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.


Category

Preparation

Preparation

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

Preparation

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:

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

Preparation

Our car rental recommendation in Iceland: Blue Car Rental

[Update June 2017: We’ve partnered with Blue to provide our readers a 5% discount on their rental. You’ll need to e-mail them your booking request with the code #BlueIWK in the subject. See the details here: Blue Car Rental discount.]

I don’t know how many car rental companies there are in Iceland– 100? It’s tough to tell, since some of them are just agents and don’t have their own fleet of vehicles. Choosing one is really hard; there are a lot of horror stories out there.

After dozens of hours of research, we decided to rent from Blue Car Rental. Now, there are other companies out there that will most likely provide you with a positive experience. But here are the reasons we have been impressed with Blue (and some minor quibbles); you can use this to judge them against other options. Read more

Preparation

Sick in Iceland? How to find the medicine you need

One thing parents worry about on vacation is the prospect of sick children, and worse, sick children in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Fortunately, we have not had to deal with any doctors’ visits yet here in Iceland. We have, however, had to buy medicine at a pharmacy. (Look for the big sign saying “Apotek.”)

pharmacy sign

The first thing you need to know is that you are not going to find a 24-hour pharmacy. Like grocery stores, pharmacies in Iceland have very limited hours. Read more

Preparation

Tips on Packing with Kids

So your trip is all planned, your hotels reserved, your itinerary all settled, but now you have to pack.  And if you are traveling with children, you’re not just talking about one backpack.  There are two concerns here:  First, you’d like the packing process to be as simple and streamlined as possible.  Second, you’d like to actually be able to make it through the airport without being crushed under a pile of luggage.  Note that this advice is not specific to Iceland travel–I’m not telling you what to bring–that will be a future post, once we’ve seen what we have and haven’t used from our packing lists. Read more

Preparation

Cash, credit cards, and PINs in Iceland

Cash register” by James Brooks  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Questions we will answer (or attempt to answer) in this post are:

  1. Do I need to bring or get cash for my trip to Iceland?
  2. Where can I get the best exchange rate on my cash?
  3. What do I need to do to use my credit card in Iceland?
  4. Which credit card is best to use in Iceland?
  5. What about a PIN for chip and PIN in Iceland?

Do I need to bring or get cash for my trip to Iceland?

There is no need to purchase Icelandic Krona before your trip. Typically you will pay a hefty premium to purchase Krona in your home country– up to 10%. Most currency exchange places (AAA, TravelEx) don’t even offer Icelandic Krona. Read more

Preparation, Things to Do

Reykjavik? Ring Road? Planning your Iceland trip

So you’re going to Iceland, and trying to figure out how to plan your trip. The internet is full of millions of pictures of thousands of things you can see and do. How do you plan your itinerary? What should do you do, and what will you need to skip?

Here are my brief recommendations for how you should structure your trip, based on the number of days you have. Note that the categories overlap:

1-5 days: Stay in Reykjavik, and do day tours
3-8 days: Cover one or two areas, but not the whole country
7+ days: Cover the whole country. Well, more of it at least.

I think that some people will find these surprisingly conservative. Why just stay in Reykjavik for 4 days? Why not try the whole country in 6 days? Read more

Preparation

Planning your Iceland trip – Iceland With Kids

Reykjavik” by Marco Bellucci is licensed under CC BY 2.0

We’ve written many posts about planning for your trip to Iceland. Here is a summary of our best advice, at least so far.

When to go to Iceland?

There will be several obvious differences in your vacation experience based on what time of year you go:

  • Temperature. This isn’t as big as you think: Highs in the summer are in the mid 50s, while winter highs are in the mid 30s. See details in this post. Yes, there is snow in the winter, and so you’ll need to make your travel plans less aggressive.
  • Daylight. This is a bigger deal than you may think. Summer has 24 hours of usable daylight. The middle of winter may only give you 7. More details in the same post. This picture was taken at about 11:30 PM in June:

Midnight sun

Midnight Sun” by Hafsteinn Robertsson is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Read more