Backpacking Iceland

Iceland – a small, often wind-swept island in the North Atlantic, with a population one-tenth the size of Berlin’s. This may not sound spectacular at first, but you're very much mistaken. Volcanic activity in Iceland has created a fascinating and unique landscape that will captivate you with its impressive rock formations, hot water geysers and other special natural phenomena.



Here’s our recommended backpacking itinerary for Iceland. Enjoy!


Important Basics

Official Language

Icelandic

Basic Vocabulary
Yes
NoNei
Thank youTakk; Takka Ther
HelloHalló
GoodbyeBless
Capital City

Reykjavik

Form of Government

Parliamentary Republic

Phone Country Code

+354

Currency

Icelandic krona

Climate

ø Maximum daytime temperature: 4 to 15°C

Ø Maximum night temperature: -1 to 9°C

Summer: June to August, Winter: November to March

Fun Fact

Beer has only been legal in Iceland since 1989!

Cities

Reykjavik

Your adventure begins in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. This is where the commercial airport is located and you can fly there with a budget airline for as little as 75 euros.

Reykjavik is not just a fishing village. In the last few decades, it’s developed into a really cool city. The architecture of the houses is simple, but there’s no shortage of bright colours. Public buildings are much more eccentric.

The Harpa Concert Hall by the waterfront has quickly become the most photographed sight in the city. Its ingenious design reflects both the sky and the sea. The tallest building in the city is the Hallgrimskirkja church, which is 75 metres high. The design is supposed to be reminiscent of geological forms in nature. It was very controversial at first, but has since become increasingly accepted by the locals.

In the narrow streets, you can always spot colourful street art. They’re a marked contrast to the surrounding nature. If it gets too wet or too cold outside, you can sit down in one of the many cafés with a book and a hot cup of tea.

You can get a cosy bed in a 16-bed dorm in a hostel for 20 euros a night. Prices in Iceland do tend to be quite high.

Sneafellnaes

For the rest of the trip around the island, you should rent a car. There’s lots to see on the route along Iceland’s Ring Road, and with a car you can stop wherever you please.

A 2-hour drive northbound will take you to the Sneafellnaes Peninsula. This peninsula is bordered on the coast by a mountain covered in glacial ice. Sneafellnaes is often referred to as “Iceland in miniature”, because in this one place you can discover all the natural wonders that you would find on the island as a whole.

There’s a volcano with a glacier, black and white sand beaches and small fishing villages that appear regularly in the vast landscape. The view you get from the cliffs of Sneafellsjökulls National Park at the end of the peninsula is probably the most impressive sight. It’s a perfect piece of land! So, if you don’t have much time for your trip, this corner of Iceland is definitely the right place to be. You can find somewhere to sleep in one of the local hostels. A bed in an 8-bed dorm costs 28 euros a night.

Reykjahlid

Your next destination, Reykjahlid, is a 6-hour drive away. Reykjahlid is the main town in the Nordourland region In the northeastern part of the island. Nevertheless, it has a mere 300 inhabitants.

Besides the great solitude you can find here, a particular highlight is Lake Myvatn. The naturally warm water is said to have healing effects - just what you need after a long drive! There are a number of marked hiking routes around the lake, which are particularly great in the summer when the grass is a beautiful shade of green.

The Grjotagja Cave is definitely worth a visit too. Near the lake you can find a cave with crystal clear water inside. The location is so beautiful it was even used as a shooting location in the hit series Game of Thrones.

To be as close to nature as possible, it’s best to stay at a campsite. Three are well-equipped facilities to pitch your tent for as little as 15 euros a day. This is the cheapest way to spend a night on the island.

Egilsstadir

Your round trip across Iceland continues towards the east coast. Egilsstadir is the commercial centre of this side of the island. There are plenty of things worth seeing here. For example, you can find the largest forest area on the island, Hallormsstaðaskógur, in the vicinity. Various tree species have been planted here since 1900, to test if they can survive on the island.

There’s an abundance of hiking routes around the glacial lake Lagarfjlót. There are so many trails it’s easy to avoid bumping into people. Legend has it there’s a monster similar to the Loch Ness monster living in the lake. Who knows, maybe you can prove it!

At Iceland’s most eastern point, the East Fjords, you can experience pure nature. It’s one of the most remote areas of the country. You can stand infront of volcanic hills while looking down at at the deserted bays. Take a deep breath and enjoy the view!

After so much alone time, you’ll probably fancy some company! Egilsstadir town centre is lively and has a nice bar scene. You can stay in a 6-bed dorm in a local hostel for 33 euros a night.

Hof

The journey to Hof takes about 4 hours, but the road runs along the coast most of the time, so you can enjoy some breathtaking views. Make sure you stop for some photos!

This small community, which consists mainly of farms, is an ideal starting point for tours of Vatnajökull National Park. The Vatnajökull glacier is not only the biggest glacier on the island, but also the biggest in Europe. Naturally, you can’t make excursions and tours to the various peaks on your own.

