[Plan] Pre-trip tips and preparation for Iceland

Maybe recently you have been seeing this word Iceland or photos of the northern light popping up in your Facebook feeds like there is no tomorrow. You have been wanting to have a chance to see this natural phenomenon on your own, but do not know how and when or you are currently gathering your friends to join you.

I have put down some of our homework that we have done before our trip and what we have prepared. Not sure if this could be of some help to you or not but could totally understand the frustration of having to go through lots of website and forum to get one answer you want. But that is the joy of creating your own itinerary right?

Planning for our trip to Iceland starts way ahead more than 6 months before we fly. Here are the necessary things that I felt will be necessary to know or some tips that I found out:


Flights

-No direct flights to Iceland from Singapore yet

-Transit will be at European country or North America

For more information, you could go over to Skyscanner to check out the flights and fares.

Duration of Flight 

Singapore to Iceland (Include Transit time)

18 hours or more.


Weather

The weather in Iceland could be unpredictable, which I believe once you landed there you would experience it. There is a saying in Iceland “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes and you’ll get something different.”

Spring-April and May

In city area Reykjavik the weather can be from snow, sleet, and rain to bright sunny days

Average temperature range from 0-10°C

**Low Peak season

Summer-Late May to August

Average temperature range from 10-15°C

**Peak period and long daylight

Fall-Late August to early November

Average temperature range from 0-10°C

This season would be really windy, wet and possibly quite cold.

** Sep and Oct Low peak period

Winter-November to March

Winter is also known as the most unpredictable season.

Average temperature range from -5-5°C

Short daylight which only lasts 4-5 hours

Northern Light

-It is possible to see the Aurora from September until April

-In February to March and September to October- are known to be the best month to see them.

We were really lucky as we thought that we wouldn’t be able to catch one but in the end, we got to see 2 days straight.

The website we/ locals check for Aurora:

http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/


What to bring?

Thermal Flask

Torchlight

Warm clothing eg. Wind Breakers, thermal wear

Instant Food  (Budget)


Food

The cost of Food?

2,000Kr (Inexpensive food/ meal)

12,000Kr (2 person meal)

1,000Kr (1 pint of beer)

What to eat there?

-Hotdog

-Meat soup

-Lamb steak

-Dried Fish

-Hot Spring Rye Bread

Adventurous eater:

-Whale meat

-Puffin meat

-Fermented Shark

Where to get Food?

For us we cook most of our nights there in our apartment or hotel, we will head to the supermarket, name Bonus, to buy grocery. We also brought some instant noodle or rice from Singapore to cook.

There is another store called the 10-11 but is more expensive than Bonus, more like a convenient store. Which I would not recommend you to go if you want to buy some grocery/ food is like our 7-11.


Tipping ?

Service and VAT are invariably included, so tipping is not required. However, if you are happy with the service you are welcome to give some tips.


Currency?

ISK( Icelandic Krona) Or Kr

**Credit card is widely accepted in most restaurant and shops

Rough guide on the exchange rate: 100ISK =0.84EUR

Where to change?

At the airport, there is 2 currency exchange counter. One is inside the departure hall and the other one is at the arrival hall.

Suggestion:

It would be better to change at the arrival hall, the rate is better. They do not accept SGD or MYR so prepare USD, EUR.


Security 

-Safe even for solo female

-Low crime rate

I felt very safe there people are friendly too~


Language

We have no language barrier there as most people in Iceland speaks English, from what I understand is that English is their second language and their first language is Icelandic.


Prepaid Sim Card

The most common sim card use in Iceland, Vodafone, and Siminn.

Table for easy reference:

Siminn Starter Pack


Siminn Prepaid Data


Vodafone Basic Starter Pack

Data1GB1GB1GB
Call100 Mins-Free incoming calls
Text100--
Validity31 Days31 Days30 Days
Cost (ISK)2,9002,0002,000
Where to buy? Keflavík International Airport
10-11
Keflavík International Airport
10-11
Keflavík International Airport
Elko store

What did we get?

I got myself the Siminn data only, my sister got the basic starter pack with 100 mins call.

Suggestion:

If you are staying for 8 days or so, 1GB is more than enough, if you don’t post any video, watch any shows on YouTube.  If you need to make a call the basic starter pack would be a good option.

