Iceland travel planning – all the tips and tricks in one place!

A big reason why people read a travel magazine such as this one is to get tips for Iceland tour planning. I have made sure to ask all my interviewees to share their travel advice for those who are visiting Iceland for the first time. I have interviewed dozens of great people who have shared their experiences of visiting Iceland. But I realized that I have not compiled all this great advice in one place before. But here it is and I hope this helps with your Iceland travel planning.

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Important topics for Iceland travel planning:

Critical Iceland tour planning item number 1 – Respect nature!

We urge you to make your driving and jet travel to Iceland carbon neutral. Respect nature, don’t drive offroad and take care not to litter or damage sensitive plants such as moss. Also, remember that natural formations can be sensitive. Take care not to disturb animals or birds. Take nothing but pictures. It is a good idea to sign the Icelandic pledge.

Be spontaneous and take your time

The most common advice that I have gotten from my respondents is that when you are visiting Iceland you should be spontaneous, flexible and take your time. There are several reasons for this. Iceland is a big country with a lot of attractions and let’s face it, you won’t be visiting this country every day! You will want to make sure that you have the time to enjoy hidden gems that you come across.

Prepare for changeable weather

Another reason is that the weather is extremely changeable and may interfere with your plans. This is especially true for winter of course.

Take your time if you are hunting for the northern lights

If you are in Iceland to see the northern lights, please know that they are very elusive and you should not stake everything on one night.

Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere

Iceland has gone pretty far in the direction of being a cashless society. So you can pay with credit or debit cards almost everywhere. Just don’t forget your PIN number. It is required everywhere.


Google maps should work almost everywhere on the ring road in Iceland. People coming from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) should think about getting a WiFi hotspot. However, people from inside the EEA don’t have to worry about high roaming prices for data usage.

Power adapters

Think about getting a power adapter, a universal power adapter, which you can order from Amazon.

Rent a car in Iceland and go on a road trip.
Rent a car in Iceland and go on a road trip.

Rent a car to explore Iceland on your own terms

Related to the point above, a lot of my respondents are adamant that the right way to explore is to rent a car. They urge you to venture outside of Reykjavik and discover the country on your own terms.

Rent from a reputable car rental company

It also has to be said that there is a lot of people on social media that complain about the poor service and bad cars they got when they rented from non-reputable car rental companies. I have created set up a simple search interface from which only has cars from respectable car rentals. You might spend a few dollars or Euros more but you might also save a lot of grief.

This is critical to read for your Iceland tour planning! Stay safe while driving in Iceland

Roads in Iceland are narrower than you might be used to. There are many one-lane bridges so I recommend that you be careful and avoid all speeding. If you see something you want to photograph take care to stop at a safe place. Too many travelers just stop in the middle of the road to take pictures, putting themselves and others at risk. If you are driving in Iceland in winter be ready for rough conditions. This can mean low visibility, icy roads, heavy wind, and snowdrifts. Always follow the weather forecast closely, check road conditions and follow the information on the Safe Travel website, Twitter account, and Facebook account. Read the section on how to stay safe in Iceland.

Driving in winter

Check road conditions and the weather forecast, before going on long journeys in winter. It is important to double-check that you have tires that are suitable for winter driving A lot of my interviewees recommended getting a 4×4 vehicle, especially during winter. That sure sounds like good advice, especially if you are venturing outside of Reykjavik. At least don’t skimp on renting a quality car during winter. And the final rule for driving in Iceland: No off-road driving! It is illegal and the police will not hesitate to slap violators with heavy fines. I wish them every success btw.

Get great Iceland hotel deals.
Get great Iceland hotel deals.

Book hotels in Iceland and find the best deals online

Some talk about not booking accommodation in advance so they have even more freedom on the road. I do realize that most people would not be comfortable with that advice, especially during the high season in the summer. And I would agree, book hotels well in advance. Especially if you are visiting in the summertime.

If you want to wing it when it comes to hotel bookings you can search last-minute hotel deals all over Iceland right here on the site. This could potentially save you money.

Booking tours online and in advance

If you are keen on joining a tour I recommend that you only book tours that not only have a high review score but also high volume reviews. Also, book online in well advance to save a lot of stress.

Use discount promo code to save on tours

I have joined forces with high-quality tour operators to bring you great deals on their tours. These are people who have a real passion for what they do and you are assured to have a fantastic experience if book with them. We only work with high-quality operators we know and trust.

Safe money in Iceland

We have a great section on how to travel in Iceland on a budget. Iceland is not a cheap destination by no means but it is worth it!

Advice for family travel in Iceland

I have gotten consistent feedback about how Iceland is a great destination for families with children. To make sure the little ones stay warm to make sure that they wear layered clothing. As one of our interviewees said: “never use cotton as a base layer, especially during winter. First non-itchy wool, like merino, followed by a fleece or preferably thicker wool, and finish off with a good wind and waterproof snowsuit or bunting. Warm and waterproof shoes are a necessity. Wool during summer is a sensible thing in Iceland as well as a beanie, scarf, and gloves.” I also want to point out that you can search for family-friendly hotels and another form of accommodation.

