Is Iceland expensive to visit? How much will an Iceland trip cost if you stick to a budget? A destination that is on many a traveller’s wish list, many wonder if it is even possible to plan a trip to due to a perceived notion that it is an incredibly costly country to travel to.
If you are interested in visiting this gorgeous nation, then it is essential that you’re aware of the average prices in Iceland and budget accordingly. But, in all honesty, the cost of a trip to Iceland does not have to be astronomically high.
An average trip to Iceland cost for travellers who want to vacation in Iceland is approximately $110-400 USD per person per day. This means that the cost of 7 days in Iceland is around $770 to $2,800 USD excluding airfare. You can expect prices at the lower end if travelling on a budget during shoulder seasons and at the higher end as a mid-range traveller in peak season.
Depending on your travel style and tendencies, it is possible to reduce your Iceland vacation cost a lot in some facets in order to spend more in others. If you’re looking to visit this beautiful Nordic nation on a budget and you’re wondering how much your trip will generally cost, read on to find out our best money-saving advice.
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Iceland Trip Cost Guide
This guide will break out the average costs of your vacation to Iceland across accommodation, transport, food, activities and entertainment, helping you understand how much is a trip to Iceland.
An average cost for accommodation in Iceland will be approximately $40-125 per person per day in shoulder seasons or $60-200 per person per day in high season. This assumes you’re either staying in a hostel dorm bed or, otherwise, splitting the cost of hotel rooms with another person.
Hostels in Iceland will set travellers back on average $40-60 per night, will prices tending to be more expensive in the capital city of Reykjavik and during the peak tourist seasons of July and August.
You can sometimes get cheaper prices if you book in advance and it’s worth doing this if you want to stay in hostels as options are limited once you get out of Reykjavik. You can browse the best hostels in Iceland here.
If you’re travelling as a couple or with a friend, then you can get similar costs by choosing to stay in a private room in an Airbnb. Another benefit of staying in an Airbnb or hostel is they often offer self-catering facilities so you can cook your own meals and save money even further.
However, in popular places such as places like Vik and Jokulsarlon options are limited. If you’re looking for a budget hotel like Hotel Kanslarinn in Hella expect prices to begin at around $150 per night and increase to about $250 in the high season months.
If you want to go down this path, it’s worth booking as early in advance as possible as good quality places book out quickly, particularly in high season.
For those looking for a more traditional hotel route rather than wanting to stay in more budget-friendly accommodation, you’re going to have to pay a bit of a premium.
A decent, 3-star hotel in Iceland will start at around $250 per night and increase to roughly $400 per night in the high season. Expect nicer hotels to increase in price from there. Prices don’t vary too much in or out of Reykjavik.
Another popular option among budget travellers in Iceland is to hire a camper van, which kills two birds with one stone as you will also have your transport taken care of.
There are numerous camper rental companies throughout Iceland and the cheapest option for a basic manual-transmission van that sleeps two starts at around $120/day.
An auto-transmission will cost more but you can expect significant discounts to these prices if you choose to visit outside of peak seasons. Many campervans also offer heaters and camp stoves/cooking supplies which allow you to cook your own food easily.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s not possible to sleep anywhere you want in a campervan in Iceland so you will need to also factor the cost of campsites/overnight parking, particularly along the more popular South Coast.
Contrary to the majority of European countries, public transportation in Iceland is lacking so the most effective and efficient way to get around this island nation is by car.
The cost of a hiring car with basic insurance included will be approximately $30-40 per person per day if splitting costs between two people. However, you can get significantly reduced pricing for basic cars if travelling in shoulder seasons.
In addition, to the cost of hiring a car, you’ll need to factor in the cost of fuel, which will increase your daily costs, as well. The average petrol price in Iceland as of December 2023 is $2.25/litre (or about $9/gallon).
If you plan to hire your own car and drive the Ring Road, there are a number of rental companies to choose from. While you may be inclined to hire a car through an internationally recognised company such as Hertz or Enterprise, often these companies charge a lot more than a local car hire company.
We, for instance, found a great deal from Reykjavik Cars which was by far the least expensive option we were able to find. If you want to compare prices across companies we recommend browsing Rentalcars.com as they aggregate results from a number of the major car hire companies.
Another factor for your Iceland budget to keep in mind is that cars with an automatic transmission often cost considerably more than a manual. So if you can drive a manual and want to save some money, by all means, make sure you’re hiring a manual transmission.
Finally, if you do rent a car in Iceland, a great way to save money on insurance is by going through a third party such as iCarHireInsurance. They offer excess insurance (which means you won’t have to pay anything if you get in an accident) for a fraction of the cost of most car rental companies.
If you don’t rent a car in Iceland then you’ll need to factor in additional costs such as airport transfers from Keflavik Airport. By booking in advance, you avoid having to wait in line when you arrive and can simply hop on the bus when you land. Click here to book your airport transfer to Reykjavik!
