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The Ultimate Guide To Explore The Best Of Iceland


Farah Fazanna •  Apr 26, 2023

And the earth – We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein (something) of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns (to Allah). [Quran 50: 7-8]

Travelling to Iceland has always been on my bucket list since learning about the receding glaciers and Aurora Borealis back in 2017. However, in 2020, the outbreak of the CoronaVirus dashed all my travel plans and I had to put everything on hold due to all the lockdowns and travel restrictions. In hindsight, it was what I needed. During that time, I was able to save up, find the love of my life to travel the world with and have the luxury of time to carefully plan my trip. Indeed, He is the best of planners and knows what’s best for us.

The best time to visit Iceland

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Before selecting the date of travel, we listed and prioritised our activities in Iceland. Unfortunately, the reality is that 10-12 days is insufficient to experience all 4 seasons in Iceland. We weighed the pros and cons of travelling in both summer and winter.

Summer (June - September)


  • Longer day
  • Safer roads
  • F-Roads accessible
  • Able to trek and hike safely to attractions
  • A comfortable temperature for activities
  • Black sun, no night - able to visit attractions at 2 am
  • Beautiful sceneries with greens and free-flowing waterfalls
  • Whale, seal watching open
  • Kayak in glacier lagoon open


  • Very low chance of northern lights
  • Higher crowds
  • Flight tickets may be a bit more expensive

Winter (December - April)


  • Higher Chances for Northern Lights
  • Cheaper accommodations and flights (non-peak)
  • Experience snow and snow activities


  • Unpredictable weather and dangerous road conditions
  • Most attractions are covered with snow and Waterfalls may be frozen
  • Shorter days for driving and activities
  • Can have extremely low temperatures hindering outdoor activities

If catching the Northern Lights is not high on your priority list, then I reckon the best time to visit Iceland would be in Summer. For us, catching the northern lights was at the top of our priority list so we opted to travel during winter. We also considered the downside of travelling during winter so we decided to travel around the shoulder season at the end of winter when the days are a little longer for us to complete our activities before the sun sets on us. We initially intended to travel from mid to end of March when the Aurora is the strongest but due to Ramadan, we decided to visit Iceland from the 3rd to the 15th of March 2023.

Accommodation, Transport, Safety & Insurance

Travelling the ring road with a campervan would be more cost-effective and dynamic but we decided to stay at guesthouses along the ring road instead. No doubt it is more expensive, both of us have very poor cold tolerance and wanted insurance for heat and comfort so we did not mind paying more. True enough, we always looked forward to the warm showers at the end of a long day in the cold.

Some of the guest houses do not have the owner waiting for your arrival at the location. Some have self-check-in instructions whilst some we were required to call upon our arrival. We overlooked this area and had to incur unnecessary costs by just calling to get our keys or access to the guesthouses. So come prepared with a SIM card that allows outgoing calls or purchase data Roaming.

Our mode of transport was by car. We rented a 4x4 Nissan Qashqai via Lava Rental. Car rental is expensive in Iceland but the cost of damage from minor accidents may cost even more than what your travel insurance covers. Hence, I strongly recommend you opt for insurance when renting a car there. It gave me peace of mind, especially in road conditions that I was unfamiliar with. There are no rental companies that provide insurance that covers damages to the undercarriage so be careful with the bumps and when driving off-road. Check with the car rental company beforehand if the rented car is allowed on F-Roads.

For travel insurance, we opted for FWD travel insurance. We felt that it is important to purchase some travel insurance as travelling to places like Iceland can be dangerous especially since it was our first time venturing out into the unknown by ourselves. We could not anticipate what might happen to us out there so we felt that it is safer to just get some insurance in case we met with some unforeseen circumstance.

For the roads in Iceland, we initially thought the road conditions were safe. However, Upon reaching the east, the roads started to be covered in ice and slippery on turns. Icelandic weather can change rapidly and the roads can become hazardous resulting in sudden closures. Drivers driving over mountain passes along the Ring road (Road 1) may experience poor visibility during strong winds. I suggest paying close attention to the GPS to anticipate any bends or turns. It is important to check safetravel.is or road.is regularly for any updates on road conditions before starting your day. The Icelandic emergency number is 112 or you can download their 112 application.

