Travel in Iceland is notoriously expensive, and there are tons of articles and blog posts out there giving you tips on how to keep your costs down. Much of it involves eating cheaply by cooking your own meals and camping your way around the country. Iceland is cold, we only had a week, and we’re wimps, so we weren’t going to do that. We combined a little splurging with a little bit of frugality. For our 7 days and 6 nights in Iceland, here’s how we spent our money:
WOW Airlines is a well-known budget airline with direct flights between San Francisco and Reyjkavik. I’m not certain if we bought our tickets with their best deal, but considering we spent under $700 for two people roundtrip and checked in one bag between the two of us, it’s good enough. They’re known for charging you for every little thing (selecting seats, water, etc.), so we made sure to bring snacks and water with us onto the plane. We didn’t bother with paying for seat selection, and both trips we were seated together, and it really wasn’t that bad. We also wore our heaviest coats rather than packing them into our checked luggage, in case the plane got too cold. We were mostly too warm during the flights.
Rather than camping in a tent or renting a campervan, we stayed in Airbnbs around the country. Some of them were in people’s homes, while others were bed and breakfasts or hostels that used the site for their listings. They averaged about $140/night, with the most expensive accommodations in the more remote parts of Iceland. Some of them included breakfast, while others charged a fee if you wanted to add breakfast to your stay. Since we were driving around the country rather quickly, we packed up everything and moved along every morning.
Where We Stayed
- Kópavogur (close to Reyjkavik)
- Hvolsvöllur (near Skógafoss)
If we had stayed in hotels our entire stay, it could easily have cost over $1,500 for the entire week.
The Electric Car
As Ryan mentioned in his post (Check it out!), we decided to rent an electric vehicle from a local company called Geysir. The overall cost of the electric car was more than a regular gas car, but the fuel costs were really low. I included the cost of calling the electric company and rental car company since there were so many calls made about the electric charging stations.
If we had gone with a regular car, we would have spent a lot less for the car rental, but we could have made up for it with the fuel. Also, traveling by EV limited the range of our travels, so we were forced to travel slowly rather quickly. If we opt for a regular car next time, no doubt we’ll be zipping around here, there and everywhere, racking up fuel costs.
Food & Drinks
About half of our food cost came from dinner on the first night and dinner on the fourth night. While Iceland isn’t known as a foodie destination, we enjoyed some really nice meals that were comparable to fancy meals in the States. The first was at Fiskmarkadurinn in Reyjkavik, and the second was at Norð Austur in Seyðisfjörður. I’ll cover those in two separate posts later, so that I still have content for writing one blog post a day this month!
The rest of our meals consisted of breakfasts included with our stays, snacks and instant noodles from the discount grocery store, a few gas station hot dogs, and some medium-priced meals that were quite good. We noticed that the sweet spot for a tasty meal was about $30 per person. If you were okay with eating a hot dog, which we found delicious but not filling enough, you could get away with spending $10 per person. BUT if I was going to have to eat two or three hot dogs to be full, I was happier spending $30 at a local restaurant.
The scenery of Iceland is absolutely everything to write home about. Luckily, you can enjoy a lot of it for little or no additional cost. What we did pay for was the Zodiac Boat Tour at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the entrance fee to Petra’s Stone & Mineral Collection, and an internet connection for the duration of the week. The mobile hotspot is super handy, and I don’t think I would travel anywhere without it.
- Airfare: $660
- Accommodations: $835
- Car Rental & Fuel: $720
- Food/Bev: $900
- Fun: $275
Total Cost (including airfare): $3,390 or $1,695 per person
What type of traveler are you?
Would you rough it, take an in-between approach like we did (stay cheaply, but not too cheaply, and eat a fancy meal here and there), or go all out (YOLO!)?