Icy winds swept across the cliff-framed coastal towns. It snowed and snowed and snowed. No plane took off or landed. Tourists were stranded at Keflavík Airport. Access roads were closed: snowstorms raged in Iceland in mid-December. Unpredictable, unstoppable. My luck: I was there a week beforehand. No wind, no rain, no clouds. Iceland’s weather conditions change quickly and radically – often even every hour. The right clothing, checking the weather, planning the route: a trip to Iceland should be prepared carefully.

Before I arrived, I studied the little spot on Google Maps almost every day. It was my evening entertainment program. Only around 400 kilometers of the Atlantic separate the Westfjords from ice-covered Greenland. This roughly corresponds to the straight line between Hamburg and Frankfurt. So I thought that it is very cold in the country just below the Arctic Circle, especially in winter. And so I got the right clothes: three thermal leggings, thick teddy hoodies, hats, balaclavas and gloves. That was my basic equipment. In order to identify myself as a tourist – because that is probably the nature of a German holidaymaker – I also took an Icelandic sweater with me.

I knew I wouldn’t get far with white sneakers. So warm winter boots were needed. I chose black lace-up boots with thick soles and a deep tread. I loved every step in the sturdy kicks. Comfortable and warm – that’s the most important thing in Iceland. Grandma’s wool socks completed my outfit.

What shouldn’t be missing from your suitcase: swimming costumes. Exactly, you heard it right! I don’t recommend going swimming on Iceland’s beaches – in some parts it would be life-threatening – but the many hot springs are a dream. So flip-flops, a towel and a bikini flew along in the rolling suitcase.

When I arrived in Iceland, I quickly realized: I wouldn’t have gotten far without warm clothing. The daytime temperature was sometimes minus seven degrees and at night it was minus 12. Some freezer compartments are similarly cold.

I borrowed a car. My adventure began. I drove past green mountaintops, through black, crumbly lunar landscapes. The otherwise harsh nature of the island was surprisingly gentle: sunshine, hardly any clouds. But in order to get from A to B safely, I regularly took a look at the “Safe Travel” app. The app was developed by the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It shows almost all roads including black ice, closures and storms

There were probably reasons why I read in almost every travel blog that you should buy spikes for your shoes. The chains with small stainless steel teeth can be easily slipped over shoes. They provide support on icy paths. I thought it was an exaggeration and that I was wrong. In Þingvellir National Park I moved like a shy deer next to all the tourists who overtook me with their spikes, smiling and smiling. The path led over slippery boulders through the gorge. I managed to not slip, but I was moving at a snail’s pace. And bathed in sweat.

What really blew me away were the prices in Iceland. Although the cost of hotels, rental cars and flights are lower in winter, food costs remain high. A traditional Icelandic lamb soup costs around 3000 ISK (approx. 20 euros) in many places – and is the size of a starter soup. Main courses cost around 4500 ISK (around 30 euros). Thirsty people pay 400 to 600 ISK (3 to 4 euros) for tea or coffee. The reasons for the high prices: Many products have to be imported. The Atlantic climate and poor soils worsen the conditions for agriculture. In addition, the wage level is significantly higher than ours. My saving tip: Use five-minute terrines and thermo mugs!

There was a kettle in every hotel room. Tea bags were usually free. So I avoided the expensive tea stations in tourist centers and cafés. I took care of myself and developed deep feelings for my practical thermo mug. And on some days there were five-minute terrines to save money.

Cold, risk, prices – anyone who accepts that should, in my opinion, fly to Iceland in winter. There are significantly fewer tourists than in summer. I had many of the sights to myself. The many glacier tongues on Vatnajökull – Europe’s largest glacier – were deserted.

I drove along the ring road for hours without seeing another car. I also saved a lot of money. And I saw the northern lights. This is only possible in the autumn and winter months from October to March. It was very cold, but the alpine panorama, the hot springs and the impressive nature warmed my heart. In general, if you have the right equipment, you can get through even the deepest Icelandic winter.

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Sources: “Safe Travel”, “Google Maps”, German-Icelandic Society Bremerhaven/Bremen e. V.