Iceland Travel Planning – The Slow Lane

by | May 1, 2023 | Blogs | 0 comments

On a world map, Iceland is a seemingly compact little football sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic between the US and continental Europe.  

When it comes to Iceland travel planning one of the biggest mistakes visitors make is in underestimating Iceland’s travel distances, and trying to crowd in too much territory in too little time.

Reykjavik – Photo by Mike

Cramming everything into your travel plan

“When people plan their trips themselves, they tend to make a number of common mistakes,” says Helga Kristin Fridjonsdottir (Helga Stina), who founded Iceland Unwrapped in 2016 to help visitors get the most of their Iceland experiences.

“The first is to underestimate travel time between locations.  The second mistake is closely related to the first, which is to try to cover too much territory in too little time.”

Iceland has one main highway, the Ring Road (aka Route 1), which is a two-lane road around much of the country. 

Route 1 connects the various towns around the circumference of Iceland’s coast with Reykjavik, the capital, which is located in Iceland’s far southwest.  It is winding in many spots in the country’s east, and outside of Reykjavik, it is punctuated by one-lane bridges, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks – often inspiring unplanned stops that wreak havoc on already-stretched schedules.

The joy of stopping and enjoying is key of an amazing adventure in Iceland

It´s essential when traveling in Iceland to have time to take in the beauty. Photo by Helga Stina

Unless you are up for giving the Ring Road at least ten days, Helga Stina proposes a more leisurely approach.

Other options when travel planning for Iceland

“The southwest has a number of great options as a base for a short visit, and as an alternative to a mad dash around the island. Not only Reykjavik, but also a number of excellent hotels just on the outside of the capital’s metro area,” Helga Stina says.  “You can have a great Iceland week if you aren’t super-ambitious about how much ground you try to cover in a week.  It’s easy to combine the main tourist sites of the Golden Circle with some more spectacular scenery. With a few hours drive further, you can get a sense of Iceland’s majesty and diversity without looking at your watch the whole time and changing hotels every night.”

Noting that accommodation is often at a premium on the popular South Coast and in the sparsely populated east, Helga Stina says that the dream Iceland vacation can better focus on the country’s spectacular if less-touristed west and north.

At one of Iceland´s most beautiful beaches. Photo by Helga Stina

Have you considered the West or the North?

“The west and north are the places to take in the beauty of Iceland in the slow lane.  Mountains, waterfalls, fishing villages, boutique hotels and summer houses with their own geothermal hot tubs, along with intimate or more big-time outdoor spas, all of these can be found on the “left hand” side of the country, with enough space between them to enjoy the ride.”

Great dining options can be found in many of these locations. 

“We have the freshest fish, the tastiest lamb, and great chefs in all kinds of places who know what to do with them,” said Helga Stina.  “Take the slow lane through Iceland’s north and west – it will be a ride you never forget.”

Highland road – Photo by Helga Stina

For more information on “taking the slow lane” through Iceland, visit Iceland Unwrapped at www.icelandunwrapped.com

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