Iceland is so different from Europe and our ideas of the ideal European vacation. Iceland could be your ideal vacation destination, even if it isn’t the typical “ideal European vacation”.

What is Iceland like? You’ll find the answers to your questions and more.

David Mark

Iceland: Why go to Iceland?

img alt=”The Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Sudurland. Iceland.” class=”wp-image-1201073 size-large” onerror=”dti_load_error(this)” src=”×800.jpg”/>

Diego Delso

Iceland is located near the Arctic Circle. It’s approximately 2,612 mi northeast of New York City. Iceland’s unique Scandinavian landscape makes it look exotic. The culture of Iceland is very Scandinavian. Icelandic’s language closely resembles Norwegian, Faroese and Faroese languages that were developed on the Faroe Islands in Denmark. Although Iceland’s climate can be cold all year round, it is much warmer than what you would expect from a country close to the Arctic Circle. You will need some warm-weather clothing for your trip but not worry about that.

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital is where more than 65% Icelanders call home. Here you will find most of Iceland’s modern amenities and the best hotels. You will find the longest and most beautiful fjords in Iceland’s North, as well as the stunning Diamond Circle. This area offers prime opportunities for exploring Scandinavia’s greatest natural treasures. You can also see why Iceland is the world’s leader in renewable energy. To the south you will find the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal Spa, where you will experience the heavenly hot water. Also, the best black sand beaches of Europe.


Iceland is a tiny island country with a wide range of accommodation options. A cozy hostel or inn is a great place to “rough it”, and you get to really absorb the culture. An ecotourist lodge is a great option, as it’s only steps from the best natural attractions in the world. If you’re looking for the very best in luxury, one of Icelands five-star resorts is the place to go. These are our top picks for Iceland’s finest hotels.

Location Best: Fosshotel

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Fosshotel Reykjavik

Fosshotel Reykjavik is Iceland’s biggest hotel and the largest in Iceland. It offers many amenities that will keep you satisfied. You’ll find many museums, shops and restaurants within walking distance of the Fosshotel Reykjavik. The rooms offer great views of the city and ocean, with suites and rooms on higher floors offering free Wi-Fi and satellite TV. Fosshotel, an Icelandic member of Festa and Nordic Swan Ecolabel can make you feel more comfortable when staying there.

  • Nearest Airport: Keflavik Airport
  • Time: 40-50 mins by car
  • Distance: 48 kilometers (or 30 miles)

Best Style: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum

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Hotel Reykjavik Centrum

The Adalstraeti is one of Reykjavik’s oldest streets, and it’s where Hotel Reykjavik Centrum can be found. This hotel’s oldest section was constructed in 1764. The newer buildings were built following the same blueprints as their historical predecessors, Fjalakotturinn or Uppsalir. This hotel is a tribute to Iceland’s rich past, but it still offers all modern amenities such as Wi-Fi access and full bathrooms. Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, like Fosshotel is also an Islandshotel property. It’s therefore committed to social and environmental responsibility.

  • Nearest Airport: Keflavik Airport
  • Time: 40-50 mins by car
  • Distance: 50 kilometers (or 31 miles)

The Best Value: Lighthouse Inn

Lighthouse Inn

The Lighthouse Inn is a charming and unique place to stay in Gardur if you are looking for character and charm. The Lighthouse Inn is conveniently located near Iceland’s International Airport, but it still feels like a cozy log cabin retreat. The Gardur Old Lighthouse, one of Iceland’s most historic lighthouses, is just a short walk away. This makes it a good base for both exploring the south coast and Reykjavik. Although the rooms aren’t very large or extravagant, they’re spacious and well-designed with all you could need.

  • Nearest Airport: Keflavik Airport
  • Time: 15-20 minutes driving
  • Distance: 11 kilometers (or seven miles)

The Best Luxury at Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

This hotel is for you if you are looking to relax and be spoilt amid a stunning backdrop of hot springs and lava fields. You will find the Retreat at Blue Lagoon in the center of Iceland’s most popular attractions. This hotel offers full access to Blue Lagoon, the Retreat spa, daily a-la carte breakfast, nightly turning down service, Blue Lagoon skincare products and toiletries and full concierge services. Each suite has stunning views over the hot springs and lava fields, as well as stylish furnishings. The Blue Lagoon resort offers many amenities, including three full-service restaurants and a casual café. However, it is also very easy to reach Reykjavik or Iceland’s southern coast.

  • Nearest Airport: Keflavik Airport
  • Time: 20-25 mins by car
  • Distance: 22 kilometers (or 14 miles)

What to Eat

Iceland is known for its Scandinavian cuisine, which includes plenty of seafood and meat. There are many restaurants that offer vegan and vegetarian options. Some restaurants stick with traditional recipes, while others offer innovative dishes. You’ll find many farm-fresh options throughout the island.


