Is Iceland Expensive?


Iceland is one of the most incredible countries in the world. It embraces breathtaking landscapes with tall mountains, gigantic volcanoes, beautiful glacier lagoons, magical waterfalls, and stunning rivers. The warming and eye-captivating natural surrounding make this a perfect place for spending vacations. The unpredictable weather adds to its natural charm. Iceland is home to some of the most exciting hiking trails, underwater animals, ports, harbors, and glacier lagoons. Iceland promises tremendous fun and excitement for groups and families, especially kids.

Iceland is a center for attraction for many travelers, explorers, hikers, campers, and adventure enthusiasts. Each part of the country offers different awe-inspiring sites that are worth exploring. Tourists often find traveling to Iceland an expensive affair because of pricy accommodations and transportation. But you can explore the northern country on a budget if you keep in mind a few details and tips.

Take a look to know what you can do to make your trip more fun and less expensive!

ISK, the Icelandic Krona

Know the Icelandic Currency

The currency of Iceland is called Krona or ISK; no matter where you’re coming from, you need to have Icelandic money for any transaction. Ensure you exchange your currency at the airport (if you’re traveling via a flight) or the nearby Central Bank of Iceland to get a reasonable exchange rate. You can exchange the money in the capital city Reykjavik as well to get favorable rates. A lot of tourists prefer to go cashless by carrying credit and debit cards, but you should always take some amount of cash while in Iceland to pay small vendors and street sellers. Most stores, shops and restaurants in Iceland take debit and credit cars so you do not have to worry about that if you have your card. If you’re carrying your cards, make sure it’s better to have Visa or MasterCard as it works all over Iceland. Also, don’t forget to change the currency when you head home because there is no way to remain useful for you once you leave Iceland.

Iceland road trip self driving

How Much Your Transportation Will Cost?

This is one thing everyone thinks through before planning any trip. Transportation plays a significant role in budgeting because you need to calculate the cost of reaching one point to the other effectively to remain within budget. Since Iceland is an island, you can only travel to the country on a flight or a cruise. A cruise travels from Denmark to Iceland so you can choose that option if you are living in the European mainland. However, most people travel to Iceland by flight. Iceland is located mid between Europe and North-America. There are many flights that use Iceland as a layover destination on their way between the continents. You can often find variety of flights that will take you to Iceland. 

Some of the things you can keep in mind when it comes to transportation in Iceland are as follows:

  • Car: Renting a car can be both a costly affair or an affordable deal. Yes, it needs a fair amount of research and prior booking to stay within budget while renting a car. The cheapest rental car can save you some money as compared to a small 4WD and estate cars. Taxis can be expensive in Iceland, so if you are going to travel some distances, we always recommend that you have your own rental car instead. Also, try renting the car from the airport, if you’re traveling via flight, because that way you don’t have to spend extra money while traveling from the airport to Reykjavik city. Ensure to read between the lines while booking the car in advance. Read through the travel policies and insurance details to be well informed of the services you’re getting in the amount you’re paying. When self driving in Iceland, it is recommended that you check out where the gas stations are located so you don’t run out of gas in the middle of nowhere with no gas station nearby. There is a parking fee in the city center of Reykjavik, but other than that you seldom have to pay any fee for parking. Nowadays, few of the most famous tourist attractions charge a minimum amount of parking. 
  • Flights: The cost of flights varies from places to places. Your home country’s distance to Iceland will determine how much you have to pay to reach Iceland. But you can save some money by booking the tickets well in advance. Make sure to book the tickets three to four months before your traveling date to avail of better deals. Also, do check different airlines for price comparison and affordability. You can use sites like DoHop to compare prices on flights. Once you reach Iceland, prefer bus shuttles or airport bookings for transfers. Hiring a taxi can be a little expensive, so prefer taking a shuttle bus to get to the city.
  • Public Transport: Iceland has good public transport connectivity in Reykjavik, which is cheap and comfortable. It also works fine if you would like to travel between the larger towns and villages of Iceland. However, most people visiting Iceland likes to explore the beautiful destinations in the countryside. That’s when the public transportation is not always a good idea. So even though the public transport is more affordable, it will not help you see all the beautiful points this country embraces. You have to rent a car or go on guided tours with transport included to travel outside the big cities to enjoy the natural surroundings, national parks, geothermal spa, glacier lagoons, and mountains.
Hotel Búðir in Snæfellsnes Peninsula

How Pricy is the Accommodation?

A lot depends upon the time you’re traveling to Iceland. If you’re traveling in on-season then without a doubt, you’ll get everything in more than the usual price due to high demand.  The country offers different accommodation options, including hostels, hotels, cottages, guesthouses, lounges, and apartments at a variety of different prices. A decent 4- or 5-star rating hotel will be expensive compared to a hostel room, so choose wisely. There are a lot of cheaper options available for you if you’re traveling alone but make sure you browse through every possible opportunity when traveling with family, especially kids. If you are traveling in a group it can be more budget friendly to rent an apartment or a cabin where you can all stay together, have your own bed room but cook your own meals in the kitchen.  

There are hotels available that provide Wi-Fi and breakfast options, but you can save you money by eating out or buying food at the grocery stores, and using free Wi-Fi available in some stores and outlets. Hotels and other places located in cities generally cost more than those situated outside the city or towns. If you love roaming around, you can always opt for hotels a little far off from the city. If you love adventure and a stay in nature’s lap, you can book or rent a cottage near the countryside. They are relatively cheaper than the city hotels; they lack some facilities but promises an incredible picturesque sight.

