Seems like everyone wants to go to Iceland these days, but everybody’s scared of how much Reykjavik will cost. So, to give you more of an idea of how much money to take to Iceland, I’ve taken a bit of a gander and gathered all the info on the costs of Iceland.
I’ve also added in a few tips on how you can keep Iceland cheap as chips (a large, expensive portion of chips).
Cost of flights to Iceland
Cheap flights to Iceland are not that hard to find. Loads of budget airlines fly to Reykjavik now and even the larger ones stop off on their way to places like the US and Canada so you’re not stuck for options.
Obviously, the budget ones are going to be the cheapest. There’s easyjet, IcelandAir and WizzAir too, so just do a quick Netflights search to see what comes up for your dates. Right now (2019), you can expect to pay just over £100.
To keep it even cheaper, avoid checking a bag and read up on each airline’s hand baggage policy so you don’t get any nasty surprises at the gate.
Once you arrive in Iceland, that’s when the budget really starts to feel stretched so it’s better to be realistic about how much spending money for Iceland you’re going to need from the start.
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Cost of transport in Iceland
Renting a car
Aside from being a whole lot cheaper than organised day trips from Reykjavik, road tripping is really the best way to explore the country.
You can rent a car for around £150 for four days – check the latest prices here.
If there are a few of you it was work out relatively cheap and keep your spending money in Iceland a little lower. It also means you can work to your own timetable, stop wherever you fancy, and see parts of the country you otherwise wouldn’t. Plus, the roads are so quiet and super wide so it’s actually a really enjoyable drive and not scary at all, even though you’re on the other side of the road.
Iceland by bus
If you’re still not convinced that taking to the wheel is for you, you can opt for the public bus system, Strætó. A one way ticket costs around £3, it’s £11 for a day pass or £25 for a three day pass. The service also has a free app that’ll let you pay your way online so you don’t need to carry change, and give you all the latest updates. The buses also have free wifi so there’s an extra little saving on your mobile data.
Hitchhiking in Iceland
Finally, if we want to talk bare minimum costs for transport, hitchhike. I know you might be envisaging horror movie scenarios and while I can’t guarantee complete safety, Iceland is supposed to be a safe and really friendly place. And given the country is so small and only has two main roads, it wouldn’t be that hard to track you down.
Price of accommodation in Iceland
As always, the cost of accommodation depends on how much you want to spend and how fancy you want to be.
Camping in Iceland
The lowest cost option is no doubt camping, but you then have to bring along your full pack of gear and factor in the weather. Camping in the winter might not be the best idea in Iceland but in the spring and summer there’s nothing stopping you from embracing the great outdoors.
Campsites come in about £15 a night per person or if you wanted to take it up a gear you could pay £100 between a few of you and rent a campervan with GoCampers Iceland.
Hostels in Iceland
There aren’t loads of hostels in Iceland, so definitely book as well in advance as you can and expect to pay about £50 a night. Even though they’re a little more pricey than hostels in other places, they are really clean and have loads of character. Breakfast is usually included too so be a little sneaky and bag yourself some snacks from the buffet too.
Hotels in Iceland
Of course there are hotels available in Iceland, especially in Reykjavik. Check out the prices on Booking.com for the latest deals.
AirBnBs in Iceland
AirBnBs are also an option and again a good one to consider if there’s a group of you. It means you can maybe afford to book somewhere a little nicer and divide the cost between you. Prices do range but there’s loads on offer for between £100 and £150 a night.
This is what we did.
You could also stay in a real Icelandic person’s home, surely that would be a true cultural experience!
Cost of food in Iceland
Like any trip, food is going to be responsible for eating into a large chunk of your Iceland spending money. Coffees come in at around £3-£4, lunch might set you back £15 and dinner can cost anywhere upwards of £20 depending on how hungry you are. And how fancy.
I’d really recommend booking lodgings with breakfast included so you can maximise its potential to spill into lunch or consider splitting a big pizza with a friend at dinner time so it’s one meal split two ways.
It may not be the most cultured, but Ikea meatballs are also a dependable dinner option. Just whizz past the home furnishings and head straight to the cafe for some affordable grub.
