Funny story: Graham and I went to Iceland in March, I blinked, and now it’s nearly September.
I really have struggled with what to say in this post. There are blog posts and articles all over the Internet about what to do in Iceland, how to save money, what to bring, and what you should know before you go. The market for advice is…well, just a little saturated. Not unlike my hair, my clothes, and my hiking boots after walking behind Seljalandsfoss on a damp day.
Worth it? Oh, absolutely.
With the collapse of WOW air and the rising sentiment that Iceland has become too much of a magnet for Millennials seeking adventure in its windswept landscapes, several of my friends asked me, when Graham and I got back, if our trip was worth it. Worth the cost, worth the time, worth fighting the hordes of other eager tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and bathe in crystal blue waters.
Again – oh, absolutely.
So, instead of doling out advice that you can find elsewhere, I’m just going to tell you why, even now that you can’t score super-cheap WOW air tickets (spoiler: we flew Icelandiar and it was great) and even now that Greenland is the new hotness, you should absolutely, 1000%, without any hesitation book your trip to Iceland.
The tourist spots are actually worth a stop.
We’ve all been there – trapped in a cramped elevator on the Eiffel Tower, stuck behind some wailing kid while you’re trying to snap a picture of the Grand Canyon, desperately huffing it up the hill at Edinburgh Castle just barely managing to keep up with the tour guide. In these moments, many of us – yes, even avid adventurers – can succumb to our lesser instincts and wonder, is this worth the hassle? Well, yeah, of course it is, and Iceland is no different.
You should absolutely see the geysers, pet the shaggy ponies, scale the craters, and walk along the black sand beaches.
Go play in a glacier lagoon and spot diamonds on the shore.
Will you have to deal with people? Sure, but they’re just as excited to be there as you are. Just give each other space and be patient. It is worth the hassle. I promise.
And if you go in the winter or early spring, there are ice caves.
And they’re really, really cool.
And they don’t all look the same.
A tour takes half a day. You have time to do another cool thing in the morning, and then play in the ice all afternoon. It’s kind of comforting to know that not all caves are dark and creepy.
My parents thought Graham and I were crazy to go to Iceland just when it was starting to warm up in Virginia, but if we’d gone in the summer, we would have totally missed this opportunity.
There’s plenty of culture and history to explore.
Iceland was first settled in 874 AD. The country has a rich history. Its people were and are a brave, hardy, and resourceful bunch. You’ll spot history from the car driving to your next hotel.
You’ll see it lauded in towns and cities.
And yes, there are museums, too.
Don’t miss out on actually learning the history of this little island. It will surprise you, and you’ll be better for knowing about it.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on food and lodging.
This was the view from our totally reasonably-priced Reykjavík hotel room:
And while we certainly splurged on a few meals, it’s not hard to find a quick bite. Hot dogs are an Icelandic favorite, and they’re not expensive, and they’re pretty damn tasty.
Iceland is not the least expensive place Graham and I have ever visited, and if you fancy a beer or a cocktail, do be prepared to drop some coin. But if you do your research and plan ahead, and if you aren’t visiting in the height of summer, your trip to Iceland won’t empty your bank account.
Icelanders have a sense of humor.
They’re fun people, and they’ll appreciate your visit.
And they’re artistic, literary, and whimsical.
Did you know that Iceland is one of the most literate nations in the world? Or that one in ten Icelanders will publish a book? If you like reading or art, you’ll be happy in Iceland.
There’s also some stunning architecture. This…
…was inspired by this:
You might even see a troll or two.
Iceland is really just heartbreakingly beautiful.
Just look at it.
You can see waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers, and mountains all in one day.
You can walk along a tectonic divide.
If you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the aurora (probably while you’re driving and your camera equipment is packed into the back of the car and you need to take pictures quickly with your cell phone or else you’ll miss it…do find a safe place to pull over).
The landscape in Iceland is unlike any other place in the world. Go see it.
If I haven’t convinced you to buy a plane ticket by now, let me leave you with this.
That mythical, dreamland Somewhere over the rainbow? I found it. It’s Iceland.
Have you booked your trip yet?