{{ message }}

Iceland

{{ message }}

Apartment K
Apartment K - dream vacation

Thingholtsstraeti 2-4, Bergstadastraeti 3 and Ingolfsstraeti 1A, Reykjavik

CenterHotel Thingholt
CenterHotel Thingholt - dream vacation

Thingholtsstraeti 3-5, Reykjavik

Iceland (Icelandic: Ísland) is a mountainous island nation in the north Atlantic Ocean, between Europe and North America. Though not part of the continental mainland, the country is considered European. The name of the country – Iceland – is a misnomer: although 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, it has a surprisingly mild climate and countless geothermal hot-spots. It is known as the "Land of Fire and Ice".

Regions

Cities and towns

  • Reykjavík (REYG-ya-veeg) — The capital of Iceland and is the largest city
  • Akureyri (Ahk-oo-rey-rih) — Capital of the North and the largest town outside the Southwest
  • Egilsstaðir (AY-yill-stath-ihr) — Main town in the East, has some of the best weather Iceland has to offer
  • Hafnarfjörður (HAP-nar-FYERTH-er) — Cozy town on the outskirts of the capital region
  • Höfn (HEP'n) — Main town on the southeastern coast
  • Húsavík (HOOS-ah-veek) — One of the world's most reliable whale watching sites during the summer
  • Ísafjörður (EES-ah-FYERTH-er) — Largest town of the Westfjords of Iceland
  • Selfoss (SEL-fos) — South Iceland's largest town, hub of the main agricultural region
  • Stykkishólmur (STICK-is-hole-mur) — Main town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, gateway to the islands of Breiðafjörður

Other destinations

It's a shame most visitors don't stray far from the capital as some of the most memorable sights in Iceland are farther afield. There are many excursions offered by tour companies, readily available from any of the main centres such as Reykjavík and Akureyri. They will fly you around and take you out to the glaciers and to the big volcanoes for a reasonable price. However, the cheapest option is to drive around with a rented car since none of these sites have entry fees.

National parks

  • Þingvellir National Park (pronounced "THING-vet-lihr") - National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. 30 to 50 km (20 - 30 mi) east of Reykjavík. Interesting for a number of reasons: it is the original site of the longest running parliament in the world (the name literally means 'parliamentary fields'), and it's where the North-American and European continental shelf plates are being torn apart.
  • Vatnajökull National Park (VAT-nah-yer-CUDDLE) - Iceland's newest national park was founded in 2008 and includes the former Skaftafell and Jokulsargljufur National Parks. Vatnajökull National Park is Europe's largest national park at 12,000 km2, covering about 12 percent of the surface of Iceland. The park is home to Iceland's highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur, largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and Europe's largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, Dettifoss.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park (SNY-fetls-yer-CUDDLE) - Located on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, this park is home to the ice-covered volcanic crater that was the setting for Jules Verne's book Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Other attractions

  • Blue Lagoon - (Icelandic: Bláa Lónið) (BLAU-ah LONE-eeth) Famous outdoor pool and health centre. The spa is in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, south-western Iceland. It is situated approximately 13 km (8 mi) from the Keflavík International Airport and 39 km (24 mi) from Reykjavík. This geothermal spa in the middle of a lava field with its milky blue water is quite surreal.
  • Mývatn (MEE-fatn) - A lake region near Akureyri in the North of Iceland, Mývatn has an unearthly appearance owing to special types of volcanic craters throughout the lake. There are plenty of activities in this area: Smajfall (desert where sulphuric steam comes out of the ground) and Dimmuborgir (aka the Black City and the Gates of Hell).
  • Gullfoss - The Golden Falls. On the edge of the inhospitable Interior of Iceland about 100 km east of Reykjavík, the river Hvítá plunges down a double cascade to create what many people believe is the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland
  • Geysir - Geothermal hot spot located 10 km west of Gullfoss. Geysir itself (from which the English word "geyser" derives) is no longer reliably active, but fortunately Strokkur next door goes off every five to ten minutes.
  • Jökulsárlón (the Jökulsár Lagoon) - The majestic glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland located near Höfn on Route 1. Breiðamerkurjökull glacier retreated very quickly from 1920 to 1965 leaving this breathtaking lagoon, which is up to 190 m deep. Ice breaks off from the glacier keeping the lagoon stocked with icebergs all year round. The James Bond film Die Another Day was filmed here in 2002.
  • Landmannalaugar - A region of outstanding natural beauty reachable by bus (or 4x4) from Reykjavík. Situated in the Interior, it gives a taste of the uninhabited highlands at Iceland’s core.
  • Þórsmörk (Thor's Mark) - Tucked away between three glaciers, Þórsmörk is an incredibly beautiful and relatively isolated area. Icelanders enjoy camping there in the summer. There are many hiking trails all over the area, which provide breathtaking views of the surrounding glaciers and lava formations. It is only accessible by truck or bus: it is a good idea to inquire about trips to Þórsmörk at a tourist information center.

Understand

Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place if you enjoy strange and desolate landscapes. Because it is so close to the Arctic Circle, the amount of daylight varies dramatically by season. The sun sets briefly each night in June, but it doesn't get fully dark before it comes back up again. In the March and September equinoxes, days and nights are of about equal length, as elsewhere in the world. If you go in December, it's almost 20 hours of darkness. Summer is definitely the best time to go, and even then the tourist traffic is still mild. The midnight sun is a beautiful sight and one definitely not to be missed. It is easy to lose track of time when the sun is still high in the sky at 11PM. Early or late winter, however, can be surprisingly good times to visit. In late January, daylight is from about 10AM to 4PM, prices are lower than in the high season, and the snow-blanketed landscape is eerily beautiful. (Some sites are, however, inaccessible in the winter.)

History

See also: Vikings and the Old Norse

The first people to settle on Iceland were Vikings and sailors from Norway and Denmark. The first known settlement was Reykjavík, with remnants from AD 871. In AD 930 the settlers founded the Alþing, the world's oldest surviving parliament. Iceland was a bridgehead for Viking expeditions to Greenland and Newfoundland. Those settlements became extinct, though.

Norway ruled Iceland until Norway and Denmark were unified in the so-called Kalmar Union in the late 14th century. Iceland remained in the Kalmar Union until it was disbanded in 1814 and Denmark took control. In 1918, Iceland became a sovereign state within Denmark's realm. During the Second World War, one month after Germany occupied Denmark, British forces peacefully occupied Iceland. In 1944, Iceland declared its independence from Denmark.

Iceland has had little immigration. The greatest single influx of foreigners was the Allied occupation during World War II, when British and American soldiers outnumbered Iceland's adult men.

The economy of Iceland is mainly based on fisheries and aluminium smelters. Electricity and heating in Iceland comes from renewable sources: hydroelectric power and geothermal plants.

Iceland had a booming bank sector in the early 2000s, which was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis. Through austerity, devaluation and change of government, Iceland recovered from the recession, and is once again one of Europe's strongest economies.

People

Nordic and Irish people were the first to settle Iceland in the 9th century AD. Tradition holds that the first permanent settler was Ingólfur Arnarson, a Norwegian Viking who made his home where Reykjavík now stands. It is thought that Irish monks had temporarily inhabited the island some years prior to this. The Icelanders still basically speak the language of the Vikings.

Iceland has received many immigrants over the last 10 years. In the last 5 years the population of immigrants has doubled. Most of these people (from Eastern Europe and South East Asia) come for employment. Immigrants in Iceland are now well over 10% of the population, giving Iceland a larger proportion of immigrants than Norway and Sweden. Icelanders also continue to use the old Norse patronymic system, which was used in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Faroe Islands well into the 19th century, until their governments decided that citizens should adopt a surname.

Climate

Despite its name, Iceland has surprisingly mild winters for a country at its latitude owing to the warming effect of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, especially when put into comparison with the Russian one, or even that of New England or the Midwestern United States. Iceland enjoys a maritime temperate climate; its winters are often compared to those of the Pacific Northwest, although the winter winds can be bitter. However, the rapidly changing weather has given rise to the local saying: 'If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes!' It's the kind of place where it's not unusual to get rained on and sunburned at the same time. Some Icelanders believe that if the winter is hard and long then the summer will be good and warm. The summers are usually cooler and more temperate than elsewhere at the same latitude (the effect of the ocean again); 20 to 25°C is considered quite warm.

Holidays and festivals

  • Christmas: Follows the dates of the Western church. Stores are traditionally closed on Christmas Eve (24 December), Christmas day (25 December), New year's eve (31 December) and New year's day (1 January).
Icelanders have 13 jule lads. Historically, the jule lads were pranksters who redeemed themselves by giving children presents. Each jule lad has its own day, with the first one coming to town on 12 December. Epiphany (icelandic: Þrettándinn) is celebrated with bonfires and firework displays. On this day, Icelanders play the roles of elves and hidden people.
  • Easter: Follows the dates of the Western church. Stores are traditionally closed on Good Friday (friday before easter), Easter and Pentecost (49 days after Easter). The following days have Icelandic traditions:
  • Bolludagur - Held on an Monday, 7 weeks prior to Easter. An festival where Icelanders eat puffed buns filled with jam and whipped cream. Traditionally, children are allowed to spank their parents before they leave their bed and are given an puffed bun instead.
  • Sprengidagur - Held on a Tuesday, 7 weeks prior to Easter. A festival where Icelanders are expected to eat salted meat and yellow peas.
  • Öskudagur/Ash Wednesday - Held on an Wednesday, 7 weeks prior to Easter. On this day, children dress in costumes and sing for candy. This is the Icelandic equivalent of the U.S. Halloween.
  • Sjómannadagurinn (Seamen's day): Held on the first Sunday in June. A national holiday where Icelanders go to the nearest harbor to celebrate with seamen.
  • Þjóðhátíðardagurinn (Icelandic National day): Held on 17 June. Stores are traditionally closed on this day. The celebrations typically start with an parade and speeches, followed by less formal celebrations.
  • Verslunarmannahelgi (Workers weekend): Held on the first weekend of August. This is typically the largest holiday in Iceland. Shops are traditionally closed. Icelanders flock to outdoor festivals held across the country.

Get in

Visas

Iceland is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.

By plane

Iceland is easily reached via air and the main international airport is Keflavík (IATA: KEF), located in the southwest of the country about 40 km from Reykjavík. The airport itself is spartan; if you have a lengthy layover you should bring books or other forms of entertainment.

Iceland is not in the EU. This means arriving passengers arriving from outside Iceland whose final destination is Iceland or who have to recheck baggage will have to go through customs controls at the port of entry (usually at Keflavík), regardless of place of origin. However, a duty-free store is present in the arrivals baggage claim area, and one can purchase duty-free products when in transit to the European mainland.

An airport transfer bus service (called the FlyBus) runs between the airport and Reykjavík bus terminal (kr 1950 one way, 45 minutes; kr 3,500 return, as of August 2011). For kr 2500 one way (kr 4,500 return; as of August 2011) you can purchase a Flybus+ trip which includes drop-off (and pick-up, if requested the day before) at a select list of hotels in the Greater Reykjavík Area [1]. Even if you're not staying at one of these hotels they might be within walking distance of where you want to go, so depending on your destination using the Flybus as a personal taxi service may be economical.

Another great option is to take the bus which stops at the Blue Lagoon either to or from the airport, then continues every half hour or so to Reykjavík. (Netbus is the cheapest option.)

A metered taxi from the airport to Reykjavík costs about kr 9500.

The following airlines fly to Keflavík:

  • Nonstop flights on Icelandair are available at the best value from the U.S. and Canada, with gateways in New York City (JFK), Seattle, Boston, Halifax, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Toronto, Denver (May 2012)and Orlando (Sanford). Destinations beyond Iceland include most major European cities (i.e. Amsterdam, Bergen, Berlin, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Helsinki, London, Oslo, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Düsseldorf, and Stavanger), with Icelandair's hub-and-spoke network connecting via Keflavík in Iceland. (Some destinations are seasonal.) You can also have a stopover in Iceland en route to Europe at no additional airfare.
  • Delta Airlines operates between New York City (JFK) and Keflavík.
  • WOW Air, a new Icelandic low-cost airline has flights from KEF to several European destinations: Alicante, Barcelona, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Salzburg, Zurich, Warsaw, Vilnius, Milan, Amsterdam, Paris, Lyon, Copenhagen and London.
  • EasyJet, offers low-cost flights from the UK: London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol, and to Switzerland: Geneva.
  • Germanwings, has seasonal flights from Cologne.
  • SAS offers direct flights from Oslo, with connections to Stockholm and the rest of Scandinavia.
  • Niki and Air Berlin also have seasonal flights to a few destinations in Europe.
  • Norwegian offers direct flights from Oslo.
  • British Airways flies from Heathrow Airport in London.

Scheduled service to Greenland and Faroe Islands is provided by Air Iceland and Atlantic Airways.

