There are plenty of budget airlines that fly direct from the UK to Keflavik which is a pleasant airport near the Blue Lagoon around 50 minutes from Reykjavik.
Click on the links at the bottom of the page if you want to find out more about Reykjavik and the surrounding area.
It’s not easy travelling anywhere at the moment. I am trying to keep up to date with developments on my BLOGBLOGBLOG page. Icelandair also have helpful information regarding entry to Iceland- click HERE to see their advice.
Airport transfers can be quite pricey so it’s best to consider your options in advance. The cheapest and most convenient is to use the bus transfer services which you can book online. There are two main companies:-
Flybus will take you to the BSI terminal which is on the edge of Reykjavik and if your accomodation is central you can walk there from the terminal. For a bit extra you can change to a smaller bus at the terminal which then takes you to a range of stops which hopefully will be near where you are staying. The full size coach cannot fit through all of the small streets in Reykjavik.
Another option is to use Airport Express which is run by Grayline. They stop at a few bustops in the city and like Flybus offer a shuttle transfer service to near your hotel for an extra fee.
A taxi costs loads!
There is plenty of choice here but it’s expensive to hire a car in Iceland. In Febuary 2017 we used Sadcars [really!] as they were the cheapest we could find. They are based near Keflavik airport and picked us up from the arrival hall. In the winter months your car will be fiitted with studded tyres. Our four wheel drive car was great and, given the heavy snow that fell over the next few days, we were grateful that it was so reliable. I recently used Blue Car Rental and they were great. They have an office in Reykjavik on the harbour arm near Fly Over Iceland and another office at the airport. I have also heard good reports about Lotus Car Hire but I have not tried them out myself.
Some of the driving on this trip was the most challenging I have ever attempted, you need to be so cautious even with the studded tyres. We stayed on the main roads. If you hire a car in the winter it will come fitted with studded tyres and I would recommend a four wheel drive if you are planning driving outside of the city. If you are intending to drive in the winter months the most affordable 4WD car is likely to be the Dancia Duster. Driving in Iceland in the winter is not for the faint hearted, you should heed the advice given by Safe Travel.
Icelandic currency is Króna [ISK], you probably won’t need it or even see any! Use plastic. Tipping at restaurants is not necessary.
If you want some money saving tips when in Iceland read on….
There are the normal large choice of accommodation options one would expect of a capital city ranging from hostels, Airbnb and plush hotels. The more affordable hotels tend to be a way from the city centre which can be a pain but it does normally mean there is plenty of free on street parking. Some hostels such as Kex offer hostel type dorms as well as hotel style en- suite rooms so the word hostel is misleading.
On our first visit we took a Thomas Cook package as it was pretty good value and we stayed at the aptly named Cabin Hotel. The hotel was large and the room was tiny! Apart from that it was good value for the money although it’s a fair walk into the city centre. I tend to book flights and accomodation myself nowadays.
In 2017 we stayed at the Arctic Comfort Hotel, a smaller hotel where the staff were really friendly. Breakfast was extra and cost around £16 per person each day, but this is a typical price for Icelandic hotels! Luckily our bedroom came with a fridge, so we stocked up on Skyr and other bits and that sorted out our breakfast. It was a bit of a trek into the city centre though, further exacerbated by heavy snow which was its only drawback.
On our last couple of visits visit we used Airbnb and on both occasions our accomodation was great and centrally located, we rarely saw any other residents so we had the place to ourselves, a home from home.
What to wear ?
I have added this section after seeing numerous posts on forums from people asking this very question. The weather in Iceland can change dramatically and quickly. Whatever the season you need to be prepared for this and my simple answer is – wear layers. I tend to visit Iceland in the colder months. I wear a good quality long waterproof jacket and have options of t-shirt / thermal vest / thin cotton top and wool jumper [or my lovely woollen Icelandic cardy] which can be peeled on or off as appropriate. I wear jeans and have thermals to put on underneath if required. Yes, I know jeans are not advisable if you are hiking, so waterproof overtrousers are essential if you are going to venture into the wilderness. Oooh and don’t forget a hat and gloves.
You may also consider crampons if you don’t want to slip or fall on icy paths. I have not bothered with these yet, so I do fall over quite alot! I also have never used hand warmers or other magic warming gadgets. Good walking boots and a choice of cotton rich thin and thicker socks are essential. The challenge is how to cram all of this into one cabin bag and stay under the required weight!
Food and drink [booze]
Bónus supermarkets are dotted around and are good value [for Iceland]. The 24 hour supermarkets are best avoided unless you are desperate as they are much more expensive. If you want alcohol the cheapest option is to buy it when you arrive at Keflavik airport where it is surpisingly good value. The state controlled off-licence, Vinbudin, is the expensive alternative option.
It’s difficult to eat out cheaply in Iceland. A ‘budget’ meal is often not much cheaper than a mid priced one. Icelanders do love hotdogs which are cheap and burgers which are not. Petrol garages sell hot dogs and often even have restaurants in them that seem popular with families. The one near the BSI terminal looked pleasant. It’s possible to have a fairly good value soup lunch in a cafe but this could still set you back around £12 or more per person. Pizza seems pretty well priced, curries cost the earth! However whenever I travel I want to eat local food for local people – local fish, lamb, duck, stews and veg – yum. For my recommendations on eating and drinking in Reykjavik click here.
Yes, you are expected to shower naked in order to get rid of all of those nasty chemicals before you put on your swimming costume and enter the pools in Iceland. If you like to keep your privates private you can use the small shower cubicles at Laugardalslaug and Vesturbæjarlaug in Reykjavik. The changing rooms are communal [one for men. one for the ladies] but after you have enjoyed your bath you could change back into your attire in the loos if you want. You can do the same at the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon but at the Sky Lagoon they would prefer you to pay for the more expensive Sky Pass which includes a private changing room.
Iceland is expensive.
Accomodation, eating and especially drinking does not come cheap in Iceland. There are some lovely airbnb properties in Reykjavik that are central and well presented and probably cost around half the price of a 3* hotel. You will also save money by creating your own meals there too if you want. The foodhalls have some affordable eating options such as pizza and you can always grab a hot dog from a stand. Don’t forget to download the Iceland Coupons APP which has some good discounts.
Grunty tip- Keep your receipt and ask for a tax form when purchasing from the shops as you may be able to claim the tax back at the airport, which is most helpful.
Many bars have extended happy hours which brings the booze down to UK prices which is a relief! For more info about eating and drinking in Reykjavik click HERE.
If you find the prices of the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon rather terrifying [prices start at around 40 quid] you should try Laugardalslaug and Vesturbæjarlaug pools in Reykjavik where the cost is a more modest £6.50! Ok, the local pools are not as sexy as the lagoons- but it’s a more genuine experience in a way, and you can chat to real locals.
Organised tours and car hire is also expensive but I have not found a way around this- yet. At least most of the wonderful sights are free!
More tips and helpful apps
Not sure what to see and do? Take a looky at my 4 day itinerary for some ideas.
The Iceland Ringroad App is rather good- it’s not just about the ringroad but has Northern Lights alerts and loads of tips and info on things to see and do in Iceland.
The Safetravel App is crucial if you want to know what the weather in Iceland is going to throw at you. They issue weather warnings and give very good advice regarding driving and exploring the country.
The Iceland Met Office is a great resource for Aurora Forecasts as well as the weather.
The Iceland Coupons App offers some rather handy discounts on restaurants, bars and some activities.
I recently came across this article from the Huffington Post- 25 mistakes tourists make while visiting Iceland. This article may seem obvious to some, and I have covered some of it above, but it has some good advice for newbies to Iceland.