With beautiful landscapes, but a hefty price tag, we’re all dying to know; what does cheap travel in Iceland really mean? 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 completely FREE advice by an American tour guide who had been living in Iceland for a few years. He told us all the ways locals save money, and how tourists should too! (Naturally, I jotted his tips down in my notes to share 😉)
Visit Free Hot Springs & Heated Pools
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 at half the price, this is your place! While I didn’t personally visit any local, heated pools, here’s a list of some recommended around Reykjavik;
- Laugardalslaug & Vesturbæjarlaug⮕ 💰 $8 for adult entry
⮕ The largest and most popular pools in Reykjavik
⮕ 💰 The only thing we paid for was parking, which was reasonable. Otherwise the springs are free!
⮕ It’s also only a 45 minute drive from Reykjavik, and the hike to the Hot Springs is unreal.
⮕ 💰 $23 for entry (a little up there, but still cheaper and way less touristy than other lagoons)
⮕ I visited the Secret Lagoon on a Golden Circle Tour with Your Day Tours.
⮕ TIP ⭐️ You can read more about this tour, as well as my other favorites here!
In some remote locations in Iceland, you can often find more hot springs than people! (This is not all of them) but here are some other options for free/cheap, hot springs to take advantage of as you travel around the country;
- Landbrotalaug — 1.5 hours from Reykjavik
- Kvika — Foot bath — 10 minute drive from Reykjavik
- Hrunalaug — 1.5 hours from Reykjavik
- Seljavallalaug — 2 hours from Reykjavik
- Landmannalaugar — 3.5 hours from Reykjavik
Visit Hallgrímskirkja Church in Iceland
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 & designs
⮕ 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!
Buy Your Own Groceries in Iceland
Cook your own food! It’s the age old trick that’ll save you money anywhere in the world, and is one of the biggest hacks when wanting to travel cheap in Iceland. But most of us already knew this travel hack, so what’s the secret to Iceland grocery stores?
What Grocery Stores Can I Find in Iceland?
- Bonus — The best budget supermarket in Iceland with good selections
- Kronan— A close follow up to Bonus with more great choices
- Netto — Not as frequently found as the other two, but still cheap
- Víðir — The luxury brand of Iceland grocery stores with the best quality foods
- 10-11 — ⭐️ TIP; My trusty tour guide told us NOT TO SHOP HERE if you’re trying to save money in Iceland! While they carry a good selection of groceries, prices are almost double what you can find at Bonus & Kronan (tourist-trap alert) 🆘
Take Advantage of Happy Hours in Iceland
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 cheap travel in Iceland is to take advantage of the cheap drinks while you can!
1. the ‘APPY HOUR app will be your best friend
This app was literally created for beverage lovers, by beverage lovers. It’s free to download, and will literally list every happy hour happening in your location in Iceland in live time. You can also see what’s going on during the week, so you can plan your cheap-drink-a-thon ahead of time!
2. 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!) ⭐️ TIP; 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!
Save on Hotels and Rent a Van in Iceland
WHY RENTING A VAN IN ICELAND WILL SAVE YOU MONEY
- 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 anything you want to see at your own pace! (Not to mention, most campsites in Iceland have showers, bathrooms, kitchens, and you can park your van for FREE or usually under $25 a night!) YAY TO SAVING 💰! This will definitely make your Iceland travel cheap.
- I opted for Happy Campers Van rentals when I visited! Happy Campers is an eco-friendly, family owned business. They plant one tree 🌳 for every rental purchased through them! Their headquarters is super 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 literally EVERYTHING you think you’ll need in a van! (Coffee makers, chairs, canned-goods, etc.)
All estimates below are based on around 5-6 days of travel. 👇
Average hotel cost
Average trip cost