Is Iceland expensive? My thoughts from my trips!

sunset in Iceland

Is Iceland expensive? Well, yes – but in some ways, it’s not as pricey as many people believe. 

Here are all my thoughts about Iceland prices and the cost of travel from my two trips there. 

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Is Iceland expensive?

Iceland may be renowned as an expensive destination – but how expensive is it really

I’ve visited Iceland twice now, and while the rumours are true – it is pricey – some things I have found to be comparable with the UK and there are a few ways to keep costs down. 

Let’s dig into exactly how much things cost!

Cost of travel to Iceland

landing in iceland

The cost of travel to Iceland doesn’t have to be ridiculous

Budget flights to Iceland

EasyJet flights depart from airports all over England and other places in Europe – and they often provide very low fares. 

Tickets often cost around £100/ €116/ $125 return (with no luggage) from London.

WizzAir also connects Reykjavik with some other destinations and Play is the budget Icelandic Airline which connects Reykjavik with destinations around Europe and North America. 

Stopovers with IcelandAir

Often, if you’re travelling from London to North America, you can make use of a stopover with IcelandAir.

These connect European capitals to American or Canadian capitals with a few day’s stop in Reykjavik.

Package holidays with Jet2

Depending on when you are going, and where you are staying, it might be cheaper for you to book a package holiday.

We recently did this with Jet2holidays, and they include flights, hotels, transfers, and- if it’s the right time of year- a Northern Lights tour.

It’s worth looking at what you want to do independently and looking at the Jet2 package to decide if this is a good value for money for you.

Cost of activities in Iceland 

geysir erupting from the earth in Iceland

The cost of activities in Iceland definitely varies!

Renting a car

If you’re comfortable driving, and I really would only recommend doing this if you are comfortable driving (especially in the winter months), renting a car is a popular way to see Iceland on your own.

Rental Cars scans all providers to find the cheapest prices, and when I plugged Reykjavik Keflavik Airport through them, they came back quoting around £80/ €93/ $100 for a Toyota Aygo or similar car for four days. There may be extra charges for insurance etc. 

And don’t forget fuel! Iceland is one of the most expensive places in the world for fuel, costing $2.33 to $2.75 USD per litre which is around $8.82 to $10.40 USD per gallon.

Many of the natural attractions in Iceland are free, but some have an entrance fee. 

Tours in Iceland

iceland pony in iceland

If you’re not happy driving, and like I say, I wouldn’t recommend driving in Iceland in winter if you’ve not driven in heavy snow before, there are plenty of tours that you can take from Reykjavik.

The cheapest tours will be the large coach tours with around 30 to 40 other people. 

I have done a few of these and well they can’t be a bit crowded, I’ve always enjoyed them. 

I loved listening to what the guides had to say about the destinations and I have always found them very good value for money.

For example, I did this Golden Circle tour, which cost about £58/ €63/ $73.

I also did this Hiking Tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula which was about £77/ €90/ $97.

Here is a list of some of the other tours you can do. You can click through to them to see up-to-date prices.

Most of these tours include transport, a guide, and often entrance fees, although sometimes they come as extra. 

They don’t usually include lunch, however, there will be a lunch stop where you can purchase food. 

But if you’re visiting Iceland on a budget I would recommend bringing some lunch from Reykjavik or your hotel, as this will probably work out cheaper. 

Buy a Reykjavik City Card

boat statue in iceland

There are also a few urban attractions in Reykjavik. If you think you’ll want to see a few museums and try out some of the urban city baths, I’d recommend getting a Reykjavik City Card, which includes entrance to the following: 

  • National Gallery of Iceland
  • National Museum of Iceland
  • Árbær Open Air Museum
  • Maritime Museum
  • Museum of Photography
  • The Settlement Exhibition
  • Reykjavík Art Museums (Hafnarhús, Ásmundarsafn, Kjarvalsstaðir)
  • The Culture House
  • Thermal Baths (Árbæjarlaug, Breiðholtslaug, Grafarvogslaug, Kjalarneslaug, Laugardalslaug, Sundhöllin, Sundlaug Kópavogs, Vesturbæjarlaug)

Other attractions in Reykjavik and costs

Hallgrimskirkja in Iceland

Other attractions in Reykjavik that aren’t included in the City Card are: 

  • FlyOver Iceland: Immerse yourself in an exhilarating journey across Iceland with state-of-the-art technology that simulates flight, enhanced by special effects like wind, mist and scents. Cost £34/ €40/ $43.
  • Whales of Iceland: Experience the giants of the sea up close in this exhibition that features life-sized models of whales. More info here. Cost £24.50/ €28.61 / $30.81/
  • Perlan: Known for its stunning architecture and panoramic views of Reykjavik, Perlan is a must-visit for its exhibitions on Icelandic nature, including a real indoor ice cave. Click here to read more. Cost £30/ €35/ $38
  • Lava Show: Witness the power of volcanic eruptions firsthand at the Lava Show, where actual molten lava is produced indoors to mimic a volcanic eruption. Cost £33.71/ €39/ $42.
  • Icelandic Phallological Museum: It is what the name suggests! This museum is home to the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts across various species – it’s wacky, but definitely one of a kind! Cost £17/ €20/ 21.
  • Saga Museum: Delve into Iceland’s Viking history with realistic silicone figures depicting historical Icelandic figures and events, making history come alive. Cost £18/ €21/ $22.
  • Hallgrimskirkja: It’s free to go inside but costs to go up to the top. I’d recommend it though – the viewpoint is spectacular. Cost 5.80/ €6.70/ $7.30.