Due to lack of competition (especially in low season) or heavy demand (in high season), and the lack of any real low-cost airlines operating to Iceland, getting to Iceland is generally considered expensive. Flexible travelers might consider watching out for offers. The best way to do that is to subscribe to Icelandair's and WOW Air's newsletters. Both airlines tend to send out emails with offers once in a couple of months or so, where you can book somewhat affordable seats. These seats are usually bookable within 12 or 24 hours shortly after the email has been sent out. Besides, it is good to shop around as the other airlines flying to Iceland also have offers occasionally.

By boat

Smyril Line operate a weekly service from Hirtshals in Denmark. The ferry sails in two nights to Seyðisfjörður, on the east coast of Iceland, via Torshavn, in the Faeroe Islands. The price for a trip on Norröna (Smyril Line) can vary depending on where you book (a sales office or on one of their websites in different languages: .fo, .dk, .co.uk, .de, .is, that is the price is different on the different websites). Smyril line sails to Seyðisfjörður from where you can catch a bus to Egilsstaðir from where you can either catch a bus via Akureyri or fly directly to Reykjavík local airport. The bus connection through Akureyri to Reykjavík can only be made in one day on a few days in the summer, when there is an afternoon bus from Akureyri to Reykjavík. Besides, the bus trip will most often cost more than the air fare from Egilsstaðir to Reykjavík.

Get around

By plane

Aircraft in Iceland are like buses or trains elsewhere - they're the main form of internal travel other than the roads. Be warned though, that the ride can be a bit bumpy if you're entering one of the fjords like Akureyri.

Scheduled service to nearby destinations, including Greenland and Faroe Islands, is provided by Air Iceland , Atlantic Airways and Eagle Air.

By car

See also: Driving in Iceland

A car offers the most flexibility for travel around Iceland. Numerous agencies rent vehicles, and ferries allow individuals to bring their own car with them. Rental prices are high - expect to pay at least kr 4000 per day for a two wheel drive vehicle, and upwards of kr 12,000 per day for a four-wheel-drive vehicle; these prices include basic car insurance, but additional insurance may be purchased to protect against damage from gravel or other common mishaps.

There is only need for a four-wheel-drive car in the interior, which is only open in the summer. Renting cars in advance is often cheaper than doing so on-location. Off-road driving is strictly forbidden in Iceland and punishable with fines in the range of kr 300,000 to 500,000. Icelandic nature is sensitive and does not recover easily from tire tracks.

Driving in Iceland is on the right side of the road. Headlights and seat belts for all passengers must be on at all times. There is one main highway, Route 1-Ring Road, that encircles the country. Because of Iceland's ever-changing weather, one should keep extra food and know where guesthouses/hotels are located in case of a road closure.

Most mountain roads are closed until the end of June, or even longer because of wet and muddy conditions which make them totally impassable. When these roads are opened for traffic many of them can only be negotiated by four wheel drive vehicles. The roads requiring four wheel drive (and possibly snow tires) are route numbers with an "F" prefix, e.g. F128.

The general speed limit on Icelandic rural roads is 90 km/h on paved surface and 70 km/h on gravel, in urban areas the general speed limit is 50 km/h. Driving on gravel can be a challenge, and loss of control on cliff-side roads can easily be fatal. Speed cameras are posted around the country, and fines are kr 5,000-70,000. The blood alcohol limit is 0.05%, with a minimum fine of kr 100,000 - don't drink and drive.

Drivers in Iceland should familiarize themselves with road signs and be prepared for Iceland's unique driving conditions. The roads in Iceland are of a high quality, typically made from slightly rough black basalt. There are two signs in particular that foreigners should pay attention to. First, "malbik endar" means that the road changes from a paved road to a gravel road. Slow down before these changes, for one can lose control easily. Also "einbreið brú" means that a one-lane bridge is approaching. Arrive at the bridge slowly and assess the situation. If another car has arrived at the bridge first allow them the right of way.

If you are traveling by road a great site to check is the Iceland Meteorological Office [2] who have an excellent set of pages including the Icelandic Road Administration [3] on all of the main roads.

There are no road tolls on Icelandic roads, except from the Hvalfjardargong tunnel located approximately 30 km north of Reykjavík. For vehicles up to 6 metres, the price is kr 1000, 6-8 metre vehicles pay kr 1200 and drivers of larger vehicles than 8 metres pay kr 2300.

By bus

Scheduled trips between Icelandic towns are operated by Strætó bs. Tours to attractions are provided by scheduled buses from various companies, including Reykjavík Excursions [4], Trex [5], Sterna [6] and NetBus [7]. Long distance bus travel can cost several thousand kronur and is sometimes more expensive than flying. For example, a one way trip from Reykjavík to Akureyri costs kr 9240, while flying costs kr 7500 (as of September 2016). It is possible to go from the eastern part of the country to the western one via bus in one day, but only a few trips are served every day.

Some tours to the interior, in special 4x4 buses, can be cheaper and more relaxing alternative to driving and serve most major locations (e.g. Landmannalaugar, Thorsmork, Aksja). Tours to the interior are only scheduled for the summer months.

A Golden Circle tour is available from Reykjavík which will take you round the Gulfoss waterfall, geysers, the crater and the Mid-Atlantic rift/place of Iceland's first Parliament. Although you don't get much time at each stop, the guide will tell you about Iceland's history and some general information.

The capital area bus system, run by Strætó bs. [8], is an inefficient and expensive mess that can not be relied on. A single fare costs kr 420 (nearly $4). Bus drivers do not give back change, so if all you have on you is a kr 500 bill, do not expect to get the difference back. You can also buy a set of twenty tickets for kr 8,000 from major bus stops, also from the driver (as of September 2016). Once you have paid to the driver, you will not get a ticket, unless you ask for one. If you get a ticket, it is valid for any other buses you take within 75 minutes.

All buses stop running at midnightt, with some stopping earlier, some as early as 6:00PM. Buses start running at 9:30 to 10:00AM on Sundays. Fares to zones 2 and upwards (extending all the way to Höfn and Egilsstaðir) are higher, although all of Reykjavík, Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður, Mosfellsbær, Álftanes and Seltjarnarnes fall within zone one, where the regular fare of kr 420 is valid.

By bicycle

Cycling is a good way to experience Iceland, and provides a very different experience to other means of transport. You should bring your own touring bike, as buying a bike locally can be expensive. Traffic in and out of Reykjavík is heavy, otherwise, it's OK. You can cycle safely on the Ring Road, or take the bike on the buses (which are equipped with bicycle racks) serving the Ring Road and do side trips. However, if going self-supported, considering the weather and conditions, it is strongly advisable to have a previous touring experience.

When cycling in the winter use studded tyres and dress yourself up in lightweight but warm layers. Bicycle maintainance is typically not a concern, brake pads for example tend to last for 12 months or more, depending on the quality of the brakes.

For trips outside of an town or a city, bring food with you. Icelandic towns can be 100-200 km apart. Food that cooks within 10-15 minutes is preferred. Foraging blueberries and herbs is possible, but do not rely solely on that as an food source.

By thumb

Hitchhiking is a cheap way of getting around in Iceland. The country is among the safest in the world, people are quite friendly and the percentage of drivers who do give rides is high, especially in the off-season. However, low traffic in areas outside Reykjavík makes hitchhiking in Iceland an endurance challenge. Even on the main ring-road the frequency of cars is often less than one car per hour in the east. Nearly everybody speaks English and most drivers are interested in conversations.

Avoid hitching after nightfall, especially on Friday and Saturday night. Alcohol consumption is high and alcohol-related accidents are not uncommon.

Hitchhiking into the interior is tough, but everything works if you have enough time - calculating in days, not in hours. For longer distances or less touristic areas be prepared with some food, water and a tent or similar. The weather can be awful and sometimes spoils the fun of this way of traveling.

The HitchWiki website [9] has some advice for hitchhikers.

Carpooling

Check [10] for carpooling options.

ATVs

In the past few years, ATV travel has become popular among adventure travel enthusiasts. Several companies offer ATV tours of various parts of Iceland, check [11]

Talk

See also: Icelandic phrasebook

The official language of Iceland is Icelandic (íslenska), which remains very similar to, although not quite the same as 13th-century Norse (see Vikings and the Old Norse).

Loanwords are shunned, and new words are regularly made for concepts like computers, known as tölva ("number-prophetess"). Icelandic is related to the other Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Faroese), although it is barely mutually intelligible. As Icelandic is a Germanic language like the other Scandinavian languages, speakers of German and Dutch would recognise many cognates, and even English speakers will be able to recognise the odd word or two with some effort.

All Icelanders learn Danish and English in school, though with the exception of the older generations who grew up under Danish rule, proficiency in Danish tends to be somewhat lacking. English, on the other hand, is widely spoken, with most younger people having near native proficiency. Icelandic college students choose a "fourth language" to study, usually Spanish, German, French, or Italian, but proficiency is most often nonexistent. Even though the majority of Icelanders are competent in English, attempts at speaking Icelandic are always appreciated, and learning some basic greetings and phrases in Icelandic will make your trip much smoother.

Icelanders use the comma instead of the dot as a decimal sign for numbers, i.e. 12,000 means 12, not twelve thousand, whereas 12 000 or 12.000 means twelve thousand. Icelanders use both the 24 and 12 hour system, speaking the 12 hour system and using the 24-hour system for writing. Icelanders do not use PM/AM to indicate morning and afternoon. In Icelandic, "half ten" ("hálf tíu") means half past nine (9:30). When speaking to a person not fluent in English it is best not use this form to avoid misunderstanding. Dates can be seen abbreviated in a number of ways, but the order is always day-month-year; 12.7.08, 120708, or 12/07/08 is equivalent to July 12, 2008. Icelandic calendars also indicate the number of the week 1 through 52.

Iceland uses the metric system only. There is limited knowledge of Imperial or US measurements.

In Iceland there is no concept of a ground floor as in the UK. Instead, the entrance level of a building is called the first floor ("jarðhæð"), like in the US. Levels are then counted 1, 2, 3, etc.

Foreign television programmes and films are almost always shown in their original language with subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Icelandic.

See

  • The Gullfoss waterfall is quite spectacular.
  • Geysir, the namesake of all geysers, and its neighbour Strokkur which erupts every five minutes or so.
  • Þingvellir National Park, a beautiful landscape of water-cut lava fields, which is historically important as the site of Iceland's parliament from 930 AD.
  • Vatnajökull glacier is in Southeast Iceland and is Europe's largest glacier.
  • Jökulsárlón, the largest glacier lake in Iceland, is located off Route 1 and part of Vatnajökull glacier.
  • In the darker months (September to April), one may frequently get stunning views of the Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. Northern Lights anywhere away from city lights.

Do

  • The geothermal spa Blue Lagoon is a popular sight and activity. Located between the capital and the main airport, it's also easily accessible to most visitors
  • Iceland offers many hiking opportunities. Should you choose to walk outside of walking paths, strong walking boots which support your ankles are recommended as the terrain is usually craggy lava rock or springy moss with hidden holes!
  • Iceland is not well known for skiing or big ski areas but the town of Akureyri in the north has a great little ski area and the mountains of the Troll Peninsula offer world class terrain for ski touring, ski mountaineering and heli skiing.
  • Ice climbing is great with world class frozen waterfalls and plenty of glaciers.
  • Glacier hiking is one of Iceland´s most popular tourist things to do with the area of Skaftafell in the southeast being the center of activity.
  • Whale watching available all year from Reykjavík and during the summer from Husavik.
  • There are some good opportunities to go snowmobiling and this can provide access to otherwise inaccessible areas.

Buy

Money

The local currency is the Icelandic króna, denoted by the abbreviation "kr" (ISO code: ISK). Although its value collapsed dramatically during the 2008 economic crisis, it has since recovered against the major world currencies. As prices of imported goods rose dramatically following the 2008 economic crisis but have not been reduced since the recovery of the króna, Iceland ranks among the most expensive countries in the world to visit, with some recent surveys suggesting that Iceland has surpassed Norway and Switzerland to become the world's most expensive country.

You will get a better rate of exchange if you buy and sell your króna in Iceland itself. Just about every establishment in Iceland will accept a credit card, including taxis, gas stations, souvenir stands, and even the most remote guest house, so it is not necessary to carry large amounts of Icelandic currency. However, due to the currency's instability some credit cards are still wary of króna transactions, so check with your bank before you go and don't rely entirely on plastic.

Following the 2008 economic crisis, foreign trading in the króna has been restricted, so you may struggle to get króna notes in your home country.

Costs

Getting to Iceland can be done fairly cheaply: Icelandair and WOW Air both offer many excellent fares and promotions, and Keflavík International Airport will soon welcome the European low-cost airline, EasyJet.

However, as soon as one steps off the plane the situation changes quite drastically - prices in Iceland can be vastly higher than in other parts of Europe due to the high import duties and the 25.5% VAT rate, particularly for alcohol, foreign foods, clothing, etc. For example, many retail goods can be 3-4 times more expensive than in North America.

The difference in prices between Iceland and the rest of Northern Europe is much less; petrol is cheaper, for example.

Useful discount card schemes exist for tourists, the most significant being Reykjavík City Card, operated by the City of Reykjavík.

When shopping for food or other basic necessities, look for the Bónus. Netto or Krónan shops, as they offer considerably lower prices than the others. Downtown Reykjavík is also home to several second-hand stores like Red Cross and Salvation Army, which can come in handy for buying cheap warm layers.

