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jon

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Just got back from a road trip in Iceland

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Europe > Iceland > Useful Info
Updated on Nov 05, 2018 Useful Info

Tips for saving money in Iceland

Iceland is expensive (on par with London I'd say except in London at least you can go cheap whereas in Iceland there aren't that many options) and no matter how much you try you'll end up spending a lot of money travelling there. That being said, here's a couple of my tips for saving money in Iceland:

  1. Go in the low season: low season starts some time around mid October to March. Prices of car rentals and lodging will go down anywhere between 30%-50% compared to the high season. Late October is IMO ideal time to go, because it's not too cold yet (0-7C in the south and -4 to 0 in the north) and snow hasn't set in across the entire country yet, just the north
  2. Travel light: WOW air is the budget airline serving Iceland but they charge for checked luggages. So ideally you travel with a single piece of carry on. Icelandair doesn't charge for checked luggage I think but they're much more expensive than WOW
  3. Take the bus from the airport to Reykjavik: taxis to the city is around $150, whereas buses are $25-30. I've written about the different bus options here
  4. Rent a campervan for your road trip: Iceland has a housing shortage because of how much tourism has boomed. Even crappy hotels / guesthouses anywhere in the country will cost $150-$200 per night minimum. Campervans all come with cooking equipment as well so you can make your own food for cheap. This tip is for if you're planning to do a road trip around Iceland along the ring road. If you're only visiting Reykjavik and surrounding area (i.e. the golden circle) then this tip doesn't apply
  5. Stay at camp sites: related to tip 3 above. Camping is very cheap in Iceland, with almost all camp sites charge 2,000 ISK ($17) or less per night. Camp sites all have bathroom and shower facilities, some (though rare) even have wifi and laundry services. Most camp sites support both regular tent camping or campervans. Between mid-October and March (i.e. low season), many camp sites will close, but you can still park your campervan there overnight and use their bathrooms free of charge (they just won't have showers and other facilities open). Of the 6 nights I spent at camp sites, I only paid for the last 3 days when I got close to Reykjavik.
  6. Buy food and supplies from Bónus. This grocery store is the cheapest place to get food, personal care, and other road trip supplies you'll find in Iceland. Restaurants are outlandishly expensive, and the other major grocery chain (called Krónan) is much more expensive. The downside of Bónus is the smaller selection of items, but honestly from personal experience you can get most of what you need here, from premade dinners to produce
  7. Get diesel car and ask for gas discount card: car fuel is expensive in Iceland (about $7.2 / gallon when I went), but diesel is slightly cheaper than gasoline. Many car rental agencies should also give you a fuel discount card, so make sure they do before you book with them
  8. Get a manual car if you can: like the rest of Europe, manual cars are cheaper to rent than automatic cars. If you know how to drive manual, go for it