The Great European Adventure

Iceland: Last Look

Iceland was like no where else I’ve ever been.


The scenery was otherworldly.


When you live in the Northeastern United States, volcanic rocks are kind of exciting and exotic. Volcanoes? Awesome! You might look at lava rocks in eight grade science class. Well, in Iceland, pretty much every rock is a remnant from a volcano. And any trees you see were brought there and planted by people because only shrubs and bushes are native to the country.

When Grace and I took a tour of Thingvellir National Park, we saw fissures in the earth where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of 2 centimeters per year.

Come on! Where else in the world can you see that? We even snorkeled in the glacial waters (4 degrees C–that liquid was almost a solid) of one of the fissures.


Grace and I in our drysuits.

When, we weren’t busy being astounded by the natural world, Reykjavik was a charming capital city.


Having said all of this, there is a downside to traveling in Iceland…

it’s expensive.

After you pay for airfare and accommodations, you should still budget around $100 for each activity you decide to take part in. This is because although Reykjavik is lovely, you really only need one or two days to explore this small city. On your other days in Iceland, you’re going to want to take trips away from the city to see some of the spectacular scenery I mentioned earlier.

There are many tour companies to choose from and they’ll help to do everything from horseback riding to glacier hiking. The company that Grace and I used was Gray Line Tours/Iceland Excursions, which I mentioned in my post about seeing the Northern Lights. This tour company is the cheapest, and Grace and I enjoyed their guides, so I would recommend them to other travelers.

On one of our last days in Iceland, Grace commented that she wished we could have taken more tours away from Reykjavik or, in a perfect world, if we could have taken a domestic flight to another part of the country. And, I have to agree that seeing more of Iceland would have made the trip even better.

The thing that was stopping us was money.

I’m 22 years old, and I’m traveling with other people around my age. We have recently graduated from college (some of us are in debt) and we’ve decided to prioritize travel, but for the most part we don’t have a lot of money. In the end, I wouldn’t recommend Iceland to budget travelers. I think it’s probably better suited to young professionals on vacation than to 20-somethings enjoying gap years or recent graduates.

I had amazing experiences in Iceland and I definitely don’t regret going.

For others who are considering a visit, I would recommend matching up the length of your trip with the number of excursions outside of Reykjavik you can afford, and then adding one or two days for exploring the capital.

Have you been to Iceland? Do you agree that it’s pricey for recent grads?

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.

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  • charmedbylove

    i’m going to iceland soon, with university just around the corner, all prepared for a few more years of debt! =X

  • Kelly Rheel (@RheelDaze)

    I went to Iceland a number of years ago and while I thought it was absolutely amazing I was really tired of paying seventeen dollars for a drink at the end of my trip. We took a five minute cab ride at one point for the equivalent of thirty dollars. We were only there for five days, any longer would have broken my bank but the five days were totally worth it. You cannot NOT go to the Blue Lagoon! I found you on YesandYes!

    • opportunemma

      The Blue Lagoon was definitely worth it! Iceland is an amazing place to visit, but you’re spot on with the cost of food and drinks and transportation, and I think that’s important information for budget travelers. I’m so glad you heard about my blog from Yes and Yes and decided to stop by! Thanks for the comment!

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