Iceland on a Budget

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Iceland is notoriously expensive…like $20 for a 12 oz. of beer expensive. But, if you plan your trip right, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to travel there. When I went to Iceland last May, our goal was to spend around $1,000/person the entire week. Here are some tips to save some cash.

 

Nelson enjoying a "Happy Moment" beer

Nelson enjoying a "Happy Moment" beer

Buy Your Alcohol at the Duty-Free

When you land at the airport, go straight to the duty-free and stock up for your week in Reykjavik or traveling the Ring Road. A single drink at bars is around $20, so instead of drinking all night at the bars, have a few drinks during their “Happy Moments” (aka happy hours) for $10 drinks, then go back to your hotel or Airbnb to have a few additional drinks. SAVINGS: $50/day

 

Enjoying PB&J on Rye (we thought it was wheat at the store) and trail mix with a view of the mighty glacier!

Enjoying PB&J on Rye (we thought it was wheat at the store) and trail mix with a view of the mighty glacier!

Stock up on Food at Bonus

The Bonus (their mascot is a large piggy bank) is the most economical grocery store. We were driving around the Ring Road for 5 days, so we stocked up on our food before leaving. Instead of eating out during our drive, we made breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our total for the entire 5 days was $80. SAVINGS: $220/5 days

 

Experience the Beauty of Iceland

Iceland is beautiful on its own, so you don’t necessarily need to book any additional excursions. We made the trip around the Ring Road by researching the best secret places off the ring road (including the Myvatn Nature Baths, Seljavallalaug Pool and the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon) and finding hiking trails in the Skaftafell National Park. There are tons of excersions you could book, and if you are feeling fancy, the ones I suggest are the glacier walk at Skaftafell and diving or snorkeling between the tetonic plates at Þingvellir National Park. SAVINGS: $500

 

Our camper van with a view of the glaciers!

Our camper van with a view of the glaciers!

Rent a Camper Van instead of staying at Hotels

The beauty of the camper van is that you can drive for as long as you want until you find the spot you want to camp in for the night. At one point, we were planning on overnighting in a small town called Egilsstaðir, but the campsite in town was pretty blah. I found a camping magazine and discovered a nicer campsite 20 miles down the road, right on a lake! It was a much nicer place to tuck in for the night. Other nights, we fell asleep to the waterfalls or overlooking a glacier.

We rented a camper van for 5 days from a small company called Cozy Campers for $1280 (Mike also recommends Happy Campers). This was more expensive because I cannot drive stick-shift, but if you can, the cost would be more like $800-$900. This saved us from renting both a car and staying at hotels each night. SAVINGS: $200/night

 

Grab a Hot Dog at a Gas Station

Iceland is not known for their food…most of it is subpar and expensive. The one bright star in its culinary hat is the Bæjarins Beztu hot dog. They are lamb-based and include crispy onions on the bottom, ketchup, mustard and diced onions on top. You can find them at most gas stations for the value price of $3! Their logo is a hot dog running, so don’t be tricked by some of the knock-offs in downtown Reykjavik. 

 

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Go During Shoulder Season

We went to Iceland in May and Mike R. went in October, saving us money from the high season in July when there is no darkness. Both Mike and I had around 2-3 hours of “dusk” and Mike even got to see the Northern Lights one night. Our hotels and campervans were discounted during the times we went and we still got some nice weather. SAVINGS: $400

Here was our total for our 7 day trip to Iceland: 
Flight: $500 (We flew from Boston to Reykjavik on WOW airlines)
FlyBus: $72
1st and Last Night in Reykjavik: $143 (I had a travel credit from my Chase Reserve Credit Card, so 1 night was free)
5 Nights in Camper Van: $1280
Gas: $335
Campgrounds: $114
Food and Drinks: $268
Other (Hot Springs, Parking, Etc.): $113
Total: $2,490
Per Person: $1,245
Per Person without Flight: $995

Hope this helps you planning the trip of a lifetime!  Any other budget travel questions when going to Iceland? Put your comments below and check out our limited edition Iceland prints from our recent trips here! 25% Off HERE for the holiday season!

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Amy K and the Hashtag 59 Team

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