Top 10: Things I wish I knew before Iceland

#1 Go hike whatever you want
For some reason, I expected to find hiking trails and parks all over the country; however, that was not the case. In a nutshell, you can pull your car over wherever and just go hike any of the hills and mountains you want. You’ll find that most of the fields next to the road have fences preventing an easy access, but they’re short. So hop on over and go have yourself an adventure.

#2 Don’t follow the speed limit
Anywhere outside the Reykjavik city limits, you will find yourself driving from one small town to the next. Which means you’ll most likely be one of only a dozen cars on the road, going both ways. If your +2hrs away from the city, you’ll drive for miles before seeing another car. So what does this all mean? Just that it’s pointless to follow the 90km-h speed limit if you’re the only one out there. Side note, we only saw 2 police cars the entire week we were there, both being in Reykjavik.

#3 The towns are small…and nothing is open late
You’d think we would’ve learned after the first night, that restaurants and stores would not be open past 8:30/9:00PM. Yet, every single day we would get into the next town past 9:00PM, exhausted, hungry, and in search for anything we could eat. Never having any luck. It might have been because we went during the off-season (April); but still, wish we knew to prepare ourselves for food every night.

#4 Bars (not clubs) don’t get good until 2AM and go till 5AM
Similar to most other European countries (Spain), you go out very late and you stay out even later. Which normally isn’t a problem, but when you get up with the sun every morning to go out and see the countryside, it was a struggle. Also, there aren’t clubs, but the bar scene is incredible. Not to mention they are all on the same street, so you’re bound to go out with your hostel-mates and make some unforgettable memories.

#5 There’s a gas stations & Wi-Fi in nearly every town
There’s a saying that is told to every tourist when they are signing the documents to rent a car, “Whenever you see a gas station, get it! Because you never know when you’ll find the next one.” But in Iceland, for as rural as it may seem, there are gas stations everywhere (30 miles apart at most). Not to mention there was Wi-Fi in every town we went to. So stop in, load directions to the next spot, fill up on gas, upload a pic to Instagram, and keep truckin!

#6 Everywhere accepts credit cards (aka don’t need cash)
I still have no idea what an Icelandic Krona looks like. We paid for everything with credit cards (as long as they have a chip). As a bonus, every single place offered to split the check and allow us to pay separately. We kept meaning to stop at an ATM for some cash; but as each day passed, we kept putting it off until we found ourselves back in the airport, never having used cash all week.

#7 Local Icelanders know all the best spots
For example, hot springs are all over the place. Unfortunately, most have been commercialized and are pretty much glorified hot tub resorts. So ask around and you’ll find some pretty incredible places in the mountains to really explore and have an awesome time.

#8 You won’t see everything, but you’ll see a ton
Social media has really showcased the best places to see and visit while traveling through the country. For most, you won’t be able to see the North or West coasts, but trust me when I say, “You will have an endless amount of things to do and waterfalls to see…wherever you go!” I cannot recommend the south coast enough, for both beauty and adventure.

#9 Constantly keep an eye on the weather report
Iceland is an island, with mountains, in the north… aka be ready to expect any form of weather at the drop of a hat. Because the terrain is so diverse, you’ll experience torrential rain storms one minute and sunny skies a few miles down the road. Or one minute as you’re half way up the mountain it’s a bluebird day, next thing see is a hazy fog roll in through the valley and now you’re socked in with zero visibility. So be careful out there.

#10 Fresh, drinkable water is everywhere
Don’t worry about buying water or needing to fill up your water bottles at every stop. 99% of the water that’s flowing on Iceland has been naturally filtered through the country’s rocky, volcanic surface. So pull over to a stream, dip your bottle under the surface, and enjoy the best tasting water you’ve ever had. Plus it makes you look like a badass.

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