Expect to spend kr 700-1200 on a pint of beer or glass of wine, kr 1700-2200 on a pizza for one person, kr 350 on a city bus ride and kr 350-600 for a coffee or espresso drink.

Cigarettes cost around kr 950 for a packet of 20. Be aware that the law in Iceland states that cigarettes must not be visible in shops, however most gas stations, supermarkets and newsagents sell them.

Tipping

In Iceland tipping is not practiced. In rare cases an attempt to leave a tip may be seen as insulting, so instead consider offering verbal praise for a job well done. Some Icelandic companies have started having a tipping jar next to the cash register but these are generally ignored.

Shopping

Typical Icelandic products that make good souvenirs include:

  • Icelandic wool products. Icelandic sheep are a unique breed that produce a soft and durable wool, and Icelandic woolen goods (hats, gloves, etc.) are soft and warm; don't just buy them for other people if you plan to visit the interior.
  • Arts and crafts. Iceland has a huge number of great little craft shops that sell everything from musical baskets and wonderful weird porcelain sculptures to paintings, glasswork, and jewelery. The National Galleries tend to carry the same artist's work in the gift shops rather than the usual mass-marketed products found in so many other museums.
  • Local music. There is a plethora of interesting local music CDs (beyond just Björk and Sigur Rós) worth hunting for. Obscurities worth picking up include Eberg, Hera [12], Retro Stefson, FM Belfast, Worm is Green, Múm, Singapore Sling, and Bellatrix. Be warned that many of these CDs are often available back home as imports for much lower prices. CDs tend to cost kr 1500-2000.

Eat

See also: Nordic cuisine

Icelandic cuisine has changed a lot in the last few decades from involving mainly lamb or fish in some form or other, as the popularity of other types of food has increased. A vegetarian diet is more tricky to maintain but there are several vegetarian restaurants in Reykjavík and vegetarian dishes are widely available at other restaurants.

Distinctively Icelandic foods include:

  • fish
  • harðfiskur, dried fish pieces eaten as a snack with butter (also good with coleslaw)
  • skyr, a yoghurt-like cheese available in flavoured and unflavoured varieties all over the country. Low in fat and high in protein.
  • hangikjöt, smoked lamb
  • smoked lamb sausage
  • svið, singed sheep's head
  • Slátur, consists of lifrarpylsa, a sausage made from the offal of sheep, and blóðmör which is similar to lifrapylsa only with the sheep's blood mixed into it.

Iceland is famous for its whale meat, and is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to eat Minke whale. Whaling has long been a tradition in Iceland, albeit it has become a controversial issue in recent times. However, most restaurants that cater to tourists will sell whale meat, and if you are feeling a little more adventurous some places will serve grated puffin with it if you ask.

During the Þorri season (late January-Early February) many Icelanders enjoy Þorramatur, a selection of traditional Icelandic cuisine which usually contain the following: hákarl (putrefied shark cubes), Sviðasulta (brawn [head cheese] made from svið), Lundabaggi (Sheep's fat) and hrútspungar (pickled ram's testicles). Þorramatur is usually served at gatherings known as Þorrablót. If you find yourself invited to a Þorrablót do not be afraid to (politely) refuse some of the more unpalatable delicacies, as many Icelanders choose to do so as well. Don't worry about going hungry, though, as many of the more "normal" foods mentioned above are almost always available too. If uncertain which is which, do not be afraid to ask the caterers for assistance.

A similar event to Þorrablót is Þorláksmessa, celebrated on 23 December each year. During this day you might find yourself invited to skötuveislur where cured skate is served. As with Þorrablót, you can politely refuse to partake in the skate (other type of fish is usually served alongside it for the less adventurous). A word of warning though, the pungent smell that accompanies the cooking of cured skate is very strong and sticks to hair and clothing very easily. Do not wear formal (expensive) clothing at these gatherings, especially not clothing you intend to wear during Christmas.

Any Icelanders' first choice of fast food is usually the pylsa or hot dog. It is usually served with a choice of fried onions, fresh onions, ketchup, mustard and remoulade. It is cheap compared with other fast food staples at around kr 350, and is sold in every one of the small convenience stores/eateries/video rentals/sweet shops that litter Icelandic towns. At least in Reykjavik you can also encounter food trucks and carts selling piping hot lamb meat soup (kjötsúpa). They also have a vegetarian alternative - the same soup minus the meat.

Food prices are particularly high in Iceland - the following sample prices were accurate as of summer 2016:

  • kr 1000 - 2000 for a hamburger.
  • kr 350 - 500 for a hotdog
  • kr 3000 - 6000 for a three-course meal in a restaurant.

Drink

Tap water is safe to drink in Iceland and it is one of the countries with the cleanest water in the world. Coffee is easy to find and is comparable to what is found throughout Europe. Juices are generally imported and made from concentrate.

Alcoholic drinks are very expensive compared to the UK and US - as an example, half a litre of Viking beer in a bar will cost approximately kr 900. Liquor can be purchased at licensed bars, restaurants, or Vínbúðin, the state monopoly (locally known as Ríkið: "the state") liquor bought there is much cheaper than at bars, there you pay kr 350 for the same beer you paid kr 900 for at the bar. The local Icelandic drinks such as Brennivín ("Black death") contain a fairly high alcohol content, so pace yourself while at the bars.

The local beer brands are:

  • Egils: Lite, Gull, Pilsner, Premium, El Grillo
  • Vífillfell: Thule, Gull, Lite, Víking
  • Bruggsmiðjan : Kaldi
  • Ölvisholt Brewery: Skjálfti
  • Ölgerð Reykjavíkur: Gullfoss

For visitors arriving by air, there is a duty free store for arriving passengers where they can buy cheap alcohol (at least cheap compared to Iceland). To find the duty free store just follow the Icelanders. No Icelander in their right mind will pass the duty free store upon arrival!

Be sure to not exceed the allowance which is 1L strong alcohol and 1L light wine (less than 22%) or 1L strong and 6L of beer. The strong alcohol can be exchanged for either 1L light wine or 6L beer.

The drinking age in Iceland is 18 for all alcoholic beverages. But you'll have to be 20 or older to buy alcoholic beverages.

Sleep

If you're visiting in summertime you won't regret bringing an eye mask with you. During the height of summer there is no actual darkness and in the north, the sun might just dip for a few minutes below the horizon.

For travel during the high season (July and August), and even in September, reserving a month or more in advance can help ensure that you find suitable and affordable accommodation. Reserving later can put you at risk of having to take more costly accommodation.

The hotels are usually fairly basic around the island but you can usually get a room even in August just by phoning them up and reserving it before you get there. They are very clean and well maintained, light and airy with nothing at all that could even remotely be considered 'dingy'. They are expensive though. Fosshotels is a chain of 12 hotels located throughout Iceland, close to the island's most treasured nature spots and major cities of Iceland. The most popular hotel is Fosshotel Nupar, located in by the National Park Skaftafell. The accommodation in Fosshotel hotels is diverse and Scandinavian breakfast buffet is always included. Fosshotels are part of Hotels of Iceland. Icelandair Hotels include the Edda [13] summer hotels and the Icelandair hotels. Icelandair Hotels are upscale, Scandinavian style hotels located in most major cities of Iceland. Most notable is the Nordica on the outskirts of downtown Reykjavík.

Guesthouses are between hotels and hostels in prices and services. At some times if travelling in groups the guesthouses can be cheaper than the hostels. Guesthouses will usually have more space than a hostel with a shared bathroom that is cleaner and less crowded. Icelandic Farm Holidays: the members are farmers who offer accommodation to travellers in their homes, guesthouses, country-hotels and cottages. The association was founded in 1980 and from 1990 Icelandic Farm Holidays has been a fully licensed tour operator and a travel agent. The accommodation is diverse; made up beds in four different categories, with or without private bathroom, sleeping bag accommodation, cottages and camping. Some of the farms offer also various recreation; horse riding, fishing, hunting, sailing, swimming, glacier tours, golf, etc. You can grab their brochure from tourist information centres or find it on their webpage. It is very informative and lists all farms, the services they provide, at what time of the year and contact information. It is best to call in advance to book, especially in the summer.

Iceland has many hostels throughout the entire country. Thirty-seven of them belong to Hostelling International Iceland [14] and it is best it to buy the international membership card (if you do not have it already), if you are staying for four or more nights at HI hostels in Iceland or abroad within the next 12 months. Bring your bedlinen or sleeping bag to avoid extra costs.

If you're travelling on a budget, camping is your best bet. There are sites located throughout the country, especially at places you'd want to visit. They range from fully-equipped (hot showers, washing machines, cooking facilities) to farmers' fields with a cold-water tap. Expect to pay kr 500-1000 per person per night. If you intend to camp in Iceland you must be prepared for the cold, 3-season sleeping bags are essential and an inner. Thick pyjamas and a warm hat are also recommended! A bedding roll is also useful as you may end up sleeping on very rough ground. Don't wait until last minute to find a place to camp. Campers and mobile homes have become immensely popular among Icelanders and they take up a lot of space. You could arrive at a large camping ground that's so filled up with campers and mobile homes that you'll have no place to pitch your tent.

Trekkers will need to use some of the mountain huts, either government or privately-run. These range from dormitory accommodation to fully-staffed facilities. Booking ahead is likely to be necessary at popular times of year (and they may only be accessible in summertime).

Don't bother attempting to sleep in the Keflavík Airport overnight. It's far better to find a hotel in Keflavík or Reykjavík before arrival. If there are no flights to be serviced in the middle of the night (which is most often the case) the airport is closed for a few hours at night and you might have to stand outside in the rain and wind.

Work

Unemployment in Iceland is rising and the wages are crashing, right now Iceland is not a place to come in hopes of finding work. Work permits are required for citizens of most countries. The exceptions are citizens of the Nordic Countries (Greenland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Åland Islands, Finland) and EU/EEA countries. There are no restrictions on the latest entrants into the EU.

Work permits can be extremely difficult to get if you do not come from any of the aforementioned countries, as Iceland has a relatively strict immigration policy and employers are obligated to consider Icelandic or EU citizens above all other applicants. As a small nation, a great deal of emphasis is placed on family ties and personal relationships; therefore it can be difficult to find a job in Iceland without personally knowing someone in a company.

Beware of offers for contracted work in Iceland. Your wage levels may be lower than average and your rights may be affected. Iceland is a highly unionized society with over 90% of the workforce in labour unions.

A great resource is the Directorate of Labour website.

Stay safe

Emergency phone number: 112

Iceland is one of the safest places in the world, so there is almost no chance of getting robbed or harassed. This, however, excludes Reykjavík, which has begun to suffer instances of petty theft and night-time violence. Use common sense when sampling the night life and be alert.

Nature

The greatest dangers to tourists in Iceland are found in the nature. Always do what the signs tell you to do. If there are no signs, use common knowledge. Every year, quite a few tourists get hurt, even killed, in the mountains or on the seas, usually after given, unheeded warnings. For example, do not approach a glacier front, big waves on the coast, or a big waterfall unless you know what you're doing, and do not walk on glaciers without proper training and equipment. Iceland is a volcanically active country and you can get caught in an eruption, but chances of that are extremely low.

When hiking or skiing, be prepared for a sudden shift in the weather, as these can happen very quickly in Iceland. If unsure about conditions, ask locals or go on a guided tour. Icelanders are taught to respect nature's power and take care of themselves outdoors in the wilderness from childhood, so you usually won't find fences or warning signs even at the most dangerous places.

Driving

Driving around Iceland can be difficult or even dangerous. Inform yourself of local conditions and make sure your vehicle and driving skills are up to the task. Be aware that many roads (even parts of the main country road) are unpaved and can turn into slippery mud during the summer. There have been a number of instances where foreigners, unprepared for Icelandic roads, have had accidents, some of them fatal. Since the roads are very quiet and the distances between settlements great, some Icelanders abuse this by speeding considerably. Sheep sometimes roam near the roads or even on them, so always have your eyes open and be on the lookout for sheep, as they tend to wait for cars before crossing the roads.

Check out the following website for up-to-date road-condition information: [15].

Road numbers starting with an F are for 4x4 vehicles only, and are usually simple dirt paths made by a road scraper and it's not uncommon that river crossings are required. Many F-roads are closed due to extremely bad road conditions from October to mid-June. Non-4x4 vehicles are prohibited on these roads.

Speed limits on highways are 90 km/h on paved roads and 80 km/h on unpaved roads.

Rules and regulations

Rules and regulations in the traffic are generally the same as in the rest of Europe. Foreign visitors should be aware that police controls are common and that fines are very high, and should take special note of the following rules:

The give way rule is universal. On roads without the "Yellow Diamond" sign, all traffic from your right hand side has the right of way; you must yield to traffic from any road to your right, except from private areas such as parking lots. Headlights are mandatory even during daylight.

The general speed limit is 90 km/h in the country side and on motorways, and 50 km/h in urban areas.

There are no specific rules for change of speed limit (as in some other countries) when driving conditions change. The driver is expected to adjust speed downward to a safe level in for instance fog, heavy rain or snow.

