Iceland is famous for its spectacular nature, but also for being spectacularly expensive.

However, you can save a buck while ticking things off your bucket list. DIY nature exploration costs more calories than money, pools are cheaper than lagoons, and some accommodation is comfortable for your wallet without being short on comfort.

Here are our tips on how to make your krónur go further in Iceland, along with a guide to daily costs.

Daily costs (during peak season)

Dorm bed in a hostel: 8000–10,000kr
Basic room for two: 27,000–31,000kr
Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): 20,000–43,000kr
Public transport ticket: 630kr in Reykjavík
Coffee: 650–800kr
Sandwich: 650–1800kr
Dinner for two: 7000–24,000kr
Beer/pint at the bar: 1500kr
Swimming pools: 1200–1400kr

Average daily cost (three meals, accommodation and activities): 25,000–45,000kr

1. Pick the right kind of flight

Iceland is a convenient transfer hub, so there are many airlines and some good deals to be found. Search engines, like Dohop or Skyscanner, can help you find a fair-priced ticket to Iceland. Peak season months include June, July and August, so fares tend to be lower during other months – but there will also be fewer flights. Travelers from London Gatwick who want to explore the wonders of the North should consider flying direct to Akureyri with EasyJet instead of going via Reykjavík.

Ready to plan your trip further? Here's our guide to the best time to go to Iceland

Walkers stroll along a path in between deep ravines and craggy rocks
Base yourself near Þingvellir for its many hiking routes © terrababy / Getty Images

2. Choose one region and explore it well

Driving the Ring Road is not a must. Save money on transportation by making one region your base camp and exploring it in detail, finding more peace and quiet and possibly discovering something unexpected. One region that works well for this is Hvalfjörður about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík, close to Þingvellir National Park and many hiking routes, such as Síldarmannagötur over to Skorradalur valley and to Glymur waterfall (open in summer, only). In the North, Eyjafjarðarsveit off Akureyri has farm-fresh food, horseback riding, quirky museums and hiking opportunities, including of Kerling mountain. If you’re not set on a specific destination, you could start by finding the most economical accommodation and make it your base camp in Iceland.

3. Embrace the elements in Iceland's national parks

Bring a tent and sleep at one of Iceland’s many campsites. Some of them are located in nature reserves or national parks, such as Skaftafell and Ásbyrgi in Vatnajökull National Park, and Þórsmörk, a forested oasis in the southern highlands. National parks have free entrance and some of the most beautiful campsites, with costs around 2000kr per adult per night. You can also rent a tent for as little as 1050kr per night. Mind that nights are chilly, even at the height of summer, so bring warm clothing and blankets. In other seasons, camping is for hardened adventurers only.

4. Road trippers should consider hiring an RV

If you’re planning a road trip, why not bring your bed? Hiring a camper/RV gives you increased flexibility. A two-person campervan costs around 17,000kr per day during peak season but prices sometimes drop to as little as 7500kr per night at other seasons. Two of the most popular companies are CampEasy and Indie Campers. However, you are required to stay at campsites overnight and pay the same rate as other campers. Note also that not all campsites are open year-round.

5. Consider budget hostels or farm stays

There are 18 HI (Hostelling International) hostels around Iceland, from hip urban settings to the middle of nowhere. The rooms are typically double or twin with shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities. The rate varies but is often around 20,000kr per night for a double room in the shoulder season and 30,000kr in the summer. You can find lower rates in the off-season but some hostels close. Also check out KEX Hostel in Reykjavík, Backpackers in Akureyri and Tehúsið in Egilsstaðir, as well as farm stays, where you can learn about Icelandic rural realities while enjoying nature.

6. Summer travelers can stay at a boarding school turned hotel

Open in summer only, the Edda hotels (now part of the Iceland Hotel Collection by Berjaya) accommodates students the rest of the year. There are two: one in Akureyri in the North and one near Egilsstaðir in the East. You can get a double room with shared bathroom facilities for under 20,000kr in Akureyri. Both hotels are centrally located in each respective region and make for a good base for exploring nearby attractions.

Houses at the foot of a mountain that reaches all the way down to the coastline
Traveling as a family or with a larger group? Look to rent a country cottage like Icelanders do © Nikolay Tsuguliev / 500px

7. Summer houses are good value for group travelers

Icelanders love countryside breaks in cottages, or summer houses, as they’re known, in every season. Many families have their own or rent one from their labor union, but it’s also possible to rent a cottage as a visitor – there are over 500 – a good option for larger families or groups. For a mini cottage experience, try camping pods.