$ = Budget-friendly, or Cheap

“$$”= average

“$$$”= price

Restaurant Rostin

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Restaurant Rostin

Restaurant Rostin, whether you are staying at the Lighthouse Inn or just exploring the southwest corner, is worth a visit. The Restaurant Rostin is located on the 2nd floor of Gardskagi’s Heritage and Maritime Museum of Gardskagi. It offers a mix of Icelandic cuisine and American-friendly burgers and steaks. There are many tasty choices for vegans as well as carnivores. The beautiful views overlook the sea and beach below make it a great place to eat.

  • The Best of Lunch and Dinner

  • $$

Check out the menu

Gamli Baukur

Gamli Baukur

Gamli Baukur is a great option if you are spending the day at the Diamond Circle, north of the island. The ingredients were sourced from local sources and it comes off as maritime. The seafood tagliatelle is a great choice for those who love pasta and seafood. You’ll find plenty of seafood on the menu as well as some vegan and vegetarian options.

  • The Best for Dinner and Lunch

  • $$

Check out the menu

Old Iceland

Old Iceland Restaurant

Although Old Iceland may sound like it has been around forever, it was founded in Reykjavik by three brothers in 2014. They continue to operate and own the restaurant. They explain that the restaurant’s focus was always on Icelandic products. You will find the best Icelandic seafood, lamb, beef and eggs, as well as a variety of local fruits and vegetables. Enjoy the unique drinks menu and the finest fish.

  • The Best for Dinner and Lunch

  • $$

Check out the menu

Cafe Babalu

Cafe Babalu

Cafe Babalu is a great place to go if you are up early, and ready for coffee or breakfast. Café Babalu is the place to go if you are looking for Italian or French-style coffees or vegan-friendly plant milks. Enjoy the unique ambience while you are here. It is reminiscent of a boho-chic American independent coffee shop, with a Scandinavian twist. Although the menu offers a few simple options, such as soups and crepes along with sandwiches made of grilled cheese, you will still enjoy your meal.

  • Breakfast and lunch

  • $

Check out the menu


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Sumac is a new way to eat dinner in Reykjavik. Sumac uses the best Icelandic ingredients, including locally grown beets, endives and beef. They also use these fresh ingredients to create the finest North African and Middle Eastern food you will ever taste, right near the Arctic Circle. Sumac’s delicious grub has been included in the Michelin Guide. The menu is mostly tapas-style, which makes it easy to share and taste. You can eat there from Tuesday to Saturday.

  • The Best Dinner

  • $$$

Check out the menu

Moss Restaurant in Blue Lagoon

Moss Restaurant in Blue Lagoon

Moss Restaurant in Blue Lagoon is the best place to enjoy a fine dinner with all the trimmings. If you are looking for food that is so delicious it was included in the Michelin Guide, this restaurant will be a great choice. The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Sunday for dinner, with a changing menu each season. You might find a filet or two of lamb on lava stones, or clams on shells on top of fresh herbs. The tasting menu is a must-try if you visit this restaurant. You’ll be able to enjoy visually striking food and great taste. Although this is the priciest restaurant in Iceland, it is definitely worth the money if you are looking for something more extravagant.

  • The Best Dinner

  • $$$

Check out the menu

What to Do

Iceland is a great place to be if you love the outdoors. You will find some amazing natural sights in Europe as soon as your drive begins on Iceland’s famous Ring Road. Even if urban conveniences are not your thing, Reykjavik offers a wealth of urban culture in a compact space. Keflavik, the main urban center for Southwest Iceland is Akureyri, is the biggest city of the North.


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Next Voyage

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital has many things to offer. The Althingi is Iceland’s parliament, and an integral part of Iceland’s governance since 930. It will tell you more about Iceland’s contribution to democracy. You can visit Thingvellir National Park, which is about 30 miles from Reykjavik. The Althingi, which has been operating at the current site in Reykjavik, since 1881 is a great place to witness democracy in action. Many of its functions can be seen by the public. You can find unique experiences in Reykjavik at Hallgrimskirkja which is Iceland’s highest cathedral, and a striking landmark within the city; the Culture House where there are many medieval manuscripts and also the Icelandic Sagas. AEgisgardur offers whale-watching boats tours.

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Vatnajokull National Park

img alt=”A glacier in Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland” class=”wp-image-1201059 size-large” onerror=”dti_load_error(this)” src=”×800.jpg”/>


Vatnajokull National Park was established in 2008. It includes Europe’s biggest glacier, Vatnajokull. Vatnajokull National Park is home to a spectacular combination of heat and cold, thanks to Oraefajokull volcano (earthene), and volcanic ash and Jokulhlaups or glacial floods that create Iceland’s famous black sand beaches. Stay for the glaciers and the volcanoes.

