Bailey Valian | 09.12.2017

Iceland is becoming a popular place to visit, and for good reason. Many travelers are awed by the dramatic landscapes and rich environment. Iceland is an ideal country to visit whether you are a novice or an experienced world traveler.

Here are a few pointers to help you along your first journey through Iceland.

1. Visit the Old Harbor area in Reykjavík

This area has a lot to offer that isn't necessarily on the radar for most travelers. Beyond the sculptures and views of the harbor are some great city finds.

The Reykjavík City Library not only has plenty of big, cozy chairs and free Wi-Fi, but the top floor is home to the Reykjavik Museum of Photography. Along with an extensive collection that dates back to 1860, there are also three different exhibit sites. With about 12 exhibitions each year, the rotation is diverse, so there's something for everyone.

The Kolaportid Flea Market is also in this area. It is a great place to not only meet locals but find some amazing souvenirs that you won't find in the typical tourist gift shops.

2. Find a furry tour guide

The streets of Reykjavík are filled with friendly felines. Reykjavík takes very good care of their large cat population. The majority of the cats roaming the streets have collars and are obviously members of loving homes, but they all like to catch up on the happenings of the city.

Hard to believe? Check out @reykjavikcats on Instagram and see all the potential personal escorts you may have while you tour the streets of the city. Not a fan of cats? Not a problem. They're not flocking every inch of the city, and they will ultimately leave you alone unless you show interest in them. But it could be the perfect time to test out your true feelings for Reykjavík's most popular tour guides.

3. Get your own set of wheels

There are multiple must-see sites within a day’s travel of Reykjavík.  With various companies offering tours, it can be easy to make your way to these beautiful sites. This option can be quite appealing, especially if you have limited time. There is another option though, often overlooked yet with greater reward. Iceland is full of reliable ways to rent a vehicle. Grab a day commuter or even better, a camper van. Having your own vehicle allows you to take your time and explore. There are many hidden gems to come across in Iceland.

Camper vans are an increasingly popular way to see the country. With a simple kitchenette and a place to sleep, it makes it easy to see more in the time you have in Iceland. Our go-to rental company is Happy Campers, a family-owned and operated business located just outside fo Reykjavík that sets you up with everything you need to take on the best of Iceland by road.

*Bonus: The rental employees are a great source for must-see sites, whether they are traditional tourist spots or local secrets.

4. Stock up for any road trips

Iceland is a very remote country. Villages are often separated by long drives, so make sure to stock up on any necessary items when you can. It's always good to have plenty of snacks for a road trip.

Also, be sure to fill the gas tank whenever possible. You'll need to know your card's PIN to pay at the tank. A more convenient way to get gas is to purchase a gas card. This can help alleviate any confusion with conversions.

5. Be adventurous with your palate

Immerse yourself into the cultural menus. There are options on the extreme end of the scale such as fermented shark or sheep head, which some will be thankful are served in small portions. However, for the more timid taste buds there is a much simpler option-Hot Dogs.

Iceland hot dogs are made with lamb meat instead of the usual pork or beef. From gourmet tasting sauces to even the simplest of raw onions, the available toppings make it a meal to be reckoned with. And you won't have to go very far to find one. They can be found at almost any gas station across the country and all over Reykjavík. A popular spot, which is said to be in the same location since 1937, is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Bæjarins Beztu is conveniently located in the Old Harbor Area so you can stop off after a shopping spree at the Kolaportid Flea Market.

6. Don't skip the Blue Lagoon

This may seem obvious to most, but there are some travelers that try to avoid the stereotypical tourist locations. You know who you are. The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa is not something you want to miss.

This natural wonder provides tranquility, wonderment, and enjoyment, no matter the package you choose. And don't worry about crowds; the main pool is so large, you can always find your own spot.

7. Let your guard down

The people of Iceland are extremely friendly. While this friendliness doesn't necessarily manifest as the obvious, cheery, outspoken behavior that may be the hallmark of some countries, Icelandic people are always willing to help. Don't be afraid to strike up conversation wherever you go. Your next conversation could lead you to the best place to camp nearby or the next gas station. Your server could invite you to the hottest night spot in town, regardless of what you're wearing. Even the people sitting at the next table at the coffee shop may have a great story to share.

You never know what connections you might make and what they could lead you to. You could find yourself in the most magical location on Earth, make a life-long friend, and find a place to stay on your next visit to Iceland.


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