Tips for Visiting Iceland on a Budget
Iceland is an expensive country. You can visit this land of fire and ice without breaking the bank. We found ways to save money, both getting there and being there. Here are our recommendations and tips to make your visit both affordable and memorable.
Icelandair allows up to a week stopover with no additional charge when continuing on to Europe. Our adventure had us going from Denver to Keflavik, Iceland and then on to Helsinki, Finland. The flight to Keflavik is only 7 hours. Hint: either eat prior to your flight or bring food on board as there are no complimentary meals. The only food offered is at a pretty hefty price. This is a budget airline so no frills.
1 Icelandic Króna (ISK) equals 0.0094 US Dollar. The easiest way to convert is to make 100 ISK = $1.00 USD. You don’t need to exchange US dollars to Icelandic Króna. We used our Visa with a chip the entire time.
3. Rental Car
In our opinion a rental car is your best mode of transport and least expensive. Without a rental car getting around is very difficult, unless you are on a tour. Driving in Iceland is easy with little traffic. Some additional information:
- Sticker shock here……gas is $2.04/liter. There are 3.78 liters to a gallon. That equals $7.71 per gallon. Don’t let the cost of gas deter you from renting a car. It really is your best option. We covered a lot of miles and had the flexibility to stop wherever and whenever we wanted.
- Parking: All parking is on the street and we didn’t have any problems finding a spot, always within a short distance to our hotel. Types of parking are meters, which requires ISK coins, or spaces with large P1 or P2 signs which are hourly and take credit cards.
This is where you can really spend a lot. Expect to pay $30 plus for a simple entree, which would cost under $10 in the States. Soup averaged $18 and hamburgers $28. Alcohol is also expensive, and a beer will set you back 900+ ISK (about $9).
5. Grocery stores
This is where you can really save a lot. Both Bonus or Kaonan Supermarkets are affordable and you can avoid expensive meals. We purchased pastries and Skyr (similar to yogurt, but better in our opinion) for breakfasts and made picnic lunches for our road trips. Buy your water and sodas in the supermarkets as well.
Expect to pay $200+ per night. We recommend 41 – A Townhouse Hotel (studio with kitchenette) located in the Reykjavik City Center.
7. Blue Lagoon
You must BOOK IN ADVANCE ONLINE. There are reserved time slots and four levels of entrance fees. We booked 2 weeks in advance and didn’t get our first choice of time. We purchased the “Comfort Level” which includes a towel, locker, silica mask, algae mask and a drink of your choice. Bring your own suit, sunblock, flip-flops, and you are all set.
The weather averages between 35 ° F & 60 ° F. We had rain the first day and then two perfect days in the 50’s. Always dress in layers and bring a hooded rain jacket. Icelanders don’t use umbrellas.
Here is how we spent our 3 days. Our first day was visiting the Blue Lagoon because it is located close to the airport. We spent the afternoon exploring Reykjavik’s city center which is compact and easy to navigate. The second day our adventure was sightseeing and driving the Golden Circle which included Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Þingvellir National Park. The third day we drove Route 1 South which has beautiful scenery, numerous waterfalls, the Solheimajokull Glacier (which you can walk up to or, with a tour, hike the glacier itself), Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and Halsanefshellir Cave. Driving the southern part of Iceland, on Route 1 South was the highlight of our trip.
10. Renting an RV
If you were staying in Iceland for a period of time and exploring the country in-depth, an RV would be a great option to consider. We saw many RV’s and campgrounds.
We welcome your comments and experiences, please leave them in the comments section.
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