The old adage rings true: the best things in life are free.
This is especially true for travelers interested in exploring one of the most stunning countries on the planet. When traveling to Iceland, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars; the most breathtaking and memorable experiences will be the landscapes right before your eyes. With that in mind, here are 4 tips to ensure you hit the biggest highlights while only spending $50 a day.
1) Visit the National Parks
Vatnajökull National Park covers 13% of Iceland and ranks among the largest national parks in Europe – and the best part? It’s completely free. See the world-famous Vatnajökull glacier along with vast mountain ridges and towering volcanoes. In addition to Vatnajökull, Iceland has two other national parks, Þingvellir and Snæfellsjökull, which offer everything from rich historical experiences to spanning coastal vistas.
2) Cook your own food
If you plan to spend most of your time exploring outdoors, you should consider packing your lunches. Buying breads and sandwich meats for the duration of your trip is an affordable way to stay on the go and on budget. Do a grocery shop at the beginning of your trip and buy a few things to get you through the length of your stay — eggs, cereal, breads, etc. (Pro tip: Bónus food stores tend to have the best prices).
3) Stay in hostels
You may be thinking, “but where will I cook this food?” Most (if not all) hostels have kitchens guests can use. Hostels are likely your most affordable accommodation option as they are designed for travelers on a budget. Be sure to pack your own sheets or a sleeping bag though, as these locations will often charge guests $10 to use sheets (they are running a business, after all). Couchsurfing or camping are other affordable options, but be sure you’re staying with reputable hosts and researching any safety advisories if you plan on staying in the great outdoors.
4) Plan self-guided walk tours of cities ahead of time
Walking tours are a great way to experience the highlights of a city, but they can be expensive. While some may claim they are “free,” participants are usually expected to offer their guides some sort of compensation at the end. Instead of spending the money, take some time to do a little research and plan your own walking tour. There are plenty of detailed maps that will give you a good overview of some of the must-see spots. Some attractions may require an entry fee (like climbing to the top of Reykjavik’s Hallgrímskirkja church in ) so it’s worth researching prices online to plan which spots you want to hit and which ones you’ll pass up on. Most prices are relatively reasonable, though (Hallgrímskirkja church only costs $9 to climb), and you can put the money you save from being your own tour guide toward your top choices. If you are embarking on your own tour, make sure to mind the signs and be respectful of the Icelandic landscapes!
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to see all the best sights in Iceland while staying on budget. You’ll leave with some incredible memories (and incredible savings!).
Do you have any other tips for traveling affordably in Iceland? Let us know in the comments below! And to stay up to date on all things Iceland, follow us on twitter @IcelandNatural!