Iceland Is Open. Should You Go?

For those of us addicted to international travel, March 18 brought some intriguing news: Iceland opened its borders to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Suddenly, an overseas trip — to a steaming, insanely scenic, puffin-populated, near-Arctic island, no less — is a real possibility. Summer solstice in Reykjavík, anyone?

I love Iceland. Over the past few years, I’ve traveled there several times, researching, writing, and updating our Rick Steves Iceland guidebook (in collaboration with Rick and our co-author, Ian Watson). I’m not vaccinated yet — I’m patiently waiting for my turn — but as soon as that happens, the temptation to head back to Iceland will become difficult to resist. Meanwhile, Continental Europe has hit a speed bump with its vaccine rollout, and they’re still sorting out who will be allowed in, and when. My fingers are crossed for returning to the Continent sometime in the latter half of 2021…but I’m not counting on it.

So, for antsy travelers-in-waiting, should Iceland be our first trip back overseas? Iceland’s tourist season is brief: The weather’s best, the midnight sun is shining, and the puffins are nesting from June through August. That gives us a little time to decide. Here are some considerations.

Is It the “Right Thing” to Do?

For me, the first question is an ethical one: Would I be doing more harm than good by visiting Iceland this summer?

In recent years, with Iceland’s meteoric rise in popularity, tourism has grown to about 40 percent of its revenue and 15 percent of its jobs. Iceland is reopening its borders because, economically, they need tourism to return.

But here’s the critical caveat: Iceland wants the right kind of tourists. That means, first of all, people who can prove they’ve been vaccinated. And more than that, Icelanders want visitors who are conscientious — ones who recognize that they’re invited guests and are willing to do their part to keep Iceland safe.

This winter, my wife and I spent some time in a place similar to Iceland — an isolated locale with relatively low COVID rates, hoping to keep it that way while opening up to visitors. We went there only because we were confident we could adhere to rigorous precautions (masking, social distancing, and so on). We didn’t want to get sick, sure. But even more important, we didn’t want to infect our hosts.

In the end, it went great. The unanimous sense we got from locals was that they genuinely appreciated visitors who buoyed their economy — provided those visitors respected the rules and shared their commitment to keep the community safe.

In short, if you feel a sense of entitlement to do whatever you like on vacation — if a “vacation” means a vacation from masking and social distancing — then stay home. Iceland doesn’t want you. But unselfish rule-followers are more than welcome.

Ring Road, Iceland

This ties into what I hope will be a trend in post-pandemic travel: Being a thoughtful guest. It’s easy to forget now, but 2019 — the last “normal” year of traveling — was a hard one. “Overtourism” was the big theme; popular places like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venice, and, yes, Iceland were overwhelmed with bigger (and unrulier) crowds than they could handle. “Instagram” became a dirty word because of the pileup of humanity that clogged a few influencer-endorsed photo op viewpoints, getting in the way of local life.

Talking to people in these “overtouristed” places, the unifying sentiment was clear: They don’t want zero tourists; they want the right number of tourists, and the right kind of tourists — those who are curious, respectful, and fun. As we get “back to normal” over the coming months (whether that begins in Iceland or not), this is something all travelers should keep front-of-mind: Being a good traveler means being a good guest.

Logistics

Iceland is user-friendly. English is widely spoken; the roads are well-maintained, well-marked, and (except during Reykjavík’s rush hour) uncrowded; and people are generally welcoming, if a bit shy, and have an inspiring can-do attitude. The downsides are the cold weather, even in summer (bundle up); and the high expense (but budget-minded visitors find ways to manage their costs).

The biggest logistical hurdle right now is that incoming visitors are required to show proof of vaccination with one of several approved jabs: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, or AstraZeneca. Proof that you’ve recovered from COVID-19 is also accepted. Visitors also must preregister online. Iceland requests that visitors download and activate the national contact-tracing app. And, once there, visitors are expected to adhere to any COVID-related regulations, including masking, gathering, and social distancing policies similar to what you’ll find in more community-minded corners of the USA.

If you’re considering a visit, be certain to keep up-to-date on entry requirements, which could change at any time — the onus is on the traveler to be informed. The Icelandic government’s COVID-19 website is a good resource. (To get your head around all of this, here’s a recent first-person account of visiting Iceland right now.) And keep in mind that, for now, all passengers returning to the United States must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before their trip (so you’ll need to get a test in Iceland); it remains to be seen whether this requirement might be relaxed for vaccinated travelers.

