Photography Journey to the Arctic Circle


Planning for a trip to Iceland

We’re planning for a summer trip to the land of Fire and Ice.  Also the land of trolls, volcanoes, glaciers, best hot dogs in the world and fermented shark’s head.

What we know

  • Flights to Iceland are very inexpensive.  Many people take advantage of the no up charge, up to seven day, stop over on the way to Europe via Icelandic Air.
  • Food is very expensive just like Alaska or Hawaii or other remote areas.  Eating out is pricey so plan to make your own meals to save some dough.
  • Its cold!  Pack warmly as Iceland is cold, windy and rainy most of the time.
  • The majority of Iceland is not populated. Mostly the coastline is habitable.  You won’t have any trouble finding some peace and quiet.
  • Renting a camper van is a great way to see Iceland – this is what we will be doing.
  • Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city.  Lots of the natural wonders of Iceland can be seen within an 1 hour and a half drive or bus from the capital including the famous Blue Lagoon natural hot spring.
  • The Blue Lagoon requires reservations and tickets.
  • The country is 95% native Icelanders  and they speak Icelandic but most people also speak English at least in the more touristy areas.
  • The Ring Road or RT1 circumnavigates the entire island, its paved all the way but you will come across one way bridges.

Iceland from Ugmonk on Vimeo.

Tips from a friend who often goes camper vanning in Iceland:

  • You won’t get lost on the ring road.
  • Do your research beforehand so you have names and locations of campsites along the way. Many people speak English but not all.
  • Larger towns have grocery stores where you can pick up what you’ll need to cook at the campsite, otherwise, you go to the individual bakery and fruit market for your supplies. If you have dry snacks you like and want to bring, pack those. But pay attention to the weight of your bag.
  • We each had a large roller duffel and we packed sleeping bags as well.
  • When we rented our camper, we also rented the linen package that came with towels, blankets and pillows. Do that! Bring a few extra small (dark – just in case you want to use them to cover windows) towels in case your towels don’t dry.
  • Everything is expensive. Plan on it and forget about it.
  • We used credit cards everywhere though have CC cards with a chip and set up a pin because some places have that double security requirement.
  • The campsites we stayed at had hot showers and toilets. One had laundry but everything takes a long time to dry so I wouldn’t count on it. If you choose to do laundry at some point, find a laundromat in a larger town and use the hours to plan on bouncing around or doing something touristy. We didn’t do any laundry while camping.
  • Pack for all sorts of weather. The highest temps will be low 60s probably. Nights can get down to the low 40s.
  • Weather – You could have sun or rain or sleet or snow.
  • It’s wet – I had two pairs of sneakers in case one got wet and flip flops for showers and a nicer pair of flats to go out.
  • Gear – I basically packed all my athletic wear. Capris, leggings, skorts, tank tops, long sleeve wicking tops and heavier tops to layer. All manner of socks. Hats and mittens and four different weight jackets. The only thing I didn’t wear was the true fall weight jacket but we had spectacular weather and had it been any different I might have pulled that one out of the bag.
  • Bring bathing suits. There is a pool in every town, you can shower there and there are often hot springs.
  • Public pools have strict personal hygiene rules. Put away worries about dignity.  Rules of hygiene are taken very seriously with regard to the pools and all visitors are required to shower thoroughly without a swimsuit before entering the water.
  • Liquor – When you land in Reykjavik, there is a duty free shop at the baggage claim. Buy some stuff there (aka liquor).  Hard liquor is not sold outside of bars.  There are a lot of weird alcohol laws – https://wowair.us/magazine/alcohol-in-iceland/  Basically if you are a heavy drinker, Iceland is probably not the place for you.
  • Icelandic candy is lovely!