"Iceland is so expensive"
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before, but I promise you, it doesn’t have to be.
I mean, how else was I able to do 7 day road trip around the ring road of Iceland for £600 each – and that included flights, luggage, car hire, petrol, accommodation, food, drink AND activities.
So here they all are, written in one place for you.
Right, let’s start with things you should do before you get to Iceland.
1. Use Google Flights to find the cheapest flights
Go to Google Flights, pop in your departure and destination and then click on your the date box. This brings up a calendar view which clearly shows you the best days to travel. You can also toggle between how long you want your trip to me at the bottom, and the costs will updated instantly!
2. Search for weekend dates to use less annual leave
Google Flights also has you covered for this, but this time in your search you need to leave the destination blank, click on the dates and find the ‘flexible dates’ option and then select ‘weekend’. You can also select the month you want to travel in too if that’s helpful. Then zoom in on Iceland on the map and voila.
IMPORTANT: Before you go ahead and pay, always put the dates you find into Skyscanner and Momondo.
3. Check local car hire companies
I tend to use Skyscanner to find hire cars yet when looking for Iceland, I realised it wasn’t pulling in any local results. So, after a quick google I found Northbound, an Icelandic broker who were consistently cheaper.
We found a 4×4 for 6 days for just £26 a day.
4. Get a card that lets you spend abroad for free
If your regular bank card charges you for spending abroad, take a look at online banks or top up cards that have no fees and are free and easy to sign up to. We use Monzo but Starling Bank and WeSwap are other good choices.
Iceland is a pretty card friendly place and we only took money out once.
5. Make a meal plan and shopping list
Do this before you arrive in Iceland and then stick to it when you get to the supermarkets. Be clever with your choices and think about how you could reuse leftovers for future meals.
Here’s what my meal plan looked like beforehand:
Of course, some items changed but having this and then making a shopping list from it really helped keep me on track and meant no food waste!
6. Buy a check in bag
It’s an initial hit of money but you can use that extra space to pack things, like food items and towels that you would have to pay for further down the line. If you’re going with someone, why not share a big case between you?
7. Pack some basics
With that extra space, go around your kitchen before you leave and pack a tupperware box with some basics. I packed some rice, sachets, cutlery, plastic bags, smaller tupperware boxes, loads – it saved me a fortune.
8. Use travel mini pots
9. Bring a thermos flask
If it’s cold out you will want hot drinks and you could easily spend £4 every single time you fancy a tea or a coffee.
You can’t go wrong with a classic Thermos and I’d recommend getting one for drinks and one for hot soups too!
10. Choose a guesthouse over a hotel
When deciding on hotel versus guesthouse, choose the guesthouse. Icelandic design is pretty minimalistic and so you’re not going to miss out loads by going for the cheaper option. A lot of them are really clean and highly rated – they’re really good value for money.
We stayed at Apotek Guesthouse in Höfn for £63 a night.
11. Choose a place with cooking facilities
12. Check Airbnb
Don’t forget Airbnb. We used it to stay in a cute little cabin in the middle of nowhere for £75 a night – and there’s also a lot of guesthouses on there too. However, always google to see if you can book direct as that will usually be cheaper than booking through a third party.
You can get money off your first Airbnb booking if you haven’t used it before!
13. Try House Swapping
We stayed in a ridiculous house on our first two nights thanks to a website called Love Home Swap. We didn’t actually have to swap our house with anyone (you can read the details here with a 25% link off membership) but basically, this place was only £27 a night each.
14. Flip your road trip on its head
Struggling to find availability? Try turning your road trip on its head. Most people go anti-clockwise but there’s nothing stopping you from doing it the other way around which may free up some rooms for you.
15. Buy alcohol from duty free
Iceland isn’t part of the EU so you should get the cheapest price at the airport, which will be so much cheaper than buying it in Iceland. You don’t need to buy mixers too, you can easily get them at the supermarket.
16. Ask for petrol station loyalty cards
When you collect your car hire, ask if they any petrol station membership cards. Northbound found us a car with Lava Rentals and they provided us with a sticker on our keys which got us money off every fill up at that particular petrol station, and a free coffee!
17. Fill up at the cheapest petrol stations in Iceland
If you are a Costco member, bring your card as there’s one 15 mins outside of Reykjavik and it is easily the cheapest place on the entire island. If you’re not a member, there’s a nearby petrol station that does it’s very best to match without the need of a discount card.
It’s called Atlantsolía – Flatahraun.
By the way, when filling up, don’t choose the ‘Fill-Up’ option as the station usually makes a hold of about 200 euros on your card. This hold should be released immediately but it can be delayed so it’s don’t choose it, just in case.
18. Share your parking ticket
If you’re parking at a tourist attraction, look around for people leaving whose ticket may still be valid. Also, why not pass yours on when you’re done too – then you’ll have the gods of karma on your side too!
19. Shop at Bonus, Kronan or Nettó
When shopping, the cheapest supermarket is Bonus but Kronan and Netto are well priced too. If your flight arrives later on in the day, Bonus will probably be closed. Don’t worry, just shop at one of the others. You’ll save more money getting it done straightaway versus going out for dinner and waiting for Bonus the next day.
I extensively cover the prices in Netto here:
You can also find a list of our costs written up here.
And you see some of the costs from Bonus here too:
20. Don't go to the Blue Lagoon
This is a controversial one… I know it looks beautiful but it’s so expensive and there are plenty of other geothermal pools that are either cheaper, or completely free. Here are some! And remember to take your packed towel to get the cheapest rate.
21. Make the most of the happy hours
It is possible to go out drinking if you use the happy hours. Your best bets are in Reykjavik or even cheaper, Iceland’s second city Akureyri where it’s possible to find happy hours ranging from 4pm to 10pm where beers are less than a fiver each.
Here’s a great guide on where to go in Akureyri.
22. Remember that the best thing about Iceland is COMPLETELY FREE
Yep, I am on about the nature. There are plenty of activities that could see you spending hundreds of pounds but I promise you that you can have a completely mindblowing holiday by just taking in the out of world sights that are on offer for free!
Got some tips of your own?
If you have any more tips that you want to share – leave a comment below and help your fellow human.
And remember to share this with someone who’d love to go to Iceland but is worried it’s too expensive!
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