Over the last few years, flights to Iceland have dropped plenty making planning a trip to the “Land of Fire and Ice” more affordable than ever before. Not only does Icelandair conveniently offer Iceland stopovers at no additional cost while crossing the Atlantic Ocean but Wow Air Airlines also offers low-cost flights to Iceland from many cities within the U.S. and Europe. Still, Iceland is an expensive travel destination.
With that being said, for travelers looking to save wherever possible, here are six simple ways to save money in Iceland.
While you have the option of buying alcohol at a local bar or restaurant in Iceland, expect to spend upwards of $10 USD for a beer. A little less during happy hours, but at its cheapest it's still $5-7.
Why is alcohol so expensive in Iceland?
It’s simple, alcohol is expensive in Iceland because of taxes. Alcohol taxes are levied based on the alcohol volume in a drink. So the more alcohol per volume, the more expensive it will be.
Yet for those financially savvy travelers who want to enjoy a drink in Iceland, my first piece of advice is to buy your drinks at the airport. Assuming that you’re flying into Keflavik International Airport, Iceland’s main airport, be sure to stop by Duty-Free Iceland. Duty-Free Iceland is a one-stop shop that prides itself on offering fantastic prices on domestic and international liquor (along with other items). Duty-Free Iceland has a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from Argentina to New Zealand.
But before you go ham on an all-day alcohol spending spree, keep in mind that each traveler is only permitted six units of alcohol. Sounds confusing, here is an alcohol-allowance calculator to see how much alcohol you can buy at the airport.
The second piece of advice is to make the most of local happy hour specials in Reykjavik by downloading the app, Appy Hour. This free app sorts out the bars and restaurants offering happy hour specials based on proximity and price.
And while you're looking for the cheapest spots in Reykjavik, check out these bars that have daily happy hours.
Seeing as how we’re on the topic of drinking and now I’m parched, it only makes sense that I mention that while you can buy bottled water in Iceland, drinking from the tap is free.
Not only is Iceland’s tap water drinkable but it’s also never chemically purified.
Iceland’s tap water is said to originate from springs that are naturally purified through molten rocks which not only cleanse the water of any bacteria or chemicals but also adds the necessary minerals and nutrients.
The bottled water is actually exactly the same water as the one that comes for free from the tap - and by refilling your bottle you're also not contributing to more plastic bottle use in the world.
So why spend your precious coin on bottled water when you can get some of the purest water in the world in Iceland for free!
Next, ditch the cash in Iceland.
Not that cash is terrible or anything, but cash is no longer the most popular way to pay in Iceland. Iceland, like many countries these days, uses mostly debit and credit cards. Just make sure you know your bank charges for using your card abroad.
Make sure to claim your tax refunds before leaving Iceland.
Tax free shopping is a great way to save money in Iceland but since the claiming process is rather involved, I’ll teach you how to claim your tax free refund in Iceland.
Unlike the U.S or other countries where tipping can go a long way, tipping is not necessary. Although tips are not included in the bill, the service fee includes gratuity and other hospitality services. People also earn reasonable wages, so don't rely on tips to get by.
Lastly, when looking for reasonably priced items to stock your fridge, visit Iceland's budget grocery stores Bónus; and Krónan. Both grocery stores are among the most well-known and cheapest in Iceland, with a large assortment of household items like food, snacks, drinks and just about anything else you might need to comfortably enjoy your stay in Iceland.