It is commonly known that Iceland is pretty expensive – £20 bowl of soup type of expensive. So because of this, and because it is 2017 and J and I want to spend our money more thoughtfully so we can travel more, we did something we hadn’t done before. We created a detailed budget for this trip, and stuck to it. Sticking to our budget wasn’t only satisfying in terms of reaching our goal, but also prevented the habitual post-holiday remorse and guilt that inevitably comes after the credit card statement arrives.
What we spent: per person per day
In total, we spent £75 per person per day (or about USD $94), excluding flights and airport transport in London. Here is a break-down of these costs by expense type, per person per day:
- Housing: £34
- Car rental: £15
- Gas/diesel: £5
- Groceries: £7
- Alcohol: £2
- Parking in the city: £0.25
- Eating out: £6
- Tourist attractions admission + parking: £5.30
Total per person daily cost: £74.55
What we spent: the details
Housing (£472 total for 7 nights):
- 3 nights in an Airbnb cabin in Selfoss: £72/night
- 4 nights in a bigger Home Away cabin with friends: £64/night for the two of us
- Both cabins had well-equipped kitchens, some basic supplies (coffee, etc), and hot tubs!
Car rental from Hasso (£380 total):
- £39/day + £43 extra driver fee + £25 out-of-hours pick-up fee
- If you’re picking up after 6PM in the winter, they will charge you EUR 30
- We didn’t buy insurance because my Capital One card comes with great car rental insurance
- We split some of these costs with our friends, which really helped
Gas/diesel (£109 total):
- We filled up twice, to the tune of £42.19 and 66.49, and splitting with our friends really helped!
Groceries (108.11 total):
- Three trips worth £56.79, £25.49, and £25.83.
- The first one was a faux pas, as we went to an expensive city grocery store and only were able to get a few basic items. The latter two were at Bonus – huge savings! It closes by 6PM though, so planning is required.
- We also picked up some alcohol in the duty free at the London airport so that we could drink cheap cocktails while hanging out in the hot tub each night (£35).
Eating out (£99.48 total):
- Dinner for two at Noodle House – Núðluhúsið, a Thai restaurant on one of the main streets – £46.59 or 6,470 ISK
- Four hot dogs and 2 cokes at the Bæjarins beztu hot dog stand: £16.47
- Breakfast at Reykjavik Roasters: £7.35 or 1,050 ISK
- Coffee and juice at Nat Kitchen: £6.42 or 940 ISK
- Two beers and a baguette at airport while waiting to depart: £20.28 or 2,940 ISK
- Bottled water at airport upon arrival: £2.37 (another faux pas, since the tap water is everywhere, free, and is very clean)
Fees and parking costs for touristy activities (£42 per person):
- Day parking at Thingvellir National Park: £3.42 or 500 ISK
- Kerid volcanic crater admission: £2.73 or 400 ISK per person
- Gulfoss Waterfall access: free! (but I paid £1.40 to use the bathroom)
- Secret Lagoon admission: £19 or 2,800 ISK (bring your own towel and save 500 ISK)
- Tip for the Free Walking Tour Reykjavik with Sarah: £7 per person or £1,000 ISK
- Settlement Exhibition entrance: £10.50 or 1,600 ISK per person
- Parking in Reyjkavik while exploring the city: £5 total for 3 separate visits
What we didn’t spend
Here is how we tried to save some money:
- For the most part, we pre-made lunches to take with us on day trips and also cooked our own dinner each night. Luckily the cabins in which we stayed came stocked with some plastic containers we could borrow. We are no chefs, so sometimes we had cold pasta, but we didn’t care too much!
- We brought alcohol with us from London, as we heard buying it locally is very expensive, and we didn’t want to miss out on having drinks while hanging out in the hot tub. Since we bought this at Duty Free in the airport, it didn’t count towards our carry on limits.
- We avoided paying luggage fees by carrying on everything onto our Easy Jet flight. This required J to stuff some of my clothes into his giant ski pants pockets, but we saved over £80! 🙂
- We also inadvertently saved some money when J came down with the flu and we spent a day relaxing in the cabin.
Overall, it was certainly not a cheap trip, but well worth it! What kinds of tips do you have for seeing Iceland on a budget?