Ah, Iceland. The breathtaking beauty of nature at its finest. The unspoilt expanse of fairytale landscapes, dreamlike auroras and extreme adventure.. and one of thee most expensive places on the planet!
'I'm sorry, HOW MUCH?' - Iceland is ex-pen-sive bruh. Be prepared to be hit hard, entering your PIN number in tears, calling your bank back home for that emergency overdraft.. or follow my top 5 tips to enjoy Iceland on a budget.
1, Getting there.
If you're doing a round trip across the pond, this is when you should visit Iceland. The Iceland stopover is a genius hack, allowing you to touch down in Iceland on either your outbound or return transatlantic flight at no extra cost, explore to your heart's content, and continue on your journey to either Europe or North America, pumped full of visual delights and the joyous satisfaction of 2-for-1 flights. Icelandair limit your stopover time in Iceland to 7 days, so if you need longer, take a look at wowair.
2, Getting around.
I have no magic bullet for you when it comes to fuel. Unless you're a thief, or a chemistry whizz and can concoct a working formula for powering combustion engines out of vegetables, you're shit out of luck. You will be doing a lot of driving. The best way to keep the costs down on travelling around is to convince your friends that they too need to be there. Squad up. This will also help with accommodation. When it comes to communal costs, sharing is caring. Whatever you do, do not speed. The fines for being caught by speed cameras in Iceland are eye wateringly, insanely expensive. You have been warned!
3, Don't go in summer.
Tempting it may be, but frugal it is not. I'm sure the many purveyors of Icelandic tourism rub their hands together at the opportunity to crank up the prices of car rental and accommodation in high season. But we are not suckers, we are savers, and the best way to secure the best rates is to a) book at off peak times from October to April, and b) book way in advance. We got a 5 star hotel at the same price as a 2 star hotel, just because of the combo above. Besides, Iceland is awesome at any time of the year, you might see some aurora, and there'll be less tourists. What's not to love?
Pretty much everything that's edible, apart from lamb, seafood, horsemeat (true story bro), and dairy, is imported. They can't grow shit. It's a freaking desolate volcanic landscape in an arctic climate. Naturally, this means that food comes at a premium, but there are ways around it. First of all skyr is everywhere, it's cheap, and makes for an awesome snack. In any hotel room, you will have a kettle, which opens up a whole host of delightful cuisine options, as long as they say Pot Noodle on them.
If you're staying in a hotel that is miles from anywhere, please know that they will charge you a lot to eat there, because they know you have no other choice. You can attempt to get around this by asking for something that isn't on the dinner menu, but you know they have in the breakfast buffet. One night I asked for two bowls of cheerios for dinner and they couldn't charge me anything because there was no button for that on the ordering system. Bingo. Free food. Genius hack number two. I'm not suggesting you do this all the time, please do eat healthily and enjoy a balanced diet, but maybe one night in three, opt for one of these budget options, and that will bring your overall costs down.
5, Don't believe the hype.
One of the most relaxing things to do during your stay in Iceland is to visit the famous geothermal hot pools at the Blue Lagoon. We did it, and had a great time. However, this is hands down the biggest rip-off in Iceland. There are a number of other naturally occurring hot springs, streams and pools that will provide your body with the same relaxation and pleasure as the commercial hell-hole that is the Blue Lagoon, only they're completely free. So please, do your research, get your google on, and don't make the same mistake, getting stuck at an exit barrier because I had forgotten to pay the £15 dressing gown hire!