Destination Guide #6: Iceland

Iceland Travel Blog
A glimpse of the Vatnajokull glacier at the background.


Many would be reminded of the Northern Lights straightaway at the mention of the name. But this country is where geography textbooks come alive. It is where we get to see up close whatever we have read about volcanoes, geysers, glaciers or waterfalls.

In fact, we avoided the winter season when Northern Lights would be rife because we wanted to have longer daylight to explore and hike.

Looking back, considering the fickleness of the Icelandic weather and how unpredictable the Northern Lights can be, I would advise fellow travelers never visit Iceland just for the Lights. You could be majorly disappointed if the weather just didn’t work out while you are there. However, visit Iceland to experience the grandeur of nature, the vastness of the land and the immense energy of Earth.

Iceland Travel Blog
Jökulsárlón – the Glacier Lagoon at Southern Iceland.
Iceland Travel Blog
Dettifoss – one of the numerous waterfalls in Iceland.

Information of Iceland:

A Nordic island nation in the North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland has a population of about 330,000 and most of the population lives in its capital, Reykjavik. The country has an area of 103,000 square kilometres, so you can imagine beyond Reykjavik, there is hardly any people (but tonnes of waterfalls). Nonetheless, English is widely understood and we did not experience any language barrier there.

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Strolling around Reykjavik town.
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Came across this amazing viewpoint on a good weather day along the Ring Road – at Djúpivogur (East Iceland).
Iceland Travel Blog
Icelandic horses – a breed of horse developed in Iceland that are small in size but hardy for the climate.

A Brief Rundown of my Trip:

  • We flew to Rekyjavik from Singapore via London on British Airways.
  • We spent 10 days in Iceland driving on the Ring Road, from Reykjavik to the South and then moving upwards in an anti-clockwise manner.
  • For choice of ride, we selected the Toyota Landcruiser – a four-wheel-drive which is good for off-road conditions and could accommodate our huge luggages. We highly recommend four-wheel-drive as your vehicle of choice in Iceland.
  • For the entire trip, we stayed at different accommodation every night as we were on the road towards a new location everyday.
  • There were more attractions at the South – Þingvellir, Gullfoss, Seljalandfoss, Skogafoss, Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon) etc. As we moved towards the North and West, we experienced longer driving time and less sights. I guess this could be partly attributed to travel fatigue as well. If you are strapped for time, consider skipping Northwestern region and fly back to Rekyjavik from Akureyri or Egilsstaoir Airports.
  • We spotted the Northern Lights at the North (haha!) for two nights in a row although the aurora forecast was not promising. Moral of the story: never lose hope! We merely camped outside of our accommodations at Myvatn and Varmahlíð to admire the lights.
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Sat on volcanic land at Krafla, only to realise now that the rock I sat on had some burning red hue.
Iceland Travel Blog
Northern Lights sighting at Varmahlíð (Northern Iceland).

Travel Tips:

  • Opt for a vehicle with 4WD.
  • Bring some instant/microwavable food for the trip. Food in Iceland is expensive and it is sometimes hard to find a restaurant at certain points of the trip. You can’t imagine the joy of having tom yum cup noodles in the cold windy weather.
  • Choose accommodations with kitchen facilities, so that you could cook or prepare your own food. We were frequent patrons of the Bonus supermarkets all over Iceland as we replenish our food supplies for the road trip regularly.
  • Request for the Visa cash card at the money changer. Iceland is a card friendly nation and almost all the shops there accept credit cards or cash cards. The cash card is more convenient than carrying cash or coins around.
  • You can purchase the mobile phone SIM card at convenience stores such as 10-11 at the airport or in town. The “Siminn” prepaid card has very good coverage within the country.
  • Pack waterproof clothes and hiking shoes. There will definitely be some walking on mountainous terrains under unpredictable weather during the trip. I was so thankful for my waterproof jackets and Merrell hiking shoes! I can only suggest that those “influencers” that you see on Instagram wearing thin fancy frocks in Iceland aren’t exactly keeping it real.
  • Blue Lagoon felt kind of like a tourist trap. There are similar outdoor pools in Iceland that are less crowded, such as Jarðböðinn Nature Baths at Mývatn and the Secret Lagoon in Fludir.
Iceland Travel Blog
Our trusty ride for the trip – the Toyota Landcruiser

Iceland Travel Blog
Hraunfossar Waterfalls (means Lava Falls) is a collection of gentle cascades emerging from between the lava rocks covered with moss.

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