March Break 2016 we vacationed right. The whole thing was effortless.
We went to a place that is GORGEOUS, we spent little to no money, it was relaxing, it was exciting, it was an anglo friendly place with TONS of local culture.
It. Was. Perfect.
Iceland is a very small island, driving one end to the other took approx. 5 hours and the whole thing had roughly 320,000 people. The first week we rented a two bedroom apartment in the Capital Region of Reykjavic–home to over 120,000 of those people.
We picked up our rental car (+GPS) from the airport and drove the hour into the Capital. The apartment was “downtown” (A popular restaurant and shopping district) this place was roughly twice the size of my current apartment, and in a way more desirable location.
SIGN ME UP.
The downtown was seaside, and host to some beautiful mountain views, most of the staff in the restaurants spoke at least a little English and the museums housed some beautiful/terrifying art. We became regulars for the week at The Frederickson Ale House, the staff were charming, happy hour was all afternoon, and one of the walls was made entirely of old doors. This bar was located directly across the street from one of the museums that we visited twice (too good) which was great since it was about a half hour walk from the apartment and on both days we went it was raining– justifying the multiple happy hours over here. J has since gotten a tattoo of one of the art pieces we saw at this Gallery.
Because the island is so small we had the luxury of staying overnight in town and travelling out by car in a different direction each day to see the sights, some of which included 40+Waterfalls, Geysir (both the town and the several geysers located there), Vic Beach (scary black sand, loud high waves, an abandoned airplane), Hot Springs , Caves, Hiking, etc etc etc (insert heart eyes emoji every damn where).
The second week we rented a room in a guest house in Akureyri the second largest city on the Island, located across the island. We planned this in order to see the Northern side of the Island while staying in a town (so that we could do things like eat, and sleep).
Akureyi was much different from Reykjavik and seemed about 10 years behind, in fashion, in house paint, in the amount of people wearing fanny packs. Everything. Each morning we would frequent the Backpacker Café which was both a hostel and the only place in town open before 10am… we would have tea and read for an hour before jumping in the car and heading to whatever destination we had chosen that day.
This part of the Island had a bird sanctuary, some gorgeous hikes (one of which resulted in the debacle that has further ruined my ankle), the classic volcanic rock EVERYWHERE, fish cuisine, harbors… it was also about 5 degrees colder than the capital region. This region had many more accessible grocery stores and seemed to be where a lot of the population lived.
A few hours out from Akureyri was Lake Myvtn, craters and lakes and valleys and several more waterfalls on the way… this also was the spot where they were filming Fast & Furious 8… it was crawling with film trucks when we arrived and we got to see some sports cars on creaking ice..very cool!
All of the attractions were outdoors (free) and the sights are the most attractive I’ve ever seen. If I ever disappear you can bet it was to move to Iceland.
See below for additional budgeting info ++++
Info for budgeting:
The cost of drinks was comparable to North America but food was about twice as much (I’m guessing import costs as no produce grows on volcanic rock). Renting an apartment for a longer period of time was substantially cheaper than hotel costs per night.
Also important to keep in mind, this is a sought after tourist destination right now being highly publicized so if you are looking to book rooms or rental vehicles the closer to the arrival date the more expensive they are.. this is not a place with “last minute deals” as they know people are going anyway and will pay an elevated fee on the day of 😉
For anyone looking to go to Iceland if you fly WOW it is dirt cheap… spend a little time before the trip checking out “Iceland Stopover” hash tags and sights for some extra tips on how to maximize your time in the most heart stoppingly gorgeous place in the world.