X amount of weeks or months, you might find yourself in Iceland, you walk into a restaurant to try some of the local food and you find yourself confronted with 20 dollars per plate prices. Then you think, ok well maybe I’ll just go grab a beer. That beer costs 14 dollars. What can you do? I have compiled some tips to help you navigate this situation while you get the most out of your trip.
Here are some prices to mentally prepare you: (also tipping is not required and cards are widely accepted)
Coffee 450 ISK – 650 ISK (5-6 euros, $4.50-6.50)
A meal out 2000-35000 ISK (15-30 euros, $20-35)
An Iceland sweater 5000-7500 ISK (45-70 euros, $50-75)
1. Avoid Hotels
Unless your budget has extra padding, there is no necessity to staying in a hotel. Hostels, Airbnbs, and camping are all great alternatives. The average for a hostel or Airbnb is around $100 each night, no matter where you are in the country it will be difficult to find anything under that price. The only cheaper option is to camp which can only be done comfortably in the summer.
2. Go Grocery Shopping
To taste a bit of the culture, I would recommend saving up beforehand to maybe eat out one or two meals just to try the local flavor of fish, but besides that, you might want to head to the nearest supermarket. All supermarkets are cheaper than eating out every meal, that said, the cheapest one is called Bonus. Not only did I like it for its prices but also for the drugged-out looking pig logo.
3. By Duty-Free in the Airport
If you plan on drinking in Iceland, there a couple things you should know. One, alcohol in restaurants and bars is really expensive, and even on Happy Hour, a beer will cost you $7-8, and cocktails maybe $10 on special. And second, if you want to buy alcohol in Iceland, the groceries, by law, only sell “light” beer, like 2.4% in the stores. You cannot buy any liquor unless it is in stores like Vinbudin. So my advice is so to buy alcohol in the duty-free section of the airport of the country you are leaving. It will be way cheaper than trying to drink out on the town in Iceland.
4. Pack Really Well
So this is from personal experience. So when I was leaving Madrid, the weather was beautiful and very warm. I walked out of the house in jeans and a t-shirt and while packing it slipped my mind to open my winter drawer. So fast forward, I stayed the night in a very cold airport with only a t-shirt for cover, and I arrived in Iceland without a jacket. Smart right? Well, the truth is that forgetting something almost always happens to all of us. However, the unfortunate thing about Iceland is that it is not as easy or affordable to replace things that you forget. For example, I went to a mall to look for a beanie and a jacket. All the hats I looked at cost about $40 and jackets, well forget about it, like $100 or more. I was finally able to find a hat and gloved for around $20 and I improvised and got a sweatshirt to put over my sweater. So the lesson of this all is to double check your packing list before you leave.
5. Reuse Water Bottles
This might come as a habit to some people, for others, it is something that can save a lot of money. Buying water bottles every day at $4-5 can really add up over a few days. The water in Iceland, for the most part, is very fresh, cold, and delicious. Though in some places it can smell like sulfur.
These tips helped me save hundreds in Iceland. Though I did not pack well so I had to buy a hat, gloves, and an extra sweatshirt. So make sure not to follow my footsteps.