19 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Trip to Iceland

It’s no secret that Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit. If you’re not careful, you can blow your budget pretty quickly. And who doesn’t want to save some money?!

I’m here to tell you that traveling in Iceland on the cheap CAN be done! With some planning ahead, using these helpful tips will ensure you are able to experience all of the beauty in Iceland, without breaking the bank.

This post is part 3 of the ultimate road trip planning series:

Here are 19 EASY ways to save money when traveling to Iceland.


  • Rent a manual transmission
    • Manual vehicles are in less demand – people don’t want to have to shift (ahem, Americans).
  • Rent a diesel vehicle
    • The diesel price per liter is more economical to fill up the vehicle.
  • Rent a smaller car
    • Are you visiting in summer? Are you just driving the Golden Circle or Ring Road? Then you don’t need a 4wd vehicle. You can save looooots of money by renting a small car.
      • Want to save money on your car rental? Use #LWV at checkout for a 5% off your entire rental price!

  • Visit outside of peak season
    • Peak tourist season is between May and September, often times rental companies list vehicles at a reduced rate outside of those months.
  • Skip the GPS
    • At $10/day, you’re better off using my handmade Iceland digital map in my book to find all the best spots!!

19 easy ways to save money while traveling in Iceland | Life With a View


  • Couch Surfing
    • I have never personally surfed on someone’s couch, but I think this is an awesome way to not only save money, but make friends with the locals.
  • Camping
    • Of course, this requires bringing all of your own gear, but there are plentyyyy of options for camping in Iceland and I can’t even think of a more beautiful country to camp around.
    • Note: wild camping is NOT allowed in Iceland. Make sure to camp in designated areas only!
    • WATCH: The Ultimate Guide to Camping in Iceland
  • Hostels
    • Become a Hostelling International Member will give you discounted rates. There is an annual membership fee of $28 USD, but it will pay for itself if you use Hostel accommodations often.
    • Bring your own sheets and towels. Hostels are great, but will usually charge for bedding and towels.
  • Guesthouses
    • We primarily stayed in guesthouses on our trip around the Ring Road, and were very happy with the accommodations. We used Booking.com to reserve everything which has an awesome 24-hour cancellation policy. They also have a super convenient app that stores all of your rentals in one place and lists all of the features of each place (check-in time, wi-fi included, parking info, etc.)
  • Camper Vans
    • Combine your vehicle and accommodation into one with this brilliant vehicle! Each van is equipped with sleeping and cooking capabilities! I seriously wish I would have known about camper vans when we booked our trip, it sounds like an amazing way to travel around Iceland!


No question, eating could easily be the most expensive part of your trip to Iceland. Although the food in Iceland is seriously delicious and I think certain things are worth a splurge, sometimes feeding yourself is not where you want to spend your money.

  • Buy food at a grocery store and cook at your accommodation
  • See if breakfast is included in your stay. This is obviously a great way to save money, and also to experience an Icelandic breakfast!
  • No tipping at restaurants!
    • Of course, Icelanders know that tipping is a big part of American culture so they would never turn down some extra added to the bill, but the wages for servers in Iceland is higher and the tip is already built into the cost of the meal.
READ MORE:   Everything You Need to Know About Renting a Car in Iceland

3 tips for eating on a budget in Iceland | Life With a View


  • Buy alcohol at duty-free in the KEF airport
    • Do yourself a huge favor and get any sort of alcohol you would want for your tip before you leave the airport. This will be your second biggest money saver (next to food!) Even Icelanders stock up on alcohol at duty-free!
    • You can expect to pay $8-10 USD for a standard bottle of beer or a glass of wine at any bar or restaurant.
  • Bring a travel coffee mug
    • One thing you will not find in Iceland is a Starbucks (thank goodness!) But Icelanders LOVE coffee, and they know how to brew it well. You will be able to find coffee at any gas station, or often times coffee shops will be added on next to gas stations. I’ve even seen small cafe’s pop up at the major attractions.
    • If breakfast is included at your accommodation, have them fill up your mug before you head on on your adventure for the day!
  • Bring a refillable water bottle
    • Seriously, DO NOT buy water in Iceland! Iceland has the cleanest water in the world – it comes straight from the glacier! You can fill up from the tap, or from the stream you walk by on a hike. There was recently a scam in the local news about a hotel that charged for a bottle of water that they filled from the tap!

