Iceland is a dream destination. It is beautiful and has a lot to offer. It can be expensive for most. Once you are on vacation, you do not want to cut corners and that’s the normal attitude. On the other hand, you want the most out of every dollar that you spend.
Tourism accounts for more than 10% GDP of Iceland – a country of 350k residents that serve about 3 million tourists.
If you have been to Iceland then, you, perhaps, know it fully how to cut costs but there may still be some scope. No list can be comprehensive and an attempt is being made to help, the unwary.
Here are the ways you can save:
- VAT or Consumption Tax in Iceland is levied on the purchase of goods and services at 11% or 24%. If you are not a resident of Iceland, you are entitled to a refund of VAT paid during the trip. As such, you have to keep your receipts for every payment. The refund centers are located at Keflavik Airport, Seydisfjordur Port, Akureyri, and Reykjavik. Before leaving Iceland you can get this processed. At Keflavik Airport, before you proceed for security check and after collecting boarding pass, you to go to this counter.
- Fly cheap. Did you know that Icelandair offers stopovers of 1 to 7 days at no extra cost and this is offered for most transatlantic flights? You may plan to visit Iceland during a stopover. There are intelligent options for choosing luggage at the time of booking flights rather than paying higher for unplanned luggage. Please note that Icelandair has rather firm rules regarding luggage.
- Go Camping. Camping is the cheapest way to stay in Iceland. On average, it costs about US$ 11-23 per night, depending upon the vehicle or camper. For places outside the list, there is a tourist information counter in every town which may help. Use campingcard and save better.
- Travelling on your own. Renting what is known as a camper van which is smaller than the Minivan in the US. The smallest configuration has two seats and two bags. It may cost US$ 50-70 per day. There are some limitations like highlands for which one may choose a better alternative. Buy some Olis or Orkan discount gas cards to save further. On the other
hand, Public Transport or hop on and off may offer cheaper options and viable in many cases. Tour buses and guided tours may suit those who prefer not to drive. In case you have a group of 6 or even 8, it may be viable to arrange for a private tour where you hire a vehicle with a driver.
- Choice of season. June to August is the peak tourist time. Prices and rates the highest. If possible, choosing a non-peak time may result in savings.
- Book early. Last-minute bookings will cost much more in Iceland. Early booking offers better rates and terms and options.
- Insure intelligently. Having no insurance is called self-insurance. Insurance, typically, is a small fee charged for underwriting the perils or risks that you seek to cover. For most parts, insurance is for peace of mind. When you reach home, without an incident, your insurance money is well spent! However, in the case of an eventuality, your insurance cover will help you.
While in Iceland, you are subject to the laws of Iceland. In Iceland, for renting a vehicle, basic, third party liability, insurance, is mandatory. Know the deductibles and learn the cost of every risk you would like to cover and seek the best suitable balance. Also popular is the Travel insurance, which may cover part or whole of travel, medical, lost or stolen luggage cost, depending upon the kind of risk and policy you may opt.
- Pack for Iceland. Iceland is not very cold but can be wet and windy. Pack everything waterproof, rain gear. Dressing in layers may be needed. Get a waterproof cover for the smartphone. Pack your hiking shoes, binoculars, swimwear and other accessories that you own and are part of your plan. Buying these accessories in Iceland may be far more expensive. In summer months, the Sun is out for most of the time – packing sleeping eye masks, Sunglasses, a hat may be advisable. A quick-drying towel may be useful for a trip to the geothermal pool. Woolen hats of nordic design are popular with tourists with prices starting at US$ 40.
- Plan your meals. There are no cheap restaurants in Iceland but it would certainly cost less to buy pre-made sandwiches, snacks, cheese, cracker-bread, crispbreads, snack bars, Skyr (a type of yogurt). Coffee is readily available and carrying some instant coffee, may help as you can get hot water, very easily. Fish (haddock) and chips may cost US$ 25, a buffet, two-course meal may cost US$ 50-80, without drinks. IKEA in Reykjavík is a popular place to eat fresh food on a budget. Alternatives are like buying groceries at Bonus, Netto, or Kronan and cook on your own.
- Alcohol. The cheapest source is the Duty-Free shop at Keflavík International Airport, upon arrival. Do not drive with any alcohol in your system. You may get arrested as the laws are very strict.
- Water. Do not buy bottled water in Iceland. Tap water is as safe, everywhere. Carry your own water bottle.
Enjoy. The part that is so subtle – there is no admission fee to any waterfall or mountain. There is no third party contractor who will stop you from carrying your own camera and taking nice photos. Northern lights are free. Several geothermal pools are free. Have fun! Iceland is a peaceful country with a small population -let’s be good visitors. Create memories to be cherished.