Of course, walking around the city and exploring its streets is completely free of charge!

Cost of food in Iceland

On my trips to Iceland, I usually booked a hotel with breakfast and filled up on this first thing in the morning.

I then only needed to eat a snack for lunch and then have just gone out for one meal of the day – dinner.

Dining out in Reykjavik

The cost of food in Reykjavik varies. For example, we paid $130 for a nice formal dinner at Kopar for two with a bottle of wine. 

I didn’t think this was that bad, considering we had two courses each, I had an extra dessert, and we had a bottle of wine! 

However, you wouldn’t want to be spending that every single night!

In Reykjavik, I have found the Asian restaurants to be the cheapest. 

There are quite a few Vietnamese restaurants called Pho, and they generally do dishes for around 15 euros per serving. There’s also Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant, which has similar prices, or Mai Thai Bistro which is equally affordable. 

Outside of Reykjavik, food prices are pretty similar – although if you go to the lesser touristy areas, you might find them to be a bit cheaper.

Supermarket shopping

One of my top recommendations for visiting Iceland on the cheap is to go to the supermarkets. However, it’s important to know which supermarkets to go to! 

10/11 is a popular supermarket in Reykjavik; you’ll see it all over town. However, 10 11 is also the most expensive supermarket in Reykjavik.

Instead, I’d recommend going to Kronan or Bonus. These are like the Aldi and Lidl of Reykjavik – they are a lot cheaper!

I bought a range of snacks in Kronan, including three types of liquorice, Applesin which is like the Icelandic fanta, Rís Buff Bites which are marshmallows coated in crispy pieces and some chocolate; that all came to £17/ €20/ $21

Tap water

My last tip for eating and drinking in Iceland on a budget is to always drink tap water.

The tap water is among the best in the world – my guide Asi told me that if you order bottled water you’re getting the same water just in a bottle.

Bring a reusable bottle and fill it straight from the tap!

Cost of accommodation in Iceland

For solo travellers, the cheapest accommodation will be a hostel. I’ve heard good things about Kex Hostel, where dorms start from £35/ €40/ $44.

But, if you’re travelling as a couple, it’s probably cheaper to rent a room than two beds in dorm rooms.

The lowest-priced room I’ve found in Reykjavik city centre is Baldursbrá Guesthouse Laufásvegur which costs £59/ €69/ $74 per night. It’s only rated 7.7 (this is lower than the rating I usually go for when booking hotels).

If you’re after a contemporary hotel with modern and high-end decor, I’d probably opt for something like Grandi by Center Hotels which costs £94/ €110/ $118 per night. 

If you’re visiting Iceland as a group, you may find it more cost-effective to rent an apartment. I always use VRBO to rent apartments out – for example, this one in Reykjavik costs around £500 for four people for four nights. 

Cost of transport in Iceland

As discussed above, tours in Iceland cost between £60/ €70/ $75 to £120/ €140/ $150 per day, and rental cars start at £20/ 23/ $25 per day (plus petrol costs and any extra rental fees, which can raise the price substantially). 

Aside from exploring Reykjavik, these are the only real ways to get around Iceland; there are buses, but they’re few and far between and it’s very rare for tourists to take them. 

Reykjavik itself is a very walkable city, and there are buses available too. You can download the Klappid app where you can buy tickets for bus travel, or pay the driver in cash (£2.60/ €3.10/ $3.30). 

Alternatively, the Reykjavik City Card covers buses around the city centre. 

Tips for visiting Iceland on a budget

Sculptures and Shore walk that's covered in snow in the winter months.

Drink tap water

Iceland’s tap water is not only safe but also delicious, coming straight from natural springs. You can save a considerable amount by refilling your water bottle rather than buying bottled water.

Shop at supermarkets

Eating out in Iceland can be expensive. By purchasing groceries at local supermarkets and preparing your own meals, you’ll significantly cut down on food expenses.

Consider car rental

Public transport in Iceland is limited, especially if you’re looking to explore outside of Reykjavik. Renting a car can be a cost-effective solution, giving you the freedom to visit remote attractions at your own pace.

Enjoy free attractions

Iceland is known for its phenomenal natural landscapes, many of which are free to visit. Highlights include waterfalls, geysers, and national parks. In Reykjavik, the City Hall, Statues and Sculptures Walk and exploring Rainbow Street and the ground level of Hallgrimskirkja are free.

I also highly recommend a walking tour with, although these are tips-based so please do tip.

Consider purchasing a Reykjavik City Card

The Reykjavik City Card offers free entry to many museums and galleries, unlimited public transport, and other discounts at a reasonable price for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It’s an excellent way to save money while enjoying the city’s top sights.

Lastly, do visit with the mindset that you’re going to spend some money

I wouldn’t recommend going to Iceland on a completely strict budget, just because there is a higher cost of living here and it’s good to have some wiggle room! If you’re looking for ultra-budget destinations in Europe, I’d recommend somewhere like Georgia instead, where your money will naturally go further.