Budget Travel in Iceland This Winter
When a good friend of mine told me last month that she was considering spending this New Year’s Eve in Iceland, I nearly laughed her right out of the room. Iceland in the wintertime? You know that’s north, not south, right? Besides, Iceland has such a high standard of living. Who has the kind of cash to travel there now given the state of our economy?
Well, maybe more of us than you’d think. Iceland’s largest bank collapsed yesterday, the last of the island nation’s three major banks to tank in recent weeks. This flurry of financial problems is bad for Icelanders, but potentially good for U.S. visitors. Earlier this year, one U.S. dollar was worth around 70 Icelandic Krona; now it trades for 100 Krona or more. Which means this island nation might actually be a splendid winter destination for budget-minded U.S. travelers.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Ksu.
Exactly how much bang can you get for your buck on an Iceland trip? Airfares to northern nations plummet during winter months, so you’re already ahead of the game in that respect. Iceland Air is also slashing prices on winter flights to spur tourism. So you can get there for less, and spend less when you’re there.
Iceland’s winters aren’t as chilly as its name might indicate, but there are plenty of ways to avoid the cold if you so desire. You’ll find more high-temperature activity there than in any other country in the world. Warm up with a soak in one of its 250 hot springs, including those surrounding Geysir, the famous geyser from which the English word is derived. Or stay indoors in trendy Reykjavik, where you’ll find innovative art galleries, quirky boutiques, and plenty of cafes and bars open till the wee hours of the morning. Winter is also whale watching season in Iceland; you can find tours for around 450 Krona.
The best part about a subarctic winter, though, is probably the northern lights. This eerie natural phenomenon, also known as aurora borealis, is only viewable in wintertime, and comes with no price tag attached. So this New Year’s Eve, as I watch the fireworks explode over my city, I’m sure I’ll look up to the sky and wonder how much more fabulously lit my friend’s icy Iceland evening is.
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