This article first appeared on Skyscanner’s 5 ways to travel Iceland on a budget from Singapore
Time to check Iceland off your travel bucket list! Hunt for the elusive Northern Lights, explore ice caves, and get blown away by the natural beauty of Reykjavik and Iceland in winter. Skyscanner and travel blogger Pohtecktoes show Singaporeans how to do it on a budget without having to rough it out.
It's no secret that Iceland is expensive. While it isn't exactly a budget destination, you don't have to break the bank in order to visit. In fact, we only spent about S$3,700 each for 12 days in Iceland inclusive of flights!
The best part though, is that anyone can travel from Singapore to Iceland on a budget - without having to sacrifice too much comfort or miss out on any major activity. We even indulged on food and accommodation now and then!
Here's how you can do it too:
1. Choose the right season to visit
While the temperature in Iceland is the most comfortable in summer (avg. 10-13°C), it is also the most expensive period to visit. Tourists flock to Iceland during summer, so demand for tourist essentials are very high. Accommodation and vehicle rental can end up being 2-4 times higher than the price in winter!
A rare sight: Aurora borealis lighting up the night sky in Iceland.
Which is why for the budget conscious, the best season to visit Iceland is winter (November to March). Not only are things more affordable, you can also avoid the summer crowds, and have a much higher chance of spotting the Northern Lights.
Tip: While it's obvious to pack winter wear, don't forget to bring a good windproof jacket. The winds can make it feel a lot colder than the temperature is!
Gullfoss waterfall in winter. One of the highlights on the popular Golden Circle route.
2. Stay in hostels rather than hotels
Choose hostels instead of hotels while booking accommodation in Iceland. Unlike their Western Europe counterparts, hostels in Iceland are really clean, safe, and comfortable. Why spend extra paying for facilities in the hotel we hardly use? After all, we want to spend more time exploring the sights instead. Hostels also often have communal kitchens, which means you can cook from time to time to keep costs low.
There were two of us and we shared private rooms throughout our stay in Iceland. If you choose to sleep in dormitories, it'd be even cheaper!
Where to stay in Reykjavik:
Reykjavík Loft Hostel
Address: Bankastræti 7, 101 Reykjavik Great location with a cosy lounge and bar at the top level that has a view of downtown Reykjavik.
Where to stay along the South Coast:
Vík HI Hostel Address: Suðurvíkurvegur 5
Most affordable accommodation in Vik, which is a small town perfect for stocking up on supplies and visiting sights along the South Coast. Walking distance to the black sand beaches, with little light pollution and cliffs that form the perfect backdrop for the northern lights.
Vagnsstaðir HI Hostel
Address: Suðursveit, A-Skaftafellssýsla
Surrounded by a ring of mountains, this is an ideal base for exploring the Vatnajökull region. It is literally on a farm, so the surroundings are dark and ideal for viewing the night sky. Do stock up on supplies though, because the nearest grocery store is 50km away.
Full list of HI Hostels and addresses here.
View of the stars just outside our hostel.
3. DIY instead of taking tours
Unless you want to do an activity that needs guides and special equipment like ice caving or horse riding, there's no reason to spend extra on tours.
Almost all the famous sights in Iceland are for free, and you can easily visit them on a do-it-yourself self-drive tour. If you are travelling with a small group of friends, it makes even more sense to DIY as you can split the cost for the car rental.
Instead of sticking to a tours' schedule, you can travel at your own pace, stopping as often as you like.
Tip: Check for updates on road conditions at Road.is every 3 hours. Especially in winter, the weather can change very quickly and roads may be icy or closed.
Sights like Skógafoss are just off the main highway and are free!
4. Cook your own food
Food is pretty expensive in Iceland. A simple meal easily costs S$20-30, so it makes sense to cook in order to keep costs low.
For most of the days, we cooked breakfast and dinner, and either packed extra food or ate out for lunch. The cheapest supermarket is probably Bónus, so try to get your supplies from there.
To be honest, cooking our own meals was pretty fun and we got creative after a while. It was also a great way to make friends while sharing food with other travellers in the kitchen.
Of course, we indulged occasionally and made sure we tried all the famous Icelandic dishes too!
Tip: Outside of Reykjavik, supermarkets and convenience stores are harder to find. Make sure you stock up on supplies whenever you pass by a town!
From left to right, top to bottom: Smoked Puffin, Icelandic Sea Trout, Lobster Tails, Blue Ling, Minke Whale, Icelandic Lamb.
5. Book flights way in advance
Last-minute flights from Singapore to Iceland can easily go upwards of S$1,500. I suggest searching and monitoring flights early to get the best deal.
If you have some flexibility, use the "Whole Month" or "Cheapest Month" option on Skyscanner to search for cheap flights. I also used the "Price Alert" feature to monitor changes in flight prices. After a few weeks of monitoring, I finally booked a return flight 5 months in advance, from Singapore to Reykjavik, with 1 stopover in Helsinki.
Budget Summary (per pax):
Total expenditure (per pax) = S$3,703
For the full itinerary and budget breakdown, check out Pohtecktoes' 12 Days Iceland Winter Itinerary - From Reykjavik to the South Coast.
Inspired by Pohtecktoes' travel and ready to explore Iceland on a budget for your next getaway? Book cheap flights, cheap hotels and car rental via Skyscanner or check out and download our free Skyscanner mobile apps for easy browsing and booking on the go.