You can also camp around in the beautiful wilderness to remain close to nature and be economical. The key to a pocket-friendly stay in Iceland is booking all the services you wish to avail of in advance. However, you do not need to book your spot at the campsites in advance. Remember to check out all the deals online to avail of early bird discounts while booking a lodging option. Also, choose the season or time of your travel wisely because if you’re planning to save your money by staying in a camp but choosing to travel in winter, this might get a little tricky. So, do think through all the options carefully to make the right choice. 

lobster - Icelandic Traditional Food

How It Is Like To Eat Out

Eating out can be both expensive and affordable in Iceland as it totally depends on where you’re eating. Like any other tourist spot, in on-season, the things that include food get expensive due to the high number of footfalls. You will notice that food prices vary from place to place. If you’re dining out in Reykjavik, you will have to pay more in comparison to dining out in less popular areas or towns. Many tourists prefer staying in accommodations which offer self-catering services, which means you can cook your own food and save money. The other option to avoid eating at expensive restaurants could be buying food from the supermarkets. Yes, you can buy your favorite food from different supermarkets at a lesser price, and not just this, you can have more options at a supermarket compared to a restaurant. It is important to note that tap water is free in Iceland; you can have as much fresh water as you want to avoid buying water bottles.  

Enjoying The Natural Surroundings

Some attractions require entry tickets to visit, but there is one thing that is free to do – sightseeing. You can embrace the breath-taking beauty without spending anything as such, but you require some amount to reach point one from the other end. Please don’t rush into exploring the famous sites as they may have some amount of parking fees to be paid (but they are usually very small). Prefer to explore the unexplored, go hiking, or trekking to experience some of the luscious trails in Iceland. There is no cost to watch the beautiful celestial clan or the northern lights. Tourists from around the globe come to Iceland to witness the stunning sight of the lights of the north. Not just this, you can camp around in one of the trail or mountains with your friends and family. There are places like museums and studios that have a decent amount of admission fees. Suppose you’re into exploring those arenas, then it’s worth spending on them. You can also enjoy visiting lava caves that are located all around Iceland, which is again a cost-free trip. Birdwatching is another exciting thing that you can do while hiking through the European country’s stunning trails. Remember, the natural landmarks are free to explore in Iceland, which means you will not miss out on the fun of witnessing the popular sites.

Guide to Shopping in Iceland

If You Would Like to Go Shopping….

Then do remember that there is not much exclusive stuff Iceland has that you should definitely buy. The woolen sweaters are mostly preferred among tourists as a must buy. If you are looking to buy souvenirs for your friends and family, then hit the flea markets. You will get cheaper stuff there in comparison to the famous malls and stores in the city.  You can support local businesses and small shops by purchasing things from them. If you are good at the bargaining game, you can totally ask for more discounts. If you want to buy more authentic souvenirs like the puffin birds, you should try the National Museum gift shops, which may be a little expensive but promises quality and durability.

Look For Free Stuff

There are a lot of things that you can do and experience without spending any money, like visiting the natural landmarks that offer a tremendous aesthetic vibe and creates a natural ambiance. You can also explore some cost-free natural hot springs in nature’s lap, but most of them can be reached with some amount of hiking. As mentioned above, fresh tap water is free for drinking, which means you don’t have to spend on buying water bottles. Not buying bottles will also help you have a sustainable journey in this incredible country. There are only 2-3 places where you need to pay the road charges (which you can avoid) otherwise, there are no toll charges in Iceland while traveling to Iceland or moving from one city to another. 

Hallgrimskirkja church in downtown Reykjavik on the Reykjavik walking tour

Some Points to Remember

Iceland is a tourist country where most of the population relies upon the tourists for their livelihood, which causes the price rise hence making the country expensive. But you can stay on budget and enjoy the sites by planning everything. Always try to research briefly about the best deals you can get to save your pocket. The key to a pocket-friendly stay in Iceland is pre-booking everything. Be it renting a car, booking a hotel room, or some guided tours and activities, do it at least two-to-three months before the date of your travel to avoid last-minute costs. You can also hire a travel company to eliminate the stress of booking and renting. Our local guides can help you design an itinerary for you to avoid hidden charges at the time of booking. Read through all the documents and hidden costs before to avoid last-minute confusion. Travelling to Iceland may look like a tricky job, but once you organize everything, you will experience one of the best times in this country.  Many people suggest traveling to Iceland during the off-season when the prices are relatively low. Traveling during the off-season does not mean that you will miss out on the mesmerizing of beauty. You can plan your trip in autumn when there are fewer people and more opportunities to experience the wilderness of the place. The unpredictable weather of Iceland determines a lot of things, so make sure you check the weather beforehand so that you pack accordingly to avoid the emergency purchase.

Expensive or not, this awe-inspiring country is worth exploring as it offers some of the best things nature has to offer. It is essential to have a budget and be good with your pocket, but you can go loose when you’re getting the enthralling and entrancing beauty of nature in return. Do not forget to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of Iceland while continually monitoring your pockets. It is a place that encourages you to be carefree amid the natural beauty, with the peeping sun, cold winter breezes, warming natural hot tubs, and rhythmic waterfalls.

Iceland Family Travel, travel to Iceland with kids
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