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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

5 things to know before you book a city break in Reykjavik

23 November 2017
Eshna talks us through the must-knows before you book a trip to the Icelandic capital

Travel with deep pockets

Being an independent nation and following the financial crisis, Iceland relied heavily on tourism in the capital to boost their economy. Meals in the city are very expensive due to the country having to import most of their produce and restaurants in the tourist hotspots bump the prices up – tourists are guaranteed to cough up. Unfortunately, even though tourism has helped their economy, the country is at danger of being overwhelmed and the government is looking at ways of limiting the number of foreign arrivals – these include increasing the existing hotel tax which would put a lot of potential visitors off. So, if you’re looking for a city break on a budget, Reykjavik is far from ideal.

Pic: Wiki Commons

The weather isn’t THAT different    

Iceland is known for its chilly weather, but the weather isn’t really that different to a winter in Britain. Reykjavik is located in the south of the island, so holidaymakers won’t experience the coldest of the Icelandic temperatures during their stay, so bare that in mind before filling your suitcase to the brim with thermals and thick coats. The coldest month of the year in Reykjavik tends to be January, with temperatures averaging 0°c. There isn’t much snowfall in the capital either as it remains wet and windy for the majority of the pro-longed winter season – sounds familiar, right?

‘Tours’ are a waste of time and money

Not only will a day/night trip from Reykjavik be expensive, with trips to the iconic blue lagoon starting at £75 per person for standard entry and transport to and from your hotel, other excursions in the city might be setting you up for disappointment – such as the popular Northern Lights tours. The Aurora forecast won’t always be in your favour, so cancellations are part and parcel for this one. The same can be said of the other popular excursion – whale watching. With weather dependence and a high cancellation rate, the tours may not be worth the hype.

You’ll be lucky to spot the aurora in Iceland. Pic: Pixabay

You don’t need much time to explore Reykjavik

Don’t worry about scheduling heaps of time to wander around the city. The centre is compact, and unless you plan on doing the museum crawl, you can see everything in one afternoon. The city is also not the best place to base yourself if you want to see the best of Iceland – if you’re taking the time to travel here, you should ensure you split your time to explore the rest of the natural beauties the country has produced.

The blue lagoons are popular amongst tourists in Iceland. Pic: Wiki Commons

Don’t expect to find your favourite fast food here

If you’re used to comfort brands like McDonalds, KFC and Starbucks, then you’re out of luck. Although they are dotted all over the UK – and most of the world! – Iceland shuns most of the fast food giants. Subway and Dominoes have managed to plant themselves in Reykjavik, but be warned: the food is overpriced and has an Icelandic twist, with slightly different ingredients and flavourings. See below!

Words, Eshna Mangat