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Touring Iceland: 12 Budget Tips

Touring Iceland: 12 Budget Tips

Iceland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural cities, and legendary hot springs bring thousands of visitors annually. However, the cost of touring Iceland is unique compared to anywhere else in the world. Travel, food, and lodgings can quickly consume your budget unless you carefully plan ahead. However, for the experienced traveler, Iceland can provide both a spectacular and affordable experience.

Whether you plan on camping in one gorgeous location or taking a road trip around Iceland to see all the sites, we are here to share all the best tips to improve your Iceland vacation budget significantly. 

1) Drink Tap Water

Iceland's tap water is incredibly clean and fresh. It is one of the few places in the world where you can safely drink tap water while you travel. This is great news for visitors touring Iceland while looking to save money on their travels. All you have to do is bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at any local tap. This means you don't have to pay for bottled water or restaurant water.

You can stay hydrated completely for free by topping up your water bottle along the way. Of course, those who are uncomfortable leaving their water precautions behind can carry a life straw or Brita water bottle with a built-in filtration system.


tourist sits on a tree trunk not far from the ocean and takes a break from hiking, pouring a drink from a canteen Bring your own tea or coffee on the road when touring Iceland.

2) Shop at Local Grocery Stores When Touring Iceland 

Restaurant meals are surprisingly expensive in Iceland, but grocery stores are much more affordable. So instead of eating at restaurants daily, get your lunch and on the road snacks from the local grocery stores. Stock up on sandwiches, deli supplies and have a picnic at a scenic place.

The grocery stores with the best prices and fresh selection in Iceland are Kronan and Bonus. You can find them in the larger towns but the smaller towns will have other grocery store brand which maybe more expensive but still less than eating out , so you're sure to save on food costs.

Bonus: If you need a meal on the go, grab a hot dog. There are tons of hot dog stands around Iceland, and they're the most affordable hot food for sale.

Young couple in Hofn, Iceland, sitting in folding chairs next to an offroad car with a tent on the roof

Have a picnic at a scenic spot.


3) Drive Slowly and Enjoy the View

If you rent a car, take your time on the roads. Drive carefully and make sure to always stay under the speed limit. Not only will driving slowly give you better fuel economy, but you will also avoid the risk of a speeding ticket. Speeding ticket costs are high in Iceland because Icelanders take road safety very seriously. With a small population and a craggy island, Iceland has every reason to enthusiastically discourage speeding.

Fortunately, driving slowly through Iceland is an extremely worthwhile experience. You will have time to soak in the unique and breathtaking landscape between towns and the colorful architecture in every city and town.


4) Go to the local swimming pools

Iceland is a volcanic island bubbling with amazing hot springs in beautiful locations and some of the lesser known hot springs are free of charge but with the downside being lack of facilities. The local swimming pools are a good place to visit to enjoy swimming, soaking, hitting the sauna and are a lot less expensive than the more known spas. Lastly, always bring your own personal fluffy towel.Spas, thermal pools, and Swimming pools will rent you a towel but if you plan to visit more than once we recommend bringing your own towel. As the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says, "A towel is the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." It is versatile, comfortable, and allows you to swim anywhere you please.


5) Visit During Off-Peak Seasons

The primary Icelandic tourist season is in the summer. This is when the mountains and valleys are green, and the weather is at its warmest. However, Iceland is beautiful in every season. If your goal is to explore the cities and museums, you can save a bundle by planning your trip during one of the off-seasons instead of coming during the summer. Travel, lodgings, car rental, and many other aspects of your trip will be more affordable at any time other than the summer peak season. 

6) Limit Your Alcohol Costs When Touring Iceland

Alcohol taxes are quite high in Iceland, so it's not the best location for your pub crawl plans. There are three ways to avoid overspending on alcohol during your visit to Iceland. The most common solution is simply to limit your alcohol intake and enjoy the intoxicating beauty of the landscape instead. Of course, if you simply must explore the Reykjavik nightlife, visit the bars during their official happy hours for more affordable drinking.

You can also BYOB by picking up a few bottles at the duty-free stores inside the airport before you arrive.


7) Fly With Stopovers When Traveling Between North America and Europe

Flying to Iceland can be more affordable than you might think. Monitory plane ticket platforms for cheap flights. A great route is to fly Icelandair and choose a flight plan that includes a few days' stopover on the route between Europe and North America. This will give you time to tour Iceland at no additional cost for your trans-Atlantic flight. In fact, many flights with stopovers are more affordable than nonstop routes from anywhere to anywhere due to the nature of flight plans and the travel industry.


8) Bring Friends and Share Costs

The best way to save on daily costs like car rental is to share with friends. Sharing with a group divides the single cost by the number of people who can share it. Each person's per-day budget can be significantly improved just by splitting a group cost whenever possible.

Travel with your family,  friends. Share any cost you only need to pay once, whether renting a car, transfers or group lodgings .


Group of friends hiking at Solheimajokull glacier, Iceland
Travel with your family or friends to Iceland

9) Pack a Capsule Wardrobe for the Season

The way you pack can also improve your travel budget. No one wants to pay for extra bags at the airport or the effort of hauling extra luggage on your Iceland road trip. You also want to correctly prepare for the weather, considering the season of your visit. Not only is this more efficient, but you will also save on the high cost of buying or renting extra clothes during your trip.

Pack a capsule wardrobe - a basic collection of clothes and accessories that all look good together. Roll them tightly into your luggage and favor soft luggage that can be packed tightly over rigid luggage whenever possible. Consider the types of adventures you will have and how to balance your wardrobe between active outfits and dressy pieces.


10) Choose Your Rental Car Carefully When Touring Iceland

Renting a car is essential for an Icelandic road trip vacation, especially if you want to see the sights beyond the bus routes. However, you can save money by knowing exactly "how much car" and “what type of car” you need. For example, renting a small car for the right number of passengers can help you save on fuel and rental costs. You can also ensure that you only rent the car for the days when you need a car. That can mean skipping a few days where you'll be exploring downtown Reykjavik on foot. Getting the correct car for the season or route is also important so you will be able to access and see the sights you came to see. 


11) Book in Autumn for the Best Summer Prices

If you want to visit for the picturesque Icelandic summer, you can get the best prices by booking three seasons early. You can get the best prices for vacation packages if you book in October or November of the year before. By January, prices start to rise in anticipation of the summer rush.

Those planning ahead, especially visitors who like touring Iceland every year, learn that early booking is the key to the lowest possible summer rates.

People bathing in The Blue Lagoon, a natural hot spring in the south of Iceland
Iceland is beautiful in every season


12) Get the Reykjavik City Card

If you plan to explore Reykjavik for a day or more, get the Reykjavik City Card. The city card will provide free entry to the city's many museums and thermal pools. You will enjoy discounted access to tours, services, concert halls, restaurants, and shops throughout the city. You can also use the card for free bus rides throughout the Reykjavik Capital Area, excluding the airport bus.

These cards are very affordable, and you can get them for 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours to suit the length of your trip and your stay in Reykjavik. 



Touring Iceland Soon? Start Planning Early!

If you're looking for an affordable and unforgettable Icelandic adventure, it's never too early to start planning. Getting a head start, building your itinerary, and careful packing can all help you get the most from your next vacation in Iceland on the most affordable budget. can help you learn more about Iceland travel planning or begin your early booking. Contact us today to explore cleverly affordable travel options for an epic Iceland getaway.

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