Known for its breathtaking nature, Iceland is an expensive country that can be visited with a budget of $80 to $200 a day.
My one-week trip to Iceland during the high season cost a total of $2,690 USD. In this post, I share:
- 💰 Expected trip cost
- 💡 Budgeting tips
- 💵 How much cash to bring
- ✈️ My trip’s expenses by category
Planning a trip to Iceland? This Iceland guide covers things to know before getting there, including the best places to visit, how to get around, what to pack and more.
- Is Iceland Expensive?
- How Much Is a Trip?
- About My Trip
- Total Trip Cost: $2,690
- Do You Need Cash in Iceland?
- Iceland Trip Planner
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Is Iceland Expensive to Travel To?
Yes, Iceland is an expensive country to visit. Iceland is one of the most expensive countries to visit in Europe because it relies on imported goods and has a high cost of living, with many locals earning a high wage (90% of the population is part of a labor union).
For comparison, here’s my travel daily budget for all the European countries that I visited in the same year as Iceland:
Iceland is expensive even compared to some of Asia’s and Latin America’s most expensive countries. I traveled to Iceland in the same year that I visited these countries:
How Much Is a Trip to Iceland?
Here’s how much you can expect to spend in Iceland on a daily basis and during a one-week trip, depending on your travel style.
🎒 Trip Cost for a Budget Traveler
A budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $80 per day or $560 for one week of travel in Iceland, excluding flights.
To travel on a budget in Iceland, here are some things you can do:
- Accommodation: Stay at an Icelandic hostel for $40 a night or a budget hotel for $60 a night. These prices will go up during the peak season in the summer.
- Food: One of the best ways to save on Iceland costs is to buy groceries. You can save more than $100 a week on food by cooking instead of eating out. Also, try a $2 hot dog at the gas stations; they’re surprisingly good.
- Transportation: Rent a car or campervan (which is what I did) and road trip around Iceland instead of booking expensive tours that leave from major cities and towns.
During the summer months, you can take advantage of Iceland’s public transportation (primarily public and private bus companies) to get around the country.
- Attraction: Take advantage of Iceland’s many free attractions that don’t have any parking or entrance fees.
- Season: Avoid visiting Iceland during the peak summer season. The best time to visit Iceland to save money is during the winter and you’ll get to see the northern lights.
- Shopping: Skip buying a SIM card while in Iceland and take advantage of the country’s free Wi-Fi infrastructure. Also, don’t buy bottled water and bring a reusable water bottle instead. Iceland has one of the cleanest waters in the world.
💰 Trip Cost for a Mid-Range Budget Traveler
A mid-range budget traveler, such as myself, can expect to spend approximately $200 per day or $1,400 for one week of travel in Iceland, excluding flights. I break down my Iceland travel expenses by category below.
You’ll see below that my per day cost in Iceland is higher than $200, but that’s because I booked relatively expensive activities (e.g., a glacier hike) and booked my trip at the last minute (i.e., a month before traveling in August, which is peak season).
About My Iceland Trip
To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip to Iceland:
☀️ Peak season. I traveled to Iceland in August, which is in the high season so things are more expensive on average. The low season in Iceland runs from September to May.
🗓 One week. I spent one week in Iceland with an itinerary similar to this one and thoroughly explored the South Coast.
✌️ Two travelers. I traveled with one other person, so I was able to split the campervan rental, gas, parking and entrance fee costs.
🚐 Campervan traveling. Iceland is an amazing country to travel by campervan, even for inexperienced campers such as myself. I rented a campervan, which can be more economical than staying at hotels and Airbnb.
This Iceland campervan guide has tips on reducing campervan-related costs.
💰 Mid-range budget. I don’t aim to travel on a budget, but I’m thoughtful about how and where I spend and I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler.
💵 US dollars. All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars, converted from Iceland’s local currency, Icelandic Króna. The exchange rate was $1 USD = 130 ISK at the time of writing.
