Iceland is a destination that is on many a traveller’s wish list, but it is often pushed to the back due to the fact that it is well-known that an Iceland trip cost can be incredibly expensive.
I had wanted to visit Iceland for years but never saw it as an option due solely to finances. However, after spending a week exploring this beautiful country, we found that it is one hundred per cent possible to travel in Iceland on a budget. But how much will a trip to Iceland cost?
Well, the answer to that question varies because it is just as possible to spend your entire life savings on an Iceland vacation as it is to only spend the absolute minimum amount to survive. If you’re anything like us, then you want to see how you can visit Iceland comfortably without having to take out a second mortgage on your house. And 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 that want to vacation in Iceland is approximately $105-175 per person per day. This means that the cost of 7 days in Iceland is around $735 to $1225. 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.
These budgets don’t include airfares and other pre-trip expenses. However, these prices may vary significantly depending on how you choose to spend your money across accommodation, transport, food, activities, and entertainment.
Depending on your travel style and tendencies, it is possible to reduce your Iceland vacation cost a lot on one of these categories in order to spend more in another. If you’re looking to visit this beautiful Nordic nation on a budget and you’re wondering how much a trip to Iceland will cost, read on to find out our best money-saving advice.
Iceland Trip Cost Guide
This Iceland trip cost 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.
Accommodation Prices in Iceland
An average cost for accommodation in Iceland will be approximately $35-50 per person per day in shoulder seasons or $50-65 per person per day in high season. This assumes you are either a solo traveller staying in hostels or a couple splitting the cost of a private room in an Airbnb or a basic guesthouse or hotel.
Hostels in Iceland will set travellers back on average $35-50 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.
Many of the properties listed on Airbnb outside of Reykjavik can also be found on traditional hotel booking platforms like Booking.com. However, in popular places such as places like Vik and Jokulsarlon options are limited. We booked a couple of budget rooms through Booking.com such as Hotel Kanslarinn in Hella which was similar to accommodation costs on Airbnb.
If you want to go down this path, it’s worth to book as early in advance as possible as good quality places book out quickly, particularly in high season.
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 $100/day. An auto-transmission will cost more and 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 allows 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 Southern coast.
Transport Prices in Iceland
Contrary to the majority of European countries, public transport 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 $40-50 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. A full tank in Iceland will set you back approximately $90-100 for a standard car. So if you’re filling up once every two-three days, you’ll need to account for an extra $30-50 per day split between two. The average petrol price in Iceland as of December 2020 is $1.75/litre (or $7 USD/gallon).
If you plan to hire your own car and self-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 trip cost to keep in mind is that cars with an automatic transmission often cost considerably more than a manual. So if you can drive stick 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 the 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.
Another great budget transportation option in Iceland would be to hitchhike. This can generally work a lot better if you’re travelling solo but regardless, Iceland is a fantastic and safe place to hitchhike. It continually ranks as the safest country in the world according to the Global Peace Index and hitchhikers are commonplace on the Ring Road.
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!
Food Prices in Iceland
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 $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 $25-30 per person. This is why the absolute biggest Iceland food budget tip I can give would be to cook your own meals.
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 Iceland 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 $25 per person, meaning your average food budget in Iceland will increase to around $35 per person per day.
Activity Prices in Iceland
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 of two of the major activities in Iceland then you should expect to spend around $15 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.
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 average Iceland vacation cost as the majority of people visiting Iceland choose to rent their own transport.
Entertainment Prices in Iceland
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. A lot.
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’re intending to visit Iceland on a budget, to 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 add around $20-30 to your Iceland trip cost 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 – 50/night
Transport: $50 – 70/day
Food: $15 – 35/day
Activities: $0 – 15/day (not including guided tours)
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 $105 per person per day if travelling on a budget during shoulder season and up to $175 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. This includes items such as having a proper waterproof jacket, a quality pair of boots and plenty of layers. Click here to see our full list of recommended items.
Finally, also make sure that you factor in the cost of a travel insurance policy. We personally used World Nomads for our Iceland trip however it’s important to read the policy details to ensure it’s right for you. Click here to get a quote from World Nomads.
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 Iceland trip cost can be fairly affordable even in one of the most expensive countries in the world.
Are you wondering how much a trip to Iceland will cost? How much did your vacation cost in Iceland? Let us know in the comments!