It’s no secret that Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. It’s also one of the most expensive visit. Being an Island nation, almost everything has to be imported. So you can expect to pay a premium for everything that has to be produced elsewhere, and then shipped in. But have no fear! It is possible to go to Iceland on the cheap. From import allowances on food and alcohol to world famous street food we got you covered. Below we’ll break down all the ways on how to save money in Iceland. While still having an amazing adventure!
How to Save Money in Iceland
Go Off Season
One of the best ways to save is by visiting Iceland during the off season. July-August is the most expensive time to visit. With prices increasing on lodging, food, and tours. Many locals say one of the best times to tour Iceland is in May & June, during spring and 24 hours of sunlight during June. Providing 5+ hours of sunsets and sunrises many people will hike and take photos at night. It’s also much cheaper.
Stay at Camp Sites
One of the best ways to save is by staying at one of Iceland’s many campsites. Car camping is illegal outside of these campsites. But there are plenty and you shouldn’t have a problem finding one within an hour or so from you on main roads. You do not need to book these campsites in advance, and if you show up late there should be instructions on how to pay.
Rent the Right Car
There are a couple questions you need to ask yourself before renting a car that can save you a bit of money. These questions are:
Can all the drivers drive a manual transmission car?
Manual cars are less expensive and more available to rent.
Do you need a 4×4 required to go on F roads, 4×4 roads running through the center of the country?
A 4×4 is required to drive on F roads. They are more expensive and have much higher insurance costs than a non 4×4 vehicle.
Will you be car camping?
If you are not bringing tents (not always trees for hammocks) and want to car camp, you will probably want to rent a camper van or 4×4 with a pop up tent. These are noticeably more expensive than a standard car. And can be comparable to staying in hotels/guest houses. Tent camping next to your car/4×4 at campsites is drastically cheaper.
Bring Your Own Food
Each person can bring 3kb (6.6 lbs) of food with them into the country. Meats that have been boiled or canned are accepted. Smoking, salting or drying without boiling is not accepted.
Bring your own Alcohol / Buy in Duty Free
You are also allowed to bring in alcohol. So make sure you stop at the Duty Free before you leave the airport. Below are the duty free alcohol limits for Iceland.
You are also allowed to bring in alcohol duty free in the following increments.
1 liter spirits and 0.75 liter wine and 3 liters beer or
3 liters wine and 6 liters beer or
1 liter spirits and 6 liters beer or
1,5 liters wine and 12 liters beer or
18 liters beer
*Spirits = 21%+ alcohol
200 cigarettes or
250 g of other tobacco products
Filter Your Water
There is no need to spend money on expensive bottled water. The tap water is good to drink in Iceland. And if you’re lucky you can even drink directly from a melting glacier. Make sure you bring yourself a good travel water bottle and filter.
Shop at Bonus
Recognizable by the giant pink pig logo, Bonus is where the local shop for reasonably priced groceries. You can expect to be able to cook three meals for the same price as one meal at a decent (non street food) restaurant. Stick to the stables like eggs, dairy, pasta, and pastry to keep the price low.
Eat Street Food When Eating Out
Bill Clinton famously called Icelandic hot dogs the best in the world. With the most well known hot hot dogs being served at Bæjarins Bestu Pylsur. But you can also find some great street food that isn’t between a bun. Noodles have been growing in popularity with more than a few options available. And you can always find a kebab or some sort of fish and chips.
Food (and Coffee) at the Gas Station
Once you get over the sticker shock of the price of gas. Look at gas stations as a way to save some money while traveling. While most people in the USA associate gas stations with unhealthy food, quick snacks, and bad coffee. In Iceland you will be surprised at the selection offered at food offerings available at the gas stations. Including fresh takeaway meals that are somewhat healthy compared to anything you will find in the United States. Their coffee is also way better, so keep yourself caffeinated and get those miles.
Try Some Local Fast Food
Iceland has some surprisingly good fast food restaurants. Some of the local favorites include Hlöllabátar, known for its incredibly good subs and sandwiches. AkuTaktu is the place to go for a great burger and serves one of the better veggie burgers you are going to try. For colder days and nights you should also check out the Noodle Station. Serving a great selection of asian noodles that are great to eat on the go.