There’s no use in sugarcoating it. As the fourth most expensive country in the world, Iceland is expensive. Whether you’re travelling to Reykjavík with the intention to go hunting for Northern Lights; driving the famous Ring Road; or seeing the waterfalls, fjords, glaciers, volcanoes, and puffins; you’ll find some tips here to help you visit Iceland on a budget.
Save on Flights With a Stopover Trip
I had a 10-hour layover on my way to London two years ago, and my only regret is that I didn’t stay longer. If you’re travelling between the U.S. or Canada and Europe, you can stop over in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional cost. If you’re already planning a trip across the pond, taking advantage of Icelandair’s offer is a great way to get two trips for the price of one. I’ll be headed there at the end of the month on my trip back to Canada!
Find a Hostel That Offers Airport Transfers
If you’re not up for Couchsurfing, then choose one of the hostels or hotels in Reykjavík that offer free airport transfers. Paying for accommodation is generally unavoidable, but you can save about £25 on getting to and from the airport. Try your luck with Reykjavík City Hostel or Bus Hostel Reykjavík. You won’t necessarily be near the centre, but travel is only expensive when it’s as convenient as possible.
Bonus Tip: Bring your own sleeping bag. Many guesthouses in Iceland offer discounts on prices if you use your own linens instead of using theirs. You can also camp outside. Prices will be much cheaper or even free (you can camp anywhere as long as there are no signs to the contrary). Plus, many hostels have campgrounds so you can have access to Wi-Fi and showers anyway.
Take Advantage of the Free Stuff
With the exception of major tourist attractions like the Blue Lagoon and private museums, most of what is truly amazing about Iceland is free. You can climb up the Reykjavík Perlan for a panoramic view over the city, explore the National Gallery of Iceland, hike around Mount Esja, and even see the Northern Lights yourself by checking the forecast without even taking out your wallet.
Prepare Your Own Meals
Reykjavík has an exceptional café culture, but restaurants are expensive when compared to the rest of Europe. For breakfast or lunch, head to a coffeehouse that provides complimentary food like bread, butter, jam and the like with the purchase of a coffee. For the rest of your meals, you can save money by buying locally sourced staples like seafood and dairy. Drink Iceland’s tap water. It’s probably the purest you’ll find on most of your travels!
Bonus Tip: In Reykjavík, locals drink at home before heading out on the town for the rúntur. Save money by drinking before you go out. If you’re really planning ahead, buy your booze at the airport where it’s tax- and duty-free.
Rent Your Car Online
If you do plan on driving the Ring Road, book your car online in advance. You’ll save about £15 per day by shopping around online. Before you book, do compare the cost of renting a car with tour prices. If you’re travelling solo it may be cheaper to join a group.
Iceland is a beautiful country with landscapes you can’t find anywhere else in the world, but there’s no reason it should cost an arm and a leg. Follow some of these tips and you’ll have maximum fun with minimum funds!