Friday, 7 July 2017

10 Money Savings Tips For A Trip To Iceland

Iceland is a beautiful country but wow it is expensive. With the cost of living being 68% higher than the UK, this post is about how to save money on a trip to Iceland.

Gullfoss waterfalls

We are not normally people to scrimp and save on eating or drinking in restaurants and bars whilst on holiday but we really did think twice about our options in Iceland. 

Before we start let's just look at some of the average prices in Iceland below. 

credit Numbeo 

Eye watering aren't they? However, there are ways in which you can save money and make your pennies go further. Some are straightforward and some are more cunning so have a look and I hope they will help you.

1. Choose Your Credit Card Wisely 

Everywhere takes credit cards so choose wisely

You can, of course, change money before you go but there is no need to as everywhere takes credit cards, even in the public toilets. We didn't change any money at all for our trip or when we were there. So my top tip would be to save the hassle of changing money and possibly having to change it back get a credit card that has no transaction fee and no currency exchange fee like the Halifax Clarity credit card. 

Another benefit of using the card if that it has the Mastercard exchange rate which is better than the rate you get when changing currency anyway. 

2. Buy Alcohol At Duty-Free

On special offer at Bristol airport

Firstly a top tip is to buy alcohol at duty-free. You can buy this as you come into Iceland at Keflavik airport, alternatively check out the deals at your departure airport after security. A note here is that you cannot buy alcohol at supermarkets in Iceland only government owned Vinbudin stores, which are few and far between and much more expensive than duty-free.

Another tip is to check out the 'appy hour' app to get the best deals on happy hours in Reykjavik. When you think a cocktail can cost £17 then it's worth checking out the happy hours at bars for half priced and reduced beer, wine and cocktails.

3. Drink Tap Water

Seljalandsfoss waterfall 

The tap water in Iceland is excellent quality so don't buy bottled water. Ask for tap water in restaurants and if you are going out for the day fill up a bottle with water to take with you.

4. Eat Your Largest Meal At Lunchtime 

Mr W with an Icelandic hot dog

An old tip but a good tip is to eat your largest meal of the day at lunchtime. This will often be much cheaper especially if you take into account set lunch offers. One thing that you don't have to do in Iceland is tip in restaurants as the wages are decent and the tip is built in. 

For more of a snack lunch, try the famous Icelandic hotdogs, so good even Bill Clinton was pictured at one stall in Reykjavik and at about £3.50 one of the cheaper items to eat in Iceland. 

5. Go Self-Catering

Having an included breakfast in a hotel rate can really save you money 

Depending on the time of year and the weather consider booking an apartment, go camping, or use a camper van over booking a hotel. These self-catering options will allow you to cook for yourselves. If you are on the tightest budget a hostel could be another option.

If you go self-catering buying food to make your own breakfast and lunch will save you a lot over the course of a trip. If you do however book a hotel, get a deal with breakfast in with the room rate if you can. Hotels are no more expensive than anywhere else in Europe which is nice as the food and drink most certainly is.  One caveat to that, is if you are travelling in the Summer months, the accommodation in more rural areas are expensive, due to lack of availabiity.

6. Use Discount Supermarkets

Bonus supermarket bread - large loaf 269 IKR = £2.00

Bonus is a great discount supermarket, make use of it for basics like bread, milk and fruit, cooked meat, breakfast cereal and soft drinks if you are on a tight budget. A can of coke worked out to 69p, when you consider the price in a cafe is about £2.20 then you can see big savings can be made.  A large loaf of white bread was £2.00 which is still more expensive than the UK but perfect as a base for lunch or breakfast for a few days.

7. Take A Flask

Take a flask

On our days out when we toured the Golden Circle, the west of Iceland and the south we took a flask with us. This saved us on the cost of hot drinks in the cold weather and also saved us time as we didn't have to queue in a cafe for drinks. When a coffee can be nearly £4 then it was worth it for us. I also took a pack of chocolate bars from Poundland in the UK, as I knew Mr W has a chocolate obsession and this saved us again on snacks.

8. Use Free Wi-Fi
Not far from this glacier in the background was a cafe made of containers with fast Wi-Fi

Almost everywhere in Reykjavik will have free public Wi-Fi, so if you are visiting a museum, restaurant or cafe make use of it. We were amazed at how fast the Internet was in Iceland and how well connected everywhere is too. We went to a glacier in the south of the island and a little cafe had brilliant Wi-Fi!

9. Go To Alternative Spas

The Blue Lagoon 

We enjoyed our visit to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland's famous geothermal spa but you can save money by going to a less pricey, less touristy geothermal spa. Try Myvatn Nature Baths or The Secret Lagoon instead. Packing a towel in your luggage will save on towel rental.