Another expense you will need to consider for your Iceland travel budget is the price of food. It will come as no surprise that food in Iceland is expensive, especially if you eat in a restaurant. If you choose to cook all your own meals then you can expect to spend approximately $10-15 per person per day.
The average cost of a meal at even the most budget-friendly of restaurants will probably set you back about $20-30 per person. This is why the absolute biggest Iceland food budget tip I can give would be to cook your own meals.
That isn’t to say there aren’t cheap eats in Iceland, particularly in Reykjavik, where in the capital a hot dog at the famed Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is just a bit over $4.
Groceries are significantly cheaper than anything you could get at a restaurant so I would suggest stocking up on as many non-perishable items as you would need for the entirety of your trip while in Reykjavik.
This was something of a shock to us, but grocery prices in the capital city were about 10-15% less than those at supermarkets in the smaller towns along the Ring Road.
But if you want to shave a considerable amount off of your total trip cost I would wholeheartedly recommend cooking for yourself. If you want to incorporate one meal per day at a restaurant then you should expect that to set you back around $30 per person, meaning your average food budget in Iceland will increase to around $40 per person per day.
Luckily for the budget traveller, it is very possible to visit Iceland and not spend a dime on any activities! However, if you want to splurge on at least one or two of the major activities in Iceland (such as a basic Blue Lagoon visit or an hour of horseback riding) then you should expect to spend an average of $20-25 per person per day over a one-week trip.
Most of the main natural sites in Iceland don’t charge any entry fees and even if they do, they most certainly will not break the bank. For example, I think the only attraction we had to pay to visit was the Kerið Crater Lake on the Golden Circle route and that only set us back $3 per person.
There are also plenty of hot springs that you can visit that aren’t the Blue Lagoon that may require a bit of a hike, but are free to enter.
If you’re planning on spending a bit of time in the capital city, there are a number of things you do in Reykjavik on a budget and one of the best ways to see the main sites of this charming little city is by going on a free walking tour. While these tours advertise as being free, you should always tip the guide if you have enjoyed the tour.
It is certainly possible to splash out on experiences — such as glacier climbing, whale watching, horseback riding, or SCUBA diving along the fault line — these things are not necessary in order to get the most out of your Iceland trip.
If you don’t rent a car and are unwilling to hitchhike then your only option to see the Golden Circle and other stunning natural attractions is to book a guided from Reykjavik. Some of the best options include this full-day Golden Circle tour and this full-day South Iceland tour.
These amounts aren’t included in an average Iceland vacation cost as the majority of people visiting Iceland choose to rent their own transport.
Sometimes there is nothing better after a long day spent outside enjoying stunning natural scenery than a nice, cold beer. However, in Iceland, this is going to cost you.
Iceland has some of the most expensive liquor prices in the world and a pint of local beer at a bar can easily set you back $10-15.
The easiest remedy to this is if you intend to visit Iceland on a budget, simply abstain from drinking. However, if you do enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverages, there are ways to drink in Iceland on a budget.
One great tip is to follow the lead of the locals and stock up on your booze at the duty-free shop in the airport. These are, by far, the cheapest liquor prices you’ll find in the country as the local tax is removed. Another option is to purchase liquor at the duty-free shop at the airport you are departing from.
Reykjavik is famous for its nightlife, but keep in mind that it can be very expensive to go out. While booze prices are slightly less expensive in Reykjavik than in the rest of the country, it’s still going to be considerably more than what most people are used to paying, given that you live outside of the other Nordic countries.
All in all, alcohol prices in Iceland are incredibly expensive and if you really want to cut down on your Iceland travel cost then it’s best not to drink at all. If you want to incorporate a couple of visits to a bar during your Iceland trip, then expect to plan for around $20-30 in your Iceland budget for every night out.
Average Iceland Trip Cost
So how expensive is Iceland? Well, it isn’t a cheap destination to visit, however, it is possible to travel on an incredibly tight budget while in Iceland. For the purposes of this section, I’ve averaged all of the costs so you can have an idea of how much you might spend per day while travelling in Iceland, assuming you are splitting the costs between two.
Accommodation: $40 – 200 / night
Transport: $30 – 70 / day
Food: $15 – 50 / day
Activities: $25 – 50 / day
Entertainment: $0 – 30 / day
Depending on your travel style, it is possible to travel to Iceland on a minimal budget. Assuming that you’re not intending to camp and hitchhike your entire trip it’s safe to assume that your Iceland trip budget will be about $110 per person per day if travelling on a budget during shoulder season and up to $400 per person per day if you’re a mid-range traveller visiting in peak season.
This does not include any pre-trip expenses such as airfare or ensuring you have the right gear for your Iceland trip.
Finally, also make sure that you factor in the cost of a travel insurance policy. World Nomads offers flexible and simple travel insurance policies with coverage for more than 150 activities that you can buy or extend while on the road.
Travelling in Iceland doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. If you do the proper planning and budgeting, you might find that your trip to Iceland cost can be fairly affordable even in one of the most expensive countries in the world.
Are planning a trip to Iceland? Have any questions about prices? Let us know in the comments!