You may also prefer to visit during a certain time of year based on the popularity of the tourist season. For our travel group, we prefer to travel when there are fewer tourists so its easier to get around, and the prices at gift shops, restaurants, and museums sometimes cost less. With perks like this, October was the perfect month for us (and we conveniently had a break during our college semester!).
Or maybe on your vacation you want to see a specific feature, building, or landmark. In our case we wanted to see the aurora borealis (northern lights). From August through April you will have a good chance to see the lights. September through March you will have an even greater chance as the nights become longer.
As you can see from the pictures in this article, it was cloudy most of the time so we did not get a glimpse of the northern lights :( Good luck to you guys!
Transportation in Iceland?
Our goal on our vacation was to adventure outside of the cities and spend little on lodging so we planned ahead of time and rented a camper van. If you are looking for a new experience in your travel adventures and want to test out van-life, check out KuKu Campers. They have multiple locations around the world and the vans are SO MUCH FUN!
Yes, you will have to pay for gas and insurance (get the insurance!), but KuKu Campers gives you a discount card for certain gas stations around the country. You will want to use the discount because gas in Iceland is crazy expensive. They also give you a portable gas stove and utensils for cooking and a board game to pass the time. They do not provide any bedding so pack a sleeping bag and a small pillow if you can fit it in your travel pack.
Another tip we can give you regarding the camper van is ask questions about the vehicle before you leave, get weather information, ask the locals for suggestions on what roads to take, what stores to visit if you forgot something, etc. The company sends out a preparation guide when you reserve your van, so don't stress out too much.
For those of you wondering where we stayed over-night in our camper van, we were told by the Kuku Campers crew that any hostel, campsite, hotel, or RV park would be willing to let us park over-night. For example, we stayed in the town of Hella by asking the front desk clerk at Arhus Cabins & Camping if we could park and use the on-site shower and bathroom facilities. They only charged us a portion of the cost for renting a cabin to do this.
What can you do in October?
Luckily, some of Iceland's greatest features are right outside of the capital, Reykjavik. There are paved roads accessing most of the attractions so you can take a scenic drive if the weather is nice enough. We would suggest sticking to the Golden Circle Route or the Ring Road.
Heads up...if you are seeking out the Blue Lagoon you will have to backtrack towards Keflavik International Airport. There are some conveniently placed hotels that are located at the lagoon, otherwise you won't find many attractions in this area of Iceland. If you are up for an adventure (and a bit of a drive), travel down Highway 427 through Reykjanesfólkvangur Reserve.
Going north around the island could be difficult this time of year if the weather doesn't cooperate...but you can potentially get to the West Fjords, other breath-taking waterfalls, hidden lava fields, and nature areas known for puffin viewing!
Our group didn't have the time do try, but we met another American couple who had just finished the Ring Road. They told us that if they had started any later than the first week of October they might have gotten stuck in the north.
The chance of you seeing the northern lights increases as you head north. You will be traveling closer and closer to the Arctic Circle, after all. By the way, if you have the time and are interested in visiting the Arctic Circle, you can take a ferry or a short flight to the island of Grimsey. The puffin viewing here is supposedly awesome!
How long of a trip should you plan?
So have you decided to go to Iceland yet? The Keflavik International Airport is actually an hour drive from Reykjavik, though you can fly into the Reykjavik Airport. If you only have a day or two to spend why not tour the city? We will follow up with an article about what you can do in Reykjavik here (coming soon!).
Our crew made it only to the southern most city in Iceland, Vik. We had 4 days to do everything, but we unfortunately didn't explore as much as we wanted. An appropriate amount of time for you to cover the island would be about a week and a half. This will give you plenty of spare time to enjoy where you are and see as many sights as possible.
We hope that this article has been a great resource for you adventurers. Remember...Iceland is going to be one of the best trips you've ever had. Even if you only have a few days to explore it. As always, we look forward to your feedback and hope you will continue to follow us on How We Travel!
Just a couple of travel bums living life to the fullest. Join us on our adventures from coast to coast, from country to country, and everything in between!