Iceland Trip Costs + Bonus resources for creating your Iceland Budget
How Much does a trip to Iceland cost? My very honest answer is “it depends”. You can easily spend a fortune, or you can make the trip affordable if you plan accordingly to create your Iceland budget.
I heard many times how expensive it was to travel to Iceland. For this reason, I did a lot of research prior to my trip in order to plan my 10 days road trip to Iceland cost.
If you are planning a trip to Iceland and trying to decide between renting a camper van or a car in Iceland, how much meals costs, the prices to do all the awesome activities, etc. look no further? You can find out how to compare how much a trip to Iceland costs, and I am here to help you to save money while having the best time of your life.
This is not just another guide to “travel to Iceland on a budget”.
I am not here to share some obvious things such as stay at a hostel, do hitchhiking, and eat peanut butter & jelly sandwich all the way.
This guide has side by side comparison that will help you to see the Iceland trip costs and to help you to travel to Iceland on budget, without sacrificing the experience and still be able to visit the Top Iceland Landmarks.
Enjoy this Iceland Trip Cost Guide and safe travels!
In this guide for Iceland Trip Costs + How to Travel Iceland on a Budget, you will find:
- Discovery why Iceland is so Expensive
- Overview of my 10-day Iceland trip costs
- Iceland trip costs between Rental Car vs. Camper Van
- Accommodation costs in Iceland
- Food Cost in Iceland
- Beverage Costs in Iceland
- Activities Costs in Iceland
- BONUS SECTION: BONUS: I am also sharing a list of options for budget and free activities for your to choose from, and also a comprehensive list of tips on how to save money and travel to Iceland on budget.
NOTE: All the cost listed here are average only FOR LOW SEASON. Your Iceland trip Costs can go lower or higher depending on your preferences, and also, considering low and high season in Iceland, which is from June-August.
Iceland Trip Costs Why Iceland is so Expensive?
Before we jump in straight to the Iceland Trip Costs, let’s try to understand why Iceland is so expensive. The bad news is that it is true that Iceland is very expensive.
Actually, Iceland is the most expensive country to visit in Europe and according to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, Iceland currently ranks as the third most expensive country in the world.
But wait! Don’t stop reading this blog yet!
If you are wondering why Iceland is so expensive, the answer is because of a combination of politics, economics, and geography.
While Iceland is not expensive to get to (flights can be quite inexpensive), Iceland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, located near the Arctic Circle, between Greenland and Norway.
As you can imagine, the cost of getting goods to Iceland is included in the cost of living (and visiting). Adding to the cost of living is the drive toward reduction of fossil fuels by higher gas taxes. This is great news for the earth, but not so good for your wallet (remember everything gets transported by trucks, boats, planes, etc.).
The President of Iceland wants more reliance on electricity (easily generated on a volcanic island) and less on fossil fuels. Bravo! But remember when I said I have some good news to share with you?
That dream trip to Iceland can be more affordable than you expect, and I am here to help you by sharing some ideas on how to create a great Iceland budget.
Iceland Ring Road in 3 min
Iceland Trip Costs Overview of my 10-day
There a few things you can do to help you to plan your trip to Iceland costs.
So go through this blog post thoroughly for things to consider, make some notes and start to pack for your dream vacation to Iceland on a budget.
I will go on more details for the big 3 expenses during our trips: Rental vehicle, food and accommodation.
Here are some estimates for my 10 days in Iceland costs for 2 people per day:
- Accommodation at GUEST HOUSE: $100
- Food with 2 meals from the supermarket and 1 meal at the restaurant: $120
- Car rental + gas: $65
- An average of $285 per day for 2 people.
And it can be even cheaper if you consider using a Hostel, cook all your meals, and share transportation with more people.
BONUS: I am also sharing a list of options for budget and free activities for your to choose from, and also a comprehensive list of tips on how to save money and travel to Iceland on budget.
Iceland Budget Rental vs Camper Van
You will need to rent a vehicle to drive around Iceland. This is the fact if in case you want to explore the wonder of this country at your own pace!
The first question should be: Which option fits inside my Iceland budget, should I rent a car or a camper van?
So let’s evaluate this side by side Iceland trip costs comparison and also, some Pros & Cons between renting a van vs renting a car.
ADDITIONAL ON RENTING A CAMPER VAN IN ICELAND
- Companies will not normally rent a van to you for less than three days, especially in the summer.
- The most expensive vehicles come with extras, for example, a shower and/or a roof tent.
- Standard insurance coverage is included, with extra options being available for an additional fee.
- Some, but not all vehicles, can be insured for driving on F roads.
- The items that the basic rental fees will cover varies from company to company, so this is something you should check up on too.
- Be careful to park where it’s allowed!
PROS & CONS ON RENTING A CAMPER VAN vs A RENTAL CAR
Iceland Budget Accommodation Cost in Iceland
As I already mentioned in the beginning, one of the most popular options is to rent a camper van and pay for a camper park with bathrooms and shower available.
