Visiting Iceland is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people and offers travellers a unique experience that no other country in the world can match. The cost of living in Iceland is high, so the prices of food, drink, travel, and accommodation can be a bit of a shock to tourists. However, this doesn’t mean that only the very wealthy can experience Iceland.
Flights to Iceland generally use up the biggest chunk of your budget, but if you use comparison websites, you might be able to get cheap flights online and save yourself a significant amount of money. For accommodation, hostels will usually offer the best deals. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, make sure you compare international accommodation prices to find something that fits into your budget.
Here’s how to keep your trip as budget-friendly as possible.
Avoid eating in pricey restaurants
Food in Iceland is renowned for being costly and, if you’re not careful, you could end up over spending on meals. Try to find a hotel or hostel that includes breakfast so you can fill up before you head out in the morning. Eating in restaurants in cities and near tourist attractions is likely to be expensive, so the more regularly you can eat in smaller cafes or food stands the more you’ll save. If you can find a supermarket (the main store chain is called Bonus) try and stock up on snacks you can take with you while you’re out and about.
Instead of buying bottles of drinking water, bring a refillable bottle you can top up when you find a cold water tap. Cold tap water in Iceland is pure and safe to drink, but be careful with hot water from the tap as it is often high in sulphur. Alcohol is also expensive in Iceland so stock up on some duty-free alcohol at the airport.
Take your own layers
While it sounds like an obvious statement, the weather in Iceland is incredibly cold and many people underestimate just how many layers they will need when out seeing the sights – especially at night. If you end up having to buy extra layers while you’re there, you’ll be eating into your budget unnecessarily. In addition, if you’re planning on camping or staying in hostels, bring your own sleeping bag and sheets as you may be charged extra to hire them.
Camp in a Campervan
Find a campervan with a heating system, bedding, and key amenities to make your stay in the combined accommodation and transportation safe and comfortable. Then carry out some planning, like shopping for supplies, preparing meals, and doing your laundry. Need help finding campsites? Check out this map + camping guide in Iceland.
Take advantage of free activities
Often people can spend a lot of money on tours and visiting the famous natural landmarks, but Iceland has more than enough free beauty to keep you busy. For example, while many people head to the Blue Lagoon and pay around 5,000 ISK (around R600) to enter, there are free hot springs that are just as beautiful, such as Reykjadalur – only 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik.
Another stunning place to visit is the seaside village of Vík í Mýrdal with naturally formed basalt stacks which border the black sands Reynisfjara beach. Other natural sights to see include the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, the Hallgrimskirkja church, or a nature reserve in Iceland’s capital called Elliðaárdalur.
To get the most out of your trip to Iceland, the best strategy is to research and plan as much as possible before you arrive. Look at several different options for accommodation, plan your itinerary with as many free activities as you can.