:
Ice caves in Iceland are a treat to the eyes, deep and beautiful, with walls that are splashed with colourful cooled lava and icicles hanging down from the curved ceilings. Do visit the Vatnajökull Glacier in winter, and go for guided tours as this glacial cave is ever shifting and moving.
Ride Horses like a Viking:
Horse-riding in Iceland is a highly coveted activity, with the special breed of horses that have short legs but strong muscle build. Make sure you do at least one of these riding lessons and enjoy the scenery while on horseback.
Bask in the Culture of West Fjords:
Iceland is known for its different regions and each having a slightly varied culture. The West Fjord region has its own fascinating set of folklore, mysticism and magic entwined in its stunning landscape. Make it a point to visit the Dynjandi waterfalls, Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery, Arctic Fox Centre and Flatey Island among other places here.
What to Eat
Icelandic food is highly influenced by Scandinavian cuisine as the Norse and Viking tribes settled here back in the 9th Century. Also, the natural surroundings of the place influence the cooking, which means you will find a lot of seafood, lamp, rye bread and potatoes on the menu. Some must-try items include Reykjavik's Hot Dog or pylsur, Skyr (yogurt and cottage cheese creamed up together), Lamb, Fermented Shark Rye bread with butter or anything that’s available and Reykjavik Fish and Chips. For desert, people eat ice-cream and cheese, in that combination, all year round.
What to Shop
Iceland might not be the London or Paris or even Milan for shopaholics, but it definitely has some charms. Do buy the Icelandic sweaters from here, also known as Lopapeysa, warm and very insulating for the material. Other souvenirs to take back include traditional Icelandic jewellery made out of lava rocks and silver, Omnom Chocolate, Reyka vodka and Brennivin (Icelandic schnapps). You could also get your own portrait done in all Viking gear, buy liquorice candy (just like the Swedes make them), buy jars of different flavoured Icelandic salt and sets of Blue Lagoon beauty products too.