Iceland is one of those destinations that many people think, cannot be visited on a budget.
Well, I am here to tell you that thinking is wrong. It can be and I visited Iceland for $297 total!
You just have to know some kinks and a biggie is not shelling out for the tours. In Iceland, all outdoor attractions are free except for the Blue Lagoon. So really, if you book a tour – all that money is going towards the gas and the tour guide. They are making a whole lot off of you! Gas does not cost $150 for a day trip either, as most tours are priced in the mid $100’s.
So you might then think – a car rental is cheaper? Hell yes it is and by a whole lot! Not only that, but Iceland really is not that expensive a country to visit as some of make it out to be.
I visited Iceland recently for 3 days and that is not counting the one night I spent traveling there on my flight. I spent a total of $297 for the trip. Here’s how I did it and some great tips for you all to take away.
Flights – $63
Hotel – $70
Car rental – $40
Food – $75
Blue Lagoon – $40
First off, traveling to Iceland is much cheaper when you have one other person to come along. My husband went with me and he also spent $297. We split everything down the middle. If he had not come, I would have spent about $50 more only, because he would not have been there to share the car rental cost. That still brings me to under $350 for the Iceland trip.
I stayed at Hlemmur Square right in downtown Reykjavik, which provides private rooms and shared rooms. The privates go for about $200 per night, so I and my husband opted for a shared room with 4 other people at $35 a night each. The four others were never there except to sleep, as were we. We were in Iceland to see the great outdoors so we really only needed a bed for the nighttime!
Back to car rentals, do it! The best place to rent a car in Iceland is from Budget Car Rental in at the airport. They have the lowest prices and about 40-50% less than renting a car elsewhere. Their prices are usually around $40 USD per day. Book online via the Icelandic website is my advice to make it faster and get the lowest price.
The price of gas fluctuates and goes for about $7 a gallon when I was there. However, the car we had was very fuel efficient, as I think most of the models are. There are not that many gas stations in Iceland and road tripping is common. My opinion is that the car models in Iceland are those manufactured to burn less fuel. You can’t run out of gas in the middle of the Golden Circle you know?
We drove ourselves to all the attractions. Right from the airport, we left for the Blue Lagoon. It is located not near anything else so it’s great to visit right after you land or before you depart. We chose to book tickets online via Pre-booking for a 5 Euro savings, and got them for 35 Euro each, so about $40 USD.
Everyone can get a facial for free by just general admission. The lagoon has areas all around that contain free healing mud , or you can scrape it up from the bottom of the lagoon to put on your face. Don’t shell out extra for something that is free to all.
For all other outdoor attractions – the Ring Road, Gullfoss, Strokkur, etc. – nature is free! No entry fees or parking fees. Not only that, but by renting a car you can make stops wherever you go. You can choose to pull over, go through a random town, or drive until you are lost. Same goes for seeing the Northern Lights. Visitors pay for a tour and you don’t get your money back if the Aurora Borealis does not come out. Drive yourself or watch the forecast before you go. You might even be able to see the light from the Reykjavik harbor or downtown. Driving yourself will actually make the value of having a car rental higher, as well as adding on more sites to your day, than being stuck on a tour with a set itinerary.
The prices of food in Iceland varies on where you go, and you won’t find any under $5 joints. Most meals start at about $8-12 and you will find many at the $15. It’s a good idea to Google a few restaurants and their reviews to see if visitors mention big portions. I went to get a bread bowl of soup at Svarta Kaffid. Their soups are so huge it took two of us to eat one and we were full afterwards! We had one with lamb and other meats, so we got our fill of protein too. Fish is easy to find in Iceland too and you can find entrees for $20-$30 that also, are filling, If you like to snack, don’t pass up the famous Icelandic hot dogs. Baejarins is a hot dog stand that sells them for $4-5 USD.
For drinks, look up the Happy Hours going on. A quick Google search will do. There will be offers usually that are for 50% off or Buy 1, Get 1’s. Many happy hours are from 5pm to 7pm or even 8pm! That is the best time to down a few and save a lot of bucks. The bar food is pretty good too. It will contain less items than if you sat down at a table (at the same place) but you can find worthy snacks and appetizers.
Lastly, you might be wondering why I did not mention how we paid so little for our flights. There is a reason for that and no I did not partake in the $99 deal on WOW Air.
Buddy passes and airline benefits are the way to go. If you have a Buddy Pass, Companion Pass, or something of the sort, use it or ask for someone to get you one. You will only pay tax and my standby ticket was $63 round trip total!
If you don’t know someone who can apply that benefit to you, then I would advise going with the $99 WOW Air deal. That is by far the best deal and if I would have purchased those flights, my grand total would have been $495, just under $500! But why not ask around if someone can get you a pass?
How much are you willing to spend in Iceland? Share your money tips here!