Is Iceland expensive? Essential Insights for Travelers

Is Iceland Expensive

Iceland often raises questions about the cost of visiting. With its own currency, the Krona (ISK), and a relatively small population, Iceland’s economy is distinct, influencing the cost of travel-related expenses.

Is Iceland Expensive?

Is traveling to Iceland really that expensive?

Accommodation, transportation, and dining out are among the primary expenses travelers face, with prices comparable to major cities in the US and Europe. However, the value of experiencing Iceland’s natural beauty and cultural offerings can outweigh the financial costs for many travelers.

A Quick Overview: The Financial Aspect of Iceland

Embarking on a journey to Iceland can be an adventure of a lifetime, and it doesn’t necessarily mean emptying your wallet. By carefully planning your trip, you can immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture of Iceland without overspending. Affordable flights are readily available thanks to budget airlines, and accommodation choices range widely to suit every budget level.

Is Iceland Expensive To Visit?

Although some travel expenses in Iceland, like eating at restaurants and participating in guided tours, tend to be on the higher side, there are ample opportunities to cut costs without sacrificing the richness of your travel experience.

To give you a clearer idea of what to expect budget-wise, we’ve compiled a list of common travel expenses in Iceland. This will help you plan your finances better and ensure a memorable trip without financial strain.

Iceland price list itemsAverage Cost in Icelandic Krona (ISK)Average Cost in British Pounds (£)Average Cost in US Dollars ($)
Double Room in Three Star Hotel in Reykjavik (in July)23,625157.5210
Double Room in Three Star Hotel in Reykjavik (in December)15,750105136.5
Double Room in Four-Star Hotel Ranga (in July)54,600361.2472.5
Double Room in Four-Star Hotel Ranga (in December)63,000420546
Car Hire (Per Day)4,72531.542
Full Insurance for Car for 3 days8,662.559.8578.75
Fuel (Full Tank on Economy Car)7,87552.568.25
Campervan Rental (Per Day)17,850120.75157.5
Lunch for Two from a Supermarket (With Snacks)3,1502127.3
Pint of Beer in a Restaurant / Bar1,1557.359.45
Glass of Wine1,1557.359.45
Coffee and cake for two in a cafe3,1502127.3
Dinner per person with One Alcoholic Drink Each in Mid-Range Restaurant Reykjavik6,82547.2557.75
Handmade Icelandic Sweater28,000159198
Table of common average cost of trip to Iceland, updated for 2024

Seems Costly – But how expensive is Iceland to travel?

The cost of exploring Iceland can vary significantly based on individual preferences and travel styles. Accommodation ranges from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels, with prices reflecting the level of comfort and amenities offered.

Prices In Iceland

Transportation costs can be mitigated by opting for car rentals over expensive tours, allowing for more flexibility and potentially lower overall expenses. Dining out in Iceland can be costly, but travelers can save by cooking their own meals or choosing budget-friendly dining options.


In Iceland, the allure of its stunning landscapes and unique experiences attracts travelers from around the globe, particularly during the high season. As demand for accommodations, tours, and activities surges, so do the prices. During this peak period, typically from June to August, everything from hotel rates to rental car fees tends to increase significantly.

Navigating Iceland’s High Costs: Strategies for Budget-Savvy Travelers

Explore Iceland’s No-Cost Attractions

Iceland is a treasure trove of natural wonders, many of which are accessible without any charge, offering an affordable way to immerse yourself in the country’s breathtaking landscapes.

The allure of Iceland’s no-cost attractions lies in their sheer variety and accessibility. From the thunderous roar of Gullfoss Waterfall and the spouting majesty of the Geysir geothermal area to the serene beauty of Thingvellir National Park, these sites provide a gateway to experiencing Iceland’s raw, untouched beauty firsthand. Venturing into the land of fire and ice, visitors can discover black sand beaches, rugged lava fields, and mesmerizing glacier lagoons.

