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TRAVEL TO ICELAND WITH SMART PLANNING

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Organise your own tour

We have visited Iceland six times in the last three years, always self-organised and hassle-free. We also planned and organised the day trips ourselves, using a rental car. We only used a tour operator when it was absolutely necessary, e.g. whale watching, ice cave tours, lava tunnel tours. We would like to share with you our experiences to reduce the cost of the tour.

Iceland is a very safe country with high quality services, great hospitality and professionalism, so we can organise the tour ourselves. We can book flights, select and reserve accommodation, arrange car hire, book guided tours and spa tickets online from home. The easiest and quickest way to organise and take your trip is to have at least an intermediate level of English.

To plan a self-catering trip to Iceland, it is worth reading the numbeo website's comparison list of expected costs. In general, it is true that food and drink, transport, clothing etc. in Iceland are currently around one and a half to two times more expensive than in Hungary. For comparison, use your own place of residence.



Smart tips to reduce costs

  • Buying flight tickets

The cheapest flights are offered by low-cost airlines, with prices varying seasonally. The peak season, from June to August, is the most expensive, with the best weather and the most tourists visiting the island. If you want to reduce the cost of air travel, you should look for tickets outside the peak season, but expect rainfall, cooler and more unpredictable weather. Late August to September could be a good time to go, when the weather is still likely to be summery and the aurora hunting season is already underway.

To search for flights, it is worth using the websites www.kiwi.com and www.scyscanner.com, which will help you find the cheapest flights. Wizzair operates direct flights from Budapest to Keflavík. When searching for flights, you should also consider connecting flights, e.g. via London, to increase the number of options and even make the trip cheaper.


Icelandic landscapes in October and December (Vík y Myrdal)

Road conditions in October and August


  • Car rental, fuel cost

If you have a driving licence and reliable driving experience, you can rent a car and get to more places on the island and move around more freely than if you were tied to a travel agency. Always choose a car according to the type of route you plan to take and the time of year and weather: if you don't plan to get off the main road 1 or take unpaved side roads, a cheaper small car (2WD) is a good choice. On side roads and in wintertime, however, the small car is not suitable, and you should choose from 4WD cars, which are at least one and a half times more expensive.

To find the right car hire company, browse the list and discount offers on the www.kayak.com site.

List of the most popular companies: https://visitreykjavik.is/rentals

In Iceland the most popular and widely used petrol stations are N1, Orkan, Olís, ÓB, with slightly different prices, but there may be some differences in fuel prices within the same company. Fuel prices are about 25-30% higher than in Hungary and about the same as in England.



  • Accommodation

In Iceland, you can choose from a wide range of accommodation: rent a room, an apartment or a flat, or stay in a hotel room. Cosy country cottages, cabins or chalets, often on working farms, are ideal for hunting the Northern lights. Hotels can be found around the airport, in the capital and in the larger towns around the main tourist attractions. The cheapest type of accommodation is a hostel, where several guests share a living room, kitchen and bathroom. In summer, there are many campsites in Iceland where showers, toilets and electricity are provided for campervans and for those who take bicycle tour. Wild camping is also allowed, provided that the owner of the property has agreed to overnight on his property. Details here: https://ust.is/english/nature/travel-information/where-can-you-camp/

The cost of accommodation is therefore mainly determined by individual needs. To search for accommodation, check the booking pages of www.airbnb.com and www.booking.com.




  • Meals, restaurants, shopping

High food costs are the biggest fear for most travellers when travelling to Iceland. Food is indeed expensive on the island, but smart tips can help you reduce your budget. It is possible to bring food for your own consumption in your luggage up to a maximum of 3 kg when entering the country. Raw meat, meat products, milk and eggs are not allowed.

To buy breakfast and dinner ingredients, dairy products, cold cuts, bread and other basic foodstuffs, it is advisable to go to the Bónus or Krónan supermarkets, which are the most affordable in Iceland. You can save money by choosing accommodation with a well-equipped kitchen (kettle, microwave, oven, etc.), so you can prepare simple hot meals in the morning or after a tiring day.

Eating hot meal once a day is recommended, the cheapest options being petrol stations or fast food restaurants such as KFC, Subway, Dominos. The best choice is the Nestí restaurants in the N1 petrol stations: soup, hotdogs, hamburgers, French fries, fish and chips, Wiener schnitzel, etc. Generally, you can refill your soft drink and coffee cup without limit.

However, you should try "real" restaurant food either: in many cases you can get simple meals at reasonable prices and in many places you can have free and unlimited water and coffee with your lunch. If you can afford it, you should try the special local dishes, such as lobster soup and Icelandic meat soup (kjötsupa).



  • Entrance fees, parking fees

In Iceland, natural attractions such as waterfalls, geysers, hot springs, volcanoes, etc. are free to visit, but if they are accompanied by services such as parking, toilets, visitor centres, museums, etc., you will have to pay for these in many places. These costs should be included in the final budget. Similarly, visits to famous bathing sites such as the Blue lagoon, Secret lagoon, Sky lagoon, Myvatn baths, etc., involve substantial entrance fees. If you are planning a trip here and want to save money, you can choose the cheapest dates close to closing time.

There is no charge to use the Icelandic roads, you only pay to use the tunnel near Akureyri (Vadlaheidargong Tunnel).

Parking in the capital is free everywhere from 4 pm on Saturday until Monday morning, but on weekdays and Saturdays until 4 pm in the city centre, depending on parking zones, you have to pay. So on a weekday, you can avoid parking costs during your trip to Reykjavik by parking your rental car outside the pay zone on the outskirts of the city centre.



Iceland "in a nutshell", with a lower budget

If you don't have a driving licence or can't afford to hire a car, but are willing to put in some organisation, there is an easier and slightly cheaper option: the Reykjavík city tour. In this case, Flybus will take you from the airport to the capital, from where you can walk or take a taxi to your accommodation. A couple of days is enough to see the sights of the city, and you can also take a bus, an electric scooter, try a local swimming pool or spa, or take a ride to several nature spots in the city. Recommended places to visit are Kvíka hot footbath, Thufa, Grótta lighthouse, Geldinganes, Skarfaklettur, Ellidaárdalur, Sky lagoon, Perlan, Videy island by ferry, visit the lookout on top of Hallgrímskirkja etc. If more money is available, guided tours can be added to the holiday e.g. whale watching, ice cave tour, lava tunnel tour, northern lights or wildlife tour etc.

You can get cheaper local transport, museums and spas if you buy a Reykjavík city card, details here: https://reykjavikcityguide.is/reykjavik-city-card/

Shots of Reykjavík


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