Here are some tips and tricks about Iceland that I learned during our 3-week trip around Iceland! There are definitely some things that will make your life much easier if you knew them before going there! And hopefully, some of these tips will save you some money as well!
Tips about money and how to save money in Iceland
The national currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK), but it is not necessary to withdraw cash in Iceland – you can pay by credit or debit card in every single corner of the country.
If you want to be safe then you can exchange no more than 50 EUR or USD. During our 3-week trip, we spent 30 EUR in cash, but more because we wanted, not because we needed to!
Another tip about money in Iceland is that it disappears very quickly! If you want to save some money in Iceland then here are some examples of how to do that:
How to save money in Iceland?
1. Buy groceries in cheaper supermarkets such as Bonus, Kronan, or Netto!
2. Stay at campsites (10-20 EUR per night per person) not hotels (100 EUR per night for two)!
3. Don’t eat at restaurants but use kitchens on campsites or camping gas stoves to cook your own food!
4. Don’t buy expensive drinks, but drink water – you can refill your bottles everywhere for free (supermarkets, gas stations, campsites)!
5. Camper car rental companies give you discount chips to use at certain gas stations – use them to save money on every liter!
6. If you don’t have camping equipment, there are many places you can rent it in Iceland!
7. Don’t go during the summer months a.k.a. the high season – a lot of things will be more expensive! For example, mid-May to mid-June will be mostly good weather but prices will be cheaper than in July!
8. Book everything well in advance especially if you are traveling during the summer months a.k.a. high season! Or else you will be left with fewer options and they are usually the more expensive ones!
9. If you need to get from the airport to Reykjavik and you don’t have a car – take a bus, not a taxi! The taxi will cost more than 100 EUR, but the bus will be 3-5 times cheaper!
Tips about driving in Iceland
Unless you are a traveler who likes going on tours and doesn’t like renting a car, you can’t really escape driving in Iceland!
Especially if you want to see places at your own pace and even more so if you want to drive around Iceland. Renting a car is a must so here are some things you should know about driving in Iceland!
1. It may not seem so but Iceland is really big! It takes two weeks to drive around the Ring Road and a week to explore the South coast. Plan your trip accordingly and take in mind that it might take longer than you think!
2. There are so-called F-roads in Iceland – it is a network of roads that are located in the middle part of Iceland and they require you to have a 4×4 jeep. Those are often gravel roads that are narrow and they are open to the public only during the summer season.
If you rent a regular car, you are not allowed to drive the F roads! Don’t worry because there is a lot to see in Iceland and you can easily skip those roads!
3. The easiest way to drive around Iceland is to drive road number 1 or the Ring Road – a paved road that goes around the perimeter of the country!
4. Be prepared to encounter countless bridges on the Ring Road that only have one line! They were built years ago and it was cheaper to build narrow bridges, so most of them (and there are a lot of them) are with one line so you have to communicate with the driver on the other line who goes first!
5. Driving standards in Iceland are very high. People are polite and obey the rules and road signs. There are many speed cameras in Iceland, and I have heard that the fines are big, so do not rush or your trip will get much more expensive!
6. Another reason for driving very carefully is because of animals! There are many animals all over Iceland and they are roaming around freely, even sleeping on the main roads or often crossing them.
Be prepared to even stop to let some sheep cross the road. There are places where many birds sleep on roads – you don’t want to run into them!
7. Always check how much petrol is left in your car and never go under one quarter! Especially if you are driving around the Ring Road or in some more remote areas in Iceland.
There can be places without a single gas station for about 60 to 100 kilometers. You don’t want to be stranded in a remote area with no petrol!
8. Gas stations in Iceland are as different as can be! Some have restaurants, shops, bakeries, toilets, and showers built next to them. Some can be only gas pumps with nothing around them!
But you can always pay with your card for gas at the gas pump! Make sure you have a card with a PIN code because it is not possible to pay with swipe cards.
