Iceland….the land of ice and snow, a place so bewitching you’ll quite forget where you are in the universe. People, what people? Never mind them… You’re too busy looking at a mountain, yes another mountain but look at it, it’s so beautiful. You just look, drinking it all in, you’ve never felt so small, never felt so lucky to be alive and never felt so lucky to witness nature at its finest. That’s Iceland. It’s bloody brilliant! But it’s also really bloody expensive, I mean literally the most pricey place I have ever visited.
But…. we’ll forgive you Iceland, labour rates are high, VAT is high and importing is an expensive business.However, fulfilling as your scenery is, we are human beings and we kinda gotta eat and drink.
So, here’s how to DO Iceland on a BUDGET.
Travel Around. Iceland is not your typical holiday destination, it’s not set up for weekend getaways, staying in the city and day tripping around. You can’t just whip by and see the delights then bugger off. The public transport is, well, it just isn’t. It isn’t there! So, hire a car that way you’ll be free to stay in cheap digs, access all the supermarkets you want and really experience Iceland. Road tripping is the BEST and cheapest way to see this gorgeous country in all its glory.
Forget the Tours. Horse riding, glacier hikes, there’re all wonderful BUT Iceland is a WOW country so tours are not an essential part of a holiday. You can totally come to Iceland and pay to see nothing, just as nature intended!
Don’t bother with Reykjavik. I sound a bit mean saying that and you are a very cute little ‘city’ (cough cough town) and yes it’s the capital but really, who visits Iceland for the bright lights and night clubs?! Not that Reykjavik is very well endowed in that department anyway. I’m not sure, maybe I just missed the show, but all I saw was an amazing church (that really was worth seeing), some cute cafes and a lot of overpriced shops and restaurants. Not Iceland at it’s best, good for a stopover but don’t bother hanging around.
Bring Booze. You’re on holiday, everywhere is the middle of nowhere in Iceland. And you can no longer buy alcohol in the supermarkets, you’ve got to visit special liquor stores called Vinbudin. I learnt my lesson the hard way… The bday girl who arrived in Iceland on a Sunday to find ALL the liquor stores shut!!!! Boohoo. Luckily the lovely owners of our apartment felt our pain and gave us a vintage bottle of rioja, WOW, happy birthday to me! Icelandic people are really kind btw. Anyway, back to drinks, most alcohol is double the price of the UK, so it’s a no brainer really, just don’t go crazy, there’s obviously a limit to how much you can bring !
Goodbye Bacon. A sad truth, bacon for some mad reason is extortionate in Iceland, like £15 for a pack of regular streaky bacon. Forget it, you can eat all the bacon you want when you get home! This was the the same for a few of my favs: blueberries £9 a punnet! Good coffee £8 a pack! Fancy jam £5!
Forget the Souvenirs. Little pebbles of volcanic rock, Icelandic woolly jumpers, anyone would think they were selling gold dust! Just don’t do it. Iceland is about the memories not the random bits you bring home. Shopping in Iceland really is the best way to blow your budget.
Bring Coffee. Also tea, chocolate that kind of packaged stuff, it’s so easy to fit in your suitcase and most of the flights give you a 25KG allowance, which is plenty for everything! It was nice having my organic home comforts and we also we saved over £50 on coffee, as a decent cup outside was about £3.50.
Picnic in the Hotel. For the most part we stayed in log cabins and self catering apartments but if you do find yourself in a hotel don’t think ‘oh right that’s our budget blown!’ We found that most of the hotels give you a really good free breakfast (with BACON, yippppppeeee) a pretty good start to the day. So in the evening we’d just have a picnic, in our room. Snacks, fruit, cheeses, wine, desserts, it was lovely and cost very little.
Have you visited Iceland or other pricey destinations, what are you’re frugal traveller tips?