Don't drink and drive. Your blood alcohol concentration must not exceed 0.05%. One small beer can be enough. This rule is strictly enforced and violators risk a minimum fine of kr 100,000, a long (or even indefinite) suspension of the driver's licence and prison time.

On typical Icelandic two-lane road with a narrow shoulder, overtaking is only allowed on long straightaways with plenty visibility. Overtake only if really necessary, consider alternatives like taking a short break.

Using one's vehicle horn is considered impolite and should only be used in an emergency.

Right turn on red is illegal.

Do not stop on a highway: find a pull-out (sometimes marked with a blue sign with a white 'M'), a designated parking area (blue sign with a white 'P'), a picnic area, or a farmer's road. Stopping on a road with a 90-km speed limit is dangerous and illegal, yet you are bound to see stupid tourists doing this.

Drugs

The Icelandic Narcotics Police has a very strict policy on drugs; minimum fine for possession of under 1 gram (3/100 of an oz.) of any illegal substance can result in a fine of over kr 70,000.

Stay healthy

The medical facilities in Iceland are good and subsidized for European Union citizens with an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and passport. Scandinavian citizens must show a valid passport to get subsidised medical costs.

Should EU citizens not have the necessary documents then they will be charged for the full cost of the medical treatment. Citizens outside of EU should check if their travel insurance covers medical treatment.

Infectious diseases aren't a problem in Iceland. Inoculations aren't required except if you are arriving from countries that suffer from infectious diseases like cholera.

The biggest threat to your health is likely to be accidental injury or bad weather. Always make sure you have more than adequately warm and waterproof clothing. Selection of appropriate clothing is especially important in Iceland and can even be a matter of life and death. Exercise extra caution in geothermal areas: What may appear to be solid ground can sometimes not be so solid, breaking from underneath your feet with you falling into potentially deadly boiling water.

The water quality in Iceland is excellent and tap water is always drinkable.

The hygiene in public kitchens is very good, and food poisoning rarely happens to tourists.

Respect

  • Some Icelanders claim to believe in the hidden people — called huldufólk — and a few even claim to have seen them. They are analogous to elves, but are often considered separate. There is even a museum in Reykjavík devoted to the hidden people. This is an ancient Icelandic belief and most Icelanders respect the tradition. Skepticism thus can appear rude.
  • It is customary for one to take one's shoes off after entering private homes. In case your hosts do not mind, they will say so.
  • Punctuality is not as important in Iceland as it is in many other northern European countries. People may often not appear until 15 minutes later than the stated time, and even much later than that for parties or other social gatherings.
  • When speaking English, Icelanders may use the word fuck more often than expected by Anglophones. This is because brusque opinions are commonly expressed and should not be taken badly and also, the Icelandic equivalent of this word is not as strong a swear word as in English.
  • If you feel an urge to discuss the global economic crisis, keep in mind that it is an emotive issue - Iceland has suffered more than many in the banking crisis and ordinary people have lost a great deal of purchasing power
  • It is not uncommon for an Icelander to ask a foreigner for his or her opinion of Iceland as a first question. The standard question is: "How do you like Iceland?" This is in large due to Iceland being a very small country, but it is also a country-wide inside joke of sorts. It is often best to be positive, as many Icelanders are likely to be offended by negative views of their country and thus get defensive.
  • Iceland is one of only a few countries with an active whaling industry, and if you choose to assert an anti-whaling position expect some Icelanders to have strong pro-whaling opinions and be well prepared to argue the issue and do not expect to win the argument.

Connect

Telephone

In case of emergency call 112 from any phone.

Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you which services you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard, rescue teams, civil protection and protection against child abuse) and for your location.

Phone numbers for non-urgent calls differ to where you are situated in the country. Calls for non-urgent medical services in the capital region should be made on 1770.

Directory enqueries (number lookup) of Icelandic phone numbers are provided by the Icelandic telecom, in the telephone number 1818.

The Icelandic country code is 354. When calling Iceland from overseas, dial your international access code (00 from most of Europe, 011 from the US and Canada or "+" from any mobile phone) followed by subscriber number. Iceland does not use area codes.

Payphones are not common, due to widespread use of mobile phones.

Costs for calls from a landline phone are based on a dial-up fee along with a fee for each minute. The dial up fee for all domestic phones is typically kr 3, each minute to landlines costs kr 10 and each minute to GSM costs around kr 21 (as of December 2014).

Mobile

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are Icelandic telecom, Vodafone and Nova. The former two (Icelandic telecom and Vodafone) have use of 2G services, and all of them have use of 3G and 4G services. 2G coverage is very well developed, covering most of the country. 3G has less coverage and 4G covers only the most populated parts of the country.

Given that the call is from domestic numbers, there is no charge for calls that you recive on your handset.

Pay as you go (prepaid) plans are available. Credit the phone up with a top-up card, at an ATM or at the website of your telecommunications company; there is no contract and no bills. Some operators also offer packages which mix texts, phone calls and/or data at affordable rates. These packages can come with your intial top-up or deducted from your balance.

If you have an unlocked GSM-compatible handset (dual- and tri-band phones with the frequencies 800, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz are compatible) you can purchase a SIM card from phone outlets.

Costs for calls from an mobile are based on a dial-up fee along with an fee for each minute. The dial-up fee for all domestic numbers is typically kr 10, each minute to all domestic phones costs kr 20 and kr 15 for each text message. The cost for internet access varies more: kr 6.6-13 per megabite (as of December 2014).

Internet

Internet hot spots can be found at resturants, cafés and airports. For the customers of those places, the internet is free of charge.

A large portion of Iceland is covered by 3G coverage. 3G data services should roam seamlessly onto Icelandic networks. USB data cards that offer connectivity to 3G or 4G are available from the icelandic telecommunications companies. 4G is also slowly being rolled out across larger towns in Iceland.

The Amateur Traveler talks to Dave Grenewetzki about his recent trip to Iceland. Taking advantage of the weakness of the Icelandic economy Dave and his family drove the ring road around Iceland and visited places with great names like the waterfalls Svartifoss, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss and Gulfoss, Lake Myvatn and the dark castles of Dimmuborgir, the glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon, the geysers of Geysir and Strokkur, the geothermal activity of Namaskard pass, the university town of Akureyri, the hobbit-like town of Glaumbaer. They went bird watching at Ingolfshofdi, took in the baths at the Blue Lagoon, took the free welcome walking tour of Reykjavik with Jonas, zigzagged between icebergs, hiked to Thingvellir, and took in the tourist attraction of the Midlina bridge.
For me, the beauty of travel is how even mundane days at home are enlivened by those memories. Random snippets of news or information send my mind to intriguing places I've visited and experiences I had there. When I noticed that my jeans were made in Jordan, my mind leaped to Petra, the city carved into rocks. I visited a couple of years ago during a trip to Israel. When I read a story about...

Hear about travel to the Westfjords of Iceland as the Amateur Traveler talks to Katie Hammel of Vaitor.com about her trip to this remote region of the island.

Packing for Arctic Circle Trail

Packing for the Arctic Circle Trail

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Preparing to hike Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail? Here are some useful tips for packing and planning your trek based on my Greenland adventure in August 2015.

NOTE: This post is part of a series. ► Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

When I first began planning to hike Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail, it was difficult to find useful details online. There were a few blog posts about the trek, but they were written in German or Danish.

So this is my attempt to remedy that situation and make the hike more accessible to English speakers who are interested in exploring this beautiful and lesser-known area of the world on foot.

Located about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the typical route stretches 102 miles (165km) from Kangerlussuaq International Airport to the fishing village of Sisimiut on the West coast.

It’s possible to lengthen the trip to 124 miles by starting from Greenland’s ice cap for those who are up for the challenge.

Recommended Experience Level

While most of Greenland is covered with ice, the Arctic Circle Trail is ice-free during the summer. Passing through low valleys covered by many lakes, it’s a relatively easy walk with regards to elevation.

The difficulty comes with packing all your own food and supplies to last at least 10 days. Plus a complete lack of civilization nearby in the event of an unexpected emergency.

Arctic Circle Trail hikers must have experience surviving alone in the wilderness, understanding their own limits, reading weather patterns, and the ability to navigate unfamiliar terrain using a map and compass.

At the hike’s midpoint, you can be 5 days and 50 miles away from any type of civilization. You’re on your own out there. It’s not a trek for beginners, but you don’t need to be a serious mountaineer either.

Hiking in Greenland

Hiking in Greenland

How Long Does It Take?

Depending on fitness levels and the specific route chosen, the traditional 102 mile long Arctic Circle Trail from Kangerlussuaq Airport to Sisimiut can take anywhere between 7-10 days to complete.

To start from the ice cap like I did, plan for an additional 2-3 days.

It’s important to note that Greenland is a wild and unpredictable place. If you think you can hike the trail in 10 days, make sure to include 2-3 extra buffer days for delays due to weather, injury, exhaustion, or canceled flights.

Seasons & Weather

While hiking the Arctic Circle Trail is possible in the winter, it’s far more difficult & technical. The primary hiking season is from June to September when the trail is free of snow.

Greenland has a mosquito problem. Swarms can be downright maddening from June until mid August when the first frost finally kills them off. I started hiking August 12th and had to break out my mosquito head net a few times.

The trail is extremely muddy & boggy in June after the snow melts with river crossings becoming deeper and more dangerous. In September, the risk of snow storms is higher as winter begins.

In August, the air temperature fluctuated between 60’s (F) in the day to 30’s (F) at night, with one afternoon of snow flurries.

Over the 10 days I was on the trail, I experienced steady rain for 3 of them.

Kangerlussuaq Airport

Kangerlussuaq Airport

Flying To Greenland

Flying to Greenland is the most expensive part of this epic trekking adventure. Air Greenland offers regular flights to Kangerlussuaq from Reykjavik, Iceland and Copenhagen, Denmark. So you’ll need to get yourself to one of these cities first.

I flew to Greenland from Copenhagen for $1032 USD round trip. Now if you’re hiking the Arctic Circle Trail from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut, you’ll also need to get yourself back to Kangerlussuaq in order to leave the country.

The one-way flight from Sisimiut to Kangerlussuaq costs about $200 USD.

If you need help searching for international flights to Iceland or Denmark, make sure to read my popular post about How To Find Cheap Flights.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation in Greenland before and after the hike is expensive. A single room in Kangerlussuaq or Sisimiut will set you back about $100 – $200 USD. A hostel dormitory bed costs between $30 – $40 USD.

However both towns also have campgrounds available with bathrooms.

Kangerlussuaq Accommodation

Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel Old Camp Hostel Polar Lodge (where I stayed) Hotel Kangerlussuaq

Sisimiut Accommodation

Sisimiut Youth Hostel Seaman’s House Hotel Sisimiut (where I stayed)

Trail Hut

Inside a Trail Hut (Sleeps 6!)

Trail Huts & Camping

Spread along the route are a series of 9 basic wooden huts with bunks that are free for hikers to use. Packing a tent is highly recommended though, as some huts only sleep 4 and could possibly be full when you arrive.

Bad weather may also prevent you from reaching one of the huts in time, so having a backup plan for shelter is very important for your safety in Greenland’s vast wilderness.

Due to personal preference, I spent most nights wild camping. However I did sleep in 2 of the trail huts during my hike, and took an afternoon nap in a third. If you’re hiking from hut to hut each day, the full journey (from Kangerlussuaq airport, not the ice cap) will take 10 days.

How Many Hikers?

Only 300 people hike the trail every year, so while you may run into other hikers, it’s possible to go days without seeing a fellow human depending on which month you decide to attempt the trek.

I met about 10 hikers on the Arctic Circle Trail over 10 days. Most were German or Danish, and one other American. Many people hike this route for the solitude, so walking together and chatting for a few miles before breaking off on your own again was the standard routine.

Breakfast in Greenland

Tasty Trekking Breakfast

Food & Water

The traditional Arctic Circle Trail route takes 7-10 days for most people to complete. So hikers need to pack at least 10 days worth of food to be safe. That’s a lot of food!

At 1-2 pounds (16-24 ounces) of food per day, that’s about 10-20 pounds of food on your back. To keep it as light as possible, I recommend buying dehydrated backpacker meals and bringing them with you to Greenland.

While there is a supermarket in both Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut, they don’t stock dehydrated meals. They do have ingredients for trail mix — but to be safe I’d also prepare your own trail mix before you arrive. It will be cheaper and you’ll have more options.

Water on the other hand is pretty easy to take care of, as there are countless freshwater lakes, ponds, and streams along the Arctic Circle Trail. So with careful planning you can get by with just a single Nalgene bottle. No filter is required either! Of course there is always a risk of water contamination, but it’s pretty low out here. Most hikers don’t use one.

