Iceland is an amazing place on a lot of people’s bucket list and has been enjoying an increase in popularity the past few years. What might put a lot of people off going, though, is how much it will cost.
The first thing to accept, is that Iceland is not a little Europe trip that you can secure for £200-300 all in (flights, accommodation, tours, food, etc). Spending £500-£600 or more for a trip to Iceland is more reasonable. It’s a short-haul trip on the lower end of long-haul money. How affordable your trip to Iceland is, is a case of whether you want to pay it all up front or take a chance at making a saving by organising it all yourself!
Now we have accepted the cost we agree is affordable for Iceland, we can get into how the costs of the trip can be managed! So here are my 6 tips for an affordable trip to Iceland:
1. Join Secret Escapes for package deals
These will usually include flights, bed and breakfast, entry to the Blue Lagoon, a glacier tour and airport transfers. I’ve seen something like this recently for £500-600 per person, for 3 nights. This is a pretty good deal if you don’t have the time or energy to sort out your own itinerary independently, and especially if you are not comfortable with driving yourself around Iceland. Secret Escapes have regular sales, too, so don’t give up and check back often. Plus their accommodation offering generally look luxurious – who can resist a bit of affordable-luxe!? You can either save up your money to book something like this all in one go, or organise flights and accommodation and any extra activities yourself – then spread the costs by buying each element of your trip in stages.
2. BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)
I cannot stress this enough – food in Iceland is SO EXPENSIVE. I’ve been to Iceland twice now (READ: 9 WAYS TO PREPARE FOR A TRIP TO ICELAND), and every hot meal I’ve had there was either beef noodles or chicken noodles. I should be ashamed, but I assure you – I am not. I just don’t believe a simple basic meal for one person should cost £40 minimum – I can live on 50p noodles, thanks! You can bring some things with you, but be sure you double check what you’re allowed to travel with; don’t pack meat, and say Lulu told you to do so – that is not my business! You can also pop to the supermarket but beware of the exchange rate. This time around, 500 ISK (Icelandic Krona) was about £3, and many of the enjoyable items in the supermarket are over 1,000 ISK – that’s £6+ per one item, friends. Take your favourite exchange rate apps with you as you pace up and down the aisles.
3. Book flights when they’re at their lowest
If you’re keen to book your accommodation and flights for Iceland yourself, reasonably priced flights for Iceland are around £150 or less with Iceland Air or British Airways ( so you don’t pay extra for checked luggage), or under £100 with EasyJet and just a carry-on bag. BTW – in the winter, you WILL need checked luggage; you will be very cold without being able to pack layers, so be sure to keep this in mind when opting for no-frills just to save money.
Disclaimer; my cousin used her Avios points to gift me a companion voucher for our flights this time around, so she paid for one air fare plus the taxes on the fare of the companion voucher. Something to consider if you’re wondering whether to start collecting Avios. Or if you already do collect, now you know you can redeem them on the British Airway’s route from London Heathrow to Keflavik, Iceland.
4. Self-drive and organise your own tours
For those up for adventure, you can skip paying for a simple tour like The Golden Circle in the south and drive this yourself. The main sight to see is the geysers and Gulfoss waterfall, and guess what? Parking in both places is free. The third point of interest on The Golden Circle is the National Park, Thingvellir. The three sights don’t take a lot of time in the day so unless you want a guide to go into detail about the geology of the area, do it yourself and google the facts as you go. We attempted the Diamond Circle in the North but due to the weather only managed to visit Godafoss waterfall (pictured above). Naturally, self-driving will mean costs for the actual rental car, insurance and petrol so you’ll need to factor this in but if you go in a group you can split these costs.
5. Accommodation in Iceland is actually reasonably priced
Truthfully, accommodation all over Iceland is fairly cheap. It is possible to book for around £50 per night for accommodation – and if you’re sharing the accommodation costs with someone else, even better. If you’re not afraid of budget travel, you don’t actually need your room to be the most exciting as the real fun of Iceland is being outside in the open, exploring the landscape.
Parent tip: 16’s and under do not have to pay for accommodation in many places, so Iceland can be a brilliant and cost-effective location for a family holiday. As always, using Booking.com to opt for accommodation that 1) includes breakfast, and 2) offers no-prepayment and free cancellation can help you minimise and spread the cost of your trip.
6. Don’t be afraid to stay in a shared house
Another option is staying in a private room in a shared AirBnb. The good thing about this is that during the day, most people are out exploring particularly in winter where there is limited sunlight hours. If you’re anti-social or your stranger danger is high, you might be encouraged to know that we have hardly had interaction with others in our shared AirBnb. If you’re going alone, this is an excellent opportunity to meet people particularly if you’re staying outside of Reykjavik as in the country as other people are few and far between! A shared room can run you as low as £50 per night, whilst an entire property can be as much as £100 per night. While we can all agree that sharing a bathroom with strangers isn’t ideal, we have all done it before in uni (well… actually, I had an en-suite but you get my point). Make sure you pack your flip flops, and you’ll be just fine! 🙂
Are you planning a trip to Iceland, or have you been already? We’d love to know if you have any additional preparation tips to share, or if these points have helped your prep!