The often brutal landscape of Iceland is like no other on earth where black sand beaches, waterfalls, glaciers, mountains and flat horse pastures all share the same landscape. Most of the time you’re more likely to see horses than people. With a population of 300,000 and an area of 103,000 square kilometers, Iceland has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Even with all of its beauty there are a few things that you need to know to get the best out of this Elf loving county, not only how to pronounce some of the sight names (Kirkjubæjarklaustur for example). Combine all these factors and it is easy to see why some people are a little intimidated by the prospect of visiting Iceland for the first time, but with some basic knowledge this country can transport you to another world that shows you the raw power that created this planet at Þingvellir National Park and also the sheer beauty of the universe of the Aurora Borealis. With so much natural beauty easily accessible it is no wonder that outdoor lovers and photographers consider Iceland holy ground.
Need to know things....
Budget accomodation costs– Your typical hostel shared dorm will set you back between 3,500-7,500 ISK per night whilst a private room will cost you over 12,000 ISK per night. Most of the hostels in Iceland belong to the Hostel International network and members can get generous discounts throughout the country.
Typical accomodation costs– A double room with a private bathroom (make sure you check your room has one before you book, not all do as standard!) will cost you around the 20,000 ISK mark. Most hotels are concentrated in the capital of Reyjkavik and are expensive so we found the best way to get the most out of our time was to rent a house through AirBnB as this also helps keeps the high food costs down.
Speaking of food costs – Food in general is expensive even before you start to have an alcoholic drink with a sit down meal costing about 2,000 ISK or more. Alcohol is expensive (with beer only being legal in 1989) and not readily available in supermarkets or even some restaurants. You’ll need to find your local Vínbúðinor Wine Shop which are spread around the perimeter of the country; you’ll struggle to find any far away from the main ring road. You can bring down your food costs even further by renting an apartment and doing some grocery shopping which would cost you about 7000 ISK per week. The cheapest food source on the island is hot dog vendors, where a traditional dog with toppings will cost about 500 ISK.
Transportation costs – Buses are the only form of public transport around the island with a variety of different Passports available costing from 12,500 ISK to 58,000 ISK, but due to the remoteness of all the major tourist sites car rental is a more sensible (but expensive) solution. A basic front wheel drive car will cost around 12,500 ISK per day but if you’re considering going off the main roads and into the centre of the island you'll require a larger 4x4 costing upwards of 45,000 ISK a day.
Safety – Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world where crime is virtually unheard of even in the capital. Road safety and getting caught out by the weather are by far the biggest things you need to worry about. In winter the roads can become very dangerous, even the main ring road, and particular care should be taken at all times as changes in elevation can
reduce visibility to almost nothing in the space of a 100 metres. Always make sure you have the correct car for the roads you’re driving and don’t stop on the side of the road to take pictures no matter how pretty it is.