I know Iceland has a bad reputation for being really expensive but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be rich to visit Iceland! There are a lot of ways to save money so I wanted to write about how to travel to Iceland on a budget to help you save a few bucks when we’re allowed to travel again.
I went to Reykjavik last June, a month or so after I got laid off from the job that I’d had for over two years. (It was for the best, really.)
As I’ve said before, I’m usually not one to travel “on a budget.” I like to do some things cheaply (like stay in hostels and book cheap flights) but after that, it’s pretty much no-holds-barred. I’m not a really extravagant person but I like to eat a lot when I travel, so I end up spending way too much on garbage food and expensive lattes.
But I decided to be a Responsible Adult in Reykjavik and not do that.
I recently had the chance to review every dollar I spent and for 4 days in Iceland, it wasn’t too bad, but it was about $500 more than I thought I spent.
I’ve seen blog posts about “budget” travel that aren’t really about budget traveling at all. It’s not traveling on a budget if you’re going out for fancy cocktails every night, right?
How To Travel to Iceland on a Budget
Flight: My flight cost $531 but I booked really late – a month or two in advance, however, I used credit card points to pay $123 of it, so in total it cost about $400. If you book further in advance, you can pay as little as $300 if you fly TAP (which honestly, you should because Icelandair is not worth (my review is here) the extra $100).
Hostel: This was a big expense and in hindsight, I should’ve stayed in a common room instead of a private room. I stayed in one of the top-rated hostels in downtown Reykjavik, The Loft Hostel, and it was not cheap. It was about $785 for three nights, which is a little insane. However, I slept great and didn’t have to deal with roommates. And any hotels in downtown Reykjavik would’ve been three times as expensive for the same quality room. So: worth it. I guess?
Blue Lagoon: This is also something that you need to book in advance because entire days usually sell out ahead of time and you don’t want to get off the bus from the airport and not be able to soak your tired body in a natural hot spring for three hours immediately. I splurged for a half-hour in-water massage which was 100% worth it. My entire experience at the Blue Lagoon cost $280.83 and it was my favorite part of my trip and totally worth it (read about it here).
Golden Circle Tour: This 8-hour tour from Viator cost $83 and was entirely worth it to not have to rent a car and go see these places on my own dime. Food was not included, but that’s okay. I heard a lot about the country from my tour guide and saw all the awesome places. (My review of the tour is here!)
Food: Shockingly, I was able to eat pretty cheaply. I should note that I took advantage of I had breakfast at the hostel every morning which cost $10.93. Overall, I managed to spend about $200 over the course of 4 days. (I also didn’t drink.)
- Day 1: $10.93 (breakfast), $12.75 (breakfast at the airport before the Lagoon), $18.41 (dinner), $13.64 (lunch)
- Day 2: $10.93 (breakfast), $3.64 (snack), $11.10 (more snacks on the Golden Circle tour), $10.93 (lunch), $13.36 (dinner)
- Day 3: $10.93 (breakfast), $18.45 (lunch at the cat cafe), $18.54 (dinner), $4.05 (snack)
- Day 4: $10.90 (breakfast), $8.82 (lunch), $4.41 (coffee), $10.93 (dinner at the airport), $8.01 (snacks at the airport), $2.83 (snack)
$ 120.00: my lapopeysa – this was my big expenditure and I love it!
$ 8.91: National Museum of Iceland
$ 48.49: Puffin Viewing Boat Tour
$ 74.92: Souvenirs for people
$ 13.76: Phallological Museum
$ 70.43: Face masks from the Blue Lagoon store
GRAND TOTAL FOR FOUR DAYS IN ICELAND: $2,088.90
I should also note that this wasn’t all paid for at once. The hostel stay had been booked, and moved, the previous year, so that was almost half of what I spent on my trip to Iceland.
I’d love to know if anyone has done Iceland for even cheaper. Honestly, I thought I’d spent around $1500 so when I totaled everything and saw it was just over $2000, I was a little gutted.
But $2k for several days in one of the most expensive countries in the world isn’t bad. Considering that I spent about $500 during my two and a half days in Oslo in 2015, this is definitely an improvement. I hope this guide on how to travel to Iceland on a budget was helpful and I hope you save some dollars while you’re there!