How to spend time in Iceland like a local and not end up with an empty wallet?
A few tricks to get the most out of you stay in Reykjavik!
1. Fly cheap!
If you want to make your trip affordable, start by choosing a cheap flight. There are several low cost airlines flying directly from the US, UK and Europe to Reykjavik (Keflavik) and can be found on Dohop’s flight search engine. You can find return flights even for as little as approx. $250 (£77,€89, zł400) for off-season trips.
2. Use a credit card for payments
You can spend your whole holiday without even seeing Icelandic krona! Cash in Iceland is not very customary, you can pay just about everywhere easily with a credit card. That saves you ATM charges, etc.
Hotels are rather expensive in Iceland. Fares often start from approx. $220 (£160,€200, zł860) per night for a double room in a 3-star hotel. Try staying in one of the many charming or hipster (depending on your style preferences) hostels downtown. If you pick KEX, you might get a chance to see the next big act from Iceland as its bar hosts live music nights – from jazz Tuesdays to indie Saturdays and KEXP sessions during Iceland Airwaves.
4. Self drive
If you plan on going out of town, rent a car and drive on your own. This way you will be able to see more, travel independently and really feel Icelandic nature – stop whenever you like and change your route according to the weather. Although Icelanders say wait 5 minutes for the rain to stop, check the weather in advance and adjust your daily destinations accordingly so that you make the most of your trip.
5. Night out in Reykjavik
Fancy a beer? Hanging out in a famous Kaffibarinn and sipping local Gull? Unless you know where and when to go for happy hour, be prepared to spend approx. $10 (£7,€9, zł40) for 0.5l glass! Don’t worry there is a way to make your night out affordable. If you don’t know any locals who will guide you to the nearest special deal, download Appy Hour app (Android /iOS) and save up to 50% on each drink.
6. Dining out
Traditional Icelandic cuisine might not be too impressive – don’t be fooled by weird Icelandic delicacies such as fermented shark or marinated sheep testicles, Icelandic cuisine has more to offer. There are tons of great, tasty choices. For lunch, try a simple but deliciously prepared and beautifully served catch of the day (arctic char, cod, among others) for approx. $13(£10,€12, zł50). Don’t pay for soda but rather drink tap water with your meal – it’s the best and cleanest water there is. It is more healthy than your regular choice of soda and you don’t have to pay for it – how great is that!
If fish is not on top of your food choices, go to one of the best “deals” places such as Kryddlegin Hjortu on Hverfisgata, where you can eat a tasty dinner with a 2 for 1 deal. Most restaurants have a tilborð (special offer) on their menu.
Best souvenir to bring from Iceland? We’d say the traditional beautifully knitted sweater, made from Icelandic wool (lopapeysa). Go native and buy it in one of the red cross stores where you can find them at least 50% cheaper. Or, if you know how to knit – buy yourself a bag of wool of your choice, find your favourite pattern online and knit one yourself!
Pro tip: Don’t forget to get a “tax free” receipt for any items you purchase over 6,000 ISK, so you can get a tax refund. 24% VAT is usually built into the price tag on retail items. So, you’ll want to get that back.
8. Do the pool like a local
One of the best things in Iceland are the outdoor geothermal swimming pools. If you plan to stay a couple of days in Reykjavik or you travel in a group, go for 10 entrance card instead of buying single ticket every time you go for a swim. It will help you save up to 50% on each bath.