The North Atlantic treasure of Iceland offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travelers, and its singular location makes it easy to access from either Europe or North America. Iceland is synonymous with the adjective "breathtaking." Ice-covered volcanoes, geysers, mud pots, fjords, glaciers; there is no end to nature's bounties in this splendid country.
Offering everything from lush green landscapes to peaceful desolation, Iceland will wow you at every turn with its geothermal lagoons, the Aurora Borealis, glistening glaciers (including Vatnajokull – Europe's largest glacier, as big as Puerto Rico), and deserts of ash and lava. Take a trip to this magical country for an unmatched travel experience.
If you're ready for an otherworldly experience in Iceland, read on. This guide can help prepare you by outlining some of the places to see, things to do, and information you need to purchase
travel medical insurance or
Iceland's Most Popular Cities for Travel
Iceland has a population of just over 320,000. Its cities are quite compact and well-planned. You can base yourself in the capital city of Reykjavik and make day trips, or go for a road trip via the Ring Road or Golden Circle, exploring several other cities.
Most international travelers enter Iceland through its capital city, Reykjavik. It's the country's largest and most populous city. Visit the Hallgrimskirkja Church and take an elevator over 200 feet to its top. You can catch excellent views of the city from there.
Explore the Old Harbor and savor local food in the many eateries there. On your "must-visit" list, do include a trip to Mount Esja and the Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach.
Located towards the northern part of Iceland, Akureyri is a fishing town that traces its roots to the days of the Vikings. It's an eminently walkable town. Visit Akureyri Art Museum and the Hof Cultural Center to get a feel of traditional Icelandic visual and performing arts. The Botanical Garden here is among the northernmost.
Base yourself in Akureyri and go hiking, horseback riding, or skiing on the Eyjafjordur Fjord. You can also explore the Arctic Coast Way and go right up to where the Arctic Circle starts.
Kopavogur is Iceland's second-most populous city. If seal watching up close interests you, then you must make a trip to this city. Besides watching seals on the shoreline, check out some excellent architecture at the Kopavogur Church and the Gerdarsafn Kópavogur Art Museum. There are several hills bordering the city, so you can take relaxing walks and get in some birdwatching.
Visit this city to experience the Viking Festival. Hafnarfjörðuris is one of the oldest cities in the country and was a base of Viking culture. Check out Kleifarvatn Lake, a geothermal hotspot. Take a hike up the Krysuvik Cliffs where majestic views of the Atlantic Ocean will greet you. Make a day trip to Helgafell Mountain to see lava fields and ancient Icelandic artifacts.
Visit this town to take some awesome trips along simple trails within the town, or slightly advanced climbs up the adjoining mountains. You can also enjoy a more relaxing walk in the lush green Laugarvalladalur Valley. The East Iceland Heritage Museum, the Skriouklaustur Monastery, and the Saenautasel Farm all showcase true Icelandic culture. Before leaving town, read some Icelandic poetry scribbled on the walls of many houses in the town.
Key Guidelines for Travelers in Iceland
For several years in a row, Iceland has emerged as the safest country in the world, as per the Global Peace Index. Reykjavik is among the 20 safest capital cities globally. Iceland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
Having said that, a trip to Iceland does involve some risks, and most of these are related to the climate and landscape. The weather changes at the drop of a hat, and the landscape is quite harsh and unforgiving in many areas.
Beware on the beaches
Iceland's beaches are visually stunning, especially Reynisfjara Beach in southern Iceland. The black sands, basalt formations, and crashing waves of the Atlantic make for a spectacular sight. However, don't venture too far out in the sea. There are strong undercurrents, and large waves can suddenly appear, catching you off guard and in extreme cases, sweeping you out to sea.
These floating blocks of ice in the numerous lagoons of Iceland make for an impressive sight, especially during sunset or under the Northern Lights. However, admire them from afar and don't go walking on them for photo ops. Icebergs can easily crack under your feet. They might also get detached from the landmass, leaving you stranded. And if you fall into the ice-cold water, hypothermia is a major concern.