Total Iceland Trip Cost: $2,690
My one-week trip to Iceland cost a total of $2,690, including flights. I did an Iceland itinerary similar to this one.
💰 Cost Breakdown for Iceland
Here are my Iceland travel expenses by category:
|Cost||% of Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
💵 Daily Budget in Iceland: $306
If I include my flight costs, my Iceland trip came out to $384 per day.
A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $200 per day in Iceland. This generally entails booking things two to three months in advance if you’re traveling in the summer, staying at mid-range hotels that cost approximately $90 per night, and paying for some tours.
✈️ Flight Cost to Iceland: $550
My round-trip direct flights between Keflavík International Airport (KEF) and the east coast of the United States were $550.
I flew Play, a budget Iceland airline that flies to and from Europe and North America. I don’t usually fly budget internationally, but it was very manageable given that Iceland is six hours away from the east coast of the United States.
The most expensive months to fly to Iceland from the United States are November to December and the cheapest month to fly to Iceland is October, according to Kayak.
🚐 Campervan and Campsite Costs in Iceland: $1,300
My average cost for campervan and campsites in Iceland was $185 per day. I was able to split my campervan and insurance costs with another person. Iceland campsites have a per-person camping fee averaging $15 per night.
If you book a campervan about four months in advance (which is not what I did; I booked mine at the last minute), you can travel around Iceland in a campervan for closer to $100 a day.
|Cost Per Person||Cost Per Day|
Iceland is an amazing country to visit by campervan for many reasons and it’s a great option even for those who’ve never done it before. This Iceland campervan guide has tips on how to reduce the cost of a campervan rental, insurance and campsite.
🚙 Iceland Rental Car Costs
If you’re not traveling Iceland by campervan like I did, you can expect to spend on average $60 per day on a car rental, excluding the cost of gas.
You can spend anywhere from $40 to $200 a day on a rental car in Iceland depending on several factors, including:
- The season. Iceland’s high season is in the summer, from June to August, and its low season runs from September to May. A small, standard car can drop to $40 per day if you’re renting in November.
- The vehicle’s size. An SUV in Iceland can increase your per-day cost to over $100 per day.
- Whether it’s a four-wheel drive (4WD). Iceland has unpaved mountain roads called F-roads and you’re required to have a 4WD to drive on them. A 4WD increases the cost of a car rental.
- Whether it’s an automatic or manual transmission. Most cars in Iceland are manual and automatic cars are slightly more expensive.
- How far in advance you book. Booking in advance is especially important when you’re traveling during Iceland’s peak season. In the summer, car rental costs can almost double if you book at the last minute (about a month ahead) compared to about three months ahead.
🏠 Iceland Accommodation Costs
If you’re not sleeping in a campervan like I did, you can expect to spend on average $50 per day per person on accommodations in Iceland. This can increase to about $80 per day per person during the high season.
⛽️ Gas Cost in Iceland: $90
My average cost of gas in Iceland was $13 per day. The gas total was $180, but I was able to split the gas with my partner, so the gas cost per person was $90.
Make sure to budget for gas when traveling in Iceland. If you decide to do the full Ring Road, the main road that runs around Iceland, gas can add more than $400 to your trip’s budget.
🌭 Food Cost in Iceland: $200
My average cost of food in Iceland was $29 per day. My total cost for groceries was $45. My total cost for dining out was $155, which averaged $19 per meal.
- My most expensive meal in Iceland was $30 at Íslenski barinn in the capital city, Reykjavík. The restaurant is known to serve hákarl, a fermented shark delicacy.
- My most affordable meal in Iceland was $6 at a gas station where I got to enjoy the country’s famous hot dogs.
Iceland food is generally expensive. Food is where you can save money by shopping at grocery stores instead of dining out. The popular grocery stores in Iceland are:
– Bonus, which is the budget option
– Kronan, which has a wider selection
– Netto, which has a smaller selection
Alcoholic drinks in Iceland are also expensive due to the high tax rate and import costs. Besides not drinking in Iceland, you can also save money by getting alcohol at the Duty-Free Store at the airport or by taking advantage of happy hours at local bars.
