This is going to be part of a 3-Part Series, Iceland in 5 Days, Denmark in a week, and the Faroe Islands in 11 Days. All three of these excursions will be tied to each other in my new dream trip for next summer (2019) for about a month once traveling time is included. My budget is around $4000, half of which I currently have saved. If I can’t save up enough in the time I have left I may have to re-adjust some things. My budget Iceland trip will hopefully come to around $850. I plan for Iceland to be a stop-over, likely on a Wow Air flight.
I‘ve tried out the American Airlines card from Citi Bank and while I like some aspects of it, I’m moving from Wichita soon I’ll have a lot more flight options wherever I wind up next. As such, I don’t think the benefits are as worth it to me and I will probably be cancelling it. I’m going to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred in preparation for this trip as it will be more versatile in the long run and I’d like to earn points off of all the necessary purchases this trip will entail.
I won’t be packing a lot, but as it is a graduation trip I do want to be able to spoil myself a bit! Also, most of the places I’ll be visiting won’t exactly be “Warm” while I’m there. As I am easily chilled, I’ll be layering a lot! I’ll eventually have a packing list as I get closer to my trip. However, I wanted to be clear that while I’m still going to be backpacking I’ll probably be buying a fair amount of my layers there. Those purchases won’t be included in my budget, but I will be headed to thrift stores.
If I need to buy something super expensive I do know if it’s 6000isk ($55) or over I can get the tax refunded to me as I leave at the airport. The standard tax is 11-24% in Iceland! However, you can only get the tax back on physical goods – no refunds on food or housing 🙁
Day 1: Enjoy free things in Reykjavik
I always like to get a feel for every place I stay in and I love to have a complete day with nothing planned. Reykjavik has a surprising amount of free things to do for supposedly being one of the most expensive places to visit.
Thrift Stores (It’s budget Iceland, remember?)
As mentioned above, I would likely need some more layers so I’ll probably head to some thrift stores first! There’s several in Reykjavik and there’s no way this girl is paying full price for a sweater. Rauði krossinn, or the Red Cross, seems to be a pretty good bet for finding cute, secondhand Icelandic sweaters.
“Free” Walking Tour
Now, this probably won’t actually be free…There are many options for these “free” tours in Reykjavik, and while they do expect a donation at the end I normally don’t spend more than $5-10. That’s more than reasonable for 1-2 hours of time for some nice history and facts about the city.
What I’ll Eat
I‘ll buy groceries for many meals in order to keep costs down but I do want to experience what a good Icelandic breakfast, lunch, and dinner are. Based on what I’ve read, there is no issue with taking food to go, and fish and chips is always a big meal! I definitely want a taste of Icelandic fish 🙂 Because of this I will be eating out for Lunch on this day so that I still have a nice amount of food for dinner. I’ll be spending about $19 on fish and chips. Kaffivagninn seems like a good choice and many people mention their large portions.
Where I’ll Stay
For the first night, I intend to splurge. I will likely tuck in early due to the jetlag and I always like a cozy place to stay after a long flight. I’ve seen the very viral Galaxy Pod Hostel floating around for awhile and for $63-70 a night it seems a reasonable price to pay for a little extra coziness and fun. Spending the night like I’m on a spaceship? Sign me up!
Day 1 Total: $94
14th, Day 2: Horses!
This day I’m going to really tire myself out! I am desperate to see Icelandic horses which have a fascinating history. A TLDR follows.
These horses are highly distinct from the rest of the horses in the world due to their prolonged isolation. They even have a distinct gait called the ‘tolt’ which is something like a very smooth trot. Since the 10th century they were protected and new horses were not allowed in. However, there were some attempts around the 18th century to bring in horses, which was disastrous. Disease wiped out a significant portion of the Icelandic population and now Iceland is incredibly cautious. Riding clothes are carefully scrutinized upon arrival, if you bring them. Additionally, any horse who leaves Iceland can never return.
