Overpr-iceland- something you should know before you go to Reykjavik…! £$€

I had a wonderful, unforgettable trip to Iceland with my family at the beginning of April. We saw a good deal of Reykjavik itself, but spent a large portion of our trip hunting down the northern lights at all hours (to no avail) and visiting some of the most famous natural wonders of Iceland (The Golden Circle, The Blue Lagoon, to name a couple!)

I think something none of us had quite bargained for before we embarked upon our holiday, was just how exceptionally pricey Iceland would be. This is something you should know if you don’t already, though you’ll probably have a rough idea from a little research.

It’s really, really expensive. I’m not exaggerating.

If you’re from anywhere with a currency that isn’t a roughly comparable Kroner (like NOK, SEK or DKK), prepare to feel financially pillaged. The exchange rates are unfavourable from pretty much any major western currency at present, especially the weak-ass Great British Pound £, but you’ll probably feel the sting of the ISK (Icelandic Krona) regardless… Everything is really expensive. Not just because of exchange rates, in fact, they aren’t even half of the story.

The average salary in Iceland is far higher than in most other developed countries… The average Icelander earns almost 3000 euros a month before tax… compared to the average UK earner, coming in at a little under 2000 a month (still talking in euros here, just for ease of comparison.)  According to some sources, Reykjavik is actually THE most expensive capital city in the world. So don’t go without being prepared for the squeeze on your wallet. I went on a family trip, and my parents by no means scrimped, but we still felt consistently conscious of the seemingly ludicrous prices…

On our first afternoon we went to nice little cafe in Reykjavik, Stofan, (which I had previously spotted on tripadvisor)… It was cosy, warm and made a forgiving escape from the relentless freezing rain and icy wind… all was well until my mother figured out that the toastie my sister wanted to order (a veggie one, with mozzarella, tomato and pesto), which you would never pay more than £7 for in even the swishest London cafe (of equivocal centrality and vibes)… was going to set us back around £25. Roughly 27 euros. $32 USD. For a vegetarian toastie… To say it was a shock to the system would be an understatement.

You really wouldn’t believe the cost of alcohol in Iceland, either. A lot of the priciness comes down to the fact it is a tiny island nation in the arctic circle… But perhaps the shock was so distinct as Reykjavik certainly didn’t feel rural at all to me, quite comparable to many other European coastal cities I’ve visited. They don’t import that much by way of finished products… so it’s expensive to buy Icelandic, but even more expensive to buy imports.

There are *some* things you can do and see in Reykjavik on a budget. We made the decision to buy a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket… as taxis are pretty extortionate and we wanted to see all the city highlights in a day.

The Hallgrímskirkja is a stunning feat of modern architechture, probably the most recognisable landmark in Reykjavik and is free to visit. For a small fee you can ascend the tower for panoramic views over the city (although by this point in our trip we had decided to conserve our Krona for food wherever possible to avoid accidental starvation.)

 

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Leifur Eiríksson stands majestically mounted in front of the Hallgrimskirkja

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Icelanders seem to have a good sense of humour, atleast!

We also ventured to the Harpa, a stunning glass building by the Old Harbour, complete with visitor centre, theatre, gift shops and great photo opportunities.

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The geometric facade of the Harpa is mesmerising, even on a grey day.

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The Harpa comes complete with obligatory funky modern sculptures, inside and out.

DSC_0500.JPG There’s a stunning view of the Esja Mountain from the coast of Reykjavik- a unique backdrop for a busy city.

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Though largely frowned upon by Icelandic authorities, colourful graffiti provides a free attraction in central Reykjavik for thrifty travellers, and brightens up a grey city on a grey day no end.

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The breathtaking views of the sea and mountains from the city centre are certainly a free bonus worth enjoying if you visit overpriceland!

You’ll pay a lot  for excursions too, but I would say they are definitely worth it once you’re there. The only thing i’d say was a waste of money for us was our ‘northern lights tour’ (we never saw any, and stood in the cold, deserted and perfectly dark lava fields of rural iceland two nights in a row at 2am). But naturally, that’s something i’m sure those who have gotten lucky would say is worth taking a chance on.

