The Best Things To Do For A First Timers Trip To Iceland

Embark on an unforgettable adventure to Iceland with our guide to the best things to do for first-timers.
a large waterfall with water coming out of it
Photo by Jan Brennenstuhl on Unsplash

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Are you planning your first trip to Iceland? With so many incredible things to explore, it can be tough to choose what to prioritize. Fear not, fellow traveler! In this guide, we’ll break down the must-see natural wonders, cultural experiences, outdoor activities, and more to help you plan the ultimate Icelandic adventure.

Planning Your Iceland Adventure

Are you dreaming of visiting Iceland? This beautiful country is a nature lover’s paradise, with its stunning landscapes, geothermal hot springs, and unique culture. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, here are some tips to help you make the most of your adventure.

When to Visit Iceland

The optimal time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to experience. If you’re keen to see the Northern Lights, plan your trip between September and April. During this time, the nights are longer, and the skies are darker, making it easier to spot the Aurora Borealis. Meanwhile, if exploring glaciers and waterfalls is your priority, visit between May and August. This is when the weather is milder, and the days are longer, giving you more time to explore Iceland’s natural wonders.

Keep in mind that peak tourist season falls between June and August, so expect larger crowds and higher prices during this time. If you prefer a quieter and more affordable trip, consider traveling during the shoulder season, which falls between April and May or September and October.

How Long to Stay

Iceland is a small country, but there’s so much to explore that you’ll want to give yourself enough time to see everything. We recommend staying at least seven days to get the most out of your trip. This will give you enough time to explore Reykjavik, the capital city, and its surroundings, as well as the Golden Circle, which includes Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall.

If you have more time, consider exploring the South Coast, which is known for its black sand beaches, glaciers, and waterfalls. You can also take a road trip around the Ring Road, which circles the entire country and takes around ten days to complete.

Budgeting for Your Trip

Iceland is known for being an expensive destination, but with careful planning, you can still have a fantastic trip without breaking the bank. Opt for budget-friendly accommodation such as hostels or camping, and try to avoid eating out for every meal. Bring a reusable water bottle to refill, and consider buying groceries to cook meals in a shared kitchen.

Additionally, Iceland has many free attractions that you can visit, such as the Reykjavik Art Museum and the Hallgrimskirkja church. Lastly, research and book tours in advance to get the best deals. Many tour companies offer discounts for early bookings, so plan ahead to save money.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to plan your Iceland adventure. Whether you’re seeking natural wonders or cultural experiences, Iceland has something for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip!

Must-See Natural Wonders

Iceland is a country that is known for its stunning natural beauty. From towering waterfalls to icy glaciers, there is no shortage of breathtaking sights to see. Here are just a few of the must-see natural wonders that you won’t want to miss.

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a popular route that spans 300 kilometers and includes three main stops: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. Each of these stops offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience that you won’t soon forget.

At Thingvellir National Park, you can marvel at the geological wonders of the rift valley. This is a place where two tectonic plates meet, creating a unique landscape that is both beautiful and fascinating. Take a walk through the park and explore the many trails that wind through the area. You’ll be amazed at how different this landscape is from anything you’ve ever seen before.

The Geysir Geothermal Area is another must-see stop on the Golden Circle. Here, you can watch as Strokkur Geyser erupts, shooting water high into the air. This is a truly mesmerizing sight that you won’t want to miss. Make sure to bring your camera so you can capture the moment.

Finally, the Gullfoss Waterfall is the perfect way to end your journey along the Golden Circle. This waterfall is truly spectacular, with water cascading over two tiers of rock. Stand at the edge of the falls and feel the mist on your face as you take in the stunning view.

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous attractions, and for good reason. This geothermal spa is located in a lava field and offers a rejuvenating experience like no other. The warm, milky-blue waters are rich in minerals and are said to have healing properties. Soak in the water and feel your worries melt away as you take in the stunning natural scenery that surrounds you.

While you’re at the Blue Lagoon, make sure to take advantage of the spa’s many amenities. You can indulge in a massage, enjoy a drink at the swim-up bar, or even try a silica mud mask. This is a truly luxurious experience that you won’t want to miss.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park is home to the largest glacier in Europe and some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Iceland. This is a place where you can truly immerse yourself in nature and experience the beauty of the great outdoors.

One of the most popular activities in Vatnajökull National Park is exploring the glacier’s ice caves. These caves are formed by meltwater that flows through the glacier, creating stunning formations that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Take a guided tour and learn about the history and geology of the glacier as you explore the caves.

If hiking is more your speed, Vatnajökull National Park has plenty of trails to choose from. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there is a trail that will suit your needs. Take a leisurely stroll through the park and enjoy the stunning views, or challenge yourself with a more strenuous hike to one of the park’s many peaks.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach on the South Coast of Iceland is a unique and striking sight. This is a place where the ocean meets the land in a dramatic and beautiful way. Walk along the shore and feel the black sand between your toes as you take in the stunning views.

One of the most fascinating features of the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is the basalt columns that line the shore. These columns are formed by the cooling of lava as it meets the ocean, creating a unique and otherworldly landscape. Make sure to take some time to explore these columns and marvel at their beauty.

Whether you’re exploring the Golden Circle, soaking in the Blue Lagoon, hiking in Vatnajökull National Park, or walking along the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland is a country that is full of natural wonders that will take your breath away. Make sure to bring your camera and take plenty of pictures so you can remember your trip for years to come.

