Overall score (Dan) = B
Overall score (Jocelyn) = A
Total days = 4 nights, 5 days
Total cost = $1,132
Cost per day = $226 / day
Flight costs = $1,164 one-way from UK and through to US
Cities visited: Reykjavik, Vic, and other small towns along the south coast of Iceland
We made Iceland our last country to visit on our round the world trip because it made sense geographically as it sits between the UK and the US. We also knew Iceland is very expensive, so we limited our time to five days and hoped it would be enough.
It turns out we could’ve spent weeks exploring the island because it’s incredibly beautiful! Iceland’s nickname is the “Land of Fire and Ice” and visiting in early November meant we got to see some ice. We explored around volcanoes and saw many of them from the road, but we never actually got to see any lava – I think you have to pay the big bucks to go on a 4×4 excursion or helicopter ride to see that.
Instead of spending our money on one helicopter ride, we rented a car and drove around the island for five days. It’s possible to drive around the entire island, but it would’ve taken 8+ hours of driving per day for us to do it in five days so instead we decided to explore the southern part of the island. We spent four days driving to see the sites on the “Glacier track” which took us to some amazing glacial sites. We then spent the last 1.5 days exploring the “Golden Circle” along with Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon.
How far does your money go in Iceland?
Iceland still has its own currency, the Icelandic Krona, even though it is part of the European Union. In 2009 after their major economic crash, many people priced their good and services in Euros because their currency value went down so much. $1 USD equals approximately 123 Krona so we were back in the land of tough exchange calculations
Here are our per day spending highlights:
Lodging = $69 / day
Transportation = $64 / day
Food = $64 / day
Excursion = $21 / day
Total hotel points used = None
Iceland probably has the most beautiful landscapes of any country we visited. It’s like taking the best from New Zealand, Nepal, and Scotland and combining them into one country and adding a little bit of Greenland! The glaciers are some of the biggest in all of Europe and we were even able to hike up to one from one of our hotels.
Another site not to miss in Iceland is the Glacial Lagoon which is a lake created by a glacier that is now filled with water and ice chunks from the melting glacier. As the glaciers melt the water runs out to sea through a small river where some ice chunks get stranded on the shore as the tide ebbs and flows. You might even recognize the lagoon as Jeep used it in recent a commercial.
As if all of that wasn’t impressive enough, we got to see the Northern Lights!! We talked to other people who had been there for weeks and still weren’t able to see them so we feel quite lucky.
Iceland isn’t too hard to get to thanks to IcelandAir. In fact, our flights from London to Denver were about $500 cheaper each with IcelandAir and it included a five day stopover in Iceland! They do it on purpose to attract more tourism into Iceland and they fly direct into Denver, Orlando, Seattle, JFK, and a few other places in the US. You might want to check it out if you have any trips to Europe.
Iceland is expensive. I still can’t believe we spent $64 per day on food because we only went out to eat a few times and tried to stay cheap by buying our own groceries! Also, our breakfasts were usually included in our Bed and Breakfast lodging rates. The food in grocery stores is really expensive too, but I guess it makes sense when you think about how far the ships have to come to bring the imports. We did have a celebratory dinner on the last night since it was also the last night on our round the world trip and splurged… which in Iceland means you eat their local delicacies of goose, reindeer, and whale!
It’s hard to even find an ugly for Iceland – apart from the high prices – but if I’m forced to call something out it’d be the most popular tourist track in Iceland – the “Golden Circle”. It’s the one thing everyone says to see, and by the looks of it, many people don’t even get out beyond the Golden Circle which we think is a big mistake. You get to see some neat sites including some beautiful waterfalls, the valley where Europe and North America is pulling apart, and some geysers. However, we think it pales in comparison to what the rest of Iceland offers. Also, the “Blue Lagoon” is probably the other biggest tourist attraction in Iceland and I see it about the same as the Golden Circle – nothing spectacular but you’re in Iceland so you might as well see it!
In conclusion, thanks to Iceland and catching the Northern Lights, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our trip.
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