Iceland on a Budget

So this past May, my dad and I went to Iceland together and this was my first trip to Iceland or any of the Norse countries to be fair. I was a little apprehensive as I assumed that any country with ‘ice’ in the name must not have a very exciting landscape or much to do. I honestly couldn’t have been more wrong! Iceland is absolutely stunning. I have never seen such magnificent waterfalls, and I live an hour away from Niagara Falls. I think that what made it even more exciting for me was that I really didn’t know anything about Iceland so I was always pleasantly surprised with the scenery and the history.

I wish that we had been able to spend more time there but we were on our way to France, so had a very limited time window. I am going to split my travels in Iceland up into two separate blog posts, this first one will be dedicated to travelling Iceland on a budget. Admittedly, this was a challenge as Iceland is, generally, an expensive place to visit but we found many ways to save money where we could. I have put together a list below of the main areas where you can save money.

One of the amazing parts about visiting Iceland as a student is that IcelandAir has started offering a ‘stopover’ in Iceland for up to 7 nights while en-route to your final destination. This comes at no extra fee to you, except food and accommodation in Iceland, and is a GREAT way to see two countries for the price of one.

We found that most of the people who were touring Iceland were doing the stopover, the same as us. IcelandAir offered the cheapest flights to Europe anyway so it was an added bonus that we got to see two countries instead of one.

One of the most expensive things in Iceland was the food. We heard that Iceland has 20% taxes which is what makes it so expensive to eat out at restaurants (if this is incorrect please let me know!). The simplest way that we saved money was by getting food from grocery stores. It seems like an oversimplified solution but seriously, it is very often overlooked. My Dad and I didn’t have a fridge to keep stuff in but we could always find cheap pre-made sandwiches at the grocery store that we would buy before heading out for the day. Combine that with a few snacks and you’re all set for the day! The grocery stores were basically the same price as they are in Canada so we really never felt like we were out-of-pocket.

The one place that we found we couldn’t cut corners to save money was for hotels and hostels. Basically, any ‘hotel’ was out of the question in terms of what we wanted to be spending. It seemed pointless for that to be the area where we splurged because we spent so little time in the room anyway! My dad found a lot of great places for us to stay and none of them were ‘primitive’ by any means, well sure they weren’t a Hilton but they were great for what we needed. I added the link for one of the places we stayed, the Alex Guesthouse, because they also offer a free shuttle to and from the airport which was super helpful for us.

If I had gone on my own or with a few of my friends I would have looked seriously into camping out. Iceland has over 170 places that you can camp and we saw so many people who just carried a tent with them and camped out as they travelled around. It seemed that Iceland is the perfect place to backpack and hitch-hiking is very much a thing. I was talking to a man who is from Europe but lives and works in Iceland, he told me that most of the time he just hitch-hikes to work because it’s cheaper than filling his car with gas!

I am really excited to share the rest of my trip to Iceland with you all, but I figured it was better to start off with how to travel on a budget as I needed another week to put all my thoughts together before writing about everything that we did and saw during our trip.

I should be posting the second part of my Iceland blog next week but in the mean time press the follow button at the very bottom of the page. That way you’ll get a notification when the new blog goes up!

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