Have you always dreamed about visiting Iceland but felt discouraged by the potential cost? I’m with you. It can be an epically expensive adventure, costing more than a Caribbean break. Having said that, I’ve succeeded in not spending an arm and a leg on my adventure, and I’d like to share my tips for a budget-friendly trip to Iceland.
- Three is the key. Booking a room and dividing the cost by two will always be costlier than dividing it by three. We saved a pretty penny by booking rooms for three. Of course, this wouldn’t be ideal if you were planning a romantic getaway with your partner, but for a friends-only trip, this was perfect!
- Book rooms with inclusive breakfast. As we were driving around the island (Hello Ring Road), some of the farms/b&bs we stayed at were in pretty remote locations. Luckily, we booked rooms with inclusive breakfasts, which meant we didn’t have to pay extra for filling our tummies before hitting the road.
- We popped to the supermarket. We stocked up on pot noodles, dry food and snacks which were perfect as lunches and snacks. When in hotel rooms, we decided that we would have modest supermarket-bought dinners for a few days and allow ourselves to splurge on restaurant-bought food during the rest of the journey. It worked out perfectly and we didn’t feel we missed out on anything. Plus, the skyr we bought was delicious!
- Airport booze buying is a thing. As we exited our aircraft and passed passport control, we noticed that all of the locals diverted into a duty-free shop before exiting. This looked suspicious to my eye and how right I was! In Iceland, you can buy alcohol only in state-owned liquor stores known as Vínbúdin and not in supermarkets (if the alcohol content is greater than 2.25%, which, come on, obviously it would be). To save us the faff and the cost of getting to one of those stores, we stocked up on some bottles (1 wine and a beer six pack) in the duty-free store before leaving the airport. Actually, not drinking too much has also saved us money! To be honest, when you are surrounded by a good crowd, alcohol can become redundant.
- Splitwise. Get this app if you are travelling with friends as it will help you be on top of the spend. You’ll quickly know if you can allow yourself to splurge, or what days to slow down with the spending. It also takes the awkward out of the money-split-talk.
For a week in Iceland, with car hire, flights, hotels, supermarket food, restaurants, some alcohol, most of the fun activities Iceland has to offer, we’ve spent roughly £380 per person, which is a price closer to a week away in Spain rather than the Caribbean. This calculation excludes goodies and souvenirs we bought for ourselves and our loved ones. We travelled in May, in the beginning of Icelandic summer (read, not really summer, still definitely winter).
In part two, I will talk about the five things myself and my travel mates learned being left to our own devices in the Icelandic wilderness. Well, sorta.