My Greenland Trekking Diet

  • Muesli/oatmeal with wild berries & brown sugar for breakfast
  • Trail mix plus wild mushrooms/berries for lunch & snacks
  • Canned fish sandwich and dried fish jerky for dinner
  • Chocolate & Greenlandic Schnapps for dessert

(I brought dehydrated meals, but couldn’t use them due to a problem explained below)

Camping in Greenland

Wild Camping in Greenland

Packing List

50 Liter Backpack Carbon Trekking Poles Waterproof Backpacking Boots Hiking Gaiters Cuben Fiber Tarp Tent 40 Degree Sleeping Bag Inflatable Sleeping Pad Emergency Space Blanket Waterproof GoreTex Shell Headlamp 32 Ounce Nalgene Bottle Jetboil Zip Cooking System Knife & Waterproof Matches First Aid Kit Heavy Duty Garbage Bags (4) Mosquito Head Net Long Underwear Hiking Pants Hiking Shorts Hiking Shirts (2) Wool Socks (3) Fleece Top Ballcap & Sunglasses Sunscreen & Lip Balm Mosquito Repellent Winter Hat & Gloves River/Camp Sandals Paper Maps & Compass iPhone 6 & Camera Gear

Maps & GPS

You’ll want to buy a series of 3 paper topographical maps that cover the entire length of the Arctic Circle Trail. While you can generally buy these at the Polar Lodge in Kangerlussuaq, it’s better to get them in advance because in Greenland, things run out of stock easily.

You can try to pre-order the Arctic Circle Trail maps from Greenland Tourism. The trail is marked with occasional rock cairns along the way, but there are a few places where you can still lose the trail, and in bad weather, the cairns aren’t always super visible.

In addition to the paper maps, I also packed my iPhone 6 with a LifeProof FRĒ Power Case running Gaia GPS and pre-dowloaded maps. There is no cell-service on the trail, but you can still use your phone as a GPS device.

I’ll be explaining how to do this in a future article.

What Would I Do Different?

After hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in August 2015, there are a few things I’d do differently if I decide to return. Hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes!

My 40 degree (F) sleeping bag was a bit too cold for wild camping, and I was forced to sleep in my clothing and use a space blanket for a few chilly nights. I’d probably want something closer to 0 or 10 degrees.

I packed a great lightweight and efficient Jetboil stove that became useless when I couldn’t buy fuel canisters for it in Kangerlussuaq. The whole town ran out of the type I needed.

Shipping propane to Greenland is difficult because it’s not allowed on airplanes, so it must arrive by boat. Because of this, I’d recommend bringing a multi-fuel stove instead. It allows you to boil water with a few different types of fuel.

Sure, I made due with cold food for 10 days anyway, but strong hot coffee and warm dinners have a wonderful way of re-energizing you on long-distance hikes. They were missed.

Guidebook & More Details

If you’re planning to hike the Arctic Circle Trail I highly recommend picking up the book Trekking In Greenland by Paddy Dillon.

It goes into far more detail than I can cover in a blog post, and it’s what I used to plan my own adventure. Good luck, and have fun! ★

NOTE: This post is part of a series. ► Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

READ NEXT: My Favorite Camera For Travel Photos

Do you have any other Arctic Circle Trail questions?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Park Slope Brownstones

The following branded content post is brought to you by Airportag. As a new brand ambassador for this company, I’m excited to introduce these new products to you! I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them as much as I have. Also, some of these links are affiliates, which, if you purchase, will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.

One of the best things about settling down is getting to decorate a home with items that represent my my travels. I’m moving in five days (eek!) and I’ve been perusing the web nonstop for unique items that will reflect my interest in travel.

I’ve never been much of a souvenir buyer (my photos are my souvenirs!) so in some ways, I’m starting with a blank canvas.

Here’s the thing — I don’t want my place to look like a giant travel museum. I’m multidimensional — we all are. Travel should be just one of a variety of interests and curiosities that we cultivate.

The solution? Primarily subtle decor with a few well-placed, quirky travel pieces. I think that the kitchen and bathroom in particular are the best places to go a bit crazier than usual.

I’ve been working with the company Airportag over the past few months, and in addition to cool travel shirts, they also have a lot of cool travel and airport code-themed quirky accessories for your home.

Here are some of my favorite home decor items that you can get on the site: Airportag Airplane Shower Curtain

Airplane Shower Curtain

I am kicking myself that I didn’t see this before buying my own shower curtain for my all-black-and-white bathroom. This shower curtain strikes all the right notes — it’s fun, it’s patterned, it’s black and white! (They also have it in pink and blue.)

(Also going up in that bathroom, eventually? A black and white map of Bangkok and a black and white photo I took of the superkilen in Copenhagen.)

Airplane Shower Curtain — $66

Airportag Amsterdam Magnet

Airport Code Refrigerator Magnet

Refrigerator magnets are one place where I think you don’t have to worry about subtlety — feel free to go crazy! I think a collection of magnets from your favorite cities would be nice, and this Amsterdam magnet would be nice paired with a few others.

These also make great cheap, low-key gifts for friends who are into travel.

Airport Code Magnets — $4.90 each

Airportag Jet Lagged Blanket

Jet Lagged Blanket

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home from Europe and have ended up sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, just trying to keep my eyes open past 10:00 PM. I love this jet lagged blanket because it’s black and white and recalls the designs of old-fashioned departure boards with a modern,tongue-in-cheek saying.

Airportag also has blankets with passport stamps, world maps, European airport codes, and more.

Travel Blankets — from $39.90

Airportag Edinburgh Canvas

Airport Code Canvases

I love canvases because they’re lightweight, tough, and you don’t have to worry about framing them. I saw this Edinburgh canvas and fell in love with the purple color! Not to mention that Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities.

I think these would look best stacked up in a row of three. Choose three of your favorite cities, or three cities with a theme. Here’s an example:

I think they’d look good in a hallway. Lucky for me, my new place has a long, gallery-style hallway leading to the bathroom!

Airport Code Canvases — $39.90 each

Airportag a href=

Flag Pillows

Pillows are one place in the house where I wouldn’t want to go too outlandish — but one matching, well-chosen pillow on an otherwise solid couch is a good mark of style. A Union Jack pillow is classic, but if that’s a little too Spice Girls for you and you still like those colors, how about the Norwegian flag? It would look great on a navy or blue sofa.

Note that these are all pillow covers. You’ll need to buy a pillow separately.

Flag Pillow Covers — from $24.90

Airportag Passports Poster

Passports Poster

Don’t overlook posters as an adult — just make sure you frame them, ideally with a matted frame! College is over and we’re definitely done with the dorm look. (My dorm was an homage to Paris, Paris sunsets, Paris black and white photography, and the movie Moulin Rouge. My first roommate hung up printouts of U2 and Dave Matthews lyrics. It…was not a fit.)

I really like this passports poster — and it also gives you an opportunity to appreciate your privilege for having a passport that gets you to most places in the world without much trouble.

Passports Poster — from $34.90

Airportag LHR London Mug

Travel Mugs

Mugs are my favorite way to go crazy with decor. I love having friends over and picking out a mug for them based on their personality! (You should see people’s faces when I offer them my “I had sex with an elf in Iceland” mug.)

This way, you can subtly suggest cities that you think your friends would love visiting. You can even take it further — serve tea only in a London mug and coffee in a Mexico City mug.

Travel mugs — $24.90 each

Beyond the Home

Decorating my new place is going to be a long process — I might get the bathroom done quickly, but it will be months before I’ll be able to show you the finished product. Anything else you suggest? I’d love to hear it!

Which of these items would you want in your home?Seven Quirky Travel Accessories for Your New Home

For our monthly photo competitions this year, there is no theme – we just want to see your best travel shots. Enter your image via GuardianWitness and you could win a seven-night ‘Secret Fjords’ self-drive holiday to Iceland for two with Discover the World

From landscape photography to atmospheric shots of a street market, to wildlife and nature – we want you to send us your best travel imagery.

The winning image will be mounted and displayed to the public with the other monthly winners in an end-of-year exhibition at the Guardian offices in London. And digital printers Point 101 will send you a copy of your shot to hang on your own wall.

Continue reading...

roundup

From the stark whiteness of Iceland in winter to the vibrant greens found in sun-kissed Bangladesh, it was all about colour in this month’s roundup of our Pathfinders’ top Instagrams.

Every month we share the most eye-catching and interesting captures from our Pathfinders community. Here are our selections for January.

Istanbul, Turkey

A photo posted by Macca Sherifi (@backpackermacca) on Jan 17, 2016 at 5:01am PST

‘Taken just days after the bombings in Istanbul, this is the everlasting beauty of the Blue Mosque, one of those places that you’ve just got to see with your own eyes regardless of what’s going on around you.’ – Macca, A Brit and Abroad.   Why we like it: We love the angle of this shot, and the way it captures the contrast of the warm glow of the lighting against a backdrop of moody shades.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

 

A photo posted by Dan James | Travel Photography (@danflyingsolo) on Jan 11, 2016 at 9:29am PST

Iceland at the start of the new year was a blanket of snow. I thought it might wash the photos out but the beautiful blues of the rivers make for a stunning contrast.’ – Daniel, Dan Flying Solo.   Why we like it: There’s no doubt that Iceland has some epic landscapes to its name, and this aerial shot showcases just one of them. We like how the contrast in the deep blues against the stark whites help depict the full force of nature. It also makes us feel a little chilly!

Black Rock City, Nevada

A photo posted by A:M (@violetspring) on Jan 22, 2016 at 5:39pm PST

‘Amidst this grape-like haze, this magical moment was captured at Burning Man 2015. During this event, as dusk laid its blanket across the sky it would personify the calm before the storm- allowing moments of beautiful, quiet reflection before nights laced with wickedly wonderful behaviour. It was a personal and spiritual experience that will stay with me always and has taught me the essence of being completely consumed by the moment.’ – A, TRPN.   Why we like it: We love the shades of colour captured in this photo and how they progressively deepen, which gives us a sense of calm amidst the busy event.

Andalucia, Spain

A photo posted by A World to Travel (@aworldtotravel) on Jan 17, 2016 at 3:22pm PST

‘There is some magic in finding the right spot for sunset when you are road tripping your way around a new region. Gibraltar’s presence, a unique UK redoubt in the Southern tip of Spain, stands out as lights dim. So close and yet so far.’ – Inma, A World to Travel.   Why we like it: The contrast in the busy Spanish road against the darkness of the mountains and the (very still) rock of Gibraltar in the background, all bought together under a tremendous sunset. The colours really pop out of this shot.

Hum Hum Waterfall Park, Bangladesh

A photo posted by Alice Teacake (@teacaketravels) on Jan 13, 2016 at 6:35am PST

As we waded knee deep through the fresh waters of the park with our guide, our journey was full of joyous moments as the sun kept popping through the trees’ leaves in the sky. I kept back from the group for a minute to soak the natural beauty of Bangladesh up and snap this uplifting shot.’ – Alice, Teacake Travels.   Why we like it: This capture makes us want to reach for our passports, immediately. We love the way the sun filters into this shot which brings out out the gorgeous greens of the lush forestry and an overall element of fantasy.  

For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.

iPhone GPS Hiking

Using Your Smartphone GPS for Hiking

Travel Tips

Would you be surprised if I told you my favorite piece of backpacking gear is my smartphone? I love using my iPhone’s GPS for hiking in the wilderness.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook & Instagram, you’ll know that I recently returned from an epic trek in Greenland on the Arctic Circle Trail.

There’s no cell-service on this hike. It was a 10 day adventure through remote Greenlandic wilderness. However I was still able to use my iPhone’s built in GPS capabilities to help me navigate the long-distance route.

My battery lasted 7 days before it needed recharging too!

I’ve been using Gaia GPS for hiking trips in places like Turkey, Norway, Israel, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and the United States. It’s a super useful app for adventure lovers.

GPS Hiking App

Gaia GPS in Greenland

Smartphone GPS For Hiking

Did you know that cell service is not necessary to use your smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) chip? However to track your progress effectively without service, you must pre-download maps before the journey.

There are a few different GPS mapping apps out there for smartphones, but my favorite (and the most used) is called Gaia GPS Topo Maps.

This amazing app allows hikers to pre-download different types of maps from around the world for use with your iPhone’s GPS. You can also record altitude, speed, leave waypoints, create tracks, and produce all sorts of other detailed information about your backcountry trips.

Better Than Dedicated GPS Unit?

Why spend hundreds of dollars on a dedicated GPS device for hiking when you can get the same functionality with a $20 app for your smartphone?

Using your phone as a GPS unit saves you money, reduces the amount of weight you pack, and serves multiple purposes (photos, journal, notes, etc.).

It’s a wonderful backup to have along with paper maps, and can save your butt if you happen to lose the trail or get caught in bad weather.

Both have happened to me a few times, and whipping out your phone is far easier than attempting to use regular maps during a raging storm!

GPS Hiking App

Pre-Downloading a Section of Map

Gaia GPS Settings

To get the most out of Gaia GPS, there are few settings you need to be aware of. First, there are many different map layers you can use within the app. The two I use most often are the Open Hiking Map and Google’s satellite view called Imagery + Roads.

These are probably the best maps for hiking. The Open Hiking Map includes basic topographical features along with known hiking trails, while Satellite Imagery gives you a better picture of the landscape.

If hiking somewhere without cell service, make sure to pre-download sections of the map that cover the area where you’ll be.

