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 as one of the most expensive countries on the planet. I know this because 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 percent possible to travel in Iceland on a budget. But how much will an Iceland trip cost? Read on to find out.
Iceland Trip Cost: Accommodation
One of the biggest things you need to consider in any travel budget is the cost of accommodation and it will definitely be a major factor in your Iceland trip cost. The cost of accommodation in Iceland is, unsurprisingly, quite expensive. However, there are a number of options that are available to the more budget-conscious traveller.
One of the biggest tips that I could give a traveller looking to visit Iceland on a budget is to avoid staying in hotels and to, instead, look for alternative sources of accommodation. Airbnb is a good option and a private, double room generally starts at roughly €60/night. If you’re not travelling solo, this can be a better alternative to hostels, where the cheapest dorm bed will set you back around €30/night. 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. Click here to get £25 off of your first stay with Airbnb!
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 €90/day. And auto-transmission will cost about €20 more, but they all offer heaters and camp stoves/cooking supplies. You also can pull over and spend the night nearly anywhere in Iceland so long as they don’t explicitly prohibit vehicles.
By far the most budget-friendly option would be to simply bring your own tent and wild camp. There is no need to book a campsite as wild camping is completely legal in Iceland, so you could essentially eliminate accommodation prices from your total Iceland trip cost. Just keep in mind that it can get both very cold and extremely windy, so make sure you have appropriate equipment.
Iceland Trip Cost: Transport
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. If you have opted for the camper van route, the only other thing you’d need to factor into you Iceland transport costs would be fuel prices, which, unsurprisingly, are not exactly affordable. The average petrol price as of October 2017 is €1.63/litre, which can very much add up when filling up an entire tank, especially if you plan to drive a lot.
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 through Reykjavik Cars and spent about €30/day with them, which was by far the least expensive option we were able to find. 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.
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.
Iceland Trip Cost: Food
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. In fact, the average cost of a meal at even the most budget-friendly of restaurants will probably set you back about €20 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. You could end up spending no more than €20/day doing this instead of €20 per meal.
Iceland Trip Cost: Activities
Luckily for the budget traveller, it is very possible to visit Iceland and not spend a dime on any activities! 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 €2 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. You don’t have to pay a thing, but you should keep in mind that the guides work only for tips and you, therefore, should throw in a few bucks if you enjoyed the tour.
While it is certainly possible to splash out on experiences — such as glacier climbing, whale watching, or SCUBA diving along the fault line — these things are not necessary in order to get the most out of your Iceland trip. We didn’t do any of those aforementioned activities and didn’t feel as if we missed out on anything. The joy of Iceland is enjoying its outstanding natural beauty, and you can do this easily absolutely free.
Iceland Trip Cost: Entertainment
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 €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.
Average Iceland Trip Cost
It is possible to travel and an incredibly tight budget while in Iceland but 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.
Accommodation: €0 – 60/night
Transport: €0 – 50/day
Food: €10 – 20/day
Activities: €0 – 10/day
Depending on your travel style, it is possible to travel in Iceland on a minimal budget. Assuming that you’re not intending to wild camp and hitchhike your entire trip and that you don’t drink alcohol for the duration of your trip, it’s safe to have a travel budget of around €60 – 75 per day.
Another thing to consider when determining your overall Iceland trip cost is travel insurance. 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 planning a trip to Iceland? Have you been? How much did you Iceland tip cost? Let us know in the comments!
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