When we started planning our trip to Iceland for a long weekend we went through tons of blogs and articles looking for information that might proof useful. Most of what we learnt before going turned out to be true, but there were some things that were not accurate. Here’s our subjective list of tips and information that you’ll need before you visit Iceland.


  1. Insure your car!

The most important thing you need to check is whether your insurance covers the damage of the windshield. Otherwise you’ll get a shiver down your spine every time another car passes you throwing tiny little stones from its’ wheels right onto your windshield. Plus at the seaside you’ll experience tough driving conditions due to very strong wind. Better to be and safe than sorry.

  1. It will be cold! Very cold!

And this is a controversial matter because… it might not be. When there’s no wind it can actually be quite warm. We were there at the end of January expecting to almost freeze to death, when in fact it was 8 degrees Celsius! When the sun was shining it was really pleasant. Of course we did not get to enjoy it for very long. Every 5 minutes a hailstorm and strong wind (over 60 km/h) appeared out of nowhere. So, while it might not be freezing, you should still pack warm, waterproof clothes, hat and gloves. Just in case.

  1. You’ll get to see northern lights

If you’re very lucky. Two conditions must be met. Of course solar activity is needed, but even with a huge magnetic storm going on we might still not be able to see anything if there are annoying clouds above us! If seeing aurora borealis is your goal than it’s better to be spontaneous with your trip. Keep up with the forecasts and book your flight last minute, only when there really is a chance to see this amazing phenomenon in real life. Here are two forecast websites we recommend:



  1. One day in Reykjavik is enough

This statement is actually true. In my opinion not even a whole day, as Reykjavik is a very “compact” city. You can get anywhere on foot. The only case you might need a car is if you want to visit the Grotta lighthouse located on the western coast. The majority of tourist attractions is located around Tjornin lake. The city itself has a great atmosphere, so it’s worth visiting!

  1. Wherever you are in Reykjavik you’ll be able to see Hallgrímskirkja, but will need a map anyway

Hallgrímskirkja is a 73 meters high church and a second highest building in an entire city. It really is visible from almost every place in Reykjavik making it easier to navigate around the city. For the price of 900 ISK you can visit the church tower and admire the magnificent panorama from there. It is still useful to own a map and it’s even better to simply download an offline version of the one(we recommend maps.me mobile app).

  1. You can pay by card everywhere

That’s one hundred percent true. Every shop, pub, restaurant and gas station accept card payments. We didn’t pay cash once, not even when we were driving via Golden Circle to visit Kerid lake located inside a volcano (which, btw, is the only place we had to pay anything for the Golden Circle). The only time you might actually need some cash is when you’re paying for parking. Here’s a map of paid parking zones in Reykjavik:

mapka stref płatnych w Reykjaviku

  1. Pubs get busy after midnight

When we got to Kaffibarrin, a bar known from the movie “101 Reykjavik”, at 10 p.m. on Saturday there was no more than 4 people except from us. We were a bit shocked to be honest, but it soon turned out the Icelanders prefer to get drunk at home and get to the bars after midnight, when they’re in party moods.

  1. Weird smell will follow you around the entire time you’re there

That was the first thing we noticed right after we left the plane at Keflavik airport (located 40 minutes outside the centre of Reykjavik). This weird smell did not leave as for a minute for the whole trip, but it did faint along the way. It’s nothing bad, just something typical for a volcanic island.

  1. You can drink tap water

If the smell doesn’t bother you. It’s the same smell mentioned before. It wasn’t disgusting, but it did get stronger when poured into a plastic bottle. You’ll just have to see for yourselves.

Islandzkie widoczki

  1. It’s very expensive in Iceland

Not really. It definitely is more expensive than in Poland though. Here’s some examples:

  • Accommodation: We used booking.com, changed a few dates, and ended up paying around 100 euros for two people for 3 nights. Not bad at all. Plus, if you’re on a budget, there are always campings.
  • Car rental: The chepeast car we could find was via holiday autos service. Along with insurance it was around 90 euros for 3 days.
  • Food: If you want to dine in restaurants you need some backup money. We paid 2200 ISK for a burger and fries. Hot dogs in a popular street food stall (Bæjarins Beztu) are around 400 ISK. If you need to save your pennies we recommend shopping in Bonus supermarket chain and cooking for yourselves.

Interesting fact no.1: If you plan on eating at McDonalds you won’t be able to. There is no McDonalds in Iceland. There’s however KFC, so you’ll manage.

Interesting fact no.2: There’s free coffee available in some of the Bonus stores as well as gas stations. You can pump yourself full of caffeine totally for free.