The shooting of Game of Thrones took place in this country. This is Iceland. Ksenia, a traveler with experience in 50 countries, considers traveling to Iceland one of the best trips of her life. Ksyusha told her itinerary in this country, a few life hacks, how to go to the island on a budget, how much the budget for a trip to Iceland can cost, and a lot of other useful information.
Let’s get acquainted)
My name is Ksyusha. I live in Moscow, work as a 5/2 marketing director and travel a lot. She has visited almost 50 countries, including such exotic ones as Iran, Nepal, Laos, Japan. I love art, I read a lot, I usually study the history and culture of the places where I go. I write about all this on my Instagram blog: @ ksenia_reyn.
What impressions did your trip to Iceland make on you?
It was one of the best travel experiences of my life. The very case when the trip was not over yet, and I already knew that I would definitely come back here.
What’s so magical about Iceland?
- Visit places that are not like Earth, but like Mars or the Moon
- Take a walk by the waterfalls: around, above and even below them
- Touch the many species of the lightest Icelandic moss
- Climb into the crater of an extinct volcano
- Take a dip in the open-air hot springs
- Easy trekking in the national park
- Meet the locals at the farm
- Taste volcanic bread and other Icelandic delicacies
- Feel like Vikings in an old village
- See puffins, deer, and fur seals in the wild
- Go to the open ocean to watch whales
There are no direct flights from Russia. How to get to Iceland? How much does the flight cost?
During the season (from May to September), there are direct S7 flights from Moscow to Reykjavik 1-2 times a week.
A ticket costs from 22,000 rubles. The cost depends on the dates and how much in advance you buy.
You can save money if you fly from nearby European cities with a low-cost airline. For example, from Riga (airBaltic), Vilnius or Warsaw (Wizz). And get there by your car (or by train). Even taking into account gasoline and baggage payment, it can be cheaper than a direct flight.
Is it easy to get a visa?
Schengen is suitable for visiting Iceland. It’s easy to get it.
Where to choose accommodation? What is the cost?
There are different types of housing.
- Hotels and apartments – from 70 to 300 € per double room.
- Cottages – from 100 to 500 € per house for 4 people.
- Hostels – from 20 to 50 € per person.
- Campings. There are all over the country and allow you to live comfortably in a tent. The campsite usually has Wi-Fi, a common area with a shower and a kitchen. Cost: from 10 to 20 € per person.
What to see in Iceland?
I think many bloggers have seen photographs in milky-blue water: the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spring. This is one of Iceland’s “calling cards”, a mainstream and quite expensive place.
In the north of the island there is a similar spa called Mývatn Nature Bath – no less beautiful, but less popular among tourists.
If you are going north, I recommend choosing Myvatn. If you plan to visit only the south of the island – of course, the Blue Lagoon will be a must on the program.
The Blue Lagoon is part of the most popular and shortest route in the country – the “Golden Circle of Iceland”. In terms of beauty, the route is inferior to the places listed below. Of all the points, I liked the Gullfoss waterfall the most. This entire route can be safely traveled in the first half days after arrival and move on.
There are many impressive places on the island.
What to see in Iceland in the South and Southeast:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Reynisfjara Black Beach near Vik Village
- Cape Dyrhólaey
- Eldhraun Lava Fields
- Skaftafell National Park
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
- Hof Grass Church
- Diamond beach
- Glacial Lake Jökulsárlón
- Stokksnes Bay
- Viking village in Höfn
There are much fewer tourists in the north and east, but there are also interesting places in Iceland there. Some of them are:
- Hverir Valley with Martian landscapes
- Lake Mývatn and the thermal spring of the same name, which I already mentioned above
- Port of Husavik, from where they go to sea to watch whales
- Old Farm Glaumbær
The center of the island is open to the public from July to mid-September, you can get there only by a 4×4 car. Why go there:
- Rainbow Mountains Landmannalaugar
- Kerlingarfjöll mountain range
- Vouklan Laki (Lakagígar)
- Volcano Askja
- Thorsmörk Valley
- Laugavegur Trekking Route
The shooting of Game of Thrones took place in Iceland. You can easily find a map and a list of locations from the series if you wish. Probably the most iconic location is Mount Kirkjufell.
Are there any non-tourist attractions in Iceland?
Of course! Here are a few:
- NATO Bolafjall Radar
- Ship Garðar BA 64
- Black Church Búðakirkja
- Djúpavogskörin Thermal Pool
- Other “wild” thermal springs
- Many small waterfalls and other natural locations
Tell us your Iceland travel itinerary.
The first time it is better to go along the circular route around the island, along the road number 1. Mark in advance on Google maps and Maps.me all the points that you plan to visit (such maps can be found ready-made on the Internet). Buy a SIM card on the spot to check your route online.
Day 1. Flight, Þingvallavatn lake, Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall.
