I’m a woman with expectations. I have to remind myself to not evaluate things too harshly because my bar is usually set high. On one hand, it’s a pain in the ass, because these expectations are often dashed to pieces. On the other hand, when something meets my high bar (or even surpasses it), it can be so amazingly rewarding.
High expectations, meet Iceland!
Iceland has been a bucket list destination for me for about 10 years, but I’ve just never managed to make a trip work. So when Lindsay from Women Who Explore asked me to tag along on an Iceland getaway scouting trip, I was in!
I subconsciously braced for disappointment. I told myself the experience would be epic regardless of whether it met my hopes. I’ve never been so wrong: most of the trip was spent in utter awe of the landscape (except for day 4 at the Golden Circle. Maybe I’m crazy, but the highly recommended Golden Circle was the least interesting part of the trip).
It was rainy and windy when I arrived. The weather can be volatile in May, so this wasn’t a surprise. But we immediately noticed that the eastern region of Iceland was sunny, and made a quick decision to head east rather than stick to the itinerary.
This is rule #1 for Iceland – Be flexible.
Rule #2 – Don’t sleep. This is the only possible way you can see everything you will want to see! In the summer, it never gets truly dark so it makes this rule pretty easy.
Rule #3 – The ring road is awesome, but venture off it. The gravel roads are amazing.
This brings me to what was probably my favorite part of the trip. The gravel roads are remote and the terrain they lead you to can be very unexpected. We were visiting before tourist season officially started, which meant that many of the interior roads were still closed. On my next Iceland trip, I will be taking every gravel road available. Heading east and then south was the prettiest portion of the trip for me and completely stole my heart.
If you’ve been on the fence about Iceland, hop on down and book your flight. It is that amazing.
A few other tips… rent a vehicle with a diesel engine. Gas is very expensive and this will help save money. You will need a down and rain jacket, no matter the time of year. That wind can be biting and you’ll need the extra protection when you make that hike to the edge of some epic cliff. Food can be expensive, but dried items like pasta and ramen are about the same price in USD. You can eat cheaply enough if you’re willing to carb it up. Lastly, the beer in grocery stores in either N/A or 2.5% alcohol max. I suggest hitting duty free at the airport before you head out, or make sure to stop by a liquor store in Reykjavik (however, liquor stores are hard to find and are only open a few hours a day).
If you want specific recommendations, just email me! I’d love to share a few of my favorite hidden gems.
I hope you’re prepared for a barrage of Iceland photos. It was so hard to choose even this few. So much epicness.