Now that the aurora season is coming to an end in the Northern Hemisphere, it may be good news for another group of adventure seekers to experience the midnight sun in Iceland. Personally, I like shoulder seasons such as October and April where I can get a combination of both aurora hunting and day activities. Ever since my last post on my Icelandic itinerary, I have got more than an average number of adventurers asking me about the budget breakdown for my trip. For the benefit of those and potentially more, I decided to come up with a budget guide to traveling Iceland. Take a look at my photography entry of Iceland.
Personally, I find the Airbnb options out of Reykjavik pretty limited but they provide very good value for money if you manage to book a reasonably priced apartment. Out of the 10 nights I had in Iceland, 9/10 of those were in Airbnb (the 1/10 was due to overbooking). And out of these 9 nights, 8 of those were private apartments. Be prepared to fork out about USD110 to USD150 per night for the whole apartment (triple sharing basis). Book well ahead for South Iceland towns such as Hofn and Vik because they are priced much steeper due to their distance from Reykjavik. They are well within reach for people just doing the Golden Circle route, hence tends to be more touristy. Even though my most expensive Airbnb booking costing USD210 per night was actually for a guesthouse at Vik, it was a very good experience with a fantastic Icelandic breakfast provided. For first time users of Airbnb, you can click on my link to get USD33 off your first booking, more if you start hosting others (I get USD33 too if you sign up via this link).
- 10 nights at USD1300 for 3 pax, comes to about USD40 a day for each person.
Aurora display right outside my Airbnb apartment!
These three cottages are listed on Airbnb at Egilsstaðir where I caught my first ever aurora sighting.
The key to having an enjoyable and fruitful Icelandic road trip is to engage a good car rental company. Personally, I would recommend Blue Car Rental because this was the only one I used and found it to be perfect for my trip. It comes with unlimited mileage, CDW, TP, GP, SCDW insurance and taxes. Consider adding Sand And Ash Protection (SAAP) if you are traveling in seasons with high winds forecast. However, this can add up the cost of car rental significantly. I did not opt for it and simply took extra precautions while traveling. Sand storms are common in South Iceland and do not attempt to drive through it, turn back instead. The majority of parking spots in Iceland are free except in parts of cities and Þingvellir National Park at the time of writing.
- 10 days rental at USD850 and total cost of diesel at USD200 for about 2,500km miles driven, comes to about USD35 a day for each person.
A reliable car can make a difference to your Icelandic trip
I cooked most of my meals at Airbnb apartments and spent a few nights eating out at Icelandic restaurants to try out their local dishes. The cost of food is definitely not on the cheap side in Iceland, so trips to the supermarket can greatly help to budget your spending. Refer to my previous post for information on groceries. Notice how the expenses for two meals eating out can be more than the rest of the food expenses for the whole trip.
- USD210 for groceries expenses and USD270 for two dinner at Icelandic restaurants, comes to about USD16 a day for each person.
The famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (best hotdog in the world and probably the most expensive too)
Icelandic sim card Síminn can be obtained for about USD26 at the airport. Factor in additional budget for Blue Lagoon/Myvatn Nature Baths and other touristy activities such as whale watch. The good news is that national parks and aurora watching are free (which is why most people travel to Iceland in the first place). You can choose to take out accommodation by renting campervan or motorhomes.
Final breakdown based on triple sharing
Car: USD 850 (ISK96,500)
Gas for 2500 km: USD 200
Parking: USD 4.5
Airbnb and guesthouse for 10 nights: USD 1,300
Data plan: USD 26
Food: USD 480
Myvatn Nature Baths: USD 81
Total: USD 2,941.50
The average total cost per person comes to about USD98 each day. This excludes the price of air ticket to get to Iceland, depending on which country you are flying from and also travel insurance which I always advise fellow travellers to purchase. Read about the comparison for travel insurance, specifically if you are from the US. I know of people who spend more or less, much to their own traveling preference. For such a fantastic experience and trip of a lifetime, it is definitely worth it.