Traveling to Iceland might be on your bucket list but the biggest thing that most people worry about when planning a trip to Iceland is money. They’ve already heard that it’s expensive. Especially now. The pandemic has affected the prices of just about everything. There also aren’t as many low cost carriers flying to Iceland from the United States as there were before. So, just how much does it cost to go to Iceland? Keep reading because I’m breaking down the cost of my four day trip to Iceland and updating the cost for 2022.
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Exactly How Much Does it Cost to Go to Iceland?
While Iceland is a bit pricey, I personally found the cost to be comparable to cities like New York or London. On my trip, I wanted to enjoy myself and not feel deprived but I also didn’t want to break the bank. I stayed in a hostel to save some money since I was traveling solo and I also bought some food. Mainly because I was driving a lot and there weren’t always restaurants and places to eat around. Here’s what I spent.
The Details of My Iceland Trip
- Month of visit – September
- How many people traveling – just me
- Time Spent in Iceland – 4 days
- Transportation – rental car
- Worth it? – absolutely!
How Much Does a Plane Ticket to Iceland Cost?
Fyi: WOW Airlines is no longer in business
To get to Iceland, I flew WOW from from Newark, NJ (EWR) to Reykjavik (KEF). I had been attending a conference in upstate New York. Since it was cheaper to fly to Iceland from the northeast than my home airport of Atlanta, I took advantage of the lower fares and less travel time.
But ticket prices have changed drastically during and after the pandemic. After a quick search on Expedia.com, the cheapest plane ticket, midweek – a month in advance, is approximately $900 USD, from Atlanta via multiple airlines. A ticket from JFK in New York City is $550 USD and Boston is around $500. Clearly, departing from the northeast is best. Plus, prices from Atlanta always tend to be a little more expensive.
Depending on where you live in the U.S. ticket prices can vary greatly. Hopefully, things will return to normal and better prices after the pandemic. When I decide to travel to Iceland again, to save money, I will plan on going when I’m in route to somewhere else in Europe and do a layover or I’ll travel when I’m already in the northeast like I did this time.
Sadly – even though it’s pretty irrelevant at this point – here’s what I spent on my plane ticket to Iceland:
- Round trip to Reykjavik from Newark, $219.98 USD
- Regular window seat, $7.99 USD each way
- Carry on, $49.99 USD each way USD
- Total $335.94 USD
Rental Car Cost in Iceland
In my opinion, a rental car is a necessity in Iceland. With expensive taxis, no rideshares and limited public transportation around Reykjavik – if you want to really see the island, you need a car. After I booked my plane ticket, I began to research tours. Even though prices were reasonable, the more I looked, the more it became clear that I would never be able to see what I wanted to see in four days with group tours alone. I decided to rent a car and drive myself. Best decision ever.
My Rental Car
Right after I booked my ticket with WOW, I received an email from them with special rental car offers. I immediately booked a small four door Fiat through Green Motion. Green Motion’s office is located a couple of kilometers from the airport. Staff will meet you in front of the airport and take you to the office in a shuttle van. At the office, I did have to wait a little while for my my car since they were very busy that morning. But the comfy couches and the free lattes made waiting easier.
To save money on a rental vehicle – and just in general – it’s best to plan to visit Iceland in the spring or fall. That’s low season and the weather is milder. That means a four wheel drive vehicle, which is usually more expensive, shouldn’t be necessary. In September, I had no issues getting around in my little Fiat in rain and even a bit of sleet.
Southerner Says: many of the small cars in Iceland have manual transmissions. If you don’t know how to drive a manual make sure your vehicle is an automatic when you book it. There were a couple of people there that most clearly did not know how to drive a manual but that’s all that was available.
Car Insurance in Iceland
When I picked up my rental car in Iceland, I did end up spending a bit more money on insurance than I had anticipated. Why? Because, I decided to play it safe and purchase the full coverage insurance the agency offered.
The reason is Iceland is a very windy country. The insurance on basic policies don’t include damage due to blowing sand and ash. Yes, that’s a thing. Broken headlights, broken windshields, damage to the undercarriage and tire damage aren’t covered either.
Unsure of what exactly my credit card would cover in case of an incident, I ended up purchasing a policy that included everything except the doors being blown off by the wind. And it was explained to me that no one covers that – ever. Also, not that I was planning on doing anything stupid, but my piece of mind and not having to worry about any of these things happening, was more important that my wallet.
All in all, I spent a little over a $100 USD a day for the car. That’s not cheap, but it’s also not the most I’ve ever paid for a rental either. I paid over $100 USD a day, for a car in Boston one summer – pre pandemic – and that didn’t include fuel.