We actually went all out and for a multi-course taster menu, but more on that in the Iceland spending money round up below.
Another plus to staying in a hostel or AirBnB is the kitchen access and ability to make your own meals. Bonus is the most affordable store for food shopping and you could always bring some teabags, cereal, granola bars from home so you’re not splurging on the basics.
Don’t forget to pack the water bottle too so you’re not always having to spend on drinks.
Price of alcohol in Iceland
When asking yourself ‘how much spending money do I need for 4 days in Iceland,’ team that with a question on ‘how drunk do I want to be this week?’ because alcohol sure ain’t cheap here.
Adding a glass of wine to a meal will take it up by £10 and just a beer is still pricey at roughly £8. You could invest in a bottle of something at the start of your trip and sip your way through it each day so that the buzz isn’t costing billions or just go teetotal for the sake of the bank statement.
Maybe you’ll juts have to get drunk on the scenery instead.
Cost of activities in Iceland
Other things to think about when you’re considering your spending money for Iceland is what it is you want to be doing.
Iceland in all its snowy glory has loads of activities you can do. There’s everything from snowmobiling to glacier hiking, volcano trekking to whale watching, ice caving to puffin viewing.
Of course, none of these are cheap.
Expect to pay anything from £70 for whale watching, £100 for snowmobiling and the same for ice caving. The Blue Lagoon is also a must but that’ll hit the budget by another £43. Maybe prioritise the top three things you want to do and see if you can negotiate a group deal if there are a few of you.
Another way to save some kroner is to make your way to the starting points for all these activities. If you travel there yourself by bus or car, then you don’t need the hotel pick up option which knocks the price down a bit.
I know this all sounds steep but don’t totally despair. There are some other ways of exploring Iceland that don’t break the bank.
Free things to do in Iceland
The Gulfoss Falls are entirely free to see, he Great Geysir only costs £4 and the Secret Lagoon Hot Spring is £20 but that does combine a geothermal swim with seeing a geysir.
There’s also a free walking tour you can do of Reykjavik city, some free museums like the Einar Jónsson Art Museum, and staying up late to spot the stunning Northern Lights is also completely free to do.
Currency in Iceland
There’s always a few things you’ve forgotten to think of when it comes to travelling and spends. Bank charges can be a big one. One way to avoid them is to get your Icelandic kroner out in cash ahead of time. Keep an eye on the rates before you go and get the money changed as soon as it gets good.
Alternatively, a banking card like Revolut or even some of the bank’s own cards do a deal where you won’t be charged any withdrawal fees and get the exact conversion rate on the day you’re using it. Spend some time looking it up and it’ll save you a couple of quid.
I have a Monzo card for this exact reason.
So, how much money should I take to Iceland?
In general, I’d say that for a few days, if you were going for the cheapest option every time and only doing say one activity, you could maybe do the whole trip for £600. But to get the most out of the trip while still shoe-stringing it along, £800 should do the trick for four nights.
If you’re planning on being there a little bit longer or living a little larger, then factor in a few more hundred.
My Iceland spending money
Heathrow to Reykjavik on the Wednesday night FI455 flight gets in at 23:35 and back out on Monday for 12 noon= £279pp
Bottle of rum in the airport = £10pp
Transfer to Reykjavik = £30pp
2 nights at the CenterHotel Skjaldbreid with breakfast (and lunch and tea) = £48pp
Milkshake at the laundromat = £4pp
Beer at the laundromat = £6pp
Entrance to the Hallgrimskirkja Church = £4pp
7 course taster dinner at the Sjavargrillid = £79pp
Supermarket shop for 3 breakfasts 3 dinners and snacks = £33pp
Rental car = £55pp
Entrance and towel to the Blue Lagoon = £33pp
Wine at the Blue Lagoon = £8pp
3 nights at an absolutely incredible house in South Iceland = £80pp
Champagne for the hot tub = get your auntie to buy it 🙂
Snack and coffee at the geyser = £10pp
Toastie lunch at Vik = £10pp
Extra supplies of cheese and fishy pâté = £5pp
Petrol = £27pp (we did a crazy amount of driving on that!)