Rain on one side of the landscape and sunshine on the other. This is an often-observed phenomenon in Iceland. Weather changes constantly within a short span and over a moderate radius, so you can experience sunshine, rain, snow, and fog all within an hour. The severe temperature fluctuations can cause lots of health problems. So, dress adequately, and wearing layers is always recommended.
Avoid visiting remote areas alone
Iceland is sparsely populated. Outside the cities, there are many miles of uninhabited country. Due to the extreme remoteness, assistance can be hard to come by in the event of a mishap on the road. If you are on a solo driving trip, stay close to the cities. For venturing into the wilderness, have a local guide accompany you who knows the countryside.
Hot springs and ice caves
While a hot spring is a visually appealing sight, it can be fairly dangerous if you step too close. The mud all around is also scalding hot and can cause physical harm if you fall into it. So, maintain a safe distance. Don't visit ice caves without a local guide.
Travel Medical Insurance for Travelers in Iceland– FAQs
The medical facilities in Iceland are excellent, but treatment can be costly. And considering the remoteness of the country, a medical emergency might necessitate evacuation to the European mainland. To protect yourself from financial risk, it's best to visit with travel medical insurance.
If you are arriving on a Schengen visa, then you must have travel medical insurance before entering Iceland. The minimum coverage required is €30,000. If you reside in a country whose nationals can travel visa-free to Schengen nations, then insurance is not mandatory for you. However, it is a wise decision for all visitors to get it.
Why buy travel medical insurance before traveling to Iceland?
Accidents and injuries can occur anywhere, but they're all that more likely to occur when you're sightseeing around icebergs, hot springs and remote beaches. Even more pedestrian affairs such as eating unfamiliar food can land you in the hospital, so it only makes sense to have coverage.
Remember, it's unlikely that your domestic health insurance will be accepted in Iceland, and if it is, it may not provide sufficient coverage. If you require hospitalization or medical treatment without insurance, you will be responsible for paying the entire bill yourself. Don't leave yourself open to financial worry. Get travel medical insurance so you can be covered.
What Should I Look for in My Iceland Medical Insurance?
For Schengen visa insurance, compliant coverage must provide €30,000 in medical benefits at minimum, as well as coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.
For any visitor, it's important to have insurance that will provide coverage for the activities you plan to participate in. Whether you want to ski or snowboard, go snowmobiling, or maybe give dog sledding a try, be sure that your insurance will cover it.
Trip Cancellation Insurance for Travelers in Iceland – FAQs
A trip to Iceland can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Due to the planning involved, having to cancel your Icelandic vacation could be a major headache. In addition to the disappointment of missing the trip, there can be financial repercussions. To help protect yourself from the fees and cancellation charges of a canceled trip, get trip cancellation insurance.
Why Should I Get Trip Cancellation Insurance for My Iceland Travel?
When you have to cancel a trip, it would be nice to be able to simply get your money back. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Some of your prepaid travel expenses like hotel reservations and airline tickets may not offer refunds, or the refunds they do offer could be saddled with cancellation fees.
You may think it's unlikely that your trip will be canceled, but it often occurs with little warning. Harsh weather can cancel flights. Illnesses or family emergencies can crop up at the last minute, making travel impossible. When a trip is unable to go forward, at least give yourself the opportunity to be reimbursed with trip cancellation insurance.
What Should I Look for in My Iceland Trip Cancellation Insurance?
Most travel insurance policies will cover trip cancellation, but other coverage and ancillary benefits can vary depending on the plan you choose. When researching a travel insurance plan, consider whether some of these coverage options would be right for you:
Each available travel insurance plan will have a policy document that explains the specific coverages it offers in detail. Compare and contrast these plans carefully before making a selection.
Before You Travel to Iceland - Do This
Pack for the weather. It changes quickly in Iceland. You'll want to dress in layers and bring a raincoat.
Visit in the summer. The northern location of Iceland means daylight is almost nonexistent in the winter. Don't miss out on being able to actually see the sights.
Travel medical insurance or
is essential to protect your finances in case something unexpected happens during your trip.