Pre-downloading maps is explained in the YouTube tutorial below.

Gaia GPS also allows you to record tracks as you hike, but don’t do this unless you have a specific need, because it drains battery life and requires the phone to be powered on the whole time.

I only use the app to confirm my GPS location or navigate in bad weather.

Close the Gaia app after each use (double tap the home button and swipe the app up to close). This prevents Gaia from continually updating your location. Turn the phone off to further reduce battery drain.

iPhone GPS Hiking

Hiking in Norway with the LifeProof FRĒ Power

Protecting Your Phone

As you might already know, I’m a huge fan of the water & shock-proof smartphone cases from LifeProof, and they’re one of my sponsors too.

Using the LifeProof FRĒ POWER gives me double the battery power for long-distance treks like the Arctic Circle Trail.

So when my phone’s battery eventually dies, I simply press a button on the back of the LifeProof case to recharge it completely.

Battery Conservation Settings

While hiking through Greenland for 10 days, my iPhone 6 battery lasted for 7 days using the settings below. I turned off the phone when not in use, and only powered it up to compare my GPS location with the paper maps I carried.

  • Enable Airplane Mode (turns off WiFi/Bluetooth)
  • Close all apps except Gaia
  • General > Usage > Battery Percentage = ON
  • Privacy > Location Services = OFF (except Gaia)
  • Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking = ON
  • Privacy > Motion & Fitness = OFF
  • General > Siri = OFF
  • General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion = ON
  • General > Date & Time > Set Automatically = OFF
  • General > VPN = OFF

One more important tip is to keep your phone warm when it’s cold out, like in a pants pocket. This includes when sleeping too. Nothing drains the battery faster than cold weather! ★

Watch Video: Gaia GPS Tutorial

More Information

Product: Gaia GPS App for iPhone | Android Total Cost: $19.99 USD Useful Notes: Gaia GPS is a pretty big application with many features. You’ll want to set aside at least an hour to learn how to use it.

READ NEXT: Complete Travel Gear Guide

Have any questions about using your phone’s GPS for hiking?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Last week, I waxed poetic about all the things I’m going to miss so dearly when I leave Thailand. It might be a temporary goodbye, but believe me guys, there will be tears. Lots of tears.

Still, in the last few weeks I have started to feel those familiar feelings of longing for home. Not quite homesickness, more just an excitement for my annual summer spent stateside.

Travel has exposed to me to so many cultures, values, and ideas that are vastly different from the ones I was raised with. Some, I’ve absorbed deeply and adopted into my own life. Some, man – they’ve made me appreciative of the place that made me. Generally though, the things I miss from home make up a pretty trivial list. (The one I wrote last week was shorter, but much deeper.) I’m crazy grateful for my international life, but these are the things that I can’t wait to get back to.

Passport

1. Diet Coke. From a Fountain.

Guys, I love Diet Coke. I adore it. I drink Diet Coke for breakfast. I drink it before bed. I’ve been known to write letters to the management of establishments that serve Pepsi products and if I had another pet, I would probably strongly consider naming it DC. When I used to doodle floorplans for my dream house, they always featured a sensible floorplan, plenty of windows, and a built-in Diet Coke fountain in the kitchen. (While I can accept that some may prefer drinking Diet Coke out of a can over a fountain, I am immediately suspicious of the judgment of any person who prefers drinking out of a bottle. I mean really.)

But anyway. What’s the problem, you ask? Coca Cola is one of the most widely distributed products in the world, so finding its zero calorie cousin must be no big deal, right? Wrong. Listen up, Taylor Swift and other Diet Coke lovers – your beverage of choice is rarely available outside US borders. This “Coke Light” or god forbid, “Coke Zero,” situation that caffeine addicts are often subjected on international adventures simply does not cut it, though levels of drinkability does vary by region. What gives? While Diet Coke follows a strict formula everywhere it is made and marketed, according to Coca Cola’s FAQ page, “the sweetener blend used for Coke/Coca-Cola light is formulated for each country based on consumer preference.”

You’ve been warned.

Dad's Cake Diet Coke Cake

Diet Coke Cake

Diet Coke

2. Paying with plastic

I love having every transaction automatically logged and recorded for me, I love racking up points, and I love carrying one piece of plastic rather than a wad of paper and coins. Alas, most of the world is still cash-only, including Koh Tao, where there’s not a single establishment that takes credit cards without a 3-4% fee (and that’s for the very very few hotels and dive shops that take them at all.)

Cayman Islands Currency

3. Soft Bedding

Do you ever think, well, my bed is nice, but wouldn’t it be better to just throw a sheet over the tile floor and pop a pillowcase over a nearby rock? If so, you’re in luck – my travels have taught me that much of the world agrees with you. While I managed to wrangle a decent pillow in my current apartment, my mattress could withstand the attack of a runaway jackhammer.

I know some of you might be thinking, oh, but I prefer a firm mattress! Well that is nice for you, but the situation I am dealing with over here goes far beyond anything on the Tempur-Pedic scale. Literally the most exciting aspect of every weekend getaway I’ve had for the last six months has been the possibility that there might be a Western-style mattress waiting for me at the hotel.

Is it so much to ask to feel like I’m falling asleep in a cloud?

Yellow Gray Bedroom Makeovermy childhood bedroom

4. Throwing toilet paper into the toilet

And letting it flush away never to be seen (nor smelled) ever again. This, I believe, is what Oprah was referring to when she talked about “living your best life.”

Rhum Shack, Hopkins Bay, Belize

5. Roaming the Aisles of Joanne Fabric

I have plenty of hobbies that travel well, including yoga, hiking, reading, and scuba diving. Unfortunately, my sticker-making machine never quite seems to fit into my backpack. But when I’m home, you can often find me in a crafting frenzy, spray painting dozens of tiny plastic sharks in the garage when I should be packing for flight, for a vague and non-specific example. Painting, crafting, baking, more crafting… what I wouldn’t do for a few hours at AC Moore.

Shark Jaws Party Favorsout-of-control crafting

6. Twenty Four Hour Everything

Non US Citizens, did you know in the states you can access 24-hour ATMS, gas stations, Chinese food delivery and even liquor stores? US Citizens, did you know that in other places you can’t?

The first nineteen years of my life were spent in ignorant bliss of the rest of the world’s casual attitudes towards opening hours. I have to admit that here in Southeast Asia things are pretty nocturnal and I’m rarely frustrated by a “we’re closed” sign. Europe is a different story.

Like in Iceland, when we desperately needed ibuprofen and found out that it is only sold in pharmacies, and pharmacies are closed on Sundays, and I was like HELLO HAS NO ONE IN THIS COUNTRY HAD A HANGOVER AFTER A SATURDAY NIGHT GONE RIGHT? Or in Belgium, where I spent a week trying to track down my never-recovered-from-customs shipment of festival supplies and was like, um, I appreciate the beauty of the work life balance you all have clearly achieved by being open for like 4.25 hours per week, but what does a girl have to do to speak to an on-duty postal employee around here. Or in Malta when I tried to fill up a gas tank and return a rental car on a Sunday and was met with raucous laughter at the idea that I would try to achieve such ambitious tasks on what civilized people consider a day of rest.

These stories did not end well for me.

Opening HoursYour opening hours are what?!

7. Spa Pedicure Chairs

I know what you’re thinking. How do I find the strength to get through the day? But I’ve been shocked to learn that in many spas throughout the world, when you get a pedicure, they literally just paint your nails without the slightest bit of attention to the rest of the foot. Not a light buff, not a hint of a scrub, not so much as a dip in one of those space-station whirly tub thrones that $20 mani-pedi salons in Brooklyn are lined wall-to-wall with.

Chaweng Spasthe closest I’ve found in Thailand

8. Insert Food Craving Here

I certainly can’t complain about what’s on my plate here in Thailand. But it’s inevitable that no matter where I am in the world and no matter how much I love the local cuisine, I find myself occasionally craving food only available somewhere else. In this case, home.

When I had some friends from Koh Tao visit my hometown of Albany a while back, I brought them to the grocery store as an important part of my itinerary. Being picky about what I get to eat is a luxury of my life in the states. Want to know exactly what farm your free-range CSA eggs came from? Want to be choosy about what brand of organic Greek yogurt you consume? Want to special order a case of your favorite Bully Hill wine, or select a special bottle of cake-flavored vodka to go with your real Diet Coke? Want to linger at the gourmet cheese counter? Buy a dozen non-GMO avocados? Perhaps even drive through Chipotle on the way home? No problem.

On the road, I’m lucky if I’m able to read nutrition labels in my native language, let alone choose between two types of peanut butter or figure out where my meat came from. Believe me, when I leave Thailand I’ll be missing the food here too. But right now, I’m looking forward to a summer of stateside eats. Maybe even eat some guacamole tonight, in my honor. Maybe make it extra salty. I don’t know, I can’t tell you how to live your lives, but I know you’ll do the right thing.

Cafe du Monde New Year's Eveget in my belly, beignets

9. American Niceness

Many of my friends from other parts of the world kind of sneer at this and think that we are being fake with our “have a nice days!” and other saccharine pleasantries but I tell you what, I just love me some American politeness. Maybe they really do want my day to be nice. I want yours to be!

Hackberry General Store Route 66

10. Amazon Prime

Two. Day. Shipping. On. Everything. Need I say more? On and island where a trip to the nearest Apple Authorized retailer or seller of Alex-sized underwear is a twelve-hour journey, it seems like a distant mirage too good to be really true.

Ochopee Post Office

11. Megawatt Lightbulbs

This probably isn’t an issue for the majority of travelers who haven’t lived through a psychologically crippling fear of the dark, but I have yet to find another country as brightly lit as the USA. I noticed this most vividly traveling in Central America, where I heard rumors of crazy high energy costs and even in large cities I always felt like someone had hit the wrong end of a dimmer.

Bonnaroo After Dark

12. Smoking Bans

Admittedly, in general I love the lawless-ness of so many of the countries I travel to. But there’s one piece of legislation this severe-allergy sufferer is ever grateful for – strict indoor smoking bans. I wake up from pretty much every night out here with my sinuses levying a strict punishment for putting them in proximity of cigarettes. The prevalence of smoking at the bar, in transit and even at the dinner table is one of the things that really challenges me about living in Thailand.

Blues Bar, Khao San, Bangkokif only this cat was protected by an indoor smoking ban

13. Serious Hustle

I alarm citizens of other nations on a regular basis simply by walking at a clip that they deem acceptable only for a human being pursued by an apex predator. Travel has slowed me down somewhat, and I’m grateful for it, but I do love the hustle of home. I’m sure any US citizen who has sat in line at OfficeMax watching a high school student collate paper with the efficiency of a drunk sloth would argue that lethargy exists everywhere, but I do think there are few nations on earth that value speediness – and power walking – as much as Americans do.

American Flag in Times Square

14. Singing Along in Bars

In certain parts of the world, the music is one of the highlights of my travels – think Caribbean soca, or Central American reggaeton. Yet here Asia, crimes against music, my eardrums, and the still developing brains of impressionable youth are committed on a daily basis (love you long time though, Job2Do). One thing I really miss is listening to music other than tinny Thai love ballads, aggressive house/techno music or strange selections of American Top 40. What I wouldn’t give for a night of hip hop, classic rock, or funky Motown hits!

Live Music in New Orleans

15. My Dog

I actually thought about making like, every third item on this list MY DOG because that would (A) it’s the kind of lame humor that really tickles me and (B) convey pretty clearly how much I miss my damn dog. Are there any people that don’t think this dog is cute that aren’t also serial killers? Don’t bother looking up the statistics, the answer is no.

Tucker, you have my heart.

Christmas Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel Love

16. My Nearest and Dearest

In all seriousness, the largest sacrifice I’ve made to maintain my traveling lifestyle is missing out on so much of the day-to-day lives of some of those I love the most. I do manage to cram a lot of hugs into every summer, though.

Family Portraits by My Lens 360 Philadelphia

. . . .

Okay. So things might have gone a tad overboard on the S.S. Silliness up in this listicle. But the truth is the thing I miss the most about America can’t really be summed up in a pithy bullet point. It’s this sense of familiarity, the lump in your throat when an immigration officer hands you back your passport and says “welcome home” after months of wandering.

I can’t wait to hear those two little words. Avocados and employees of craft store retail chains, you’ve been warned.

Upstate New York Travel

Heads up, aspiring bloggers!

Travel Blog Success is having a Spring Sale.

Travel Blog Success Spring Sale

I rarely stop yacking about how Travel Blog Success helped me make Alex in Wanderland what it is today — a financially successful and creatively fulfilling travel blog that just celebrated its fourth anniversary. It’s the first thing I recommend to those who write to me for blogging advice, and was instrumental in getting me to where I am now! Our secret member’s Facebook group gives me daily inspiration, feedback, and hearty laughs. Yes, the warmest community in travel blogging is on sale now!

Click here to receive 35% off all TBS courses — potentially saving hundreds of dollars — no code needed! Add on specialty courses (like Videography for Travel Bloggers, which I reviewed here) to save an additional 10% for two course, or 15% for three or more. Sale ends Friday at 11:00 PM EST. Please note that I’m a proud affiliate of the program and thus will earn a percentage of your purchase at no extra cost to you. See you in the forums!