Tips about food in Iceland
Food prices in Iceland are more on the expensive side for a good reason. Iceland is a remote country and not many things can actually be grown there so a lot of products have to be imported. Transporting them takes time and raises the price of the final product.
Besides only about 360 thousand people live in Iceland. This means that the amount of products that are imported is comparatively small. Small amounts of products mean even higher prices! So here are some tips about food and eating in Iceland!
1. The first thing how you can save money is by drinking water! Any juices, sodas, or alcohol will be a big chunk of money (especially alcohol!) to your bill, however, water in Iceland is free!
Did you know that tap water is drinkable in Iceland – a country with one of the cleanest waters in the world!? Yes, they serve free water in every restaurant.
Besides that, you don’t have to buy bottled water in shops as you can refill drinkable water for free in gas stations, campsites, supermarkets, and visitor centers…
2. If you want to try some food at restaurants, don’t hesitate to even try some fast food! Food quality in Iceland is very high and even fast food places serve some good quality food!
You will also notice that all the restaurants in Iceland have good reviews on Google Maps. It is because the food here is good everywhere!
3. You don’t tip in restaurants in Iceland! Nobody expects any tips in Iceland! Unless you are super grateful and this restaurant was something magical, you don’t need to tip, because the staff has very good salaries and tipping is not expected nor necessary!
4. If you are looking to save some money as we did, you should plan to cook your own meals. We had a camping gas, a pot, and a pan and we made food for the two of us on the go!
There are countless picnic areas around the country to stop by. There is usually a table and benches to sit on and to prepare your food.
You can rent any camping equipment you need in Iceland! It is also possible to cook at campsites as some of them have kitchens, but definitely not all of them!
5. Budget grocery stores in Iceland are Bonus, Kronan, and Netto. Look for these brands to save some good money on food!
Tips about the weather in Iceland
I was told that there is a saying in Iceland – if you don’t like the weather, then just wait for 5 minutes! This is how often the weather changes in Iceland! I mean – it won’t change from 5 degrees to 20 degrees in 5 minutes.
But it can definitely suddenly become cloudy or clear up, rainy or stop raining, super windy or the wind can suddenly stop! Here are some more tips about the weather in Iceland:
1. Don’t believe the weather forecast (not too much, hehe!)! If it shows rain all day every day for 10 days then it actually means that it might rain for some minutes during the day but it can be sunny as well!
We experienced this ourselves! We prepared for a wet and very rainy trip (as the weather forecast showed us!) but actually, it was rainy for 1 day out of 14 days!
2. The weather in Iceland will never really be warm and sunny (I mean like 25 degrees C), so don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ weather to go to Iceland! Just take appropriate clothes and go!
3. Iceland is in a way of the Gulf stream and it often means wind, clouds, and humidity! It can get super windy in Iceland! If you are sleeping in a car or a tent, think about it before you park your car (or build a tent!) on a campsite! You may want to place it behind buildings, other cars, or hills!
4. You definitely need boots that will keep your feet dry as well as something waterproof. Also, pack a couple of hoodies and a wind/water-resistant jacket. This will make you prepared for the weather and you can always leave the jacket or hoodie in the car if the weather is warmer on that day!
Tips about accommodation and camping in Iceland
The most popular way to travel around Iceland is by renting camping cars or tents and staying at the campsites. There are multiple benefits to that and also – wild camping is illegal in Iceland, so no sleeping in the woods! You have to stay at campsites! Read more to find out some tips and benefits of camping in Iceland:
1. If hotels usually require booking in advance (especially in Iceland because there simply aren’t many hotels in the country!), then you don’t have to book campsites before going there!
This gives you the freedom to plan your day or change your plans if necessary and decide in the evening where to sleep the night!
2. Staying at campsites usually costs 10-20 EUR per person per night. Some campsites will ask extra if you want to take a shower, but it is included in the price in most of the campsites. There can also be a washing machine and a dryer as well as a kitchen and dining area, but not in all of them.
3. How to find campsites? There is a website tjalda.is where you can find all the actual information and if the campsites are open, because many will only open during the summer season – starting from June 1st, but others are open earlier.
