Iceland Stories and Tips

Iceland General Tips and Hints

* We had always thought that Iceland would be an exceptionally expensive destination for a holiday. Since the collapse of its currency - the krona - in 2008, it has actually transformed from being an extremely expensive destination for a family holiday to a relatively affordable one. It is not cheap by any means, but prices are more or less on a par with the UK. If you shop around, you can find reasonably affordable accommodation and restaurants.

* Iceland is a year round destination for holidays. In spring the days become much longer and culminate in the Midnight Sun - 24 hours of daylight in the height of summer. It is wonderful to go for a walk at 11.30 at night with a bright blue sky - we never ceased to be amazed by that. There are lots of festivals and outdoor events in spring and summer too. In winter, despite what you might think, the weather is actually fairly mild. Iceland has a temperate climate due to the Gulf Stream. This leads to relatively mild winters but also cool summers. It also does rain a lot - we experienced that a lot! Be sure to bring waterproof coats. Do not though, let the weather put you off. I was put off before I visited, but when I arrived, I actually hardly noticed the rain, the natural wonders in the country are so amazing.

* We did actually find the weather is extremely unpredictable and can change dramatically within an hour or so. Quite a few times during our week, we found that a freezing cold, wet day changed and within half an hour we had bright sunshine and blue skies. The south and west coasts tend to be the wettest areas and if you go somewhere with geothermal activity, it feels a bit warmer there.

* Sun can be an issue here too, even on glaciers and in the snow. You should have sunglasses with you at all times. The sun can really burn you here, even if it does not feel hot. This is due to the location of Iceland - its northerly latitude, so you should bring sun protection and lip balm. Pack clothes for all weathers whatever time of year you visit. You need to be prepared every day for the elements. The air is extremely clear, but the wind is very strong and can whip up dust in no time.

* You need to take care in Iceland, especially if you visit geothermal areas. They do not take health and safety into account and you are definitely not nannied in any way. Do not stand downwind of any geysers because of the heat of the steam. Watch children carefully in these areas too - you can get really close to the geysers and hot springs. Apparently around 10 people are actually taken to hospital on average every year with injuries from the hot springs.

* The official language is Icelandic. It was brought to the country by early Viking settlers and has hardly changed since those times. They are very proud of their language and make every effort to keep it pure. There is an official committee which invents new words for modern useage. English is very widely spoken and we did not meet anyone who could not speak or understand English. Many local people also speak Danish and German.

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