Aside from booking your lodging in advance, there are many other ways to save money in Iceland. For example, if you are traveling in winter, renting a car with a four-wheel drive is vital to exploring the Central Highlands’ secluded roads. Additionally, bringing shelf-stable snacks and beverages can significantly cut costs during your trip.
Know Your Krona
Iceland is one of the smallest countries in the world to have its currency. It’s called the Krona (ISK), and while the country may have a small population, it’s a highly wealthy island nation.
The locals rarely use cash — they pay by card, and most restaurants and tourist attractions accept credit or debit cards. But you should still bring some money on your trip as there are some places where you can’t use cards, such as gas stations. If you’re filling up your car, ensure your card has a PIN before you leave home and is registered as a travel card so the gas station doesn’t decline your purchase.
Before you leave for Iceland, contacting your bank or looking online at your upcoming travel dates is a good idea. Check if your card charges a foreign transaction fee of 1% or more. You can switch to a travel-friendly card that waives foreign transactions if it does. Once you arrive at Keflavik International Airport, the easiest and most convenient way to get Iceland currency is to withdraw it from an ATM. The best way to do this is to figure out how much you will need and pull it all simultaneously, saving you on fees.
Know Your Credit Cards
Unless you are using a tour company, you will need to drive to see the many beautiful locations Iceland has to offer. This can be expensive, especially when fuel prices are high. Make sure to know the current gas price in Iceland before you leave so you can budget accordingly.
Food can also be a significant expense when traveling to Iceland. One way to save is by booking a vacation rental with a full kitchen so you can prepare meals rather than eat at restaurants. Be sure to check listings carefully, though, as fridge sizes can be smaller than expected (I’m looking at your tiny beverage fridges).
Another way to save on food costs is to bring your reusable water bottle. Iceland has some of the cleanest, freshest, most pristine water in the world. Bottled water can be costly, but your reusable water bottle can fill it up for free at any restaurant or grocery store.
While Iceland is a beautiful place to visit year-round, it is at its busiest and most expensive during the summer months. This is when you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, experiencing the magical midnight sun, and exploring famous attractions such as the Blue Lagoon and Hallgrimskirkja church.
Know Your Insurance
Located in the North Atlantic, Iceland is a dreamy destination for travelers. The island country is bursting with awe-inspiring natural beauty, from geysers and mud pots to fjords and glaciers. Icelanders are friendly and welcoming, but visitors should follow basic precautions to keep themselves safe and ensure their trip goes smoothly.
A travel insurance policy is necessary in Iceland, especially if you plan on doing adventurous activities like dog sledding or kayaking. It’s also wise to get travel medical insurance in case of any accidents or emergencies. And because some of Iceland’s best attractions are remote, getting help in an emergency could be costly without the right kind of coverage.
Consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for U.S. citizens that allows the embassy to contact you in an emergency or disaster. In terms of safety, Iceland has a low crime rate and rare violent incidents, but common sense still applies. Be careful when putting bags with valuables down on the floor of bars and clubs, and don’t leave luggage unattended in parked cars.
And while icebergs are beautiful from afar, they’re dangerous to walk on and can easily break under your feet. In addition, the temperature in Iceland can fluctuate dramatically within a short period. For this reason, you should bring layers and be prepared for rain or sunshine.
Know Your Options
Iceland is an expensive destination, but it can be within your budget. The most significant expenses will be your accommodations and car rental, but saving money by preparing ahead is possible. One great tip is to ask your bank what fees you are charged when using your card abroad. Some cards don’t charge any overseas service fee, and you should always have one of those with you.
Another way to save is to buy a camping card and use that for your accommodation needs instead of paying per night for hotels. It also helps to know the cheaper flight times and travel around that time. Lastly, it’s a good idea to download the Appy Hour app before you leave home and be on the lookout for local deals.
The best time to visit Iceland will vary depending on what you want to see and experience. It is at its most popular and expensive during the summer, but it also offers the longest days (with the midnight sun!) and the most activities.
It’s important to remember that Iceland has different laws than the United States. You are subject to their laws regardless of your citizenship, and breaking any Icelandic law is not a good idea. In addition, it is against the law to bring alcohol or drugs into the country.