There are so many things written about Iceland what to do and what not to do. Everyone has a different idea and expectation when they get there. We visited Iceland in January. We were told it was an expensive place to visit but we were still not prepared for the cost of things that we needed. We were told it was beautiful but we never imagined it was going to be so different from place to place. We have been to places that keep us wanting to travel and Iceland is one of them.
So we have put together a little easy post of some things that we think may come in handy when you are traveling in Iceland.
Do– Save some extra money.
People told us that Iceland was expensive but they did not tell us just how expensive everyday items could be. While we had enough money for me it was still a worry. If you can save a little extra to have in the kitty I highly recommend it. With this, you can have an extra meal out or pick yourself up an extra souvenir to take home. The prices in Iceland are expensive for everything.
Don’t– Leave Iceland without trying the lamb.
Use some of that extra cash you saved up to sample the famous Icelandic lamb. It is highly recommended when you visit and we finally had some on our last night and it was magnificent but it was very expensive. I think one serve was $60 AUS and there are 4 of us that needed to eat.
Do– Buy the vouchers booklet if you fly Icelandic Air.
This is a little book worth 8 Euro that you can buy on your Iceland Air flight that provides you with discounts within Reykjavik and some surrounds at bars, restaurants, and some other places. Some range from 10% off up to 30%, others have buy one get one free or a discount off entry. It does have a limited use by date so just check that it will cover your entire stay. We found this great to use when we ate out as our apartment wasn’t the easiest to cook in.
Don’t– Forget to read the small print.
Some of the places in the voucher booklet will have certain times or set days where you can use the voucher. It pays to mark the places you would like to go and check if the discounts are available then or plan ahead using the booklet as a guide. You can save a good amount of money if you plan ahead and use your vouchers.
Do– Have faith your fellow travel companions don’t smell that bad in the bathroom!
On our first night, I got very upset with Mark for not closing the door with the smell that was wafting out of the bathroom. What I did not know was that he was only having a shower and nothing more. The hot water comes straight from the geothermal pools and smells like rotten eggs. Poor Mark got a few dirty looks until Willow showered next and we read the sign on the bathroom door! The water does not make your skin or clothes that you wash smell.
Don’t– Waste your money on buying bottled water.
It was the one thing that we were constantly told when we got there. So we finished off the bottled water we already had from the airport and topped it up from the tap in our room. They say it is one of the freshest purest water sources in the world!
Traveling in Iceland – Do get a bus transfer from the airport
Pre-book convenient and economic bus transfers between Keflavik Airport and your hotel in Reykjavik city. Let the driver negotiate the Icelandic roads while you relax in our modern and comfortable coaches. The airport is 45 minutes from Reykjavik so a taxi will cost you an arm and a leg
Book your transfer HERE.
Do– Find the barcode scanner in the Supermarket.
While we were wandering around trying to figure out how much some meat was going to cost us in the supermarket called Bonus a local came up to us and showed us the bar code scanner. This was a life saver for us as it was starting to get hard to find prices on some things, especially in the large fridge section. We ended up using the scanner to check everything and add it as we went. This also helped us stick to a budget when we were buying.
Don’t– Go crazy at the supermarket or at the little convenience stores.
On our first night, we arrived late and the weather was turning bad so we just bought quickly. It was a very expensive exercise and one we learnt from. If you have to go only buy small bits at a time and then pick it up as you need it. But know your prices. We paid nearly 4 times the amount at the convenience store than we did at the supermarket.
Do– Take a change of clothes.
We rented a car for a couple of days and on the first day, I did not take any extra clothes with us for the day. It was a decision that I would regret later on in the day after going to two waterfalls and a beach! They would have been used a few times and the next day when we were out they came in very handy for three of us…I won’t name names!
Don’t- Think that waterfall will allow you to stay dry.
If it has even the slightest chance of drenching you within seconds it absolutely will. We thought we were totally safe, no wind, no splashing, no access to the water (to keep Marley dry) and BAM a gust of wind picks up out of nowhere at the perfect moment and we are all drenched! The poor car heater just could not dry that amount of water, the perils of traveling Iceland with kids. Just another amazing Iceland tourist spot to visit.
