Traveling to Iceland might be on your bucket list but the biggest concern most people have about Iceland is the cost. Because Iceland is an island and most items are imported, it’s always been a pricier travel destination. Even more so now, with inflation. So, just how much does it cost to go to Iceland? Keep reading for a breakdown of what I spent on my four day trip to Iceland plus, updated costs for 2024.
This post contains affiliate links. That means I may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you book or buy something from a link I provide. This keeps Southerner Says online and on the road. Thank you for your support.
How Much Does it Cost to Go to Iceland?
For my Iceland trip, I wanted to enjoy myself but I also didn’t want to break the bank. And while things do cost more than many North American destinations, I personally found it to be comparable to cities like New York and Miami or even London in the UK.
Outside of hostels, hotels generally cost least $250 and up for a night. Car rentals cost more because of the liability and the potential for bad weather to cause damage. Of course, fuel cost more so there will be an expense as well.
Food in restaurants cost more but I found the food at the grocery stores to be a good deal. It works out well to stop at a grocery store not only to save some money but to have snacks on hand with restaurants are few and far between. Here’s my trip details:
- 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 Cost to go to Iceland?
I visited Iceland when I was attending a conference in upstate New York. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to fly for less while I was in the area. Tickets from the New York City area are much more affordaboe than my home airport of Atlanta. Not to mention the travel time was less flying from Newark, NJ (EWR) to Reykjavik (KEF).
Now, in 2024, ticket prices have soared. A quick search on Expedia.com shows the cheapest plane ticket, midweek for the same time of the year (September) is approximately $800-$900 USD from Atlanta on multiple airlines. A ticket from JFK in New York City is about $600 USD and flights from Boston are around $400. Clearly, departing from the northeast is best.
Depending on where you live in the United States ticket prices can vary greatly. The best advice is to be flexible with your dates and visit in the off season. Use the price tracking on Expedia or set a low price alert from Google Flights. When I decide to travel to Iceland again, I will plan a layover when I’m in route to Europe 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
How Much Does a Rental Car Cost in Iceland?
In my opinion, a rental car is the way to go 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. The only time I wouldn’t rent is if I visited in winter and wasn’t sure of the weather.
So, 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.
After looking at options, I ended up booking a small four door Fiat through Green Motion. Their office is located a couple of kilometers from the airport and staff will meet you at the airport and take you over in a shuttle van. While you wait to pick up your car, you can enjoy the comfy couches and the free lattes.
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.
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.
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
Fuel Costs in Iceland
You rental needs fuel. What does gas cost in Iceland? 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 January 2024, gas per liter is $315.82 ISK. That’s approximately $2.30 USD a liter or $8.71 USD a gallon. You can use this converter to plan your Iceland trip.
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 are Hotels in Iceland?
Accommodations for pretty much every budget are plentiful in Iceland. Even though I would have loved to have stayed in a Reykjavik 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)
What Does Food Cost in Iceland?
Since most things are imported, food can be expensive in Iceland. To save some money, purchased food and snacks at a popular grocery store called Bonus. In the states, I would compare Bonus to Aldi’s. Conveniently, there’s a Bonus located about five kilometers from the airport, on route 41 that goes to Reykjavik.
On my first stop, I bought a sandwich, some water – because I forgot my refillable bottle – and some chocolate. The sandwich was a pre-made sandwich that I wouldn’t even consider buying in the US. My first meal in Iceland wasn’t glamorous but it was cheap and helped me get on the road quickly. Lunch, my water, which ws enough for the entire trip – and the chocolate cost me $12 USD.
I did end up stopping again, at a smaller store in a rural area and then another time at a different Bonus to buy meat, cheese, crackers and more of that delicious chocolate, for the next two days.
If you opt to dine out, Reykjavik has plenty of restaurant choices but once you leave the city, the options are less and less. Even though I purchased some food for lunches and snacks, the plan was to try a few restaurants for dinner.
However, there was one night when 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 for what it was. I also stopped for a coffee and a croissant a couple of time at Gló, near my hostel.
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.
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-n-chips for lunch at on the last day $25 USD
- Total $187 USD
How Much I Spent on Activities in Iceland
When I made the decision to rent a car, I also decided I wouldn’t do any organized tours. What’s the point in renting a car if you’re going to pay someone else to take you? I already had an idea of the things I wanted to do and I figured I could just fit in what I could and save tours for the next time.
You can read more of my complete itinerary road tripping from Reykjavik but briefly here’s the highlights: I drove the entire Golden Circle, with multiple stops. I also toured the southern portion of Highway 1 or the “Ring Road” to Jokulsarlon or Glacier Lagoon and visited Diamond Beach. Just that alone is approximately five hours, one way, from Reykjavik.
I spent two different half days exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula and I wandered around Reykjavik. Everything I did was free and the only time I paid for parking was in 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 and it just never worked out. Next time.
What I spent on activities in Iceland:
Calculating the Cost for a Trip to Iceland
So, how much does it cost to go to Iceland? For one person I spent just over $1000 USD for four days. 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.
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
My Final Thoughts on How Much Does it Cost to Go To Iceland
Unfortunately, due to inflation, the cost of traveling to Iceland is definitely more 2024 since airfare, rentals and fuel have gone up. However, I still believe you get your money’s worth.
If you consider the destination and exactly what you are investing, I don’t know of another country, for that cost, where you can experience the unique things Iceland has to offer. It’s a wonderful place and worth every penny in my opinion. And yes, I would do it all over again tomorrow. Are you ready to plan a trip to Iceland?
See you on the road!