Iceland on a Budget
How We Got There I started looking around for places to go on Groupon and Go-Today.com. On those sites you can find vacation package deals for relatively cheap. We actually did our honeymoon trip through Go-Today, but I think I have gotten a bit more savvy about searching for flight deals since then. We were initially planning on doing a package deal for Iceland through Iceland Air, because it was insanely cheap, but then we decided to be a bit more spontaneous and just buy the tickets and then make plans. We ended up buying our tickets for around $600 round trip apiece. This was a steal since most of the time I have gone overseas, flights have been over a thousand dollars.
It was a brilliant thing Iceland Air did…. cheap plane tickets to lure all of the millennials there. It worked. We fell in love.
Where We Stayed In Reykjavik we stayed in an Airbnb of course! We wanted an Airbnb that was close to city center, so we could walk around the city and not have to deal with parking. It was also very important to us to find an Airbnb with a kitchen, so we could do some cooking at home. This was the one that we settled on. We were traveling with some close friends, so this one had plenty of room. We drove around the island too, and we stayed in a cozy little hostel in Höfn. I’m pretty sure this is the one that we stayed in.
Things We Did Our first few days were in Reykjavik. We walked around the city, went up the tower of the Hallgrímskirkja cathedral, admired the Harpa, played cards and drank beer at Kex (if we went back we would stay there), drank coffee and lattes at Reykjavik Roasters (close to the cathedral), and walked around all of the shops. There were great thrift stores, galleries, and record shops that we wandered around. I am still in search of an Icelandic wool sweater, and unfortunately we did not run into Björk.
We drove from Reykjavik to Höfn in a rental car, which was incredible. Actually, “incredible” doesn’t even do justice for that road trip. We stopped in Vík and saw the black sands beaches. My favorite part of Vík was how when you are almost to Vík, you had to drive up a mountain, and you see a little white church tucked in the distance. When you get to the top, suddenly you see the little town below with its black beach and the ocean.
We drove through Vatnajökull National Park and saw the breathtaking glaciers right before arriving in Höfn. I have never seen my geologist-husband so excited as when he saw the glacier. He repeatedly wanted to take photos in front of it. Those photos are STILL set as his iPhone lock screen and wallpaper. There was a place along the highway were you could pull off and look at the ocean. It was right by the Jökulsárlón. We saw seals swimming in the water and huge pieces of glacier that washed up on the beach. We also saw a seal eat a duck, which wasn’t so great.
My favorite day was towards the end, when we went to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. You may think that is cliche, but it was heaven for me.
What We Ate I am just going to warn you and say that food is VERY expensive in Iceland. This was something that I didn’t know prior to going (silly me). Even if you’re the type of person that thinks “I’ll get the cheapest thing on the menu…” you are still spending more than you normally would at a similar-tier restaurant in America. Our Airbnb in Reykjavik was close to a grocery store, so we went grocery shopping to save some money. We ended up buying pasta ingredients to make for one dinner, bruchetta ingredients for a lunch, chicken legs and veggies for another dinner, and breakfast items. I’m not joking when I say that we probably saved around two hundred dollars just by doing that.
- A few exceptions:
- Near the Harpa, there is a hotdog stand that is delicious. I am not a hotdog person, but this was the right context for a hotdog. Plus they were good. Here is their website. So good & cheap. You have to get them “eina með öllu” or “with the works” (i.e. all of the condiments).
- Near the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, there is a waffle stand. It’s called Voffluvagninn and you should definitely split one.
- Want to try traditional Icelandic food? We went to Cafe Loki, also near the cathedral.
Strangest restaurant/bar: The Big Lebowski. They play that movie 24/7, have movie trivia, and they have a Cocoa Puffs White Russian drink. I’m not sure how highly I recommend this one, but it was fun. Plus I had never had an spiked bowl of cereal before.
In Vík, we ate at Halldórskaffi restaurant. They had the most amazing homemade bread and fresh fish. This was probably Collin’s favorite. He talked about this place for weeks.
Höfn was an adorable little fishing town and every restaurant that we went to had some sort of lobster in nearly every dish. We went to Kaffi Hornið, and I got some lobster bisque and Collin got pasta with lobster. Perhaps our most memorable meal. Also perhaps our most expensive meal. I got the sense that we were in this town when it was not the usual season though, so there were several things that were not open.
Collin’s recommendation to you all is to eat fish whenever you get the chance.
What We Listened To
- Sóley: “Pretty Face,” “Dream Team Party,” “The Sun Will Go Out”
- Emilíana Torrini: “Jungle Drum”
- Of Monsters and Men: “Crystals,” “Human,” “Empire,” “I of the Storm”
- Sigur Ros: “Hoppípolla,” “Starálfur”
- Björk: “Unravel,” “Human Behavior,” “Big Time Sensuality”
We were in love with Iceland. It’s the sort of place that you can be content with just walking around and taking in all of the sights– I didn’t feel like we needed to fill our schedule with museums and tours.
Traveling soon? Use my Airbnb Discount for $40 off your first trip and try Airbnb yourself.