Iceland Natural Attractions

These attractions not only offer a glimpse into the natural forces that have shaped the island but also allow for an array of activities such as hiking, bird watching, and simply soaking in the panoramic views—all without the burden of admission fees.

Embracing these free experiences enables travelers to connect with Iceland’s environment in a profound way, ensuring that the memories made are as lasting as the landscapes themselves.

Opt for Car Rental Over Pricey Tours

Choosing to rent a car in Iceland opens up a realm of possibilities for adventure and exploration that tours simply can’t match, both in terms of flexibility and cost-effectiveness. This approach to travel empowers visitors to curate their own Icelandic journey, free from the constraints of scheduled tours and the preferences of a group.

For those considering this option, exploring the best car rentals in Iceland can provide valuable insights into finding a vehicle that suits your travel needs and budget. With the right car rental, you have the liberty to design an itinerary that includes everything from the most famous waterfalls and geysers to the most secluded natural wonders, ensuring your trip is as unique as Iceland itself.

Best Car Rental Companies In Iceland

With a personal vehicle, you have the liberty to linger at sites that captivate your interest, seek out hidden gems beyond the well-trodden tourist paths, and adapt your itinerary on the fly to accommodate weather conditions or local recommendations.

This do-it-yourself ethos doesn’t just translate to a more personalized and intimate experience of Iceland; it also significantly reduces the financial outlay associated with guided excursions. By directing the budget saved from forgoing expensive tours towards car rental and fuel, travelers can access a wider range of Iceland’s wonders at their own pace.

How Expensive Is Iceland Gas Prices?

Moreover, the act of navigating Iceland’s scenic routes offers its own rewards, from the freedom to stop at impromptu lookout points to the thrill of discovering your own route through the island’s dramatic landscapes.

Strategies to Reduce Your Stay Expenses

Reducing accommodation costs in Iceland doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the quality of your stay. One effective strategy is to select accommodations equipped with kitchen facilities. This option is not only budget-friendly but also offers a taste of home, allowing travelers to prepare their meals and save significantly on food expenses, which can be quite high in Iceland.

Cooking your meals, especially with locally sourced ingredients from Icelandic supermarkets, adds an authentic touch to your travel experience, enabling you to explore the country’s culinary culture firsthand.

Is Iceland Expensive For Tourists?

Camping is another popular strategy for cutting down lodging expenses, especially during Iceland’s warmer months. Iceland’s camping culture is robust, with numerous well-maintained campsites located in some of the country’s most stunning natural settings.

This option not only is wallet-friendly but also places you closer to nature, offering unique experiences like waking up to breathtaking landscapes right at your doorstep. With the right equipment, camping in Iceland can be a memorable part of your adventure, blending affordability with the allure of the great outdoors.

Prioritize Value Over Mere Cheapness

When it comes to choosing accommodations and activities in Iceland, aiming for the best value rather than the lowest price can significantly enhance your travel experience. It’s important to assess what each option offers in terms of location, amenities, and unique experiences.

For instance, spending a bit more on a hotel or guesthouse that includes breakfast and is located in a prime area close to major attractions can be more cost-effective than a cheaper, out-of-the-way option that incurs additional transport costs.

Similarly, when booking activities, consider those that offer the most enriching experiences, even if they come with a higher price tag. An expert-guided tour of a glacier or a small-group excursion to remote parts of the island may offer more in-depth insights and personalized attention than cheaper, mass-market options.

These experiences not only provide better value but also create lasting memories that are worth the extra investment. In Iceland, where the natural landscape and cultural heritage are so integral to the travel experience, prioritizing value over mere cheapness can lead to a more fulfilling and immersive journey.

Consider the Adventure of Camping

Camping is not only an affordable accommodation option but also an adventure that brings travelers closer to Iceland’s natural wonders.

Camping In Iceland

Economize by Shopping at Local Supermarkets

Buying groceries and preparing your own meals can significantly reduce food expenses. Local supermarkets offer a range of products at lower prices than dining out.

