So, you want to go to Iceland on a shoe string?
Iceland is the place that many people would give their right nut to see. And when I told my friends I was going this year, they said:
“Oh god, I bet that’s expensive”
Now see, I don’t really do expensive holidays. I feel guilty buying anything over £30 (until I’m drunk, then I’m a bit more YOLO with the credit card). But I love experiencing life, different cultures and fascinating things. I’ve written about this in my post about how to get to exotic places for £300.
So if you’re a bit like me, desperate to see the world but ain’t got two pennies to rub together, set aside £275 next pay day and I assure you – you can not only fly and stay in Iceland, but see all the wonders as well.
1. Booking Flights to Iceland.
If you want to be in for a shot at seeing the Northern Lights, you’ll have to go in winter or early spring.
With anything natural, there’s no guarantee you’ll see those shiny purple green ghosts in the sky. It may sound like I’m telling you how to suck eggs (which I’ve never done BTW. Bizzare phrase no.1) but my friend worked in Reykjavik for a year, helping guests at the Blue Lagoon, and she said that tourists would often come up to her and ask her “What time are the Northern Lights on?” like they were waiting to see Mama Mia at the West End.
Now obviously, of course you being a clever bean know that they aren’t as regular as a Circe de Soleil performance, but when the sun goes completely down and if the sky is clear, you may be in for a chance of seeing them.
Here’s what WikiTravel say:
There is no guarantee to see the Northern Lights, even if you are in the best areas. However, a bit of planning will radically increase your chances.  In short, good periods are between late September and late March. Statistically there are more Aurora Display in proximity of the two equinoxes. Consider also that in winter there is little or no light for other activities during the day.
I’d suggest going to Reykjavik in February or March. There’s a few reasons for this – firstly the Met office suggests that, in December, the Icelandic city gets only 12 hours of sunshine in the whole month. Yeah, 12! So if you don’t fancy showing your friends lovely pictures of black or grey blobs, go when the sunshine count is up. You’ll find a lovely sunshine and weather spreadsheet here if you’re into that kinda thing.
Anyhooo, you can grab return flights from London in March for just £93.
So here’s our budget tally… always good to keep on top of things.
Total left: £182
2. Booking a Hotel in Iceland.
Food’s cray cray expensive in Iceland so I’d suggest getting an apartment or somewhere with kitchen facilities. You can always waltz on down to the local supermarket and pick up a bargain (you’ll see a big pink and yellow supermarket with a pig on the logo – that’s the Aldi of Iceland).
Although the name may seem a bit average, try the OK Hotel. It’s central to the town and pretty cool. You can grab an apartment for 4 x people for £130 per night. So let’s say you’re staying for two nights. Quick maths makes that… £65 each.
Total left: £117
3. Seeing the sights of Iceland
You’ll want to have a mosey around some of the amazing sights of Iceland whilst you’re there. As a one-stop shop, seeing the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle and heading off on a Northern Lights tour are your ‘must-sees’ for a weekend away.
Most flights get in to the city of lights early doors, so I’d suggest hopping on a bus to the Blue Lagoon whilst you wait for check-in.
You can bag a standard entry ticket, including a gorgeous mud mask that’s meant to make you look ten years younger, for £31 in winter.
The spa is one of the 25 wonders of the world – and is well worth the dough.
Golden Circle Tour
Have you seen pictures of those kettle-like pops of steam? Yeah, you’ll get to see the Geysirs, waterfalls and much more on a Golden Circle tour.
Here’s what you’ll see on an eight hour Golden Circle Tour:
You’ll start with the Geysir geothermal area where the Strokkur geyser shoots a column of water up to 30 metres (98 ft.) into the air every 4-8 minutes in a thrilling display of nature’s forces. The visit continues with Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall, created by the river Hvítá, which tumbles and plunges into a crevice some 32 m (105 ft.) deep.
The Golden Circle tour also includes the historical and geological wonder that is Thingvellir National Park, where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimeters per year.
Travel Republic do a fantastic tour for only £45 each. Although, I’d recommend going down to the Tourist Information board and booking a good deal when you arrive.
Northern Lights Trip
You can’t go to Iceland without trying to spot those lights. The tours will pick you up from your hotel and the chase will begin. They’ll find the best spots – and some of the tour guides even take a free of charge photo of you and your family or friends in front of the aurora.
This one from Guide to Iceland is only £37. What a bargain!
Here’s the budget low-down:
Blue Lagoon: £31
Golden Circle: £45
Northern Lights Trip: £37
Total spend: £271
So there you have it! A full holiday of a lifetime to Iceland including all trips for under £275. Although this excludes food, you’ll only spend £20-£30 at the local supermarket for two nights.
And… you’ve got £4 left from the initial budget for a coffee whilst you’re there :).
Wishing you tons of enjoyment in your Icelandic adventure.