The CDC is currently discouraging travel, even for the vaccinated. (This advice is being widely ignored, however.) Assuming you’re planning a summertime trip, keep an eye on evolving CDC guidance. Because it’s still not entirely clear whether vaccinated people can carry and spread COVID-19, masking at all times at airports, in flight, and in other indoor or enclosed situations remains the considerate thing to do; regardless, Icelandair (and other airlines serving Iceland) has a masking requirement, and Iceland requires masks in public, unless you’re outside and more than two meters from the nearest person.

To plan your trip, pick up our Rick Steves Iceland guidebook. The second edition was meticulously updated in late 2019; in fact, on my last trip to Europe before the world changed, I invested a week in writing up new chapters on Snæfellsnes and the Westfjords. Unfortunately, by the time that edition was printed, COVID-19 had already shut down travel. That second edition is as up-to-date as anything in print. Still, it’s too early to know how the pandemic might affect the book’s advice…so please be patient.

In general, anyone heading to Iceland (or anywhere) in the next several months should be realistic: You’re a pioneer, and you’ll need to remain flexible. As of this writing, bars, theaters, and swimming pools in Iceland remain closed, and restaurant space is strictly controlled. (For details and updates, see this government site.) Beyond that, things are unpredictable: New variants or problematic spikes could scrap your plans or send you home early. If you’re not up for that, sit tight until the situation is more established.

What to Do, Where to Go?

The 48- or 72-hour “layover” approach has always been popular for a quick Iceland getaway: home-basing in Reykjavík and spending most of your time side-tripping to the Blue Lagoon lava-rock spa, the attraction-studded Golden Circle loop, the dramatic scenery of the South Coast, and/or the off-the-beaten-path Westman Islands. (Here’s my detailed description of one such trip. And here are some more itinerary tips.)

Typically, people do these quickie stopovers because they’re adding Iceland on to a longer European journey. This summer, however, Europe seems likely to remain off-limits, or at least more complicated to visit. So if you’ve ever been tempted to settle in for a longer, stand-alone Icelandic trip — and you should — now may be the time.

Europe’s ultimate road trip is Iceland’s Ring Road: 800 stunning miles on Highway 1, looping around the perimeter of the island. It takes at least a full week at a speedy pace; adding a few more days lets you linger longer and break up a string of one-night stays. My Ring Road blog post outlines the basics of doing the drive on your own, and our Rick Steves Iceland book offers detailed, day-by-day, stop-by-stop instructions for a mind-blowing road trip.

If you have a little less time — or want to spend less of it in the car — you could still visit Reykjavík and environs, then add on a few days elsewhere. The Snæfellsnes peninsula is doable as a long day trip, but works better with at least one overnight. This combines well with a trip to the Westfjords, which gets you feeling very far from civilization, including the chance to visit some stunning waterfalls and one of the world’s best bird cliffs. Or spend a few nights in the Mývatn area (in Iceland’s North); this offers a taste of the Ring Road without committing to the entire loop.

Consider the efficiency of a one-way car rental (which may come with an extra fee): Drive from Reykjavík to a distant and scenic outpost, drop off your car, then zip back to the capital on a cheap, easy, and frequent flight (from Ísafjörður in the Westfjords, or from Akureyri near Mývatn).

Another advantage of this “get out of Reykjavík” approach is that it makes social distancing that much easier. The experience of driving through the Westfjords or hiking amidst steamy craters at Mývatn isn’t that much different today than it was during pre-COVID times; one of the great appeals of Iceland has always been that sensation of being all alone in the grandeur of nature. (The only ailment I’ve ever picked up in Iceland was a wicked case of athlete’s foot from a thermal swimming pool.)

Should you go to Iceland this summer? It would be reasonable to conclude that it’s too early — there’s plenty to see and do closer to home, and Iceland will still be waiting for you later on, when things are closer to “normal.” But if you’re just itching to get overseas, Iceland could be an ideal way to give it a scratch until Continental Europe opens up.

I’m still thinking about it, and keeping an eye on how those first few weeks’ worth of visitors are finding Iceland (and how Iceland is finding them). What about you? Tempted?

