February 25, 2020

How to Save Money in Iceland | Tips & Tricks from Local Experts

by Ragnheidur Harpa
Travel tips
Ragnheidur studied anthropology with a minor in media so it might not come as much of a surprise that she is curious about the nature. She loves educating others about her findings or her home country, Iceland. Ragnheidur is into country living, traveling, Icelandic horses, the Icelandic naming system, plants and all things having to do with food and beer. Her favorite places in Iceland are the Westfjords and the South Coast but she has lived in downtown Reykjavik for the last few years.
How to Save Money in Iceland | Tips & Tricks from Local Experts

Iceland is an expensive country, there is no way around it. Yet, you can find numerous ways to go about making it more budget-friendly especially by prioritizing where you want your travel expenses to go. You have to ask yourself, am I the foodie that wants to wine and dine? Am I the nature lover that wants to explore the glaciers and volcanoes? Or perhaps, am I looking to spend all my time hopping between hot springs? Whatever the reason might be for your visit to Iceland, we are here to guide you with the most affordable ways to do so.


Now, let’s get down to it. Here are all the tricks to save money whilst traveling in Iceland! 

How to save on food in Iceland?

  • Treat yourself at lunchtime. Many restaurants offer excellent lunch deals. Thus giving you the perfect opportunity to indulge in some quality Icelandic cuisine without having to pay full price.
  • Buy alcohol at the airport’s Duty-Free. The tax that is added on top of alcohol prices (especially for strong liquor) once it is in the country can add up to almost double the Duty-Free price. So, if you are planning on saying ‘SKÁL’ (the Icelandic cheers) once or twice during your time in Iceland we recommend to pre-buy at the airport upon arrival.
  • Buying bottled water is not only bad for the environment but also a complete waste of your money during your time in Iceland. The water from the tap is the best sip of water you’ll ever have. Just imagine how the water has traveled from the glaciers and mountains filtering through the clean nature to then arrive in your glass. The water is so clean locals tend to drink it straight from streams, waterfalls and rivers whenever they get the chance. I’m getting thirsty just writing this. There simply is no comparison!
    Pro tip: Bring your own water bottle to carry around so you can always fill up! 
  • If you get a local sim card with the local provider, Nova, a whole world of 2 for 1 offers will open up. They range from luxury restaurants and meal deals to spas and adventure tours. Truly a bang for the buck!  
  • Make your own meals. If you are staying at an Airbnb or a Hostel you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do some grocery shopping and cook yourself. Perhaps even trying your hand at Icelandic cuisine
  • Prepare for some substantive hot dog eating. Not only are the Icelandic hot dogs some of the best-priced meals you’ll find in Iceland but they are also some of the yummiest. These savory treats are sure to have you craving another one within minutes. Get ‘one with everything’ it includes raw onions, deep-fried onions, ketchup, mustard and a special Icelandic mayo-relish called Remúlaði!
Iceland hot dog
  • The bakery culture is rich in Iceland. Every single one competing to have the best homemade baked good and delicious sandwiches freshly made every day. A meal at one of the local bakeries can be just like going to a nice café, yet much cheaper. You will find a bakery in almost any town or village in Iceland. Some of my favorite ones are Almars bakarí in Hveragerði , Gamla Bakaríið at Ísafjörður, Brauð & co. in Reykjavík and Aðalbakarí at Siglufjörður.
  • If you are wondering specifically about some cheap eats in Reykjavik, we got you covered. We have a whole blog dedicated to it! 

How to Save on Accommodation in Iceland?

  • Some of the best accommodation prices you will find in Iceland are those within tour packages from trusted operators. There you will find carefully chosen lodgings with absolutely no hidden fees. A guarantee that you get your money’s worth. Additionally, when buying tour packages the discount covers not only accommodation but also the tours. Thus saving money and leaving you hassle worry-free! After all, what are vacations for if not to let loose and let someone else take care of business. 
  • If you aren’t joining a tour package. Or, possibly just getting day tours out from Reykjavík, you’ll need to look at the type of travel you are doing. Additionally, if you are going solo, camping or hostels will be the cheapest option for you. If you are traveling as a pair, camping, hostels or hotels make the most sense. However, if you are traveling more than two, Airbnb’s start to make more sense. 

