Cheap food in Iceland is still not cheap
Heed this warning, aspiring Iceland traveler: Your first day’s food might end up costing more than your plane ticket. Yes, there are ways to save (more on those later), but eating, drinking, and doing pretty much anything here is going to give you a nasty case of sticker shock.
Let’s start with the grub. Breaking it down by meal, a basic breakfast of black coffee and a muffin will run you about $12. Try and save on lunch and hit a gas station Subway or Serrano (the Icelandic take on Chipotle), and you’re looking at $18 with no sides. Dinner, even in a casual restaurant, will be $40-$50 a head, plus drinks. The grocery stores aren’t as gobsmackingly expensive, but still figure a couple hundred dollars for a week’s worth of home-cooked meals -- more if you like meat other than fish.
Now, a sobering thought: Even the domestic Gull beer will run you $8 a pop at dive bars or $10 at plusher places, while no-frills liquor is closer to $18. By the fourth day we were so conditioned to high drink prices a $25 pitcher seemed like a great deal. So if you came to rage, be ready to pay for it with more than just a hangover.
Mainstream tours and activities are at least $100 each, but then who wants to do mainstream tours and activities anyway...?
Step away from the tour bus
The scenery in Iceland is, without question, its biggest draw. So getting out of the city to see the rightly famous Ring of Fire, with its geysers, waterfalls, and sprawling lava fields is a must. What’s NOT a must, is paying upwards of $150 to sit on a bus with a bunch of people your parents’ age.
Rental cars to the rescue! Firstly, they’re affordable, especially by Icelandic standards -- you can get decent wheels for about $50-$60 a day, plus gas. Even better, you can see the sights in your own time, rather than getting herded around like high-functioning kindergartners.