71 Replies to “Iceland Is Open. Should You Go?”

  1. I am thinking of Iceland. I am a solo traveler so want to be with a small group. Do you have suggestions? It has been on my list of places to go and since I can’t travel anywhere else overseas, maybe this is a good time to go.

    1. Overseas Adventure Travel offers true small group travel and a culture-based itinerary that allows you to interact with a lot of locals and local organizations. When I saw on an other newsletter that Iceland was open again, I looked at their trips. They seem lovely, if a bit pricey. But I expect that every tour of Iceland would be rather pricey.

    2. As a solo traveler I joined a small group Intrepid tour around the island in August 2018. Breathtaking and loved the “alone togetherness”. I had 5 days on my own in Reykjavik pre and post, to settle in and see the city as it was not part of the tour. I’d go back in a heartbeat were there not so many other remarkable destinations to experience, and Covid whittling away years.

    3. I went to Iceland for a week in August with a small group, which was perfect. We had a local woman for a guide, and she was great. But I would avoid the huge and very crowded Blue Lagoon and find a couple of smaller places to soak in. We had 15 people in the group, so nobody got lost and everyone settled into their favorite even smaller groups quickly. Bring some snacks because food prices are out of this world!

    4. I traveled to Iceland solo as a 69 yo woman. Rented a camper van and Drove allll the way around the circumference of Iceland. They have numerous places clearly marked to stop and camp. It was amazing.

    5. There’s a photo tour of Iceland in August with Loren Photography. Info on his website. That tour is limited to 7 people.

    6. I will be going to Iceland this July with Overseas Adventure Travel. Their group size is typically 12-15 people. You get a lot of value for your money and they focus on getting close to the culture.

    7. I went with my sister- in -law in March 2019 with SMART TOURS. They are a company in NYC.
      Very cold but Fabulous 7 day trip! Next trip we will go in warmer weather and travel to the far north.

  2. Fully vaccinated, car rental, self catering, masks and outdoor activity
    It seems like a reasonable thing to do. Always being careful and responsible of course. We’re going.

    1. I feel exactly the same. July 7th we’re going with a well read guide book in tow. Won’t be the same as a Rick Steves tour but we’ll do our best and look forward to our next RSTour.

      1. we too are interested in going july 7th. we would be doing the ring tour for nine days and are very concerned about not being to get back to america. sounds like numerous things could go wrong and we aren’t booking the trip until we have more confidence.

  3. Since we prefer car rental, self catering, and outdoor activity (and we’ll be happy to mask up and are now fully vaccinated!) Iceland is definitely on our list- we’ve been there before but a week was not nearly long enough.

  4. I’m looking forward to a trip to Iceland next summer as part of a bigger mainland Europe trip (assuming COVID fades away by then). We’re planning on a 10- to 14-day Iceland portion of the trip to allow time to more fully enjoy Iceland. We’ll be fully vaccinated in a month, but, given the current issues in Europe, the mainland part of the trip isn’t possible this year. I do have the same travel worries as you mentioned for a US roadtrip we are planning this summer. Driving, with masks and socially distancing, seems doable, but we’re keeping our eyes on the COVID news with our fingers crossed.

  5. I’m Going for a week next February/March to see the northern lights. With any luck, the volcano will still be active!

    1. That’s what I’m hoping to do with my friend. We went to Alaska in 2018 and for 2 nights, in Coldfoot, it was overcast! We think we’ll have better luck in Iceland! I’d like to hear how it turns out!

  6. No international travel for us in 2021 — and no travel via airlines. All indicators lead to an upsurge in COVID this spring/summer, so outside of a road trip to Montana in June, we will stay close to home (we’re fortunate to live on an island, but not looking forward to all the summer tourists!). We have done the 72-hour layover in Reykjavik before, while en route to Switzerland and France. It was a good introduction to Iceland.

  7. We had RV rental reservations for May 2020 which we moved to May 2020 but it looked so iffy in February 2020 that we moved them to May 2022. Now we are taking a trip to the Southwest from Seattle.

  8. We have a trip booked to Iceland for September. All four of us will be vaccinated and will be happy to follow the masking, social distancing guidelines in respect for those who are not. So much of what we want to see is outdoors in Iceland, it seems a great fit for the times we find ourselves in. We are following the news closely and are cautiously optimistic!

