Iceland trips costs

Iceland Trip Costs + Resources for Creating your Iceland Budget

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 easy 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 in Iceland cost.

If you are trying to decide between renting a camper van or a car in Iceland, how much meals costs, 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 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. This will definitely help you to put your budget to travel to Iceland with confidence.

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.

Enjoy it and safe travels! 

Table of Contents

Iceland trips costs
Travel smarter and save money during your trip to Iceland - YES, it is possible!

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.

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Why Iceland is so expensive?

First of all, 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.

 

You will love this: ICELAND HIDDEN GEMS – A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH ADVENTURE

Overview of my 10 days in Iceland cost

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.

Budget Iceland vacation
Icelandic horse love is FREE

RENTAL CAR vs. CAMPER VAN- Iceland trip cost

You will need to rent a vehicle to drive around Iceland. This is fact if in case you want to explore the wonder of this country in your own pace!

The first question should be: Which option fits inside my 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.

CAMPER VAN

$ 230 per day/ for 2 people
  • VAN RENTAL $120
  • GASOLINE $50
  • CAMPING W/ SHOWER $20
  • FOOD (COOKING MEALS) $40
Cheaper

RENTAL CAR

$ 285 per day/for 2 people
  • CAR RENTAL $30
  • GASOLINE $35
  • ACCOMMODATION $100
  • FOOD (1 RESTAURANT/DAY) $120

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

CAMPER VAN

  • You save on accommodations
  • You save on foods if you cook all the meals
  • Convenience to sleep close to the next destination
  • Make it a fun experince and you can nap anytime
  • The rental is more expensive
  • The fuel is more expensive
  • You cook more often
  • You are more limited to drive on some roads

RENTAL CAR

  • The rental is cheaper
  • The fuel is cheaper
  • More comfortable options (room + bathroom)
  • Some guest houses include breakfast in the price
  • You can cook your meal at the guest house
  • You will need to find affordable accommodations
  • You will need to eat at restaurant more often
  • You need to pack and unpack bags daily
convenience
why Iceland is so expensive
Renting a car in Iceland or a camper van?

ACCOMMODATION COST IN ICELAND - Iceland on budget

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. 

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

avg. per day
  • HOSTEL - with shared bedroom and bathroom $30
  • GUEST HOUSE - with shared bathroom $80
  • GUEST HOUSE - with private bathroom or cabin $120
  • HOTEL 3 STARS - with breakfast included $140
Booking.com
10 days in Iceland cost
One of the cabins I rented during my trip to Iceland - not bad!
trips to Iceland costs
Wine + photography + Travel on a budget make me happy
Iceland trip cost
Renting a cabin in Iceland is a great option to stay on a budget and they are very cozy

FOOD COST IN ICELAND - Plan Iceland budget

We all know that one of the higher expenses when we travel is the food, especially if you are like me, I am always hungry!

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 there 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 a picnics is always going to be cheaper than eating out all the time. If you choose a variation 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 to buy 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 associated, take advantage of it. The Costco in Iceland is at Kauptún 3,  approximately 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.

RESTAURANT IN ICELAND

$ 65 per day/ per person (without beverage)
  • BREAKFAST: Coffee + pastry $15
  • LUNCH: Fish & Chips or Hamburguer $20
  • DINNER: protein + 2 side dishes $30

GROCERY IN ICELAND

$ 20 per day/per person
  • BREAKFAST: Coffee + cheese + bread + yogurt
  • LUNCH: sandwich + beverage
  • DINNER: Pasta + protein or prepared meal
cheaper
cost to travel to Iceland
I cooked most of my dinners as it was a big cost saving for my trip to Iceland
Iceland on budget
Iceland has one of the best fish and chips
Iceland on budget
The bakeries in Iceland offer a YUMMY variety of pastries

BEVERAGE COST IN ICELAND - Trip to Iceland costs

**COST SAVING ALERT: IT IS EXPENSIVE TO DRINK ALCOHOL IN ICELAND!**

And the simple answer is: Taxes!  One of the things which is 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.

ALCOHOL PRICE AT RESTAURANT

  • Pint of Beer - $8
  • Glass of wine - $10
  • Simple Cocktail $15

ALCOHOL PRICE AT RETAIL

  • 330ml can of local beer - $3
  • Bottle of wine - $15
  • Bottle of brand vodka - $50
Cheaper
how much does it cost to go to Iceland
Take advantage of the Happy Hours that offer better prices at the pub in Iceland
how much does it cost to travel to Iceland
I stocked on my red wine from Duty Free - I love wine with a view

ACTIVITIES COST IN ICELAND - 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 REIKJAVIK – 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.

$$ 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.

$ 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”

Iceland trip cost
The Myvatn Nature Pool

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

$$$ PROFESSIONAL ICE HIKING: It’s an amazing activity to do while visiting Iceland, being on top of majestic glaciers and to explore 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 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.

Iceland vacation cost
Glacier hiking at Skaftafell

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

$$$ 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 is no whales, you will get another ticket for free.

$$  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.

Husavik is considered the capital of whales in the world, and the chances to see whales are very high of 90%. 

car rental Iceland budget
Husavik is considered the whale watching capital of Iceland
Iceland trip budget
Whale watching is a must do during your Iceland Ring Road

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.

** BONUS TIPS: Traveling Iceland on Budget **

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. Time it right, and you can also get long days, milder weather and less crowds (April/May, September/October). During winter, some road 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.

Iceland cheap holidays
The town of Vik

 

 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.

budget for Iceland trip
Visiting any waterfall in Iceland is FREE

 

TRAFFIC TICKETS AND TOLLS CAN BE EXTREMELLY 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 travelling 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…

car rental iceland budget
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

Final thoughts on cost 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.

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 what you thought. If you have any additional questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you 😉!

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Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm Paula, a Brazilian native who calls U.S. home. I am a world traveler, adventure seeker, and an athlete who is always in search of authentic and real-life experiences. I am passionate about cultural immersion, responsible traveling, and to empower people to live a Healthy Lifestyle. Let's Pin the Planet together!

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Booking.com
booking resources

PLANNING

For all travel resources click travel planning

HOTEL

Book your accommodation Booking.com

ACTIVITIES

Book your tours and avoid lines Get Your Guide

RENTAL CAR

Book your car rental with Rental Car

INSURANCE

Protect your trip with World Nomads

Comments 18

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      1. Iceland has always been on my list but I’ve heard it’s super expensive but this was sooo useful. Will definitely save it for later 🙂

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  1. Que lugar maravilhoso, como não colocá-lo num belo plano de viagem. Material completo e acessível…parabéns

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  2. Wow! This is such useful information! I’ll definitely use this for my next trip to Iceland and try make it a bit cheaper. Thank you for this!

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  3. Love this guide! We were supposed to go to Iceland this summer but had to postpone. I’ll definitely use this guide for when we rebook! Husavik was on my list too!

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