Planning a trip to Iceland?

You might have heard that Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. In that case you will probably be wondering how much an Iceland trip cost.

Well look no further, in this article I will go in depth about all the costs you can expect to make with some valuable budget saving tips.

On our 12 day road trip around the whole island we spent under €3400 for 2 persons all expenses included. This might still be expensive compared to other destinations but we are so glad we saved up for this trip. It’s an amazing island that has so much to offer. We saw most of the famous sites along the ring road including the Westfjords and Snaefelness Peninsula and we even had some budget left for a whale watching tour in Husavik.

There are a lot of things you can do to keep your Iceland trip cost within budget without saving up on the experiences. I’ll share with you what we did and what you can do to save up even more.

This guide is based around a road trip during the summer months, but even if you visit during the winter months you will be able to use some valuable tips from this article to travel around Iceland on a budget.

How to travel around Iceland?

There are multiple ways for traveling around the ring road in Iceland. The best way and probably the most budget friendly will be renting a car or renting a camper.

A guided tour will be a great alternative if you can’t drive or are afraid to.

Sadly, guided tours are not that budget friendly. I’ll share with you the different options you have and how they will impact your budget.

Rent a car

Renting a car will be the cheapest option and will save you the most money. Rental prices are not that cheap in Iceland compared to other countries but still cheaper as most other options.

There are multiple car rental companies to choose from and finding a reputable one is not always easy. The one I can definitely recommend is blue car rental. They offer great customer service and flexibility.

Prices can vary between €650 for a Suzuki Jimny 4×4 and €3800 for a Land Rover 4×4 for 11 days.

This price includes SAAP insurance which will insure you for damage done by sand and ash. This type of damage is quite common on the south coast so it’s definitely recommended to take this.

Keep in mind choosing this option you’ll still need accommodation. Camping is a great way for keeping costs low. If camping is not for you I’ll share some awesome tips to save money on other accommodation further down in this article.

Rent a camper

This is my favorite way to see Iceland and also the option we chose to travel around the ring road. What we like about it is that you can do everything on your own terms. No reservations that limit your freedom to explore the country. It is great for keeping costs low because you won’t have to book any accommodation.

Choosing the right camper depends on your budget and the comfort you’re looking for.

If you want to save up as much as possible a great reputable company is kuku campers. They have awesome campers and are known for their graffiti on the side. The cheapest one will come with just a bed, gas stove and cooking cutleries. If you book a higher camper category they’ll come with a sink with running water, small fridge and heater. The category A camper will cost you around €1400 while a category B will cost you €1800. This includes the golden package insurance that will cover you in most instances.

Another awesome rental company is cozy campers. This is our favorite and the one we used. Their campers are really modern and comfortable. Every camper comes with a fridge, heater, sink with running water, cooking cutleries and a gas stove. Their cheapest camper will cost you around €2000. They come with 2 separate batteries where the fridge, heater and charging port are connected to. This way you don’t have to worry about draining your car battery. Cozy campers offers free pick up and drop off and have AMAZING customer service.

Read: A Guide To Driving A Camper In Iceland 

camper with glacier in distance

Guided tours

If driving yourself is not an option for you then you can still book a guided tour. There are multiple tours to choose from ranging from a 1 day golden circle tour to a 12 days full ring road tour.

A 2 day south coast tour will cost you around €400 per person while a 8 days ring road trip will cost you around €3500 per person.

Some reputable tour companies are iceland.nordicvisitor.com, tour.is and adventures.is.

Public transport

The bus network in Iceland is called straeto and they can be recognised by their yellow color. If you’re staying in a city like Reykjavik or Akureyri you can buy a one-day pass (€13) or three-day pass (€30).

Travelling the full ring road by bus is not that practical. The bus schedule is not the same as elsewhere in Europe. They don’t drive that often so planning your whole trip around their schedule will be a pain in the ass. If you’re interested in travelling the ring road by bus anyways you can find more information online.

Taxis in Iceland are quite expensive. For a ride from the airport to Reykjavik Centre (48km) you will pay around €110.

Hitchhiking

If you want to save big time on transportation then hitchhiking is the way to go. Iceland is a really safe and easy country when it comes to hitchhikers. Most people are driving the ring road so you get a 50% chance they’re going in the right direction.

If you want to know more about hitchhiking in Iceland you can read more on HitchWiki.

How much does eating out cost?

If you want to travel on a budget I would avoid eating out in Iceland at all costs. Eating out in Iceland is really expensive. One meal at a cheap restaurant will cost you around €18 and a 3 course meal in a mid-range restaurant will set you back around €40 (Drinks not included).

A great alternative in case you don’t feel like cooking yourself is buying food at one of the many hotdog or fish and chips stalls (€28 for 2 persons and it is great!). You can find them around the ring road in some of the bigger towns. Hotdogs can also be bought in almost every gas station.

What is the cost of groceries?

Cooking yourself is really affordable if you know where to shop for groceries. There are numerous supermarket chains to choose from but the cheapest ones are Bonus, Kronan and Netto with Bonus being the cheapest. Kronan is bigger most of the time but we never had any problems finding all our groceries in Bonus.

