Part 4 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate road trip in Iceland. We will cover every aspect – accommodation, packing, driving, shopping – of planning an unforgettable Icelandic road trip
Read Part 1 – The Ultimate Road Trip in Iceland : An Itinerary (opens in a new tab)
Read Part 2 – Accommodation : Where To Stay on your Icelandic Road Trip (opens in new tab)
Read Part 3 – Travel Fashion – What to pack for a Road Trip in Iceland (opens in new tab)
When should you visit Iceland?
The million dollar question. Although we wish there was an easy answer to this question, we’ll have to go with “It Depends”. If you are after the Northern Lights and want to avoid the crowds, you should look at visiting Iceland between September and April. Things will be cheaper too. The good thing is that most of Iceland’s Ring Road is accessible throughout the year, and so are the majestic waterfalls. But do keep in mind that days are short (very short) so you might not be able to fit much in a day.
If you want to drive through the Central Highlands and enjoy warmer weather, then you should plan a visit between end of June and August. These are the days of midnight sun and longer days will give you the flexibility of doing more things.
From our own experience, we highly recommend end of May – it’s still considered off-peak season, so prices are affordable, days are really long and most of the roads (including gravel roads) are already open. You can (and should) always get live updates about road conditions here. It saved us a lot of stress 🙂
Iceland is part of the Schengen area. If you’re a UK, EU, Australian, or US citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Iceland. Citizens of other countries need a Schengen visa to enter Iceland.
Icelandic Krona (ISK). £1 = 190 ISK (June 2014). We withdrew money from ATMs on landing in Iceland.
This is the itinerary we suggest.
Day 1 – Fly into Keflavik Airport
Day 2- The Golden Circle and Skogafoss Waterfall
Day 4- Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon, Eastern Fjords, Egilsstadir
Day 5 – Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss, Selfoss and Krafla Volcanic Area
Day 6- Grjótagjá and Dimmuborgir
Days 7 & 8 – Northern Iceland and Akureyri
Days 9 & 10 – Snaefellsnes, Grundarfjörður, and Kirkjufell mountain
Days 11, 12, and 13 – Reykjavik, Whale Watching, and caving in lava tubes
Day 14- Fly back
Recommended Reading :- The Ultimate Road Trip in Iceland : An Itinerary (opens in a new tab)
Iceland is notorious for being prohibitively expensive. While there is no denying that Iceland, like most countries in the area (Norway, Denmark, Sweden etc) is expensive, you can definitely budget your trip by spending wisely. Here are some things to keep in mind :-
- Parking is free all over Iceland (except Reykjavik), even in the most touristy areas. This offers such a respite from overpriced parking lots in Europe (We distinctly remember paying €29/day for parking in Switzerland)
- Entrance to all historical and natural sites is free in Iceland. Compare this to the rest of Europe where it can cost anywhere between €15-30 to enter a cathedral or access a waterfall
- You will struggle to find restaurants for long stretches because Iceland is sparsely populated. Stock up on your favourite eats at supermarkets, save a bunch of cash, and picnic 🙂
- Try to stock up at large supermarkets that offer good value for money. Most large supermarkets are located around Reykjavik and Akureyri.
- Netto, Krónan, and Bonus are some of the budget supermarkets in Iceland. Keep a lookout for them in urban areas
Don’t leave Iceland without trying these yummy eats
- Trying a hotdog at a gas station. At €3, it seems to be the food of choice in Iceland. Ask for one with “everything” – in Iceland this is code word for fried onions, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Nom!
- Binging on Skyr (an Icelandic dairy product, similar to strained yogurt) in every possible flavour
- Munching on an Icelandic traditional twisted donut, Kleina, with a cup of hot chocolate.
- Trying Icelandic salmon – nom!
- Picnicking in the country side with sandwiches made from Geyser bread (bread baked using the heat generated by a geyser)
What to wear
As a rule of thumb, pack good-quality outerwear, warm jumpers, 2 pairs of sturdy shoes (hiking boots and sneakers), gloves, scarves, and hats.
Recommended Reading :- Travel Fashion – What to pack for a Road Trip in Iceland (opens in new tab)
Aah! The question that everyone has been asking us ever since we returned from our Icelandic road trip. Expenses can vary vastly depending on your budget, so here we have highlighted the expenses for the kind of trip we took (2 weeks at the end of May). Please keep in mind that peak period in Iceland is from end of June to the beginning of September – this is when most tourists visit Iceland and as a result everything is really very expensive. We have summarised and broken down our expenses by type in the table below – click on each category to access detailed advice on budgeting for your Road Trip in Iceland 🙂
For a 14 day trip to Iceland, this is what you can expect to spend:
Flights: £230/person (From UK / EU)
Most international flights land at the Keflavik Airport.WOW Air, Icelandair, and EasyJet offer direct flights to Keflavik Airport from a number of cities in Europe. For e.g. Iceland is just a 3 hour flight away from London and Copenhagen. Flights start at £230/person in summer months and at £150/person in winter months.
Car: £770 – £1150 depending on car (for all passengers)
Car rental prices can vary significantly depending on the time you visit Iceland. In May, the cheapest prices for an economy car rental are £35/day and for a 4X4, £60/day. In peak summer months, you should add at least £20/day to these prices, if not more.
The type of car you should rent depends on what you are planning to do. If you are a couple and are going to stay on the Ring Road (N1), then you should be fine with a small economy car. However, if you are planning to go off the main road on gravel paths or if you are a big group, you should opt for a 4X4 for the comfort and space. The extra cost will be well worth it.
We had a Chevrolet Captiva rented from SixT and would not have it any other way – it was our mobile home for a week 😉 As for fuel, it depends on how much you drive.We drove close to 2,300 km and spent £250 on fuel.
Accommodation: £420/person (we travelled in May 2014, which is considered shoulder season – prices are higher in peak season)
We highly recommend staying with Icelandic Farm Holidays when driving around the island. Accommodation varies from rustic country hotels to picturesque self-catering cottages. Prices start from £35 per person/night for Bed and Breakfast basis and £20 per person /night for self-catering options. Please do keep in mind that we travelled in May 2014, which is the shoulder season. Prices can be significantly higher in peak season.
There is no dearth of options in Reykjavik – from luxury hotels to swanky hostels, there is something to fit everyone’s budget. We paid £35 per person/night for accommodation in Reykjavik.
Recommended reading :- Accommodation : Where To Stay on your Icelandic Road Trip
Per Day Allowance: £25/person/day
Eating out in rural Iceland can be expensive, so expect to spend around £15 for 1 main course. Enter picnics – enjoy healthy food in beautiful surroundings without spending a fortune for every meal. Having said that, you should definitely try local dishes like meat soup when you stay at rural farmhouses.
Of course, there is no shortage of dining options to suit all budgets in big cities such as Reykjavik – you can find a decent meal for £10 here. Make sure you enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Reykjavik. A pint of beer costs £5.
You must go for a glacier hike, a whale watching tour and underground lava caving tour.
Factor in around £200 / person for all these tours.
Total: Roughly £1600 per person if 2 people are sharing the car and less if there are more passengers. This figure can decrease significantly if you choose
- not to rent a car and hitchhike instead
- camp in the open instead of opting for comfortable accommodation [/tab] [tab]
And if you need more convincing to finally pack your bags and head to Iceland, then this video diary of our trip should help 😉
You can access all our articles on Iceland, including a detailed itinerary, packing list, and accommodation advice, by clicking on this link. If you have any more questions, just drop us a comment or an email 🙂
Have fun in Iceland 🙂