🏔️ Activity and Tour Costs in Iceland: $535
My average cost of activities and guided tours in Iceland was $76 per day.
|Vatnajökull glacier hike guided tour||$230|
|Bus to hike Landmannalaugar||$115|
|Vík Icelandic horse riding guided tour||$80|
|Hrunalaug hot spring||$8|
This Iceland itinerary has more details and cost-saving tips for all the tours and activities listed above.
🏔️ Free Activities and Attractions in Iceland
Many of Iceland’s natural attractions are free, but a handful of them will have parking and bathroom fees. Iceland’s tours and attractions can be expensive, so you can save money by mainly focusing on stunning attractions instead.
Below are some of Iceland’s most popular free attractions. Some of them have bathroom fees and minimal parking fees (usually less than $5), but none of them have an entrance fee.
- The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a 190-mile tourist route featuring three of Iceland’s top natural attractions: Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park.
- The northern lights. The famous northern lights are a colorful display of light in the night sky that happens in Iceland mostly during the winter, from September to April.
- Some of Iceland’s national parks. Thingvellir National Park and Snæfellsjökull National Park are both free.
- Some of Iceland’s waterfalls. Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are some of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls on the South Coast that are free.
- Some Iceland beaches. Both the famous Diamond Beach and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach do not have parking or entrance fees.
🚙 Entrance and Parking Fees in Iceland: $15
My average cost for entrance and parking fees in Iceland was $2 per day.
All of my Iceland entrance and parking fees were split between two people, so these prices reflect a per-person cost.
|Attraction or Parking Lot||Cost|
|Fagradalsfjall volcano parking||$3.50|
|Kerid crater entrance fee||$3|
Most of Iceland’s natural attractions don’t have parking or entrance fee, but they may have small bathroom fees.
Do You Need Cash in Iceland?
You don’t need cash in Iceland the overwhelming majority of the time. Iceland has extremely good credit card infrastructure and I found that even remote campsites took credit cards.
Here are some tips on using cash and credit cards in Iceland:
💳 Tip #1: American Express is not widely accepted in Iceland.
Make sure to bring a Visa and/or Mastercard credit card instead to ensure you can use card around Iceland.
🏧 Tip #2: Take out a bit of cash, but not more than 5,000 ISK (approximately $40).
Cash is rarely needed in Iceland, so you only need to carry a bit of cash in case a card machine is broken or for a few cash-only places. The US dollar is not accepted, so you need to withdraw cash in the local currency, Icelandic Króna.
With my Iceland itinerary, the only place that I visited that required cash was the Hrunalaug hot spring, but they now accept card payment through a QR code.
💰 Tip #3: Tipping is not customary in Iceland.
Although it’s not rude to leave a tip and some service workers will appreciate it, tipping is not a customary nor mandatory practice in Iceland.
Planning a trip to Iceland? This Iceland guide has other essential tips, like tourist traps to avoid, top places to visit and how to get around.
Iceland Trip Planner
To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planning template below and use it as a starting point. The template has country-specific travel information as well as an itinerary, packing list and map with recommended places pinned.
The template is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I’m not paid to say this; I just like the tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Iceland Travel Guides
- ✈️ Planning a Trip to Iceland: 13 Practical Things To Know
- ❄️ Epic 7 Days in Iceland South Coast: Road Trip Itinerary
- 🚐 How To Plan a Successful Iceland Campervan Trip
- 💰 1-Week Trip to Iceland Cost: 2023 Budget Breakdown
- 🇮🇸 What to Know About Hrunalaug Hot Spring + Tips
- ☀️ Guide to Iceland in August + Summer Packing List
- 🧊 Iceland Glacier Hike Practical Guide: What To Know and Wear
🧋 This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours writing each article to ensure its accuracy and conciseness. If you find my site helpful, you can say thanks by buying me bubble tea!