Things to Know Before You Go to Iceland: Fire, Ice, and Northern Lights

Are you ready to explore the land where fire meets ice? This guide unveils all the essential things to know before you go to Iceland. Gear up for an epic adventure filled with natural wonders and vibrant culture.

Friends enjoying a hearty laugh at a geothermal hot spring in Iceland
Friends enjoying a hearty laugh at a geothermal hot spring in Iceland

Ice-Capades: Your Guide to Exploring Iceland

Iceland, a captivating realm where glaciers cover about 11% of the landscape, is a true paradise for adventurers seeking the extraordinary. Understanding these essential things to know before you go to Iceland is a good start for anyone venturing into this land of stark contrasts and natural wonders. After all, these tips will enhance your visit, from basking under the glow of the Northern Lights to warming up in the enchanting geothermal pools

ThisCityKnows is here to guide you through the icy stretches and volcanic warmth of this Nordic island. So prepare to explore this dreamy destination, from the cultural pulse of Reykjavik to the serene fjords that beckon with their pristine beauty. 

Join us on this frosty adventure as we explore a world where every view is a postcard and every moment is steeped in natural wonder.

Choosing Your Iceland Adventure Time

Selecting the right time to travel is one of the most pivotal things to know before you go to Iceland. That’s because weather and daylight hours can dramatically influence what you’ll be able to see and do.

Consider these insights before you go:

Optimal Travel Seasons

  • Summer (June to August): Enjoy up to 24 hours of sunlight and long days that are perfect for hiking and wildlife watching.
  • Shoulder Seasons (May and September): These months offer cooler temperatures and fewer tourists. Plus, they’re great for a more relaxed exploration!

Key Nature Things to See

  • Northern Lights: From September to April, these mesmerizing lights grace the night sky.
  • Whale Watching: Visit from April to October to spot migrating whales.
  • Puffin Watching: These rare birds are best seen from April through August.

With these months in mind, you’re sure to catch Iceland at its best depending on which activity you wish to indulge in. Next, let’s look at how to get around the island safely and efficiently.

Adventurer in orange gazes at a powerful Icelandic waterfall
Adventurer in orange gazes at a powerful Icelandic waterfall

Iceland on the Move

Navigating Iceland’s diverse landscapes is another pivotal aspect to consider when planning your visit. With that, knowing how best to get around is crucial. 

If, say, you opt to rent a car, you’ll be provided the ultimate freedom. And yes, it will allow you to explore the breathtaking scenery at your own pace. Of course, this is more ideal for those who want the flexibility to stop at hidden gems and take in the stunning vistas without being tied to a timetable. 

But for those looking for a more cost-effective option, Iceland’s extensive bus network offers an affordable way to travel between major tourist sites. Although it lacks the flexibility you get with a private car, it connects all significant locations efficiently. 

Lastly, for reaching remote areas quickly, domestic flights within Iceland are an excellent choice. These flights save time and offer a bird’s-eye view of the island’s rugged landscape, making them a spectacular option for those short on time or aiming to visit far-flung destinations.

Choosing your mode of transport wisely will allow you to make the most of your visit. 

Now you may ask, what you can expect to see and do in Iceland. Let’s dive into this magical destination’s must-visit spots and must-try dishes!

Iceland’s Must-Sees and Must-Tastes

Getting to know the top attractions and best local food is definitely among the thrilling things to know before you go to Iceland. From geysers that blow your mind to culinary delights that will melt your heart, uncovering the sites and flavors of Iceland is essential for any traveler looking to heat up their icy expedition.

Here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

Can’t-Miss Sights

Culinary Adventures

  • Hákarl: A daring traditional Icelandic dish, known for its distinctive strong flavor, challenging even the bravest of palates.
  • Skyr:  A smooth, creamy, yogurt-like dairy product enjoyed in Iceland, perfect with any meal or as a snack.
  • Brennivín: Often called ‘Black Death,’ this potent Icelandic schnapps is flavored with caraway seeds that warms like lava.

Exploring these sites and sampling these foods offer a genuine taste of Iceland. And after a day of adventures, you’ll surely need a cozy place to rest. 

Let’s find out where you can unwind.

Woman in yellow jacket, arms wide, feeling the freedom  in Icelandic nature
Woman in yellow jacket, arms wide, feeling the freedom  in Icelandic nature

Resting Your Head in Iceland

Finding the right place to stay is crucial among the things to know before you go to Iceland. Whether you prefer urban excitement or tranquil nature, Iceland is sure to indulge every discerning traveler.


A bustling hub of art, culture, and nightlife, Reykjavik serves as an excellent starting point for day trips across the diverse Icelandic landscape.

Where to Stay: Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre offers a taste of modern Icelandic design and exclusive access to vibrant city life, complete with a geothermal spa.


Nestled near the mystical northern fjords, Akureyri is quieter and provides a gateway to Iceland’s wild northern attractions.

Where to Stay: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri is a cozy spot with stunning mountain views. Perfect for northern lights in winter, it features an on-site restaurant with local delicacies.


This quaint village is an essential stop for those exploring the rugged and picturesque southern Icelandic coast.

Where to Stay: Hotel Dyrhólaey promises comfortable rooms with panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding mountains, ideal for nature lovers.

The right lodging can ensure you recharge comfortably after your explorations. And now that your accommodation is sorted out, why not try and pick up some local phrases?

Chatting with Icelanders

Interacting with the locals is also a key aspect when immersing yourself in Icelandic culture. After all, knowing a few things to say in Icelandic can greatly enrich your experience. 

Here are essential phrases that will help you communicate more effectively and respectfully.

  • “Góðan daginn” (Good day): This simple yet friendly greeting is perfect for starting conversations on a positive note.
  • “Takk fyrir” (Thank you): An important phrase to express your gratitude, whether you’re receiving directions or service.
  • “Hvar er salerni?” (Where is the bathroom?): Knowing how to ask this question is crucial, especially as you explore rather compromising areas outdoors.

Mastering such basic phrases will at least enhance your interactions in Iceland. And now that you’re equipped with all these essential  things to know before you go to Iceland, you’re quite ready to embark on a breathtaking journey. 

Enjoy the land of fire and ice, and let your Icelandic adventure unfold in unforgettable ways with ThisCityKnows

Unveil the Arctic Aura with ThisCityKnows

From uncovering the mystery of the Northern Lights to soaking in the Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters, this guide has outlined all the essential things to know before you go to Iceland. Whether it’s choosing the right time to witness the mystical auroras or navigating the rugged landscapes by car or bus, we’ve covered the key elements to ensure your journey is as magical as the land itself.

Understanding the things to know before you go to Iceland is crucial in making your trip a journey into the heart of Iceland. And with ThisCityKnows, you’re experiencing your destination to its core. These shared insights will help you dive deeper into the culture, nature, and adventures that Iceland has to offer. 

Ready to turn your Icelandic dreams into reality? 

Let ThisCityKnows be your guide to a meticulously planned and magical Icelandic expedition. 

Plan with us today, and make your next travel experience extraordinary!

Author: Lei

Armed with curiosity and a knack for planning, Lei loves finding cool stuff to do and places to see that aren't packed with tourists. This City Knows becomes her platform to guide you through the world's wonders, sharing easy tips for making your trip awesome and packed with memories.

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