Before traveling to Iceland please read the list of 10 things (in no particular order) that you might find helpful before you begin your trip. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland for the first time, there are just a few things you should know before you go.
1. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable. If you’re renting a car, taking a hike, or simply plan to walk around and sightsee, be prepared to possibly experience a bit of wind or rain on any given day. Packing waterproof pants, a windbreaker jacket (with a hood!), gloves, and of course an umbrella are all smart items to find room for in your suitcase.
2. A helpful tip if you plan on renting a car in Iceland: Manuals are significantly cheaper to rent than Automatics. It’s also important to note that F-Roads are accessible by cars with 4WD only.
3. And on that note, take caution while driving! As mentioned above, Iceland can get pretty windy, so watch your speed and drive safe. It would also be wise to study different Icelandic road signs before taking to the road as these can be a bit confusing.
4. Along with your waterproof pants and windbreaker, be sure to pack your own towels since renting them can definitely add up!
5. Do not fret about having to exchange your money for Krónas. Fortunately, you can use your credit card for almost everything in Iceland. A few situations where you might find cash useful would be for paying parking meters, or buying something from certain cash-only vendors at the flea market. It’s also possible you might come across a public toilet that requires you to pay a few coins. (The exchange rate for converting Icelandic Kronas to United States Dollars is 1 ISK for 0.00887 USD, or 500 ISK for roughly 5 USD.)
6. If you use a smartphone, an Icelandic mobile sim card can be purchased to access Iceland’s 3G network which is extremely helpful since it works even in the most remote areas, away from cities.
7. There is no need to tip when you’re eating out at a restaurant since the tip is always included in the price of the meal, and be careful before purchasing any alcohol (from places like Vínbúðin for instance) since many places offer it much, much cheaper. (There is also no need to tip taxi drivers since that’s also included in your total.)
8. Because the water is heated by geothermal energy, the hot water coming from the faucets smells a bit like sulfur. Regardless, the water is completely safe, so do not be alarmed! Don’t hesitate to drink the cold water either (that’s free of the sulfur smell) since that’s safe, too!
9. If you plan on bringing electronics or appliances, make sure to bring an adapter. Iceland uses the Europlug/Schuko-Plug which has two round prongs, so find a converter that will accommodate the 220 volts and you should be good to go. Finding a compatible adapter can be harder for a hair dryer, so it’s recommended you leave yours at home and instead buy a cheap one locally, or see if your hotel carries one.
10. Bring an informative travel guide, an accurate and detailed map of Iceland, as well as a GPS if you plan on driving. These will all come in handy and it wouldn’t hurt to study up before you go!