In the last five to 10 years, Iceland has become a topic of conversation amongst travel-savvy Americans. What once was deemed as a "cold" and somewhat uninteresting place has now become one of the hottest (not literal) places to visit. I believe The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Icelandair definitely went to work in creating a stir about this cold little island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Whomever lovingly christened Iceland with its name must have been wanting to protect it because that name surely can't appeal to anyone other than a penguin.
I cannot take full credit for planning this trip. My mom and her friend decided to join in my European excursion and, well, took over. But in a good way. They planned a lot of our stay in Iceland and since I am not over the age of 25, I gladly let them. As a youngin', traveling can be a bit challenging at times- highly recommend roping a family member or an older friend in these instances.
Renting a car in Iceland is seemingly easier than other parts of the EU, the Icelandic people seem a bit more relaxed on the road which should calm the nerves of newbie car renters. We did have a near fender bender one night when a crazy driver decided to cut my mom off in the middle of a roundabout. Be cautious when driving on foreign lands... People in Europe don't mess around when trying to get from point A to point B.
Iceland is not cheap. Not even remotely reasonable in terms of the US dollar. If you go here, know that it will cost you. Right now, the Icelandic krona is down compared to previous years, but even with that the cost of living in Iceland is expensive. Example: a dozen eggs goes for about $8 from the market. To get a small lunch (as pictured below), it will cost you about $25 without a drink. (And I thought my $11 salad by my work was expensive!) Go to Iceland with an open mind and an open wallet. Their cost of living is higher because of locally sourced jobs and importing fees.
I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb while in Iceland. The hotels are pricey and an Airbnb can save you a lot of money and give you extra amenities like a kitchen, larger space to spread out, etc. We stayed in a lovely little cottage next to the sea and loved the view we had waking up each morning. The cottage was small but had a spacious bathroom, kitchen and all the necessary items needed to stay comfortably for a few nights. Take a peek on Airbnb.com and you will find many enchanting places to stay all over the country.
The best part about traveling to Iceland is meeting its people. They are so cheerful and welcoming to their island. My favorite part was talking with the locals and better understanding their way of life. You'll also get the bonus of knowing the inside scoop to hot restaurants, best places to shop, where to tour during certain seasons and... you may just make a life-long friend.
If given the chance, travel to Iceland and discover it's alluring charm. It may be cold, it may be pricey, but through all of that is a homey warmth that fills you right up and leaves you feeling refreshed and downright content.
Other places to see & things to try:
The Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík
Try their cinnamon buns (one word: YUM)
Make the drive to Gullfoss waterfall
Stop at the geysir on the way
Buy a wool sweater (you'll need it)
Heat up at Blue Lagoon spa and don't forget your swim cap
Take a look inside the Opera house in Reykjavík which is open to the public to wander through
All photos are property of the Author unless otherwise noted.