chlofun asked: Hi!
I'm going to be in Iceland for a few weeks in the Summer, do I need to be able to speak much Icelandic (I know the basics), or will English be okay?
Also, what should I see while I'm there?
I'll be staying in Reykjavík, but will be without a car, so not able to go to say... the North of the country ;P
No you won’t need to be able to speak a word of Icelandic to have a good time in Iceland. Since barely more than 300.000 people speak Icelandic, Icelanders put a lot of emphasis on learning foreign languages. Most people you meet will speak near native English with an odd Icelandic accent. However they will love you for the effort when you try to speak Icelandic.
My recommendation is always to get out of the city as much as you can. Take some day tours and make sure you visit a glacier and bathe in a natural hot spring (not just the Blue Lagoon). You can combine both in one great day tour, Ice and Fire with Icelandic Mountain Guides. I am biased as I used to guide this tour, but I know it’s great.
You will find the locals at the bars in the evening and at the local swimming pools during the day. The swimming pools are great and really cheap to visit. There’s one in every neighborhood in Reykjavík and every town in Iceland.
To find out what’s on in Reykjavík check out The Reykjavík Grapevine, free in every touristy place in Reykjavík. Their website is pretty good as well.
Go swimming in the ocean at Nauthólsvík. Buses 16 or 19 from downtown or a healthy walk. Nauthólsvík is a white sandy beach where excess hot water from the city flows into the ocean warming the little cove up a bit. On a sunny summer day it’s full of people in a nice way.
Go whale watching. They have a really good success rate although it depends on the season. Lots of companies are doing such tours from the harbor downtown.
If you can afford it take a super jeep tour like Essential Iceland. You will travel in a very small group and see some amazing things. Again I am biased but it also means I know it’s good.
Try to go to Þórsmörk if you are dressed for the outdoors. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. You can stay at the “hostel" or book a place in the huts run by the hiking associations, Útivist and Ferðafélag Íslands. From there you can hike up to the new mountain created by the eruption on Fimmvörðuháls last winter. You can get there by bus or you can also squeeze it into a super jeep day tour. I’d rather recommend staying there for a couple of days.
Gangi þér vel og skemmtu þér vel!