Day 2. Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, Cape Dyrhólaey, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara beach, Eldhraun lava fields.
Day 3. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Foss a Sidu, trekking in Skaftafell National Park, Hof Church, Jökulsárlón glacial lake, beach of the same name with blocks of ice and fur seals.
Day 4. Viking village in Höfn, Stokksnes beach, Bird watching house, Djúpavogskörin pool, beautiful road along the fjords, lighthouse on the fjord.
Day 5. Retro cars in Egilsstaðir, Lake Mývatn, Mývatn Nature Baths, Hverir sulfur fields, Grjótagjá cave, Krafla volcano, Husavik port and whales.
Day 6. Akureyri (you can skip), Glaumbær farm, Hvitserkur rock (you can skip), a beach with seals (which were not there).
Day 7 of the Iceland route. Mount Kirkjufell, Snæfellsjökull National Park, wild thermal spring, black church Búðakirkja, Reykjavik.
How to get around the country?
The best option for a company of two or more people is to rent a car. If you want to travel alone, I recommend looking for a group tour.
What is the best time to travel?
May and June are excellent times to travel along the circular route around the island. At this time, it is no longer cold, but there are still no crowds of tourists. Lupins bloom in June.
The peak season is in July and August, as it is warm and all roads in the center of the island are open. During this period, hotel prices are the highest and must be booked in advance.
The aurora can be seen starting in September.
What to try in Icelandic cuisine?
What I liked the most:
- Skir is a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese. Sold in any supermarket.
- Volcanic bread – baked in the overhead vapors of active volcanoes.
- Unusual teas: for example, with a plant called myrrh or moss.
- Typical Scandinavian food: gravlax, dried fish, etc.
- Icelandic cuisine also has many fermented fish and meat dishes. I will not advise them – the taste is for a big fan. For example, I could not eat jerky shark meat …
Prices in Iceland. How much will the total travel budget cost?
- Flight – from 15,000 rubles, direct flight from Moscow from 22,000 rubles.
- Car rental, insurance, gasoline, paid tunnel – from 900 € per car for 1 week.
- Housing. Camping – from 10 € per person. Hotels and apartments – from 35 € per person per night based on double occupancy.
- Visa – Schengen – from 55 €.
- Insurance – from 700 rubles.
- Food and daily expenses. If you buy food in supermarkets and cook yourself – from 100 € per week, if you eat in a cafe – from 250 € per week.
- Excursion to the whales – from 80 €.
- Visit to the Blue Lagoon – from 72 €.
- A visit to the thermal springs of Myvatn – from 33 €.
As with any travel, the budget is very dependent on your “wishes”: the level of hotels and the amount of entertainment. You can go for 50,000 rubles and 250,000 rubles.
A few life hacks on how to travel in Iceland on a budget.
- Gather a group of friends. Iceland has expensive car rentals, petrol and insurance. If you divide this expense by 4-5 people, the amount becomes lifting.
- Look for a suitable car on Rentalcars and subscribe to the site’s newsletter. They can send an offer with a discount. One more nuance: on Rentalcars it is better to pay only rent, and purchase insurance on the spot – this way the deposit is not blocked on the card.
- Get a mechanic (if you know how to drive) – it’s cheaper than a machine gun.
- Fly with a low-cost airline from European cities close to Russia.
- Live in tents at campsites.
- Buy food in supermarkets and cook yourself. The prices in supermarkets are not very different from those in Moscow. Food in a cafe is much more expensive:
- Don’t buy bottled water. The purest artesian water flows from the tap everywhere.
Your tips for traveling to Iceland.
Tip 1: take care of your clothes
People go to Iceland for the sake of beautiful nature, which means that you will spend most of the day outdoors. The weather there is very changeable: during one day, sunny + 15 ° can be replaced by rainy + 5 °. A strong wind is blowing on the coast. You need to be ready for this. Dress according to the principle of “cabbage”: if necessary, you can remove the extra layer from yourself, or, conversely, warm up and protect yourself from the rain.
- Be sure to bring a hat and gloves.
- Top: thermal underwear, fleece, thin down jacket, top with a windbreaker with a membrane or raincoat.
- Bottom: thermal underwear, hiking pants (which dry quickly and protect from the wind).
- On your feet: waterproof trekking shoes or boots.
Tip 2: Create an atmosphere.
Iceland is remarkable not only for its nature, but also for its special culture. Read Icelandic Tales and the Elder Edda. Listen to Icelandic music (I love Björk, Múm and Sigur Rós). Visit the architectural landmarks of Reykjavik Chat with the Irish.
If you were inspired by my story, but you are still not ready to go on your own, I invite you to travel with me. This year I am planning to organize a tour to Iceland with an awesome program. Subscribe and follow the announcements: @ksenia_reyn.
Interviewed by Olga Avrakh
Photo of Ksyusha