Europe, Iceland, Travel

How To Do A 10-Day Icelandic Road Trip With A $1000 Budget


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.

Car Rental

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.



Europe, Iceland, Photography, Travel

Photography Paradise? These Photos Will Make You Fly to Iceland Right Now



Walk between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates at Thingvellir National Park


You can even choose to dive between the plates at Silfra.


Visit Geyser to experience the strong sulphur smell yet mind-blowing eruptions.


Join the wait with people for the the regular eruptions.


Walk behind a waterfall without feeling dangerous


And Seljalandsfoss is one of the few where you can do that.


Stay in few available hotels and wake up to the incredible scenery all around. 


Every town in Iceland has their unique churches, a perfect example of where simplicity is beautiful.


Go troll-hunting inside the crack of the mountain – Raudfeldar Canyon


And here is how it looked like from the crack in the mountain.


Drive down the dramatic coastline with the feeling that those roads belong to you.


Pick up a pair of binoculars and spot seals at Osar.



Do not forget these beautiful Icelandic horses when you are engrossed in the nature. They can be found all over Iceland. 

Talk a stroll around Reykjavik to see what tourism has brought to Iceland.


A postcard-perfect shot of Kirkjufell mountain.


Aurora borealis sightings are plentiful from Autumn to Spring.


Sometimes you are left wonder if you are on another planet?


Take your pick of which waterfall to see.


Every waterfall is beautiful in its own right in Iceland.


You can’t miss out the hot springs in Iceland. Myvatn Nature baths is a good option other than the Blue Lagoon.


Spotted a waterfall from Highway 1?


Don’t worry because you can hike to the top somehow. That’s just how incredible Iceland is.


Even the roads are beautiful.


Icebergs at Jökulsárlón all year round. Feels like you are deep in the Artic.


Salmon farms right in the fjords.


Seydisfjordur harbour is good for a walk to see what’s there to offer in this artistic town.


This is the church in town.


The best ice-cream in Iceland is Brynja, located in Akureyri. My Airbnb apartment is just right above the store.




Snæfellsnes Peninsula



The streets in Akureyri are creative and beautiful.


Couldn’t get enough of waterfalls.


Enjoy the naturally-formed sea sculptures at Snæfellsnes Peninsula.


Visit Halldorskaffi restaurant in Vik to get a taste of authentic Icelandic cuisine.


Start your day off with Icelandic yogurt, Skyr. It is one of the best tasting greek yogurt in the world. This breakfast is provided at Kosy Vik Guesthouse which I would highly recommend to everyone.


The church in Vik is the highest point where you can catch a good view of the city.


These felt like a mattress bed, the unique terrain and climate of Iceland allow them to thrive.


Fjadrargljufur Canyon, I would totally miss this out if weren’t for the fantastic guide by Kosy Vik Guesthouse owner.


You can even hike the canyon floor.

Roads are like nowhere else.


Drove past this waterfall while going up to Snæfellsjökull, it made me stopped in my tracks.


Another coastal walk in Snæfellsnes Peninsula




These sheeps are cute but they are farmed to be served on the dining tables.


View from the top of Skogafoss


The viewing platform




The famous black beach at Vik has beautiful sunsets.


Caught this right outside my apartment!

Europe, Iceland, Travel

The Ultimate 10 Day Road Trip Itinerary Around Iceland


Welcome to The Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is known for its extreme landscapes from volcanoes to glaciers.

If you are wondering whether to travel around Iceland in a clockwise or anticlockwise manner, my advice is to plan according to the weather forecast. I did my ring road in the anti-clockwise direction, it was random because I had to book accommodations in advance. I came across my fair share of good and bad weather. Check out my 10-Day Icelandic Road Trip with $1000.

The ideal Ring Road trip is to get as much sunny days and clear nights as possible. This is so that the attractions can be enjoyed in the day and aurora borealis in the night. The objective is to align the clear nights with a strong KP index outlook. With that, the battle is half-won. Witnessing the aurora borealis is easy in Iceland because it is strategically located in the North. My favourite sites to get aurora and weather forecast are from Aurora Forecast for Europe and Iceland Met Office. They are pretty accurate, especially for predictions within 3 days.