Use forecasts to maximize the chance of seeing the northern lights

It can be tough to catch the northern lights. Fortunately, there are many great resources for those are hunting the northern lights. You can, for example, use the Live Aurora Network app or the Aurora Forecast website. Some of my respondents recommending coming to Iceland in March or September. You will have the change to see the northern lights while having a lot of daylight. Kind of smart actually. On balance I would rather recommend September rather than March. The weather is often better then.

Stay safe while hunting for the northern lights

I once had a close call. I almost ran somebody over who was photographing the northern lights on the shoulder of a road in the middle of the night. It was pitch black and the man was hunched over his camera and tripod, all dressed in dark clothes. I just saw him moments before my car hit him and was able to swerve away. So if you are out there looking for the northern lights in the dark please wear reflectors and be mindful of your surroundings.

Soak in public swimming pools

Many of my respondents have become fans of Icelandic swimming pools. I agree. Places such as the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths, Krauma, Húsavík GeoSea baths, and the Secret Lagoon are great. Also, you do well to check out the geothermally heated public swimming pools.

Stay warm and safe in Iceland

Iceland is called Iceland for a reason. The weather changes all the time. It is necessary to follow the weather report but please keep in mind that predicting the weather here is sometimes near impossible. So be prepared for all kinds of weather even it is high summer. Wear layers, be prepared for heavy wind, horizontal rain and intense sunshine so bring sunglasses and sunscreen.

There is more about dressing right on this page

Winters in Iceland

Winters in Iceland can be brutal. Be prepared. Again, think layers and never ever wear cotton if you are out and about in the wintertime. Wear waterproof shoes, wear gloves, have a warm hat and wear a warm waterproof jacket.

Wearing jeans or other cotton clothing in the highlands on hiking trips in summer has proved fatal on several occasions. This sounds like a crazy exaggeration but it is not. The last point about safety is that the web site has a lot of sound safety advice. Study and follow it.


The Amazing Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Photo by Martin Schulz.
The Amazing Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Photo by Martin Schulz.

Advice for taking photos in Iceland

I am not a great photographer as those who have read my articles can attest to. But I have interviewed many good ones who have come to Iceland to practice their art. They all recommend planning based on what your objectives for photography are. Birds such as eiders, swans, terns, and geese are common but if you want to see puffins, foxes northern gannets, and whales you need to plan. They recommend bringing at least two cameras, one with a wide-angle lens and one with a long lens. You will want to switch between photographing the landscapes and wildlife. A great book on how to photograph Iceland by the master photograph Martin Schulz is available and contains a lot of good advice on how to photograph Icelandic nature and landscapes.

Don’t take risks when taking photos

Too many of my respondents have probably witnessed people at the edge of cliffs or right on the water´s edge at the Black Beach at Reynisfjara risking their lives taking selfies. So they often mention you should not take unnecessary risks when taking photos. I could not agree more.

Advice for drone photography in Iceland

As my readers know I am a big fan of Iceland drone videos. My respondents advise you to check the weather forecast when flying and avoid very windy conditions. They warn you to be careful when you are flying around waterfalls and birds. Apparently, birds are prone to attack drones. They also talk about the need to have a lot of batteries handy. Finally, observe the restrictions on drone flying which are in effect.

Laugavegur hiking trail takes top spot in the list of most popular hiking trails . If you are going on a hike like this, make sure you do detailed Iceland tour Iceland in 2018.
Laugavegur hiking trail takes top spot in the list of most popular hiking trails in Iceland in 2018. If you are going on a hike like this, make sure you do detailed Iceland tour planning.

Iceland travel planning for hiking trips

Hiking guides recommend mainly two things for those who are going hiking in Iceland. The first thing is that you should check the weather forecast and never ever wear cotton. Good waterproof and breathable shoes are essential. When you are choosing clothes to be ready for stormy and rainy weather. You will love wool and gore-tex in such weather. Cold rain with strong wind is more perilous than freezing temperatures in winter. Bring a compass, map and a GPS device. Have plenty to drink and eat. Ask locals for advice and yet again, follow the advice on

Do your research for Iceland travel planning

Even some of my respondents are not keen on planning, most recommend you do your research before coming to Iceland. This can be done by watching Youtube videos or reading travel magazines such as this one. Google Maps and Tripadvisor are great tools of course.

More resources for Iceland travel planning

Stuck in Iceland Travel Magazine is all about helping you to see beautiful places in Iceland and finding fun things to do.

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Take advantage of our discount promo codes for top-rated tours, rent a car or book accommodation on this page and help to support this independent travel magazine. Since 2012 we have been helping people who want to experience Iceland plan and book their Icelandic adventure. We have interviewed dozens of travelers who have visited Iceland to get their unique perspective and advice on traveling in Iceland. Many travelers have sought inspiration from our articles on great destinations in Iceland.

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