Are you on your way to Reykjavík but need to save some money?
Although there is never really a bad time to visit Iceland per se, we would recommend that you avoid peak season and travel instead between September and May. The summer can easily get pretty crowded here (we’re pretty small, after all) and tourism has been booming in the last few years, almost to the point where the infrastructure is barely keeping up.
But more importantly, if you’re on a budget, off-season is the perfect time to explore the country and using a few helpful budget tips, we can insure a more personal and less traditional stay.
Let’s break down a few tips, shall we?
1. Seek out local grocery stores
Full disclosure: food in Iceland is not cheap, so forget about eating out every night – unless that is something that you already have pre-planned and built in your budget. But, if since we’re traveling on a budget, we recommend that you buy your food at local grocery stores. Bónus, Krónan and (how fitting…) Iceland are among the cheapest supermarkets in the country, with lots of daily deals and specials. Buy local greenhouse-grown fruits and veggies and meat like lamb and fish. Pretty much everything else is imported, making it much more expensive.
And then there’s another thing… If you do decide to treat yourself to a restaurant or two, it’s important to know that Icelanders are aware that tipping is a big part of American culture, so they would never turn down some extra added to the bill, but the wages for servers in Iceland is higher and the tip is already built into the cost of the meal.
2. Camping is more practical than you think
To save an abundance of money, why not consider camping? Assuming of course that you have the right gear to brave the weather. Camping here is highly recommended, and Iceland has some of the best facilities in Europe. Most campsites are also attached to youth hostels, so you can rent a room if the weather gets really bad. Hostels usually have free WiFi access as well, so you don’t need to make expensive phone calls to people back home.
… then there’s, of course, the camper van life, which could easily merge the cost of finding accommodation and a vehicle to travel in. Going camper van creates a very flexible trip, so you don’t need to worry about browsing through selections of cheap hotels or finding the right, underpriced car.
Either way, camping in Iceland is an experience that is not to be forgotten soon. Just remember to pack as many warm clothes as you can.
3. There’s no competing with our tap water
If there’s any place in the world where you don’t need bottled water, it’s here. In Iceland you can get it sparkling and clean from every faucet. Buying bottled water is one of the worst tourist traps that travellers can fall into; apart from bottled water being redundant as hell, it’s ridiculously overpriced as well.
All you need is a decent container.
4. Don’t be too picky on hotels, they’re only for sleeping anyway
Save money by carefully choosing your accommodation. Avoid large hotels and stay in small hotels or guest houses. They are a fraction of the price, and guest houses in Iceland are decent, offering the same quality as that of a 2 1/2 star hotel.
There’s also the underappreciated art of couchsurfing! Connecting with Iceland’s ever-active Couchsurfing community is not only a fail safe way to save money, but it also allows you to experience a new culture from the inside out.
5. Avoid taxis, use the bus
… unless your life pretty much depends on it.
However, relying on the bus outside of Reykjavík is not an option, so if you plan on going beyond the city limits, you might need to rent a vehicle. Or just hitchhike, and see where that gets you.
That last option might make for the best and most interesting adventure, but it’s always safe to have a backup plan.
6. Happy hours, everywhere!
With some bars going as far as charging over € 10 for a pint of lukewarm swill, visiting Icelandic pubs can quite quickly eat away your holiday savings. You should, therefore, tread the local way of drinking during happy hours, but most Icelandic bars and restaurants offer discounted beer and wine from as early as 15:00 to as late as 20:00 every day.