We spent the summer of 2016 touring Iceland. Now we're writing a guidebook to tell you exactly what you want to know:

How to take the whole family abroad and survive the process unscathed.

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Winter driving tips for Iceland: Snow, safety, and studded tires

Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

If you’re renting a car in Iceland in the winter, you may be worried about road and weather conditions. Most of the time you won’t have any issues at all, especially with a little preparation. Here are our tips for winter driving in Iceland.

Thanks to our friends at Blue Car Rental for many of the photos below. We rented from Blue on our Iceland trip, and recommend them. And we have a 5% discount coupon for Blue if you’d like to rent from them as well!

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Winter driving tips for Iceland: Snow, safety, and studded tires was last modified: January 3rd, 2018 by Eric

Cell Phones in Iceland: The definitive guide for your 2018 trip

For the last couple of years, I have been recommending visitors to Iceland purchase an Icelandic SIM card, even if it meant you had to purchase a new unlocked cell phone. In 2018, that’s still a pretty good option, but other options have improved for travelers wishing to use their cell phones in Iceland or other countries. All major US carriers now have options for service that are somewhat reasonably priced, and Sprint and T-Mobile now have totally free choices. (But be careful—if you’re on AT&T or Verizon, you’ll need to do a little bit of work to make sure you don’t get charged what I consider to be exorbitant data rates.) And the option of renting a mobile hotspot has gotten less expensive and more convenient. We’ll walk through all of the details below to help you decide whether a cell phone from an Icelandic company like Siminn, Vodafone, or Nova makes sense for you. Read more

Cell Phones in Iceland: The definitive guide for your 2018 trip was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by Eric
Guides, Things to Do

South Coast of Iceland Touring Plan

Outside of Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, the South Coast of Iceland is often the next area that people recommend for tourists. (And I’m one of those people– our sample 1 week Iceland itinerary with kids spends a lot of time in the south!)

Here is a sample itinerary for your visit to South Iceland. You can cover this in a day, or 2 or 3 days, depending on how much you want to see. In the list below you’ll see a couple of potential points where it can make sense to turn around. (And we don’t cover everything– there’s always more to see if you want to explore!) Here’s what we’re going to cover: (Click for a larger version.)

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South Coast of Iceland Touring Plan was last modified: November 10th, 2017 by Eric
Things to Do

Icelandic Horses: How to see them and where to ride them

Icelandic horses are unique, and their history is amazing.

Here’s a quick summary. In the year 982 (yes, nine eighty-two!) a law was passed in Iceland forbidding any horse from being imported into Iceland. A horse can leave the country, but it can never come back. And this law has been in place continuously for over 1,000 years.

These Icelandic horses have a unique characteristic. Most (all?) horses can walk, trot, and gallop. But Icelandic horses have two more gaits: The Tölt, and Flying Pace. Both of these gaits are considered to be extremely smooth for how fast they are. Read more

Icelandic Horses: How to see them and where to ride them was last modified: August 31st, 2017 by Eric

Icelandic words and phrases to learn (or not!)

If you’re planning to go to Iceland, you really don’t need to know any Icelandic– Nearly all Icelanders speak fluent English. But a few phrases and words will help you figure out what’s going on. For example, below you’ll learn you that “safn” as a suffix means museum or collection. Take a look at the picture above. Now that you know safn, it’s easier to figure out that Grafíksafn would be something like a graphics museum.

You most likely won’t be having conversations in Icelandic. What worked for me when speaking to Icelanders was the “sandwich” approach, which isn’t actually a real thing. Say a greeting in Icelandic, say what you need to say in English, and then say goodbye in Icelandic. For example: Read more

Icelandic words and phrases to learn (or not!) was last modified: March 30th, 2017 by Eric

Clothing in Iceland: What to pack and what to wear

There was a point in our trip planning where we realized we had no idea what we needed to pack. We had plane tickets and lodging figured out. But what did we need to bring with us?

