Breaking the Bank in Iceland

WARNING: There are pictures of penises in this post! I repeat, if you don’t want to see that, don’t read to the end (I will give another warning before that part if you want to read until there). One more time, PENIS ALERT!

I know I’ve mentioned a few times before how whenever I go to Norway I have crew members that hate it because they find it so expensive. And I always try to tell them they just need to know where to look for cheaper stuff, like the giant $7 sausages I always get at the corner near McDonald’s instead of spending more money there. So I went to Iceland knowing it would be expensive but thinking I’d be able to find some cheap places here and there.

It wasn’t a huge let down, but it was definitely not as easy. I found Iceland so much more expensive than Norway. Maybe that’s due to the exchange rate being different (today, 100 ISK gets you about $.97, 100 NOK is $12.71) but I felt like every time I wanted to buy anything, food or gifts, it was at least $50 no matter what.

Getting to Iceland is cheap when you take WOW Air. Even if you come from the west coast I was told it’s very affordable. For us it was less than $500 round trip for two with luggage. However, once you’re there get ready to start spending!

Our hostel was on the more expensive side, about $50/night but it had a lot of amenities we wanted like a bar, kitchen, and close proximity to sites and food. Plus, us being there during December they did activities every day for the holidays.

We had planned on maybe going out to a nicer place to eat only once or twice and eating cheaper food for lunch and cooking the rest of our meals.

We brought a few things from home such as honey for tea, hot sauce, and Adobo to help with our cooking and the hostel had a lot of a other necessities like other spices and oils. Buying ingredients for a few meals though (tacos, stir fry, some skyr for breakfast, spaghetti, and fish) still cost about $100, which is what I usually pay for two weeks at home.

Drinking at the hostel during happy hour was like drinking at a normal bar in other places. I think 2 beers was around $15. We stopped drinking when happy hour ended. After that we went out with some other people from the hostel for pizza and beers, where each individual pizza and a beer came to about $30.

Of course Iceland is famous for one cheap food: hot dogs. Again, comparing to Norway, I thought they’d be large foot longs with some toppings that could be eaten for lunch and come with a few different meat options. While the hot dogs we had were tasty, they were underwhelming in my opinion. They’re regular sized hot dogs I would buy for a summer cook out during the 4th of July and the places we tried were all the same: beef or lamb dog with mustard and fried onions. Tasty, but I needed two to fill me up (though that could just be my inner fat kid talking). However, they’re fresh and juicy and definitely a better bang for your buck while you’re out exploring. They usually got for around $5 and sometimes you can get a soda with that price.

My personal favorite was down a little side street next to a bar and some tour centers. I don’t think the stand had a name, but to me the hot dog was cooked the best and the topping to dog to bun ratio was better than others, including Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (rough translation: the best hot dogs). But you can find stands basically anywhere and can get them at most gas stations as well. They’re just as fresh and tasty there so don’t miss those if you’re road tripping.

Hallgrimskirkja is one of the famous landmarks in Iceland and could be seen from our hostel. It’s one of the tallest structures in Iceland (mind blowing and cool to me at only 244 feet). Want to climb it to get a view of Reykjavik from above? That’ll be $10. We instead opted for a rooftop bar, Petersen svítan. Not nearly as tall but it was free to go up there, it had a cute christmas market, and literally shared a staircase with our hostel.

Our last two meals in Reykjavik were roughly the same price, around $25 each. The first was at Cafe Loki which overlooks Hallgrimskirkja and serves authentic Icelandic food. I had meat soup, the bread with lamb paté, and tea. It was good, definitely can’t complain. But worth $25? Not really. However, I cannot recommend Sægreifinn (The Sea Baron) enough. It’s small and you sit on buckets and it has some of the best lobster soup I’ve ever had. This is also where I tried my first piece of whale (so delicious, like lean beef with a fishy after taste. I was surprised how tender it was, I expected chewy and blubbery). While it doesn’t advertise as authentic, in my opinion it felt really authentic, fresh, and delicious. Definitely would choose it over Loki.

WARNING: Getting to the penis pictures. If you don’t want to see them, end here! Thanks for reading!

I just wanted to talk about the Phallological Museum. It’s a cool thing to do if you’re looking for something different. They have penises everywhere! From plankton to troll to sperm whale. Apparently there are a few men who have already decided to donate theirs to the museum for when they die.

Now I thought it was cool, especially the room with all the Icelandic myths and legends and the penises that go with them. But it’s very small, I expected a little more from it. It was cool, but it’s a little pricey at $12 a pop. But I went on the last day so maybe $12 would have been okay earlier and I’m just being stingy. I’m used to museums being free though so it’s hard to get used to. Now here’s a troll’s penis:

And a picture of my 5’9 boyfriend next to a sperm whale penis:

That made it worth it.

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