If you want to go on trips to places like the Golden Circle (which I would recommend entirely) or the Blue Lagoon (which was also pretty cool), book in advance to save money. The two main coach trip providers are Reykjavik Excursions and Grayline. We used the former for our trips and were not disappointed.

Finally, something that may give you a little giggle- I mentioned briefly in my post on The Golden Circle that i paid the world’s most expensive toilet a visit. On the topic of overprIceland…. here’s the view from the sink..!

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If you do decide to take a trip to Iceland, make sure you’re prepared for the prices… once you’ve got your head around that as an investment, you’ll most likely be pretty impressed with the place. I certainly was!

Tata for now,

Han xoxo

The Golden Circle.

I’ve been meaning to write about my recent family trip to Iceland (02.04- 06.04.17) since the moment we returned. As usual, life has gotten in the way for a couple of weeks, but i’m finally getting round to writing the first instalment, now! 

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Gulfoss

Although we only went to Reykjavik for a short trip, it was absolutely crammed full. My family holidays always have always had pretty jam-packed itineraries and this trip was no exception.

I have plenty to say about the country itself, which was not at all what I expected, but for now, I just want to write a little something on my personal highlight… seeing The Golden Circle. 

Without a doubt, our full-day tour of  The Golden Circle (courtesy of Reykjavik Excursions) was the most memorable and picturesque part of the holiday. It was our busiest day- we spent a lot of time in the coach but also had plenty of chances to hop-out and take-in the breathtaking scenery. Our guide was fantastic, a real fountain of knowledge. And the snow we had the night before our tour made all of the scenery- lava fields, canyons, geysers… all the more stunning.

The Golden Circle  is a 300km road route which passes through some of the most popular and stunning areas of natural beauty in Iceland.

Ours commenced in Reykjavik, and we drove first to  Friðheimar… a geothermal tomato farm. I know what you’re thinking… that doesn’t sound very breathtakingly scenic, now, does it? Although it isn’t a part of every tour of The Golden Circle, a short stop at the  Friðheimar cultivation centre is definitely worth it en route. 

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Tomato at Friðheimar
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Dutch bees, imported for pollination in Friðheimar’s greenhouses
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Friðheimar’s flowers extend beyond just tomato plants!
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Friðheimar Soup kitchen & Bar

Back in 2012, the owners of  Friðheimar decided they needed to resolve their tomato waste Issue… Their produce fulfills demand in the domestic (Icelandic) market, so is on the shelves within a few hours of harvest…but only aesthetically pleasing tomatoes are bought and sold by supermarkets and shops. This is why they then began producing special recipe Tomato soup, chutneys, sauces, Jams and cocktails (Blood Mary no less!).

The farm Friðheimar is situated at Reykolt, east of Reykjavik… and is quite near to the Geysir Hot spring area, which was our first natural beauty spot of the tour…

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Caution…. Hot water!
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Little-Geysir
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Stinky sulphur geyser field
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They ‘blow’ every 5-8 minutes… which makes for a spectacular show!

There truly are no words I can drum up to even begin to describe how amazing  a-sight Gulfoss Falls was. Truly one of the most humbling, epic things I have ever seen.

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Canyon view of Gulfoss Falls
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Misty and wet
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My Sis and I by the Falls!
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Refreshing glacial spray!

On our drive back towards Reykjavik, we travelled to the ÞINGVELLIR National Park.

‘Thingvellir’ is the Old Norse field of parliament. Its lava fields, tectonic shift valleys and volcanic mountains were truly a sight to behold.

It’s also home to the world’s most expensive toilet… (300 ISK… about £2.20). But it does have pretty amazing views from the washbasin I have to say.

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Breathtaking views reveal themselves as you climb up the winding paths to the field at Thingvellir
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Icelanders are a rare (330,000) and proud people.
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Towering Lava walls create a cavernous walkway, where tectonic plates have drifted open over thousands of years.

The Golden Circle is 100% worth a visit if you’re headed to Reykjavik. Even if you aren’t there for long… if you only splash out on one excursion, make it this one. Don’t take a chance on the Northern Lights instead (we didn’t get lucky, twice!)… this offers guaranteed epic views and loads of interesting history.

I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of my trip to Iceland… The Golden Circle should definitely be on your ‘see before you die’ list of destinations!

Ta ta for now,

Han xoxo

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