Being the northern-most capital city in the world, Reykjavik stands out for many reasons. Its geographical isolation has contributed to its unique culture, art, and music. But this isolation also means things produced in or imported into Iceland are very expensive, which in turn, may hit your wallet harder than a Viking battle-axe.
But does that mean you go totally thrifty and miss out on what this great city has to offer? Heck no! There’s plenty of ways to getting more bang for your buck in Reykjavik, and here’s how you do it:
Stock up on booze at the Duty Free
Like most things in Iceland, alcohol is quite expensive. Other than bars and clubs, booze is sold in state-run “Vinbudin” liquor stores for ridiculously high prices (we’re talking about $30 for a 10-pack of beer!). While you may want to save up for those few nights out on the town, stocking up thoughtfully at the airport will ensure you’ll always have a shot of Brennevin (Iceland’s national beverage) or a few beers at hand at the end of the day!
Brennevin tastes like an unsweetened schnapps and is usually served cold as a shot. It’s also traditionally downed after consuming a slice of hákarl, a very smelly, fermented shark meat.
Take the free Reykjavik walking tours
If you want an off-the-beaten-path tour of some of the city’s most interesting stops without splurging, take the free walking tours by the highly rated Free Walking Tour Reykjavik. The guides are a friendly mix of musicians, actors, comedians, and historians who love sharing a quirky yet informative perspective of their beloved city. Even though the tours are free, they do take tips, so feel generous – they totally deserve it!
Eat around the harbor area instead of the city center
Man does not live on hotdogs alone ($4 a pop, found in almost every gas station around Iceland, and very, very tasty). You could definitely survive on these tasty Icelandic dogs during your stay there, but where’s the fun in that? You can save dough and still savor the flavor by eating around Reykjavik’s harbor area (about $15-20 a main dish, compared to $40-50 in the city center).
TIP: Try the Plokkfiskur (Icelandic fish stew) at the humble Retro Café near the harbor – it’s hearty, flavorful, and will only run you about $18.
Book your rental car and accommodation after August 31
If you plan on saving money by visiting Reykjavik after the touristy summer months, you’re on the right track. The end of the tourist season means car rental prices, as well as accommodation prices, come down drastically. So DO remember to book your rental vehicle and your lodgings from September 1 onwards. Plus, early September guarantees you’ll still get plenty of sunshine
Get your snacks and travel essentials at a Bonus
Bonus is the name of a popular supermarket chain where you can buy almost anything you need for your Reykjavik stay at very cheap prices. Whether its groceries, soda, or toilet roll, you’re guaranteed to find the cheapest prices in town. Look out for their yellow logo with the pink piggy on it.
Don’t ever buy bottled water
Icelanders are very proud of the quality of their water, and encourage drinking straight from the faucet. However, for travelers, the slight smell of sulfur can be a bit off-putting at first. The general rule is to keep the water running for about 10 seconds so the initial smell of minerals is reduced, and then you can fill up your water bottle and enjoy some of the freshest H2O on earth while walking around the city.
Avoid using pricey geothermal spas
Popular geothermal spas like the Blue Lagoon are often packed with tourists and charge high prices. Iceland is blessed with numerous geothermal springs where you can have a dip for free. But when you’re in the capital you can also take advantage of numerous geothermally heated swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor) that will only cost you about $5 to use. If England has pubs, Iceland has swimming pools; it’s where communities congregate to relax, chat and make new friends, so go ahead and dive right in!
Do you have any tips for having a great time in Reykjavik without spending too much? Let us know in the comments below!