  9. I don’t understand your comment that the season is brief. Our first trip included the winter solstice and we enjoyed every second of the too brief 6 days we were there (despite not seeing the northern lights). The tours, including the Golden Circle, Snaefellsness, a thermal plant and Blue Lagoon, were incredibly well planned to make the most of the brief daylight. Reykjavik is a great Christmas town and pleasant to walk. The second trip was an (again too brief) 8 day circumnavigation with a tour company in August. The weather was better in December! We have to go back and circumnavigate on our own.

    1. You can go to Iceland anytime, of course. But the “tourist season” is limited to June, July, and August to take advantage of better weather and more daylight. (It’s also puffin season.) Off-season can be very nice, and the tourist board is trying to entice more travelers to visit outside of summer, to spread out the crowds. However, off-season weather is hit-or-miss. And roads can be impassible (especially for foreigners not accustomed to driving on ice) through the winter, often from sometime in October until sometime in April. Winter is fine for staying close to the capital, in which case doing tours rather than driving on your own is smart. However, it can be impossible to do the Ring Road for much of the winter (due to road closures). One reason people come to Iceland off-season is for the Northern Lights; those are magnificent if you see them, but they’re not guaranteed to be visible. All in all, I find Iceland the most satisfying in summer, but sure, other times of year are workable–if you plan and pack properly.

      1. Spot on but the shoulder seasons can be nice as well. I did get some decent winter images but I also found myself having to turn around before I even got to Borgarnes because of the very intense winds that literally blew over a truck ahead of us. Wound up staying in the lower level of a house in Reykjavik and having a nice visit with the couple who own it. And stopping in Bonus for groceries where one of the locals volunteered to help me decipher Icelandic food labels and, as I was going through the bottled water, a police officer came up and volunteered that I should save my money and just fill my empty soda bottles with tap water because that’s what they’re selling in the stores!

  10. I would like to travel late fall or after Xmas. The best time to enjoy northern lights. It will be cold, but expect that. Any thoughts for this time of year?

  11. April fools day article. Visit Iceland with active volcano and thousands of earthquakes. I believe the population of Iceland will be stretched to provide emergency services to Iceland citizens.

  12. Also:

    Is there an “active volcano”? Yes… with a lava field of about 1 square kilometer. That’s around .4 square miles, or 250 acres. I went to a high school in California that was on a ranch of around 2800 acres. I think the volcano is cute.

    Earthquakes? Oh, yes, more than 20,000 of them since February. The overwhelming majority of them have been less than Richter 3. That won’t even pass the salt and pepper, and again falls in the range of cute.

    So the idea that Iceland’s emergency services are being overwhelmed is just… well, like the waters in Casablanca, the idea is misinformed.

    1. “Because it’s still not entirely clear whether vaccinated people can carry and spread COVID-19”
      All people can spread the virus as per the Doctor.

  13. How about differently-abled travelers? My adult son uses a wheelchair and sometimes crutches. Is Iceland accommodating in general?

    1. Good question. Currently, you will need a test (in Iceland) within 72 hours of your return stateside. (Here’s a helpful explanation of how this works, from Icelandair: https://www.icelandair.com/support/covid-19/faq/?fbclid=IwAR1slanOf8J_aT8PAc7s-z-4c5smopec1HypBxAJiiqQnva-NCtgQ4viht4#flying-from-iceland–how-to-book-a-covid-19-test-for-travel.) Of course, things are changing constantly; it’s possible that, as more Americans are vaccinated (and we better understand how well the vaccine prevents the spread of COVID-19), the testing requirement to return to the US will be reconsidered.

      1. My wife and I are currently traveling the Ring Road. We needed to schedule our covid tests for return to USA. Tests can be scheduled up to a week in advance online. We scheduled our rapid tests for the day before our flight home.

  14. We spent 14 days touring Iceland in July 2019 and had the best time. Besides the usual must see glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes and mountains make it a point to see the local botanical gardens in each town. They are fantabulous.

  15. As much as I would want to be in Iceland right now, it’s noted that the local population hasn’t had as much open access to a vaccine. So an ethical question- is it ethical/right/acceptable that tourists from countries where the vaccine is more available be invited to a country where the local population, mostly not vaccinated, are paid to serve those tourists in hospitality roles and potentially exposed to the virus? As a tourism researcher, I’m struggling with this dilemma. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Angela. I agree that it is an issue. Seems to me to be given way too little thought in this discussion. I am currently living in Florida and tourists are flocking here because they can – while those of us who are trying to be responsible are enjoying our local stores, restaurants, etc way less than the tourists, if at all. Knowing how it feels to see tourists in my hometown who are quite possibly making things worse I would encourage people to wait. While the tourism industry wants the dollars most citizens don’t want the risk.

