Below you'll find some of the experiences I made, while I was in iceland in 1995 and 2001. Since this happened a while ago, it might be a little bit out of date. Prices are probably higher and maybe the bus system changed a bit (although I don't believe so). Look at the update 2001 at the end of this page to get more recent information.
So this is only a short and very rough review on iceland:

When to go to iceland

My traveltime in 1995 was from late August until the middle of September, in 2001 I went to iceland in June. Highseason is July/August. At this time there will be a lot of people on the trails and it's also a little bit warmer than in September or June, although it's not that big a difference. So if you prefer to be alone on the trails, you should rather go at the end or the beginning of the highseason. A friend of mine went to iceland in July and told me horrible stories about absolutely crowed trails (especially the one from thorsmoerk to Landmannalaugur).
Concerning the weather...the southcoast is usually very wet and rainy, we had a total of two 'sunny' days out of nine consecutive days we spent in this area in 1995, whereas sunny means no rain. However, during my second vacation in iceland in 2001 we had seven beautiful days in a row at the southcoast. The southcoast is also the most beautiful part of iceland and therefore an absolute must for every visitor. So, to be prepared for everything, definitely pack in some raingear. If you're sick of the rain, go to the north (lake Myvatn), it almost never rains there. We spent about 10 days in that part with essentially no rain at all and sunny skies.

Getting to iceland

The fastest way is, of course, by plane. In 1995 there was a nightflight from Duesseldorf, Germany by LTU, which was by far the cheapest possibility to get to iceland at a price of 500-600 DM. Before and after the peak season check the specials of Iceland Air. In 2001 we took a overnight flight from Frankfurt/Main, Germany to Keflavik for roughly the same price. It'll take about 3-4 hours to Keflavik which is the international airport of iceland and another 30 minutes to Reykjavik by bus.
There is also a ferry from Denmark to iceland (Seydisfjoerdur, eastcoast) which can carry cars too. This ferry has a two day stopover at the Faroer islands on the way TO iceland, so the whole trip (to iceland and back) takes you almost 7 days. Still, it might be an option if you only consider driving on the island (see Update 2001 below).

Getting around in iceland

By bus:

Probably the easiest and most affordable way of traveling in iceland. The buses can get you to almost any destination, although you shouldn't count on a dayly service for remote places. They have a regular service at least once a day on the road nr. 1, the only paved and biggest road, encirceling the island.
You basically have two options:

Also note, that after the highseason is over (usually at the first weekend of September), the routes to the Westfjords and into the highlands are closed for buses and the frequency along the mainroad will decrease drastically. So you either know the offseason schedule before you get to iceland or you bring enough time, otherwise you're screwed!
I would recommend to take the cheaper ticket, since all the major attractions are located close to the mainroad. You'll only have to pay for the trip from Reykjavik to Gullfoss and Strokkur and to Snaefellsjoekull, which is way cheaper to pay extra, than to take the expensive ticket. If you're planning on going to the Westfjords or into the highlands by bus then you might consider the all inclusive ticket.

By air:

Surprisingly, iceland has a quite extensive net of domestic flights to more than 30 locations. The prices are not that expensive plus you can get special discounts with flightpasses and stand-by flights, which can make a price as low as 80 DM for a oneway flight. Disadvantage: you'll only get to the towns, not to the attractions. From the airport you either have to walk (I wouldn't do it, but it's possible) or take the bus, which usually stop at the major attractions.

By car:

By far the most expensive way of traveling. I didn't even think about it anymore when I saw the prices for rental cars in iceland. So you either bring your own car (by ship) or you'll spend the biggest part of your travel budget just on the car. It might be fun to cruise through the highlands with a big 4x4, but it's also fun to meet a lot of different people on the buses.

Camping in iceland

Almost every little town has a campsite, usually close to the bus station or groceriestore. Prices are quite moderate, 5-10 DM a person, and every campsite has drinking water and simple facilities. They are all clean but the standard is not very high, only a few have cold showers. It's more relaxing anyway to take a bath in the river or a hot spring...

Groceries and prices

Every place the bus stops has at least a little groceriestore. Prices are quite the same all over the country. They are quite high, compared to Germany or the States, especially alcohol, meat, fruits and vegetables. It's at least a factor of two, sometimes even up to four. Fish is affordable as well as bakery goods and icecream. But for half a liter of beer in a restaurant we happened to pay 11,- DM that is almost 5 times as much as in Germany!

I hope, that helped a little bit for those of you who are planning on going to iceland. If you have questions, email me.

Update 2001

I went to Iceland again in June 2001 and I have to say that not much has changed. The bus system is more or less the same as it was 1995. They extended it a little bit though. You now have three options:

Prices for campsites are now between 8 and 15 DM and the number of cars on the highway went up a little bit. We had the impression that more people traveled with their own cars as compared to 1995. They took the ferry to Seydisfjordur (east coast) which is actually cheaper than to go to iceland by plane (when you are a party of 2 or more)! If you don't plan to hike larger distances but still want to see the major attractions of iceland, you should consider taking your own car. Two weeks of traveling in the country should do it then, three weeks gives you a more relaxed feeling. Keep in mind that you need another week for the ferry trip (roundtrip).

Home - Attractions and Hikes in Iceland