Iceland has become one of those countries that is on almost everyone’s bucket list. The land of fire and ice promises incomparable sights and friendly locals. However, to go along with its reputation for jaw-dropping beauty, it’s also renowned for being pretty pricey. Many a traveler has missed out on the amazing experiences on offer by thinking it's too expensive to visit on a budget. As with most things in life, where there’s a will, there's a way, and luckily there are lots of ways to save while still experiencing Iceland at its best. We’ve put together some top tips to help you ace Iceland on a budget.
Feast on No-Frills Food
Fancy Icelandic food can be a fast way to up the cost of your trip. Instead of fancy restaurants, head to the sandwich and hot dog stalls that pepper the country. Icelanders are obsessed with quality hot dogs, so you’ll never be far from one and, although perhaps not the healthiest of diets, at least you’ll be embracing the local way. If you need a break from fast food, grab some fruit and vegetables from one of the supermarkets and cook yourself up a hearty feast without building up a hefty balance.
Drink the Natural Way
Iceland’s water is incredibly clean and drinkable. Not only is it safe to drink from the tap, but you can pretty much drink it straight from any clear-flowing lake, river or stream you come across. It’s absolute insanity to spend money on bottled water. You’ll basically be paying to drink a less fresh version of the free tap water on offer. Bring your own refillable metal bottle with you. Your water will stay deliciously cool, you’ll have the freshest beverage around and you’ll be helping the environment.
Huddle up in a Hostel
Even the three-star hotels in Iceland are pretty steep and will blow your budget in no time. Fortunately, Iceland has some pretty awesome hostels, which not only save you money but often offer a much more authentic Nordic experience. Check out the non-profit organization Hosteling International (HI) Iceland, which has a range of quirky hostels on its books. If you sign up for membership to the HI group, you will get discounted rates to boot. Stay at the award-winning Loft-HI-Hostel in the winter months and you might even be able to spot the northern lights from the rooftop terrace.
Coach Yourself on How to Travel
Coach tours are another way to spend way more than you need to on your trip. The Golden Circle between Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall is the typical tour that many tourist cough up cash for. A better alternative is to rent a car and drive it yourself, the fact being that the actual attractions are all free. You can cut costs even further by getting some of your hostel buddies on board with you. You can even check out carpooling sites like Samferda to save money and the environment.
Think Before You Drink
Alcohol is heavily taxed in Iceland, which can make it pretty bank-breaking if you like a tipple or two. The best thing you can do is buy a bottle from a duty-free shop on your way in. If you need to top yourself off when you’re out, aim for Happy Hour. The Reykjavik Appy Hour app is a worthwhile download to direct you to the cheapest spot for a drink at any given time. Just don’t get too happy and forget where you are when the hour is over.
Spring Into Action
One of the first places that spring to mind when you think of Iceland is probably the famous Blue Lagoon. Problem is, tons of other tourists will join you in those milky-blue waters. Lucky for you, many more hot springs await in Iceland, many of which are free and deserted. Hot Pot Iceland will guide you to all the best bathing spots. Wash away your troubles in steaming brooks, soothing springs and public baths while keeping hold of your hard earned cash.