My husband and i went to Iceland during the winter of February 2016 and travelled around Iceland for 9 days. Driving to the North in the wintery road conditions in February was daunting and we decided to save it for a summer day! So, the plan was to cover the West, South and the East regions.
Ok, let's get started on trip planning! These are the top things i considered when i started planning our icelandic adventure.
1. Trip Budget
The first thing we did was to set a budget for our Icelandic adventure. We heard from multiple sources that Iceland is expensive and we took it as a challenge to keep our entire travel expenditure under SGD 3000 per person for our 9 days trip. We also knew that we definitely wanted to rent a car and explore Iceland on our own.
Based on our budget, i then went ahead to check the airfare rates, accomodation on Airbnb, rental prices of cars (and petrol costs too! ) and set aside an estimated budget for food. One thing you should know about me is that i'm a huge fan of excel sheets! Every trip that i plan for, the first thing i do is to create an excel sheet! (High five if you do the same!)
ATTENTION: It is not possible to obtain the Icelandic currency (Icelandic Kronas aka IKR) in Singapore. Once you land at the Keflavik International Airport in Iceland, you can change currency at the airport itself. Iceland is extremely card friendly so you don't need to hold too much cash. (When you pay for petrol, cash is not accepted at the machines. You need a credit/debit card with pin. This topic is covered in my post on "Driving in Iceland in Winter". )
2. Cheapest flight route from Singapore to Iceland
My 2 favourite sites for airfare comparison - Skyscanner & Onetravel
Quick tip - Before you start to check airfare rates online, use the incognito mode on your browser. (If you haven't realised, these booking sites will raise the price on tickets the more times you check as you look around for better deals. That way you'll think the price is going up and you end up feeling pressurized to buy ASAP.)
When i first checked on Skyscanner for flight routes from Singapore to Iceland, the cheapest fare was through Finnair - Around SGD 1300 per person. But the travel route by Finnair from Singapore - Helsinki - Iceland (Reykjavik) takes more than 20 hours.
In the end, we decided to do a stopover in Norway and chose to fly on Emirates.
Total airfare per person on Emirates: SGD 1314
Here's the route Emirates takes:
Singapore-Dubai-Oslo (Via Emirates)
Oslo-Reykjavik (Via Icelandic Air)
Reykjavik-Oslo (Via Norwegian Air)
Oslo-Dubai-Singapore (Via Emirates)
3. Visit during Summer or Winter?
You have to do both in your lifetime! The landscapes all around Iceland deserve 2 visits (1 in summer and 1 in winter) to fully savour their mega beauty! If you read any travel catalog or watch travel shows on Iceland, the one thing you will keep hearing is this - "Iceland, the land of fire and ice!"
If you visit during summer only, you will miss out on Iceland's magnificent icy beauty. And if you visit Iceland during winter only, the frozen waterfalls that you will meet during your trip will come back to haunt you in your dreams and urge you to visit them in summer to see them in their full blown glory!
By now, you would have probably heard the news about the dimming of the Northern Lights from 2017 onwards. Based on what we heard from the locals, your best chance of seeing it is usually between the winter months of Sep-March. But you have to note that if you visit during the winter months, especially in December, you are going to have very little sunshine hours during the day to explore Iceland's beauty. To check on the number of sunshine hours during your visit to Iceland, click here.
4. Number of days in Iceland & places to cover
We decided to spend 9 days in Iceland and wanted to cover as much of the island as possible. I went on Tripadvisor & VisitIceland.com to get a sense of top spots to cover and found that while it is possible to cover the whole Ring Road (also known as Route 1, it's Iceland's national road that runs around the island and connects most of the inhabited parts of the country) within 10 days, it would be rushed! Plus, with the highly unpredictable road conditions during winter, we didn't want to risk getting stuck anywhere and lose days!
Like i mentioned at the start of this post, we decided to cover the West, South and the East regions & skip the North. Towards the end of the trip though, we had to cancel our travel plans to the East region due to bad road conditions.
Here's the route we took in Iceland:
Base 1 : Reykjavik (Capital of Iceland - Located at the southwestern part of Iceland.)
Base 2: Drove from Reykjavik to Búðardalur, West of Iceland
Base 3: Drove from Búðardalur to Hvolsvöllur, South of Iceland
Base 4: Drove from Hvolsvöllur to Vik, South of Iceland.
Base 5 (Sadly, we didn't get to travel to the East): Vik to Hofn, East of Iceland.
On the last day, we drove from Vik, South of Iceland directly to Reykjavik. You can use rome2rio.com to check on the duration of the routes above and then, plan the attractions you want to visit along the way as well as the number of days you wish to stay at each base location.
With our small budget for accommodation in Iceland, i went straight to Airbnb's site to check out possible options. Guys, there are aplenty of well priced options awaiting you on Airbnb! I was so overwhelmed and happy!
We stayed at Airbnb accommodations during our entire trip except for the 1 hotel stay at Vik located on the South of Iceland (there weren't any airbnb accommodation options here). I strongly recommend staying at Hotel Edda Vik.
If you want to know the fabulous Airbnb accommodations we stayed at, let me know in the comment box below! Hope you found this post useful! :))