Most of the tours start in the village Skaftafell, which is very near to Hof. That’s where you’ll find all the information you need about possible excursions too. There’s something for all abilities!

There are only a handful of places to stay in Hof. We’d recommend a campsite, so you can pitch a tent and be at one with nature. This will cost you 20 euros a night.

Vik

A further 2 hours of driving will take you to a small town called Vik on the south coast of the island. This is the last stop on your journey along the Ring Road. The south of Iceland is best known for its black sand beaches and the extraordinary rock formations along the coast. Further along the coast, you’ll see the offshore archipelago of Vestmannaeyjar. This can be reached by ferry and is an interesting excursion for birdwatchers in particular.

One of the most impressive waterfalls on the island is about two hours inland from here. The Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most popular sights in Iceland, due to its step-like structure and the great view. It’s often referred to as the Golden Waterfall.

In Vik, you’ll be close to nature once again. It’s 13 euros per night to pitch a tent at a campsite and enjoy Iceland’s beautiful landscape.

To complete your tour of the island, you should return to the capital. The drive to Reykavik is only 2 hours from here. From there, you can fly back home. Unless you’ve decided to stay, that is!


Reykjavik

Reykjavik

Your adventure begins in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. This is where the commercial airport is located and you can fly there with a budget airline for as little as 75 euros.

Reykjavik is not just a fishing village. In the last few decades, it’s developed into a really cool city. The architecture of the houses is simple, but there’s no shortage of bright colours. Public buildings are much more eccentric.

The Harpa Concert Hall by the waterfront has quickly become the most photographed sight in the city. Its ingenious design reflects both the sky and the sea. The tallest building in the city is the Hallgrimskirkja church, which is 75 metres high. The design is supposed to be reminiscent of geological forms in nature. It was very controversial at first, but has since become increasingly accepted by the locals.

In the narrow streets, you can always spot colourful street art. They’re a marked contrast to the surrounding nature. If it gets too wet or too cold outside, you can sit down in one of the many cafés with a book and a hot cup of tea.

You can get a cosy bed in a 16-bed dorm in a hostel for 20 euros a night. Prices in Iceland do tend to be quite high.

Sneafellnaes

Sneafellnaes

For the rest of the trip around the island, you should rent a car. There’s lots to see on the route along Iceland’s Ring Road, and with a car you can stop wherever you please.

A 2-hour drive northbound will take you to the Sneafellnaes Peninsula. This peninsula is bordered on the coast by a mountain covered in glacial ice. Sneafellnaes is often referred to as “Iceland in miniature”, because in this one place you can discover all the natural wonders that you would find on the island as a whole.

There’s a volcano with a glacier, black and white sand beaches and small fishing villages that appear regularly in the vast landscape. The view you get from the cliffs of Sneafellsjökulls National Park at the end of the peninsula is probably the most impressive sight. It’s a perfect piece of land! So, if you don’t have much time for your trip, this corner of Iceland is definitely the right place to be. You can find somewhere to sleep in one of the local hostels. A bed in an 8-bed dorm costs 28 euros a night.

Reykjahlid

Reykjahlid

Your next destination, Reykjahlid, is a 6-hour drive away. Reykjahlid is the main town in the Nordourland region In the northeastern part of the island. Nevertheless, it has a mere 300 inhabitants.

Besides the great solitude you can find here, a particular highlight is Lake Myvatn. The naturally warm water is said to have healing effects - just what you need after a long drive! There are a number of marked hiking routes around the lake, which are particularly great in the summer when the grass is a beautiful shade of green.

The Grjotagja Cave is definitely worth a visit too. Near the lake you can find a cave with crystal clear water inside. The location is so beautiful it was even used as a shooting location in the hit series Game of Thrones.

To be as close to nature as possible, it’s best to stay at a campsite. Three are well-equipped facilities to pitch your tent for as little as 15 euros a day. This is the cheapest way to spend a night on the island.

Egilsstadir

Egilsstadir

Your round trip across Iceland continues towards the east coast. Egilsstadir is the commercial centre of this side of the island. There are plenty of things worth seeing here. For example, you can find the largest forest area on the island, Hallormsstaðaskógur, in the vicinity. Various tree species have been planted here since 1900, to test if they can survive on the island.

There’s an abundance of hiking routes around the glacial lake Lagarfjlót. There are so many trails it’s easy to avoid bumping into people. Legend has it there’s a monster similar to the Loch Ness monster living in the lake. Who knows, maybe you can prove it!

At Iceland’s most eastern point, the East Fjords, you can experience pure nature. It’s one of the most remote areas of the country. You can stand infront of volcanic hills while looking down at at the deserted bays. Take a deep breath and enjoy the view!

After so much alone time, you’ll probably fancy some company! Egilsstadir town centre is lively and has a nice bar scene. You can stay in a 6-bed dorm in a local hostel for 33 euros a night.

