We snagged cheap tickets for Iceland back in April. October is considered low season so it wasn’t a surprise that ticket costs weren’t high. Traveling during this time gave us a greater opportunity to see the Northern Lights, but made me seriously paranoid about hitting bad weather.
Stories of tourists flipping over in their vans or rental cars being destroyed by strong winds had me horrified. Luckily though, winter was just getting started when we arrived.
We had nine days and eight nights, so we decided to explore the popular Ring Road.
DAY 1: Reykjavik
DAY 2: Geysir > Gulfoss > Seljalandsfoss
DAY 3: Skógafoss > Reynisfjara > Skaftafell
DAY 4: Hengifoss > Litlanesfoss
DAY 5: Dettifoss > Goðafoss > Akureyri
DAY 6: Krauma (thermal baths) > Barnafossar / Hraunfossar
DAY 7: Kirkjufellsfoss > Snæfellsjökull
DAY 8: Reykjavik
TRANSPORTATION – $1,118.71
We tried to save ourselves a couple hundred dollars by going with a discounted rental car company, Northbound/Nordic Car Rental. Within the first hour of having the car, we needed a tow truck. We accidentally put the wrong fuel in the car (regular gas and not diesel). I had asked the rental car employees what fuel the car needed, but they told me they weren’t sure. They assured me there would be a note in the car.
We ended up being lucky that our car could be salvaged. The entire day was spent at the auto shop. The mishap cost us an unexpected $483.16. Our car didn’t cause us anymore problems after that 🙌🏽.
GEAR – $152.99
I was very lucky that a colleague of mine lent me her hiking gear. I ended up buying hiking boots because I didn’t have enough time to visit different thrift stores. But I’m okay with this purchase since I will be using these boots all the time, making the cost per wear low. The hiking boots and a pair of jeans from Goodwill were my only clothing purchases for the trip.
FOOD – $467.91
Food in Iceland is expensive. We tried to get around this by buying non-perishable foods that we could eat on the go (since we knew we’d be driving a lot). But we also knew that these non-perishables were going to cost more in Iceland, so we bought then beforehand. Oatmeal for breakfast. Peanut butter and jelly for on-the-road sandwiches. Soups and Mac n Cheese for light meals.
We tried Indian food for the the first time on our first night in Reykjavik… and it was BOMB. Truly. We have yet to find an Indian restaurant that can compare. I had the vegetarian thali, garlic naan, samosas and onion pakodas – Hraðlestin is a must.
By the time we were having our last supper, Ari was feeling guilty about his meat consumption since we driving past so many sheep. Except that didn’t stop him from ordering a shoulder of lamb at Saeta Svinid Gastropub, which he didn’t finish because of this same guilt! This was our priciest meal with drinks (happy hour special) and appetizers. Probably wouldn’t do it again.
I really wish we would’ve tried vegetarian restaurants as dating a meat eater means finding something in the middle. Except for the Indian meal, I ordered a veggie burger everywhere we dined.
ACCOMMODATIONS – $841.38
No fancy hotels for us on this trip and that was okay. Ari’s mom had Hilton points she let us use for the first night in Reykjavik, and we only ended up paying a fraction of the charges. We opted for hostels because we wanted 1) the chance to meet other travelers and 2) the ability to make our own food. We really had no idea what to expect from the hostels since we booked them based only on their Booking.com reviews; we were lucky that all the places were perfect.
Hilton Reykjavik Nordica – Not super close to the city center, about ~25 minute walk, which on a nice summer night I bet it’s doable. It was winter so we decided to drive downtown.
Farmhouse Lodge – Lovely place and seriously appreciated the free breakfast. This was a great stop for exploring Reynisfjara or Skógafoss the following day.
Haukaberg House – If at any point in the trip I thought I might get murdered, it was here. But only because this hostel was located smack in the middle of a residential area. But honestly, it was a beautiful and clean home and I’m really happy we stayed here.
Lyngás Guesthouse – Ari didn’t like the limited privacy at this place. But as someone who has stayed at hostels in the past, I thought this one was pretty low-key and clean.
Akureyri Backpackers – This place was everything I love about staying at hostels. Lots and lots of faces! But not too much that you couldn’t get some sleep at night. It was right in the middle of the downtown and when you checked-in they gave you a token for a complimentary drink to their bar.
Fossatún Guesthouse – The prettiest of them all! I was obsessed with the seclusion this house provided. The whole time I was there I was pretending this was my little dream upstate home lol.
West Park Guesthouse – If there was anywhere we’d see the Northern Lights, it would’ve been here. Apparently the ocean helps reflect them? They had a really big game room with a pool table and Tetris!
Loft – HI Hostel – Definitely the cool kids hostel. They had a bar and some games in the lobby. Our room decor was fun and colorful. It did get loud at night since there were some restaurants downstairs.
LANDSCAPE – Priceless
The views are breathtaking and we wanted to stop at every overlook for a picture. Driving through the country really let us see the beauty people talk about when they tell you to visit Iceland. The weather was wild – snowing in one region and sunny in another.
Be prepared to walk A LOT and HIKE! I seriously did not expect to work out as much as I did. But these hikes were by far my favorite parts of the trip, walking side by side with Ari in long conversations really forced us to enjoy the scenery and being with each other.
We hope to visit Iceland again in the future. Eight days was not enough time to explore all the country has to offer. If there was anything I’d change it would be to spend more than one night in certain areas, maybe Akureyri or western Iceland.