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Husavik, and the Diamond Circle

Image alt=”The Godafoss Falls in Iceland’s Diamond Circle.” class=”wp-image-1201063 size-large” onerror=”dti_load_error(this)” src=”×800.jpg”/>

Johanna Marthens

Husavik, a tiny town in North Iceland that anchors the Diamond Circle is Husavik. Dettifoss is located in Vatnajokull National Park. The Diamond Circle also includes the beautiful Godafoss Falls, Lake Myvatn’s ethereal blue-green landscapes, Asbyrgi’s cold desert, Namafjall hot springs, Fjallahofn Beach, which boasts stunning black sand beaches with fjord views, and Namafjall National Park. Husavik is the ideal spot for whale watching, and there are puffins that love to spend time in this area.

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Blue Lagoon

img alt=”A boardwalk that leads to Blue Lagoon’s water in Iceland.” class=”wp-image-1201075 size-large” onerror=”dti_load_error(this)” src=”×800.jpg”/>

Roderick Eime

Blue Lagoon, whether you are looking to stay in one of its hotels or explore the rest of Southwest Iceland is an amazing place to visit. Blue Lagoon is renowned for its warm water, which is rich in minerals such as silica or sulfur. Day pass packages starting at 65 USD are available. You must book ahead. Although you will pay more for full spa access, even a basic day pass allows you to swim and bathe in the geothermal waters. For the ultimate in geothermal power vacation, book a suite or room at The Retreat or Silica Hotel.

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Save Money On Your Trip

Experiences and Shopping

Keflavik International Airport offers a duty-free shop where you will find all the essentials you need, as well as many other items. They tend to be cheaper than supermarkets and convenience stores in Reykjavik. Kayak is a great option if you want to make savings on tickets and tours.


Hotels in Iceland are less popular than those in mainland Europe or the U.K. because they have fewer tourist traps. You will also find Blue Lagoon, an area where high-end resort suites are more expensive (or in Icelandic Krona). However you’ll still find smaller hotels that will be much cheaper than you might expect based on U.S. norms. Kayak can help you find the perfect accommodation no matter where in Iceland, regardless of your travel plans.

Vehicle rentals

You may require a car to travel outside Reykjavik, as Iceland has a lot of rural areas and some top attractions are quite remote. Kayak has a wide range of cars for sale at very affordable prices. Make sure you check them out if you are looking to rent a car that will take you to all the great places in Iceland, including the volcanoes and the black sand beaches.

This guide will help you to plan your perfect Icelandic vacation. You decide where and what you do, but hopefully you have some better suggestions on the places you should go in order to enjoy this magical island.


– Find the Northern lights.
– Explore an Ice cave.
– Go on a Road trip.
– Do the Golden circle.
– Visit Reykjavik.
– Bathe in the Blue lagoon.
– See the Glacier lagoon.
– Discover the South coast.

– Do’s. Please be considerate and mindful of the locals. Be open-minded and don’t yuck their yum. Rent a car! Walk around the city of Reykjavik.
– Don’t. Do not be an ugly tourist and stay safe. DO NOT hike glaciers without a guide. Don’t assume their horses are ponies.

– Don’t Leave Your Coat at Home.
– Don’t Underestimate the Weather.
– Don’t Get Caught in the Dark (or Light)
– Avoid Buying Bottled Water in Stores.
– 5 Unique and Unusual Things to Do in Reykjavik.
– Avoid Shopping at 10-11.
– Don’t Be Fooled by the Light “Beer” in the Supermarkets.

Not only is it illegal to sell panties, boxers, thongs, and jock straps with the Icelandic flag on them (that would be disrespectful), it is also illegal to sell or advertise items of foreign origin if the image of an Icelandic flag has been put on them (that would be unpatriotic).11-May-2011

Public transport is very limited so the best way to tour Iceland is with your own vehicle. If you can drive, the best way to see Iceland is to hire a car and do a self-drive trip around the island. We used Rental Cars to find the best deal.28-Feb-2022

8-12 days is an ideal amount of time to spend in Iceland as it means you can explore different regions. You could drive around the Ring Road in a full circle to reach the diverse corners of Iceland, from the South Coast to eastern fjords, around North Iceland and over to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.21-Feb-2022


Iceland is a Scandinavian and small island country that is very different from European vacations. It’s not a typical “ideal European vacation”, but it can be your ideal vacation destination based on the climate, culture, scenery, and activities. The text says Iceland could be your ideal vacation destination, even if


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