Iceland Travel Guide: Our Top Tips That Will Save You Money
It's no secret that Iceland is an expensive travel destination. Even so, a visit to this beautiful country can easily (and sneakily) cost more than you might have expected. But don't panic, Iceland is still a great destination for the budget travellers among you. We've put together a list of our top money-saving tips that will make your Iceland trip more affordable.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning we may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.
01. Visit In The Off-Season
In recent years, Iceland has become a bucket list destination for many people. But during the off-season, demand for flights and accommodation is lower, meaning the prices, generally, are also lower. You'll also experience Iceland with fewer fellow travellers. So consider booking yourself a trip outside the summer months. Check out our season breakdown and comparison here to see more benefits to visiting in the off season.
02. Book Early
This tip is vital if you're planning a summer trip. Book as much as you can in advance as early as you can. Flights, accommodation, care hire, tours etc. will all be in high demand during summer, and prices will increase closer to your travel dates, so book early!
03. Travel As A Group
Accommodation, car hire, parking and the food bill will work out much cheaper if you travel as a group. Finding an Airbnb for a large group should be an easy task (especially if you book early) as should hiring a car. When you see how much you can save by sharing the cost, you'll see why so many visitors to Iceland travel in groups. So grab a few friends or family members who are up for an adventure and save yourself some money.
04. Skip The Coach Tours & Hire A Car Instead
This one depends on a 3 factors: 1. Your age. 2. How much travelling you plan on doing and 3. If you're travelling solo, as a couple or in a group. 01. Age. You must be at least 20 years of age to hire a car in Iceland with some companies requiring their drivers to be over the age of 23 or 25. If you're a younger driver, expect a higher rental charge. 02. How much travelling you plan on doing. If you're just planning on visiting Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon, then a coach or private transfer may be more cost effective. But if you're also planning on visiting the Golden Circle or travelling further south to the black sand beaches and waterfalls, then a car will probably be the better money saving choice. 03. If you're travelling solo, as a couple or in a group. If you're planning a solo trip, a coach tour may work out cheaper. But if you're travelling as a couple or as a group, splitting the cost of the car hire, insurance and fuel will likely be a more cost-effective choice for you.
05. You Don't Always Need To Hire A 4x4.
Hiring a 4x4 vehicle can be almost double the price of a smaller car! So if lots of space isn't really a priority for you, we would definitely recommend hiring something smaller. All vehicles should be fitted with snow tyres for wintry conditions, so a 4x4 isn't necessary if you're worried about icy roads.
You will, however, need to hire a 4x4 if you are visiting places off the Ring Road or if you'll be driving on any F roads. As with anything, we would highly suggest shopping around for the best price and always make sure to read the latest reviews before parting with your money, especially if you haven't used the hire company before. Bonus tip: Never skimp on the insurance! Yes it may be pricey, but it's better to have that peace of mind that you're covered for every eventuality, than to be lumped with a huge bill at the end of your trip.
06. Avoid Eating Out, Self Cater.
A large and unexpected cost that catches many out is the price of eating out. For example, a portion of fish and chips (to takeaway) will cost around £9, a main dish and drink in a cafe will cost around £25 and a sandwich from a supermarket will cost around £4. If you're staying in Reykjavik, expect the prices to be higher. So our advice is to book accommodation with the facilities to prepare and cook your own meals. Of course, it's nice to have a break from cooking when you're on holiday, and the food we ate in Iceland was delicious, but making most of your own meals and taking lunch and snacks with you on the road will save you lots of money and is something we highly recommend doing. If you're visiting in winter and are planning on self-catering, we recommend preparing hot food such as soup or chilli to take with you for lunch, storing it in a high quality food flask to keep warm. If your accommodation doesn't have the facilities to prepare your own meals, stock up on snacks (or pack some in your suitcase), take advantage of the lunchtime offers that some restaurants provide and research the food options near you that suit your budget.
07. Buy Your Alcohol At The Airport
As with dining out, the cost of alcohol in Iceland can come to some as a shock, both in bars and in shops. If you're planning on having a couple of drinks whilst on your trip, we would recommend stocking up at a duty free shop inside the airport before you take off, or at Keflavik airport when you land.
08. Don't Buy Bottled Water
A small money saving tip, but still something we think is worth doing, is taking a reusable water bottle with you. The tap water in Iceland comes from the natural springs, is safe to drink and tastes great. So don't waste your money - bring a bottle with you and refill it throughout your trip. A reusable bottle is much better for the environment too!
09. Shop At Bonus.
If you're choosing to self cater, we would highly recommend stocking up on food supplies at Bonus. The prices are very similar to what we are use to here in the UK. Some things will be a bit higher in price and some a little lower than you'll expect, so make sure to use a currency converter to check the prices as you shop. Netto and Kronan are also known to be budget friendly stores, but Bonus is the cheaper of the three.
We're always looking for more money saving tips, so if you have any we haven't included, please leave us a comment below.