19 easy ways to save money on your trip to Iceland | Life With a View


  • Check out the long list of FREE things to do in Reykjavik
  • Skip the guided tours and fancy attractions
    • Ex: Blue Lagoon. If you’re trying to save money, cross this off your list.
    • And while you can learn SO much more about Iceland from taking a tour, it’s gonna cost ya. If your budget is more important, there are PLENTYYYY of free things to do in this glorious country.
  • Shop at the flea market or thrift stores for souvenirs
    • I’m always a fan of getting something from my vacations that I can actually use, rather than something I’ll probably throw away someday. Although the flea market might not have magnets of Gullfoss or stuffed puffins, it’s a great place to find local goods at a fraction of the price.
      • Kolaportid – Address: Tryggvagata 19. Open: Sat/Sun from 11:00am – 5:00pm
      • Red Cross – Laugavegur 12. Open: M-F 10am – 6pm, Sat 12pm -4pm

The Sun Voyager or Solfar is a beautiful sculpture along the sea in downtown Reykjavik // 19 easy ways to save money while traveling in Iceland | Life With a View

Lastly: Book everything as far in advance as you can! Flight, hotel, rental car…that will give you the best prices. Tourism in Iceland keeps growing and growing, so give yourself peace of mind and have everything planned out ahead of time!

Have an awesome and affordable trip to Iceland!

Happy planning,

Pin it for later!

Get your FREE Reykjavik eats on a budget guidebook!

  • 7 budget friendly restaurants within walking distance in downtown Reykjavik
  • Open times and price guide
  • Menu recommendations
  • A map to help you navigate
  • PLUS instant access to the Iceland Travel Team Facebook group! A community of people to connect and interact with, ask questions, and share your awesome Iceland travel experiences!
Powered by ConvertKit

You Might Also Like

  • Alyssa
    December 5, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Jeannie,

    I am looking at traveling to Iceland next Spring. This might be a really ignorant question, but do the locals speak English? I’d like to learn some Icelandic before we go too, but wanted to see what your experience communicating was like?


    • Jeannie
      December 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Hey Alyssa! I actually just did a Facebook live video answering this exact question, are you in the group?! But yes, I’ve never had a problem speaking English with the locals (at least at the tourist places!) Icelandic is in the top 3 most difficult languages in the world to learn so good luck to you if you are up for a challenge! 😉

    • Birgir Birgisdon
      April 20, 2017 at 7:13 am

      English is a second language here in Iceland, taught in all schools from when the children are around 10 years old, so if anyone does not speak English, they are probably just shy.

  • Alicia
    October 9, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Just started planning our trip…our family of 5 is looking at $1500 for lodging, airfare, car/gas, and food…we budgeted high for food just to be safe…and blue lagoon is def on our list…iI like my budget and all but dang..I am doing the lagoon lol! We did find a guesthouse and are booking things around 7 weeks out…thanks for the other tips…will def check out the free things to do and the flea markets!!

    • Jeannie
      October 11, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Hey Alicia, sounds like you have an awesome trip planned out so far! The money saving tips should help you along your travels as well. Let me know if you need any more help planning!

  • Marius
    September 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Nice list!

    Talking about camping gear, you don’t really need to bring all your gear. There are several companies in Reykjavik that rent out most of the essential gear for a decent price 🙂

    • Jeannie
      October 11, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Yes, a good point thank you Marius!

  • Ashley
    March 14, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Oh I’m bookmarking this post ASAP. Iceland has always been top of my list but it always looks so EXPENSIVE!!

    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful tips!


    Ashley || Sed Bona

    • Jeannie
      March 20, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      That’s great, Ashley! I know Iceland can be expensive, it’s so good to have money saving tips! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Cynthia
    March 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Hah, we are totally those Americans renting an automatic. But as far as i can tell, the cost was the same, at least to rent 😉

    • Jeannie
      March 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      I hear ya, Cynthia…I’m the same way, I totally prefer an automatic! Who has time to be shifting gears!?

    2021 Iceland Calendar - NOW AVAILABLE!