Reykjavik on The Budget (2019 Update)

Reykjavik city view

We all know that Iceland is not the cheapest country in the world.

Ok, actually it is between some of the most expensive in the world. Here, I said it!

Yes, it is not that easy to experience it on the budget, but nevertheless, possible. After all, it is a challenge, isn’t it?

“Ok,  challenge accepted” – I said to myself and went to Reykjavik.

Here is how to NOT blow up your budget in the beginning of your Icelandic trip, when you arrive to the capital, Reykjavik.

Many of these tips can be applied for the whole country by the way. Here we go:

1. Rent a car in in advance

How to choose a car in Iceland

I will be obvious here – if you are going to Iceland for a road trip, the more in advance you rent your car, the cheaper it is.

Also, it would be great if you could pick up your car right in Keflavik airport.

This way you do not have to spend money going to the city (~12 Eur per person), you will already have a car! My trip started from a company picking me up from the airport, which was a significant money saver. Choose a company that provides a similar service.

Bonus, here is a great website that usually gives the best prices when renting a car.

Here is my post on how to save money on renting a car in Iceland.

Oh, and if you want to wash your car, you can do it on most gas stations free of charge!

2. Take a Free Walking tour Reykjavik

Free walking tour Reykjavik

Yes, you can see the city with a tour guide for free! (well, almost)

In fact, there are a couple of tours like that in Reykjavik – and

The tours are not exactly free, but comparing to all other Reykjavik tours it is a great deal! The deal is – at the end YOU decide how much the tour was worth for you (you leave them a tip).

Don’t worry, it is not some boring tour, it worth all 90 minutes of your time! In this case the guides are actually interested to make it great for you! Awesome concept, isn’t it?

I usually start getting to know each city in the world with a free walking tour, it is fun!

NOTE: the Reykjavik tours are operating from May to Mid-September.

3. Get a Reykjavik welcome card

Reykjavik welcome card

In case you want to go to see some museums in the city, it makes sense to buy the Reykjavik City card. It offers a free entrance to museums and discounts to numerous restaurants.

It will pay off if you are going to visit 2 museums or more.

PRICE: 3 800 ISK (35$) per a day, 5 400 ISK per 2 days (50$), or 6 500 ISK (60$) for 3 days. GetYourGuide usually has it a bit cheaper than on the official site

4. Buy food in supermarkets

Iceland big sandwich husafell

If you are on budget, I would recommend to stay out of restaurant. Sorry, but seriously, there are so many great things to do in Iceland!

Save some money on expensive restaurant and go to a glacier hike, horse riding or pamper yourself in amazing Blue lagoon instead? How does that sound?

The cheapest supermarket in the country is called Bonus, it has a wide range of foodstuff.

NOTE: Different branches close at different time!

Oh and yes, get a refillable bottle!

It is really no need to pay 2 Eur for a bottle each time. Water in Iceland is some of the cleanest in the world! Tap water in Iceland is cleaner than bottled water in some countries, trust me on that one.

5. Bring alcohol with you

bring alcohol with you

Alcohol is just ridiculously expensive in the land of fire and ice. 8 euros for a pint of beer in a simple pub? If that sounds like a lot to you (which to me it certainly does), buy some alcohol in the duty free if you really feel like drinking.

6. Rent cheap accommodation in Reykjavik

Hotels are quite pricey? Oh, this Iceland accommodation problem, I hear you!

Apartments can be a great alternative to hotels, especially if you are traveling with friends/family!

It helps you feel the local atmosphere and lets you cook your own food.

Here is the accommodation that I have stayed in and that I feel in love with:

Old Charm apartment Reykjavik

Apartment rent Iceland Reykjavik

As you can see, the place is perfect for a family or a group of friends.

As the name implies, it is truly charming!

Old Charm Reykjavik is centrally located, has a free parking spot and reliable internet (very important for me!).

You can just trop the key when leaving, no need to get the host, easy!

If you are traveling on tight budget, here are some cheap hostels recommendations:

UPDATE: I have written a post on Where to stay in Reykjavik, all suggested hotels there are located in the city center, have fabulous reviews and they are sorted by your budget preference!

