Travel Guide Iceland - Page 9
9. What does a trip cost? Tips to save money
A lot of people will tell you Iceland has become cheaper, and that's definitely true. But being cheaper doesn't automatically mean it's cheap. Compared to my home country Germany it is definitely more expensive, and in high season prices will increase even further. But if you compare the prices with the ones before the financial crisis, Iceland is definitely affordable.
Let's start with some numbers first to give you an impression. My 2 weeks-trips to Iceland usually cost around 4.000€, including everything (14 nights in normal hotels, something to eat, the rental car, flight, fuel and so on). The most expensive part are the hotels, I usually spend around €100-€130 a night, followed by the rental car, depending on the class you choose. I always go for a 4x4 to be on the save side and because I don't stick to the ring route exclusively. Then food is definitely a bit more expensive than in Germany. I wouldn't go out for lunch and dinner every day as it is simply too expensive, especially if you enjoy some alcoholic beverages. While I would consider beer as affordable, wine is extremely expensive, if I remember correctly a glass of beer costs around €5-€7, wine is way beyond €20 a glass.
Tip 1: If you want to enjoy some alcohol, buy some duty free stuff at the departing airport
Today, a lot of people use common reservation platforms like booking.com for reserving a hotel. You can do this in Iceland as well (some of the hotels only use booking.com, nothing else), but keep in mind that especially the smaller hotels and pensions charge you extra if you don't book via their web site or via e-mail. I usually check prices for all hotels via e-mail, then I have a look at major reservation web sites and I use the booking which is cheaper. That can save you some money. Additionally, using smaller pensions is always cheaper, but you have to share bathrooms normally which - to be honest - I don't like so I go for normal hotels.
Tip 2: Check prices for hotels directly with the hotel, then compare to booking.com or other platforms. Sometimes direct booking is cheaper and saves you money!
Tip 3: If ok for you, look for pensions and guesthouses as they are normally cheaper than hotels.
Surprisingly I found out that prices in Iceland don't vary. If you buy a bottle of coke at the airport or in the supermarket, prices were almost the same. Of course in a restaurant you have to pay more, but it makes almost no difference if you buy a bottle of water at the airport, in a shop at a fuel station or in a supermarket. That was an awesome experience and is totally different to Germany where prices are way more expensive especially at airports. I considered Iceland to be very fair to their visitors.
When it comes to food I usually decided to buy something in a supermarket which lasts several days (crisp bread, normal bread, sweets) and have dinner in a small restaurant next to the road or in the hotel to get at least once a day a warm meal. But eating in the hotel can be expensive, I remember a buffet in a hotel in the middle of nowhere which cost €49 without any drinks.
I can recommend to eat at a fuel station as well, the larger ones have warm meal and prices are ok (€10 a burger, for example). Don't compare prices to Germany or your home country, keep in mind that you would have to pay €20 in a restaurant for the same food.
Tip 4: Larger fuel stations offer warm meals for reasonable prices and are cheaper than a restaurant
Rental cars in Iceland can cost a fortune if you book them not well in advance. Even worse, waiting too long can result in not having a rental car at all. The first thing I book when I go to Iceland is the rental car, then I go for the hotels, and finally the flight. Flight prices vary on a daily basis so it is wise to check every day. I have made myself a reminder every day to check prices, then I decide to book when I like the price. Remember, some booking platforms charge you for using a credit card, then prices can be more expensive than on another platform where you thought that's too expensive already.
Tip 5: Prices for flights vary on a daily basis, check them daily. Paying with credit cards can be charged separately (can be up to €60!).
I always choose a diesel when I book a rental car, diesel fuel is less expensive then normal petrol and the engine doesn't need so much of it. Especially in the highlands where you have to drive off road, a bigger engine can cost you a lot of money. As you are only allowed to drive 90 km/h, save your money on the engine.