Iceland is one of my favorite places in the world. Granted I speak from limited experience, having primarily traveled in Central America and Europe, but that being said, there is something unique and special about Iceland that is hard to find elsewhere. As I plan my seemingly annual trip there, I thoguht I’d share some travel advice for budget minded adventure travelers like myself.
When to go:
Iceland is cold. It rarely gets above 50 degrees even in the summer. It also rains. A lot. And of course snows in the winter as well. The cheapest flights to Iceland are around early spring and mid autumn. If you don’t mind some snow, are ok missing the spectacular greenery of the country, and still want a chance at the northern lights, I’d go mid fall or spring.
However, if you plan in advance and plan properly, you can still get a reasonably priced trip to Iceland even in peak season (July). The weather is better and much more of the Island is accessable.
Budget airlines WOW Air is the cheapest and easiest way to get to Iceland. From BWI, Boston, and San Francisco, you can get direct flights nearly every day of the year. WOW airlines also has a unique stopover feature where you book a flight to somewhere else in Europe with an planned stopover (kind of like an extended layover) from 1 day to several weeks in Iceland. This immensely decreases the price of your ticket and helps the bring tourism to the country
The cost of getting there can be as cheap as $80 one way with WOW airlines in the early months of the year and up to $300 or more in the peak summer season. I just booked round trip, stopover tickets from San Francisco to Iceland to Dublin, and back, for $375 round trip. From BWI it is not uncommon to see round trip tickets in early spring lower than $200 round trip.
Other airlines are available too but for greater cost. It is important to remember that WOW charges for anything larger than a small 10kg personal item. However, even if you upgrade to full sized checked luggage, you still make out cheaper most of the time.
Where to stay:
Hotels: this is the typical way to travel for most people. However, as a world traveling adventurer YOU are not most people. There are times though when a hotel makes sense. My first, almost completely unplanned, trip to Iceland, I had no housing for me and my two friends. We booked hotels, often on the fly the night of, for 3 people, in mid May, for under $100/night with breakfast included. It worked out well that time. Hotels often charge per person outside of the US. So unlike here where you can get a room with two double beds and put 4 people no questions asked, there they may actually question you and throw a fit if more than the allowed number try to stay in one room.
Airbnb: this is my favorite way to travel in Iceland. It is probably by far the most economical for more than a single person. people in Iceland are super nice and lovely to stay with a chat with. A private room in Reykjavik, in someones house, can be as cheap as $40/night for two people while a private studio separate from the house starts at about $70/night. Use this link to save $35 off you first Airbnb trip!
Hostels: I have to admit, I’ve never stayed in a hostel in Iceland. I think if I ever go solo, that’s exactly what I will do. There are a few good hostels there from reading the reviews, but a lot of them seem more like guest houses than true hostels. Use Hostel World to evaluate whether this will make a good choice for you
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