Never been to Iceland? Nope! I got this question a lot over the years. Why not? Well, pretty expensive, not easy to travel on a budget and being a remote island it hasn’t been easy to combine it with one of my big trips. Plus in most months it is way too cold and I would need specific clothes to visit Iceland.
Don’t laugh when I am telling you now that I visited Iceland in the last week of February 2020. That is right, in the middle of winter! Short days, freezing cold and snow, but also the magnificent Northern Lights and exactly that was one of the reasons that finally made me visit Iceland.
This travel blog was written somewhere a couple months after my trip to Iceland in 2020, but for unknown reasons only published in January 2024. All those years this post was in my drafts. Yes, indeed for almost 4 years later... why? I really don't know!
There was another reason to travel to Iceland and that was because my friend Max from the UK approached me to help him organize a group trip to Iceland. When he told me it was going to be about $2,000 for just 4 days I was like ‘mate, I am preaching how to travel the world on a budget, I won’t be able to sell this to my followers.
Max convinced me to give it a try and pretty much straight after I posted it on Instagram there was Daniella who signed up. I was surprised and happy at the same time. Traveling to Iceland is expensive I knew that, but are people really ready to pay that amount of money to travel with me to Iceland?
I am forever thankful to Daniella because the idea of Traveltomtom Group trips was born!
Daniella ended up being the only one joining from my side but my good friend and YouTube star Haley Dasovich who I met doing the Langtang Trekking in Nepal and traveled with to Bursa, Turkey and Pakistan managed to find another 5 amazing travelers.
The trip turned out to be a memorable one made possible by the most amazing group of people. From the first moment we all bonded and we became a team that was fighting the elements in Iceland together.
If you are traveling to Iceland then make sure you stay connected. Get yourself a prepaid sim card for tourists on arrival in Iceland or even easier an e-sim card. What is best? Read my complete guide for finding the best sim card for your trip to Iceland.
Iceland in February
If you travel to Iceland in February expect harsh weather conditions. Straight after I landed and I met the rest of the group at the airport we went out to see waterfalls and geysers. It was pretty sunny out there but when I first set foot out of the bus I met the ferocious wind in Iceland. Damn boy, this wind was almost impossible to deal with. So cold!
In all honesty it was hard to appreciate the biggest waterfall in Iceland. The wind in my face was unreal. Obviously I wasn’t dressed properly, but worse news was that our guide said there was coming a snow storm coming. ‘Only tomorrow evening… but it will be challenging’, he said with a serious face.
The next day came and damn was Siggi right! We had the most awesome guide in Iceland, a real viking with endless artic experience. That came in handy because the next day we literally got trapped in the snow storm. That night hundreds of people were stranded on the side of the road and had to spent the night in their car.
The morning of the upcoming snowstorm we set sail to visit some glaciers off the beaten path and two monster trucks were waiting for us. The road in was incredibly challenging and we already had to pull out several cars that were stuck and this was only in the morning.
Our guide Siggi mentioned around noon that the snow storm was closing in rapidly and that it would be best to return to basecamp. Well, if you say so Siggi, let’s go. Safety first and after all, we already had an epic adventure this morning.
The trip back from the waterfall was supposed to be around 2 hours, but it took us in total more than 11 hours. The visibility was gone, like less than 1 meter. The storm was really crazy. Our guides were fantastic really. These guys knew how to handle in these situations. Turned out later that they were actually part of the local rescue team in emergencies like these.
This was one of the reasons we were actually brought to safe haven that night and didn't have to spend the night in our truck. Because believe it or not, even our monster truck stopped working. We were then transported to another monster truck.
I won't forget the 5 meters I had to walk from one truck to another because I let go of the hand of our guide and believe it or not but I literally flew away. So strong was the storm! Our guide was not amuzed and I felt so bad for him. I clearly underestimated the this crazy snow storm and he was totally right.
The whole adventure bonded us as a group like never before. Looking back at it now it was an unbelievable experience, one that I had never wanted to miss. Another crazy Traveltomtom story to tell me grandkids some day! :)
Our hotel became a refugee camp for stranded people. We order drinks, played games, sang songs and had an amazing night while outside there was an absolutely crazy snow storm passing by and there was live coverage on the tv during the night to keep people informed.
Northern Lights in Iceland
Well with this crazy storm in Iceland there was obviously not much Northern Lights touring going on. But on our last day we gave it a try as the sky cleared up a bit. The chance of seeing the Northern Lights were very little and we were informed about that on forehand. The group didn't care, we were ready for another adventure and we had a bottle of tequila. If we don't see the Northern Lights we will have fun regardless, that was the motto.
Against all odds we actually did see the Northern Lights for about 30 minutes. It was my first time seeing the Northern Lights and me and the group was super happy.
Next Traveltomtom Group trip
We did many more activities and went on several adventures during our trip to Iceland. We hiked up glaciers, visited several different waterfalls, beaches and canyons. It really was an amazing trip and I would like to thank everyone of this group again for this opportunity to travel to Iceland in winter.
Unfortunately it took another whole year and 1 month until I organized my second Traveltomtom Group Trip, but there was a reason: Covid-19. A couple days after my trip to Iceland I went snowboarding in Austria with my friends, which turned out to be my last trips before the global pandemic hit.
Night out in Reykjavik
Since more and more people asked me to add some more personal stories I will make an exception. On my last night when we were out with the group in Reykjavik I got in touch with a girl through a dating app. She asked me to come over to a bar nearby and so did I sneak away from the group.
When I walked in it was one big party and was sold straight away. People singing out loud along with a Live band playing songs of Lady Gaga. She sat at a table with a bunch of guys and she got me a beer already. She ordered me to sit down next to her. I wanted to introduce myself properly, but all she did was staring in my eyes for 10 seconds.
It felt like the fully packed bar suddenly was completely empty and we were the only two people there. Without saying a word she kissed me passionately. One minute later I couldn’t believe what just happened, but it happened.
It was the start of a fabulous night out in Reykjavik! In all honesty I was not expecting Reykjavik at night in winter to be so bustling. Restaurants and bars were packed and the vibe was truly incredible.
It was time to say goodbye to Iceland, country number 106. It were 5 memorable days!
Iceland was my second last country in Europe I visited. There is now only one country in Europe left that I have not visited yet. I will wait for this country to be 197! That is right, I will finish my road to every country in Europe. Which country? I will keep it a little secret! :)
Costs of my trip to Iceland
As my trip was sponsored I hardly spent any money apart from beers and some dinners. In total I spent around $300 USD. Beers in Iceland are expensive and be ready to pay around $12 USD for a beer. Included in this total is the bus to the airport ($20 USD) and the expensive airport hotel in Amsterdam for $150 USD.
My first trip to Iceland, one of the most expensive countries in the world, turned out to be one of the cheapest for me as it was part of the first steps to the Traveltomtom Group Trips.
Flights to Iceland
These were also sponsored by the travel agency of Max as part of the deal that I would search for people to join the trip. I flew from Amsterdam to London, London to Reykjavik and from Iceland I flew back to Amsterdam directly.
Thank you for keeping up with the adventures of Traveltomtom!