Volunteer writer, Meg Jocson Ong, adds to our Globe Trotting series with some helpful tips for those interested in visiting Reykjavik based on her own experiences there.
Between the end of first semester and the beginning of semester two, I decided to make use of my five stress-free days and booked a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. I then convinced my flatmates to go with me on this mini-adventure to the frozen island up northwest. From what I experienced on my trip, here are four tips that could help you if you decide to visit Reykjavik on a student budget:
1. Go for an Airbnb
With Reykjavik having a very small and condensed city centre, it was hard to find a hotel that would accommodate our student budget. We thought it was best to look at Airbnb instead because of its vast amount of locations throughout the capital. The Airbnb we snagged was only £150 per person for 4 days and 3 nights! It had all the necessities we needed and WIFI for us to post our daily updates on social media. The flat that we chose was closer to the shore than the city centre, which was perfect because we got to experience and explore the residential side of Reykjavik. Not to mention, we got to interact with the friendly neighbourhood as we lost our way on the first day and all our phones had died. It wasn’t that far from the city centre either as it was only a 20-minute walk.
2. Weather-proof your phone
The first speed bump on our trip was the fact that the sub-zero temperatures made all our mobiles run out of battery within minutes. Luckily, we all brought portable charging devices; however, when those ran out, we were stuck with powerless phones and no maps. Thankfully I had a weatherproof case because my phone was already acting up on the snow days before our trip to Iceland.
3. Base your visit on the Aurora Borealis
The main sight everyone must see at least once in their life is the northern lights. Seeing it for the first time made me speechless. Keep in mind that the northern lights need to be seen towards the north of the city where there is little to no artificial light, so I suggest booking a tour for this one. They are normally seen between November and February, but make sure to check an online report such as https://aurorareykjavik.is/aurora-forecast/. You wouldn’t want to miss out on this!
4. Visit the Golden Circle
I highly recommend joining a tour for this one. Make sure you set aside a day for this one too, as half a day is not enough! I took a half day tour because our full day tour was cancelled due to weather issues that morning. To this day, I still want to go back and spend a bit more time exploring the waterfalls and scenic hills. Perhaps in the future, I’ll save up a little more to book a private van tour instead of a bus.
Being on a student budget doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the culture and hidden treasures of a relatively pricey trip like one to Iceland. There’s so much to do without having to spend a lot!
Featured image by: Omeiza Haruna