Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. I’m giving you a glance of what NOT to do in Reykjavik if you plan on sticking to your Reykjavik budget. Between our dining options and our alcoholic beverage indulgence, we did it all wrong! Here’s a completely hypothetical story of how it might go…
First Night in the City:
When you arrive back in the city after many days traveling the country, you’ll be wanting to blow off some steam and maybe make some friends. Microbar sounds like a cool place! They tap amazing Icelandic craft beers as well as collect cans and bottles from some of the best breweries in the world, what could possibly go wrong! The shock will set in as soon as you purchase your first $16 craft beer. Will it be worth it? Yes. Will you make friends with the bartender and stay for another round or two? Probably.
Guess they weren’t kidding about the drink prices in Iceland huh?
Whilst on your trip around the country, you made plans with new friends to meet up upon arrival back to Reykjavik! Whatever you do, do not go to Olsmidjan Bar/Cafe! This dive bar supposedly has the cheapest drink prices in the city, however you will be distracted by the affordable $9 “beer and a shot” deal which will seem like a great idea at the time! 4 beer/shot combos later, your self-control is out the door and the night has only just began.
With your new friends that you made, you’ll decide it’s time to move on to a place with some food. You’ll find yourself at the Drunk Rabbit, which is filled with live music, drunken travelers and bad decisions. You’ll treat yourself to some high-carb meal which you won’t remember the next day in an effort to slow down the alcohol intake before diving head first into another couple rounds of beers. Whatever you do, DO NOT make friends with Finnish guys who seem super friendly, that’s when the shots start pouring! Before you know it, you’re buying a round of 8 Jameson shots for people you’ll never meet again!
Sounds like regret to me!
When the bar starts pushing people out, you’ll part ways with your new comrades and get lost trying to find the late night hot dog stand. When you inevitably do find Pylsuhúsið (The Hot Dog House), you obviously have to buy not one, but two hot dogs to cure those drunken munchies. (About $5 per dog.)
When you wake up in the morning starved and alcohol saturated, you will be in need of a good meal. Do not go to Stofan Cafe! The inside of this cute little cafe will lure you in and make you feel warm and comfortable while people watching the the streets of Reykjavik. It will be the best ham and cheese bagel and Nutella crepe you’ll ever have in your life, until the check arrives. (2 bagels, 2 coffees and a crepe = $63)
You will then decide that the best way to avoid spending money for a couple hours is hopping in a car and driving around the city to check out some of the street art. This will cost you nothing and be plenty of entertainment, but before you know it, you’ll find yourself at the Hallgrimskirkja Church in the center of the city. This will appear to be an affordable sight-seeing stop until you try to enter the elevator to the top and you realize they’re charging $10 per person! While you’re buying your elevator pass, conveniently located in the gift shop, you’ll throw in a small lapel pin as well, because what’s another $10….
By mid-afternoon, the exhaustion will have set in and you’ll be ready to settle down and warm up from the bitter Icelandic cold. You’ll stumble into a bar called Koffin Bar located on the corner and treat yourself to a nice Hot Toddy!
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere right?!
After you regain your energy and the feeling in your fingers, you’ll continue on up Laugavegur street to check out the other shops and street art, but before you know it, you’ll find yourself in Dillon Whisky Bar instead! In an attempt to save money, you’ll split a taster of local whiskey with your travel partner but then follow that with a couple rounds of beers anyways as you make friends with the locals. ($56 worth of who knows what.)
From here, you’ll head over to Mikkeller and Friends, a craft beer bar originating out of Denmark that you’ve been looking forward to since you arrived in the city. You’ll attempt to be good and get the small 12oz glasses so you can try several beers but end up with a $71 bill anyway. OUCH. Despite the nausea that this will cause, you’ll be hungry for dinner by now and start the trek down to Laekjargata street to find a place to eat.
You stumble on Icelandic Street Food and order up a couple of shellfish soup breadbowls! It’ll be worth the money because they have free refills of soup! (But you’ll be too full for a refill anyways.)
You decide to head back to the Airbnb and asses the damage. Quickly realizing that you may or may not be out of money, you decide to finish off the bottle of Jameson that you bought from the duty free shop in an attempt to save money and head back out into the city feeling confident that you couldn’t possibly spend anymore money…
A friendly local invites you to a free underground metal show in someone’s basement with free vegan food! This might be the most inexpensive thing in Iceland! But of course, there’s no way you can just go to bed after the excitement of a rock show, so you head back to Koffin Bar for a night cap and practice all the Icelandic words that you learned during your trip with the bartender.
BREAKFAST DAY 2:
You’ll wake up with the realization that you have spent probably double your budget in the last two days. You basically have no other choice than to sit and eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwich in shame in your Airbnb kitchen. You’ll pack up your things, fill the car up with gas before dropping it off and reluctantly head to the airport.
You sit waiting for your plane, reminiscing about your time in Iceland and realize that you have absolutely no regrets. Every krona spent was well worth the memories that you’ll have for a lifetime! Planning a budget trip is fun, but letting loose from the budget is even more fun.
What are your thoughts on breaking the budget here and there while on a trip? Is it upsetting or worth it in the end? Comment below with your thoughts! Until next time…
Stay Wild and Adventure On!