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A Guide to Iceland for First Time Visitors

A photo of Icealnd.  There is a title that reads. A Guide to Iceland for First Time Visitors Mry Yost Travel

Iceland is a country that normally gets ignored when people are searching for vacation destinations. However, this island is packed with natural wonders, gorgeous sights, and unique attractions. Continue reading my guide to Iceland for first time visitors and see how amazing this country truly is. I believe it is one destination that will move to the top of your vacation list. 

A Guide to Iceland for First Time Visitors

If you have finally decided to vacation in Iceland, you will want to be aware of a few important details. This guide to Iceland will share the best times to visit this country, foods to try, and the best things to see and do while in the country. 

Best Time to Vacation in Iceland

I highly recommend visiting Iceland during the spring or the summer. This time of year offers much more daylight than the winter months. 

When you explore Iceland during the spring or the summer, you will have ample time to explore the great outdoors and appreciate the beauty of the country. 

The weather is much warmer during this time of the year too. And while you will miss the Northern Lights during the summer, you can experience the Midnight Sun instead. 

Local Foods First Time Visitors Should Try During Their Vacation in Iceland

Lamb stew in Iceland.

Icelandic cuisine is quite simple due to the location of the country and the ingredients they have readily available. Don’t mistake this to mean the local cuisine is bland because it is not. Most of the dishes will get your taste buds dancing. 

One of the first things you should try when you arrive in Iceland is Reykjavik’s hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. These hot dogs are made with a blend of pork, beef, and lamb. I recommend ordering your hot dog with everything, which includes deep-fried onions, raw onions, sweet mustard, and a creamy remoulade. 

If you are craving dairy during your vacation in Iceland, eat a little skyr. It is similar to yogurt and made from skim milk. It is very thick and creamy. You will find this yummy treat served with berry jam and cream. 

Sheep roam the countryside of Iceland, so it shouldn’t be surprising to find lots of lamb on the menu at local restaurants. Order lamb stew or a delicious lamb shank to try this delicious meat. 

Icelandic rye bread should be eaten with every meal if possible. There are so many ways to enjoy this bread. However, when it comes to baking the bread, there is only one way that is considered the best. And to eat the best baked bread, you must head to the Geothermal Bakery at the Laugarvatn Wellness Resort. 

The Geothermal Bakery bakes the Icelandic rye bread in a pot underground near a bubbling geyser. It takes an entire day to bake this bread, but it is worth the wait. 

Pastry lovers will want to taste a kleina or two during a vacation in Iceland. This twisted fried dough is flavored with cardamom and sprinkled with sugar. It’s a sweet treat that’s perfect for snacks or even with a cup of coffee in the morning. 

Amazing Things to See and Do in Iceland for First Time Visitors

Drive Along Ring Road

One of the most amazing things to do in this guide to Iceland is driving along Ring Road. This is the main road that goes around the entire island. It is more than eight hundred miles long. You should plan on spending a few days on this road if you want to see all the sights along the way. 

It doesn’t matter which direction you go on the road. Either option will show you the beauty of the country. 

You should only drive along Ring Road between the months of May and September. This is when the weather is nice. During the winter, the roads are not as safe, especially when there is ice and whiteout conditions. 

Go Hiking in Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar in Iceland

Landmannalaugar is full of rhyolite mountains. You will find this stunning destination within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands. During your hike through this mountainous region, you will also discover geothermal hot springs and lava fields. 

There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from during your time at Landmannalaugar. Choose the one that interests you the most and head out on an adventure. 

It is important to note that this area is only open between June and September. So, plan your vacation in Iceland carefully if you want to visit this destination. 

Drive the Golden Circle

If you want to see the Gullfoss Waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, and the Geysir Geothermal Area, drive the Golden Circle. This one hundred eighty-six mile loop will take you to all these popular attractions in Iceland. 

Check Out Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall

There are too many waterfalls in Iceland to count. So, do not think you can see them all during one vacation. If you only have time to see one waterfall in Iceland, make sure it is Skógafoss Waterfall. 

This massive waterfall is quite powerful. Grab a picture while standing in front of it, while listening to the rushing water in the background. 

If you have a little extra time, hike past this waterfall to see some of the other twenty-five waterfalls in the area. You could see them all, but that would involve a ten mile round trip hike. 

Consider a Trip to the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is usually at the top of everyone’s list when they vacation in Iceland. After all, who wouldn’t love soaking in the warm water? 

This is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland, so you should be prepared for the crowds. I recommend arriving early in the morning for the best experience. 

See the Puffins on the Island of Flatey

Puffins in Iceland

Take a boat ride to Flatey during the summer months to see the cute puffins. These birds live on the island and it is the best place to see them in Iceland. 

If you can tear yourself away from the puffins, take the time to see the smallest and oldest library in Iceland. This library on Flatey was constructed in 1864 and is still in use today.

Go Walking on a Glacier

Glaciar in Iceland

There aren’t too many places in the world where you can walk along a glacier. In Iceland, you will have a couple of glaciers to choose from for this thrilling adventure. 

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe. You will find this glacier on the southern coast of Iceland. Another glacier to consider is Sólheimajökull. It is one of the most popular glaciers amongst travelers. 

If you can’t get enough of the ice during a winter vacation in Iceland, add a side trip to an ice cave. An experienced guide will take you inside a glacial ice cave to look around. 

Explore Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Iceland

You can’t vacation in Iceland and not spend time in the city of Reykjavik. This capital city is where you will find Hallgrimskirkja Church, National Gallery of Iceland, Asmundur Museum, and numerous public gardens. 

Oh, and if you want to go shopping, head to the streets of Laugavegur, Austurstraeti, and Skolavordustigur. You will find plenty of stores and boutiques filled with items you are going to want to take home with you. Those stores are also perfect when you need another layer of clothing during the cooler months of the year. 

Go Horseback Riding

One of the best ways to experience the countryside in Iceland is via a horseback ride. Icelandic horses have short legs and are often thought to be ponies due to their smaller size. They are also full of character, so your ride is guaranteed to be exciting. Plus, you can see sights you wouldn’t be able to see from a car driving along the road. 

These are some of the best things to see and do in Iceland. There are so many other things I can help you choose from while I am planning your vacation in Iceland. So, if this guide to Iceland for first time visitors makes you realize this country needs to be near the top of your travel list, contact me today. I will be more than happy to personalize an itinerary that will have you seeing the best of Iceland. 


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