My trip was done around the middle till the end of September. I recommend the shoulder seasons because not only you get the chance to see the aurora borealis, the weather is much milder.


The Ring Road covers around 2500km, including all the detours for attractions along the way. This amount will increase significantly if you plan to cover North-East Iceland, specifically Ísafjörður. Route 1 is the main highway to be on for this round island drive. South-Iceland is notorious for sand storms and remember to check the forecast before travel. Many roads are closed during winter, even during shoulder months. I encountered one road closure (F570) due to snow conditions at Snæfellsjökull in September. North Iceland is generally colder than other parts.


Out of my 10 nights in Iceland, 9 nights were in Airbnb apartments. They usually offer a fully equipped kitchen with the whole apartment where you can cook your own meals, this is a plus if you do not want to dine out. I was traveling in a group of three and the average cost per night for one person was around USD40. There are not much Airbnb options out of Reykjavik so there is a need to book early. Otherwise, the options left are guesthouses and hotels which cost alot more. A more adventurous option is to go for camper vans where cooking essentials and bedding are provided. These vans usually cater for 2 pax or more.

If you are a first time user of Airbnb, use my link to get a USD33 credit which can be used for your bookings. By doing so, I get a credit of USD20 too. It helps to sustain me longer on the road to create content for my readers.

For my readers’ benefit, here is the list of Airbnbs that I stayed in.



Eyrarbakki (currently not available but the host might open it up again)




Airbnb cottages at Egilsstaðir


Icelandair is the main airline and they offer good prices when booked in advance. I paid USD180 for a round trip from London with 23kg check-in luggage included. I checked a closer date and found that the prices were almost double. Renting a car provides the best experience for exploring Iceland. The preferred option is to choose a car rental company that is within walking distance from Keflavik International Airport. Among the many notorious car reviews online, I found Blue Car Rental to be decent and it indeed, lived up to my expectations. The thing I like about this company is that their fleet usually consist of new cars. They upgraded me with a in-built GPS and a 4WD vehicle. I got a 2016 Kia Sportage with a 2.0 diesel engine. Diesel engines are more fuel-efficient and marginally cheaper than petrol. Most F-roads in Iceland only allow 4WD vehicles and rental companies do not allow 2WD to go on F-roads. I recommend to pay a little more for 4WD to enjoy more freedom with road options. My 10-day rental cost USD850 and I consider it a steal. Most places in Iceland, including gas stations accept credit card for payment. But some unattended gas stations only accept cards with a 4-digit PIN. Most European-issued credit and debit cards can be used at these gas stations. Credit and debit cards from Singapore do not work because they are usually issued with a 6-digit PIN. The option I found to be useful is to get a prepaid card loaded. There are various denominations to choose from, depending on the gas station. N1 is the most common around Iceland but is generally the most expensive one, hence I prefer Orkan.



If you are staying in places with cooking facilities or having your own camper vans, there are a few supermarkets in Iceland to choose from. The most popular and wallet-friendly option is Bónus. But I realize that their opening hours do not go beyond 6.30pm. Krónan is a good alternative too. They usually have a bigger selection than Bónus for fresh meat. So plan your itinerary to visit one of these before the closing time. The more expensive option but operating 24/7 outlets is Hagkaup.


Grab one of these Icelandic yogurt

Mobile Card

If you are traveling the Ring Road, I highly recommend Síminn prepaid. It has one of the best signal coverage in Iceland. I was connected under 4G or 3G for more than 95% of the time, making me wonder how well Icelandic lines are laid all over this sparsely populated country. Prepaid lines in the US and UK usually do not have good connections outside of cities. I took the deluxe package which cost ISK2990 (USD26) for 100min of talk time, 100 sms and 1GB of data. I ended up not utilizing much of the the sms or talk time (well it was meant for emergency).