Renting a vehicle was the best thing I could have done. Having a rental really maximized my four days in Iceland. I saw way more of Iceland driving myself than I could have seen on tours.
Unfortunately, the price of rental cars has also increased. A quick search for September of 2022 shows that this same car at Green Motion – with the insurance – would cost about double what I paid. Here’s exactly what I spent.
- Four day rental, $117 USD
- Extra Insurance, $167 USD
- Total $278 USD
How Much Does Gas Cost in Iceland?
You rental needs fuel. What does gas cost in Iceland? Well, in the U.S. fuel prices are priced by the gallon. In Iceland, it’s per liter. The first time you see the price in Icelandic Krona (ISK) at a gas station you’ll freak out a little. For reference, there are 3.785 liters in a gallon.
I paid $233.3 ISK per liter for gas. That’s about $2.11 USD. There are 3.785 liters in a gallon so you are looking at about $7.50 USD per gallon. As of May 2022, gas per liter is $294.786 ISK. That is approximately $2.28 USD a liter or $8.65 USD a gallon.
In four days I drove 1000 miles and went just about everywhere I wanted to go. I spent approximately $150 USD on gas. By my calculations, I would have spent at least $300 USD just on on basic tours.
What I spent on gas in Iceland:
- Gas $150 USD
How Much Hotels Cost in Iceland?
Accommodations for pretty much every budget are plentiful in Iceland. Even though, I would have loved to have stayed in a hotel or a cozy cabin somewhere, it just wasn’t doable this time since I was traveling alone. When I researched hotels for September – in the low season – the prices were just top much for me as a single traveler. I decided a hostel would be my best bet.
Since there are quite a lot of affordable hostels in Reykjavik to choose from, I considered the location to help me make a decision. An all female room is also important to me. B14 Hostel had everything I needed.
B14 is conveniently located in Reykjavik but not right in the city center. This was convenient since I would be taking the freeway out of the city to road trip around. However, it was easy to go downtown, as well . Another bonus of this hostel is the free parking.
Hostels might not be for everyone but in a place like Iceland, it’s perfect. Especially if you are a solo traveler. I was so busy, I was only at the hostel to sleep. It’s a great way to save a bit of money. If you still aren’t sold on a hostel, B14 also has a few private rooms and even a guesthouse and an apartment in another location in downtown Reykjavik.
What I spent on my accommodations in Iceland:
- Room $35.04 USD x 3 nights
- Tax and fees $12.72 USD
- Total $117.84 USD
(Price was for three nights because I had a 9pm flight the last night)
How Much Does Food Cost in Iceland?
Food can be expensive in Iceland. But there are a few things you can do to save some money. To offset the cost of my rental car and fuel for just me by myself, and because it was more convenient when you are in the middle of no where, I decided to purchase food at a grocery store so I would always have food with me.
After I picked up my rental car, I went to a Bonus grocery store in a nearby town. In the states, I would compare Bonus to an Aldi’s. There’s one located about five kilometers from the airport, on route 41 that goes to Reykjavik. I didn’t even think about taking a cooler with me but next time, I would take a small foldable one so I could really stock up on food.
At Bonus, I bought a sandwich, some water – because I forgot my refillable bottle – and some chocolate I had read was good. The sandwich was a pre-made sandwich. In the states, I wouldn’t even consider buying something like that but it looked good and it was. My first meal in Iceland wasn’t glamorous but it was cheap and helped me get on the road quickly. Lunch, water – enough for the entire trip – and chocolate cost me $12 USD.
I ended up stopping again, at a store in the country to buy meat, cheese, crackers, chips and yes, more chocolate, for the next two days.
Eating Out in Iceland
In Reykjavik there are plenty of restaurant choices for any budget but once you leave the city and other smaller towns, the options are less and less.
Even though I was trying to save money on food, I also wanted to try a few restaurants. I ended up eating the food I purchased at the grocery store during the day and then eating dinner out at a restaurant. Mostly. There was one night that I waited too late to find something open and ended up buying a burrito from a to-go place in an N1 gas station. Like all things Icelandic – it was really good.
I also I stopped for a coffee and a croissant a couple of time at Gló, which was near my hostel. I could have eaten the cereal or oatmeal that was included in the cost of the hostel but I love a good coffee in the morning and Iceland lattes are really good.
All in all, I was pleased with my food plan. It wasn’t much different than the way I eat on my road trips in the states. The restaurants I went to definitely weren’t gourmet but I don’t eat gourmet when I travel at home either.
Alcohol in Iceland
I love craft beer so brewpubs are something I usually search for on my travels. I found one in Vik and stopped there as I was passing through. Beer was around $10 for 12 oz, so I limited myself to just one, not only because of the price but also because I was driving.