7. Think about equipment before the trip

iceland shoesEven Icelanders find shopping in Iceland expensive and prefer to do it abroad.

Read this post and get to know what to pack for Iceland. For example, me, I found out that it is absolutely essential for me to have a thermos in Iceland (I was constantly cold and/or windy during the hikes).

While you can certainly buy a thermos in Iceland (the choices are plenty!) it will be quite costly. If you plan your equipment in advance, it will definitely be much cheaper than buying it last minute in Iceland.

8. Travel off-season

travel off season Iceland

It is not a secret that the price for accommodation and car rentals skyrocket at least 1,5 times in July and August. While this is, no doubt, the best time to go, if you want to save a significant amount of money, try to go off-season.


There is a really cool thing that appeared in Reykjavik since I last been there and it is called Perlan.

Perlan has the first indoor man made ice cave in the world, it has the best 360° Observation view of Reykjavik and you can experience a multimedia exhibit providing details about Iceland’s treasured glaciers, their unforeseen future and the effects of global warming. Get your tour here. 

If you want to know more details about the MUST DO tours in Iceland and in Reykjavik in particular, check out my new post 10 Best Tours You Have to Take in Iceland

What to see in Reykjavik for free?

Hallgrímskirkja church 2

You have probably seen the pictures of the symbol of Reykjavik – the Hallgrímskirkja church – the Icelandic version of NYC Empire State Building.

The visit of the church is free, but do not forget to go up and see the view from the church tower (don’t worry, it won’t break your budget).

Walk around the main street, it is pretty and yes, a bit touristy. But pretty.

Nautholsvik Beach – Use the abundance of geothermal energy of the country! The admission is free (but there is a small fee to use the locker).The pool is filled with geothermal water which temperature is usually about 18-20 C. Lots of fun!

Harpa Music Hall – concert hall and a very interesting building from the architectural point of view.

Perlan observation deck – futuristic looking fine dining restaurant in which you can walk for free on the second floor outdoor balcony and get a wonderful vista all around the capital.

Things to do around Reykjavik

4 Jökulsárlón lagoon

The city is not that big (just 120 000 people), but I would stay for at least a couple of days and use it as a hub for things to do around Reykjavik.

Just get out of the town and explore! You are here for the incredible nature, not the city, right?

There are many things you can do around Reyjkavik, here is the itinerary I made for you, check out the first and last days!

In short, I would say definitely do the Golden circle, visit the Blue Lagoon, the Geyser and the Barnafoss waterfall.


As Iceland’s GDP is pretty high, unfortunately the prices correspond. Although this post was written about Reykjavik, many money saving tips can be applied for the cheap holiday in Iceland.

Yes, the country is not cheap, but visiting Iceland on the budget is possible if you use my tips. I hope that will not stop you from discovering this truly amazing country! (my favorite, by the way! ;))

At the end, the land of unpronounceable names is all about nature, and it is absolutely free of charge to see. The best things in life a free, remember? 😉

If you want to read more about Iceland facts, I have also made a comprehensive guide to Iceland road trip map for you with the description of of all the stops by days and what you definitely cannot miss:

Enjoy and let me know if you have questions!

Do you have any other money saving tips? What is the best money saving advice you can give to other travelers?


Pin it for later:

Reykjavik on the budget

Pin it for later:


By | 2019-05-09T20:19:23+04:00 March 15th, 2016|Europe, export, Iceland, Reykjavik|20 Comments

About the Author:

Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice of how to travel "smart".


  1. Antonio Raimundo 11.07.2016 at 03:44 - Reply

    Parabéns pelo blog, assistir uma reportagem de Álvaro Monteiro, programa 50 pior 1 sobre a Islândia.
    É um pais magnifico.

    Antonio Raimundo

  2. Christel 08.08.2016 at 20:33 - Reply

    I found it a bit expansive but it ‘s worth it as landscapes are amazing !

  3. Agness of a TukTuk 14.02.2017 at 11:08 - Reply

    Iceland is definitely not on the budget travel list – but hey, reading through you’re article made me realize it was possible! It won’t be like India – definitely – but still I would be able to save a lot! Iceland will sure be worth it!

