Iceland Travel Guide :: Tips for First Timers

Hi friends, I’m excited to share my Iceland travel guide, where to visit, stay, eat and play! Iceland has earned a spot in my heart. Discover secluded and intimate coastal walks, wild alien-like landscapes, blue geothermal pools, magnificent waterfalls and delicious food (somehow the bell peppers and bread here taste better than any I’ve had before 💥).

Iceland can easily be your most memorable travel destination. The best way to explore the natural landscape is by renting a car *beep beep, driving around the island, and soaking in the scenery. Here are a few key things to help plan your upcoming trip! 



After an 8.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Iceland, we felt exhausted! We rented a car from Avis and recommend getting a 4W drive during Fall/Winter. We waited about 1 hour at the airport to pick up our car from the airport so be sure to head straight there. You’ll need to grab a gas card from the N1 stores. Be aware of parking regulations in major cities and pick up a meter clock at the gas station or bank. We ended up driving counter-clockwise around the island. 


Hotel :: Where to Stay

Save money by using to accumulate a free night after 10 hotel stays or try Airbnb. Rooms book quickly in Iceland so don’t wait until last minute. Among the steel buildings and cozy farm houses, you will find most hotels decorated with a minimal Scandinavian look. Beds are split in two, each provided with an individual blanket folded like a sleeping bag. During our trip we stayed at:


Food :: Best Restaurants

Food in Iceland is SO fresh and delicious, however expect to pay 2-3x average prices. Eating out at a restaurant can easily be $18-$50 USD. If you’re on a budget and want to save money, buy breakfast and lunch at a local grocery like Netto. Scott and I ended up buying foot long sandwiches, fresh juices, and snacks at the grocery as often as we could. Coffee here can add up to the cost, anywhere between $4-8 USD. Water in Iceland is clean and fresh, you can skip the bottled water.

Traditional breakfast consists of fresh vegetables like crunchy bell peppers, thinly sliced cucumbers, Arctic char, cheeses, fresh baked breads, and salted meats like salami and ham. Average price for breakfast at the hotel is roughly $20 USD. 


Packing List :: What to Wear

Depending on the time of year you are visiting Iceland, here is a basic packing list you should consider. I was able to pack 11 days worth of clothing and camera gear in a carry-on and backpack. Consider wearing your heaviest items to the airport to save space in your suitcase. Don’t forget to pack shoes with a good tread for hiking (paths are slippery my friends). You can take a screenshot of the list or save the image to your phone to prepare for packing.

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I hope you found this overview helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.
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- Ally