The country which is European but completely different from other European country. The nation which is between 2 continents. The landmass which is so different from the world. The experience which is exotic & unforgettable. Yes, I took a dream trip to Iceland & it became a memory of a lifetime.
If you look at tour packages, you will find them very expensive. Most people think that to visit Iceland, you probably need as much money as a trip to New Zealand or United States or Central America. That’s not true at all. I took this trip with my parents who equally enjoyed the country, the road trip, the nature & of course, conversing with the locals.
Good thing about family trips is that everything is budgeted way in advance & expenses are tracked even on the trip (its the case with us at least). Thanks to this habit, I have the complete bifurcation of this trip of mine & I am going to share it with you.
Return Flights: Rs. 38,500
Flights are the most important aspect of any international trip. This expense can take up 25-33% of the total expense of your trip! You need to plan in advance, way advance, if you are planning to visit Iceland. You must decide your months & approximate dates, number of days you want to spend there & the season. After you have locked your dates, keep a tab on flight prices daily.
Most return flights to Reykjavik from India cost anywhere between Rs. 50,000 – Rs. 57,000. But that’s not the case all the time. Sometimes, you might see a deal for few days & you just need to take it up without thinking much. We started looking for flights from May, 2017 even though our travel month was April, 2018. In June, we suddenly found a deal with Brussels Airlines. The return tickets cost us just Rs. 38,500! That’s a massive saving for 3 people. We saved about Rs. 50,000 between 3 people already!
Within few minutes, we booked our tickets & the first (and kind of the most important thing) was done.
Schengen Visa: Rs. 6,452
You will need Schengen visa to visit Iceland. In India, Denmark takes care of Icelandic visa process, hence you need to visit their visa information to site to get all the information, forms, guidelines & even to book visa appointments. The procedure is standard. It took 2 weeks (10 business days) for our visa to arrive. The only frustrating thing is that Denmark requires coloured photocopies of ALL the pages of your passports (old & new). Even if they are blank. That’s a massive waste of ink, paper & money. :/
Schengen visa & the VFS processing fee cost us Rs. 4800 + Rs. 1652. The total of Rs. 6,452.
Travel Insurance: Rs. 1,200 (ICICI Lombard)
Travel insurance is a must when you are applying for Schengen visa. It is also important get an insurance even if it is not required for visa because it saves you from a lot of hassles & monetary damage in any case. I went for ICICI Lombard’s travel insurance which cost me Rs. 1,200 & my parents Rs. 1,800 each since they are above 40.
Accommodations: Rs. 50,000 (18 nights)
This expense can vary depending on your choice of accommodation. If you are going around Iceland in a car, you must know that it is not possible to get luxury hotels everywhere. You might get it in Reykjavik & probably in Akuryeri, but that’s it.
Instead, do what we did. Get an apartment. Most of the apartments we stayed at, were lovely & even the hosts who were managing the house were very friendly. You will never find such cleanliness & warm welcome in any luxury hotels as well. Look for the cheapest deals on Booking.com & book it in advance, way advance.
Before booking any accommodation though, you need to make a plan first & accordingly, book it in the nearby region. The plan in Iceland is very important.
Rental Car: Rs. 27,000 (17 days)
Getting a good car from a good rental company in Iceland is really important. The car is going to be your friend who will get you out of any situations in life (at least till you are in Iceland). We rented a car from Blue Car Rental after comparing prices of various types of cars & various rental companies. Blue Car Rental is very professional when it comes to emails, emergency contacts, car condition, maintenance & most importantly, good price!
Now you will find many blogposts saying you don’t need to get a 4×4 car if you are not going anywhere other than the Ring Road of Iceland. I will suggest the opposite. Get a 4×4 car in any case because it is more comfortable, has a lot of space for your luggage & people and when you have to drive about 4,000 km (that’s how much we drove in Iceland), then there’s nothing better than getting a car which is comfortable.
I made one mistake though. Instead of renting a car directly from the Keflavik International airport, I chose to rent it after a day from Reykjavik City. It was a mistake because I thought I was saving money by renting it a day after but instead, I paid more than 1 day’s rental to the bus service which got me from Keflavik International airport to my hostel in Reykjavik city. So the tip is, to rent a car in Iceland FROM Keflavik International airport TO Keflavik International airport!
We got Toyota RAV4 Automatic 4×4. It is an amazing car with loads of features which will help you to drive comfortably in Iceland. Don’t forget the GPS at an additional cost as well.