I am a big fan of Guesthouses for traveling Iceland on a budget, as they are often charming, with many offering similar facilities to a small hotel and even better, local families run it as a business and most cases, they are inside their land/farm –I am a big supporter of local communities during my travels.
Also, quite a few have guest kitchens, and cooking for yourself is another great way to keep costs lower. You can simple use Booking.com – they have incredible great options to travel to Iceland on budget.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many great options for accommodations you can find in Iceland.
I traveled to Iceland during spring time, and I rented everything with a day in advance. At this time of year, it was not necessary to book in advance.
Here you can find my very detailed 10-day itinerary to self-drive Iceland Ring Road, including day by day details and recommendations for accommodations.
Another great advice and something for you to keep in mind is if you are going out of the city center, which can be great if you have a car rental, then the prices are going to go down.
If you are staying out of town you can cut your accommodation budget by around 30-50%! Good deal, right?
PAULA’S TIP: Keep in mind if you are traveling to Iceland during summer time, it is high season and the prices will be higher. Also, you will need to book way in advance, the same applies for campgrounds.
Trip to Iceland Cost Food in Iceland
We all know that one of the higher expenses when we travel.
I think we all agree that this is not an expense that we can cut from our budget correct? But let’s plan it properly and save some money on food.
The bad news is that Iceland is not a cheap country when it comes to food, but they’re certainly are ways to keep the costs down and creating your Iceland budget when related to food.
If breakfast is included in your accommodation, then go for it!
If your accommodation gives access to a kitchen, you can cook your meals and cut costs a lot.
Preparing your own meal and going for picnics is always going to be cheaper than eating out all the time. If you choose a variety of cooking your own meal and eating in restaurant one meal per day is a great option.
Food can be your biggest expense or also, the best way to save money and travel to Iceland on a budget.
If you are considering buying your food from the grocery, I recommend Bónus stores and they offer the best value.
Another great option is Costco in Iceland, if you are an associate, take advantage of it. The Costco in Iceland is at Kauptún 3, approximately a 15-20 minutes drive from Reykjavík.
PAULA’S TIP: All the costs here are an average per person per day. Prices may vary as dinner at a restaurant is normally more expensive than lunch or if you add beverage to your restaurant meals.
Trip to Iceland Cost Beverage in Iceland
**COST-SAVING ALERT: IT IS EXPENSIVE TO DRINK ALCOHOL IN ICELAND!**
And the simple answer is Taxes! One of the things which are taxed most heavily in Iceland is alcohol.
If you like to have your beer during your vacation or enjoy a nice glass of wine at the end of an adventurous day (or vodka, rum, bourbon, etc.).
The BEST option is to buy bottles upon your arrival at the airport Duty-Free at Keflavík Airport – You will not find alcoholic drinks cheaper anywhere on the island.
Plan accordingly so you don’t have to run out of your favorite drink.
An alternative is to make use of the great happy-hour specials at local bars
Another good alternative is that some Guest Houses allow you to bring your own bottle of wine for dinner, so you can ask what their rules are.
Iceland Cheap Holidays Activities Cost in Iceland
If you are planning to visit the Top Attractions in Iceland, in this section, you can find ways to have an Iceland Cheap Holidays!
I found it amazing that the majority of the best outdoor activities in Iceland are FREE. Only a few places will charge you for a small entry fee and parking.
I have listed here the top 3 activities in Iceland to make sure you can be on a budget and how we can compare prices and save money from options from $ to FREE activities.
NATURAL THERM POOL
$ BLUE LAGOON IN REYKJAVIK – It is beautiful and you have probably seen many of the perfect Instagram photos of this place. The Blue Lagoon may be a convenient tourist trap, but luckily you can still soak in a hot spring lagoon on a budget, and even better, avoid the crowds. Check availability here…
$ Myvatn Nature Bath – If you are doing the Ring Road driving, I highly recommend the Myvatn Nature Bath – the views of the valley are incredible as you soak in the warmth of turquoise bliss. You can check availability here
$ Secret Lagoon – If you are doing the Golden Circle driving you have the option to do the Secret Lagoon, and if it is at the Golden Circle, it is not really a “secret”. Click here to see availability
FREE ACTIVITY: Hot Spring River is an amazing alternative, and even better, for free! It will require an approximate 1 hour hike to get there and there are no changing rooms, but it is a natural river among the nature. It can’t get any better.
GLACIER HIKE IN ICELAND
$ PROFESSIONAL ICE HIKING: It’s an amazing activity to do while visiting Iceland, being on top of majestic glaciers and exploring its formations was one of the highlights of my trip to Iceland. It was my first time in Iceland and my first time ice climbing and I even got to explore an ice cave. It was AMAZING and you can read about my experience plus find the best tours here.
The Skaftafell parking lot fee is around $50 for the day. Make sure to pay at the kiosk to avoid the previously discussed “administrative charge” by your rental car company. Check availability here
FREE ACTIVITY : But if you are traveling on a budget you don’t need to pay to get up close to a glacier. You have the option to hike close enough to explore the tongue of the glaciers, the lakes and icebergs floating in the lagoon. I did both, and had an amazing time with both options.