Hof

Hof

The journey to Hof takes about 4 hours, but the road runs along the coast most of the time, so you can enjoy some breathtaking views. Make sure you stop for some photos!

This small community, which consists mainly of farms, is an ideal starting point for tours of Vatnajökull National Park. The Vatnajökull glacier is not only the biggest glacier on the island, but also the biggest in Europe. Naturally, you can’t make excursions and tours to the various peaks on your own.

Most of the tours start in the village Skaftafell, which is very near to Hof. That’s where you’ll find all the information you need about possible excursions too. There’s something for all abilities!

There are only a handful of places to stay in Hof. We’d recommend a campsite, so you can pitch a tent and be at one with nature. This will cost you 20 euros a night.

Vik

Vik

A further 2 hours of driving will take you to a small town called Vik on the south coast of the island. This is the last stop on your journey along the Ring Road. The south of Iceland is best known for its black sand beaches and the extraordinary rock formations along the coast. Further along the coast, you’ll see the offshore archipelago of Vestmannaeyjar. This can be reached by ferry and is an interesting excursion for birdwatchers in particular.

One of the most impressive waterfalls on the island is about two hours inland from here. The Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most popular sights in Iceland, due to its step-like structure and the great view. It’s often referred to as the Golden Waterfall.

In Vik, you’ll be close to nature once again. It’s 13 euros per night to pitch a tent at a campsite and enjoy Iceland’s beautiful landscape.

To complete your tour of the island, you should return to the capital. The drive to Reykavik is only 2 hours from here. From there, you can fly back home. Unless you’ve decided to stay, that is!

Iceland Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Reykjavik
Home - Reykjavik
Flight
75
16-bed dorm
20
2. Reykjavik
Reykjavik
-
16-bed dorm
20
3. Reykjavik
Reykjavik
-
16-bed dorm
20
4. Reykjavik - Sneafellnaes
Reykjavik - Sneafellnaes
Rental Car
8-bed dorm
28
5. Sneafellnaes
Sneafellnaes
-
8-bed dorm
28
6. Sneafellnaes - Reykjahlid
Sneafellnaes - Reykjahlid
Rental Car
Tent
15
7. Reykjahlid
Reykjahlid
-
Tent
15
8. Reykjahlid - Egilsstadir
Reykjahlid - Egilsstadir
Rental Car
6-bed dorm
33
9. Egilsstadir
Egilsstadir
-
6-bed dorm
33
10. Egilsstadir – Hof
Egilsstadir – Hof
Rental Car
Tent
20
11. Hof
Hof
-
Tent
20
12. Hof – Vik
Hof – Vik
Rental Car
Tent
13
13. Vik
Vik
-
Tent
13
14. Vik – Reykjavik – Home
Vik – Reykjavik – Home
Rental Car + Flight
75

Total price.

Flights 150,00
Transportation 350,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 278,00
Total778,00

Du möchtest 

deine eigene

Reise erstellen?

Du möchtest deine

eigene Reise erstellen?

Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Skyr: Icelandic yoghurt is a classic and it is often eaten for breakfast with fruit or syrup. It’s usually served with bread and coffee.

Soups

Lamb soup: this soup is an Icelandic delicacy and a real highlight for visitors.

Main Courses

Roasted lamb:  roasted lamb is a feast in Iceland. You can order it in lots of places and is best to order when you’re out with a group.

Dried fish: dried fish is a local favourite, and can be eaten as a snack or a main course. 

Pylsur: the Icelandic hot dog. With onions and meat, this is a delicious snack for when you’re on the go, and especially in Reykjavik, it’s an absolute must.

Drinks & Snacks

Ice cream: Icelanders are very proud of their ice cream and rightly so. See for yourself!

Brennivín: the Icelandic brandy is a liquor, which is often home-made by locals. It’s a must-try after your dinner!

Iceland

The exchange rate for 100 Icelandic Krona is around 0.67 Euro (as of March 2020). You can see the prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Off across the country: go on a road trip and explore the inland of the country. In Iceland, you don’t have to miss any part of the country!

Plan for a high costs: unfortunately, Iceland is not cheap, so you should set yourself a high budget from the start to avoid getting into trouble and make sure you can enjoy the trip.

Icelandic Oath: this is a tourism measure that promotes responsible tourism in Iceland. By taking this oath you commit yourself to respecting nature and behaving properly.

Don'ts

Wild camping: yes, the landscape is inviting, but this isn’t allowed anymore. It’s best to get a camper van or cosy hotel room in order to preserve nature.

Expect colourful landscapes: Are you coming to Iceland in spring or summer? Don't expect blossoming landscapes like those in Europe. Iceland is rather grey and brown, but that’s exactly what gives the country its beauty.

Light clothing: even in summer you’ll need warm clothing in Iceland. Don't be naïve – make sure you pack the right clothes in your backpack!

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

Yes

Temporary national ID

Yes

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months upon entry. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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