Pre-trip preparation


The temperature in Iceland was erratic, ranging from -4°C to a whopping -20°C in 3 days. We also had to battle the strong winds that may go up to 22 km/h.

For -5 to -10°C

Top: Base Layer, Down, Outer Shell (windbreaker)

Bottom: Base Layer, Fleece pants (water resistant/proof)

Accessories: Neck warmer, ear warmer, windproof gloves, windproof socks

For -10 degrees and below

Base Layer, Fleece, Down, Outer Shell (windbreaker)

Bottom: Base Layer, Fleece pants (water resistant/proof)

Accessories: Neck warmer, ear warmer, windproof gloves, windproof socks, hand warmers, shades/goggles (if wind is too strong)


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Before the trip, we anticipated that there would be limited time to search for halal food since we are mostly on the road and busy with the number of activities that we had. Kembara meals saved us on many occasions. Their Lamb Kuzi is my favourite set. Do check them out!

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In terms of halal food options, we came across a few in Reykjavik. We had our kebab fix at Arabian Taste. We went in and checked with the staff and their food and ingredients were all Halal.


Most payments in Iceland have gone cashless. This includes tickets to attractions and parking tickets. Most of our expenses were paid using the YouTrip card and the exchange rate is very competitive. We enjoyed visiting our favourite supermarket, Kronan, tapping the YouTrip card away at checkouts. We prepared $200 worth of ISK in our emergency fund and that was more than enough. You can also withdraw cash at their local ATMs using the card. The YouTrip card can also be used when topping up petrol at the self-service kiosk located all-around Iceland.

Sign up for your card using the link here:


The best of Iceland's Ring Road

Golden Circle

“A ‘warm’ welcome to Iceland”

We started the road trip with a morning bath at Hrunalaug. There is a tip box at the entrance of the short hike to the hot spring. Payment is based on an honour and integrity system and the consensus on most Iceland travel guide websites is 1000 ISK or USD7.50 per entry for the landowner and farmer who lives nearby to maintain the hot spring.

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After freshening up we made our way down to Kerid. There is an entrance fee of 450 ISK so do bring some extra cash with you. We trekked 1 round around the crater before making our way down to the lake of the crater.

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The next destination was a geothermal area, more popularly known as Strokkur and Geysir. All tourists, including us, were so fascinated by Strokkur, the erupting fountain-like Geysir that we joined the line surrounding it and waited 5 minutes for each eruption.

We ended the day with a visit to Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s massive waterfalls. In all its majesty, the wind speed and sheer impact of the plunging water were too strong for us to keep our warmth so we could not stay long. That was the first time we truly understood the essence of windproof gloves, hand warmers, and ear and neck warmers. “A Slap in the Face by Gullfoss”, in the words of Adinah.

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South Coast

“Thirst for adventure”

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We set off the next day extremely early hoping to be the first to arrive at Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Crash site but came in 2nd place at 0730 hrs. A 1-hour walk through the chill wind awaited us. We could have opted to take the shuttle which starts at 1000 or 1100 hrs but decided to walk instead. We saved 2900 ISK each and also enjoyed the therapeutic walk with each other.

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We could not get enough from this site and we took longer than scheduled. Consequently, we had to briskly walk back to have time to chase the waterfalls of the south coast before sunset.

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After the series of majestic waterfalls, we headed east to Vik for some sunset glow by the coast of Reynisfjara.

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In summer, many would visit Þakgil but in winter, the campsite and hiking trails are mostly closed so we headed straight for Hjörleifshöfði Gígjagjá cave and the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. Thank goodness for the eye protection that we brought to protect against the sandstorm and strong winds during the hikes up.