How to save on tours in Iceland?

  • I am a huge sucker for those deals where you buy two and get the third for free. So, you can imagine my delight when I found out that this works for tours too! When you book one of the classic tour bundles with Iceland Travel, you not only get up to 10% off each tour but the airport transfer is for free!
    See the Winter Wonderland 4 for 3, The Classic Iceland 4 for 3 or the Explore Iceland 4 for 3. However, if you have less time during your stay in Iceland the Activity Iceland 3 for 2 might be just the deal for you. 
  • Take advantage of the expert’s budget itinerary. There are so many ways to experience Iceland. And, it will only take a quick google search to feel like you are drowning in options. Furthermore often bringing you to raise your budget. So, my advice to you is, ever so humbly, to take a look at blogs like the one I wrote about How to do the South Coast on a Budget. Where I have carefully chosen the most cost-effective way to travel around the South. 
  • Take the express route. Through the express tours, you are able to see more with less time. Guided by professionals who keep things comfortable and safe all while maintaining the adventure experience at a maximum. 
  • By the same token, the short breaks are an amazing option to jump on. Especially when you want to come to Iceland on short notice.
    The short break tours are always the same price. But still include everything you need: accommodation and the best tours for each season.
  • Road Trips are fun, especially with a great group. However, in Iceland, the cost of renting a car can set you back quite a lot. Furthermore adding risks of driving around in circles and missing out on the must-sees. However, if you join a planned self-drive package you will have a best-off itinerary with tips and discounts but the option of making changes en route and venturing off!

    Within those packages, you get accommodation, insurance, an itinerary packed with suggested best spots and attractions and, even an app to guide you through it. It is freedom without risk. Plus, you get up to 10% discount on tours and lodging. Which is never a bad thing! 

Time is money 

I know this is a cliché but that doesn’t make it any less true. Time is valuable. Not only in the economic sense but also in moments spent with the ones you love and doing what makes you happy.


So, spending hours on end planning a trip, trying to figure out where you can save a buck or two inevitably becomes less important in comparison. Yet, we can not all afford to splurge or to make rash and expensive decisions when it comes to our travels. We all want to get the best value for our money without going broke. Furthermore, to enjoy our holidays to the fullest all whilst staying safe and taken care of.

Pairing up with a tour company might sound like an expensive option. However, when compared to the cost of doing things on your own you’ll be surprised! Especially when you team up with one company to take care of it all.

With Iceland Travel you get the experience and expertise but also a spectacular variety of options. They have carefully attended to every detail of each tour making sure that the experience is outstanding, extraordinary yet safe and secure. They even go so far as to offer emergency assistance.

Additional tips and tricks to stay on budget in Iceland 

  • Study the forecast and know the seasons. Showing up in a thin blazer in December will result in you having to gear up upon arrival and, frankly my friend, it ain’t cheap. So my advice to you is to know what you are getting yourself into when it comes to weather in Iceland and pack accordingly. 
  • Book in advance. Prices tend to go up as the dates get closer. This is true for any season. 
  • Spend money on experiences, not things. Firstly, buying actual commodities in Iceland is usually double the price as it would be back home. Secondly, when you are visiting a country with glaciers, volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and northern lights you might want to rethink those hours spent in a shopping mall. So lastly I’d like to say. If you are going to spend your money on any type of commodity, spend it on a good camera. You are going to want to remember this trip! 
  • Buy second-hand souvenirs. Again, not only are you saving money but also helping our planet stay healthy. Most of us are already feeling guilty about the flights to and from Iceland. So, why not try your best to reduce and recycle when there!
  • Taxis in Iceland are double, triple the price they are in most other countries. Getting a taxi from the airport into town will cost you around 150 USD. However, if you take the bus it will be around 35 USD.
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