      1. Thanks Kathryn. I can relate- we live in Texas and IMO the state sent a confusing message with the 100% open for business proclamation. With that though, local business can require masks. However we also see a lot of people from out of state arriving to our beaches and tourist locations and being surprised to find masks are still needed and then disregarding this. I know we need tourism to help our struggling hospitality employees and economy, but maybe a better messaging strategy could have been used to encourage more responsible and respectful travelers.

    2. I’ve given this a lot of thought, too. For me, one important factor is the role that (vaccinated) visitors can play in supporting a struggling economy and small businesses that may be on the verge of failing without tourist income. Every day, I receive heartbreaking messages from contacts in Europe whose businesses are going under, their life’s work closing forever. We can’t do anything to help vaccinate Icelanders; but, once vaccinated, we can support them in other ways by traveling and spending money there. The critical thing (which I emphasize in the post) is that we must travel in a way that’s respectful of local regulations and mindful of the local community to minimize any negative impact we might cause.

    3. The economy is Iceland is rather dependent on tourism. It certainly is appropriate to have your vaccine, wear your mask and respect social distancing. It’s also good to contribute to the economy. That’s what tourists do. If your job in Iceland depends on tourism, you will be happy to welcome visitors who respect the COVID limitations. We plan on June 26. I just hope the volcano is still active.

  16. I’m booked for July 6-17. First time in Iceland after my initial trip last August was canceled. I’ll be alone and will do 3 organized tours of the most popular areas plus a helicopter trip to the active volcano. But my passion is golf. I’ve seen the photos on Golf Iceland and picked 6 different courses to play, including Vestman Island. Very few realize how popular golf is among the residents and I can’t wait to play there. Basing in Reykjavik with a rental car. Let the fun begin, responsibly.

  17. Just discovered Nordic Visitor Iceland self-drive tours. Excellent reviews and many options to choose from concerning length of stay and type of accommodation. Booking one for late August into September.

  18. Going in August for 8 days with my wife and four kids ages 6-16. Can’t wait. I hope the volcano is still.going!

  19. Excellent story & commentary. Hopefully Iceland will achieve a high enough vaccination rate to render it safe from asymptomatic carriers arriving from distant shores.
    Sadly,travel by airlines will continue to be plagued by those who choose to jeopardize public safety by refusing to mask and distance themselves. Iceland will have its price, no matter how attractive the country makes itself.
    Perhaps responsible travelers and governments might exert influence on air carriers to better screen its passengers and discourage unsafe behavior. Till then I remain reticent to use public transportation.

  20. Any suggestions regarding summer solstice in Iceland. I’m not interested in concerts or parties, just an appreciation of nature on the longest day of the year.

  21. Cameron, I’ve been there eight times and appreciate that you added the western Iceland areas I mentioned to you. You are so right about respecting things. If you take a breath, slow down a little bit and engage with the locals it’s a nicer trip. You can, of course, find scenery like shooting fish in a barrel. But maybe my fondest moment was a late night conversation with a hotel manager about his son being picked on by the school bully. He found out that the boy came from an abusive home and decided that he would invite the kid to spend time in his home to see what a more normal family is like. Almost everyone will be polite to you but being able to connect substantively takes it to a different level.

  22. Another alternative is a cruise to Iceland. Celebrity has one this coming summer and an Iceland/Greenland one next summer.

  23. My husband and I are renting an RV and visiting all the national parks in the west of the US this May. We are avid travellers and have been vaccinated since January. We will stay in the US for now

    1. Lori, I’m hoping you have campground reservations. If not now is the time to get them. The days of just pulling up anywhere with your RV and camping are over. Campgrounds in most of the National Parks are by on-line reservation only and they fill the day reservations open which usually is 6 months ahead. There may be private campgrounds outside the parks which can accommodate you. Also National Forests have campgrounds but they may not have hookups.
      One other factor is that Yellowstone and Glacier’s roads may still be snow-covered in May! Check out their websites. I would think about going south, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah. There are enough NPs there to keep you busy for a month!

  24. Thanks for you thoughts. We are booked into Iceland for the first time for a few weeks in August, 2021. In all my correspondence with hotels, I am noting that while we are fully vaccinated and Iceland is open, we know things can change at any moment. With the assistance of your RS guidebook and LOTS of research, I am happy with our ring road slow plans. Good reminders in your article to be gracious guests and think of ourselves and pioneers.

  25. The ridiculous thing about requiring the visitors to be vaccinated is that you can still give covid to people and you can still catch it, you still have to wear a face mask and social distance. I’ll wait until after 2023 when the experimental trails of the vaxxine are over. Thanks for being guinea pigs all of you who have already gotten the injection!

    1. William…. you sound exactly like the type of tourist Iceland does NOT want. I agree, best you wait til 2023. Let the rest of us enjoy it now, responsibly.

  26. A first-hand account of getting the required return PCR test would be helpful. Can anyone describe that experience? How far in advance to make appointment? Is it free? (If no, how much?) Accessible locations? Etc.

    1. Covid.is has information on where to get the test. It should be done at least the day before you leave to allow time to get the results. You need to make an appointment at some testing sites. It costs 24,000 ISK, which is roughly $200. They do require a test on arrival as well (even for vaccinated individuals), but that one is free. They are not open yet. It was pushed to April 6 and could change again.

  27. I have done four wonderful Rick Steves tours. In August 2018 my daughter and I took the RS guidebook to Iceland and with rented car did the Ring Road the last nine days of August 2018. We can’t stop thinking about that wonderful island and all our great adventures. Its beauty is beyond belief and very friendly people. The island is FRAGILE – treat it with utmost respect. Be sure to consult the weather maps every day before setting out. Follow all rules. Book all accommodations ahead, stock up on picnic food at local supermarkets, and have an exquisite journey. We did.

  28. We’re planning to go this August for ten days. This will be our second trip to Iceland. The first trip, we spent a week in the Reykjavik area, then rented a camper and drove the Ring Road. We were running out of time after Husavik, so we scurried back to Reykjavik, missing the West, Westfjords, and Northwest. So our goal this trip is to get out of Reykjavik immediately and head up the west coast, then onto the Westfjords and Northwest. Once you get away from Reykjavik, you will see very few people each day, and mostly outdoors. If you camp, picnic, and cook most of your own meals, the warden of the campground might be the only person you come closer than a few meters to the whole day, and that only for a few moments while paying your camping fee. Of course, if you go on a tour or whale-watching cruise, you will be with more people. Whale watching, you’ll be standing outside on the windy deck, but you might be inside a vehicle for at least part of some tours, so this might not be the best time for those. From what I have read about infecting others, it is very unlikely when outdoors, especially if social distancing is maintained. My mother-in-law died of Covid-19, and I would not want to go if I thought I would be putting others at risk. However, I think this trip can be done safely by forsaking Reykjavik to immerse ourselves instead in the wild beauty of this sparsely-populated island.

  29. This isn’t totally accurate. Iceland isn’t opening to non-Schengen visitors who are vaccinated until at least April 6. The opening was delayed by the government and there is always a chance it could be pushed again. Its best to watch the requirements on covid.is, which links to other relevant government sites.

  30. One big advantage of Iceland this summer will be few tourists. My husband and I (he is Icelandic) where in Iceland from July 2020 til Feb 2021 (due to covid…we were living in Asia and needed to leave). The tourist sites were even more quiet than usual. Out of season (after September) there were some issues of availability. Don’t fuss with the blue lagoon….it is ridiculously overpriced and crowded. Go to the local pool which has multiple hot tubs, sauna, waterslides and pools (all warm) for around 7$ (or less if you buy several entries). This is the authentic Icelandic experience.

  31. Just got plane tickets to go for 2 weeks in late August.

    Ten years ago when Icelandair started flying to Seattle we got a sweet deal for 6 days in February, we had a window of decent weather and saw so much: a glacier walk, the northern lights, a very empty Blue Lagoon as the sun was rising, driving the golden circle, a day trip out to the Snælfalness peninsula, wanderings around Reykjavik, and even an incredible outdoor light show and indoor organ concert that I will never forget. We vowed to return to see more of the country.

    But in the intervening years, I’ve been concerned about Iceland becoming too popular, particularly in summer. But I think this may be our window of opportunity.