10. Visit The Natural Attractions

The black sand beach at Vik

Iceland is full of beautiful waterfalls, geysers, black sand beaches, glaciers and stunning natural beauty so visit nature's free attractions.  These can be visited by car or bus. If you are happy to drive then hire a car as it will save you money on individually booked tours and give you more flexibility too. 

Do not hire a Sat Nav, instead download the Google Map to your phone for free and use that to navigate around the country. Worked a treat for us.

If you are lucky and visit in Winter you may even see the Northern Lights, which are of course free!

pin for later

So here are my top 10 money saving tips for a trip to Iceland, an amazing but expensive country.  I hope you get the chance to visit one day and if you do I hope my tips will save you money. 

You can read more about planning tips for a visit to Iceland and why I think you will love Iceland on my blog. You can also check out our 7-day road trip to Iceland on the travel blog I write with my husband Fly Drive Explore.

Bon Voyage!


  1. Drinking tap water is a really good one! Some restaurants charge so much for bottled water!I used to spend so much money on fast food out! x

    LAURA ­| Laura Thinks About

    1. In the UK they have to give you tap water if you ask for it.

  2. Going self-catering and visiting natural attractions is definitely my preferred way to go!

  3. Wow, the prices are really steep! I have plans to go there in the future, however I think I need to save a bit more and keep in mind your tips when I do!

    1. They are steep. Hope you had my tips if you go.

  4. I'm not a fan of extreme weather so Iceland isn't top on my list of places to visit. But who knows, I might change my mind in the future. Thanks for the advice!

  5. These are some great sounding tips, I would love to visit Iceland myself one day the lagoon is a must for me sometime I think.

  6. We have always said we would love to go to Iceland but the prices are so expensive! It's great that you can save money when you get there, self catering is a better option for us being a family of six.

  7. Wow, I can't believe how much a McDonald's is! Eye watering! Looks like a beautiful country though x

  8. A lot of my friends have been to Iceland and I really want to check it out! xxx

  9. Well we all know Iceland is rather expensive so this really comes in handy. My husband was saying we should finally go this year but the price tag is indeed an issue. Really good, thank you!

  10. This came post came perfectly for me. I gave up going to Iceland because I made my budget and I found it quite expensive. I will redo everything based on your tips to see if it gets better, and hopefully I can start buying those tickets. :D

  11. Next one Iceland!!!! So thank s for your tips!!'

  12. Great tips! Alcohol and food are usually my biggest expenses when I travel, so I would need to stock up at the airport - and prepare for a lot of hotdogs!!

  13. I'm hoping to visit Iceland in the not-too-distant future, as it's always been a dream of mine to travel there. I would have never drunk the tap water had I not read this post though, as I'm always really cautious about things like that. So thank you for the tip. All the others are fab too :)

    Louise x

    1. Most places in Europe the tap water is safe, but always best to check before you do drink it. Iceland water is some of the best in the world

  14. I totally agree! I went last year to Iceland and the costs were crazy. Wish I'd read this then...

  15. We went self catering when we were Iceland and we have a bonus supermarket right near us, so that saved us a fortune.

  16. I'm always amazed when I see tourists drinking huge bottles of water in places where the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Why spend the extra money on bottled water? And in a place as expensive as Iceland, it's a good idea. Living in China now, where alcohol is crazy expensive, I think I will start stocking up at duty-free as well!

    1. Water is one thing you don't have to buy in Iceland

  17. I've heard how expensive Iceland can be so thanks for the tips x

  18. Oh! The prices are really really high. We have plans to visit Ireland in future but it seems like quite expensive affair too. Anyways, You have mentioned quite valid points in your post. Surely gonna consider these once we have planned out for Ireland. Thanks for this amazing post.

    1. Ireland isn't that expensive but Iceland really is.

  19. It didn't occur to me to refill a water bottle when I was there. I used my travel credit card and never did the math in my head when I was there so as not to panic about the cost

  20. These are very good, practical, and easy-to-do tips! I think everyplace should have articles about saving money!

  21. Excellent and practical tips, Mellissa! What else would you recommend eating besides hotdogs?

    1. The local fish is amazing. I ate artic char for the first time. Also the lamb soup is a local speciality. If you are trying to budget there are some ramen noodle restaurants that are cheap in Reykjavik.

  22. These are great tips! I've always wanted to go to Iceland. I always go self catering when abroad and prefer off the beat and track places rather than tourist attraction that you must pay and arm and a leg for.


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