Are you looking for a way to spend your hard-earned cash? Well … welcome to Iceland! Next to its natural beauty, Iceland’s reputation travels ahead of itself when it comes to how expensive things are. And it’s true that Iceland is not a cheap destination, in fact, it’s one of the most expensive countries in the world! This doesn’t mean you should avoid coming here, it just means that it’s good to know how much things cost before you pack your bags. Keep an eye on the costs, but don’t miss out, as Iceland is totally worth a visit!
How to pay
In Iceland, people use the Icelandic króna (ISK) to pay for things. Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted, so you don’t have to carry huge amounts of cash. The exchange rate of the Icelandic króna changes daily. This is why in this article, prices are only mentioned in the original currency. Just to give an idea, at the time of writing, 1000 ISK is € 8.21, $ 10.13, and £ 7.15. Check the daily exchange rate online before your travels to know the most recent numbers!
Going for a bite to eat and a drink
If you feel hungry but don’t want to cook, you have to hit the streets. In downtown Reykjavík there are a couple of cheap eateries. You can, for instance, get fries with a soda for 950 ISK, and a filling noodle soup for 960 ISK. This is about as low as the prices go. On the other end of the scale, you can go to a fine dining restaurant and spend more than ten times as much, around 9,900 ISK.
Feeling thirsty? A beer or a glass of house wine costs between 1000 and 1500 ISK if it’s not happy hour, and 650 to 750 ISK during happy hour. Cocktails cost around 2300 to 2600 ISK outside of happy hour and 1200 to 1600 ISK during happy hour.
How much does gas cost?
Iceland has a pretty high fuel tax, similar to many other western European countries. Visitors from Europe will think the prices are similar or slightly higher, but US travellers might find them quite high. Here’s a service which gives you up-to-date prices in ISK: Global Petrol Prices. At the moment, gas costs 210.8 ISK per litre.
Golden circle, Blue Lagoon and other day tours
Staying in Reykjavík and going on a couple of day tours from the city can be a budget-friendly option. Generally speaking, day tours will cost between 10,000 and 50,000 ISK, but depending on what you choose, this price might go up to 525,000 ISK (for a private 2.5-hour helicopter tour). A very cheap option is the Golden Circle bus tour with audio guide, for 5490 ISK. A three-hour whale watching safari from Reykjavík costs 10,990 ISK, and a south coast day tour costs around 11,000 ISK. A tour to the Blue Lagoon including admission is 11,600 ISK and you will pay 6950 ISK for a return ticket for the Flybus between Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavík.
Great, but are there any free activities?
Feeling a bit stressed out by these numbers? Don’t worry, there are some excellent free activities in Reykjavík. In summertime, the geothermal beach at Nauthólsvík is free of charge and soaking in the hot tub overlooking the ocean is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. You can also go for a street art city walk. Try to find all the stunning murals around town!
Okay, now back to things you have to pay for. A couple of the cheaper activities in Reykjavík include the viewing platform of Perlan Museum – for 490 ISK you have a beautiful view over Reykjavík and its surroundings. You can also get a stunning view from downtown church Hallgrímskirkja. It costs 1000 ISK to get entrance to its tower. Geothermal swimming pools and Jacuzzis are a treat and the entrance fee is 900 ISK, so if you are travelling on a budget, the pool is a must-visit! You can visit three art museums, Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn for a total price of 1650 ISK. And for 880 ISK, you get entrance to the Reykjavík petting zoo, where you can see farm animals, seals, an arctic fox and reindeer.
What does accommodation cost?
You pay about 15,000 ISK per night for a three-star hotel in Reykjavík and between 20,000 and 25,000 ISK per night for a four-star hotel. A bed in a hostel dorm room in summer costs around 6000 ISK per night.
Camping is the more budget-friendly option. For 2400 ISK per night you can camp in Reykjavík, and a campsite in the countryside costs between 1500 and 2000 ISK per night!
1. Download the app Appy Hour to check out all the happy hours around town.
2. Buy alcohol in the duty free store at Keflavík International Airport.
3. Look for lunch specials at restaurants.
4. Claim a tax refund on souvenir purchases over 6000 ISK.
5. Head to Kolaportið flea market to buy reasonably priced souvenirs.
6. Most of the nature reserves in Iceland have free entrance and offer endless hiking options.