Exploring Icelandic Culture

Iceland is a country full of natural wonders and unique cultural experiences. From its stunning landscapes to its rich history and traditions, there is so much to explore and discover. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the highlights of Icelandic culture, including Reykjavik city, Icelandic cuisine, and traditional festivals and events.

Reykjavik City Highlights

Reykjavik is the charming capital city of Iceland and is full of delightful corners to explore. One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is Hallgrimskirkja Church, a stunning example of modern architecture. Visitors can take in the stunning panoramic views of the city from the top of the church’s tower.

Another must-visit spot in Reykjavik is the vibrant downtown area. Here you’ll find a variety of unique boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets and soak up the lively atmosphere of this bustling city.

And no trip to Reykjavik would be complete without a visit to Harpa Concert Hall. This stunning building is a masterpiece of modern architecture and is home to a variety of concerts, events, and exhibitions throughout the year.

Icelandic Cuisine to Try

Icelandic cuisine is gaining recognition for its unique and delicious flavors. While you’re in Iceland, be sure to try some of the traditional dishes such as lamb soup, Icelandic hot dogs, and fresh seafood.

For the more adventurous eaters out there, be sure to try fermented shark, a national delicacy. This unique dish is made by burying shark meat underground for several months to ferment. It has a strong, pungent flavor and is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Traditional Festivals and Events

Icelandic culture is steeped in tradition, and there are several festivals and events throughout the year celebrating this heritage. One of the most popular events is the Reykjavik Arts Festival, which takes place in May. This festival features a variety of art exhibits, performances, and concerts, and is a great way to experience the vibrant creative scene in Iceland.

Another popular event is the Iceland Airwaves music festival, which takes place in November. This festival showcases a variety of Icelandic and international musicians and is a great way to experience the unique sounds of Icelandic music.

Finally, if you’re visiting Iceland during the Christmas season, be sure to experience the magic of the Yule Lads. These mischievous creatures are a beloved part of Icelandic folklore and are said to visit children in the 13 days leading up to Christmas. Each Yule Lad has its own personality and brings a unique gift or prank to the children.

Overall, Iceland is a country full of unique experiences and cultural treasures. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Reykjavik, trying traditional Icelandic cuisine, or experiencing one of the many festivals and events, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Outdoor Activities for Adventure Seekers

If you’re an adventure seeker, Iceland is the perfect destination for you. With its stunning natural landscapes, there are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Here are a few of our top picks:

Whale Watching Tours

One of the most popular outdoor activities in Iceland is whale watching. Iceland is one of the best places in the world to spot whales in their natural habitat. Take a tour from Reykjavik or Husavik and keep your eyes peeled for humpback, minke, and blue whales. Not only will you have the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close, but you’ll also learn about their behavior and habitat from knowledgeable guides.

Glacier Hiking and Ice Caving

If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience, strap on your crampons and head out onto the glaciers of Iceland. There are several guided tours available, which will take you into ice caves, through crevasses, and over stunning ice formations. You’ll feel like you’re walking on another planet as you explore these icy landscapes. Make sure to dress warmly and bring plenty of water and snacks, as these tours can be physically demanding.

Northern Lights Hunting

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are a highlight of any trip to Iceland. Take a tour to chase the elusive lights, and be sure to check the forecast for clear skies. For the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, visit Iceland between September and April. Your guides will take you to the best viewing spots and provide you with all the information you need to understand this natural phenomenon. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an adrenaline junkie, or simply looking for a unique travel experience, Iceland has something for everyone. Book your trip today and get ready to explore this incredible country.

Tips for First-Time Visitors

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, congratulations! You’re in for a treat. This small island nation is packed with natural wonders, from glaciers to geysers to the famous Northern Lights. But before you go, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Navigating Iceland’s Weather

One thing to keep in mind when visiting Iceland is that the weather can be unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to experience rain, wind, and snow all in the same day. So, what should you pack? First and foremost, make sure you have warm layers. This can include thermal underwear, a fleece jacket, and a down coat. You’ll also want a waterproof jacket and pants, as well as sturdy shoes for hiking. It’s always a good idea to check the forecast before heading out, so you can be prepared for whatever weather comes your way.

Renting a Car vs. Guided Tours

When it comes to exploring Iceland, you have a few options. If you’re comfortable driving in snowy conditions and want the freedom to explore at your own pace, renting a car is a great option. You’ll be able to see more of the country and stop whenever you like to take in the scenery. However, if you prefer having a knowledgeable guide and don’t want to worry about navigation, guided tours are available for all of Iceland’s top attractions. These tours can be a great way to learn about the history and culture of Iceland, as well as the geology and wildlife.

Staying Safe and Responsible in Iceland

While Iceland’s natural wonders are breathtaking, they are also fragile. It’s important to be responsible when exploring to ensure that these wonders are preserved for future generations. Stick to designated trails and paths, and never litter. Iceland has a “leave no trace” policy, which means that visitors are expected to take their trash with them when they leave. Respect the wildlife as well, and never approach or disturb animals in their natural habitat. Finally, be aware of changing weather conditions and always prioritize your safety. If a storm is brewing, it’s better to stay indoors and wait it out.

With this guide, you’ll have all the information you need for an unforgettable trip to Iceland. Whether you’re looking for natural wonders, cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, or all of the above, Iceland has something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to see this incredible country for yourself!


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