There’s a bunch of reasons why Iceland is such an expensive country. They can be simplified to geographical, political and economical aspects. If you’d like to dig in deeper, it’s wonderfully explained on following pages: here and here. But you don’t necessarily have to fall for the overwhelming prices. Here you can find lots of useful information gathered in one place on how not to go back home with an empty wallet and still have A LOT of fun and unforgettable experiences! So, what are the actual tips? Keep on reading to find out 🙂
That’s the easiest, cheapest accommodation in Iceland. You don’t have to book your place in advance and it costs around 1500-2000ISK per night per person. Keep in mind that showers and power for campers are charged separately. The slightly cheaper option is to book a smallish car and bring your own tent gear or rent it in Iceland, for example here. The other more convenient option is to rent a small camper. It’s best to do it a couple of months before the arrival. The earlier you book, the lower the price. Make sure to double check on the stuff that it’s equipped with, e.g. cooking kit, sleeping bags etc. Check the best deals here.
If you plan on spending up to 28 days camping in Iceland, there’s no better way than actually getting a Camping Card. It covers selected campsites all around Iceland that you can easily find on this map. It costs 159€ and it covers 2 adults and 4 children up to 16 years old. Note that it’s only valid until 15th September each year!
Wild camping is technically not allowed in Iceland, however you can find more information about it here. There’s a lot of designed areas for camping all around Iceland so there’s no need to leave human traces in this fragile environment. The full map of campsites in Iceland can be found here.
Bring a water bottle
It’s quite obvious but some may not know that Icelandic tap water is 100% drinkable and totally free! It’s also super delicious and healthy so there’s absolutely no need to spend unnecessary money on water packed in plastic bottles. Just make sure you pour yourself the cold one as the hot one contains sulfur and smells a little bit like rotten eggs 🙂
Bring your own food and cook yourself
Bring anything that you can think of. Oats, bread, pasta, spices, just anything that doesn’t go bad quickly. There’s no reason to overpay for groceries in Iceland whilst you can easily bring them with you. A vast majority of campsites have cooking facilities and if you rent a camper, it’s usually equipped in a single gas stove. There’s actually a blogpost on our site that covers some ideas for simple camping meals! So bringing your own dry food is not only economical, but it’s also good for the environment as you don’t waste it.
Buy food in Bónus
Bónus is the cheapest store that you can find in Iceland. It’s the most budget-friendly although sometimes the variety of products is slightly limited. Considering though that you’re on a budget, you’re good to go. You can always find there fresh fruit and veggies as well as meat and plant-based alternatives. Keep in mind that grocery shopping in smaller towns is usually more expensive so stock up on whatever you need. Always check the opening hours as shops in Iceland tend to close quite early! Here’s a full map of supermarkets all around Iceland.
Get booze at Duty Free
If you can’t go without booze, that’s the way to go! Alcohol in Iceland is only sold in stores called Vínbúðin. There’s not many of them and their opening hours are slightly limited. Alcohol is not super expensive but you’ll definitely get a better deal at the airport.
Get a Reykjavik City Card
If you plan on staying in Reykjavik for a full day or more, it’s a great idea to get such card. The price depends on how long you want to use the card but the deals you get are pretty sweet. You get free admission to selected museums and galleries, swimming pools and free unlimited travel by public transport. You can also get to Viðey island for free! More information is available here.
Travel in a group
Sharing is caring! Mostly for the state of your bank account. It’s always cheaper to rent a camper when you travel with a group of people. You can share the cost of fuel, food, camping sites. It really makes a huge difference so don’t hesitate to bring your friends with you and share such wonderful experience!
Choose the free of charge attractions
Lucky enough, a large amount of attractions in Iceland is absolutely free of charge. There’s very little places in the nature where you have to pay for admission or parking spot. These places are definitely Þingvellir, Kerið and Stokksnes area. Besides them, the most popular landmarks are free of charge. It’s actually quite surprising considering the fact that there are so many tourists coming to Iceland and not necessarily everyone respects nature and follows the designated paths.
