Just a couple of weeks ago, my (now) husband and I…so weird to say that…..visited and got MARRIED in Iceland! This was our first time in Iceland and after countless hours of research on the country, I at least had somewhat of an idea of what I was getting myself into. I knew it was going to be expensive – so I had to plan for it. After spending a week there, here are a few tips for budget travelers that want to see what Iceland has to offer.
With prices nearing $15-20 for a burger, we knew we were going to be grocery shopping. Try shopping at places such as KRÓNAN or Bónus. You’ll find many of them, especially around Reykjavik. If you’re staying around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (as we did for the first few days), plan ahead because groceries are few and far between. Try the Bónus in Borgarnes, which is about halfway to the peninsula…and happens to be next to a phenomenal bakery.
Book an Airbnb or VRBO
We stayed in 2 different places while in Iceland so we could see different parts of the country in a short period of time. We married on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and also stayed on the outskirts of Reykjavik for the last few days of our trip. We opted for places on both of these websites rather than hotels. We found WAY better deals this way.
If you are a little more adventurous, try a hostel. There are many of them around the island.
Self Tour with a Rental Car
We wanted something that had 4 wheel drive but was as inexpensive as possible. We opted for a Suzuki Jimny from Cars Iceland. It was much smaller than we could have anticipated but it worked well for our needs. If you are not going in the winter months, get a compact car to save even more. You can navigate the main roads fine with a compact, but be advised – getting the insurance can save you! Roads can be quite dangerous in Iceland and the weather is a force to be reckoned with. Some of the roads would suddenly turn to gravel and we could hear it smacking the vehicle. It’s better to get the insurance and be prepared.
Plan your Gas Usage Ahead of Time
Gas in Iceland is expensive, but if you plan ahead, you can save for what you’ll need. Obviously, if you rent a compact car, the gas will be less expensive. Deisel is also less expensive. There are websites that can help you figure out how much to expect prices to be (such as TripCreator & GlobalPetrolPrices).
Try Cafés & Bakeries for Local Eats
There’s no doubt that Iceland is a pricey country, but there are tons of bakeries and cafés that can have reasonable prices on some food items. Of course, you probably don’t want to live on coffee and pastries for an entire trip (which is basically what we did), but you can at least enjoy them on occasion. My favorite cafe during our trip also happened to be made into a “Papa Johns” in my favorite movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I highly recommend Geirabakari Kaffihus in Borgarnes. They have amazing swiss mochas and yummy pastries at very reasonable prices.
Iceland is a beautiful and diverse country so don’t let the cost scare you away from visiting! With a little bit of planning, you can see it without missing a mortgage payment.