We’re considering a trip to Iceland in June. Any recommendations?

My wife and I are in our mid fifties. My wife’s friend is about 5 years younger than us and has a grade 6 son. We are all fairly active.

None of us speak Icelandic (or Danish). We are English only except for my passable Spanish.

What advice would you give us when considering Iceland in the early summer?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

How long are you going for? That will dictate a lot.

We did the Iceland Air stop over last March for 3 nights. We stayed in Reykjavik at an AirBnB and rented a car to get around.

Reykjavik - Art Gallery, Settlement Exhibition, Hallgrimskirkja Church (the weather was lousy so the tower was closed), Flea Market
Golden Circle - Geiser, Kerid crater, Friðheimar | (a Tomato greenhouse, reservations a must!)
Blue lagoon on the last day

We did fairly touristy things, but everyone we encountered spoke English. One thing to note is that everything is EXPENSIVE! Like $18 for a burger and $8 for a coffee.

I’m guessing that we would travel on Saturdays so we’d have 6 full days.

First reply nailed it. I have only spent 6 days in the country but enjoyed Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, whale watching, and the Blue Lagoon. Yes, it’s all expensive. I understand there are places similar to the Blue Lagoon that are less of a tourist trap and therefore cheaper, but to me it was worth it. Didn’t have any problems making ourselves understood in English, it’s very widely spoken - well, certainly in Reykjavik. If I went again I would like to explore the wilder centre and east of the country more.

The Blue Lagoon is unique and worth going to, but you should also go to a regular, public swimming pool at least once. They are very nice, with hot pools and sometimes a waterslide, and it’s a cultural experience. Read up on the etiquette before you go.

Everyone speaks English. No issues there.

Don’t convert the prices. Just go with it.

I agree with finding an apartment to rent on Air BnB and renting a car. I would pass on hotels, because apartments are so plentiful to rent (and most available look quite nice).

There’s lots of chatter on what insurance you need to buy for car rentals, due to road debris, ash, and other hazards. I just said “fuck it” and bought the full ride. Other travelers will say that people should buy this kind and not that… buy my approach was that everything else is so damned expensive in the country, why skimp on insurance? Seriously, you’re not going to eat dinner for less than $35 a person, ever. The silly insurance cost is just the price of travel, IMHO.

Agree with going to public pools. They are really nice, and read up on the etiquette. I saw that the price of the Blue Lagoon has gone up phenomenally since my first trip to Iceland, and I think spending $60 per person for entry to the Blue Lagoon is right at the verge of not being worth it, but it is a pretty cool place. And if you do decide to go, book your ticket in advance, don’t just show up.

With six days, you could decide to break the Golden Circle into two days. Pingvallir could be most but not all of a day, depending how much you like light hiking. Then you could do Geysir and the waterfall the second day. You can see Geysir in like 30 minutes, but I think there was more time you could spend at the waterfall. But you can also do this all in one day, too.

Previous thread: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=827421

If not actually everyone, certainly just about all those who interact with tourists do.

I second everything said so far, and I would add - go Puffin Spotting! Can’t remember the name of the place we went - a volcanic stack quite a distance east of Reykjavik - but I could have spent the day there. When it comes to flying, puffins learned it from a manual. Nobody ever told them you don’t steer with your feet. Oh, and on the way there - wherever it is - you pass a sea level glacier.

The really strong memory I have about Iceland is a constant sense of not quite believing what you see. “Hmm, there appears to be steam coming out of the pavement…”, “I see someone has attempted to convert that lava field into a golf course”- and so on.

Also, unless things have changed recently, you don’t tip in Iceland - it’s slightly insulting.

Finally - and again, it’s been a few years - the typical restaurant food is not what you might expect. I guess you can dine on whale if you look hard enough and pay enough, but much of what we saw was noodles/rice/etc. I just presumed that if you import much of your food you’re free to import what you actually like.


  1. I studied some Icelandic phrases. It’s a hard language, and everyone speaks fluent English. But it was appreciated, Icelanders love their unique language, and love books.

  2. It’s very expensive. Consider bringing small items and staying at AirBnBs. Consider cooking occasionally — a pound of bacon would cost $50 US (at the cheap place). It was cheaper at Subway.

  3. There are cheaper grocery stores, and convenience stores might be 2-3 times pricier.

  4. Icelandic seafood and lamb are delicious. I would avoid puffin and fermented shark. I didn’t eat horse, didn’t like the idea, but I’ll bet it is tasty. The skyr (yogurt cheese with fruit) is good and very healthy.

  5. The lagoons are okay. Book them now if you want to do the Blue Lagoon — fills up months in advance.

  6. I loved the Icelandic gyms and CrossFit. The Icelanders go there to hang out in hot tubs and chat, so good to meet locals. Icelanders are very fit.

  7. See the Northern lights. I used an IPhone app, but I don’t know anything about photography.

  8. Lots of tour buses visit the impressive waterfalls, black beaches, glaciers. Ask the driver to take you privately to see the Northern Lights or more obscure places.

  9. Bring your books — a novel could cost 40 dollars

  10. Iceland is the only place where the airport has the cheapest prices for alcohol and luxury goods. This is where locals stock up.

  11. Icelanders love hot dogs, maybe the most reasonably priced snack.