Golden Circle Waterfall

How Expensive is Iceland?

Well, let’s face it. Iceland is an island, which inherently makes it expensive with all their import taxes. Add in the long, cold winters which affect the availability of fresh produce, and yes, Iceland can be an expensive place to visit.

That being said, how expensive it is to travel to Iceland really depends on what you want to do, how big your group is, and how lavish you’re looking to go. If you’re traveling alone, that will make your trip to Iceland a bit more expensive because you won’t be able to split expenses, but it can still be a very reasonably priced trip!

If you're looking to plan a trip to Iceland (which, you absolutely should), read on and I'll give you some insight and examples so that you can plan your trip accordingly. I’ll start with some basic tips for where you can save to make your trip to Iceland less expensive than it needs to be, and then follow with a few sample itineraries to give you an idea of what you might spend across the board.

Tips to Save Money on your Trip to Iceland

Food:

As a basic rule, most restaurants in Iceland are not inexpensive. Of course, what you define as expensive will depend on what you’re used to, but we paid $60 USD for a meal at your run-of-the-mill restaurant on two entrees and two beers. Even coming from San Diego, CA, which is a pretty expensive city, I still see that as expensive.

If you’re able to have access to a kitchen on your trip, that will help you save a lot of money. Also, I can’t say enough about the gas station sandwiches that come in the cellophane packaging. They’re relatively cheap, and quite tasty compared to what you’d get in the U.S.

If you were going to Italy, I’d say food IS the experience, so don’t skimp on that. But for Iceland, the beauty is in the sights, and saving some money on your meals will help you keep costs down. Also, Reykjavik has a fun bar scene, but outside of that, Iceland is pretty sleepy in the off-seasons, so you can easily save by buying your own liquor/beer/wine and having a glass at your hotel after a very busy day (hopefully while catching the Northern Lights!).

Transportation:

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

As for transportation, the main things to consider are:

1) Do you like driving? If you answered no, book tours and forego the car rental. I did about 1,000 miles worth of driving in the first few days of my trip, but I LOVE driving. For some who prefer to sleep while someone else does the driving, a tour is ideal. If you’re with a group, you can save money by renting a car, but don’t forget to take the cost of gas into consideration (and potentially some long nights driving back to your hotel).

2) Do you like crowds? If you answered no, rent a car and self-tour around Iceland. I really like to be on my own schedule rather than having to depend on people I don’t know for a timeline, and bus tours give me anxiety. However, I have friends who hate driving and would much rather get on a bus where someone else is going to coordinate and manage everything for them. 

Now, on to the fun planning stuff! Note that the information below on how expensive it is to travel to Iceland is just an estimate based on my experience and not a guaranteed trip total. What you spend will depend on when you go and your actual spending habits (also doesn't include airfare), but hopefully, this should help give you some context on what your costs might be. 

Sample Itineraries 

Sample 1: Travel alone on a budget

Assumptions:

Basecamp in Reykjavik

Staying at inexpensive, but comfortable accommodations

Eating on a tight budget while still enjoying what Iceland has to offer

If you’re traveling to Iceland alone, setting up basecamp in Reykjavik may be worth considering. There is a lot to see in Iceland, but if you want to see the whole island, you’ll need to rent a car which can get expensive on your own. By staying in Reykjavik, you’ll be able to do day trips to a lot of great areas, and still get a good sense of all that Iceland has to offer.

I stayed two nights at the Hotel Luna, which was really comfortable and had a great kitchen setup, but it may be more than you might want to spend on your own. Alternatively, there are plenty of B&B studios to consider as well as tidy hostels, and these will also allow you the benefit of a kitchen so that you can save on eating out every meal! We saved by making our own meals, which meant we didn’t mind splurging on the expensive beers at the Icelandic bars.  

As noted, there are a lot of great tours that you can take from Reykjavik, and the benefit is that transportation is included. Also, if you’re looking to meet people while you travel, this is a great option.

Here are some awesome tour options with transportation from Reykjavik. Some tours even include lunch, so that’s extra savings!

Tour Suggestions:

Golden Circle Tour

Snaefellsnes National Park Day Tour

Ice Cave Tour

Glacier Ice Climbing Tour

1 Week Itinerary Sample Costs:

Splurge Hotel Option: $200/night, 6 nights / 7 days = ~$1200 | or | Budget Hotel Option: $100/night, 6 nights / 7 days = ~$600

Car: N/A

Splurge Food Option: ~$80/day, 7 days = ~$500 - $600 | or | Budget Food Option: ~$50/day, 7 days = ~$300 - $400

Tours: ~$1000 - $1500

Trip Total: ~$2,000-$3,000

A package tour can bring the cost down a lot, as Guide to Iceland can get bulk discount rates. This 7 Day Budget Self Drive Tour comes for as little as $657 per person (when 4 people book). That includes accommodation and car, so on top of that you'll just need to pay for gas and food, and any optional extra activities.

Sample 2: Rough it with a friend in a campervan

Assumptions:

On-the-go-basecamp

Car and hotel in one

Maximizing use of the kitchen, while enjoying a stop here and there for meals

I haven’t gone the campervan route in my travels, yet, but if you’re down for an adventure, this could be the perfect option and might help your trip to Iceland be less expensive than staying at hotels. Likely most ideal for 2 or 3 people, as any more than that could get tight. Traveling in a campervan allows you the flexibility to stay where you please (within reason), and the benefit of being able to cook where you are so that you can save on eating out.

It also allows you to get around the island and see as much as possible without having to worry about driving back to your hotel, wherever that is, each night. So, if you’re looking to see the whole Ring Road in a week, this is a great option for you!