 

 

 

Travel Photography Tips

Useful Travel Photography Tips

Photography

Looking to improve your travel photography? I’ve spent the last 5 years shooting photos in exotic locations around the world, and these are my favorite travel photography tips.

Some people collect souvenirs when they travel, I prefer to collect beautiful images with my camera. Travel photography is like a time machine, freezing memories from a journey that you can look back on and enjoy for years.

Every travel destination has its own look, culture, history, people, feelings, landscapes, and stories. Learning how to capture these subjects through photos helps convey the spirit of a place to others, giving them a glimpse of what it might be like to venture there.

I never went to school for photography. And yet here I am now, making my living as a professional travel blogger & photographer who regularly licenses images to tourism boards, brands, and occasionally glossy magazines.

I’ve slowly learned the techniques of travel photography over years of reading books, watching online tutorials, and regular practice to improve my craft. You can learn this way too — if you put in the effort!

Here are my favorite travel photography tips to improve your images.

Travel Photography Tips

Early Morning Blue Hour in Norway

Wake Up Early, Stay Out Late

The early bird gets the worm. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase. Well it’s also very true for travel photography. Light is the most important ingredient for great photography — and soft, warm, morning light creates amazing images.

Waking up early also means you’ll have to deal with fewer tourists and other photographers. Want an epic postcard shot of a famous landmark like the ruins of Chichen Itza or the Taj Mahal? Just get there early right when it opens and you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself!

Sunrise isn’t the only time to catch good light. Sunsets are also great. The hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset are nicknamed “golden hours” because of their soft, warm tones and eye-pleasing shadows. “Blue hour”, is the hour after sunset (or before sunrise) when the sky is still blue, but city lights are turned on.

In comparison, shooting photos at noon on a bright sunny day is probably the absolute worst time for travel photography! In fact sometimes I’ll just take a nap during the middle of the day so I have more energy for early morning and evening photography missions, when the light is best.

Travel Photography Tips

Famous Postcard Location in Scotland

Pre-Trip Location Scouting

Read travel guidebooks about your destination. Scour the internet for articles and blog posts to help give you ideas for photos. Talk to friends who have been there. Reach out to other photographers. Become more knowledgeable about which images will capture the essence of a place.

Some of my favorite tools for travel photography research are Instagram and Google Image Search. I use them to learn where iconic locations are. Actual postcard racks are also a great tool for helping to create a “shot list”.

Once I know the names of potential photo locations, I’ll do more research. Which time of day has the best light? How difficult is it to reach certain vantage points? What time does an attraction open, and when will tourist traffic be low? What will the weather be like?

Wandering around with no plans has its place, but being well prepared with research beforehand saves time so you can fully commit to producing amazing travel photography once you’re there, and maximize your time.

Travel Photography Tips

Shooting Portraits in Afghanistan

Talk To People

Photographing local people in a foreign country is tough for many photographers. What if they don’t understand you? What if they say no? Will they get offended? It took me a couple years to get comfortable shooting portraits of locals, and even now I still get a bit nervous.

But I’ve learned the key is to talk to people first. Say hello. Ask for directions. Buy a souvenir. Compliment them on something. Chat for a few minutes BEFORE asking for a photo. It’s far less invasive this way.

Always ask permission for close-ups too. Spend 15 minutes learning how to say “can I make a photograph” or “can I take your portrait” in the local language before you arrive. People really appreciate the effort, and it’s a great way to make a new friend.

Some people will say no. Some will ask for money (I sometimes pay, but that’s up to you). It’s not the end of the world. Thank them for their time, smile, and move on to someone else and try again. Actually the more you get rejected, the easier it gets to ask!

Travel Photography Tips

Composition with Rule of Thirds

Rule Of Thirds

One of the most basic and classic of photography tips, understanding the Rule of Thirds will help you create more balanced compositions. Imagine breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so it’s split into different sections.

The goal is to place important parts of the photo into those sections, and help frame the overall image in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.

For example, placing a person along the left grid line rather than directly in the center. Or keeping your horizon on the bottom third, rather than splitting the image in half. Remember to keep that horizon straight too!

Composing using the Rule of Thirds is easily done by turning on your camera’s “grid” feature, which displays a rule of thirds grid directly on your LCD screen specifically for this purpose.

Now, before you compose a travel photo, you should be asking yourself: What are the key points of interest in this shot? Where should I intentionally place them on the grid? Paying attention to these details will improve the look of your images.

Travel Photography Tips

Setting Up my Tripod in Mexico

Use A Tripod

I think more people should be using lightweight travel tripods. A tripod allows you to set your camera position and keep it there. With the camera fixed, you can then take your time arranging the perfect composition.

You can also adjust exposure settings, focus points, and really spend time paying attention to the image you want to create. Or use advanced techniques like HDR, focus stacking, and panoramas.

Tripods give you the ability to shoot much slower shutter speeds (waterfalls, low-light, stars, etc) without worrying about hand-held camera shake. You can keep your ISO low (for less sensor noise) and use smaller apertures, so more of the image is in focus.

You’ll have greater creative control over your camera’s manual settings when using a tripod. This doesn’t mean you have to lug a tripod around with you absolutely everywhere. I don’t.

But for tack sharp landscapes, low-light photography, self-portraits, flowing water shots, and sunsets/sunrises, a travel tripod makes a huge difference.

Travel Photography Tips

Get Low For A Different Angle

Experiment With Composition

You can almost always come up with a better photo composition after some experimentation. Sure, take that first shot standing up straight. But then try laying on the ground for a low angle. Maybe climb up something nearby and shoot from a higher angle.

Along with different angles, try shooting from different distances too. Start with a wide shot, then a mid-range version, and finally, get up-close and personal. Never be satisfied with your first idea for an image!

Try to include powerful foreground, midground, and background elements too. If your subject is a mountain range — find a flower, river, animal, or interesting rock to include in the foreground. This gives images a 3-dimensional feel and helps convey scale, drawing a viewer’s eye into the rest of the photo.

Focal compression is another great compositional tactic in travel photography. Compression is when a photographer uses a zoom lens to trick the eye into thinking objects are closer than they really are.

Travel Photography Tips

Shooting as a Storm Approaches

Make Photography A Priority

Attempting to take quick snapshots as you rush from one location to another will leave you with the same boring photos everyone else has. Make sure you plan “photography time” into your travel schedule. Good travel photography requires a solid time commitment on your part.

If you’re traveling with friends who aren’t into photography, it can be difficult to find the time necessary to create amazing images. You need to break off on your own for a few hours to make photography your priority. I often prefer to travel alone or with other dedicated photographers for this reason.

Good luck trying to explain to a non-photographer that you’d like to wait around for an extra 30 minutes until the clouds look better. It doesn’t go over well. For organized tours, try waking up early to wander alone for a few hours, getting photos before the tour starts.

Even better, splurge on a rental car for a travel photography road trip. This allows you to control when and where you stop for photos. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a bus while passing an epic photo opportunity, powerless to stop and capture it!

Travel Photography Tips

Contemplating and Complimenting the View

The Human Element

People like to live vicariously through human subjects in photos. Especially if the viewer can pretend the person in the photo is them. It adds more emotion to an image, you feel like you’re experiencing the location yourself.

How do you accomplish this? By posing the subject in such a way that they become anonymous. Not showing the subject’s face. This is why Murad Osmann’s “follow me to” Instagram photos went viral. Viewers felt like they were the ones being led around the world by a beautiful woman.

The human element also gives a better sense of scale. By placing your subject in the distance, you can get a better sense of just how big those mountains really are. It’s why photographing “tiny” people in large landscapes does well.

Adding a human element to photos helps tell a story too. Images seem to be more powerful when people are included in them. You can completely change the storyline of a particular photo depending on what type of human element you decide to incorporate.

Travel Photography Tips

Waiting For the Aurora in Iceland

Patience Is Everything

Photography is about really seeing what’s in front of you. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart & mind too. This requires dedicated time and attention. Slow down and make a conscious effort at becoming aware of your surroundings before pressing the shutter.

Pay attention to details. Are the clouds in an eye pleasing spot? If not, will they look better in 15 minutes? Sit at a photogenic street corner and wait for a photogenic subject to pass by. Then wait some more, because you might get an even better shot. Or not. But if you don’t have the patience to try, you might miss a fantastic photo opportunity!

When shooting the Northern Lights in Iceland, I spent all night camping in the cold at a perfect location, simply waiting for the magical aurora borealis to appear. When it finally did, I waited a few hours more to capture the brightest possible colors.

Good photography takes time. Are you willing to spend a few hours waiting for the perfect shot? Because that’s what professionals do. The more patience you have, the better your travel photography will turn out in the long run.

Protect Against Theft

Ok, this one is slightly off topic, but I think it’s important too. Cameras are small expensive products. As such, they’re a prime target for theft while traveling. I’ve heard many sad theft stories from other travelers. Luckily I’ve never had my camera stolen, but I also take precautions against it.

First of all, buy camera insurance. This is the best way to minimize losses if your camera gear does wind up in the hands of a criminal. Homeowner or rental insurance might already cover you. If not, organizations like the Professional Photographers of America offer insurance to members.

Keep your gear secured when not shooting, like in a hotel safe or hostel locker. Never check expensive photography gear under a plane, always take it carry-on. Try not to flash your camera around in sketchy or poverty stricken areas, keep it hidden in a nondescript bag until ready for use.

Register new gear with the manufacturer. Copy down serial numbers and save purchase receipts to help speed up insurance claims. Include your name & camera serial number on image EXIF data, so if your camera is stolen, you can track it down online using StolenCameraFinder.com.

Travel Photography Tips

Long Exposure Waterfall Shot

Shoot In Manual Mode

You’d think that modern cameras are smart enough to take incredible pictures on their own, in AUTO mode. Well that’s just not the case. While they do a pretty good job, if you want truly stunning images, you need to learn how to manually control your camera’s settings yourself.

If you’re new to photography, you may not realize all the camera settings that need to be adjusted. These include ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. If you want the best images possible, you need to know the relationship between them, and how to adjust these settings on your own.

To do this, switch your camera’s dial into Manual Mode. This camera mode gives you much more control of the look of your images in different situations. By manually adjusting aperture you’ll have more control over the depth of field in your image.

By manually controlling shutter speed, you’ll be able to capture motion in more creative ways. By manually controlling ISO, you’ll be able to reduce the noise of your images and deal with tricky lighting situations. Here’s a good free online tutorial about Manual Mode.

Travel Photography Tips

Prepared for Wildlife in Greenland

Always Bring A Camera

There is a saying in photography that “the best camera is the one you have with you”. Be ready for anything, and always carry a camera around, because luck plays a pretty key role in travel photography.

The difference between an amateur photographer and a pro is that the pro is planning in advance for this luck, ready to take advantage of these special serendipitous moments that will happen from time to time.

You never know what kind of incredible photo opportunity might present itself while you’re traveling. Maybe while out walking you happen to stumble upon a brilliant pink sunset, a rare animal, or some random street performance.

While hiking in Greenland I kept my camera ready and within easy reach with a 70-200mm lens attached. This helped me capture great shots of reindeer, rabbits, an arctic fox, and musk oxen. If the camera had been packed away in my bag, I would’ve missed these wildlife opportunities.

Keep your camera on you, charged up, and ready for action at all times.

Travel Photography Tips

Lost in the Streets of Granada

Get Lost On Purpose

Ok. You’ve visited all the popular photography sites, and captured your own version of a destination’s postcard photos. Now what? It’s time to go exploring, and get off the beaten tourist path. It’s time to get lost on purpose.

If you want to get images no one else has, you need to wander more. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing exactly where you’re going. Grab a business card from your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking.

Bring your camera, and head out into the unknown. Check with locals to make sure you’re not heading somewhere dangerous, but make a point get lost. Wander down alleys, to the top of a mountain, and around the next bend.

In many places, locals tend to avoid tourist spots. So if you want to capture the true nature of a destination and its people, you’ll need to get away from the crowd and go exploring on your own.

Travel Photography Tips

Some of my Hard Drives…

Backup Your Photos

Along with camera insurance, I can’t stress enough the importance of both physical and online backups of your travel photos. When my laptop computer was stolen once in Panama, backups of my photography saved the day.

My travel photography backup workflow includes an external hard drive backup of RAW camera files, as well as online backup of select images and another online backup of final edited images.

Sometimes, for important projects, I’ll even mail a small hard drive loaded with images back to the United States if the internet is just too slow for online backup of large RAW files or video. I use Western Digital hard drives for physical backup and Google Drive for online cloud storage.

Travel Photography Tips

Improve Your Photography with Processing

Post Processing

There is a ridiculous myth out there that editing your photos using software is “cheating”. Let’s clear that up right now. All professional photographers edit their digital images using software like Lightroom, Photoshop, or GIMP.

Some do it more than others, but basically everyone does it.

Post processing is an integral part of any travel photographer’s workflow. Just like darkroom adjustments are a part of a film photographer’s workflow. Learning how to process your images after they’re taken is FAR more important than what camera you use.

