Budget Breakdown for 9 days in Iceland
Sooo, we didn’t really have a budget going into this 9-day adventure in Iceland. The only thing I knew was that the country of fire and ice was an expensive place to travel. I volunteered to plan the entire trip which meant that and I had to keep track of the budget as well and help us all save as much money as we could for this epic trip.
We snagged some great flight deals so I wasn’t particularly concerned as long as things were reasonable. Deep down I was hoping to keep the budget close to $1500 per person.
The more people you can travel with, the cheaper things get. There were 4 of us in our traveling pack which meant car and accommodations would be split between all of us! This made me very happy.
In this post I will share exactly how much we spent on our 9 day-ish trip to Iceland. I remembered everything because I kept a journal. This is something I do now for all my trips. I’ll quickly jot down where I went, what I did, what I ate, and how much I spent. My memory is pretty horrible so I started doing this to help me remember. Act, write, read would help reinforce some of my memories. If you’re not into writing, then I recommend Trail Wallet created by travelers for travelers to help with keeping track of money.
If you’re planning a trip to Iceland in the winter, be sure to check out my post on the 9-day winter vacation to Iceland itinerary I made for my trip.
The best way to get around and see what you want to see is by car. You’ll have the freedom to go at your own pace and make your own schedule. With a car you can drive the ring road and see pretty much all the different landscapes that Iceland has to offer and boy, what a treat it is for the eyes!
We rented our car from BlueCar Rental . We opted for a Kia Sportage which provided plenty of room for 4 adults and all of our luggage.
I’ve read how some people spent a fraction on car costs and I am jealous. Two Wandering Soles has a great blog post about car rentals and I wish I came across them before we booked as they share some really great ideas.
We looked into getting car insurance from Canada but it wouldn’t allow us for rentals in Iceland. Don’t skip out on insurance. It’s imperative to have no matter your driving ability. I don’t even know if they allow you to not get it.
As for gas…it is ridiculously pricey. In 2018, gas was 220 ISK/ Litre which worked out to be 2.35 CAD per Litre. This was bonkers. We were given a gas card with our rental that gave us a small discount if we got gas from a particular station which helped ease the pain. But, the sights we were able to see sure made up for it!
Make sure you pin on your maps where all the possible gas stations are. You don’t want to be left empty and stranded.
Book well in advance.
Costs will build up if you opt for automatic transmission vs manual, if you add a driver, if you get WIFI or GPS, or choose to get all the insurance and liability protection possible. We did all of these and you can see that reflected in the price. We wanted no risk or hassle. Plus, we booked 2 weeks prior and we paid the price for it. C’est la vie.[I didn’t include our flights in this cost as it’ll vary between where you’re coming from, flight deals, or if you’ve taken advantage of an airline that offers free stopovers in Iceland.]
I had planned the itinerary such that we wouldn’t have to travel backwards. This meant that we had to pack our stuff up every morning to head to our next destination while stopping at sites along with way. You may not be comfortable with leaving all your belongings in you trunk while you go on a hike, but we risked it and nothing happened. No different from if you had a camper van. In total, we stayed in 7 different places. I switched between using Airbnb and Booking.com
Had I known how long it would take us to do our hikes and stopovers, I probably would not have stayed in Myvatn and gone straight to Akureyri (less expensive) and maybe stayed between Horgsland and Djupivogur for 2 days. This would have saved us money as well as allowed us to explore the area more.
Accommodations aren’t cheap here either. Thank goodness we were able to split the costs between 4 people.
The price of accommodation in Iceland varies on the place and time you’re visiting. Try to look for places that include breakfast or a kitchenette. Cooking at home is much less expensive than eating out.
If there’s just two of you, I would highly suggest renting a camper van. This would allow you to go at your own pace and stay longer at places you haven’t fully explored but want to and you would not have to worry about getting to your next pit stop on time.
If you’re worried about bringing over a ton of gear, most places equip their vans with stoves, coolers, a sink, cookware, blankets, etc. I would definitely check out Happy Camper if you decide to choose this route.
As much as we would have liked to camp or even rent a camper van, it was February and we all valued our privacy, a good night sleep and a private washroom. We also wanted to stay friends by the end.
By calculation, we would have saved maybe $1000 total between the 4 of us. This does not factor in the costs of camp sites.
Food and Groceries
At the grocery store, we kept it simple. We stocked up on hot dogs, spaghetti, eggs, sandwich meat, cheese, bread, and apples for the majority of our meals. We had to remember that with all the driving, we had to be smart with what foods would travel and keep well. Thank goodness it was winter because the trunk served as a great cooler!
Breakfast consisted of egg and cheese toast, lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches with apple slices, and we had pasta or soup for dinner with a side of crackers and cheese. Yes, we love our cheese.
We treated ourselves to 4 restaurant meals throughout our trip, including burgers at a gas stop. Looking back, I kind of wish we ate out a bit more and tasted more of what Iceland had to offer. You know, traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights and getting the best photos. It’s about learning the culture, meeting the people and TASTING the food!!!
Instead, by the end of the trip my friend and I became ham and cheese sandwich artists and I found a new way of cutting apples quickly and efficiently! Since then, no one in our group has eaten ham and cheese sandwiches …
- Groceries in Iceland can be expensive (do you see a theme here?). Pack a bag of snacks into your suitcase: jerky, crackers, candies, dried soup, noodles, granola bars, cereal, trail mix, tea bags (anything nonperishable and light). These snacks will be life savers on the road.
- Do you grocery shopping at Bonus supermarket. There are 32 of these discounted supermarkets across Iceland. You won’t miss the pink pig mascot!
Miscellaneous Costs: souvenirs, alcohol, tours, spas
- Purchase your alcohol duty-free. This will save you loads of money. If you’re able to find a liquor store, you’ll likely pay double.
- Bring a water bottle. You can drink water safely straight from the tap
- Blue Lagoon is not cheap. There are plenty of other geothermal spas throughout Iceland. Some are free and everything else is less expensive than Blue Lagoon. Scenery, beautiful anywhere you go!
- Iceland is a nature lovers paradise. You can pretty much do everything for free (aside from the cave tour and specialty spas)
- Read the signs and don’t get a parking ticket – most tourist sites have free parking but there are some that require a small fee
*Side note: most washrooms at each tourist site are not free so make sure to carry change with you.
Grand Total/Budget Breakdown for 9 days in Iceland
Not horrible but not great either. Looking back, I can’t see how I could have saved us much more aside from bringing more food from home, not drinking alcohol. Not including our flights, I was able to keep our 9-day Iceland trip to less than $1500
There are plenty of ways to save more money but we were comfortable with what we spent. All in all, this was a wonderful and adventurous trip that I though was well worth what we paid!
You do have the option of a self-guided tour that includes a car but it could land you $1800 CAD for 9.5 days and it doesn’t include your flight, meals and extra costs you may incur such as going to the spa or taking a cave tour.
- If after reading this post you feel like an Icelandic trip is doable (because it is very possible), read my post on the 9-day winter vacation to Iceland itinerary I made for my trip with 3 of my closest friends.
- Don’t know what to pack for you trip, check out this post: https://nomadgirlfriend.com/what-to-pack-for-iceland-in-winter-9-days/