Travelling in Iceland

Iceland is a volcanic island in the North Atlantic Sea, which is known for its mesmerizing beauty. With a population of 325,671 and an area of 103,000 km2 in Europe. It has been a colony to both Norway and Denmark but it became independent in 1918 and a republic in 1944. It is one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in Europe. Despite what Iceland’s name suggests, only 10% of its surface consists of glaciers, as most of the time the temperature is mild due to warm ocean currents from the Gulf of Mexico.

If you find the beauty of untouched and exotic landscapes mesmerising you will enjoy going to Iceland. It is located very close to Arctic Circle and the amount of sunlight varies drastically from one season to another. During the month of December there are nearly 20 hours of darkness, while during June and July the sun never seems to set. For many the summer season is the best time to visit Iceland. Unlike many other destinations traffic isn’t to heavy and you can easily explore many of the top locations without being surrounded by huge crowds. To hire a car is one of the best ways to explore Iceland and when you choose to look for a car rental we will help you get some of the best deals so that you can enjoy the whole of Iceland.

However, summer is not the only time suitable for visiting Iceland. A visit during the wintertime can offer you a different perspective, a distinct beauty and fantastic pictures. Moreover, the rates for renting a car are lower and so is the prices of hotels.

Iceland is a very young country, both geologically and historically speaking. Back in the 9th century, Iceland was colonised by Nordic and Irish people. According to historical documents the very first settler here was Ingolfur Arnarson, a Norwegian Viking. It is believed that even prior to his arrival a few Irish monks had settled in Iceland. Due to the isolation of Iceland it is possible for modern Icelanders to understand texts written not long after the island’s settlement.

 

Climate

While the names suggest that the country must be covered by ice, that is far from being the truth.Regardless of the forbidding name, Iceland is one of those countries that have mild winters despitetheir northern location. If you compare the climate of Iceland with i.e. that of Russia, Norway or Canada you will find Iceland to have a warmer climate.

The winters aren’t really harsh but what makes Icelandic climate really special has to be the sudden changes in the weather. It is a common joke among locals that if you hate the weather all you need to do is wait for 10 minutes and it is bound to have changed drastically.

During summertime you should bring a windbreaker, rainwear, a thick pullover and sturdy walking shoes. During wintertime warm clothing is recommended, warm coat, mittens etc. Iceland has many swimming pools, usually with geothermally heated water. Hence, in either season you should bring a swim suit.

National Parks

Iceland has many beautiful nature reserves, such as Eldborg, Breiðafjörður, Dettifoss and Mývatn, as well as three national parks:

Vatnajökull National Park

The most recent of Iceland’s national parks was established in 2008. It encompasses not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive surrounding areas, including Skaftafell in the southwest, and

Jökulsárgljúfur in the north. The park covers 13% of Iceland, making it one of the largest national parks in Europe.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides being a location of historical significance, it is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features.

Snæfellsjökull National Park

Undisputedly the main attraction of the National Park is the Snæfellsjökull Glacier—the beautiful magnet of the western peninsula. This active volcano, which stands 1,446 m high, provided the setting for Jules Vernes’ famous Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The Best Way to Travel

When planning a trip to Iceland, you should consider renting a car. It is the best ways to travel in Iceland due to a poor system of public transportation. If you want to explore the true beauty of Iceland and go to other places than those included in all the regular tours on offer, this is possible by renting a car and being the boss of your own time and travel.

The cost of renting a car can vary depending on the season and the advance with which you book the car. The price will cover basic insurances; however, if you are looking to get some additional coverage, you may have to pay extra.

A 2WD car can be sufficient for exploring many of Iceland’s beautiful sights. However, if you want to be a bit more adventurous and want to venture into some more secluded territories, like the awesome geothermal area Landmannalaugar, or the highland paradise Þórsmörk, you should definitely choose a 4WD SUV or truck .

The highland roads, or the F­roads as they are called, can be really rough, with a lot of twists and turns. The most popular of these roads are Kjalvegur or F35, Sprengisandsleið or F26 and Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri or F208, the last of those leads to Landmannalaugar. Kjalvegur and Sprengisandsleið used to be the main roads between the north and the south of Iceland. Owing to harsh weather conditions it is advised not to travel alone. It is important to know that when you are renting a 4WD you usually have to reserve in advance. This is particularly true when going to Iceland in the peak season (June to early September) as renting a car in Iceland has become very popular.

