‘Iceland is too expensive to visit if you’re on a budget’. Along with ‘don’t eat the street food – it will make you ill’, this is one of the great travel myths. And it could lead you to miss out on some amazing experiences.
True, Iceland can be eye-wateringly pricey, but with some planning it is possible to visit the land of fire and ice without spending a fortune. Here’s how to make it happen.
In Iceland, horizons are dotted with volcanic peaks, gushing waterfalls spring from every crevice and valleys are carved in front of your eyes by vast glaciers. This spectacular scenery is currently free to explore. A fee of some description may be introduced in 2015 or 2016, with one suggestion requiring visitors to purchase a Nature Pass. But even if the proposals go ahead, compared to the national park fees in some countries (the Nature Pass would cover the whole country and cost around Ikr1500 – US$11 or €10 – for a month), Iceland’s wonderful natural landscape is still a bargain.
Many of the sights are easily accessed from the Ring Road, which circles Iceland. Along the south coast, showstoppers include incredible waterfalls such as Seljalandsfoss, where you can walk behind the falls, and Skógafoss, where rainbows arc through the spray in sunshine. Other attractions include the dramatic black beach at Vík, the massive Vatnajökull ice cap and the Jökulsárlón lagoon, where blue icebergs journey out to sea.
The most popular day trip from the capital, Reykjavík, is to the Golden Circle. It’s home to the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, the geyser after which all others are named, and Þingvellir, the site of the world’s first parliament.
Reykjavík itself is an enjoyable city to explore, and some attractions are free to enter, including the must-see Hallgrímskirkja church (there is a charge of Ikr700 to go to the top for views across the city and its rooftops). The iconic Harpa building, the city’s cultural hub, is worth a visit even if you’re not shelling out for a performance. City Walk Reykjavik (http://citywalk.is/), meanwhile, is a free guided tour that has gained a great reputation and relies solely on donations.
Originally published by LonelyPlanet.com