Iceland is regarded as a dream destination and has been at the top of travellers’ lists for some time. Today I’ll show you that a trip to Iceland doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune, and that even on a small budget, you can still experience all that the island has to offer!
In recent years, Iceland’s popularity as a holiday destination has soared. Pictures of the sensational northern lights and breathtaking glaciers spiral the internet, inspiring travellers’ dreams. Though, the hype surrounding Iceland is fully justified: its unrivalled natural scenery sets the volcanic island aside from other holiday destinations. Iceland’s remote location and comparatively high living costs can soon hinder those who do not have a huge budget. But once again I’ll reiterate that a trip to Iceland is not as expensive as you think! And to prove it, I have put together my bests tips for a cheap trip!
Travelling during the off-season is often much cheaper than travelling during the main season. Iceland attracts most of its tourists during the summer months when the temperatures are warmer and the days are longer. From September to May, there are significantly fewer visitors and consequently, the total cost of flights and accommodation is much lower. However, with this time of year comes lower temperatures. You should also remember that many of the guided tours do not take place during the winter months, and self-exploration of the island can sometimes come with complications. Therefore planning your trip in advance would be a good idea! If you are not yet a very experienced traveller, I would recommend visiting during September, October, April and May, as snowfall only reaches the summits at this time, so the roads are relatively clear. It can indeed be windy and rainy, and the temperatures lie mostly between 2 and 10 degrees. However, with regard to the weather, a compromise may prove worthwhile: not only will you save a lot of money, but you will also avoid the masses of tourists, which are guaranteed during peak season.
Arrival and transfer
So surely Iceland’s remote location means that getting there is going to be difficult? Wrong! The Icelandic low-cost airline WOW Air flies to Keflavik airport in Reykjavik from London on a daily basis – prices start from £56 return. Easyjet also offer cheap flights. A cheap Straeto bus will then transfer you from the airport to Reykjavik. Since the transportation network on the sparsely populated island is relatively undeveloped, I would recommend hiring a car in order to discover as much as possible. Guide to Iceland provide the cheapest car hire. An off-road SUV can be rented from just £49/€57 per day!
Saving money is not the only reason you should consider visiting Iceland in the winter. Between September and April, you have the chance to see the world-famous northern lights – this is one of the main reasons to visit Iceland! Similarly, the exceptional ice caves that form in the Vatnajökull glacier can only be seen between November and March, after which they melt. It is a truly unique and beautiful natural phenomenon that should not be missed! Iceland’s ski slopes cannot compete with those of the Alps in terms of length and quality, but a day’s skiing will cost you around £39/€45. It is therefore a cheap and fun leisure activity for the day. However, even in the off-season all of the island’s main attractions remain open – and often at reduced entry prices. For example, a trip to the blue lagoon will only cost around £37/€44 (a saving of around £5/€6). If that is still too expensive, you could perhaps visit one of the less famous and much cheaper thermal baths nearby, or even take your own trip to one of the numerous waterfalls or a hiking areas.
Cheap accommodation in Iceland
The majority of a traveller’s budget is spent on accommodation. Conversely, this means that you can also make the most savings in this area. You can find great offers for private rooms and holiday apartments at Airbnb. As an individual, you could stay for as little as £22/€26 per night, but thanks to Scandinavian interior design, you’ll feel as if you’re staying in a chic and glamorous hotel. Hostels are also an affordable accommodation option and allow you to connect with other travellers at the same time. Or how about Couchsurfing? It’s a great opportunity to get in touch with the locals, and it’s free! Whereas, a night in a hotel can cost anything from £60/€70 upwards.
Self-catering is definitely the cheapest option for your stay in Iceland. Restaurants are unfortunately relatively expensive due to the high taxes. The prices in the supermarket, however, are comparable with those of other European countries so long as the food is not imported. If you’re out and about you will find good, cheap food at various service stations. Hot dogs are a culinary must-have on an Icelandic visit – they’re also very affordable. But in case you would rather eat out, I will now suggest some of my favourite, yet affordable, restaurants in Reykjavik, all of which have been awarded the ‘Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence’. If you are after a nice warm soup, Svarta Kaffid is the place to go. You can get the best burgers at Hamborgarabulla Tomasar, and for a more affordable experience, head to Habibi for the best kebabs in town. Albeit for a little more money, yet still a good price, you can enjoy the authentic traditional cuisine that the “Old Iceland Restaurant” has to offer. Good to know: the tap water in Iceland is of excellent quality and is available in restaurants for free with a meal – this will save you a considerable amount of money. For those who prefer alcoholic beverages, consider buying them at the airport from duty free. Alcohol on the island is only available from certain alcoholic dealerships and is unfortunately quite expensive.
Would you like to visit Iceland for a small price? I have of course saved the best tip until the end: simply take a look at my blog. Here I provide the cheapest deals, as well as combination offers for flights and hotels. Hopefully I can relieve you from the stress of the painful travel planning process!