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In the last few years, Iceland has jumped straight to the number one country on almost everyone’s bucket list. With its insane landscapes, friendly locals and incredible natural phenomenons (did someone say hot springs?), it’s no wonder we’re all jumping on the plane to Reykjavik. Time and time again though I hear the same criticism of this beautiful country: it’s just too damn expensive. Well… yes, you will be paying a little more for your fermented shark (Iceland’s National dish) than your typical food in somewhere like South East Asia or Eastern Europe, but don’t let that stop you! If you’re looking to travel this amazing country without the expensive price tag, then we’ve got you covered! There are plenty of amazing experiences to be had in Iceland on a budget – even some that won’t even cost you one Icelandic Krona.
Put DOWN that bottle of Voss! Not only can you drink the water in Iceland, but you should! Iceland’s water is so pure that you can pretty much drink straight from any free-flowing stream you come across. Ok, so I’m no scientist, but my understanding is that it’s alkaline water, which means it has a pH level above 7 and will keep that body of yours healthy AF! It’s not chemically purified as that’s already covered by the lava filtration. So ditch the expensive bottles and get back to nature.
If you’ve done your research on Iceland you’ve definitely put the Golden Circle on your To Do List! What a lot of people don’t know though is that all three attractions that make up the Golden Circle are actually free. To save on costs, get some of your hostel buddies together and hire a car for the day. You’ll drastically cut down on your spending and still get to see Geysers erupt, Waterfall’s creating rainbows and incredible sunrises over the Thingvellir National Park free from entry costs!
If you’re planning on trying out some of Iceland’s local bars, you’ll be surprised to discover that alcohol is quite expensive. That’s because drinks of the boozy variety are heavily taxed, which isn’t great news for budget travellers. So what can you do? Buying a bottle Duty-Free (either at your departure airport or when you arrive at Keflavík) is your best option, as it means you can have a drink or two before you go out. Alternatively, keep an eye out for bars with Happy Hour – as long as you’re aged over 20. Yup, Iceland’s drinking age doesn’t extend to 18 or 19 year-olds, but at least you’ll save more money this way.
You’ve probably seen the ridiculously picturesque pools from the famous Blue Lagoon Hot Springs. While these springs will take your breath away, they’ll also get in the way of your plan to explore Iceland on a budget. Why not ditch the expensive man-made pools and immerse yourself in a free natural hot spring instead? The country is littered with plenty of completely free thermal springs. My favourite natural spring is Landbrotalaug, located about 2 hours north of Reykjavik. Here you’ll find one small, deep spring that looks a bit like you’re soaking in a witch’s cauldron and a second larger, shallower spring. If you’re lucky and no one is around you can go al naturale… Just make sure you can grab your clothes easily in case a big group of Russian men rock up. That was awkward for all involved.
You didn’t expect me to write about only one hot spring now did you? Located between Langjökull and Hofsjökul glaciers you’ll find Hveravellir, a unique nature reserve with a man-made pool heated by volcanic activity. This geothermal pool is just sitting in the middle of nowhere, which gives it this mysterious and enchanting vibe. The beautiful water colour is almost begging you to jump in and enjoy the natural heating! You can fit about 20 people in here, so get a road trip going with your new hostel buddies and soak up those medicinal properties in the water. Perfect for curing the hangover caused by too much Brennivín, Iceland’s signature liquor.
If you find yourself in Reykjavik over the weekend, stop by Kolaportid Flea Market! Flea markets are one of my favourite places to people watch and stroll around looking at all the weird and wonderful things people have collected. It’s also one of the best ways to see Iceland on a budget, because it’s free! Pick yourself up a genuine Icelandic sweater, find a vintage hat or check out the hand-made jewellery. It’s all undercover which makes it the perfect rainy day activity. There’s a food area in the same building where you can sample delicious items like black lava salt or kleinur (Icelandic donut). It’s also the best place to buy your fermented shark, because you know, when in Iceland…