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.


Tag

weather

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

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

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