Iceland Pier

10 Ways To Visit Iceland On A Budget

Is Iceland expensive? Yes!. The country is small, has a short growing season, doesn’t have a lot of crops, and has to import a lot of things it needs.

So again can Iceland travel be expensive? Yes. Can you beat the system and visit the country on a budget? FOR SURE! You just need to be mindful of your spending.

1. Hitchhike

Iceland is one of the easiest and safest countries in the world for hitchhikers. You can find rides throughout the country. Though harder, it’s also not impossible to find a ride in the off-season or in the sparsely populated north. Be sure to do your research so you aren’t stranded. 

2. Drink Tap water

— The water in Iceland is safe to drink and healthy. A plastic bottle of water costs about $3 USD, so bring a metal water bottle with you and refill from the tap. It will save you a lot of money and help the environment. There’s no reason to buy water here.

3. Camp

— In Iceland, Camping is available nearly at all places. You can camp in designated campgrounds for about $14 USD per night and some hostels allow you to put up tents too. Camping is significantly cheaper than hostels. Bringing your own sleeping bag would certainly help. Also, if you really intend to save money and are on a really low budget, then just camp in the wild . It’s legal as long as there’s no sign posted to the contrary, it’s not private land

4. Become a Hostel International member

— Most hostels in Iceland (especially outside Reykjavik) are part of the Hostel International group, which means they give discounted rates to members. Hostel dorms cost $27-33 USD per night, and HI members get $5 USD off, so if you plan on staying in hostels, the $28 USD annual membership will pay for itself in no time

5. Bring your own sheets or sleeping bag

— Many hostels in Iceland charge you a fee for bed sheets if you don’t have your own or a sleeping bag (pillows are free!). Linen fees begin at $10 USD; however, be sure to research your hostel thoroughly as some will not allow you to bring your own sheets/sleeping bag

6. Drink alcohol as little as possible-

As taxes are quite high in Iceland, it becomes really expensive to drink there. Here are some rates-

  • Beer: $10 USD (happy hour: $6 USD)
  • Wine: $12 USD
  • Bottle of wine at the store: $20 USD
  • Bottle of wine at a restaurant: $30+ USD
  • Shots: $8 USD

Don’t drink and your budget will be fine! OK, maybe once in Reykjavik since it’s nightlife is world famous. But other than that, don’t. You’ll save a lot and feel a lot better. 

7. Cook your own food and shop from grocery

— I found the food to be the most expensive thing in Iceland. Eating out costs about $15 USD or more per meal. 

Go grocery shopping.  Buy everything you need — such as eggs, cereal, pre-made sandwiches, and pasta — and cook. All hostels, guesthouses, and campsites have kitchens. 

Try to shop at BONUS stores as they have the lowest prices.

8. Eat hotdogs

— If you are going to eat out, eat at sandwich and hot dog stalls you find throughout the cities. They offer the cheapest (but not healthiest) food in the country. A hot dog costs about $3.50 USD and a sandwich will run you about $13 USD (about $17 USD with a beverage). 

9. Get a bus pass

— During the summer months, you can purchase a countywide bus pass for $323 USD. On the off chance that you would prefer not to bum a ride, this will be your next least expensive alternative for getting around Iceland on a financial limit.

10. Rent a car

— If you are coming in the off season, staying for a week or less, or don’t want to hitchhike, I would rent a car. They cost between $40-70 USD per day but you can split the costs with traveling companions (or by picking up travelers on the road!) and you’ll get a lot more flexibility than if you take the bus. The best of Iceland isn’t found along its main highway.


  • Dan & Beck
    May 31, 2020

    Hey Justin,

    We really enjoyed the Iceland budget tips.

    Iceland is our favourite country in the world. We’ve been twice we loved it so much! It’s great that most of what Iceland has to offer is in it’s natural beauty. So all the hikes and natural attractions are thankfully for free 🙂

    We found cooking our own food (that we bought from Bonus) and camping (we took our own gear from the UK) to be the best ways to save money when travelling the island. Your other tips are insightful also.

    Cheers, Dan & Beck from Travel Made Me Do It


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