8. Look out for last-minute deals or home swaps

If you’re okay with being spontaneous, it could pay off to browse booking pages like or Sometimes a good deal pops up last-minute due to cancellations, which you can jump at if it fits your schedule. Airbnb is an option, too, with a range of rooms to villas at a great price range. Icelanders Icelanders are avid travelers themselves, so if you're up for trading homes and even vehicles, try sites like Homelink and Intervac.

People crowded into a hot tub on a snowy day as the sun sets
The Blue Lagoon isn't the only hot pool option. Save some money at Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík instead © Try_my_best / Shutterstock

9. Soak up Icelandic bathing culture as Icelanders do

Bathing doesn’t have to leave your finances feeling blue. Taking a dip in a chic spa bath costs around 7000kr, but in a public pool roughly 1000kr and children often swim for free. There are typically slides and always a hot tub. This is where the locals go, so it’s more of a proper Icelandic experience. Beachside hot tubs, popular among sea swimmers, are also an economical choice. These include Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík, Guðlaug in Akranes, Drangsnes in the Westfjords, and Hauganes in the North.

10. Buy a Reykjavík City Card

The capital has a lot to offer and you can experience it all with the Reykjavík City Card. The 24-, 48- or 72-hour-card gives you access to a large selection of museums and galleries, every swimming pool in Reykjavík, the Family Park and Zoo. It also functions as a bus ticket and includes various discounts. A 24-hour card costs 5040kr, which quickly pays off when you're sightseeing in the capital. You can even use it for the ferry to Viðey island and the bus to Mt Esja, popular for hiking.

People sit at a table on a beach in Iceland pouring drinks from a flask
To save money on the road in Iceland, pack your own lunch and BYO flask of warm drinks © Getty Images / iStockphoto

11. Reserve eating out for special occasions

To save money, avoid cafes and restaurants and buy food at supermarkets (BónusKrónan and Nettó are the least expensive). Make lunch packs, have picnics and, if you have access to a kitchen, cook your own dinner. For alcohol, go to the state-run wine store, or plan ahead and save money at duty free. If you do want to eat out, you can sometimes find good deals, especially for lunch. For example, you can get the fish of the day and a soft drink at Slippbarinn, Reykjavík Marina, for 2500kr. Also, most bars have happy hour.

12. Weigh up the cost of bus fares vs car hire and rideshares

Check bus routes for the Reykjavík area on Straeto and available payment methods on Klappid. You can, for example, buy a 24-hour pass you can use 10 times, which costs 2500kr, while a single ticket costs 630kr. Children 11 years and younger ride the bus for free. If you’re traveling in a group, bus fares quickly add up so it could be cheaper to share a taxi, including from Keflavík Airport. Hreyfill is one of the larger taxi providers. Also compare prices from car rentals, which are usually lower during offseason, and car sharing. You can also rent a bike or a scooter. In Akureyri, public buses are free and most other places are small enough to explore on foot.

A car drives on a winter road near Akureyri, Iceland. The black road is surrounded by miles of snowy terrain. Mountains are visible in the distance.
Internal flights can be cheaper than the bus, but you'll miss out on Iceland's stunning scenery © WanRu Chen / Getty Images

13. A flight from Reykjavík to Akureyri can be cheaper than the bus

The bus from Reykjavík to Akureyri costs 12,540kr one way. If you’re lucky you can get a plane ticket for less (see Icelandair) and the flight takes 40 minutes vs a bus ride of 6.5 hours. However, you get the added bonus of a road trip experience and sightseeing out the window. If you’re planning a lot of excursions, it might make sense to rent a car or even join a tour. A lot of people take advantage of car pooling.

14. Nature is right there, free to enjoy

Wherever you’re based, pay attention to the surrounding nature. Stroll the nearest beach, hike the nearest mountain, find the nearest forest (see Wapp for trails). When in doubt, ask the locals. In the capital area, Úlfarsfell, Heiðmörk or Grótta are many people’s favorite spots. In Akureyri, they might mention Kjarnaskógur or Krossanesborgir. In Egilsstaðir, Selskógur would likely come up. Iceland may be pricey, but the fresh air, birdsong, rustling of leaves, crashing of waves, mountain views and the connection with nature is priceless.

This article was first published May 1, 2015 and updated Apr 4, 2024.

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