I went for a hike at the Sólheimajökull Glacier Lagoon and got the chance to explore the foot of the glacier.
Be aware that hiking on the glacier requires special equipment such as crampons and a tour guide. Without crampons you are literally on a slippery slope.
WHALE WATCHING IN ICELAND
$ Reykjavik Half-day Whales and Puffins combo tour
This combo leaves from Reykjavik and you will go to the Old Harbor. You will have the chance to see whales, and also, the adorable puffins from up-close, because of the shallow water the boat can get really close to the small island where the puffins live. If there are no whales, you will get another ticket for free. Click here for aviability
$ HUSAVIK: TRADITIONAL WHALE WATCHING TOUR
It was on my bucket list, and it’s probably on your bucket list too. The feeling to be in the same environment and close to these magnificent animals is fascinating. Click for availability here.
Husavik is considered the capital of whales in the world, and the chances to see whales are very high of 90%.
FREE ACTIVITY: If you go in high season which is from June to August, you still can sit in the harbor in Husavik and patiently spend a few hours observing the water and maybe you can spot a whale.
I am not saying you are going to see one, but our boat was in the bay just driving in circles and we didn’t need to be much further from the harbor to spot the first whale.
Traveling Iceland on Budget Bonus Tips
⇒ VISIT ICELAND DURING THE LOW SEASON: The off-season is when there is the least amount of tourism activity in Iceland, and things are a bit dead. November through May is when things are pretty mellow throughout the island, but you can get better prices from flights to accommodations. The time is right, and you can also get long days, milder weather, and fewer crowds (April/May, September/October). During winter, some roads and sights may close limiting your plans.
⇒ RESTAURANT FOR LUNCH vs DINNER: Normally you can pay almost twice for the same dish for dinner than what you are having for lunch. If you chose to have one meal per day at a restaurant, pick lunch over dinner.
⇒ NO NEED TO TIP: Icelanders do not expect you to tip them. Especially Americans are so generous on tipping, but you won’t need to plan any additional budget for the tips.
⇒ DRINK TAP WATER: Icelanders are proud to have the cleanest water in the world, and they should be! You can carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day, or drink straight from any stream or faucet you come across the whole country. Considering that each bottle of water costs around $2.50 and if you are drinking 4 bottles a day, you save $10 a day
⇒ FUEL IS EXPENSIVE: Fuel is very expensive across the whole of Iceland. The average cost of diesel is $7.25 per gallon. If you have a Costco membership I have good news, as they have the cheapest gas and you should load up before leaving Reykjavík.
Make sure you keep that in mind and plan your itinerary accordingly to take full advantage and not drive back and forth on the road. Read my full 10 days Ring Road trip itinerary.
⇒ STAY OUTSIDE OF TOWN: Look for accommodations strategically located near enough to your next destination, but perhaps outside of the towns (farms and guesthouses). If you choose to stay in town, search various sites such as booking.com and look for options such as private rooms in a local house.
⇒ TRAFFIC TICKETS AND TOLLS CAN BE EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE **BE AWARE** THIS TIP CAN SAVE YOUR CREDIT CARD
In the fine print of your car rental agreement, there may be a note about “administrative charges” from the rental company for any traffic violations or unpaid tolls. One example is a company that charged €50 for tunnel tolls, on top of the actual toll charge. Using the tunnel 7 times, the rental agency charged €350 (7 x €50)…more than the cost of the car rental…plus the toll charge.
When you rent a car or camper, check the fine print. It is not unusual for Iceland agencies to have fees hidden in the contract. Also, keep an eye on your speedometer, the speed limit (most main roads are 90 km/hr, most tunnels are 70 km/hr, and most towns are 50 km/hr.
The tunnel with the toll is north of Akureyri, the Vadlaheidi Tunnel. The tunnel toll cannot be paid physically on location. Drivers can instead pay for a single trip online or register to be automatically charged for their trip to a card or bank account. The toll must be paid within three hours of traveling through the tunnel, otherwise, it will be charged to the individual under whose name the vehicle is registered, with an additional ISK 1,000 charge. Check here for more…
Costs of a Trip to Iceland Final Thoughts
I hope by now you have a much better idea of the costs of a trip to Iceland.
As you can see it is possible to travel to Iceland without breaking your bank account.
All you need to do is to plan well in advance and to make smarter decisions on how much you are willing to spend, but the most important thing, to be able to relax and enjoy your trip.
It is possible to go on activities, to eat at a restaurant and enjoy the local food, it is possible to have a glass of wine while you enjoy the incredible views of Iceland – all you need to do is to compare prices and work on your priorities to be on a budget in Iceland.
I hope that this pricing comparison helps you to make better decisions on how to plan your trip to Iceland to accommodate your budget.
Also, now that you know there are so many options for free activities around the country, start to make your plans, pack and go!
That dream trip to Iceland is possible, and it can be more affordable than you thought. If you have any additional questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you 😉!