Alcohol is pricey in Iceland. So if you want save even more money, just don’t drink any or find a happy hour if you are staying in Reykjavik.
What I spent on food in Iceland:
- Pizza and one beer at Eldofninn in Reykjavik night 1 dinner $33 USD
- Burrito at Serrano at an N1 gas station night 2 dinner $14 USD
- Burger and one beer at Smidjan Brugghus in Vik night 3 dinner $37 USD
- Chicken pasta salad and wine from Mathus at the airport night 4 dinner $24 USD
- Food from Bonus and other stores $30 USD
- Coffee and breakfasts $30 USD
- Fish and chips for lunch the last day $19 USD
- Total $187 USD
How Much Money I Spent in Iceland on Activities
When I made the decision to rent a car, I also decided I wouldn’t do any paid tours. What’s the point in renting a car if you are going to pay someone else to carry you around, right? I already had an idea of what I wanted to see and do and I figured I could work it out, hit the highlights and save tours for the next time.
Briefly, here’s what I did: drove the entire Golden Circle, with multiple stops. I also drove the southern portion of Highway 1 or the “Ring Road” to Jokulsarlon or the Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. That’s about five hours one way from Reykjavik. I spent two half days exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula and I wandered around Reykjavik. Everything I did was free. The only time I paid for parking was in Reykjavik.
For a detailed itinerary of my trip read: Four Days in Iceland Itinerary| Road Tripping From Reykjavik
One thing I didn’t have a chance to do – that I really had planned on doing – was hot springs. I went to the Blue Lagoon on the first day but it was super crowded. Then I thought I would try some other hot springs or come back to the Blue Lagoon but it just never worked out. Next time.
What I spent on activities in Iceland:
Calculating Out How Much Money You Need for Iceland in 2022
So, how much does it cost to go to Iceland? For a solo traveler, for four days, adding everything up, I spent just over $1000 USD. I realize that’s kind of expensive at $250 a day. However, keep in mind, I was alone. If I’d had someone with me, then we could’ve split the car expenses and that would have saved some money. The same goes for accommodations. I could have upgraded to a hotel or Airbnb and have probably spent about the same if I was sharing with someone.
I know cost is more in 2022 since airfare, rentals and fuel have gone up. I still think it’s traveling to Iceland is a good return. If you consider the destination and exactly what you are spending your money on – I don’t know of another country – for that cost – where you can experience the unique things you can only experience in Iceland. It’s a wonderful place and worth every penny in my opinion. And yes, I would do it all over again tomorrow.
Here’s the final breakdown of how much money I spent in Iceland:
- $336 USD ticket to Icleand
- $435 USD car rental and insurance
- $118 USD accomodations for three nights
- $187 USD food
- $0 tours
- Total $1076
Can US Citizens Travel to Iceland in 2022?
Iceland Packing List
- The weather changes in a snap. Have a rain jacket or poncho for pop-up showers even in warmer months.
- I packed a rain jacket and a warmer, packable coat.
- Bring a cover or plastic for your camera or phone.
- A small packable tripod for video and photographing the Northern Lights is essential.
- A waterproof bag, backpack or fanny pack is a good idea. I purchased one on my last day at an outdoor store in Reykjavik and I wished I had it with me the whole time.
- A microfiber towel is helpful for drying off on when you get back in the vehicle. Even something dry to sit on is useful.
- Waterproof shoes like Blundstones are best. I wore boots the entire time.
- I’ve seen lots of questions about what kind of pants to wear. I didn’t wear waterproof pants. I wore leggings the entire time and they worked for me because they dry quickly. Don’t wear jeans since they take forever to dry and they are so heavy but the most affordable waterproof pants are these from Academy Sports.
- It can get very windy so bring along a hat or a beanie to keep your ears warm.
- A pillow for sleeping on the plane. This is the one I carry everywhere
- Good earbuds
- Carry an electrical outlet converter for European standards
Are you ready to plan a trip to Iceland? Here are some of the best resources to help you plan:
- For flight info and ticket prices for Iceland shop Skyscanner.com, Kayak or Google Flights
- To book a package with a flight and a car all at once use Expedia.com.
- My absolute favorite website for hotels, hostels and even some long term stays is Booking.com.
- To check out home stays and long term places try VRBO.com.
- For cars and vehicle rentals – Rentalcars.com.
- See real reviews and what other travelers are saying at Tripadvisor.com.
- For local tours & experiences use the helpful Viator.com
- And finally, one of the most important pieces of your travel plans is travel insurance. Browse a variety of options at TravelInsurance.com.