Iceland on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save Money

Iceland on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save Money

James Taylor James Taylor
5. Sep 2020 ∼ 7 min. read

Iceland is a notoriously expensive destination to travel to. But here at Go Campers we believe that exploring this beautiful country doesn’t have to break the bank. In this article, we’re going to share our tips on saving money while you’re out and about in the country. And if you’ve already rented a campervan, congratulations, you’ve already taken the first step to save some money on your trip. Here are 10 more ways to save money in Iceland and keep your trip within budget.

1.      Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Iceland enjoys plenty of incredible, clean water. So, if you’re coming over, make sure to bring with you a reusable water bottle. You can fill it up at any of the taps around the country without worrying about its quality – it’s fantastic everywhere. If you don’t believe us, maybe the fact that the Icelandic Tourism Board ran a campaign promoting the tap water in the country. There are even some rivers that you can fill your water bottle from for some water whilst you’re out hiking. The best part is that you won’t have to waste any money buying your water from the supermarket, which can quickly add up. And you’re doing the environment a favour as well. Everybody wins.

2.      Make Use of our Sharing Centre Before Setting Out

In the Go Campers’ office where you’ll be picking up the camper, we run a sharing centre. Here, you can rummage through other travellers’ leftover food and other supplies, like charcoal for BBQs, paper towels, and even the occasional second-hand book. Spending 5 minutes digging through the shelves before you set out will help you save a bit of money at the supermarket. Things that you’ll usually find are rice, pasta, canned food, and useful things like oil, salt, and pepper that you wouldn’t really want to buy anyway. And don’t worry – we regularly go through the shelves to make sure that everything is clean and not past its best by date.

Read: Money in Iceland – Everything you Need to Know

3.      Make All Your Meals in the Camper

While Iceland’s modern cuisine is incredible, if you’re really looking to cut costs on your Iceland camper trip, just cook in the camper. Every single one of our vehicles comes equipped with everything you’ll need to whip up delicious meals on the road. With a gas stove, pots, and a pan, by the end of your trip you’ll be a master at quick meals on the go. Hit up the cheap supermarkets (generally Bónus or Krónan) and stock up on food for your trip. We recommend easy recipes like pasta with vegetables, rice and beans, or the classic hot dogs that are very cheap to buy from the supermarkets. Renting a BBQ is also an easy way to enjoy more complex meals, like hamburgers, without paying the restaurants prices. And if you do fancy eating out, lunch time is always much cheaper than dinner time. Bon Appetit!

4.      Brew Your Own Tea and Coffee

Coffee in Iceland is important business. As one of the nations with the highest consumption of caffeine per capita, you can easily find a lot of great coffee around the country. But you might have to decide just how much coffee you’ll buy from the cafés, as it can quickly add up. The average cost of a regular coffee with milk in Iceland is between 300–600 ISK. Brewing your own every day will easily save you quite a good amount of money. If you’re set on buying a coffee though, a neat trick is to order yourself a simple filter brew from the gas stations around the country. With this, you can enjoy unlimited refills!

5.      Make Use of the Free Hot Springs

There are plenty of classy geothermal spas around the country, but the entry fees can be quite high. For those willing to pay, you do get your money’s worth; it’s a luxurious experience. But the penny-pinching travellers among us might want to seek out Iceland’s free hot springs instead. These are usually small, natural pools, found out around in nature. There are plenty of these to find and are often the favourite part of the trip for returning travellers. Some of our favourites are: Seljavallalaug or Reykjadalur River in South Iceland; Hellulaug and Pollurinn in the Westfjords; and Djúpavogskörin in East Iceland.

Read: The 10 Best Hot Springs in Iceland

6.      Visit the Bars and Pubs for Happy Hour

Alcohol in Iceland is expensive, especially if you’re visiting a bar or a pub where a pint of beer can set you back up to 1,400 ISK. Luckily, most of the venues around the country always have happy hour to draw in the punters. If you’re in Reykjavik or Akureyri for a night, make sure to visit during these hours to get the special deal; sometimes it’ll be two for one, otherwise it might just be a specific beer selling for cheap.

7.      Buy Yourself a Camping Card

If you’re travelling for about a week or more, then buying the camping card before you set out will save you some money at the campsites around the country. This card allows you to stay at select campsites around the country for free – you’ll only have to pay the overnight tax, which is 333ISK per person. Otherwise, camping can quickly add up. On average, campsites cost around 1,500ISK per person, per night (however some charge per camper). You can buy the camping card from us at Go Campers. One Camping Card is valid for two adults and two children (under 16).

Read: Is Wild Camping in Iceland Allowed?

8.      Use the Petrol Discount Tag

When you pick up the camper, attached to the key is a little N1 discount tag. When you fill up with petrol, all you need to do is swipe this tag first at the pump, and you’ll receive a small discount. It’s not much, but every little bit helps when you’re trying to save money in Iceland. The average cost of a full tank of petrol for the Go Smart Camper 2-pax is between 6000–7000 ISK. Petrol is one of the biggest expenses during a campervan trip through Iceland.

9.      Buy Your Alcohol in Duty Free

If you’re looking forward to having a drink after a big day of exploring, you might be in for a rude surprise. Iceland taxes its alcohol a lot – it’s one of the most expensive things in the country. A case of 12 beers from Vínbúðin (the state-run alcohol store) might set you back about 2,500 ISK. So, when you arrive, do as the Icelanders do and immediately dive into the Duty-Free store at the airport. Alcohol here is much cheaper than it is inside Iceland, so it’s a great way to save a few bucks if you’re planning on having some beer or wine after you’ve finished driving for the day.

10. Get a Tax Refund Before Flying Home

Before you fly home, there’s a booth inside Keflavik Airport where you can get a small tax refund. If you’ve purchased over 6,000 ISK of goods (for example, a woolly Icelandic jumper) and reside outside of Iceland, you’re entitled to this refund. You will need to produce both the goods you purchased and the record of purchase, so remember to save any receipts you get from buying souvenirs. You’ll also have to show your passport to prove that you live outside of the country. If all the requirements are met, then you’ll receive a nice little VAT refund into your bank account.

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