First, make sure you know what the average temperature is for the time of year you will be visiting Iceland. Here’s a graph, taken from our Hours of Daylight in Iceland post. You’ll notice that it isn’t as cold as you may fear, at least in Reykjavik—average highs are above freezing year-round:

Source: http://www.holiday-weather.com/reykjavik/averages/ Read more

Clothing in Iceland: What to pack and what to wear was last modified: September 6th, 2017 by Eric
Things to Do

South Coast Tours with Arcanum in Iceland- Glaciers, Snowmobiles, and ATVs!

The South Coast of Iceland is one of the most popular areas for tourist to visit when they venture out of Reykjavik. There’s a lot to see and do: waterfalls, glaciers, black sand beaches, and more.

Arcanum is a tour company that operates in south Iceland, and can take you beyond what you are able to see and do on your own. They offer 3 different tours; we were lucky enough to try all 3 with various subsets of kids. Any of these tours could be a highlight of your vacation. See below for our reviews … and lots of pictures!

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South Coast Tours with Arcanum in Iceland- Glaciers, Snowmobiles, and ATVs! was last modified: December 7th, 2016 by Eric
Things to Do

Fakasel: The Icelandic Horse Park

UPDATED August 2017: Fakasel’s web site is now more or less blank. Sadly, please treat the information below as nostalgia only, since you won’t be able to visit! See our new post about other options for seeing and riding Icelandic horses.

UPDATED MAY 2017: Fakasel’s web site says there are temporarily closed, and it has said that for about a month. I don’t have any additional information, but it is strange for an attraction to be “temporarily” closed as we approach the busy summer tourist season. I’ll let you know if I found out what’s going on.

Perhaps I should work on a list of underappreciated things to see in Iceland. I’d put the Westman Islands on there. The petting zoo Slakki. Probably the local thermal pools. I’m not quite sure Fakasel makes the list, but the afternoon show might come close. The large tour bus companies seem to have discovered this place, but maybe not people touring on their own.

Fakasel is on Route 1, between Hveragerði and Selfoss. Those are some of the first towns you will come across heading east from Reykjavik; Fakasel is about 40 minutes from the center of Reykjavik. And right as you pull into the parking lot, you’ll know you’ve arrived.

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Fakasel: The Icelandic Horse Park was last modified: August 27th, 2017 by Eric
Things to Do

Buggy tour with 4X4 Adventures Iceland

The Blue Lagoon seems to overshadow all of the other things you can do in Grindavik, or on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It feels like I’m on a bit of a crusade to get people to experience other things in Reykjanes: In particular, I’m a big fan of the Reykjanes Geopark (which really takes up most of the peninsula.)

One more adventurous tour we tried in Grindavik was a buggy tour with 4X4 Adventures Iceland. These tours allow you to explore the Reykjanes Geopark in a very different way. The word “buggy” might not convey the right tone here– think of an ATV, but one that can hold 4 people. Here is a picture of the ATVs, taken from the 4X4 Adventure’s web site:

Photo by Kevin Boutwell (www.kevinboutwell.com)

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Buggy tour with 4X4 Adventures Iceland was last modified: November 17th, 2016 by Eric
Things to Do

Road conditions in Iceland during different times of year

A common question people ask is, “What will the roads be like when I will be in Iceland?” This is a difficult question to answer. Let’s start with a few generalities, and then dive down into some specifics over the last year:

  • In the summer (say mid June through mid September), barring a recent storm, most roads should be in good shape. Many F roads may still be closed until July, but you should avoid F roads in Iceland unless you really know what you are doing.
  • In the winter (say December through March) you should expect at least some slippery spots throughout, even on Ring Road and other major roads. Ice and slush and blowing snow will be common, even if they are just in limited spots.
  • The rest of the time (so, mid September through November, and April through mid June) the answer varies with the year. You should be fine most of the time in May, though you can still have snow in May, especially in the mountains. Here’s a picture from May 29, 2016 on the mountain pass from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland:

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Road conditions in Iceland during different times of year was last modified: September 7th, 2017 by Eric