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In the land of geysers, Bjork and… Prince Polo [VISITING ICELAND]

After the previous European Football Championship, the world’s eyes turned towards Iceland, and this country’s football team was not only cheered on by native Icelanders. This newfound interest in Iceland opened up other’s eyes to what an attractive place this is. Alas, getting there is quite expensive, but there are ways to visit Iceland and not go bankrupt.

Islandia

Iceland is associated with geysers and volcanoes. Some people also associate this country with the musician, Bjork. It is a little bit strange that Poles know so little about Iceland, since it’s largest national minority are people from Poland. Some Poles have become accustomed to living in Iceland in such a large degree that one of the most common sights in Icelandic stores is the Polish candy known as Prince Polo. What’s also interesting, is that Iceland’s entire population is six-times smaller than the population of Warsaw. Therefore, this is a perfect place for everyone who would like to escape big city racket. It also appears that Icelanders are literarily gifted – one out of ten have published at least one book.

Landscapes

Even though Icelanders possess an extremely friendly attitude, the main reason people choose to visit this country is to view the raw yet beautiful northern landscapes. The above mentioned volcanoes and geysers are only one of the many attractions. - Iceland’s real must-see is The Westfjords. This region consists of picturesque fjords positioned in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Its shoreline is one-third of Iceland’s entire shoreline. On the other hand, Landmannalaugar is a perfect place for those who love mountains. This region is located in northwest Iceland – said Arkadiusz. He is an amateur traveler who has visited almost all of Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.

Iceland’s landscapes are extremely picturesque. There, you can find breathtaking valleys, warm springs, moss-covered fields of lava and the Hekla volcano. One of Iceland’s biggest attractions is Raudisandur, which is a beach with red sand. - You shouldn’t expect to find anything similar to a holiday resort there. This a deserted space with only one cafeteria – recalls Arkadiusz.

It’s also worth visiting the Fjallfoss waterfall, the ice caves of Skaftafell National Park, the Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve and many other places. Moreover, you can also see the Aurora Borealis during the winter. However, visiting Iceland in the winter is advisable to only the most endurable tourists.

There is one more tourist attraction that we should mention. However, it’s very much overrated in Arkadiusz’s opinion. This is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Tickets cost at least 50 euro per person, but you can get the same experiences for free in any other geothermal spa in Iceland.

Reykjavik

The biggest city of Iceland is Reykjavik. We recommend this city to those who prefer to experience city-life located near the Arctic Circle, instead of communing with nature. Despite its small size, Reykjavik is full of attractions. Interesting artistic events occur almost every day. Moreover, there are many clubs, in which you can hang out all night long (or half of the day, if you visit the city during summer.) You can also take a cruise on a Viking boat. However, you need to keep in mind that the majority of Reykjavik’s attractions are for a fee and prices in Iceland are not some of the lowest in the world.

Journey

Arkadiusz is certain that it’s possible to visit Iceland without spending a large amount of money. This theory is also confirmed by travelers who have shared their experiences on the internet. It appears that it’s possible to visit this country with a budget of 2 000 PLN. - However, you need to be prepared for more frugal conditions. You won’t be able to sleep in comfortable hotels, but the memories are definitely worth the sacrifice – claims Arkadiusz. He also adds that it’s best to go to Iceland with friends in order to reduce the costs.

First of all, we need to mention the Icelandic króna, which is relatively rare in Poland. There are two methods of paying in Iceland. Primarily, you can pay by using a credit card in PLN. However, we definitely don’t recommend this method. - Each credit card transaction will cost you approximately 4-5% more in comparison to a normal transaction. Moreover, if you decide to withdraw krónur from a cash machine, these losses will increase to 7-8% - explained Marcin Lipka, Cinkciarz.pl senior analyst. The second method is taking euro or dollars to Iceland. - This solution may not be the most comfortable, but it definitely is the least expensive. You can buy euro or dollars online. If you wish to take foreign currency in cash, you won’t have any problems with relatively favorably exchanging it into krónur – said Lipka. He also adds that there are places in Iceland where you can pay directly with euro.

There are also two ways of getting to Iceland – by plane or by ferry. However, the latter is usually not recommended. This cruise can take up to three days and it definitely costs more than a plane ticket. However, this method is suitable for people who, for some reasons, wish to travel around Iceland by their own car. You can fly to Iceland directly from Warsaw (WizzAir and WOW Air) or from Berlin. The latter option seems more favorable for people from the western regions of Poland. It’s worth keeping track of the flight companies websites, because you can hunt down tickets for a round-trip to Iceland for as low as 400 PLN per person.

Transport

The majority of people that have been to Iceland have traveled around the entire country. To do this, you can hitchhike, travel by buses or rent a car. Each of these methods has its pros and cons. The first method is the cheapest and renting a car is the most comfortable and it also doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If you decide to travel by bus, you need to be aware of the interesting payment method which is used in Iceland. - You need to buy a certain amount of tickets, regarding on where you want to go. One ticket costs 350 Icelandic krónur. Sometimes you need to buy more than twenty of these tickets to get from one place to another – said Arkadiusz.

Renting a car is especially profitable when you’re visiting Iceland with a large group of friends. This way, you’re able to split the costs. There are many car rental companies in Reykjavik and in Keflavik, which is 45 kilometers away from the capital city. The prices are diversified and dependent on the car’s brand, rental length and accessories (GPS, for example). One thing is certain – you will pay twice as much for renting a car during the summer. Due to this, it’s best to visit Iceland in April or in September. During these months, there are not many tourists and the weather is still relatively mild. Many tourists recommend renting a car via carrenter.is. This agency offers cars which are older, and as a result, less expensive.

Accommodation

Camping sites are definitely the least expensive form of accommodation in Iceland. Moreover, this country has plenty of them. The conditions offered are relatively comfortable and cheap. - The prices float around approximately 20-40 PLN per night. Of course, you can also try to camp outside of a camping site. However, you need to be careful not to camp on somebody’s property and also to find an area with soft soil. This is crucial for setting your tent and securing it from strong winds – said Arkadiusz. He also added: It’s nice to own a Camping Card. It allows you to camp in one of forty-two camping sites around Iceland and it’s valid for twenty-eight days. It costs 110 euro, which is approximately 478.61 PLN (exchange rates from 27.10.2016, as given by Cinkciarz.pl*). You can find more information at campingcard.is.

Another option are youth shelters, hostels and private quarters. The average price of a double-room in a hotel is approximately 300-400 PLN. A more economic alternative, in addition to camping sites, are hostels. One bed in a dormitory costs around 89 PLN. In order to choose the most suitable offer, you can use the hotel.is website. As a fun-fact, we should mention the Kex hostel in Reykjavik, which regularly hosts concerts and other cultural events.

Food

It’s for the best to take basic products with you (bread, food in cans). If you wish to do additional shopping in Iceland, you should search for Bonus or Kronan supermarkets. - Even though the prices are still higher than they are in Poland, it’s the least expensive option that can be found in Iceland – claims Arkadiusz. Moreover, the Kronan network has its own barbecue sector. There you can buy a warm meal for very little money. This could be a grilled chicken or, for those who are seeking more adventurous culinary experiences, a ram’s head. Arkadiusz advises to be cautious while choosing restaurants. Primarily, they’re expensive. Secondly, they offer mostly fast-food, instead of local cuisine.

Iceland is a distant and mysterious land. It’s also quite expensive. However, with a little bit of goodwill you can save some money while visiting and your memories will definitely be worth the money.


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