One of the most beautiful places we have ever traveled is Iceland. I never like to visit a place twice because there is so much in the world to see, but I would definitely go back to Iceland.
Some of the questions that seem to come up when looking into traveling to Iceland are:
-How can I do this affordably?
-When can I go to see the northern lights?
-Where should I stay?
-Should I do tours or rent a car and explore?
Well… I can tell you how we chose to travel Iceland and I am SO glad we did it the way we did.
First off, we did not stay in hotels. The hotels I researched were around $300-500/night! That is just outrageous for us. If you have read any of our previous travel posts you know we backpack, stay in hostels, or go with our cheapest hotel options.
This time, we used Airbnb and it was amazing. We had never used it internationally, but I’m glad we took the risk! We booked multiple cabins/apartments throughout the country for different days. This was usually around $100/night. It’s not hostel price, but much more affordable than staying in hotels. Our Airbnbs were all fantastic! Here is a look at our first cabin.
Isn’t this beautiful?! It was a one bedroom cabin, very isolated, surrounded by sheep and horses… I. Was. In. Love. We were tucked away in the country side, and sure enough, we got to see what we came all this way to see. The Northern Lights!!
This was the view from our cabin that evening. My husband and I couldn’t believe it! And little did we know, it only got better for us as the days went on.
So this is one of the questions I read about… “When can I go to see the lights?”
Well, we went at the end of October for my husband’s birthday and we were afraid it would be too early, but it definitely wasn’t! We got to see the lights multiple times throughout our stay. More pictures to come!
By staying in these cabins, not only did we get to watch the light show from our bed, but we were able to buy groceries and cook every night which saved a ton of money.
Eating in restaurants was so expensive compared to what I’m used to. Restaurants could run you $50-$100 a meal! Well, that’s if it wasn’t a Subway… So hubby and I meal planned what we would eat and purchased it all at local grocery stores. This put us between $50-$100 for the whole trip.
Examples of what we ate were:
-PB & J often!
-Spaghetti and meat sauce (multiple nights)
-We did spot a Quizno’s running a deal for one large sandwich with a drink and chips for $10 and we shared it a few times.
The next thing I am SO glad we did was RENT A CAR! The country is so beautiful and peaceful and never crowded. So traffic was NEVER an issue. We also got to go visit sites and see things on our own time. My husband and I are GO-GO-GO people. As soon as we land in a country, we want to see everything and waste no time. So often enough, we create a list of things to explore and map it out. This worked fantastic for us.
*Note: If you do rent a car in Iceland, they are all pretty much manual transmission vehicles. If you aren’t sure how to drive a stick, definitely get some lessons in before you arrive! Or talk with you rental car company about alternatives.
Here are some of the things we saw…
The Geysir and the steam fields were so neat to see. They are in an area called the Golden Circle which is home to quite a few fun and interesting sites. We arrived at the end of the day so the sun began to set which made for fabulous pictures.
I mean how gorgeous is that???
I would highly recommend planning to see the Geysir and Gulfoss in the same day. They are extremely close to one another and would make for a 2-in-1 trip.
We began a trek across the country towards a highly desired tourist spot called Diamond Beach in Jokulsarlon. It would take us about 4 hours one way, but the country side was amazing to see. There were glaciers, waterfalls, and black sand beaches! I was quite worth it to see.
This black sand beach was the coolest thing to see. I’ve been to Hawaii where they claim to have black sand and green sand beaches on the Big Island, but that did not even compare to this!
And then we finally made it to our destination… Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach!
I have never seen “icebergs” before… Only in movies really. So it was surreal to actually see huge pieces of ice floating around and seals bobbing around them.
This is one of my favorite travel pictures we’ve taken. This beach was worth every minute of driving we did.
Our last stop was the city of Reykjavik. We explored the city around the bay. This is where we ate out more mostly because we were only here about 24 hours. Plus it was my husband’s birthday so we shouldn’t have PB & J right?
As we went back to our little apartment to rest up and get ready for our flight out the following day, we got to see the most beautiful light show over the ocean.
This was the perfect end to our 10 day Iceland excursion. We took this photo sitting on our back patio of our little Airbnb apartment sipping hot tea in our pajamas. It was so incredible that we got to watch these dancing lights for hours. It doesn’t even look real as you are watching it in real time.
I hope you’ve gathered what you come to this article to read! You can travel affordably and smart. Just plan and budget!