One thing to consider is that Iceland is, from my experience, pretty strict about not parking wherever you want. So, you’ll need to do some research so that you know where you can and can’t park at night. Iceland is such a spectacularly beautiful country that I fully support them being strict to keep the beauty intact, so please be respectful! I’d like to be able to go back to Iceland one day and have it look just as pristine as it does now.

Another thing to consider is the weather in Iceland. It’s often cold. It often rains. And it’s often very, very windy. I went in October and the weather was the main reason I chose B&Bs over a campervan. I hate being stuck in a small space with my wet clothing! But, adventure...

Since you’ll be able to navigate the island, and you’ll have a little extra to spend since you’re saving on hotel and car rental, you can splurge on some fun tours!

Tour suggestions:

Skaftafell Ice Climbing Tour

Fat-Bike Adventure on the Reykjanes Peninsula

Horseback Riding around Skjaldarvik Fjord | Departures from Akureyri

Myvatn Off-Road Super Jeep Tour

1 Week Itinerary Sample Costs for 2 People:

Campervan Rental: $100/night x 6 nights = ~$600

Camp Fees: Avg $20/night (estimated) x 6 nights = ~$120

Budget Food Option: $50/day, 7 days = ~$300 - $400

Tours: ~$1000 - $3000

Trip Total: ~$3,000 - $4,000 | Trip Total per person: ~$1,500 - $2,000

Check out all these Budget Self Drive Tours.

Sample 3: Romantic trip for 2 on a budget

Assumptions:

Car rental

Ring Road trip with accommodations along the way

Saving on food, where possible

This is similar to the trip that I did, except we didn’t have enough time for the entire Ring Road. You could certainly do the whole Ring Road around Iceland in a week, but I really wanted to make sure I had some rest days and days spent adventuring, which would have been less time on the road. I saw everything from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula down to the Glacier Lagoon near Hof - and boy did I see a lot. I’m sure there is plenty more to see throughout the rest of the island, but I felt comfortable that what I was able to see was pretty representative of the rest of the island. I guess I’ll have to go back one day to find out!

Anyway, I digress. Hotel-wise, my boyfriend and I stayed at a mix of small B&Bs and hostels. You can find my full itinerary here, and feel free to copy it! Most places had breakfast included, which was nice - continental breakfast, but that works for me. Try the bacon soft cheese spread. Seriously. Every place we stayed had it, and it was delicious. Some places had kitchens, others did not. Most had private bathrooms, but one place in Selfoss had a shared bathroom, which was fine for one night. The places that we stayed at were very reasonably priced and very comfortable, so we were happy with our selections.

My boyfriend and I are both introverts, so we generally prefer to have a car so that we can go wherever we want, when we want, how we want. For about 5 days, it was about $200 + gas (we returned it for our last 2 days staying in Reykjavik where we could walk wherever). How much you spend on gas will depend on how far you drive.

Tour Suggestions:

Skaftafell Ice Climbing Tour

Volcanic Landscape Horse Riding Tour

Close Up | Whales, Puffins & Reykjavik Coast

1 Week Itinerary Sample Costs for 2 People:

Hotel: $150/night x 6 nights = ~$800-$1000

Car Rental: ~$200 for 5 days

Food: $50/day, 7 days = ~$300 - $400

Adventures: ~$1000 - $3000

Trip Total: ~$3,000 - $4,000 | Trip Total per person: ~$1,500 - $2,000

Sample 4: Family of 4 on a budget

Assumptions:

Basecamp in Reykjavik

Car rental to travel as needed

Saving on food, where possible

I don’t have kids, so this one is a bit tougher for me, but I don’t want to leave you guys out, so here’s my best attempt at estimating how expensive it might be for you to travel to Iceland with your family.

I think that picking one or two basecamps is probably ideal for the sake of your sanity. But maybe your kid is a travel rockstar, and in that case, go read the campervan option above. If not, Reykjavik is a great place to set up. It’s central, and there is a lot to see within driving distance. The Hotel Luna where I stayed may be a great option because they have different size accommodations, a kitchen where you can cook your meals to save some money, and it’s super central and within walking distance to most places.

Depending on how old your children are, you may want to consider renting a car so that you aren’t stuck on a tour bus if they get tired and you need to retreat. I was that kid who got really cranky when I was overstimulated (this may still be the case…), so we rarely did group tours when we traveled. Having a car allows you to go at your own pace, and the pace of your children, without having to worry about anyone else’s plans.

There are some great grocery stores right in the center of Reykjavik where you can stock up, and plenty of restaurants if you get tired of cooking.

Tour Suggestions:

Game of Thrones Location Tour

Volcanic Landscape Horse Riding Tour

Close Up | Whales, Puffins & Reykjavik Coast

1 Week Itinerary Sample Costs for 2 Adults and 2 Children:

Hotel: $200-$300/night x 6 nights = ~$1,500

Car Rental: ~$300 for 5 days

Food: $100/day, 7 days = ~$700

Adventures: ~$2,000 - $4,000

Trip Total: ~$5,000-$7,000

Also check out Iceland with Kids | A Family Guide to Iceland, What to Do with Young Kids in the Reykjavik Area and What to Do with Older Kids in the Reykjavik Area.

Horseback Riding in Iceland

I hope this has been helpful as you plan your trip to Iceland! Your trip to Iceland certainly doesn't have to be super expensive, but I can promise that it will be an unforgettable experience. Feel free to reach out with any other questions you have in the comments below!

-Rachel 

Contact Rachel