Iceland on a Budget:
Some may think of “Iceland” and “budget” in the same sentence as a joke. But it is possible to have a good time in Iceland without breaking the bank. It is true a majority of the goods you see in Iceland are imported, making it one of the most expensive European countries to date. But I honestly found my time there enjoyable, even with my micro-managed budget. If you’ve been thinking about or planning a trip to Iceland, here’s a few useful tips that’ll help you from start to finish.
1. Get there on Wow Air:
With tickets starting at $99 one-way, it’s never been easier and cheaper to get to Iceland from the US. Flying out of Boston it cost me less than $400 round trip. The best part is I was able to enjoy amazing legroom without the extra fee, sitting by the Emergency Exit. During the planning process I even noticed it would’ve cost me $100 less to four days stay longer. Keep this in mind when you’re booking with Expedia.
2. Stay at Kex Hostel
Kex may look unappealing from the outside, but looks can be deceiving. As one of the hottest spots in Reykjavik, Kex hosts a variety of events and shows welcoming locals and out of town guests. This was my first time staying in a hostel, and I’m glad I chose Kex. Not only was this a budget-friendly place to stay, but amenities like a laundry room, kitchen, gym and bedding really made the stay comfortable.
3. Take Advantage of FREE Tours
If there is one thing you must do in Iceland, it is take advantage of the free tours around Reykjavik like City Walk. It’s important to book in advance, I booked 24 hours before arrival. I would recommend booking at least a week before. This is a free tour, but it’s very worth it. The tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable about the city and gave suggestions from a local perspective.
4. Do Not Eat Out!
But If You Must, Eat During Happy Hour!
If you pay attention to anything on this list, pay attention to this. Reykjavik, is very expensive. The whole island is to be honest. But once you experience a cup of hot chocolate for $5, you realize how precious money is when you travel. I’m glad I was able to get by on hot dogs ($3.50), pastries ($2-3) and hot chocolate for the four days while I was there. My only regret was not realizing until the third day that “happy hour” was the best time to eat. Between the hours of 3:30pm and 6:30pm, things seem to be sold at half price. The chicken wings below from Kex during regular hours will cost you $12 to 13, but during happy hour you can enjoy them for $6.50. If that’s not a deal, I don’t know what is, and this is coming from a place that sells $26 burgers.
5. Skip the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon was a choice I went back and forth with in my mind for some time. If you’re willing to splurge on one thing throughout your trip, I would say this should be it. I chose the cheapest package of $58 because I brought my own slippers and towel, but the choice if yours. Check out my review of The Blue Lagoon here.
6. Book with Bus Travel Iceland
I decided not to rent a car for my trip, because I felt the cost of the car rental and insurance would be more expensive for me. Going with Bus Travel Iceland I felt I would be able to see Iceland, the well known sites at least and still have money to eat. For me the best package was under $300, with this you can get transportation to and from the airport, transportation to and from the Blue Lagoon, and both the Golden Circle and South Coast Tours. In my opinion this was a steal considering I was only in Iceland for fours days.
7. Explore Reykjavik Solo
There’s so much to see in Reykjavik at your own pace, especially as a solo traveler. I’m all about exploring neighborhoods and seeing how the locals, sleep, eat and live. I fell in love with the street art I found there. Some well-known and others well-hidden. Exploring this beautiful city will cost you mostly nothing. If you do decide to visit Hallgrímskirkja, keep in mind there’s a $10 fee to go to the tower. Everything else around the city is free. You can even spend a few hours walking around Harpa concert hall people watching.
Iceland has been on my bucket list for some time now and I found the country to be breath-taking once I finally got there. As expensive as Iceland is, I’m so ready to head back there again. This is definitely not the type of place you visit once. Just remember to budget wisely and bring cash. I found that bringing a set amount cash and avoiding ATM’s helped me to stay on task with my budget. I really hope this was helpful in your planning.
Until next time,
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