Do– Read the fine print if you are renting a car
If you are unsure of anything do not leave the office until you know or understand exactly what you can and can’t do. I asked plenty of questions before we left and I was very nervous that we had missed something.
Don’t- Think you will be covered for everything
There were so many things that I thought you would be covered for that you just weren’t, even though we got the highest possible coverage. We were lucky that I asked a heap of questions and our provider was more than happy to go over all the little details with us. You may not be covered for
- Wind damage
- Hitting an animal (which apparently is more common in summer)
- Damage to the chassis of the car
- Any driving on gravel including car park
We also discovered after a couple of adventures that our car was not suitable for two of the main tourist roads out of Reykjavik. These two roads were the main tourist roads as well which I thought was quite strange. Car rental Iceland is available in Reykjavik and from Iceland Airport Keflavik.
Do- Get a place where you can cook or prepare some meals.
As I have said above Iceland is very expensive, so I would recommend staying in a place where you will be able to make some of your own food either at night or to take with you during the day. We stayed Downtown Reykjavik Apartments where we had a fridge and some cooking facilities. We were in Iceland during winter so we were able to leave things in the car without worrying that they would get hot or go bad.
Traveling in Iceland with one of the many tour companies means you will see more
Don’t- Think fast food will be the cheaper option.
After a day of sightseeing, we decided that going to KFC for dinner would probably be a cheaper option and a quick one too. I was really impressed at how quickly we got served our food but yet again the cost was crazy. We got a family meal there which was 12 pieces of chicken, 2 medium chips (fries), a 1.5l Pepsi, 2 small coleslaw and a pot of gravy. Marley had a small popcorn chicken and Willow and I had a piece of corn each. This meal in Australia would cost between $25 and $30. With the conversion from Australian dollars into Icelandic Krona it ended up costing $100 Australian dollars…I nearly choked on the piece of chicken I was eating. I thought that this may give you a real idea of the true cost.
Also, another tip if you are at a fast food restaurant sometimes you have to get a number to be served
Do- Book a tour.
While we were in Reykjavik we took advantage of the free city walking tour with Eric. It was a brilliant way to see the city and it was an easy walk for the kids. Eric was a brilliant guide and we learnt so much about the history of Reykjavik.
We also went on a Grayline City tour that took us out of Reykjavik and to some of the surrounding towns. This was an amazing tour as we were in a small mini bus and our guide Tanja was absolutely brilliant. She spoke to us as we cruised around and answered any questions we had. For the people up the back of the bus we just passed down their questions and Tanja answered them over the little pa system she had.
Luckily we visited at the best time to visit for the Northern Lights Iceland. Hence we did an Iceland Northern Lights Mystery Tour as well. This was a brilliant tour and the best bit is if you do not see or have what is deemed not a great view of the lights you are given the option of returning until you do get a good viewing! We had 2 nights available on our stay, You can read about our experiences HERE.
Don’t- Think you will be the only ones on the tour.
Best time to visit Iceland? We visited in winter and it was still so busy. We think winter is the best time to visit Iceland. Everywhere we went there was a minimum of 5 large busses. When we were on the walking tour it was also one of the largest groups Eric had ever had. In saying this though it did not stop us from going to all the places we wanted to and had seen in other people’s photos. Yes, we did most of the touristy places and we really enjoyed them despite being there with a lot of people. Our guides did tell us in some places we were lucky as there were only about another 50 people there at the time we were there. So I can only imagine how crazy it would be visiting Iceland points of interest during the summer months.
Traveling In Iceland – Where do we stay in Reykjavik
Down Town Reykjavik Apartments have accommodation for doubles and families. The apartments are fully self-contained with your own cooking facilities. You are located just on the edge of the city centre and close to food and transport options.
For more information and booking click HERE.
Iceland is a beautiful country and we don’t want to scare anyone off visiting there as it is one of the most beautiful, unique places on the planet. But we hope that these tips will help you manage your money better so you are able to see more, do more and experience more while you are there.
Here is another Iceland article you may like:Northern Lights Tour reviewed