Buy fuel at Orkan, Orkan X or AO
Try to avoid big companies like Olis or N1. You might receive a discount keychain to use at those gas stations but it doesn’t really change the final price a lot. Here you can find a map that lists them all. Remember to keep your gas level quite high as sometimes the distance between stations might be bigger than expected. You don’t have to worry about opening hours as many of them are self-service, where you insert your credit card and fuel up.
Swimming pools and hot springs over Blue Lagoon
Sure, Blue Lagoon and other similar retreats are worth the splurge for some people. Blue Lagoon is the most expensive one from all of them but it doesn’t mean that you’re missing on something. There’s a TON of swimming pools all around Iceland where locals bathe on a daily basis. The entrance fee is usually pretty low (not more than 2000kr) and thanks to that you can go through the authentic experience of blending with the locals. The swimming pools vary in quality but they’re always clean and there’s nothing like taking a shower and hopping into a hot pot after a whole day of traveling.
Another option that is completely free is to bathe in wild hot springs! They are all over Iceland and it’s truly an unforgettable experience, especially during winter. So don’t forget to pack your towel and a swimsuit on your next trip to Iceland!
Use discount apps
There’s a great Icelandic app that takes you to the world of discount coupons. There’s a large variety of them. It mostly offers coupons for restaurants but you can also find ones that offer discounts for activities and shops. The full list is available on this website, as well as the app. The only trick is that you have to pay 10$ for the access to all of the coupons but it’s really not much. If you plan on dining out or for example having a soak in Mývatn Nature Baths, that’s your way to go!
Besides this app there’s another sneaky trick. It’s always better to get an Icelandic SIM card so you can use data with no limits. So if you plan to do so, a network operator called NOVA has a really great offer called 2 fyrir 1, which is basically 2 for 1. The promos are available all around country and it’s even more beneficial for eating out that the app mentioned above. More info available here.
Bring your Costco card
It works only for a certain group of people but since there’s a lot of Americans coming to Iceland, it’s a really reasonable advice. Besides being able to stock up at least on fruit and veggies before your trip, it’s the perfect spot to get fuel afterwards. All of the car rental companies require full tank when returning the car so it’s a great place to get super cheap gas.
Travel off season
The highest season lasts roughly from June until the end of August. That’s when you get lots and lots of daylight and the best possible weather and… the highest prices. Think ahead of your trip and decide what’s the best time for you to visit Iceland. The low season also has its disadvantages as the camping sites are mostly closed although people sometimes call the owners to open them up for them. It’s certainly not the most convenient way and it has its pros and cons but it’s definitely worth to think it through. You can get great deals while renting a car, an airbnb or a hostel. The plane tickets are usually much cheaper then too. It really depends on you which path you want to follow!
…to avoid unnecessary spendings. Our friends from Nordic Visitor perfectly covered this topic so here you can read all about it. You really want to avoid having to get another layer of clothing in Iceland since the prices for outsiders are really painful. Don’t forget to bring your towel, flip flops and swimsuit to avoid renting them in order to actually enjoy your time at the swimming pools. It’s best to do your in depth research before getting here; people who are unaware of how the things are in Iceland usually spend the most.
Spend money on tours you’ll remember
There’s a lot of tours and activities available all around Iceland which you can actually do by yourself. It’s more reasonable for larger groups than a bunch of friends or a family who want to explore this country. If your budget is not the biggest but you still want to experience something that is not so obvious, using the advice above and cutting your costs where it’s convenient is a really good way to actually spend some extra funds on an adventure you can’t plan and have by yourself. It feels like a reward for being smart about your budget. Imagine being able to hike in an area that’s not available for average cars? Or hiking a glacier? Exploring ice caves? We would like to encourage you to do so as it’s going to be a remarkable memory. We offer tours that are perfectly fitted for our customers, for their fitness level and expectations. Don’t hesitate to read through our offer and contact us if you’re interested or have any concerns. Make the most out of your trip!