Is It Really Possible To Do Iceland On A Budget?

Last updated on May 5th, 2024 at 10:28 pm

iceland on a budget
Beautiful landscapes, but a hefty price tag; is it possible to do Iceland on a budget?
We’ve all seen the breathtaking landscapes, the art-strewn streets, and the smiling locals when we’ve googled “Iceland,” but are the costs ever advertised? When I traveled to Iceland solo, I was given advice by an American tour guide who had been living in Iceland for a few years. Revealing the ways locals save money, maybe it’s time tourists do the same.

iceland hot springs and pools

Adventure to Local Hot Springs

Although the Blue Lagoon and new Sky Lagoon are remarkable must-visits for your first trip to Iceland, if you’re on a budget or you’ve visited before, why not venture to where the locals go? Because after all, Icelander’s know best!

Scattered around Iceland’s lush landscapes, you can find several off-the-beaten-path hot springs, heated pools, and others conveniently located near Reykjavik. Most of these are free of charge, or require a small admission fee (typically a lot less than the touristy spots!)

Near, far, old, or young, almost every area in Iceland has heated pools for locals of all ages to use. My tour guide described these as the “meet-up” spots for Icelander’s to catch up, relax, and chat about any local happenings. If you want a true, Icelandic experience try these remote springs:

Laugardalslaug: $8 entry
Reykjadalur: Free entry
Hrunalaug: Donations welcome
Seljavallalaug: Free entry
Kvika Foot Bath: Free entry
Landbrotalaug: Free entry

iceland hot springs and pools

Climb Hallgrímskirkja Church

If you want a cheap day out, stroll around downtown Reykjavik and visit the cities most iconic structure- Hallgrímskirkja church. Not only is it centrally located, it also boasts some of the best panoramic views in the area (with a price-tag we enjoy).

  • It is free to visit the church itself if you just want to stroll around and admire the ornate architecture 
  • Prices to climb the tower; $9 for adults and less than $2 for children aged 7-16
  • The church has various opening hours, so check their website if you’re planning to visit

Appy Hour app in iceland to save money

Visit Bars During Happy Hours

Like most of Europe, Icelander’s love their happy hours! Skál! On a regular jaunt out, alcoholic beverages can add up significantly- especially in this pricey, Scandinavian country. The top tip for budget travel in Iceland is to take advantage of the cheap drinks while you can.

Visit Some of the Cheapest Bars in Iceland

While Reykjavik has its fair share of fancy restaurants and mixology experts, it’s always nice to splurge first and then save a little the rest of the trip. Some of the cheapest bars in Iceland to save money on a regular day (and during happy hours) include; Bravo, Lebowski Bar, Loft Hostel, The Dubliner, and Kex Hostel (check-out the full, in-depth list over on Guide to Iceland!)

Since hostel bars typically attract the budget travelers, it’s always good to check-out their bar scenes- which are typically open to the public! During my visit, I stayed at Kex Hostel & Loft Hostel (which both have buzzing bars! You can read about where to stay in Iceland here!

Happy campers Iceland

Rent a Van to See the Country the Budget Way

If you’re planning to stay for awhile, renting a van is a sure-fire way to save you money in Iceland! If you pay for hotel accommodation and excursions, this will add up VERY quickly here. Renting a van provides you with a ride, accommodations, and the ability to get yourself to anywhere at your own pace.

Most campsites in Iceland have showers, bathrooms, kitchens, and you can park your van for free or under $25 a night. This is definitely a budget travel lifesaver when visiting Iceland, and also a simple way to meet fellow travelers at local sites.

 After extensive research, I opted for Happy Campers Van rentals. Happy Campers is an eco-friendly, family owned business. They plant one tree for every rental purchased. Their headquarters are close to the airport, and they offer airport pick-ups so it’s easier to pick up your ride and check-in. The office is filled with ANYTHING you may need: Coffee makers, chairs, canned-goods, etc.

Buy Your Own Food to Save Money

Iceland is home to a variety of supermarkets ranging in selection and price. While there are many brand scattered across the country, it’s important to note the budget-friendly options. Seasonal fruits, packaged meals, and fresh ingredients, grocery shopping in Iceland is an experience of its own. 

Grocery stores in Iceland are becoming sustainable, by no longer offering plastic bag options. I found that supermarkets cater to almost every diet, with an array of options for every kind of traveler. I rented a van for a portion of my trip, and found it incredibly budget-saving to frequent the markets in Iceland!

Bonus Supermarket

Noticeable through its signage featuring a chubby pig, Bonus markets are open across the country on weekdays and weekends. It’s one of Iceland’s cheapest grocery stores, with over 30 locations nationwide. 

Kronan Supermarket

With around 20 stores across Iceland, Kronan is also a budget-friendly option. While a little more expensive than Bonus, Kronan offers a much larger selection of food: including an impressive array of organic groceries. 

10-11 Supermarket

While easy to find downtown, a tour guide of mine recommended not to visit 10-11 stores if you’re trying to save money in Iceland. Open 24 hours, they’re convenient if you’re looking for a quick bite: but don’t make this your first option.



  1. September 19, 2022 / 7:05 pm

    Hayley, great post! Thanks for sharing. Iceland is for sure on our list, your post has motivated me more to go! You live an amazing life!

    • February 4, 2023 / 5:07 pm

      Thank you, Christina! I hope you get to visit soon 🙂