Iceland is well known for being the land of the northern lights, volcanoes with extremely challenging names to pronounce (just try it – Eyjafjallajokull), plenty of sheep and extremely high prices. So is traveling to Iceland on a budget even possible?
According to many, Iceland is one of the most expensive places to visit in the entire world.
The good news is though, that there are tips and tricks you can use to visit Iceland without spending a small fortune. While booking Iceland tours is a great first step, don’t stop there. Be sure to use the tips below to ensure your trip to Iceland is not only unforgettable, but also affordable.
Iceland on a Budget: 8 Tips to Save Money During Your Trip to Iceland
1. Purchase Your Alcohol in the Duty-Free Stores
One of the most expensive things you will find in Iceland is alcohol. This means the first thing you need to think about when landing at the Keflavik Airport is how much you can carry. The best option is to stock up on what you will want to drink during your visit at the duty-free store.
Every person who is traveling to Iceland receives an alcohol allowance of six units. This means you can only purchase that many units of alcohol. What’s even better – you can consume this alcohol anywhere in Iceland, so there’s no need to hide alone in your hotel room.
Or, you could decide to stay away from alcohol altogether to save even more money during your trip to Iceland.
2. Consider Hitchhiking in Iceland
Most people who have ever visited Iceland will agree – it’s one of the safest and easiest countries in the world if you plan to hitchhike. You can easily find rides all over the country. This is especially easy in the southernmost part of Iceland.
One of the best ways to find a ride is by asking around at hotels. Most people are going to be driving the main ring road that circles around the country and there are only two ways you can go on that road.
3. Avoid Shopping at 10-11
In Iceland, the most expensive grocery store is 10-11. If you shop there, it’s going to add about 50 percent to your total grocery store compared to the lower priced stores, such as Kronan, Bonus, and Netto. So if you want to visit Iceland on a budget, just avoid the 10-11 stores!
4. Bring Your Own Water Bottle
Iceland’s water is very clean and completely drinkable. You will pay about $3 USD for a single bottle, which can get quite expensive if you are staying in Iceland for several days. Instead, bring along a metal water bottle you can refill from the tap. This will save you quite a bit of money and is much better for the environment. There’s absolutely no reason to purchase water while visiting Iceland.
5. Eat Out for Lunch
One of the most expensive things you can do in Iceland is eating out. In fact, it’s relatively easy to blow your entire travel budget just on food if you go to restaurant after restaurant.
If you want to enjoy all the Icelandic cuisine has to offer, without spending a small fortune, then eat out at lunchtime. This is when the dishes are still reasonably priced.
6. Consider Taking the Bus in Iceland
Especially if you are visiting Iceland during the summer months, there are many buses you can take. This will save you from having to hitchhike and will be the next most affordable option to get around Iceland.
During the winter however, many of the busses don’t run. So keep this in mind when planning your visit.
How do the buses work in Iceland?
There are various bus companies in Iceland, taking you to different parts of the country:
- Strætó, the public bus network in Iceland, operates buses that go all around the country. You can find their schedule on their website: straeto.is. Strætó also has an app that works for every mobile device.
- Reykjavík Excursions offers a bus pass called “Iceland on your own”. You can find detailed information on their website: re.is/iceland-on-your-own.
- Sterna has a circle bus passport as well as operating day tours. You can find more information on their website: sternatravel.com.
- The bus company SV-Aust operates in the East of Iceland. You can find information on their routes and schedules on: east.is/en/travel/travel-information.
- SBA-Norðurleið is a bus company operating in the North of Iceland. You can find information on their routes and schedules on their website: sba.is.
- Ísafjörður has a local bus system which connects all the towns and villages in the area, i.e., Ísafjörður, Suðureyri, Flateyri, Þingeyri and Bolungarvík. You can find the bus schedules here: isafjordur.is.
- Trex bus company operates a highland bus going to Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar in summer. You can find more details on their schedule here: trex.is/scheduled-bus.
If you have any specific questions regarding schedules and prices, I recommend contacting the bus companies directly.
7. Use Public WiFi when Available
There is absolutely no reason for you to try and stream data through your provider. This is going to cause you to pay high roaming charges. A better option is to use the free, public WiFi. In Iceland, you will find connections are available virtually everywhere – especially in Reykjavik.
8. Connect with the Locals
The majority of Icelanders are both hospitable and compassionate people who will be very friendly and welcoming to visitors. In fact, Iceland has been deemed the friendliest and most peaceful country in the entire world.
If you need help, or just want to find out more about the country, start a conversation with a local. They can likely provide you with some advice on fun and good things to do or cheap activities.
Visiting Iceland on a Budget is Possible!
As you can see, there are steps you can take to ensure your trip to Iceland is not only unforgettable, but also affordable. Be sure to keep the things here in mind when planning your getaway to this frigid land.
Iceland is a mountainous island nation located between Europe and North America. Although not part of the continental mainland, the country is one of the Nordic countries and part of Europe.
The name of the country may not be that appropriate: although 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, it has a surprisingly mild climate and countless geothermal hot-spots and hot springs. Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice.
The average temperature in winter is around 0°C (32°F), although the wind chill makes it feel a lot colder. The summers are cooler and more temperate than elsewhere at the same latitude and the temperature rarely exceeds 20°C (68°F).
Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place if you enjoy strange and desolate landscapes.
The amount of daylight varies dramatically by season. The sun sets briefly each night in June, but it doesn’t get fully dark before it comes back up again. And if you visit Iceland in December, you will experience almost 20 hours of darkness a day.
Summer is generally the best time to visit Iceland. The midnight sun is a beautiful sight and one definitely not to be missed. Early or late winter, however, can be a surprisingly good time to visit Iceland as well. Prices are lower than in high season and the snow-blanketed landscape is stunning. Some sites are, however, inaccessible in winter.
Two useful things to know before traveling to Iceland: Tipping isn’t done in Iceland and driving off-road is illegal.
Enjoy Iceland! And if you like Iceland you might also want to read my articles about Finland.
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