Leverage Public Transportation for Savings

In Reykjavik, public transportation is a cost-effective way to get around. For those exploring beyond the capital, renting a car may be more economical than relying on taxis or tours.

Minimize Alcohol Expenses

Alcohol is expensive in Iceland due to high taxes. Travelers can save by purchasing alcohol at duty-free stores upon arrival or enjoying local happy hours.

Avoid Extravagant Shopping

While Iceland offers unique shopping experiences, prices for clothing and souvenirs can be high. Travelers should budget accordingly and prioritize experiences over material goods.

Yet, Remember to Reclaim VAT on Significant Buys

For larger purchases, travelers can reclaim the Value Added Tax (VAT) at the airport, potentially saving a significant amount on expensive items.

Chase the Northern Lights with the Aurora Forecast App

The Northern Lights are a must-see in Iceland. Using the Aurora Forecast app can help travelers plan their viewing without the need for expensive tours.

Save in Reykjavik with the City Card

The Reykjavik City Card offers free or discounted access to many of the city’s attractions, as well as public transportation, making it a great way to save on urban exploration.

Experience the Local Swimming Pools

Iceland’s geothermal pools are a key part of its culture. Many towns have affordable public pools that offer a relaxing and authentic Icelandic experience.

Plan Your Visit During Off-Peak Seasons

Traveling during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) can result in lower prices for flights, accommodations, and some activities.

Invest in a Bus Passport for Travel

For those not renting a car, a bus passport can offer unlimited travel on certain routes, making it an economical way to explore the country.

Budgeting for Iceland: Daily Expense Guides for Different Travel Styles

Travelers to Iceland can expect daily expenses to vary widely based on their travel style. From budget-conscious backpackers to luxury seekers, Iceland offers options to suit every preference. By carefully planning and utilizing cost-saving strategies, visitors can enjoy Iceland’s unique attractions and experiences without overspending.

Affordable flights are readily available thanks to budget airlines, (from both Europe and North America)  and accommodation choices range widely to suit every budget level. (camping, hostel, farmstay, guesthouses, hotels 2 to 5 *)

Understanding Iceland’s Expense: Key Points for Prospective Visitors

Iceland’s reputation as an expensive destination is not unfounded, but it shouldn’t deter prospective visitors. With careful planning and a willingness to explore budget-friendly options, travelers can experience the best of Iceland without excessive spending. The key is to prioritize experiences, make smart choices, and embrace the adventure that Iceland offers.

After all, how costly is a trip to Iceland?

The cost of a trip to Iceland can widely fluctuate, largely influenced by individual choices in lodging, food, transport, and activities.

Despite Iceland’s reputation for its steep cost of living, strategic planning can enable travelers to navigate expenses effectively. For instance, choosing accommodations with kitchen facilities or opting for camping can substantially reduce lodging expenses.

Preparing meals instead of dining out, selecting car rental for greater flexibility and cost-efficiency, and carefully choosing activities for the best value can keep the budget in check.

By prioritizing experiences and informed decision-making, it’s feasible to explore Iceland’s stunning landscapes and rich culture on a budget of around $100 to $150 per day for a mid-range traveler. This approach ensures a balance between cost and experience, allowing visitors to immerse in Iceland’s beauty without overspending.

Frequently asked questions: Is Iceland expensive?

How much does a meal cost in Iceland?

A meal in Iceland can range from $15 to $30 USD for an average plate at a restaurant. Prices can be higher in tourist areas and for fine dining experiences.

Is Iceland expensive for Americans?

For Americans, Iceland can seem expensive due to higher prices for food, accommodation, and activities compared to the US. However, with budgeting and planning, the costs can be managed.

Is Iceland cheaper than the US?

Overall, Iceland is more expensive than the US, particularly in terms of dining out, groceries, and alcohol. Accommodation and transportation costs can also be higher.

What is expensive about Iceland?

The high cost of living in Iceland affects prices for tourists, making accommodation, dining, and activities more expensive compared to many other destinations.

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