Beyond the Guidebooks: Five Tips for Visiting Iceland
Article by David Davies
With its strange, barren lunar landscape and extraordinarily civilised and cosmopolitan city culture, Iceland is one of the most fascinating and alluring countries in Europe.
Most people who visit here find themselves drawn back by the people, the culture and even the changeable weather.
Five Tips For an Enjoyable Visit
Before you take the plunge and book your holiday here are five tips that should make your time more enjoyable:
Iceland’s very own low-cost airline ‘Iceland Express’ offers flights from both London Stansted and Gatwick, and from many other European cities.
If you’re flying from the UK and you’re planning on parking at Gatwick it pays to book in advance through a company such as Essential Travel – they offer up to 60% discount on the list price of Gatwick Airport Parking.
Danger: Hot Water!
Iceland is situated on a geothermal hotspot and the islanders use this very much to their advantage with Geothermal power plants supplying much of the island’s electricity and hot water pumped straight into the home already pre-heated.
This disadvantage of this to the uninitiated is that the water is very nearly boiling when it comes out of the tap – a scalding 80 degrees in fact. Exercise caution when turning on the shower – and don’t mind the faint whiff of rotten eggs, it’s just the natural sulphur in the water.
When Dining Out, Ignore the Guidebooks
Most of the guidebooks that cover eating out on the island list the famous “old school” restaurants like Tvier Fiskar or Einar Ben. These are good for experiencing Icelandic specialities like puffin or whale; however eating there midweek or off-season you can easily find yourself the only table in the restaurant.
If you want something a bit more lively, take to the streets and see where the locals go – the restaurants in downtown Reykjavik are funky and cosmopolitan with modern European bistro food taking center stage rather than rotten shark.
Don’t Faint When You Get the Bill!
Eating, drinking, shopping and pretty much everything in Iceland is more expensive – hardly surprising when you realise that most fresh produce has to be imported.
However, unless you choose to dine at the most expensive restaurants in the capital, you can expect to pay slightly more than New York prices – around meal for a three course with wine would be typical.
Pubs too are slightly more expensive with beer coming in at around a pint – not far off the typical -7 we’re getting used to paying in the US.
Nightclubs are a different story – you could easily pay around for a beer but it’s common for Icelanders to do their drinking at home before heading out.
They Grow Bananas in Iceland
Oh yes, despite being on the Arctic Circle, Icelanders have rather cleverly used geothermal springs to heat large greenhouses – and grow bananas!
Finally, one last tip that stands for pretty much any destination is: make sure you have adequate travel insurance. Specialists such as AA Travel Insurance can provide appropriate cover whether you’re planning on going bananas in Iceland or you’re just there to admire the scenery.
About the Author
David Davies is a travel advisor and recommends that you take out travel insurance or annual travel insurance policy depending on the nature of your travels.