Country Profile: Iceland
The Enchanted Land of the Vikings!
Real name: Island
Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK) ($1= ~119 Krona check for changes)
Visa Required?: Check here for your country.
Most Visited Cities: Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón (near the lagoon from the glacier), Þingvellir (Thingvellir National Park)
Famous Landmark: The Blue Lagoon or Eyjafjallajökull volcano
Major bus line: Reykjavík Excursions
Random Fact: Iceland is the last European place that the Vikings settled because of this the language has hardly changed. According to many Icelandic people, modern Icelandic is mutually intelligible with the language of the Vikings, meaning that they can still read manuscripts written by the Vikings ages ago.
Overview: What can I say or where to begin? Iceland is a country filled with beautiful people and places. It is one of the more local places that I have been, meaning that it is fairly easy to interact and visit with locals in their normal life settings.
Iceland is located near the middle of the “pond” so it is a great stopping point between the US and continental Europe or the UK. It actually breaks up the trip quite well.
The terrain of Iceland is filled with glaciers, rock formations, fjords, lakes, geysers, waterfalls, and of course geo-thermal pools. Getting around Iceland is extremely easy as there are companies dedicated to specific routes. It is not an overly expensive place although some areas can run up your bill. Winters can be quite cold, but summers are nice. On the other hand, Iceland is not a complete glacier though as the Mighty Ducks movie taught us, “Iceland is green, Greenland is ice.”
Iceland is a unique cultural study because the people still closely identify with being vikings unlike many of the other Scandinavian countries. Their language is similar and they have upheld many of the same traditional practices that the vikings had. After visiting the Blue Lagoon, be sure to look for trolls and elves on your way back to the city.
How to get around?
Primarily due to the low population and climate of Iceland, there are not really any good sources of public transportation that take you around the island. There is definitely not a train system. Therefore, you basically have 3 options. First, you can rent a car. This will likely be a bit costly if you do it alone. However, what I have seen some people do is place ads at hostels and at local listing areas for driving partners. Eventually, they find a few more people to share the costs and the experience and go for it. Secondly, you can hitchhike. I did not hitchhike when I was in Iceland, but I will definitely be doing so next time. The island is extremely safe and the people are quite friendly. Hitchhiking is common in Iceland. The third and final way to get around the island is by bus. Reykjavík excursions offers tours around the island. You can catch any bus from one town to the next or you can do site specific tours.
Budgeting for Iceland
Iceland, much like the other Scandinavian countries can be quite expensive. It takes a bit of effort to budget in Iceland. Generally, hostels will cost you around $25-40 for a dorm bed. Additionally, the bus excursions are quite pricey ranging from $50-90. Therefore, I recommend if you want to save money in Iceland, then stay in the cheaper hostels, or couchsurf. Next, buy food from the grocery stores and cook at the hostel (choose a hostel with a full kitchen).
To get around the island cheaper, look into options with hitchhiking and carpooling.
7 Things to do in Iceland
- Reykjavík city – The capital city, home to 1/2 of the isle’s residents.
- Jökulsárlón – A glacier and lagoon on the southeastern side of the island.
- Þingvellir (Thingvellir National Park) – A nice national park with some parliamentary history of the Vikings.
- The Blue Lagoon – The most interesting looking blue water that I have ever seen.
- Find some puffins
- Whale watching
- Eat rotten Icelandic shark – Its bad, I promise.
Carpooling Iceland – Click here
Reykjavik Excursions – Reykjavik Excursions