More information:

https://www.siminn.is/prepaid/

https://vodafone.is/english/prepaid/


Tax Refund

You could see that the airport is not that huge, so the currency exchange and tax refund counter are near to each other.

For tax refund, the total purchase must be more than 6,00ISK  under the same receipt.

Little to know:

The Value-Added Tax(VAT) in Iceland is Standard 24%, food, and books 11%

Some things to note:

– You might need to be able to show the item at departure

– Fill in the Premier Tax-Free form

– If you are to get your tax refund by cash, there will be a service charge

– Tax refund back to the credit card will be better, even though it might took more than 1 month


Transportation

Transportation in town?

No train/subway in Reykjavik or Iceland

Only buses are available there is a city bus where it would stop at the shopping district.

Taxi or cab

Not recommended but if you have no choice you will have to ask the receptionist at the counter to help you call.

As people in Iceland don’t flag cab, they will call a cab or head to the few taxi stand in downtown.

The price of start fare range from 660ISK or 890ISK will increase 300ISK after 1km

Taking Bus around city

The hotel we stayed in has this free bus service, where they will give us a free bus pass that we could hop on and off the bus around the city area.

Little to know:

One way fare to Hlemmur station, which is near to the shopping district Laugavegur will cost 350ISK.

Bus ticket can be brought on the bus, get ready the exact amount as the driver does not have change. There is Reykjavik city bus pass that you can buy, that is for 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours, which you could hop on and off the bus unlimited to explore the city.

Our bus is valid up to 2 people, so when you board the bus just show the driver:

Waiting for our bus:

The bus was clean and not many people too.

**Remembered what our tour guide had told us most people in Iceland don’t take the bus, they drive.

Bus terminal, Hlemmur.

Link for more information: https://www.straeto.is/

Rental Car or Tour?

This depends on how comfortable are you driving in the foreign country. As for us, we are not comfortable in driving overseas, so we went with a tour and didn’t regret at all have lots of fun and got to understand more about the culture and history of Iceland.

Couldn’t give you guys much information on rental car but there are some that I have research on.

Take note:

-The weather can be extremely unpredictable

-Right-hand driving

Here are some of the car rental website for you to choose from:

www.carsiceland.com

www.reykjavikcars.com

www.reykjavikauto.com

Tour

There are a lot of tour bus company in Iceland, you could just book your tour at the airport too. **Depends on seat availability.

Pros:

-Able to understand more about Iceland

-Comfortable ride

-All thing are well taken care of

-Covers lot of places

Cons:

-Not having enough time to walk around

Some of the tour bus company in Iceland:

https://www.re.is/

http://www.icelandroadtrip.com/

https://iceland.nordicvisitor.com/

http://grayline.is/tours/ ( Out of our budget)

We join the Iceland road trip tour bus, the price was reasonable and it covers most of the place we wanted to go. Book online as the seat will be gone fast.

Airport Transfer

From the Airport to Reykjavik city is quite a distance away. The apartment that we will be staying have picked up service included thus, it is not much of an issue for us.

However, when returning we will need to get a shuttle bus service. Got to research on a few bus company, most commonly people will be using Flybus service which has a large chartered bus and is operating almost hourly to bring the guest to their destination.

For us, we chose the Airport Direct which I think is great and they come on time, small minivan not more than 9 guests just nice. The driver was very friendly too, and on that day he went back to a hotel twice to check if the guest was out or not. He had gone once before he picked us up and after we got up he told us how many places are left and how many people will be coming. After that he went back to the hotel to check, however, there was still no one so he went ahead to pick the next guest, in total there was only 3 of us.

Cost?

One way: 2,990ISK


Total Spent?

Flights: S$1120.40+€374.70

6 Day 5 Night Tour: €679 (include accommodation+Breakfast+tourist attraction entrance fee)

Transportation: 2,990ISK One way ( Airport transfer)

Taxi: 6,000ISK ( 3 times)

Food: €300

Accommodation: €192 (Additional 2 night per pax)

Total: €2,365=S$3564

Activities:

Heli ride-26,900ISK

Horse riding-14,500ISK

Total cost adding activities: €2,714=S$4,089

**To note**

-Currency exchange took for reference is 1 EUR to 1.51SGD.

-We stayed in Iceland for 8 days 7 nights

Useful Links:

http://www.visiticeland.com/
http://www.iceland.is/

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