Ham and cheese croissant at the airport = £5pp
COST OF ICELAND TOTAL: £726pp
An incredible holiday with the most amazing scenery, lots of fun and quality time with the ones you love most = £priceless
Iceland is expensive – the cost of the clothes in the shops was shocking and the toastie we had in Vik was £10 – but it was absolutely worth every penny.
Best booking resources for Iceland
These are my favourite companies to use when I travel anywhere, including travel to Iceland. They always give the best deals, the strongest customer service and after 8 years of travel as my job, they’re the ones I’ve found to be the absolute market leaders. These are the companies I turn to when I want to book my travel.
– Skyscanner – I always use Skyscanner. They’re my favourites thanks to the interface and wealth of results. Not all airlines are on there, so sometimes I just use them as a starting point. But it’s extremely rare that I’d ever book a flight without consulting Skyscanner first.
– Netflights – After Skyscanner I go and check Netflights to see what they come up with. They’re another comparison engine, and they promise the best deals. You can also book cheap holidays and your car hire with them too.
– Airbnb – Airbnb is great for groups looking for accommodation together, or for solo travellers just looking for a room. There are always plenty of options to get excited about on Airbnb. (If you’re new to Airbnb, get £25 off your first stay!)
– Hostelworld – I used to work for HostelBookers so it feels weird to recommend HostelWorld, but since they bought HB out, I feel it’s ok. They’re the best hostel booking site on the internet with the largest inventory and best search interface.
– Booking.com – I love Booking.com. Is it weird to love a hotel booking website? Yep. Well, the way they display their property pics and info just makes the decisions easy to come to. You can easily look for parking options, internet, reviews, location – and I love that most of the properties can be cancelled with no charge. Absolutely, definitely my favourite hotel booking site.
– Viator – if you want to book your activities and adventures before to travel to Iceland then I’d recommend Viator. They have all the main things to do in Iceland listed, and you can compare and contrast tours, activities and adventures.
– Post Office Travel Money – the Post Office is the best stop for your travel money. They have over 70 currencies and you can get free delivery to your home, or to collect in over 11,500 branches with 0% commission.
– World Nomads – As I mention above, somewhere, I have travel insurance with Nationwide FlexPlus. It’s fantastic. If I didn’t though, I’d get my travel insurance from World Nomads. They’re well known in the industry for their customer service, competitive prices and in-depth coverage. Never, ever travel without travel insurance – it’s absolutely not worth it.
More on Iceland
Wednesday 20th of February 2013
I only go places with laundromat beers under 5 dollars....
Friday 22nd of February 2013
Laundromat was such a cool place – I want to do a blog post on it actually. You could do your washing downstairs while you ate and drank upstairs. It's the future...
Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks)
Tuesday 19th of February 2013
Wow, that it darn expensive but I cant wait to get out there and explore. I might pack a few packets of supernoodles for some cheap cheap lunches at our apartment though :)
Thank Vicky, massively helpful post!
Friday 22nd of February 2013
Yeah, it was worth it though. We ate quite cheaply for the rest of the week, but yeah eating out is crazy expensive. And I wouldn't even bother drinking. Sure you'll have better weather than us though. Too much snow!
Monday 18th of February 2013
Never regretted spending any money in Iceland, it was all totally worth it. Plus it used to be allot more expensive before the bank crash, so imagine what it used to be like! More budget tips, the hot dogs are cheap and world class! Also the ice cream is really cheap and fun (when it's dipped in chocolate). Candy is 50% off on Saturday so fill your boots! Lastly if you go with a local or Icelandic speaker to Blue lagoon its 50% off : ). ps. the buying booze from the airport when you arrive is a must so use the limit to its fullest!
Friday 22nd of February 2013
Candy is 50% off on Sundays! No one told me. Dammit. Good tips there Dave – too late for me, but everyone else enjoy...
Tuesday 12th of February 2013
Iceland is so expensive... but definitely worth every penny. An amazing country I hope to go back to soon.