Reykjavik only really came onto my radar when my Canadian friend mentioned it to me and my interest in Iceland surfaced when stunning pictures of hot baths in a snowy landscape started swirling around my social media. It’s weird how Iceland has actually just popped out of no where to become one of the hottest (not literally) destinations to visit… In fact, during my time there I got speaking to a lovely lady who moved there from Columbia and she told me that Iceland was an extremely grey and depressing place before the tourists lit it up. Weird to think, considering my impression of Reykjavik was it’s very modernised and holds a somewhat comforting vibe.
With a small population of under 350,000 people, I was left in fits of laughter when a local guy at the pub told me there is a website for Icelanders to check that they aren’t related to a person that they have a little love interest in… pretty handy because six months down the line it would be very awkward to find out that you were in fact second cousins. Just wow!
Stunning landscapes, northern lights and the famous blue lagoon… It’s been said that Iceland is a place for the rich to visit, and to be honest I partly agree with that statement. I bought a bottle of water in a supermarket and converted it back to pounds to realise it was a fiver – just about passed out. However, all crappy currency exchange pushed to the side… Iceland is doable on a budget, you just need to plan and be realistic.
If you’re a ‘skint’ graduate like myself then budgeting is your life right now… but that’s not to say you can’t travel and live a little! Listen up here, because I have five top tips to doing Iceland on a mega budget:
1 – Hire a car:
Sounds like a bit of an expensive thing to start with right? But trust me when I say hiring a car will SAVE money, public transport in Iceland is ridiculously over priced and you need to drive everywhere if you want to see some of the really beautiful parts of the country. We shopped around online and got a very sweet pre-booking price, which meant when we arrived everything was ready for us to pick up and freely roam wherever we pleased. Petrol prices in Iceland are surprisingly reasonable and we had a diesel car that was even cheaper so win WIN.
(To my fellow Brits who worry about driving on the other side of the road, my advice is simple this – grow a pair and do it, it’s really not difficult.)
– Extra tip: don’t hire your car at the airport… That is seriously just taking another £100 out your pocket and burning it right in front of your eyes.
I feel as if hostels have this shadey reputation thanks to horror films, BUT honestly they’re not bad at all and especially in Iceland. Now, I was on a mega budget so a hotel or airbnb was out of the question and we stayed in two different hostels during our time there and both were super clean with practical kitchen space and decent sized rooms… Hostels worked out like £12 a night.
-Extra tip: Bring ear plugs… Snoring is not cool.
2 – Bring your own food:
This is also good for fussy eaters! My travel buddy and me packed our cases with food such as cereal, peanut butter, noodles, cous cous and soup… We only ate out once and the money we saved on food we used to explore more of the country.
Extra tip: If you’re road tripping for the day, pack yourself a little snack to save yourself having a f*ck it I’m hungry moment. The budget is real.
3 – Bonus the super market:
Pretty much the only reasonably priced supermarket around so I highly suggest hitting up ‘Bonus’ for anything that you need during your time in the very lovely but bloody expensive Iceland.
Extra tip: The country in general is not very vegetarian/vegan friendly… There is one vegan restaurant in Reykjavik and sadly it was not part of my budget. * cries *
5- Avoid tourist traps:
So my question to you is do you REALLY want to pay the equivalent of £80 to go on a bus journey where you may or may not see the Northern Lights? I can guess what your answer is and that is a big fat NO! Which then leads me back to h-i-r-e a car, simple.
Extra tip: If you want to see the Northern lights you need to travel out of the city so be prepared for longish drives.
There you have it, how to do one of the most expensive countries in the world on my ever so restricting graduate life wage. Bon voyage!