From hotel rooms to car rental prices, Iceland can be a pretty expensive country to visit. This doesn’t mean you cannot visit it while keeping an eye on your budget – you just need to know the insider’s tricks ;-)
Here are our five tips on how to save some money without missing out on anything Iceland offers.
Pack a reusable bottle
If you come from a big city, you may be used to buying your water in the supermarket. In Iceland, the tap water is so delicious that it’s almost exclusively tourists who buy water at the supermarket (bottled water was, as a matter of fact, virtually unavailable in shops until a few short, years ago). The thing is, the water you find bottled in the fridge section is exactly the same you can get, free (and naturally cold!) straight from the tap. Bring a metal or plastic bottle, and refill it any time you can - at guesthouses, gas stations and public fountains. You will help the environment and save a pretty penny.
Take the bus
Renting a car in Iceland is quite pricey – especially once you add vehicle insurance to the mix. So why not take the bus? During the summer many bus companies, both public and private, run across the country covering most of Iceland’s key places, from Vík of the black beaches to “capital of the North” Akureyri, to hikers’ paradises like Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar. Buses in Iceland are pretty punctual, and make for a reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly way to travel. Plus, if you don’t have to drive you can take so many more pictures of the fantastic scenery!
Keep the alcohol consumption down
Alcohol is heavily taxed in Iceland, and therefore very expensive. Although Reykjavik is known as a “party town”, partying can leave a huge dent in your wallet. A cocktail in a central bar can run around 2,500 ISK – ouch! If you are looking for a budget-friendly holiday, better skip the heavy partying until you are back home, and focus on the free scenery and hikes. If you are into beer, though, do try a local brew – maybe during happy hour (that’s usually 5pm to 7pm, although some bars start earlier and end later).
Do like the locals do
Many of the most famous (and expensive) spots are these days purely tourist-oriented, while the locals avoid them, opting instead for cheaper and more genuine experiences. Tempted to have a dip in geothermal waters? Instead of heading to known tourist spots with hefty entry tickets, follow the locals. On an average summer day, this means going to the swimming pool. All towns, even the smallest, sport a pool and a hot tub or two filled with warm geothermal water. If you are lucky, there might even be a waterslide! The best thing of the pools is that they have long opening hours, and the entry fee is very affordable. If you are in Reykjavik, check out famous geothermal beach Nauthólsvík, a popular summer spot for locals, just a short walk away from Perlan. You will recognize it by the (imported) gold sand.
The cost of lodging is pretty steep in Iceland. Camping is by far the most budget-friendly option: not only it’s significantly cheaper than staying at guesthouses, but if you camp you also have the option of cooking your own meals, which will considerably reduce your food costs. Camping is extremely popular with the locals, so the whole island is covered with campsites, all of which are quite nice and fairly priced. This means that you won’t have to drive around for too long – or take too many buses - before you find a place to crash. If you don’t want to carry your camping equipment with you on the plane (and maybe pay for the extra weight), there is of course the very convenient option of renting it while on the island ;-)
If you have discovered a money-saving trick you want to share, we’d love to read your comments! If you need more information about camping on Iceland, do not hesitate to contact us.