Having worked in the Icelandic tourism industry for a few years, in the budget sector to boot, I’ve probably heard every question the budget concious traveller has. Below you will find some of the more basic things to keep in mind when travelling on a budget.
Where to stay – Hostels, Campsites and a bit of CouchSurfing
I would of course recommend the three HI hostels in Reykjavík: Reykjavík Downtown , Reykjavík City and Loft hostel. Not only have they won awards for their environmental work, and have a somewhat complicated but efficient quality system, but the people that work there are also just so damn nice (hollah my peeps).
There are other hostels in Reykjavík, that probably have equally nice staff despite the fact that I don’t know them personally, and to name a couple you could try Bus Hostel or Kex Hostel. The best thing about hostels is the guest kitchens where you can prepare your own meals which will help you stay within your budget.
If you are a fan of clean air and you don’t mind a little less luxury if it comes at a lower price, Reykjavík Campsite might do it for you. They also offer kitchen facilities and have a BBQ which you can use free of charge so again you will save on the food bill.
Finally, since I used to be a Couchsurfing city Ambassador for Reykjavík (that doesn’t really mean anything but I love throwing that around), I have to mention the fact that Couchsurfing is an excellent way to get to know a city and it’s locals and I do recommend you try it. Just make sure you treat your host with respect and a little gift from home to show your appreciation never hurts.
Food and other necessities
The cheapest supermarket in town is Bónus. You will recognize it by the yellow flag with the pink pig. Yes, it’s the swine store. There are two Bónus stores in the Downtown area: One in Laugavegur and one in Hallveigarstígur. Look out for all things Euroshopper – I don’t know about their ethics but nothing beats the price.
Another cheap-ish store with an equally ridiculous mascot is Krónan (the Crown). They are usually a tad bit more expensive than Bónus but often have good offers. Their cheap stuff is from a brand called First Price and again I don’t know whether that particular brand is ethically sound if that is an issue.
Avoid the 10/11 in Austurstræti (major tourist trap) or any other 10/11 for that matter as the pack of gum you buy there will probably be the most expensive pack of gum found on either side of the Atlantic.
Getting out of town
Many people use Reykjavík as their hub to see all the magnificent landscape that can be found just outside of it. You can go on tours with tour agents, some of which have pretty decent prices, but for those who want a little more freedom here are a few options:
Affordable car rental
I don’t recommend you necessarily look for the cheapest option when it comes to car rental but the option where you get the most value for money. With that it mind I teamed up with Budget Car Rental a while ago and am offering good prices from them through the blog so check it out.
There are only two words that subscribe the public transportation system in Iceland justly: It Sucks (hey hey, only my personal opinion). However, if you care to brave it and get stuck somewhere along the way due to strange connections or lack thereof you can try www.bsi.is or www.trex.is for information.
Some nice guy took it upon himself to make a website where carpoolers can find each other for free. It’s called www.samferda.net and I believe a lot of people use it.
Hitchhiking is legal and fairly common and a bunch of people do it every year. Some areas are easier for getting a ride and others are more difficult but the bottom line is that to use this form of transport you will need a pretty flexible travel plan.