You booked your flight ticket to Iceland, already dreaming of its countless natural wonders but you are concerned about the financial side of things? "Iceland is way too expensive", "I can’t afford it", are comments that have made it a number of times to our ears. Iceland is often referred to as one of the least budget-friendly countries in the world, but there are ways to reduce the bill and enjoy the country without selling a kidney or spending your life savings, whilst still venturing out some activities. Here are a few tips to have in mind on your next trip to Iceland.
Use Comparison Websites to Book Your Flight
With over 25 airline companies flying to Iceland, from nearly 90 cities, the market has become more competitive and one can find attractive tickets all year round by using comparison websites and apps. Right now, Iceland is one of the cheapest European countries to fly to from the United States, being a popular stopover destination. Your flight tickets will not be the largest item of expenditure of your trip to Iceland, which applies even more when these are booked in advance. Another way of saving up on your flight is to travel light. Less is more, and this will spare you the fee of a checked baggage.
If you don't want to deal with peak-season (June-August) crowds - and prices, you might consider traveling to Iceland in the shoulder-season or off-season. If your job is flexible enough to allow you to take your vacation when you want, schedule your trip in September or in winter time and you will see prices drop significantly. Flight tickets, accommodation, car rental, it’s simple, everything is just less expensive off-season. The advantage in Iceland is that each season offers a different atmosphere and experience. It is not uncommon that Summer travelers return to Iceland in Winter to find a whole different country, and love it just as much.
Check our Network of Accommodation
You want to travel more meaningfully and experience unique stays? Use our network of partners, 180 handpicked accommodations spread all over the country, for a cosy night in the countryside, and an authentic experience of Iceland’s rough charm. Our housing options range from cosy bed and breakfast and guesthouses, to hostels and farm cottages, starting from 36€ per night, some of which offer sleeping bag accommodation. Needless to say, staying at our hosts is the promise of a full immersion into the Icelandic culture. Come as a stranger, leave as a friend.
Opt for a Self-Drive Tour
Not only renting a car provides you more flexibility and the possibility to explore the sites at your own pace, but it might also end up being cheaper than booking every excursion through coach tours. There is a wide range of car rentals in Iceland, starting from 40€ per day, the advantage being that you can split the costs with your traveling companions. The best of Iceland hides a little further than the Ring Road and there will be many improvised stops as you look in rearview mirror so you won’t regret that option! What to do on your self-drive tour is where we step in! 😊
Make the Most of Natural Attractions
The best thing about Iceland is that most of its top attractions and natural wonders can be seen without spending a króna. Everything else may seem expensive, but at least the wonder and awe of Nature are free. Even if you don’t go on one of the long list of activities on offer, you will still see and do plenty. You can easily keep yourself and the whole family busy a whole day with free activities. Some sites have started charging a fee for access to protect and maintain the area, like Kerið Crater or Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, but most other sites can be enjoyed for free.
Go for Underrated Activities
Even on a budget, there must be some little extras, some activities, expenses which can quickly add up if you aren’t careful. We would firstly recommend opting for lesser-known lagoons than the Blue Lagoon. There is a bunch of more affordable alternatives, less crowded, and just as pleasant. Among those, The Blue Lagoon counterpart Mývatn Nature Baths (36€) in North Iceland, the not-so-secret Secret Lagoon in Fluðir (22€), Krauma Geothermal Baths (31€) or the newly-opened Geothermal Sea Baths in Húsavík (35€).
Some of Iceland’s 170 geothermal pools, present in every town, are also worth checking out. They usually cost less than 8€ and some are located in the most beautiful surroundings – Hofsós or Selárdalur to name a few. Free natural geothermal pools can also be found all over the country if you know where to look!
We also offer a variety of activities starting from 8€, including farm visits, greenhouses visits, food tours, visit to a snow dogs kennel, horse shows, and a variety of experiences with the locals, such as wild mussel picking or initiation to Icelandic farmlife.
Cook your Own Food
This is where your spending can really go through the roof. Not only eating out in Iceland can be very expensive, but your average grocery shopping might cost you twice what it costs you at home. Imported goods are generally more expensive, along with meat and dairy products, whereas fish is rather affordable. You can easily save up money by buying everything you need at the supermarket (Bónus and Krónan budget stores for instance) and cooking your own food. All hostels, guesthouses and campsites have equipped kitchens. Likewise, prepare your food when you’re on the go, as a sandwich can easily set you back around 10€! The cheapest option you can possibly go for in Iceland is a hot dog at the world praised, and for good reason, hot dog stand “Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur” in downtown Reykjavík. 3€. You’re welcome.
Some of the local specialties like fish and lamb are too good to pass up, this is the reason why we recommend dining out at one of our partners’ restaurants, not only their menu offers reasonable options, but you know where the ingredients come from.
Bring a Refillable Water Bottle
In the land of ice and relentless waterfalls, you can feel safe when tasting the tap water, one of the purest waters you will ever get to drink. Do not fall into the tourist trap of buying a plastic water bottle for 3€. Cut down waste from single-use plastic and bring a refillable water bottle that you can fill at your next stop! We encourage every action, big or small, that can help the environment, starting with this one. Plus, it will save you money in the long run!
Camping is another way to reduce your spend, and as cheap as travelling Iceland gets. Camping is available everywhere in Iceland, with designated campgrounds costing around 12€ per night. Some of our partners allow you to put up tents on their property too. This only requires you to bring your own gear and sleeping bag. Those willing to roam Iceland can opt for a campervan option, a great way to explore Iceland in freedom while reducing costs of the car rental and accommodation for your stay.
Let's face it, Iceland is never going to be a cheap destination, but it does not necessarily have to be an impossible budget destination. You can travel comfortably around the island without the worry of emptying your bank account!