Day 1: Reykjavik

Get on an earlier flight, either connecting from Europe or North America and try to reach before 3pm. That leaves you with a night to explore Reykjavik and start off fresh the next day. Do not miss out Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur which was covered by The Guardian as Europe’s best hot dog stand. Visit Hallgrímskirkja at night, it is one of Reykjavik’s most outstanding landmarks.

Spend the night at Reykjavik.




Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

Day 2: The Golden Circle

Start the day by heading to Þingvellir National Park where the Earth’s tectonic plates meet. You have the option to go diving in between the plates at Silfra. This is the only place in Iceland where I had to pay for parking except for city areas. It cost ISK500 for up to 24 hours of parking access around the national park. I consider Iceland to be overwhelmed by tourism when parking fees are introduced at natural attractions. Continue on to Geysir and Strokkur where there are geothermal eruptions every few minutes. End the day by witnessing the impressive Gullfoss, add in Kerio Crater Lake if you still have some daylight left. There are plenty of shops and restaurants around. I chose to stay at Eyrarbakki which is about 15 minutes away by car from Selfoss because I found a cozy Airbnb loft there.

Spend the night at Selfoss or Eyrarbakki.



Always have an umbrella or raincoat/waterproof jacket with you in Iceland.





Strokkur erupting behind me


Day 3: More Waterfalls And Black Beach

Continue on Route 1 and head to Seljalandfoss where you can take the trail that leads to the back of the waterfall. There is a nearby waterfall named Gljúfrafoss, which is about 400 metres away. It is much less touristy and definitely worth the walk from Seljalandfoss. There is an opening in the rocks where you can walk into the waterfall itself. It is a perfect for a Insta-worthy shot but be prepared to get wet. Complete the waterfall hat-trick by visiting Skogafoss. You have an option to head to the famous Sólheimasandur plane wreck to see the US airplane that crash-landed there in 1973. But the road has been closed recently, the only option is to park the car off Route 1 and take the 8km round trip to the plane wreck by foot. End the day with the gorgeous sunset at Reynisdrangar which is famous for the basalt sea stacks and black sand beach. There is a nice spot in Vik where the church is located to catch a nice view of the town.

Spend the night at Vik.










Top of Skogafoss






Sunset at Reynisdrangar


View of Vik from the church lookout

Day 4: Skaftafell National Park And Glacier Lagoon

The Airbnb host at Vik highly recommended us to head to Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. It became one of the most beautiful places of my trip. Both amateur and expert hikers will love Skaftafell National Park. It is located at the southern part of the magnificent Vatnajökull Glacier. There are plenty of hiking routes available, ranging from 2 hours to over 10 hours. Those that want to do some serious exploring can spend an additional night there. Carry on to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon where you can witness one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Hofn is known as the lobster capital of Iceland. From here, there is a beautiful view of the Vatnajökull Glacier.

Spend the night at Hofn.



Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon


Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon


Day 5: Eastern Fjords

The fantastic driving scene through the eastern fjords starts shortly after leaving Hofn. The amount of cars and people reduce drastically as you continue eastwards because most people would have u-turned back to Reykjavik. You will be weaving in and out of the dramatic coastline with black sandy beaches. There are chances of reindeer passing on the roads so look out for them. Be sure to visit Seydisfjordur for its beautiful town, it is just located 30 minutes away by car from the capital of East Iceland, Egilsstaðir. I caught my first aurora in a farm cottage near Egilsstaðir that was booked through Airbnb, it was phenomenal.

Spend the night at Seydisfjordur or Egilsstaðir area.





Stop whenever you like along the Eastern Fjords, every stop is beautiful.



The dramatic coastline



Aurora just right outside the cottage


Relationship goals!

