One of the first subjects that crops up when you plop Iceland into any conversation I feel, is cost. Indeed, this was something I was all too aware of before embarking on my adventure; though it wasn’t quite enough to put me off.
I went to Iceland with my good friend Jim, who I am also hiking the Appalachian Trail with, next year. Together, we were able to share the cost of our rental car, petrol, food and some accommodation; so to keep things simple (as I feel Iceland is generally a destination you visit with company), the figures you see below represent the amount that I personally paid.
It might be worth bearing in mind, that certain factors will affect the amount you spend in Iceland, such as time of year, weather conditions, dietary requirements and your overall itinerary.
So without further ado, here is the cost breakdown for my two week road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road:
Flight | £194
I booked my economy standard flight directly through Icelandair in May. We departed from Manchester Airport on 17th September and returned on 1st October 2018.
Car rental | £282
After weighing up our options and looking for the cheapest deal with the best online reviews, we booked a Suzuki Jimny through Icerental 4×4.
Petrol | £182
We were warned about petrol being expensive in Iceland and this certainly was true. Saying that, driving the old, fuel-guzzling Jimny thousands of kilometres over varied terrain was something we wanted to do, so we were willing to pay the price!
We drove the entire ring road, but also ventured around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Fjords and Seyðisfjörður, as well as looping back on ourselves a number of times due to poor weather conditions. This obviously clocked up the miles and took its toll on our wallets.
On average, we would fill up our tank when it got to a quarter full and it would cost around £50 a pop.
Accommodation | £265
We set out on our adventure with the goal of camping every night. Campgrounds are plentiful in Iceland and perfect for those on a budget.
Unfortunately, we encountered two severe weather warnings during our trip, plus some unexpectedly bitterly cold nights, so ended up spending some of our evenings in cabins, hostels and guest houses to warm our bones and dry off our tents.
In the end, we spent around one week camping (one night in the car, for free) and one week in other accommodation. Travelling in off-peak season, we found that we didn’t need to book our accommodation ahead of time and could just turn up on the day. The only area we struggled a little was between Höfn and Vík on the south coast.
The campsites appeared to get more expensive the further clockwise we drove, costing on average £10 each per night. We camped at:
Cabins, hostels & guest houses
Split between two, I thought that these forms of accommodation were reasonably priced. They also had the perks of privacy, unlimited showering, comfort, some form of kitchen and a proper bed. We spent between £30 – £40 a night to have these luxuries. Here’s where we stayed:
Food | £85
When it came to food shopping, we were super thrifty. We spent the majority of our time shopping at Iceland’s budget supermarket Bónus, which, you can’t miss; its logo is a bright yellow sign with a bright pink pig looking like it’s having some form of psychotic episode.
We ate camp-style meals for almost our entire trip, whilst still managing to eat really well, quantity and quality wise. I found it incredibly easy to eat vegan, and it only took a little practice reading the ingredients, though a lot of food was already labelled in English.
The other supermarket we shopped at a few times was Krónan, which is generally much larger and has more variety, but is also a bit dearer. We went here as more of a treat. I actually found their vegan selection to be better than some of the UK’s supermarkets!
Other | £50
So this is really for the miscellaneous, sporadic costs that jump out when you least expect them, like the Hvalfjörður Tunnel toll on the way to Akranes, some campgrounds charging you to shower (ugh), national park car parking fees and the god damn toilets at Gullfoss on the Golden Circle. I’ve also included my FlyBus ticket to Keflavík in this section, which cost about half of the total here.
Two nights in Reykjavík
I have left this part separate for good reason. After generally living on a budget, staying in Reykjavík for two nights was like being hit over the head by an Icelandic hipster and then having them steal all of your money. It was a shock to the system; like having a viking come up behind you and taser you, and then when you ask them how they even acquired a taster, they merely shrug and taser you some more. You get the drift. Reykjavík is EXPENSIVE.
Accommodation | £118
We stayed at Apartment K, which was a new concept for me. They own apartments all over the city, so after check in, they walked us to our studio up the road. I really enjoyed this ‘live local’ approach, as it all felt very relaxed.
Food and general city frolicking | £200
The amount we spent on food in a mere day and a half was painful, like being simultaneously bashed by the Icelandic hipster and tasered by the viking. I spent £16 on two slices of cake. One beer cost around £8. A large portion of chips set me back by approximately £11 *has minor panic attack*.
After the initial shock had sunk in, I went in with the mindset that it was pretty much inescapable and I should just enjoy myself and see it as a treat for eating camp food for almost a fortnight.
The grand total | £1400
So there you have it. For my entire two week Icelandic road trip, I spent approximately £1400. Bear in mind, these figures are not 100% accurate, as me and Jim generally split things most of the time, meaning some days one person would spend more than the other.
Overall, I am pretty satisfied with that amount. I landed in Keflavík with a sinking feeling that when I returned there, I would be absolutely broke, but we managed to scrimp for the majority of our trip and spend a little more in areas that required it.
Have you been to Iceland? What was your experience with spending money like? If you have any questions feel free to get in touch and comment below!