How to travel to Iceland on a budget

When we were going to Iceland for the first time, we really missed such an article. Here you can find all the useful information on how to organize a budget trip to Iceland on your own.

When we went to Iceland last time, we already knew all the details and the trip for 2 weeks cost us only 650 euros per person. This amount includes flights, car rental, camping accommodation, meals throughout the trip and even entrance tickets to the thermal pools. This time we went to a new GeoSea location - a geothermal pool overlooking fjords and snow-capped mountain peaks.

So, to organize a budget trip, you need to:

  1. Plan the whole trip
  2. Buy cheap flights
  3. Rent a car
  4. Prepare for overnight camping
  5. Attractions
  6. Useful tips on how to save money in Iceland
  7. Total - how much does it cost to go to Iceland

1. Plan the whole trip

This is, perhaps, the most important stage. You need to decide what you want to see in Iceland and when you want to go.

If you are going to Iceland for the first time, it is best to choose the summer season - from mid-June to the end of August. At this time, the weather is the most stable - a minimum of precipitation and relatively warm.

If you want to keep up with the trip in one week, we recommend visiting the golden circle and going on an excursion to the colored mountains.

In 10-14 days you will be able to drive around the whole of Iceland by car.

We have written a separate article on trip planning that will help you deal with all these issues, here it is:

Plan an amazing trip to Iceland on your own

Plan an amazing trip to Iceland on your own

Traveling to Iceland on your own is not that difficult! Many companies are ready to prepare a trip plan for you, put you on a bus with 20 more of the same kind and tra...

2. Buy cheap flights 

When you decide on the dates of your trip, you can buy tickets to Iceland.  If you want to go by car, then there is only one option - a ferry from Denmark, details about the ferry to Iceland are here.

But the easiest and most common (and cheapest) way to get to Iceland is by air flight. There are many airlines flying to Iceland, more precisely to Keflavik Airport (near Reykjavik), including low-cost airlines WizzAir and easyJet. Most of the low-cost flights to Iceland fly from Europe (for example, from Poland and the Baltic countries).

The cheapest tickets to Iceland can be purchased starting from 15-20 euros one way. But during the high season (summer), prices are usually higher and cheap tickets are sold out very quickly. Therefore, the earlier you plan your trip and buy tickets, the cheaper they will cost. It is best to do it 3-6 months in advance.

You can also play with dates - usually weekend tickets are more expensive than flights in the middle of the week.

It is worth remembering that low-cost airlines charge additionally for luggage , but you can save money by buying one luggage for two or just additional hand luggage (if you do not have items that cannot be taken in hand luggage: a knife, a manicure set, etc.).

Read more about buying tickets to Iceland here:

Flights to Iceland - how and from where it is cheaper to fly to Iceland

Flights to Iceland - how and from where it is cheaper to fly to Iceland

If you decide to spend a vacation or weekend in Iceland, then the first question is plane tickets to Iceland, preferably cheaper.

So how and from where can you...

3. Rent a car

After the tickets are purchased, you know the arrival and departure times - you can rent a car. It is better to pick up the car immediately at the airport (almost all companies have a free shuttle bus). There is no point in going from the airport to Reykjavik and taking a car there - it will cost more.

If you are not going to the central mountain part of Iceland, then you do not need an all-wheel drive car - take a regular one, it will cost much cheaper. 

Another tip on how to save money is to take a car from local rental companies, not international ones. Prices from local firms are much lower.  Such companies can be found here:

Do not forget that you will need a credit card with a sufficient amount to get a deposit for the car at the rental. If nothing happens to the car, you will be refunded this deposit after the car is returned.

The number of dirt roads in Iceland is constantly decreasing, but they still remain. And there is always a risk that a stone flying out from under the wheels of another car will land in yours. In this case, you will be charged a fairly large amount for repairs. So consider buying out additional insurance.

If you want to get to the central mountainous part of Iceland, then you will need a four-wheel drive car (entry to mountain roads is prohibited for ordinary cars). However, it is worth calculating and calculating - perhaps a one-day or several-day excursion to the mountains with a travel agency will be cheaper than renting an all-wheel drive car.

Read about how to find an inexpensive car in Iceland here:

Car rental in Iceland - tips and tricks

Car rental in Iceland - tips and tricks

Rent a car in Iceland - how to choose proper car, what is the cost of renting a car, is it worth taking full insurance, where you can drive a car, and where you have t...

4. Prepare for overnight camping

After all the formalities are settled and you have flights to Iceland and the car is already booked, it's worth thinking about where you will spend the night.

The most budget-friendly option for overnight stays in Iceland are campsites. In the summer, many campsites located all over the island receive tourists. For comparison, a room for four in the simplest hotel costs 160 euros, and camping costs 10-15 euros per person.

At the same time, the campsites have hot water, a shower (sometimes for an additional fee), a kitchen and a warm toilet.

To spend the night at the campsite, you will need:

  • tent
  • sleeping bag
  • mat
  • camping kitchen stuff

To save even more, it is worth buying products in large supermarkets - Bonus, Netto, Kronan. It is not necessary to bring all the products with you from your country - you will pay more for the luggage.

Don't be lazy to grill mutton a couple of times. In the supermarket you can buy already pickled meat and a disposable grill.

Camping in Iceland

Camping in Iceland

If you decide to go to Iceland and want to see the nature of this beautiful island, then you can live in a hotel, in a mobile home or in a tent at a campsite. Camping ...

5. Attractions

99% of all natural attractions on the island are free. You will not need to pay for admission anywhere. 

But recently, some attractions have paid parking. On average, you will need to pay 5 euros per car.

Equipped thermal springs are also a separate expense item. The prices for them are very different. For example, the entrance to the Blue Lagoon (Iceland's most famous geothermal complex) costs about 85 euros. But you can also find more budget options and even free ones:

10 Inexpensive Alternatives to the Blue Lagoon

10 Inexpensive Alternatives to the Blue Lagoon

Iceland is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe, and there are especially many tourists in Iceland in the summer. But even in summer it is not very ho...

And finally, a map with all the sights of Iceland:

Iceland attractions map

Iceland attractions map

On this map you can find all the most important sights of Iceland. All attractions are shown on the google map, which means it will be easy for you to get directions t...

Useful tips on how to save money in Iceland

  • Get a group of 4 people - the cost of renting a car will be greatly reduced.
  • Arrange a trip right before the high season or immediately after it - the end of May or the beginning of September.
  • Swim in free hot springs, not hyped ones
  • Visit Iceland's natural attractions, not museums - they are free
  • Cook on your own - grilled lamb will be no worse than in a restaurant, but much cheaper
  • It is better to buy alcohol in duty free (or not buy at all) - it is available at the exit! from the airport
  • Do not change your money for Icelandic - you can pay with a card anywhere 

budget trip in Iceland

How much does it cost to go to Iceland

Our budget for a trip to Iceland in June 2019 (per person):

  • tickets from Ukraine with a transfer to Poland - 250 euros
  • car rental for 12 days + petrol + parking - 165 euros
  • camping - 110 euros
  • products - 70 euros
  • entrance to the geothermal pool (GeoSea) - 30 euros 
  • lunch at a cafe in Reykjavik - 25 euros

The total amount is 650 euros per person for a 12-day trip + flights to Iceland.

how to save money in Iceland