For the past several years, Iceland has seen a significant increase in travelers coming to tour its stunning lagoons, hike its volcanoes, and hang out by its waterfalls. During this time, airlines flying into Reykjavik kept costs low to encourage tourism to boost Iceland’s economy. But right now, fuel prices have forced costs back up a bit and tourism has slowed down. While this means that your airfare might be slightly higher than previous years, it also means that you won’t have to contend with a throng of tourists. Even though Iceland isn’t cheap, there are a ton of other ways you can save money during your trip. Here are our five tips for traveling around Iceland on the cheap:
Grab a Camper or a Tent
As with any travel experience, lodging could very easily eat up the bulk of your budget when traveling to Iceland if you decide to stay at a hotel or resort. But if you ask us, the best way to travel around is by way of a camper. Not only will it take you from place to place, but you can also sleep and cook there, which will bring your costs way down.
On top of being less expensive, it’s also a super fun and unique way to experience the Icelandic countryside. If you’re not into the RV lifestyle, our second best recommendation would be to rent a car or a tent to camp out as you move along your journey. What could be a better way to take in the northern lights? No matter what you do, try to avoid taking taxis while you’re in Iceland –they’re known to be exorbitantly expensive.
Opt for Free Activities
The main reason why people travel to Iceland is because of its stunning natural landscape. From lagoons to mountains and beyond, there are countless sights to see. And the best part is…most of them don’t cost a single dime. Sure, if you head to the famed Blue Lagoon, you’ll drop anywhere from $58 to $652 for the experience.
But if you choose to get off the beaten path a little, you’ll find that there are free experiences everywhere. Iceland is home to over 10,000 waterfalls and many, many hot springs that you can take in free of charge. Another experience to consider is driving around the Ring Road, a single road that takes you all around the island and is lined with incredible (and free) vistas to see and things to do.
Don’t Eat Out
Iceland is known for many things, but their cuisine isn’t necessarily one of them. Plus, their restaurants tend to be extremely pricey –you might pay upwards of $20 for a very simple breakfast. Rather than spending a big chunk of change eating food that you’re not even all that excited about, we highly suggest you make your own food while in Iceland. Here’s an article we wrote on how to create a travel budget and actually stick to it!
Just hit up a local grocery store, grab some essentials (don’t skip out on Icelandic skyr –a dairy product very similar to Greek yogurt). If you do decide to eat out, don’t miss the Icelandic version of a hot dog, commonly found at bus stations and convenience stores. This isn’t your average American hot dog, as it’s filled with lamb and an affordable dinner option at $3.00-$5.00 a meal.
Get Travel Insurance
In the unfortunate event that your car breaks down, you get injured while hiking a volcano, or some other blunder arises, dealing with it could end up being the single most expensive part of your trip to Iceland. That’s where travel insurance comes in.
We recommend travel insurance for all travelers, but especially when the trip will involve as much adventure as this one will. We hope nothing happens, but travel insurance will make sure that you don’t totally blow your budget on a small mishap. To make it as easy as possible for you to get insured, we put together a travel profile just for experiences like this one —check it out.
Bring a Water Bottle
This might sound like small savings, but it’ll really add up. The thing is, Iceland has natural drinkable water almost everywhere, so you can literally fill up your container on the roadside as you travel throughout Iceland. If you opt to buy bottled water, it’ll cost you around 375.00 ISK, or $3.00 USD. If you’re drinking as much water as you should be each day –half of your body weight in ounces, that is– you’ll end up spending a pretty penny on something that you could easily be getting for free. Use our packing checklist to make sure you don’t forget to pack anything else!