Travelling to Iceland on the budget: winter tips

Travelling to Iceland on the budget: winter tips

Colaborador E-Dublin

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Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, but even so, it is possible to save money if you are able to plan in advance and if you are aware of what you should or shouldn’t do when in the land of ice and fire. I have listed some tips for you as follows:

1. Transportation

Wintertime is probably not the perfect time to go hitchhiking, but it is not impossible. Nevertheless, if you want to travel to other locations around Reykjavik I would recommend to book day tours at the local travel agents, there are many good value options to the Golden Circle, the South Coast or even the Snafellsnes Penninsula or the Borgarfjordur region.  Reykjavik Excursions, for instance, offer transportation from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik City, also the traditional Northern Lights Tours.

Driving in Iceland during winter is both challenging, also dangerous. Expect the unexpected and be flexible. Foto: Ávany França

If you are traveling in a small group, probably the cheapest option is to rent a car – and it is also the most comfortable way o explore Iceland’s natural beauty. I’d rather take a 4×4 car though since the weather is absolutely unpredictable over here. The Blue Car Rental, one of the most experienced rentals in the country,  highly recommend extra careful during winter traveling season, as snowy conditions can make your driving experience very challenging. To allow extra security to all costumers, from 1st of November until the 15th of April, all Blue Car Rental cars will have studded winter tires, to make the drivers feel secure while driving Iceland roads.

2. Accommodation

Sometimes Airbnb is cheaper than hostels and hotels, especially if you are not traveling alone. However, I would choose a hostel or a guesthouse downtown or close to it, so that you can also get to know the city walking and not depending on public transportation – which is not so good in Iceland, to be honest.

If you have a really tight budget, try to join Facebook groups for home exchange or couch surfing. Nice hostels with good-cost benefits: Kex, Hostel Laugavegur, Laugadalur, etc.

3. Avoid tourist traps

Hallgrimskirkja the most famous church of Reykjavik, Iceland in the morning

Like expensive convenience stores. These can be really nice in case of emergencies, but not to buy your daily food or needs. There is a chain called 10-11 and another one called Krambudin. They are very expensive! You shall prefer supermarkets like Bonus or Kronan, the cheapest in the country. But check the opening times and plan your shopping in time.

4. Buy alcoholic drinks at the Duty-Free

Bonus discount store, the best way to shopping in Iceland. © Fotokon |

… and look for happy hours. Drinks are very expensive in Iceland and you may not buy any alcoholic beverages at supermarkets. When you arrive in Iceland, follow the locals and go straight to the Duty-Free, you’ll save a lot of money. But remember: it is forbidden to drink and drive in Iceland!

5. Drinking Tap water is fine

The Icelandic tap water is officially the best in the world, often mentioned in OECD studies. However, you have to turn on the cold water tap, let it run until really cold and then it is perfect for drinking or filling up your own bottle. Don’t worry, the hot water comes through another pipe and it smells and tastes like sulfur, but you want to drink cold water, don’t you?

6. Cook your own food – or eat lunch menus

As I mentioned before, buy your items at supermarkets and take your own food to the hostel or Airbnb you’re staying at.

Some things you can buy yourself and have a kind of sample of Icelandic food: make yourself a sandwich of FLATKOKUR (a kind of “flatbread) with butter and HANGJKJOT, the smoked lamb, buy some SKYR, the traditional Icelandic Yoghurt, taste some KLEI  NA, a delicious fried pastry you can find at any bakery, too, the Icelandic PLOKKFISKUR, a simple fish stew with potatoes and some bechamel mixed and baked with cheese on top. Or simply the HARDFISKURm, dried cod or haddock dipped in butter.

Skyr Yogurt, one of the must-try in Iceland supermarkets. © Rene Van Den Berg |

Icelandic old kitchen is very much based on animal protein, so it is not so easy for vegans to find any suitable typical food, but Icelanders love to eat dried seaweed like kelp, also easy to find in supermarkets or food shops.

If you really want to taste local cuisine, prefer the lunch menus at the restaurants. One classic option is the Icelandic (lamb) meat soup, available in many cafes and restaurants. Also, the local hot dog is delicious and not expensive (for Icelandic standards).

Here are some nice places where you can have a good meal for a reasonable value: Sea Baron, Cafe Loki, Icelandic Street Food. All of them have also vegetarian or vegan options in their menus. The best hot dog in the world is at the famous Baejarins Beztu and do not miss the soft ice cream, it is delicious!

Erika Carneiro,

Guia de turismo na Islândia, roteiros e consultoria. Para segui-la: @islandia_expert no Instagram ou Facebook

Stock Photos via Dreamstime
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