A seemingly magical land which has been gaining popularity is the country of Iceland, which is home to greater than 350,000 people — more than two thirds of whom live in the greater Reykjavik metropolitan area…
Road Trip Around Iceland
…and the best way to see the country is by car. I recently took advantage of the opportunity to do just that, spending 11 days straddling continental plates, watching whales, and visiting waterfalls, craters, geysers, canyons, lava fields, hot springs, and other wonders which Iceland has to offer while driving clockwise around virtually the entire country.
If you are used to staying in hotels operated by multinational lodging chains, lower your expectations in terms of choice when visiting Iceland: Hilton and Radisson each have three hotel properties — and they are all located within Reykjavik with the exception of one hotel property, which is located near Keflavik International Airport. Forget about Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood, InterContinental Hotels Group, AccorHotels, Choices Hotels, Best Western and most other chains, as none of them have any hotel properties there.
Instead, you have a choice of guesthouses, hostels, pensions, bed and breakfasts, and independent hotels — all of which seem to blur with little distinction — and the rates can wildly vary. I primarily stayed at guesthouses and intend to impart more information about them in a future article.
Food is expensive. That is the unquestionable truth. Although there are a few fast food chains in Iceland such as Domino’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway, you will not find a McDonald’s or Burger King. Unless you want to get used to paying almost $20.00 for a hamburger with fries and a soda or $40.00 for a trout dinner, you will most certainly be better off shopping in a supermarket for your provisions. The good news is that many guesthouses have kitchens; so you can prepare your food accordingly. Other tricks do exist on how to keep your food bill in a lower budget; but although they are few and far between, I intend to list them in a future article as well.
You can also save money by camping around Iceland via a number of ways; but I did not try any of them. Keep in mind that the financial savings may come with other costs; but that depends on your preferences.
The main roads of Iceland are well paved; but unless you confine yourself to Reykjavik, you will most certainly encounter gravel roads — even in what is known as the Golden Circle area of Iceland — and some gravel roads are in substantially worse condition than others.
Despite the significant hit Iceland will have on your travel budget — even if you factor in a low airfare to get you there — the country has plenty to offer its visitors free of charge; and I had a whale of a time.