“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So how much does Iceland really cost?

You often hear how expensive Iceland is for travelers, so I tried to travel on the reasonably cheap and still see as much as I could.

Here are some typical costs:
To/from airport on either of two bus companies flybus.is or grayline 3500 return
Hostel bed from 4000 (43 euro)
Golden circle tours 9500 add more to around 22000 to 24000 for snorkeling, snow mobiling, rafting, etc. Don't wait until you get there to book your tours. They fill up early... I missed diving, whales, and glaciers because I didn't get in early enough. 
Busses ARE expensive... Try and fly
Cars are minimum €60 per day.
Hostels are minimum $40 4000k per day. Add 1000k ($8) for bedding or buy a 4700kr sleeping bag at hagkaup. Shop at Bonus, its cheaper. There really are only small small towns in east and southeast. 
Breakfast seems to be a standard 1500kr whether its a hostel or a hotel. Buy your own! 
You won't find much below $80 a night outside of Reykjavik except camping. 
There doesn't seem to be anywhere to rent tents and sleeping bags in Reykjavik but you can probably buy them cheaply in hagkaup. 
Are those package tours worth it?
I looked before I came and found 3 day tours from London with Iceland air for £220. On Wow air the flights were around £100 each way, and hotels are minimum $50 a day, but the cheapest circle tours are $75 a day, a bit less for afternoon -- so in short: yes, they're worth it!

Did you know there are direct flights to Greenland so you can go on a day trip!?

What did I love about Iceland?
  • Very safe and clean, good nature, good air
  • Simple life
  • Socially calm, nice, relaxed
  • Alaskan lupin everywhere
Bad: isolated, need own car, long cold winters

Interesting:
  • Chocolate and licorice together
  • Renting and apartment is rare in Iceland not culturally normal, expensive, short term
  • The rotating restaurant went around in 1 hour but people got seasick so they slowed it to 2 hours for a rotation.
  • Hot water is piped into houses for $1.20 per day or €1 per flat, from power plant at 200 degrees to town and it only loses 2 degrees en route
  • The biggest problem is soil erosion from wind and water. Trees existed before but when humans arrived in 800 AD they cut them down and they could not grow back
  • Iceland is a really solid unique rock which was when volcanoes erupted under glacial ice or sea water. Heat from below and pressure from above
  • The two tectonic plates are 7 miles apart
  • Highland are arctic climate, lowlands are subarctic
  • In 930 AD they held the world's first parliament and it's reenacted for 2 weeks each summer
  • Population of Reykjavik is only 118700 and the whole country 319400
  • The Golden Circle lake has 70m visibility and 120m deep
Travel Tips
There really aren't enough hotels, especially on the east cast near Skaftafell and Hofn. Book really early or you'll end up in a dump or with nowhere at all! 
HI Hostels in Iceland can only be booked via the HI website.
Highway 1 has almost exclusively one lame bridges and often has gravel roads
Most towns are the size of Kingston (a tiny town in New Zealand near where I grew up). A big town would be smaller than Cromwell or Alexandra
It's like New Zealand's South Island, probably in the 50s or 60s, was dropped into the North Atlantic. Christchurch is Reykjavik, and all sizeable towns like Nelson, Queenstown and Invercargill are small. Actually, forget Dunedin, it doesn't exist. Most towns are the size of Tekapo with the excitement of somewhere like Timaru. It's astonishing, really.
Its 1250 or so km to drive around the ring road, but with side trips and touring I drove 3119km in around 10 days
There are lots of handsome rugged, smiling men.

It's so safe!
People are so nice!

Discover.is landmannauger 39000isk, thorsmork 35000isk
Golden circle 33000
South coast 35000
Bustravel.is blue lagoon to Reykjavik and to airport
Golden circle evening
Adventures.is... Canoeing, rafting, swimming

My trip was basically as follows:
Fri to Reykyavik
Sat Golden Circle and Reykyavik sat 6th
Sun7th Vik
Mon 8th Skaftafell, glacier hike, Seydisfjordur LONG DRIVE
Tues Backtrack driving Seydisfjordur to sleep again
Weds 10th Myvatn, Akureyri
Thurs Backtrack, Husavik, tried to fly, Akureyri again 
Fri 12th Around northern peninsulas to Seaborg hostel
Sat 13th Isafjordur
Sun 14th Around western fjords ferry to Stykksholmur
Mon 15th Snaefellsnes peninsula, under sea tunnel to Reykjavik