  4. Jillian 08.03.2017 at 07:33 - Reply

    Hi! I am heading to Iceland in a few weeks for my honeymoon and we have been so overwhelmed with the planning of the wedding that we haven’t done nearly enough planning of our trip! We have 8 full days there. Wondering your recommendations of not to miss things! We’re willing to splurge on a few nights (it is our honeymoon after all) and then watch the budget more closely on the rest. Any and all advice is appreciated!

    • Yulia 09.03.2017 at 06:25 - Reply

      Hello Jullian,
      such a cool choice for your honeymoon!!
      If you only have 8 days I would definitely check out the Golden Circle and the North of Reykjavik (still not that touristy but so damn beautiful!)
      There is a great hotel there, it is called Husafell hotel – great service, nicely decorated rooms, thermal baths, some amazing waterfalls and caves just aound the corner – check it out! 🙂

  5. Jacalyn 18.04.2017 at 02:52 - Reply

    Love your article. We are going in August and I printed out your advice for the West, South, and Reykjavik days. (We have rented a home outside Reykjavik.) Thank you! I will definitely be checking out your other destinations.

    • Yulia 19.04.2017 at 12:16 - Reply

      Awesome Jacalyn, glad it was useful!
      Have an amazing trip! I have also visited in August btw!

  6. lubna 29.06.2017 at 02:27 - Reply

    I have followed you itinerary to a T but only for 12 nights, and travelling 12th July. Booked into the same hotels as yourself and also booked 4×4 in case we go off-piste. I am travelling with hubby and 2 sons (adults). I looked at a similar tour and really think I have saved around £3000 and that is booking good hotels at the same time. I will let you know how it goes on my return. I just want to thank you for your invaluable article on Iceland, I couldn’t have arranged the itinerary it without your blog.
    Many thanks

    • Yulia 02.07.2017 at 06:46 - Reply

      Aww, thank you so much for your nice words, Iunbna!
      These comments make it worth all the efforts writing the articles.
      Definitely let me know how it went, I am sure you will have tons of fun!
      Dont forget to bring layers, Iceland weather is so unpredictable!

  7. erik carlson 01.07.2017 at 05:07 - Reply

    reykjavik could be the lamest, dullest city on earth. there is LITERALLY nothing to see – unless you find the world’s biggest pipe organ exciting. the food is absolutely terrible and costs a fortune, and that includes the so-called discount store bonus. and the wind HOWLS nonstop, to the point where your face feels like it’s being sheared off. it’s not unpleasant and has a slight charm and is obviously very walkable….and if that’s the best you can say about a place, well. but these pollyanna travel writers/bloggers don’t truck in reality – EVERYPLACE is amazing, breathtaking, awesome, which by the rules of logic means noplace is. no matter- they’re professional travelers, on to the next hotspot, the last one just a blip on the radar.

    • Yulia 02.07.2017 at 06:50 - Reply

      Hi Erik,
      true Reykjavik is not cheap, hence I gave tips on how to save money in this blog post.
      And you are right, people (me included) mostly visit Iceland for its breathtaking nature, not for the capital.

  8. lulu 02.07.2017 at 15:44 - Reply

    I am going very soon to Iceland and I hope that I can report back to this blog’s many followers. I am sure like any place you will have some negatives but hoping that the positives outweigh these. Nonetheless a life worth living is a life worth experiencing the good and the bad.

    • Yulia 08.07.2017 at 05:23 - Reply

      We will wait for your insights, Lulu!
      have a great trip! 🙂

  9. Alaster 09.08.2017 at 11:53 - Reply


    Great info..awesome.

  10. Mari 08.03.2018 at 07:30 - Reply

    Hi, how difficult did you find the roads? I’ll be visiting in June on my own and not sure if the roads would be difficult to manage.


    • Yulia 10.03.2018 at 15:55 - Reply

      June should be absolutely fine, dont worry!

  11. Hannah Berry 09.05.2018 at 15:44 - Reply

    I am going soon to Iceland and I trust that I can report back to this current blog’s numerous devotees!

  12. lija 10.07.2018 at 02:48 - Reply

    i want to propose to my girlfriend there under the northern lights next year but i still cant decide

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.