Iceland is the second most expensive country in the world. We received this non-so-attractive distinction due to many reasons. To mention a few, the VAT is high. Depending on the product/service, it could be either 11% or 24%. Food wise, it is 24%. That is why you might think the food is so expensive in Iceland. Add to this the fact that most many products are imported. The import costs are quite high since it not an easy task to reach this remote little island. While your pockets might be trembling a bit after reading that, fear not. There are many things to do in Iceland for free! Let’s look at some ways to save money during your Iceland road trip.
Free Walking Tour in Reykjavik
That’s right folks! There are free walking tours in Reykjavik offered by a couple of companies. It is a short but fun tour that runs every day (except on Icelandic Independence Day, Culture Night and Pride Day). The walk lasts approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the time of the year. It’s a bit longer during the summer.
Bear in mind that this will not be like a typical tour. It’s very different. You’ll feel like you are hanging out with friends and having fun while acquiring knowledge about the capital and its history. These guys will make you laugh, and they will also help you out a lot by sharing some really grea tips on how to spare your wallet from pain and not go bankrupt during your trip.
Don’t be afraid to ask them for tips about places to go and where to buy stuff. They are the local experts and will have the best answer for you.
Harpa Concert Hall
This is probably the best creation in our country, architecturally speaking. There is no other building that will catch your attention more than the distinctive and unusual-looking Harpa.
Construction started in early 2007 with a short pause in its progress in 2008. This was due to the financial crisis. Work quickly resumed as soon as the government fully funded the whole project. Three years later, construction finally ended, and Harpa Concert Hall opened its doors on May 4th, 2011.
Whether you are seeing it first thing in the morning, during high noon or later at night, it will captivate you from every angle. From both inside and outside, the glass edifice is a spectacle on its own. I truly recommend you to come and see it at night, as the thousands of LED lights are on, displaying different colors and shapes!
Don’t hesitate coming inside to take a peek. It’s free to enter, and I assure you it’s one of the best things to do in Iceland for free. You won’t spend a single krona.
Free Hot Springs
You’ve probably heard about the Blue Lagoon and how wonderful it is. And truth be told, it truly is an amazing place. It’s big and delightful, but it is usually packed. Single entrance tickets cost approximately 60 USD (53 EUR). Don’t worry though. There are many natural geothermal pools throughout the island, where some of them are actually free, like the ones below.
Also known as the Steam Valley, it’s located almost 50 km (31 miles) away from the capital. You will find this lovely river after a 40-45 minute hike (difficulty level = super easy) and soak in the deliciously warm water. I know I said river, but don’t worry. The stream is so soft and gentle; it will not pull you or drag you down. What I like the most about this river, is that you can find the perfect temperature. The further up you go, the warmer it will be.
Landmannalaugar Hiking Area
About 3 hours from Reykjavik, Landmannalaugar is one of the best places to enjoy a soak in a hot spring. Although this place might get somewhat crowded at times, once you get in, you will not want to go out. The view of the amazing landscapes and the warmth of the springs will make you reluctant to leave! Without a doubt, this is one of the best free things that you can do in Iceland.
I am not sure if this one counts as a hot spring. We could call it a footbath. It’s so tiny that there is only room to soak your feet in it. But it is just so rewarding to see the lighthouse with your feet wet and warm. And who knows. Maybe you will even get to see the Aurora Borealis (if it’s dark) which by the way, is also free!
Please don’t misunderstand the concept of free. These cute little horses are not free or on sale, but it is indeed free to see them and pet them. I can never get enough of them! With an average height of 1.40 meters (4.6 feet), you will surely think that they are ponies. They are not. They may be tiny, but they are very tough and are perfectly suited for Icelandic weather.
So how can you find Icelandic horses?
Throughout your trip, you will notice many farms with horses. Do not be afraid to stop and ask their owner if you can pet them or take a picture. Always be respectful and show gratitude. We Icelanders appreciate it when tourists are interested in our culture, flora, and fauna.
A surprising thing to get for free: water
One thing many tourists ask about it whether or not it’s safe to drink the water in Iceland. This might sound weird to some of you, as I know drinking tap water in many countries is safe. However, there are others, where it is not. Iceland has probably the purest waters of all, so it is absolutely okay to drink tap water. You will be saving a lot of money by not buying plastic bottles of water. You will also be giving your body something really healthy, and of course, you’d be helping the environment. Just pack a refillable water bottle in your suitcase, and you are ready.
Things to do in Iceland for free
Although you are in one of the most expensive countries in the world, there are still many enjoyable activities and places to see for free. It is just a matter of checking, exploring, and asking. Take advantage of the walking tour in Reykjavik. The friendly tour guides will be delighted to share their tips with you!