Iceland: Seducing Me (and My Travel Bug) With Elves and Volcanoes

Iceland image: Victor Montol

When it comes to my summer travels, local and domestic trips have been keeping me busy. There’s been lots of camping and next month I’ll be out in B.C. for a couple of weeks, all of which has been keeping my travel bug fairly satisfied.

For the most part.

But it’s not going to be long before that travel bug busts out of me all Aliens style (or maybe Spaceballs style instead. That seems slightly less traumatizing) (although still awful) (this is why you don’t ignore your travel bug, people).

The Let's Go Ladies, Spaceballs, alien, travel bug

I like to think that my travel bug would be somewhat cuter, but certainly as talented, as this guy.

Sorry, I totally lost my train of thought there…

Right, travel bug busting out of me. So, it’s gonna bust out and be like, “TAKE ME SOMEWHERE WHERE THEY DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH, DAMMIT!”

And, as we’ve already concluded, you just don’t ignore a travel bug.

I’ve got a few destinations trying to tempt me with their awesomeness but the one I keep coming back to is Iceland. I’m not exactly sure when I fell in love with the fjords but somewhere between then and now I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and now I’m just plain obsessed. Couple this with the fact that it feels like everyone and their dog has gone in the last year or so and basically Iceland just needs to be my next big trip or I’ll probably go crazy (er. Crazier. Yes).

Chances are I won’t get there until next year (I’m calling it a 30th birthday present to myself) which gives me plenty of time to prepare. My boyfriend (who made me watch Walter Mitty so we can definitely blame some of this on him) and I have been doing a bit of research and here are some of the highlights we’ve learned in the process.

5 random things I’ve learned about Iceland

1. Iceland is hella old

Okay, I’m not talking about geography here. Geographically speaking every place is old. Iceland was settled by Norse settlers and/or Celtic monks back in – wait for it – 874 AD. I mean, DANG, Iceland. This means the country has a LOT of history, which shapes its culture and basically just demands to be experienced. By me. And you. Everybody, really.

2. Iceland is home to active volcanoes

Now I am talking about geography. The volcano thing isn’t necessarily news (who remembers the great Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010?) but it does make a girl wonder. Apparently Iceland experiences major volcanic activity (not your average tremor or anything like that) once every 5 years. Do the math and know that I may either be in trouble or in for some adventure.

The Let's Go Ladies, Iceland, volcanos, meanwhile in Iceland meme, Mordor

Not pictured… Um, Iceland.

3. Tipping isn’t a thing…

Seriously. Restaurants? Taxis? Nadda. In the captial, Reykjavík, it’s becoming a bit more common but otherwise you’re in the clear.

4. … But elves apparently are!

Also seriously. Belief in elves, or “hidden people” is an old part of Icelandic folklore (for some people it’s been a means of understanding the extreme environment) which, personally, I think is pretty neat. While that belief may not be a universal thing in contemporary Iceland, it’s still strong enough to delay the building of a highway, so that’s something.

5. Anytime is a good time for Iceland

Sure, it’s a nordic country and generally cooler temperature-wise (even in the summer) but that shouldn’t turn you off from the shoulder seasons (or even the winter). Summer apparently is awesome but if you wanna see those famous aurora borealis you’ll want to consider winter. Trying to avoid the crowds? Spring and autumn are still awesome! Just keep in mind that complete darkness doesn’t happen in the summer months (like, at all) but in the winter you’re only likely to see about 4 -5 hours of sunlight. Can’t decide? This article from Frommer’s breaks it all down nicely.


Yeah, I know – this is hardly groundbreaking information but you’ve got to admit that it’s interesting! It’s always a good idea to take some time to learn about your next destination. I’m looking forward to learning more about Iceland until I finally get to experience it for myself!

Know of something else I should know about Iceland? Tell me about it in the comments!

Sara Hamil, The Let's Go Ladies, TLGL




(BTW: The amazing photo in this post’s feature image was taken by Victor Montol)

Want to learn more about Iceland before your own trip? TripAdvisor is a great place to start!

Sara Hamil

A storyteller, adventurer, quasi-anthropologist; travel for Sara is as much about experiencing the world as it is about self-discovery. She also kind of hopes that all this globetrotting will help with some nagging existential crisis. Interests include Disney, running and her dog, Jasper.

  • The Travel Hack

    Argh you have to visit. You’ll absolutely love it!

    • Sara Hamil

      Yeessss! It’s quickly becoming a bit of a personal mission!

  • Heather @ TravelingSaurus

    Hahahaha. The travel bug is such a problem. I’d love to go to Iceland, it’s definitely on my list for the near future.

    • Sara Hamil

      Travel bugs can be so damn pushy! If you get to Iceland before me be sure to let me know how it went!

  • Vlad

    Iceland has been at the top of my travel wish list for years, ever since I had to write a paper about it in high school, I hope I can get there one day. My travel bug is currently screaming that one week was barely enough to feed its hunger and it can’t wait till September….

    • Sara Hamil

      The ways we become enamored with certain places can be funny, eh? I definitely hope you get there soon! What adventures do you have planned for September?

      • Vlad

        I’m going on a road trip in Portugal, a country that I love, from Porto to the Algarve region. I hope it’s going to be as fun as I imagine. :D

        • Sara Hamil

          Ooh! Gotta love a good ol’ fashioned road trip! I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time!

  • Ranthambore Jeep Safari

    Really you are a nice traveler with a great sightseeing exp…

    • Sara Hamil

      You’re too kind!

  • The Guy

    Nice selection of tips. I must admit Iceland has a lot of appeal, although I’ve yet to visit. Such a low population in a vast land with such unspoilt natural beauty.

    Also as a non-American I can fully support the no tipping thing. We like the idea of the price you see is the price you pay :-)

    • Sara Hamil

      Tipping has become such a strange beast here in North America. I’m all for tossing in a little something extra if the service I received was exemplary but I don’t believe that it should be mandatory regardless of experience. So, yes, I appreciate it too! ;) Thanks for the comment!

  • Ranthambore Forest Resort

    very nice and the photograph that attracts me…….