Fuel: Rs. 15,300
This is where we sort of miscalculated our budget. The fuel in Iceland is expensive (AF). It is almost the double price of what we pay in India. We calculated a journey of 3,000 km by keeping the fuel price of India mind. We paid for a journey of 4,000 km with Icelandic price. Petrol is about ISK 220 (Rs. 140) per litre. In total, we paid Rs. 46,000 for the entire journey.
Petrol pumps (or fuel stations as they call it) are completely automated. You need to open your fuel tank, get your card swiped, pick up the pump & fill the tank up. There won’t be anybody to help you except instructions written on the pump. It is a fairly easy job though. Fuel company N1 has the maximum number of pumps all around Iceland & I recommend that you fill it up from their stations.
Here’s the most important tip that you need to keep in mind while refuelling. NEVER choose the Full tank option on any pump. Choose the amount twice if you want, but NEVER CHOOSE THE FULL TANK OPTION. The fuel company will block the maximum amount (ISK 15,000 – ISK 25,000) on your card even if the final amount shown on the pump is ISK 6,000. To remove the block, you will either have to contact your forex card bank (which will take at least 3-4 days considering we need to fill up forms & explain stuff to our banks) or wait for 15-20 days for the block to go away automatically. When you are traveling, you can’t risk this amount to be blocked every 2nd day, right?
Sightseeing: Rs. 10,000
The best part about Iceland is you need to explore nature’s various aspects. 99% of these attractions in Iceland are completely free & can be explored whenever one wants (if the roads are open). There are some attractions though, which requires a bit of money. Apart from trying out the free thermal baths (which can be found literally all around Iceland), we also went to 2 man-made lagoons. The Myvatn Nature Baths (North Iceland) & the famous Blue Lagoon (Between Reykjavik city & Keflavik International airport). In Blue Lagoon, we paid Rs. 6,500 & in Myvatn, we paid Rs. 3,500. Both are definitely worth the price.
2 more places where you must pay a bit of money is at Vikings Cafe to see Vestrahorn (South Iceland) & Akranes Lighthouse (West Iceland). Again, the cost isn’t much. ISK 700 for Vestrahorn & ISK 400 for Akranes Lighthouse (Highly recommended).
I have written variable cost because it depends on the tours that you take from the capital around the area. There are MANY tour operators who will take you around to do different sort of tours & experiences. Check their websites beforehand, compare their prices & perks and book in advance to avoid getting “Sold out” tag.
Booking experiences are recommended because these are some of the things which you will not be able to do anywhere else in the world. Eg: Entering a volcano, visiting an Ice cave, Snorkelling in the clearest water of the world, Scuba diving & touching 2 continental plates at once etc.
I went for Snorkeling with Dive.is which is Iceland’s leading operator when it comes to diving & snorkelling. It is an amazing experience & you must do it when you are in Iceland! (Detailed blog on the experience is coming up soon)
Food in Iceland: Variable
Everything is expensive in Iceland. If you love eating outside, in local eateries & cafes, even that will be expensive. A simple burger will cost you ISK 2,000. A Margherita Pizza will be around ISK 3,000. You literally can’t afford eating outside every day when you are in Iceland (unless you are filthy rich. Then you wouldn’t even need to read this blog post).
My recommendation? Get some snacks from India. Get some Maggi or similar stuff which you can make in your guesthouses with minimal efforts. Buy things like Milk, Fruits, Yogurt, Bread, Butter, Cheese etc from local supermarkets. The only way to cut your food cost is by making your own dinners & breakfasts (if they are not included with your stay). You will have a plenty of time to explore Iceland & prepare your dinners, so don’t worry about missing out on something.
My food expense was less than Rs. 10,000 because all the items that I bought from supermarkets were Milk, Breads, Cheese & Fruits. As a Gujarati, my big bag was filled with food. 😉
The final cost: Rs. 1,54,000
The total cost I paid for this beautiful Iceland trip was Rs. 1,54,000 inclusive of (literally) everything. Please note that I was traveling with my parents, hence the cost of accommodations, car rental, fuel & food were split into 3. The cost that I have mentioned above in the blog is 1/3rd of everything. It is advisable that you go with 2 to 3 more people (Party of 3-4 per car) to split the cost equally. You will find that Iceland is really affordable, beautiful & pocket-friendly (well, kind of).
If you have any questions or queries about Iceland as a whole, different regions of Iceland, things to see or experience, other tips & tricks about the place, feel free to comment below or simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject as “Iceland Query”. Happy journey. 😉