Hot Dogs at Baejarins Beztu
Even with the collapse of its economy a few years ago, Iceland can be expensive. But, it doesn’t have to be inaccessible. You can make a vacation affordable by starting with cheap tickets to Reykjavik, as I did a few months ago. After that, there are plenty of ways you can trim costs and make your trip downright affordable. Below are five tips that came to me on my last excursion up there:
Shop around for a hotel: I found a few months ago that there are plenty of cheap hotels in Reykjavik; you just have to shop around a bit. Since the city is small, just about anything near downtown will get you access to the city, so you won’t have to make tough choices involving neighborhoods (as you’d have to in London or New York). Look for the best deal, even if it isn’t a full service hotel: you don’t need the spa, and the city has plenty of restaurants.
Pick your restaurants carefully: Food isn’t cheap in Reykjavik, largely because so much of it has to be imported. And, restaurants that can even come close to claiming they are upscale price themselves accordingly. Without a doubt, you should enjoy some of these places. This becomes easier to afford when you are selective, and eat your other meals at places that are more affordable. Three inexpensive and still incredibly tasty options include: Burgerjoint, Sea Baron and Baejarins Beztu.
Enjoy the free entertainment: With the weather getting warmer, there’s a lot you can do outside in Reykjavik. Start with a walking tour of the city, and make sure you take a look at Althing, the oldest home of the oldest still-functioning parliament in the world. Of course, you should definitely head over to the harbor, where the view of the mountains is nothing short of incredible.
Bring your own towel: The geothermal baths all over Reykjavik are a big part of the local culture, and you should definitely check one out. To save a few bucks, bring your own towel: there’s a surcharge for them at the pools. Just grab one from your hotel before you head out.
Pace yourself: Reykjavik’s party culture certainly has a reputation, and it works a bit differently from what you’re used to. People drink until 6 a.m., but they often don’t start until well after midnight. Show up at the bars at around 2:30 am instead of 11 p.m., and you’ll catch all the action without having to pay for several extra hours of liquor.
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photo: Tom Johansmeyer