I would be lying if I said that I had a preset travel budget when planning my trip to Iceland. Besides the 8,000 ISK ($65 USD) that I exchanged before departure and my credit card, I winged it. Like everyone else, I heard that ReykjavIk was expensive, but I thought, how expensive could it be? Let me tell you, Iceland is an expensive country, perhaps the most expensive destination I’ve traveled to so far. I guess I had to experience Iceland for myself to understand what everyone was talking about. But instead of feeling defeated, I rose to the occasion. I found lots of affordable restaurants and things to do in Reykjavik on a budget.
Things To Do In Reykjavik On A Budget
($15 USD or Less)
1. Go on a walking tour – Free
The free walking tour with CityWalk Reykjavik was one of the first things I did in Reykjavík. This two-hour historic tour offers a great introduction to the capital city and Icelandic culture. The insightful guides are Icelandic history graduates and high school teachers. The tour was fun and engaging.
During the tour, visit the most historic parts of downtown Reykjavík including Arnarhóll and Fógetagarður Square.
At the end of the tour, set your own price. Tip what you feel the tour is worth – these guys deserve it. You can even tip in any currency you like. This is super convenient!
Bonus Tip: CityWalk Reykjavik sends you a comprehensive city guide after your tour. Many of the suggestions include free things to do in Reykjavik on a budget.
2. Go to a local swimming pool – $8 USD
Highly recommended by Eric from CityWalk Reykjavik, I skipped the Blue Lagoon and instead choose a more local bathing experience at Vesturbaejarlaug swimming pool.
Less than a half an hour walk from the city center, I enjoyed hot tubs and steam baths alongside locals for 900 ISK ($8 USD).
Before entering the pool I had to shower naked (in front of the other female patrons) but it was totally fine. No need to be shy. I did not feel uncomfortable in any way.
In fact, bathing at Vesturbaejarlaug was one of the most relaxing experiences I had in Iceland. Nevertheless, I have to warn you, be ready to run for your life when getting out of the water!
Related: A Week In Iceland On $100 USD Budget
3. Try Skyr (pronounced skeer) – Free
Not to be mistaken for yogurt, Skyr is a dairy product that you can only find in Iceland. I loved the light and smooth texture. To save money, I suggest heading to the local grocery store instead of ordering Skyr at a restaurant.
Try unique flavors for less than 200 ISK ($2 USD).
4. Visit the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church – $8 USD
You can see the Hallgrimskirkja Church from just about anywhere in Reykjavík.
Admission to the church is free but for 900 ISK ($8 USD), climb to the top of the tower and see 360-degree views of Reykjavík, the harbor, and Mount Esja.
5. Wander the streets looking for street art – Free
You can find street art all over Reykjavík, just look on the sides of the buildings. Each mural tells a story and makes a bold statement.
6. Scenic walk around Lake Tjornin – Free
There are plenty of swans and ducks to admire at Lake Tjornin so bring your camera. When you’re done, head over to the Reykjavík City Hall. On the main floor, there is an impressive 3D topographic map of Iceland.
7. Have a drink at the Loft Hostel – Varies
The Loft Hostel has one of the cheapest bars in town and it’s a great place to meet locals, enjoy live music or take in awesome views of the neighborhood from the patio. They also have a nice selection of Icelandic and Scandinavian beers on draught. If you are into ciders you have to try the Somersby Cider.
Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m.
8. Strike a pose with the Solfar Sun Voyager – Free
Along the waterfront, visit the Sun Voyager which pays homage to the first Icelanders. Although it looks like a Viking ship, it’s actually a dream boat following the setting sun.
As you enjoy the cool breeze and gorgeous view of snowy Mount Esja, snap photos with this iconic Icelandic landmark.
What are YOUR favorite things to do in Reykjavik on a budget?
Author: Danielle Desir
Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.
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