Reykjavik budget travel? Talk about your oxymorons. Iceland’s capital is notoriously expensive, despite the country’s recent economic woes. Still, it is possible to gird your wallet in pricey Reykjavik. Here is Global Gallop’s guide for Reykjavik budget travel:
A car is totally unnecessary in walkable Reykjavik, but KEF Airport, where international flights operate, is 48KM from the city. Forego expensive airport taxi transfers in favor of a round trip ticket on the Flybus for about a third of the cost of cabs. The Flybus schedule is convenient to flight arrivals and departures, and the modern coaches feature free Wi-Fi. Savvy, spontaneous travelers can snag same day hotel deals by booking online during the 50-minute Flybus ride to the city.
A Reasonable Roost
The design-forward Hlemmur Square offers hostel and hotel accommodations on separate floors under one roof, so guests can be as egalitarian or elitist as they choose. The hostel’s stylish communal accommodations are far better than your average bunk. The hotel’s King Terrace rooms feature balconies overlooking the city, and dreamy beds fitted with luxury Lissadell linens. Hlemmur Square’s expansive lobby promotes loungey camaraderie, and the staff stands ready to artfully direct outings for even the most capital-constrained wanderers.
Eat like a local at community spots, off the tourist track. Read a book and sip your latte at the comfortably cluttered Grey Cat. Nibble with the neighborhood at the bohemian Café Babalú. Follow in Bill Clinton’s steps and nosh on a hot dog at the wildly popular Bæjarins beztu. Order a shot of laundry detergent with your brunch at the student-studded Laundromat Café. Surround yourself with the Reykjavik hipsters who flock to Vegamót for good value fare. Don’t miss a meal at Icelandic Fish and Chips, an organic bistro that has somehow figured out how to prepare this fast food staple in a healthy way.
All liquor stores in Reykjavik are government-owned and alcohol is heavily taxed. The cost of getting your drink on will stagger you. To avoid the booze bandits, stock up at the tax and duty-free outlet in the airport to facilitate pre-outing sips, then do your bar hopping early. Because the weekend party scene routinely goes until four in the morning, many bars, including such hotspots as Harlem, Boston and Bunk Bar offer happy hour until 10 pm. Unless your veins course with Viking blood, you will not have the fortitude to drink ‘till the wee hours like the locals anyway.
Icelanders really do wear lopapeysas, those wool sweaters with the snowflake-looking design around the neck. A lopapeysa is the ultimate Reykjavik souvenir, and the place to snag one cheap is the Kolaportid flea market. The Kolaportid also has a bustling food market, where intrepid epicureans can chow down on local staples, including reindeer jerky, whale steaks, peutrified shark, puffin breast and (forgive us, Black Beauty) horse filets.
Stroll the waterfront, and watch the natives school their kids on fishing. Climb to the top of the striking Hallgrimskirkja church for a panoramic view of the colorful city. Take a peek at the male members of over 200 species of mammals at the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Yes, there is a formaldehyde-soaked human specimen from some unjustifiably proud donor who just couldn’t take it with him.
Reykjavik budget travel is not only possible; it is preferable to holing up at the Hilton and joining a hoard of tourists on a bus tour to the Blue Lagoon. Your money is much better spent getting in touch with pulse of the city, which is definitely is a lively one.