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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travel

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:

snow-on-mountain-pass-iceland Read more

Why Iceland

Why Iceland is the Best Starter Destination for Families

What makes a destination family-friendly? And what makes a destination easy for first-time international travelers? A short list of factors we think are important shows Iceland as a clear winner. Our ideal starter destination would be: safe, easy to get to, English-speaking, and easy to navigate. It would also have a kid-friendly culture and lots of cool stuff to see (and, more importantly, do). How does Iceland stack up in those categories? We will mostly compare to travelling to the UK, as that is another frequently suggested starter trip. 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

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

Preparation

Do I need a 4WD / AWD / 4X4 car in Iceland?

“Colors of Water” by Ulrich Latzenhofer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A surprising number of tourists get themselves into trouble while driving in Iceland. They blindly follow their GPS to destinations 6 hours the wrong direction. Or they follow their outdated GPS onto closed and dangerous roads. Or they cause accidents by stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures. (Remember that in Iceland, hazard lights are for hazards!)

Hundreds of tourists are rescued every year by ICE-SAR, a group of volunteer responders.

I’m not telling you all of this to dissuade you from driving in Iceland. You just need to use some common sense. No matter what kind of car you rent, you shouldn’t think you can drive to any location any time of year.

Suppose you are in Vik, in south Iceland. And you read about a really cool hike up to the top of Sveinstindur. (The picture at the top of this post is along the route to Sveinstindur.) So you look on Google Maps and find out that it’s only about a 2 hour drive: Read more

Preparation

Should I bring my child’s car seat to Iceland?

One of the struggles of travelling with children is lugging car seats everywhere you go.  So the question is, when you travel to Iceland, do you bring your own child car seats?  I think, for the most part, the answer is NO.

As you would expect, Iceland has its own rules about car seat safety.  While they are similar to what is in effect in many US states, the rules are not the same.  The Icelandic Transport Authority publishes an English-language brochure on Child Safety in Motor Cars that you may wish to read. The main difficulty is that the US organization that certifies car seats has different (not necessarily better, not necessarily worse, but different) standards than the European one.  There is no exception in Icelandic law for visitors, so car seats in Iceland are required to be approved by the European rules, not US rules.  Read more