Figuring out a realistic Iceland budget can be a little difficult. When I was researching our trip I found it hard to narrow down an actual Iceland budget or idea about how much we would be spending. Perhaps this was a good thing because had I known, we may have pushed the trip off for another year or two. Either way, I’ve put together a breakdown on how much our trip cost us to hopefully help out future travellers.
Iceland has definitely become the hottest travel destination of 2016, and for good reason. While the landscape is beautiful and the people are friendly, this European country is as expensive as people say. Obviously this makes sense when you think about the fact that the country basically has to import everything they consume.
Ben and I aren’t budget travellers but we aren’t luxury travellers either. I work full-time to be able to afford little luxuries when I travel. While I’m sure there are things you can do in order to travel Iceland much cheaper than we did, we didn’t want to miss out on adventures just to save a buck or two.
$775 per person for flights is a bit more than the typical Iceland budget. We paid a little more for our flights than what you can probably find now but it was because we were travelling during a Canadian long weekend and were leaving on a Friday night, returning on a Sunday afternoon. Our flights were with Icelandair. I had never flown with them before and I have to say, I was incredibly impressed. I would definitely fly with them again. The flight from Toronto is usually direct and only 5 hours, so it’s a pretty easy international flight.
As per normal, we took a red-eye flight. While these flights are usually very painful and I barely get any sleep, but I find it the best way to help overcome jet lag. I’m usually too excited by the time I arrive at the new destination I totally forget I haven’t slept.
Car Rental: $750
During my research, I couldn’t really find anyone who gave a practical quote to help us figure out how to bring this into our Iceland budget. There were a number of options but I didn’t know who was the best or what was a reasonable price.
I had a hard time deciding where to get our car rental from. There were quite a number of options in Iceland and I had read a number of reviews about the need for insurance. There were a few stories I read while doing my research about tourists who hadn’t purchased the additional insurance, especially with ash coverage and ended up having to dish out quite a bit of money in the end to pay for the damage. I definitely did not want that to happen, especially with the amount we were already dishing out for the trip. We also spent some time debating about getting a 4×4 or just finding the cheapest car we could. In the end I’m so glad we didn’t get a 4×4, it wasn’t needed for our trip as we stuck to the main roads the whole time and there was no snow.
After many hours trolling car rental websites in Iceland I finally found Cars Iceland, which not only happened to be the cheapest we could find but also had more insurance coverage included in their price than any other car rental company we found. We did also pay for the additional coverage when we arrived just to be on the safe side. In total $750 (taxes included) wasn’t a bad price. I had read a few too many blogs about people not paying for that extra insurance and having to pay so much more when they returned the car. It just wasn’t worth it to me.
I definitely saved way more than necessary in our Iceland budget for gas. This one is hard to pinpoint an exact dollar amount so I’m guesstimating here. I had read a lot of blogs and articles about the price of gas being quite a lot so we were well prepared to spend a very large amount here. We definitely over-budgeted. This could be attributed to the fact that we chose to rent a diesel car. While renting a diesel car is more expensive than the alternative from the get-go, I promise you it’ll save you money.
One this to be aware of with car rentals and gas though are the gas cards in Iceland. You can’t actually get gas without a gas card. Make sure you plan this in advance because I didn’t. We ended up having to buy random snacks at gas stations just to use up the money we had put on the cards to prevent it from going to waste.
Yea I know. We spent a lot on accommodations. This is definitely where most travellers could cut costs and save some money. Camping would have been a good option in some of the more remote places in Iceland. There were also lower rated hotels that travellers could choose from. The reason why we spent so much was because there were a few places we thought looked incredible and didn’t want to miss out on them. It was pretty much an even split between staying at hotels or Airbnbs (click here for $40CAD off your first stay).
We tried to stay in Airbnb’s in the more popular spots of Iceland because there were a few options. Whereas, in the more remote regions like Eglisstadir, we stayed in hotels because it was much easier to find some. If I’m being honest, spending a little more on the hotels were the right decision for us. I’m not necessarily a camper and because the nights could get pretty cold, it was nice to have clean sheets and a warm place to rest our head after long days of travelling around.
Tours and excursions: $400
I love doing excursions, especially ones that are unique but I typically don’t because most of the time they are just a bit out of the budget. This time around Ben and I decided we had to do the snorkelling tour through Silfra (Thingvellir National Park). I have already written about our experience (here) so I won’t go into too much detail but this as well was something that was totally worth spending that little bit of extra money on.
Not only was this tour a chance for me to tick off the “being in two places at once” item on my bucket list, I had also never snorkelled or put on a dry suit. While the water was colder than anything I’ve ever swam in before, it was beautiful seeing how peaceful and still the world was below the surface. If you have the money and the chance to do this, please do it.
Food and drink: $600
Again, this is a rough estimate of what we actually spent because this was how much spending money we took with us, and we didn’t come back with any. We did fairly well for the most part because we bought groceries (BONUS is the best place to buy cheap groceries) and tried to cook our own meals as much as possible. Getting wine and beer from duty free on our way out of the airport was also a really good way to save money.
Food was even more than I would have expected it to be. We did hear about how things were ridiculously priced but I find people have a tendency to exaggerate things when it comes to travel. This was not one of those times. I couldn’t believe that a regular burger and fries came out to be about $25CAD at the end of the day. If you are budget conscience, definitely try and plan your meals ahead of time. As a note – the gas stations have surprisingly delicious hot dogs that are very cheap. They make for a quick and easy lunch on the road.
There you have it, all laid out before you how much we spent in Iceland. I don’t even want to do the math and add up how much that all is (just kidding I have, and I wasn’t too pleased). Speaking from someone who loves to save where I can, every dollar spent in Iceland was 1000% worth it. All of the things you have read, heard or perhaps seen in pictures about Iceland is true. It really is a place you cannot believe until you are there. I would go back in a heartbeat, and I don’t say that about many places.
- Airbnb stays are quite easy to find in most areas in Iceland. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something within your budget. For tips about booking Airbnb check out my post here.
- Booking.com is another great resource if you’re looking to book a hotel instead of an apartment. Most of our stays in were booked through Booking.com and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
- Hotwire is my go-to source when booking car rentals. I always find the best rates with them and it’s so easy to use. Most of the time I just use their app when travelling because it’s so convenient.
- For the purpose of this trip we used Cars Iceland and had a very good experience with them.
ICELAND TRAVEL BOOKS