Iceland is expensive. Very expensive. It’s a statement no traveler that has been to the land of Fire and Ice will argue about. However, as strange as it may sound, during my Iceland trip in August 2019 I was surprised in a positive way when it came to the cost (maybe because mainland Europe has become more expensive as well). However I noticed why and I will share my tips and tricks to keep your trip affordable.
Accommodation in Iceland is expensive. Very expensive. The cheapest option for a bed is using Airbnb (get 25 euro discount by registering via this link), but still. If you want to avoid high accommodation costs, consider camping. Even though wildcamping is no longer allowed in Iceland, prices per night on a campsite are relatively cheap. And honestly, some campsites have an amazing setting.
Read the Ultimate Guide about Camping in Iceland
Rent a car
Seems like strange advice since renting a car often isn’t that cheap. Well, it isn’t either in Iceland, but still is the best option to see the natural landscapes. Going on organized day tours from Reykjavik is very expensive and gives you little to no flexibility. Using public transport is another option however, but it brings you only around the most popular sites along the Ring Road, so it won’t bring you to the true hidden gems. Again: no flexibility or room for your own discovery.
Also, renting a diesel car is cheaper than bus if you travel with two or more people. Oh and skip GPS, navigating is easy 😉
Do your own cooking
Price of a piece of cake easily exceeds to 6 or 7 euros. So you know what to expect when you were planning on dining every night. Restaurants are very expensive. A better option is to cook yourself. When you camp, bringing your own cooking stove is useful, but some campsites have kitchens as well.
Choose the right grocery store
As in the cheapest ones. Iceland has numerous grocery stores. However, some are a lot more expensive than others. Bonus, Kronan and Netto are well affordable. Bonus has some unconvenient opening hours, so we usually went to Kronan and Netto. Both are available all around the island. Avoid supermarket chains such as Hagkaup, 10/11 and Kvosin.
Bring refillable water bottle
Seriously, don’t ever buy water in a supermarket in Iceland. It’s a complete waste of money since all water in Iceland is drinkable. Instead, bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up everywhere you can. Whether it’s from the tap, or from the stream you walk by on a hike.
Avoid costly tourist attractions
The good thing about Iceland is that they don’t charge a fee for natural attractions. The only exception being parking lots in national parks. However, tours and popular tourist attractions such as the Blue Lagoon are very expensive indeed. Most people go to the Blue Lagoon because it’s close to Reykjavik and it’s a bucket list item. But honestly… it’s not the best natural hot spring in Iceland. No, Iceland has several thermal pools free of charge in a more natural setting than the Blue Lagoon. There are a few in the Landmannalaugar region or try out the Hveravellir pool or Reykjadalur.