Iceland is really expensive. Like $30 for breakfast expensive. We stayed in Reykjavik for a week and below are some tips on keeping costs to a minimum, if your budget is tight.
- Swim. This is the cheapest option. I’d recommend swimming in the summer. Winter might be a tad too chilly.
- Fly. Wow Air always has tons of cheap flights from Europe and the East Coast of the US. Just be wary: these prices include only the smallest carry on, so you’ll likely need to pay additional for a large carry-on or for checked baggage (which might be cheaper).
- Don’t eat. Iceland is very expensive so the absolute cheapest way of surviving is to practice extreme fasting. The tap water is delicious so fill up on that.
- Stay in an Airbnb (or somewhere with your own kitchen). Even if you have to pay a few bucks more per night for a place with a kitchen, you’ll save money by following the next tip:
- Prepare your own meals. From your first cup of Joe through to your choice midnight snack, the more you avoid eating and drinking out, the more your wallet will thank you. If you have day tours or you’re self-driving somewhere, make some sandwiches and take a bag of chips and cookies from the grocery store. Watch and laugh as other tourists’ face sinks as they realize how much that burger just cost them.
- Find the cheapest grocery store. On our first day we found a few 10-11 grocery stores and promptly stocked up on essentials for the next few days – bread, milk, cheese, lunch meat, etc. But even those things surprised us with how expensive they were. Fortunately, the next day we found the Bonus grocery store in downtown and most things were significantly cheaper than 10-11. So it’s worth seeking out your closest Bonus in the city.
- For an easy breakfast without any prep, 10-11 grocery stores and gas stations all have cheap hotdogs and pastry goodies to start your day. Sausage rolls run just over $1 USD.
- Don’t drink. Obviously this is the cheapest option. Be teetotal for a week and your body will probably thank you. But if you do want to drink while in Iceland – to try and stave off the cold if nothing else – these are your best options:
- Duty free booze. The best place to get your alcohol is the duty free stores at the airport as soon as you arrive.
- Happy hour – to experience bar culture in public in the city, look for happy hour drink specials around town. Don’t get carried away though – supplement your drinking at home before and after to save the most.
- Don’t see anything. Iceland is absolutely breathtaking wherever you go, but if you only want to say you’ve visited the country and you don’t actually care about seeing anything besides the four walls of your hotel or Airbnb, just stay indoors. It’s warmer that way anyway.
- City Pass card. Within Reykjavik, take a look at the City Pass card. It offers free public transport, free access to many museums, and free access to city swimming pools (which are a great experience – more on those coming soon). You can also take a free ride on the ferry across to the island of Videy.
- Rent a car. If you’re in Iceland in the summer, rent a car and drive yourself around the island instead of taking tours. You’ll have unlimited flexibility with your itinerary and will save a lot of money, especially if you’re three or four people. This also works in the winter if you’re brave. We were not, so relied on day tours which is what we spent the bulk of our money on.
- Skip the Blue Lagoon and go to the Secret Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is super expensive ($45) and is super-packed, so head to the Secret Lagoon ($25) instead. The experience of relaxing in hot water while the outside air is freezing is surreal and worth the cost. But again, you can have a similar experience in any public swimming pool in Iceland, for a fraction of the price.
So to sum up, this is the absolute cheapest way of experiencing Iceland:
- Swim there.
- Don’t eat.
- Don’t drink.
- Don’t see anything.
- Swim home.
Please let me know in the comments how these suggestions worked for you. Bye now.