Do you dream about Iceland but the high prices are beyond your budget? Don’t worry dear travellers! Iceland can be done on a budget and your dream definitely can come true. It’s a challenge, but it’s absolutely possible.
You can travel quite comfortably around Iceland without spending your life-time savings. And it can be done several times cheaper than tour operators declare. Luckily, there are some smart strategies, so when you finally check your bank account at the end of the trip, it won’t be as devastated as you thought it would be. In fact, the expenses will be comparable to any other longer trip around Europe. Continue reading to find out how to make it happen.
How to get to Iceland the cheapest way?
The cheapest connections between Iceland and other European countries have Wowair, Easyjet and Wizzair airlines. Gone are the days when getting to Iceland was horrendously expensive. Now it can get really cheap. The cheapest flights are generally from London. If you want to hunt up the best offer, check regularly fly4free.com – it will inform you about all great airline promotions.
If you are traveling from the US to Europe, one of the best tricks to reduce the cost of visiting Iceland is to make use of a stopover. Icelandair airlines offer really great prices for flights in between the two continents. They offer free stopovers for up to seven days.
This is a fantastic option for those, who would also love to visit the Faroe Islands or want to travel around Iceland using their own car or motorcycle. The ferry starts from Denmark (Hirtshals), stops on the Faroe Islands for 6 hours, and arrives in the beautiful town of Seyðisfjörður located in the eastern part of Iceland after two days of travel. The lowest prices are, like with everything, after the season. For example, in March and April, it costs around 700 USD (one way, small car with 2 passengers). Taking the ferry has many advantages, especially when you are planning to stay in Iceland for a longer time (3 weeks or longer). Not only will you have your own trusted vehicle, but also you won’t spend any money on renting a car. Moreover, you can take stock of food with you, which is not very cheap in Iceland. Taking a ferry is also a great option if you would like to try living in a van for a while. Of course, you can rent a campervan or a regular van transformed into a campervan in Iceland. However, if you want to spend there more time, it will be much cheaper to bring your own van.
Have a look at our original Icelandic fine art prints!
How to travel around Iceland the cheapest way?
You’ve probably heard many unfair gossips about hitchhiking in Iceland, but forget about them now. We can tell you one thing – they are completely untrue. As we’ve written in our guide to hitch-hiking, we have hitched literally thousands of kilometers in Iceland, and each time it was more than amazing. This is a fantastic experience and memorable adventure, however, we have to admit it, it’s an option for more patient people. It’s not for you if you only have a week or 10 days. But if you have two weeks, or even better – three, go for it. Sometimes you must wait for a while, but it’s absolutely worth it. New friends and unbelievable stories heard straight from the locals – priceless. In some countries, you have to pay for a lift, but not in Iceland, so savings are huge. If you still have doubts, Iceland is the safest country in the world.
RENTING A CAR
If you’re not in the mood for hitch-hiking, the best way to travel around Iceland is definitely renting a car. There are many car rental companies, so everyone can find something for himself. There’s a wide selection of cars and of course prices. Traveling in your own car gives you amazing freedom. Hitch-hiking is cool, but sometimes you just want to stop in a place with an astonishing view and relax there, and your just met companion might have some other plans.
The best time to rent a car is off-season (from October to May). And now smile our dear travelers because then you can rent a car for even twice less than in the season. It’s best if you find companions for your adventure. Then you can split the costs and significantly lower the cost of the whole trip. In case of renting a car, the best option is to travel in a group of four. It gets really cheap then.
Before the trip, remember to check if rental companies which interest you have special requirements. In many of them, you should have a driving license for at least a year and you must be over 21. In case of 4×4’s the lower limit can be as high as 25.
The cheapest rental companies are the local ones, for example: SAD Cars, Kuku Campers, Blue Car Rental, Reykjavik Rent a Car. They are really much cheaper than the big international companies. We haven’t heard about any problems with the above ones. Always check the reviews on-line, because some rental companies in Iceland don’t have a good reputation. We’ve heard about tourists losing a lot of money because of some slight damage which they haven’t caused.
You can also rent a car directly from Icelanders using the website carrenters.is. It works similar to Airbnb, which you probably have heard about. The prices are similar to local car rental companies in the off-season, but in the season they are even lower. Some people worry what happens if their car breaks down. There’s not much to worry because you will always get help either from the car owner or from Carrenters.
One litre of petrol costs around 200 ISK. Before you hit the road, remember about supplies of gasoline. You can drive even a few hundreds of kilometres without seeing a gas station, so when there’s a chance – refill. Gas stations in Iceland are mostly automatic and using them for the first time might be tricky. Some tourists we travelled with complained about it, so here’s the method. First, you must insert your credit/debit card and type your PIN and only then choose the amount for which you want to fill the tank. When you are done, press the button to print out the receipt. Voila!
Remember to drive carefully. It might be tempting to speed up when you see all these empty Icelandic roads. But these roads are often very treacherous. You never know – a sheep can appear on the road out of the blue. In addition, the fines for speeding are really high, much higher than in other countries. If you get one, your trip will never be on a budget.
At the end a few words about the buses. It might sound strange, but there is no railway in Iceland, so the only public transport is the bus. There are not so many people using them because all Icelanders have cars, and if they want to get somewhere farther, they just take a plane.
If you don’t want to hitchhike and you don’t have a driving license, it will be the only option to move around on the island. The main disadvantages of travelling by bus in Iceland are very high prices and the fact that usually, they don’t stop at tourist attractions. And they don’t run too often. After the season many routes are unavailable. In the summer, a good option is to buy a card that allows for multiple journeys. It is much more cost effective than buying individual tickets. All schedules and prices you can find on the website straeto.is .
Generally we don’t recommend travelling by bus in Iceland. The fact that they don’t stop at interesting places and rarely run disqualifies them for us. Besides, the buses don’t go to many places. Despite all of this, we have to admit that it is really great that they are. Not once we were really grateful for this. Especially when we were hitch-hiking and suddenly the weather started to go crazy. Believe us – there is nothing more unpleasant than waiting for a car in the middle of nowhere when a storm is raging.
In a week expect the second part of our guide. You will get to know how not to go bankrupt when organizing accommodation and food. Stay tuned!
Have a look at the next parts of our guide: