Travelling is magnificent and brings so much to our lives, but let’s face it, whether your budget is small or big, there’s always a limit to what you can spend on a trip. And Iceland is one of the places that can make a real dent into your bank account if you are not careful.
Here are some insider tips on how to make your money go a bit further on your travels in Iceland so you can spend it on the things that really matter and will leave a lasting memory rather than on (unnecessary) extravagances.
First things first, before you start spending any money in Iceland, you might as well forget about cash. You can virtually pay by card everywhere you go and the exchange rate is always better than dealing with banknotes at change bureaux or drawing out cash at ATM’s.
One of the great things about travelling is tasting the local fare and having a few nice drinks with friends, new and old. You might’ve heard that Iceland is quite expensive, by any standards, when it comes to eating or (perish the thought) drinking out. However, there are ways in which you can avoid hunger and thirst, without breaking the bank or feeling like a total scrooge.
Try to shop at supermarkets and cook your own food as much as you can. There’s no intensive farming in Iceland, so our local meat and produce is quite fresh and healthy. Some of the best value for money supermarkets are Bonus and Kronan.
Alcohol is generally expensive and you have to go to separate liquor stores to buy it, so it’s a good idea to use your duty free allowance when you land and get some booze from the airport. The good news for those who enjoy a drink or two is that in Iceland you are allowed to drink your own alcohol outside, so there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the outdoors (if the weather allows it) with a beer in your hand. If you are determined to go out for a pint, then check out the happy hour options around you, sometimes you can get lucky even as early as 3pm.
If you want to go to restaurants, lunch menus are a good option as you can try delicious local food at more reasonable prices from a set menu. Hot dogs (and they’re great tasting) at service stations are also an excellent option when travelling.
And there’s one thing in Iceland that is absolutely free, of the highest quality and available everywhere you go - water! Don’t even think about buying the bottled stuff, it’s a total waste of money, generates unnecessary waste and, well, just don’t do it!
Accommodation in Iceland can be quite pricey but there are options that will not eat away at your holiday money. Camping is a great choice and if you don’t really like the hassle of pitching a tent you can always book a campervan and cozy up in your home on wheels any time you feel like having a break.
Hostels are also a good alternative to hotels and they provide a great way to socialize with other travellers so you can make your trip to Iceland even more of an experience. Many hostels have a bar/cafe area where you can get drinks and a bite to eat at reasonable prices. Airbnb and couchsurfing are also popular with visitors to Iceland, so it’s worth checking them when you are booking your accommodation.
Wherever you decide to stay, remember the most important thing is to book ahead. With only about 330,000 inhabitants, Iceland is experiencing a major influx of tourists and accommodation is literally bursting at the seams, especially in the busiest summer months of June, July and August.
Depending on how you are planning to spend your holiday, how long you have in Iceland and what your budget is, you can either drive (do some research beforehand as there are many cheaper options from local rental car providers than the big international companies); hitchhike, use public transport or a combination of these. The bus system in Reykjavik is generally affordable, once you want to get out of town, it’s best to check timetables as the services to certain areas are not so frequent. Hitchhiking is very popular and also safe in Iceland plus you can be sure that you’ll get a ride pretty quickly once you set on your journey. It’s great when you’re travelling alone, not just because of saving money (hiring a car for one person is not a very budget-friendly option) but because it can be great fun too, meeting people and discovering places along the way. Ride sharing is also very popular in Iceland so check out all your options.
Do what the locals do and take advantage of the many open air public baths and also the natural hot pots scattered around the whole of Iceland. Most public pools use naturally heated geothermal waters and visiting one is a great way to relax, unwind and mingle with Icelanders. The entry fees are small and as long as you follow the rules we can assure you that you will want to come back for more. With so many natural hotpots usually located within spectacular landscapes, and almost always free to use, you will not be left short of things to do if swimming is your cup of tea.
… is FREE and there is so much of it in Iceland. It might be stating the obvious, but there are so many outdoor activities that you can do for free while here.
Now you got all these money saving tips, hopefully you’ll be able to have enough on your budget to splurge on some luxuries that really matter. And we don’t mean shopping or nightclubs (unless that’s your thing). There are so many amazing things such as glacier hiking, ice caving , paragliding , scuba diving, volcano exploration , riding on big wheels on a super jeep tour , that you can do in Iceland that will leave an unforgettable memory from your trip. It’s best to rely on the experienced guides for taking you on these adventures, so being smart with your bucks will pay off time and time again when it comes to booking a special trip.