Last year, we spent 8 days driving ourselves along the southern coast of Iceland, fully taking advantage of the beginning of Icelandic summer. May is truly one of the best times of year to visit and there's plenty of things to do in Iceland then, that you would not be able to do in the winter months. After our 8 day road trip, and some time for reflections, here are our best tips for Iceland (that we wish we knew before going!).
1. STOCK UP ON FOOD AT BONUS SUPERMARKET NEAR REYKJAVIK
Probably the biggest lesson learned for us and topping our tips for Iceland list. As I'm sure you already know, Iceland is quite expensive (see #3 of this tips for Iceland list explaining how much things cost), naturally food makes up a large part of the budget, so getting food at a large supermarket will help you save money and provide a larger variety of things to choose from. BONUS is a great Icelandic supermarket, and many of these can be found around the Reykjavik area. BUT they are super limited once you drive further away from Reykjavik. On the southern Icelandic coast itinerary (going to the Glacier Lagoon), there are no large supermarkets, which means unless you stock up near Reykjavik, you'll be stuck with small shops with less variety and larger prices.
2. BOOK ACCOMMODATION IN ADVANCE
Compared to other popular travel destinations, we found that accommodation options in Iceland, are rarer. This automatically means that rooms will fill up faster, be more expensive and you'll have less choice. We started to book things about 3-4 weeks before we went and were already faced with challenges. To have a wide variety of options, start looking into accommodation around 5-6 weeks before your trip.
For travelers wanting more comfort and a private bathroom, hotels will be the way to go. Your lower budget options will start from ± 110-175€/night and range all the way up to super luxury hotels. Splurging on a hotel in Iceland will mean you will get to lay in bed and look out onto a glacier or marvelous waterfall (for example if you stay at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon ± 250€/night) or stay like the likes of Kim Kardashian, who lived at The Retreat hotel (starting from 1000€/night) when she went to the Blue Lagoon.
Mostly situated around the Reykjavik area, with only a few further out, this will be slightly cheaper (averaging about 60-90€/night for two people) but can be crowded and harder to find/book unless you do it in advance.
Probably the most popular and accessible option, you will usually get a private room, have to share a bathroom and other facilities, staying with a local Icelandic family. Although lighter on privacy, this is a great way to meet other travelers (usually around the breakfast table) as well as chat to and get top tips from locals. These will range from 70-170€/night for a double room with shared facilities).
3. PLAN YOUR BUDGET
So is Iceland really that expensive? We'll let you judge that yourself, but here's a brief breakdown:
Accommodation (for two people) - starting from 60-200EUR/night
Snacks (from a gas station) - 2 MILKA chocolates and 1 bag of skittles = 19EUR
Pizza or a burger at an average restaurant - 30 EUR
Hot water for tea (we had our own tea and own cup) - 2,50 EUR
Rental car + tax and insurance for 8 days - 250 EUR
Planning your budget in advance, knowing how much things can cost will let you stay clear of the shock once you get there and remains a tip for Iceland travel that is no less important than the others.