We didn’t look at this website but looked for ‘camping’ in Google Maps. The best way to know more about them is by reading reviews on Google Maps. People will tell you all about it!
4. If you are planning to travel around for more than 7 days, then you should consider buying a camping card. It costs 159 EUR and allows you to stay for a maximum of 28 nights at campsites all over the country (but not in any). Read more here: Camping Card
5. I already mentioned that Iceland can be super windy! We had a small camper car without heating and the wind blew right through it during the night!
After a few cold nights, we understood that we have to look for places that will protect us from the wind so we started parking behind buildings, other campers, small hills, etc. It helped a lot and it was much warmer to sleep!
6. If you don’t have some camping equipment (like sleeping bags or others), you can rent it from your car rental company! They also gave us a discount chip for petrol at specific petrol stations which helped us save some money on gas!
Useful things to know before going to Iceland
Iceland can be a mystery for some people and you might be wondering about many things in Iceland. At least I did before going there. So here are some general tips about Iceland that you might find useful:
1. When is the best time to go? I think the best time to go is starting from mid-May when the snow has melted and it is possible to drive around the country. The high season will be at the end of June and July (and the prices will be higher).
2. Daylight. Starting from mid-May you will get plenty of daylight. The days are super long and the nights are not even dark anymore.
This is because Iceland is close to the Arctic circle where the phenomenon of the polar night and the polar days exist. This is another great reason to travel there around May-July because you will be able to see more during the day.
3. Avoiding crowds. There are a couple of super popular places in Iceland that are best enjoyed alone. However, there can be big crowds during the day. If you are one of those who like some alone time with fewer people around then go to those places early in the morning!
4. If you come from a country with no waterfalls then you have to prepare! Iceland has an estimated 10 thousand waterfalls. If you don’t want to stop at the side of the road every 5 minutes to admire yet another magical waterfall, then do your research before going!
And stick to those waterfalls you have chosen as the most beautiful ones! Here I have a blog post with photos of the 19 most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland!
5. English is spoken all over the country. During our 3-week stay, we didn’t meet a single person who didn’t speak English!
6. It is not allowed to use nature as a toilet in Iceland! You should always use the opportunity to go to toilets at restaurants, gas stations, visitor centers, supermarkets, and campsites! I easily managed to stay out of the bushes during our trip!
7. One of the most useful YouTube channels I found about Iceland was Iceland With A View! She is an American woman who moved to Iceland and tells you all you need to know about it!
Useful links about Iceland you should know
- Look for the weather forecast in Iceland at – en.verdur.is
- Regularly check road conditions in Iceland at – road.is
- Check info about eruptions and safe traveling in Iceland at – safetravel.is or download their app
- Check volcano area conditions in Iceland at – volcanoweather.is
- Read all about campsites in Iceland at – tjalda.is
- Pay for parking or book campsites in Iceland at – parka.is or download their app
- In case you use the tunnel in the North (the only one in Iceland for a fee) then pay here – tunnel.is
Choose the best places to visit in Iceland!
- 15 Hidden Gems And Unique Spots In Iceland
- 27 Best Instagram Spots For Amazing Photos Of Iceland
- 21 Amazing Rock Formations In Iceland You Won’t See Elsewhere!
- 7 Unbelievably Beautiful Natural Stone Arches In Iceland
- 5 Amazing Glaciers In Iceland You Should Definitely See!
- Here Are 19 Stunning Waterfalls In Iceland You Should Visit!
- 7 Famous Places To See Basalt Columns In Iceland
- 5 Beautiful Beaches To Visit In Iceland
- Check Out These 5 Surreal And Unique Canyons In Iceland!
- 7 Famous And Picturesque Churches In Iceland You Should See!
In my opinion, Iceland is THAT country everyone should visit once in their lives! It is full of magical and unbelievable nature spots and places you won’t really see anywhere else on Planet Earth! If you can, please, leave a comment below if there are any significant changes to anything that is written in this blog post! Many thanks!