It is important to remember that when you are driving in Iceland, you need to stay on the right side of the road. The headlights must be on at all times and seat belts are obligatory. There are various self­service petrol stations so you are able to get gas 24/7. You can use charge or credit card but make sure to have your personal identification number. There are also stations that sell you prepaid cards which you can use to buy gas. When you travel around Iceland it is advised to keep in mind that gas stations can be far apart in certain areas. In a typical year most of the mountain roads remain closed till the end of June, they can even

sometimes be closed for even longer because the roads may be muddy and wet because of excessive rain. The speed limit for rural roads on paved surfaces is generally 90 km/hr, but if the road is made of gravel you should not exceed 80 km/hr. It can also be lower in certain rural areas for various reasons. However, in urban areas the speed limit is 50 km/hr unless otherwise specified. There are many speed cameras around the country and if you exceed the speed limit you may find yourself facing a big fine. There is also a heavy penalty for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It is important for drivers in Iceland to be thoroughly familiar with the different traffic signs because driving conditions in Iceland can be very harsh. Not all roads are of the best quality because black basalt of rough nature has been used for making them. In certain areas there are dangerous rivers that have to be crossed, this can be precarious if you haven’s opted for theadequate rental car.

Signs like “malbik endar” signify that the paved road has ended and a gravel road will begin. You must therefore slow down your car when you see such notices. The sign “einbreið brú” is signalling the beginning of a single lane bridge.

There is only one place in Iceland where a road toll has to be paid. This is in the tunnel Hvalfjarðargöng, which is located about 30 km north from Reykjavik.

Language

The official language of the country is Icelandic. Of all the Nordic languages Icelandic is the one that is most similar to the 13th century Norse language. You will discover that almost all Icelanders can converse in English and some Scandinavian language. A high number of Icelanders can also communicate in a third language, e.g. German, French or Spanish. As in most other countries the locals will appreciate your effort at learning the most common and simple phrases in their language. “Góðan dag” means Good day/morning and “Takk fyrir” signifies Thank you.

What to See in Iceland?

Iceland is an extremely beautiful country which has a lot to offer to its travellers. When you are

visiting this part of the world, these are some of the top points that you must not miss.

• The Blue Lagoon: a geothermal spa and one of the key sights in Iceland.

• Gullfoss: a 32m high waterfall whose might will not fail to impress.

• Geysir: the most famous geyser (yes that is where the name comes from!) in the world

• Thingvellir National Park: a lava field where continents meet and a former seat of the

Icelandic parliament.

• Jokulsarlon: a beautiful lake right next to the largest glacier in Europe, you can go on a boat trip between the icebergs.

• Landmannalaugar: A geothermal paradise in the Icelandic highlands.

• Borgarfjörður Eystri: A secluded area in the East of Iceland with lots of hiking routes

• Dimmuborgir: The most wondrous lava formation you can imagine.

• Snæfellsjokull: The volcano/glacier in the West.

• Dynjandi: One of the most photogenic waterfalls in Iceland, thanks to its unusual triangular cascade .

From September to April you might get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are truly Iceland’s most magnificent phenomenon. Cuisine Not so long ago Icelandic food was very limited. Restaurants were relatively scarce and grocery stores would not offer much variety of spices or any other exotic food items. However, this has changed drastically in the last two decades or so. Today there is a multitude of all kinds of restaurants in Reykjavik and you can even find Indonesian or Ethiopian restaurants in small villages in Iceland. The most common food items in Iceland are lamb and different types of fish.

Traditional Icelandic dishes include hangikjot (smoked lamb), svid (sheep’s head), skyr (a thick type of yogurt, rich in protein), lamb soup and the typical Icelandic hotdog. There are a lot of options for vegetarians in Reykjavik; however, in the country side it might be more limited, even more so for vegans.

Enjoy your trip

Now that you are aware of some of the essentials Iceland has to offer you can make the most out of your trip. A huge relief to any problems concerning issues of commodity or budget can be avoided by opting for the most suitable rental car for your trip. When you have secured the finest services you will get to know the best locations with out any worries and take pictures and memories of great moments and place with you back home. We recommend having your rental car waiting for you in Keflavik so that your journey can start right away. Góða ferð!