I also know that by now I will need to invest in Spa/hot water culture. I find the key to truly recovering from jetlag is a nice hot bath followed by a good long nap. Check out my post about spa-hopping in LA! Due to this, I will skip the Golden Circle in favor of an Eldhestar horseback tour with a nice long stop at a hot spring. This tour will run me about $210. Ouch! Although, food is included. I’m willing to bet I can make the food last the rest of the day and if not, I’ll manage.
I‘ll stay in either a cheaper hostel or an Airbnb for the next 4 nights for around $36 a night. Most likely a hostel.
- Horseback riding tour $210
- Housing: $36
Day 2 total: $246
15th, Day 3: More than Reykjavik
It was originally my intention to head to Akureyi, the second largest city in Iceland, and take another tour from there. However, it turns out the average bus from Reykjavik to Akureyi is around $60. It just seemed more worth it to have two more guided tours that would see more spots, especially as this is budget Iceland!
I will see western Iceland for about $100. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula tour seems to be one of the most reasonable and gets good reviews. It also appears to be a smaller bus tour, which I have generally preferred based on my bus tours in the UK. I’d really love to see those lava beaches! After a long day I’d love to indulge in some Icelandic meat stew for dinner and that will likely run me $15.
Day 3 total: $151
16th, Day 4: A Tour to Southern Iceland
Yesterday will have been a long day but hopefully I won’t be too tired to have a nice Icelandic breakfast this morning for $15. IThen, it will be time to start the day off on my next tour! Southern Iceland, this time. Waterfalls and glaciers will be the highlight of the day. The thing I like about tours is I generally feel like it’s a taster course at a restaurant. You get to see a variety of things and decide what you’d come back for. For instance, in Wales, I am interested in visiting Conwy again, but not so much Betws-Y-Coed. And if you’re only in the place once, at least you will have seen more of the country.
I might indulge in an Icelandic hot dog for dinner which will run me about $3! Icelandic hotdogs are surprisingly famous and supposedly much better tasting that our standard American ones (it would be hard not to be…). I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination but fast food hotdogs and hamburgers are where I draw the line in terms of what qualifies as “meat.”
Day 4 total: $154
17th, Day 5: Catching Up
Today is my last real day and as such I will be wandering around again, seeing anything I feel I’ve missed, relaxing, etc. I will give myself $13 to spend on any kind of snack I’d like but I think it would be better spent on something I can take home with me. There may be a few entrance fees if I decide to go to the Sundhollin Public Baths, which are fairly historical and cost around $10 to get in. They seem really nice!
I definitely want to visit the Icelandic music shop 12Tonar and I’m sure I’ll find something I want to buy for my record collection back home! How I’ll *get* it home remains to be seen….I’ll probably wind up bring a foldable bag and purchasing carry on luggage for the flight home (that will be included in the price of the flight along with the transportation to and from the airport). While this isn’t the most budget Iceland thing I could do, I love nordic music and I’d love to add some to my eclectic collection. If you are interested, they do have a webshop that looks very interesting 🙂
Day 5 total: $49
18th, Day 6: Depart Iceland
Total Excursions: $417
Food for all days: $50 groceries (hopefully I won’t hit this, from what I’ve read most people get by on about $30 and maybe I’ll bring some ramen or something) $65 eating out
Sub Total: $739
Money for Purchases, Entrance Fees: $111 (Some kind of record $30, secondhand wool sweater $50, entrance to public baths $10…probably some kind of tea knowing me…)
Now, this isn’t the lowest budget Iceland trip one could take, obviously. Camping would likely save you another $10 a night, and obviously my excursions cost a lot. It’s supposedly too cold to camp in May, or at least, too cold to camp with budget materials that could fit in carry-on baggage…You could probably get it down to $200 but at that point I’d argue you’re not really experiencing Iceland. Especially if you’re not sure you’ll ever be back. I’d rather see more of Iceland and hope for future stop-overs to explore whatever entices me on my bus tours 🙂