Are you looking for the best ways for how to save money in Iceland? We were before we traveled to Iceland knowing how notoriously expensive Iceland is as a place to visit. However we were surprised by the lack of Iceland money saving tips out there. In this guide we round up all our best Iceland money saving advice to help you travel to Iceland on a budget, and stick to it!
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Best Time to Travel to Save Money in Iceland
One of the great things about visiting Iceland is that there is no bad time to visit in my opinion. Each season in Iceland will offer something different from Northern Lights in winter to whale watching in summer.
So when is the best time to travel to Iceland to Save money?
Peak season in Iceland, is during the Northwen hemisphere summer months i.e. from May – September.
And although this time is great if you want long days full of sunlight this is actually the worst time to visit Iceland in terms of expensive accommodation, hire cars prices and flights.
Travelling in the off season will definitely save you money. So what is off season in Iceland? I would say Winter can be some of the cheapest times to visit (basically traveling to Iceland between October and March).
By travelling out of season you will still get to see many of the best attractions that Iceland has to offer but without the largest price tag and also the bigger crowds that you get during the summer.
The only downside to traveling to Iceland in off peak season is that when you are travelling to places off the main roads you may experience road closures due to bad weather and will have to contend with weather conditions that you aren’t used to driving in.
Chances are if you are visiting Iceland during Winter you will base yourself out of Reykjavik rather than driving the Golden Circle yourself.
If you do decide to go in Winter you may also want to factor in the cost of getting larger cars with the right kind of drive.
But the upside to this is that you are more likely to see the Northern Lights! If you don’t want to go out every night looking for the lights why not check out our guide to hotels with an aurora alarm!
If you do decide to travel in the off season though be sure to pack plenty of layer as it gets very cold in Iceland in the Winter! This can obviously be an additional cost if you have to buy new clothes to add to your Iceland winter packing list.
How to save money on rental cars in Iceland
While the off peak season is cheaper in terms of flights and accommodation, you may want to factor car rental into your costs.
Now if you are traveling to Iceland in Winter and plan to do day trips and spend time in the city of Reykjavik, you won’t be worried about the car rental costs.
However if you want to do some driving yourself you need to consider the type of car you need i.e. all wheel drive vs 2 wheel drive versus 4 wheel drive. We recommend researching the car type you require for the itinerary you want to do as some cars will be more expensive than others.
Look for Cars with Petrol Discounts
The type of petrol stations in Iceland vary from staffed to unmanned. Some car rental companies will offer petrol discount cards at certain petrol stations such as Olis.
If this is the case you will normally be given a map with applicable petrol stations and you should time your refills to these station as this will definitely save you money.
Take car seats with you
If you are traveling to Iceland with toddlers or children it is important to know that car seats are required by law until the age of 12 or if they are under 150cm in height.
If your airline allows you take car seats for free this might be a cost saving for you as it will save you paying money to rent car seats from your car hire company.
Self Drive or Excursions – What is Cheaper
Hiring a car is obviously an expensive thing to do in Iceland. But when we looked at all of the sites we wanted to see on our travels against the costs of excursions we found that hiring the car was definitely the cheaper option.
However excursions may be a good idea if you are traveling to Iceland in Winter if you don’t want to be driving on snowy and icy roads.
Top Tip: Please don’t try to save money by not getting full car insurance. There are lots of loose roads in Iceland so make sure you are fully covered with stone and ash coverage.
Some banks and credit cars offer insurances as part of the packages but be sure that you are fully covered if you are trying to save money this way.
Best Accommodation to Book to Save Money in Iceland
When we travelled to Iceland we booked a hotel (Hotel Stracta in Hella) that had some kitchen facilities and took some food from home.
Having some kitchen facilities is a great way of saving money in Iceland as food is very expensive.
This meant when we visited we were only buying the perishables in Icelandic supermarkets and limiting our food costs. We planned meals and lunches before we went and this way we kept our costs down.
Another great thing about Hotel Stracta is that is had a northern lights alarm! This was great as the staff would alert us if there was a show and saved us money from going on a specific northern lights excursion!
Other cheaper accommodation options in Iceland include staying in hostels airbnbs and Bnbs.
And it is a good idea to look for accommodation slightly off the Golden Circle for instance will usually reduce your costs.