Day 6 and 7: Myvatn Area And Akureyki

Time for huge waterfalls as you progress northwards toward Akureyki. Visit Dettifoss which has the largest volume of water flowing through in Europe, there is a side visit to Selfoss (not the city) from the same parking area. There are two sides of Dettifoss which are accessible by two different roads off from Route 1. When you have seen enough waterfalls, proceed to Myvatn geothermal area for Hveraröndor Hverir (mud pots) and nature baths. The mud pots have very strong sulphur smell and the surrounding gives you the feeling of being on Mars. Myvatn Nature Baths is much less touristy than Blue Lagoon and also costs lesser. Lake Myvatn is a perfect place to see the aurora borealis because the lake shows the reflection if there are aurora activities. This is absolutely beautiful on camera. After staying and moving everyday, consider spending two days at Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland. It is the second largest city after Reykjavik with plenty of things to do. Akureyri tops Lonely Planet’s list of ten best places to visit in Europe 2015. There are many nice restaurants here that serves authentic Icelandic food but they are much cheaper than in Reykjavik. Bautin has good reviews and I can vouch for it personally. The botanical garden is a nice place, especially in summer when everything is in full bloom. Akureyrarkirkja is the church designed by Guðjón Samúelsson which sits on top of a hill in the city. The same guy designed the famous Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik. Book a whale-watching tour in Akureyki or Husavik which guarantees more than 99% chance of whale sighting.

Spend two nights at Husavik or Akureyri, or one night at each place for the experience.




Hveraröndor Hverir



Myvatn Nature Baths




Aurora nights over Akureyri


Whale you eat me?


Try Bautin restaurant while you are in Akureyri.

Day 8: Seals Watch And Lots Of F-Roads

Take a long drive to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with plenty to see along the way. The Vatnsnes peninsula has a few spots for seals watching and one of best is at Osar. Be prepared to get the car muddy because of the gravel mud roads for the most parts of this peninsula. There are water sprays with brush head at gas stations to make your job of cleaning the car much easier after.

Spend two nights at Stykkishólmur or Grundarfjörður to explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Both towns are equally unique in their own ways.


Always stop for shots because Iceland is really beautiful among the nothings.


Do not miss out the close encounters with these Icelandic horses. You can see them just right off Route 1 in the farms.

Day 9: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Depending on where you stay, you can do the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in a anti-clockwise or clockwise manner. Visit Kirkjufell, the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Along the same road, you can get to Kirkjufellsfoss and take that trademark waterfall plus mountain postcard shot. Afterwards, proceed to Snæfellsjökull National Park where the magnificent Snæfellsjökull Glacier lies. The road leading up to the glacier is usually open during summer but it was impassable due the icy pass, even in September. From the high point near the summit, there are good views of the nearby towns. This active volcano provided the setting for Jules Vernes’ famous Journey to the Center of the Earth. At the foot of Snæfellsjökull lies Djúpalónssandur, the sandy beach which was once home to fishing boats. Hellnar and Arnarstapi are both old fishing towns which have walking trails between them right beside the coast. Talk a walk and you will not be disappointed. For photographers, do not miss out the black church in Budir where you have the snow mountains as the backdrop. Head back to the lodging town and be prepared for the drive back to Reykjavik.


Kirkjufellsfoss with Kirkjufell in the backdrop



The road ahead was covered with snow.


Hotel Hellnar with Snæfellsjökull Glacier in the background


Budir Church

Day 10: Reykjavik

You have an option to head to Langjokull Glacier for a detour before heading back to Reykjavik or reach Reykjavik early to spend the remaining time there. Take a leisure walk around the city centre and soak up the local vibes. Consider visiting Harpa which is the concert and meeting hall and it has a unique design.


Harpa from the harbour


The Sun Voyager is a good place to take pictures of the aurora borealis because the icon serves as good foreground.


I couldn’t forget the geomagnetic storm that was raging in my last night at Reykjavik!


This is my itinerary so far, so readers feel free to amend it to suit your needs. I am happy to answer anything via Facebook page. Friends, you can just drop me a message. Meanwhile, I hope this post is helpful to future travellers to plan their Iceland trip.