Johnny Jet reader and listener Larry Martinez (read his impressive bio below), recently returned from Iceland and shared some of his travel tips with me (read Part 1 here). As one of the summer’s hottest international destinations for American travelers, his timing is impeccable and hopefully you’ll find these tips useful when you head to Iceland! Here are Larry’s top 12 travel tips for American travelers to Iceland:
1. In the summer, dress in layers. Expect all four seasons in one day. Normal temperatures are typically in the 50s during the day. One anorak shell with a warm sweater.
2. Get a rental SUV, not a compact car. There are too many good dirt and gravel roads to miss with the wrong vehicle. SADCARS has good deals at Keflavik Airport.
3. Book an AirBnB in advance. Iceland is bouncing back fast after the pandemic so book ahead.
4. Talk to people who know. The Romanian clerk at SADCARS knew all about the volcano and how to hike it. We have met very knowledgeable people along the way who can give you the inside tips about restaurants, sights, and hikes. You can’t see it all, so pick from a priority list.
5. Take the electric ferry to the island of Heimaey, but plan to stay the day. Rent a bike or car to explore.
6. The iceberg lagoon on the south coast is really worth a stop. I got a bit jaded by the hundreds of waterfalls. Icebergs are always worth it. Check out the glaciers before they disappear.
7. Drive the Ring Road counter-clockwise, Reykjavik to Reykjavik through Vik, Höfn, Myvatn, Husavik, Akureyri, Stykksholmur and back. The long trip from Höfn to Myvatn is spectacular. It takes five hours and is full of places to stop and enjoy the mountains.
8. Go to Husavik and do the whale-watching trip there on the Northern Seas. There is also the Eurovision Song Contest city tour showing you the filming sights for the musical group Fire Saga.
9. In Reykjavik, the best deals and best quality are the hand-knit sweaters in the Marketplace, only on Saturdays and Sundays near the harbor. I bought the authentic Icelandic sweaters, which were hand-knit and much better than the more expensive store versions.
10. Relax! Iceland has no traffic, friendly people, great food, fantastic sights, and is an ever-deepening relationship with Mother Nature. Feel the lava’s heat. Feel the earth’s power!
11. Never ask in Iceland if someone speaks English. They find it offensive that you are asking.
12. You always pay for a meal at the register following the meal. Don’t ask for a bill.
BIO: For his day job, Larry F. Martinez is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the California State University at Long Beach, where he researches and teaches in the areas of international relations and law, with a research focus on outer space/cyberspace law and policy. These are all justifications for traveling abroad: his real love. He has lectured on Internet policy and governance in Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan, Morocco, and Ecuador. In 2007, he was a Cuesta College Honored Alumnus of the Year. Martinez taught international relations on the Spring 2018 Semester at Sea Voyage traveling with students from Japan through China, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA.
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