Here is a list with some everyday products and their prices for comparison:

Bonus

  • Orange Juice: 79 ISK (€0.58/$0.66)
  • Milk: 177 ISK (€1.29/$1.47)
  • Skyr: 175 ISK (€1.28/$1.45)
  • Kellog’s Coco Pops cornflakes: 445 ISK (€3.25/$3.7)
  • Yoghurt: 69 ISK (€0.5/$0.57)

Kronan

  • Orange Juice: 190 ISK (€1.39/$1.58)
  • Milk: 192 ISK (€1.4/$1.6)
  • Skyr: 206 ISK (€1.5/$1.71)
  • Bacon breakfast: 300 ISK (€2.19/$2.49)
  • Bananas: 219 ISK/kg (€1.6/$1.82)

Netto

  • Orange Juice: 298 ISK (€2.18/$2.48)
  • Skyr: 189 ISK (€1.38/$1.57)
  • Bananas: 229 ISK/kg (€1.67/$1.9)
  • Baguette 189 ISK (€1.38/$1.57)
  • Oreos: 159 ISK (€1.16/$1.32)
  • Tortellini 2 persons: 498 ISK (€3.64/$4.14)
  • Cheerios cornflakes: 479 ISK (€3.5/$3.98)

We spent a total of €215 ($245) on food for 2 persons during 12 days. This also includes eating out two times at a fish & chips stall and some pastries like donuts or cupcakes.

cooking chicken in camper

How much does gas cost?

Filling up with gas in Iceland is quite expensive. You will pay around €1.6 ($1.83) per liter at N1 gas stations. On our 12 days around the ring road including Westfjords and Snaefellness Peninsula we spent around €311 ($354) on gas.

Some car or camper rental companies will give you a fuel discount card which can save you some money. Most fuel discount cards will give you a discount of around 2-3%.

TIP: If you still have a free spot in the back of your car you could pick up some hitchhikers to split the cost of gas for that part of your drive. 

What is the cost of accommodation?

Camping

You won’t have any trouble finding a campsite in Iceland, that’s for sure! Even in the remote Westfjords you’ll find more than enough campsites to choose from. It’s probably one of the best ways to stay within budget. A camping spot will cost you around €24-€30 per night.

A great way for saving up even more is buying a camping card which will cost you €159. Once you bought this card you gain access to over 40 campsites all over Iceland for 24 nights and to top things off they will start giving out 10 ISK/liter discount cards for petrol and diesel cars starting in the summer of 2019.

This card can save you a lot of money if you take advantage of it and only stay at participating campsites.

Let’s do the math.

On average you will pay around €26 per campsite for 12 nights. This will cost you around €312. The camping card itself costs only €159 which means if you are able to use it more as 6 nights on your trip you will be saving a lot of money.

Read: 6 Beautiful Campsites In Iceland 

Booking.com

I almost always use booking.com for finding and booking accommodation. It’s great for comparing all the options you have.

I would suggest booking at least 6 months in advance for Iceland. Any later and you will miss out on a lot of great, budget friendly accommodations.

What’s great about booking.com as well is that most of the time they offer free cancellation up to the day prior to your stay. They won’t even charge you anything upfront. It allows you to start booking accommodation once you have a rough idea about your itinerary. You are still able to cancel your booking without any obligations if plans change.

You can expect to pay around €100/night on average for 2 persons for a “cheap” basic room. 

Airbnb

Booking.com and Airbnb are quite comparable in recent years. Although you will find more people renting out a room in their house on Airbnb compared to booking.com. This can be great if you travel on a budget.

Airbnb is not as flexible with their cancellation policy as booking.com. This is something you have to take into account.

Same as with booking.com you can expect to pay around €100/night on average for 2 persons for a “cheap” basic room. 

Hostels

If you don’t care about sleeping in the same room with strangers then staying at hostels can be great for you. You can find some awesome hostels on hostelworld.com.

You will pay around €28/night on average.

Couchsurfing

You might have heard about couchsurfing. It basically allows you to stay with locals free of charge. It’s kind of a social network as well because it allows you to meet other travelers and locals and connect with them. It can bring some unique experiences your way which you might not have otherwise.

Which travel insurance to buy? 

Always buy travel insurance for your trips. You might see it as something you won’t need until you actually need it. Medical bills or lost luggage or any other setbacks that can occur will cost you a lot more than buying travel insurance.

It’s only a small investment that can save you big time.

The one we use and recommend is worldnomads.com. It is designed by travelers for travelers. For a 12 days trip you will pay around €45.

Which tours to book?

Booking tours can be quite expensive in Iceland. My advice is to book tours wisely. By that I mean to only book tours that you can’t do on your own. Some awesome tours are glacier snowmobiling, whale watching or an ice cave tour. These tours will cost you between €80 and €250.

We did a whale watching tour with north sailing which was amazing! We saw 4 different whales right next to our boat. I can definitely recommend them.

What else can you do to reduce your Iceland trip cost? 

Do not hire a GPS

Instead use maps.me, it’s better as using a GPS and has more options and best of all, it’s free! It allows you to download maps offline so you won’t have to use all your mobile data.

Do not buy bottled water

Almost everywhere you can get water free of charge but even the tap water is 100% safe to drink.

Buy alcohol duty free

Alcohol is quite expensive in Iceland. 500ml of beer will set you back around €7. A cheap bottle of wine will cost you around €12. Your best option is to buy alcohol duty free at the airport.

Go to Myvatn Nature Baths instead of Blue Lagoon

For half the price of the Blue Lagoon you can go swimming in Myvatn Nature Baths in North-Iceland. The surroundings are amazing compared to the Blue Lagoon. You will find different baths with different temperatures and a sauna here. Perfect to relax after all the driving. This will cost you around €36.

Myvatn nature baths me and girlfriend

Get a VAT refund at the airport

If you bought some items in Iceland that are over 6000 ISK (€44) and you kept the receipt you can ask for a VAT refund at the currency exchange desk in the airport.

 

Want to know more about Iceland?

 

Iceland trip cost bookcover