    We have an old VW camper van, so we are used to those kinds of road trips, which gave us sanity this past year of pandemic. But at this point, I don’t know if I can take that much isolation. I miss trips to Europe in which I can engage with locals, so I’m hoping that by end of summer we will be in a position to stay at local guesthouse al we travel around the island. It will still be largely an outdoor vacation, but I appreciate a little daily interaction with hosts over breakfast. I hope the situation improves, also so we can go to local swimming pools. But if not, there is plenty to see, and may find some outdoor swimming holes.

  32. We just made reservations arriving on the morning of Thursday, May 13th and staying for 6 nights – leaving Wednesday, May 19th in the late afternoon.

    We have both been vaccinated and, so far, anticipate no issues regarding entry. We still may need to get tested prior to returning to the states.

    From looking at web sites, the main attractions that may be closed are the swimming pools. The Blue Lagoon looks like it is reopening for weekends in May.

    We plan to take the ring road with a quick one day trip up the west side to Akureyri for the night and then taking our time going down the east side back to Reykjavík. Depending how much time it takes, we will then do the area around the Capital.

    Other than Rick’s tour book entries, are there any extras recommendations?

  33. Yes we are planning a trip to Iceland July 1st for 14 nights. Renting a car and doing the ring road.
    4 best girlfriends and we are all
    Vaccinated.trying to decide to do the ring clockwise or counter clockwise. We want to do activities along the way:
    Horseback riding, kayaking glaciers and more. It all looks spectacular. And perhaps as said going this summer (fingers crossed can still get in). We will happily to our respectful part in exploring this beautiful country.

  34. Just got this response regarding the Myvatn Baths:

    We had to close on the 25. March due to new restrictions made by the Icelandic government to fight Covid-19. The new restrictions are suppose last be only for about 3 weeks so we should open again on 15. April but it all depends on how the situation will be here in Iceland. Before 25. March, we had been open since November.

    So a visit in May should be no problem

    Regards,
    Kristinn Björn Haraldsson
    Booking Manager

  35. We are in Iceland now (April 22-28), came on the flight from Boston. Weather is a bit finicky but it’s FABULOUS – no one is here except Icelandic tourists and a few intrepid Americans. Blue Lagoon is open limited hours (long weekend) but we were there with maybe 3 dozen people total and had a great dinner at the Lava Restaurant. We came to South Coast/Vik for 3 nites, then will do 2 in Reykjavik. Have to do some meal planning and reservations due to capacity limits but it’s fine. Did the Kayla ice cave excursion yesterday. We are doing the active volcano hike on our own tomorrow when it’s supposed to be sunny and dry. We were surprised when we arrived all vaccinated to have to do a Covid test and “quarantine” (which didn’t preclude us from getting our rental car and driving around remote ports of the Reykjanes peninsula south of the airport) until our test results came about 8 hours later at 2:00 PM. They have had almost no tourists and everyone is friendly and welcoming. My advise is come ASAP!!!!

    1. Hi! Can you offer any insight as to children coming with? My son is 12, not old enough to be vaccinated. I read that he just has to test when I do, although I’m vaccinated? Are you seeing any travelers with children’s?

  36. Greetings from Reykjavik!
    I am currently in Iceland on vacation and am having a wonderful time!
    Arriving at the international airport on United from EWR went smoothly. Every landing passenger undergoes a complimentary covid swab test on arrival. Despite 4 large planes arriving within a short time, it was only a few minutes wait to get through immigration/covid testing.

    I took the Flybus into town. All of the guests were wearing masks on the bus as we were under self quarantine at our hotels until our results came back. My negative results were texted to me at 5 hours later. So, I was free to begin my Iceland adventure!

    There are some tourists here but not a lot. This appears to be the perfect time to visit Iceland.

    The Icelanders are friendly and I am excited about my upcoming day trips. Am planning to be here for 12 days.

  37. We’re a couple planning a ten day trip to Iceland early July and we’re both vaccinated. We plan to rent a car at the airport. We’ve heard about the Covid Test that follows landing in the airport and the quarantine hours. What are the rules and what we can and can not do during that quarantine hours? Can we pick up our car and drive around just looking at the scenery? And how long will the quarantine time usually be?

    1. We are going in mid-July. I just looked at the website and it appears the mandatory quarantine/test requirement ends July 1st for vaccinated individuals. I think once you clear customs and get your car you are good to go explore!

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