“Ice, Ice baby”

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Officially my favourite part of the trip. We spent the whole day hiking up the glacier and it was our first time putting on crampons and spikes. The experience and atmosphere walking through the moulins were just unreal. I was in awe at the glacial architecture sculpted by nature itself. However, it was sad to learn that these glaciers are melting and receding. The guide shared that the Breiðamerkurjökull had around 50 years of lifespan left.

We stayed at Hotel Skaftafell and there was a 15 min hike to Svínafellsjökull glacier from our room. We did not think much about it but we were so glad to have dragged our lazy selves out for an early morning hike before heading out to Diamond Beach.

Vatnsnes Peninsula

“Last sight of land”

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We travelled further east to one of the iconic and scenic locations in Iceland, Vestrahorn. A mountain, located by the coast. Standing at 454m tall, it is well known for its two distinctive peaks making photographs of it look dramatic.


“Grass is not always greener on the other side”

Turns out as we headed northeast the temperature started to plummet to -20°C and the visibility of the roads became poorer. Wind speed was faster and the road started to be covered with snow. It was my first time driving in snow. So here are some tips to avoid getting your car stuck in a snow pile as we did.

  • When visibility is poor drive at 30-40 km/h
  • Allocate a lot more driving time than what is stated by GPS
  • Keep headlights on high beam
  • SLOW DOWN MORE when passing oncoming vehicles
  • Never pull over off-road even if you want to take a picture or to U-Turn
  • Check safetravel.is regularly

Snaefells peninsula

“Winter is coming”

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So we missed Godafoss, Dettifoss, Dynjandi, Hverfjall, Myvatn and many other attractions in the north and west fjords due to dangerous weather and road conditions so we decided to spend an extra day in Snæfellsnes. We did stop by Hvitserkur when the snow was less heavy before reaching Snaefellsnes. Here are some attractions that we stopped by on this peninsula before heading back southwest to Reykjavik.


“Lights will guide you home”

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He saved the best for last for us - On our last night in Iceland, the Aurora forecast was “Active”. I started looking for Aurora hot spots around Reykjavik and woke my wife up at 2300 hrs to begin the chase. The interrupted sleep was worth every ounce of sacrifice as we managed to experience the Aurora Borealis in all its celestial glory.

Here are some things to note when planning your northern lights chase.

  • Visit during winter when the skies are darker and nights are longer
  • Check the forecast regularly via the weather forecast website here
  • Find locations with dark skies with clear or partly clear skies
  • Avoid areas with lights as the light pollution will diminish the visibility
  • Bring a camera or phone camera with an adjustable shutter speed
  • Highly recommend using a tripod
  • Stay up late and set aside 11 pm - 3 am
  • Bring a headlamp to help you manoeuvre in darkness without much light pollution

Blue Lagoon

“Hot N’ Cold”

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A crime to give this a miss. The wind was blowing the -11°C air onto our skin as we soak ourselves in the geothermal pool of 37 to 40°C. An interesting play of hot and cold temperatures sending the nerve endings on our skin into chaos. I was mostly fascinated at how the steam from the water turns into ice crystals on the surface of our hair the moment it touches the cold wind. It was a much-needed respite and body fix after 11 days of adventure before heading to our next destination. For 895 ISK, each guest is entitled to 1 silicone mud mask spread and a complimentary drink. Highly recommended to visit before the road trip or at the end of it!

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Nothing is complete without visiting the Grand Mosque of Iceland. Located in Reykjavik, this small mosque in the corner of the city was built in 2000 and officially opened in 2002. It felt heartwarming to know that there is a small community of Muslims living in Iceland. After praying my Fardhu Zohor prayers, I met some tourists from Malaysia who had just landed in Iceland. Meeting them left me with a warm fuzzy feeling of excitement for them, knowing the adventure that lies ahead of them.

I would highly encourage Muslim travellers to consider visiting this beautiful country. I hope this article will inspire, help with the preparation and allay fears of Muslim travellers to step beyond their comfortable climate and travel to places like Iceland to experience some of the wonders that nature has to offer.

This article is contributed by HHWT Explorer Hadi Mohd.

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