Learn how to improve contrast, sharpen image elements, soften color tones, reduce highlights, boost shadows, minimize sensor noise, and adjust exposure levels (without going overboard) using software.

If you are going to invest money somewhere, I’d recommend spending it on professional post-processing tutorials before you invest in the latest camera gear. Post processing knowledge can really improve your travel photography.

Travel Photography Tips

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem

Don’t Obsess Over Equipment

Want to know what photography gear I use? Well, here you go. But if you went out right now and bought all that stuff, not only would it be super expensive, I guarantee it won’t improve your photography skills.

Why? Because the gear you use is not what makes a great photographer. Just like the type of brush a painter uses doesn’t make them a great painter. It’s knowledge, experience, and creativity that makes a great photographer.

Camera companies are much better at marketing than paintbrush companies. That’s why you think you need that $3000 camera. Trust me. You don’t.

Professionals use expensive gear because it allows them to produce a greater range of images. For example, extremely low light star photography. Or fast-action wildlife photography. Or because they want to sell large fine-art prints.

Instead of buying new equipment, spend time learning how to use your current camera’s settings. It’s a far better investment, and cheaper too!

Travel Photography Tips

Getting my Fortune Read in South Africa

Never Stop Learning

Enroll in some online photography tutorials. Invest in a travel photography workshop. Go out and practice on a regular basis. This is how you get better – not because you have the latest gear or use popular Instagram filters.

Even though I’ve been earning money with my photography for the last 5 years, there’s always something new to learn. I regularly invest in online courses and books about photography to improve my craft. You should too.

Think you know everything about landscapes? Then go out and challenge yourself shooting portraits of strangers. Stalk animals like a hunter for a taste of how difficult wildlife photography is. Stay up late experimenting with long-exposures of the Milky Way.

You’ll become a more skilled and resourceful travel photographer when you take the time to learn new techniques and skills from other genres of photography.

Travel Photography Resources

To go along with my top travel photography tips, here are some of the tools I’ve used to improve my photography over the years. I hope you find them as useful as I did! Remember, never stop learning.

Post Processing

  • Adobe Creative Cloud – Powerful suite of editing programs (Lightroom & Photoshop) used by most professional travel photographers.
  • JPEG Mini – Reduces the size of images by up to 80% without loss in quality. Amazing plugin for faster upload speeds and faster websites.
  • Google Nik Collection – Free photography plugins for polishing your final images. Noise reduction, sharpening, color filters, etc.

Photography Tutorials

READ NEXT: Isle Of Skye Road Trip

Have any questions about travel photography? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Lonely Planet Iceland (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Iceland *

Lonely Planet Iceland is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Splash around in the Blue Lagoon's geothermal water, catch a glimpse of the celestial Northern Lights, or take a boat trip among the icebergs; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Iceland and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Iceland Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, politics, landscapes, wildlife, literature, music, cinema, art, architecture, customs, cuisine. Free, convenient pull-out Reykjavik map (included in print version), plus over 37 maps Covers Reykjavik, the Westfjords, the Highlands, North Iceland, East Iceland, South Iceland, the Golden Circle, Southwest Iceland, the Eastfjords, Akureyri, Hunafloi and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Iceland, our most comprehensive guide to Iceland, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on Reykjavik? Check out Lonely Planet's Pocket Reykjavik, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip. Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Scandinavia guide for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Iceland. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA

Iceland (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

Let National Geographic's Iceland Adventure Map guide you as you discover the pristine nature and unique scenery on this Nordic island. The expertly researched map, with its accurate and detailed information, is designed to meet the needs of adventure travelers. In addition to a clearly marked road network, with distances and destinations of both major and main roads, the map also delivers an abundance of specialized content not found in traditional road maps. An index of cities and towns will help you arrive at your destination quickly. Recreational, ecological, cultural, and historic points of interest as well as secondary roads, remote tracks, secluded paths and ferry routes will aid in your exploration both on and off the beaten path.

Among the pinpointed points of interest are hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, caves, museums, lighthouses, swimming pools, golf courses, campsites and scenic viewpoints. Also labeled are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Thingvellir National Park and the volcanic island of Surtsey. The shaded relief map details the entire island, contour lines are drawn, peaks and summits are labeled with elevations, forested areas are shaded, water features are shown and boundaries of National Parks and nature reserves are color-coded, making it the perfect companion to any guidebook.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:465,000Sheet Size = 25.5" x 37.75"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Lonely Planet Iceland (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Iceland *

Lonely Planet Iceland is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Splash around in the Blue Lagoon's geothermal water, catch a glimpse of the celestial Northern Lights, or take a boat trip among the icebergs; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Iceland and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Iceland Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, politics, landscapes, wildlife, literature, music, cinema, art, architecture, customs, cuisine. Free, convenient pull-out Reykjavik map (included in print version), plus over 37 maps Covers Reykjavik, the Westfjords, the Highlands, North Iceland, East Iceland, South Iceland, the Golden Circle, Southwest Iceland, the Eastfjords, Akureyri, Hunafloi and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience Seamlessly flip between pages Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash Embedded links to recommendations' websites Zoom-in maps and images Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Iceland, our most comprehensive guide to Iceland, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on Reykjavik? Check out Lonely Planet's Pocket Reykjavik, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip. Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Scandinavia guide for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Carolyn Bain and Alexis Averbuck.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Iceland. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA

Lonely Planet Iceland's Ring Road (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Discover the freedom of open roads with Lonely Planet Iceland's Ring Road Road Trips, your passport to uniquely encountering Iceland by car. Featuring five amazing road trips, plus up-to-date advice on the destinations you'll visit along the way, you'll discover bubbling geothermal springs, see the Golden Circle's exploding geysers and chase the northern lights around Reykjavik; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to destination, rent a car, and hit the road!

Inside Lonely Planet Iceland's Ring Road Road Trips :

Lavish colour and gorgeous photography throughout Itineraries and planning advice to pick the right tailored routes for your needs and interests Get around easily - easy-to-read, full-colour route maps, detailed directions Insider tips to get around like a local, avoid trouble spots and be safe on the road - local driving rules, parking, buying fuel Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Useful features - including Detours and Link Your Trip Covers the Golden Circle, Reykjavik, Southeast Iceland, North Iceland, West Iceland and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Iceland's Ring Road Road Trips is perfect for exploring Iceland via the road and discovering sights that are more accessible by car.

Planning an Iceland trip sans a car? Lonely Planet Iceland guide, our most comprehensive guide to Iceland, is perfect for exploring both top sights and lesser-known gems. Looking for a guide focused on a specific Icelandic city? Check out Pocket Reykjavik, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Iceland 101: Over 50 Tips & Things to Know Before Arriving in Iceland

Northbound .is

Travelling to Spain, France or Italy is fairly straight-forward. Travelling to Iceland is a whole different matter. It's a different kind of journey, one that requires special attention to certain details and respect for the boundless nature that you are being invited into. Written and Illustrated by Icelanders, Iceland 101 carries over 50 tips and things you'll be better off knowing, packed into 5 fully illustrated chapters.-The Chapters-1. Booking Money & EquipmentThe right times to take care of all of the tedious booking work and what equipment you might want to have.2. Rental Cars, Fuel, Driving & SafetyFinding the right rental car for your journey, where to get the cheapest fuel, how to drive in Iceland and your safety and of those around you.3. Weather & NatureThe random, sometimes crazy weather on the arctic island and the vast landscape that draws visitors there every year.4. Culture & The CityIcelandic culture and the northernmost capital in the world.5. Food, Drinks & SocietyWhat to try while you're in Iceland, where to get it and what kind of people you'll most likely meet.

Top 10 Iceland (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide)

DK

Covering all of Iceland's major sights and attractions in easy-to-use top-10 lists that help you plan the vacation that's right for you, this newly revised, updated, and redesigned pocket travel guide will lead you straight to the very best attractions. See stunning glaciers and geysers or the bewitching Northern Lights, visit the beautiful national parks, or experience the vibrancy of Reykjavik with DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Iceland.

Expert travel writers have fully revised this edition of DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Iceland. Key features include:

   • Brand-new itineraries help you plan your trip to Iceland.    • Expanded and far more comprehensive, the new laminated pull-out map now includes color-coded design, public transportation maps, and street indexes to make it even easier to use.    • Maps of walking routes show you the best ways to maximize your time.    • New Top 10 lists feature off-the-beaten-track ideas, along with standbys like popular attractions, shopping, dining options, and more.    • Additional maps marked with sights from the guidebook are shown on inside cover flaps, with selected street index and metro map.    • New typography and fresh layout throughout.

You'll still find DK's famous full-color photography and museum floor plans, along with just the right amount of coverage of history and culture. A free pull-out map is marked with sights from the guidebook and includes a street index and a metro map.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Iceland is the perfect pocket-sized travel companion.

About the series: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Top 10s are handy travel guides that take the work out of planning a trip. Packed with amazing ideas, informative maps, insider tips, and useful advice, DK's Top 10 guides lead you to the very best your destination has to offer. The pocket size makes these the perfect guide to take on vacation. Discover the history, art, architecture, and culture of your destination through top 10 lists, from the best museums, bars, and sights to the places to avoid. Visit TravelDK.com to learn more.

Frommer's EasyGuide to Iceland (Easy Guides)

Nicholas Gill

Guidebooks to Iceland are currently on every list of guidebook best-sellers, and will now be joined by a powerful new entrant written by an acknowledged and heavily-published expert on the subject. He is Nicholas Gill, an outstanding journalist, whose writings on Iceland have been prominently featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine magazine, and many other notable publications. His subject, the nation located just south of the Arctic circle but warmed by the Gulf Stream (and thus moderate in climate), is increasingly regarded as a place of multiple attractions that extend far beyond Reykjavik to nearly a dozen other towns, and to breathtaking nature including swimmable thermal springs.

Iceland: The Complete Guide - Local Secrets, Tips, Tricks and More

Antony Rhodes

Ready to Discover & Explore Iceland?

For more than thirty years, Antony Rhodes has traveled the world and now he has condensed his experience into this up-to-date pocket guide to the very best of Iceland.

With inspiring photography, local secrets, and expert advice, you'll get an authentic, enriching experience of this dazzling country. All information is freshly-researched as of 2017, so you can make the most of your time in the country.

Inside Rhodes' Iceland: The Complete Guide: Planning your trip Best Seasons To Go Top 10 Things To Do In Iceland Northern Lights Caves, waterfalls and other natural attractions The Fimmvörðuháls Trek Tröllaskagi Peninsula Iceland's Capital: Reykjavík The Blue Lagoon Best-Kept Secrets Visit Þingvellir Visit Snæfellsjökull, First National Park of Iceland Horseback Riding Caving Viking World Museum

And much, much more!

Get access to insider knowledge of Iceland's other-worldly scenery, spectacular northern lights, vibrant cities and unique culture:

Get to the heart of Iceland and begin your journey now!

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

The crime rate is low, but pickpocketing does occur. Be vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings at all times.

Road travel

Most roads in urban centres and national road no. 1 ("the ring road") are paved. Many inland roads are unpaved, narrow and lack shoulders. Roads in the highlands are only open during summer months. It is strictly forbidden to drive off tracks in the highlands.

For up-to-date information on road and weather conditions, dial (+354) 522-1000 to reach the Icelandic Road Administration

Public transportation

Rail service is not available in Iceland. Municipal bus services are generally not available outside Reykjavik and the surrounding towns. Ferries and long-distance buses operate throughout the country. Taxis are available in major cities and populated areas throughout the country.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Natural attractions

Exercise caution when visiting volcanic craters, glaciers, hot springs and other natural attractions, since there are few warning signs or barriers.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur occasionally and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Trekking

Trekkers and backpackers should not travel alone or venture off marked trails. If you intend to trek:

a) never trek alone;

b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;

c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;

d) ensure that you are in top physical condition;

e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;

f) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;

g) register with the Embassy, Consulate of Canada in Iceland; and

h) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.

Consult the website Safetravel.is (opens in new window) for advice from Icelandic search and rescue teams and to register your itinerary.

General safety information

Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Never leave personal belonging unattended and never leave valuables in a car.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Iceland has excellent medical facilities.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Canada and Iceland are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Iceland to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Icelandic authorities.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.

Some substances, such as khat, that may be legal in other European countries, are prohibited in Iceland. 

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit is recommended.  A Canadian driver's licence is valid in Iceland for six months. After that you must apply for an Icelandic driver's licence. Applicants must usually take a driving test but can request an exemption.

Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, confiscation of driver's licences and possible jail sentences.

Renting

Rental cars are available in major towns and airports.

Same-sex marriages

Icelandic authorities recognize same-sex marriages.

Money

The currency of Iceland is the Icelandic krona (ISK).

Visa and Europay cards are widely accepted but American Express cards are not as common.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

Climate

Iceland is located in an active seismic zone, making it prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The climate can be unpredictable. Monitor weather reports closely. For recorded weather information from the Icelandic Meteorological Office, dial (+354) 522-6000 or (+354) 902-0600. Information is available in English, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.