Are Camper Vans Expensive in Iceland?
We also considered hiring a camper van in order to save on costs however we found that actually the costs of the camper van soon added up and didn’t work out as a cost saving for us.
hiring a camper van and using this for your accommodation, and there are a wealth of airBnBs, BnBs and hostels available in country but be sure to book the accommodation well in advance!
Where to Stay In Iceland to Save Money
Reykjavik being the capital is obviously the most expensive place to stay in the whole of Iceland.
As I mentioned above, we stayed out in Hella as this was more convenient for the Golden Circle and other attractions and also was a great money saver.
Getting out of the city will definitely save you money but you will also need to consider proximity to other Iceland attractions as proximity to tourist sites will greatly affect your accommodation costs.
How to Save Money on Food in Iceland
Everyone knows how expensive Iceland can be and one of the major budget items on any tourist budget is food and drink. So how can you save money on food and drink in Iceland?
Make a Packed Lunch
Every day before we left our accommodation in Iceland we made a packed lunch.
What we found when we were driving around the country was that where there were cafes at the tourist spots they were often some of the most expensive food we found in the whole of Iceland. By having a packed lunch with us we saved a lot of money and is something that every budget conscious traveller in Iceland should consider doing!
Take food with you
When I was researching food and drink options in Iceland one of the things that surprised me was that you can actually take food into Iceland with you.
In fact you can take up to 3kg of food into Iceland with you. However you need to be sure that you know what foods are allowed to be taken in and what foods are on the excluded list. Also be sure to check the regulations at time of travel to be sure you comply.
But if you can take food in with you such as some staples and you will save on supermarket cost in country.
What is the cheapest supermarket in Iceland?
Speaking of supermarkets, as soon as we landed in country we headed to the Supermarket in Reykjavik.
Reykjavik has the highest concentration of supermarkets in the country and also the most variety. The cheapest supermarket we found to be was BONUS!
Top Tip: Check the opening times of supermarkets in Rekjavik against your flight times to make sure you know the best one to go for for your itinerary so you don’t waste time looking for open supermarkets as we did on arrival after our early morning Sunday flight.
Should you eat out in Iceland?
Iceland has some great food and I wouldn’t want anyone to not sample some amazing Icelandic cuisine. However you may want to reduce the amount you eat out to reduce the costs.
Where to find cheap food in Iceland?
If you are going to eat out rather than cooking for yourself, you might want to consider getting take away instead of eating in as this tends to be a cheaper option in Iceland.
The hot dogs in Iceland are legendary and something to try on your travels round the country.
Alcohol in Iceland
Alcohol is very expensive in Iceland. If having a drink during your travels is important to you then definitely make sure you take advantage of the duty free as this will be the cheapest way of having alcohol.
Cheap places to visit in Iceland
I was really surprised in Iceland about how many of their natural sights didn’t have admissions fees and where they did they were nominal.
If you are trying to save money, I would prioritise going to natural sites in order to save money.
Is the Blue Lagoon Expensive?
One of the most expensive places to visit in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon. While this is on many peoples bucket lists for Iceland there are cheaper alternatives such as the Secret Lagoon or even just visiting a local pool!
To check prices of the Blue Lagoon Tickets click here.
Get a Reykjavik card
If you are staying in the city you may want to consider purchasing a Reykjavik card. This card contains admission to many of Reykjavik’s most popular attractions. If you plan on doing several attractions it is worth calculating the ticket cost against the reykjavik card cost to see if it make sense for you.
Top Tips for Saving Money in Iceland for Families!
Families did you know that children under the age of seven get in free to many of Iceland’s attractions, in many cases admissions don’t start being charged until children become teenagers! So be sure to time your visit with young kids to save on costs!’
What to pack for Saving Money in Iceland
And now you have booked your Iceland itinerary and accommodation and are getting ready to travel, you need to consider what to pack to help save money in Iceland.
Some things we recommend you packing are:
As we could make coffee at out hotel we would make up a coffee thermos and this would keep us going all day.
We love these travel themed coffee thermos!
Icelandic water is usually safe to drink so carrying a reusable water bottle will not only help the environment but will also save you some pennies.
What are your Iceland money saving tips for Iceland?
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