How To Do Reykjavík For Cheap

Fancy a totally fun and affordable holiday to Iceland's capital city? We thought so.

How To Do Reykjavík For Cheap

by Jacqui Agate |
Published on

Despite the chilly temperatures, Reykjavík is hot right now. And it’s easy to see why. Iceland’s colourful capital, with its cosy bars and curio shops, is basically turbo hygge, while some of the country’s greatest natural wonders are just a stone’s throw away.

But a long weekend in this Nordic city is not easy on the pocket, and you’ll have to do some serious planning if you don’t want to end up broke. From the basics to the best bits, here's how to do a short trip to the Icelandic capital on a budget.


Scope out some cheap flights

Actually getting there won’t completely break the bank. You can fly from Gatwick for around £60 with budget airlines such as easyJet, WOW air, Icelandair and Flybe, and it’ll cost just under £20 (by Flybus) to get you into the city from Keflavík airport and back.

If you’re serious about saving some cash, don’t bother looking at flights in peak season (June–August). The price of flying will double, and you’ll also share the compact capital with a gazillion other people. Head here in the shoulder seasons: between March and May or September and October. It will be cheaper and slightly quieter, but you won’t freeze your tits off.

Board for a bargain

When it comes to finding somewhere to get your head down, your old friend Airbnb is the best bet. The cheapest deals get snapped up quickly, so you’ll need to be on the ball.

A hostel is another great option and Kex is one of the trendiest. Housed in an old biscuit factory, this retro backpacker pad will set you back as little as £30 per night.

If hostels aren’t your bag, Hotel Gardur is a no-fuss, 2-star venue not too far from the centre. Or, if you’re truly scrimping, why not try Reykjavík Campsite? You can bed down here for a couple of nights for just £15; the site is clean, comfortable and just 3km from the city.

Eat on a budget

Eating out in the city really isn’t cheap and forward-planning is key to make sure you’re not caught short. To visitors, Icelandic cuisine can frankly seem pretty gruesome. Fermented shark and “Black Death” (a type of schnapps made from potatoes) are a couple of delicacies.

But that’s not all that’s on offer, and going veggie is a great way to save some cash. Vegan café Garðurinn (open for lunch only) doles out steaming bowls of the soup of the day with generous hunks of bread – perfect for warming the cockles if you’re sightseeing on a cold day. Colourful Café Babalú is another great budget option for lunch or dinner, offering oozing cheese toasties, veggie chilli (meat options available) and a ridiculously tasty vegan cheesecake. If you’re a sci-fi geek, look out for the Star Wars posters in the loos!

For dinner, try GLO. Head chef Solla is a raw-food genius and she serves up hearty veggie-packed mains (think Thai curries and veggie lasagnes) which you can pair with heaps and heaps of your favourite salad.

If you’re a diehard meateater, wolf down a hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu. This teeny tiny little kiosk doesn’t look much, but it’s world famous – even Bill Clinton made a visit when he was in town. Ask for one with everything.

For your caffeine fix, try achingly hipster Reykjavík Roasters. They do artisan coffee, have giant wooden tables and roast their own beans onsite.

Go out out

Iceland isn’t great for clubbing. It’s all about bars-cum-cafés that turn lively in the evening. The bars are mostly dotted along and around Laugavegur – Reyjavík’s main shopping street.

( has become something of an Icelandic institution. It’s pricier (and much more crowded) than some, but worth it if you want to be where the party’s at.

If you’re set on having pre-drinks before you hit the town, be organised. You can’t buy alcohol in regular supermarkets, so you’ll have to find one of Iceland’s Vínbúðins – special government-owned stores that are licensed to sell the good stuff. They’re not cheap though – the best thing to do is buy your booze at Duty Free.

Find fun stuff to do in the day

In the city itself, there’s plenty of free stuff to keep you entertained. Don’t pay to go up to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, the city’s famous rocket-shaped church. Gaze up at this crazy futuristic building instead – it’s a much more spectacular view and won’t cost a dime. Duck inside for a minute’s peace.

Set on seeing a panorama? Climb up Harpa, the city’s fancy glass culture centre, instead. You’ll get great views across the harbour and, if you time it right, you can fill up on cheese and meat at the farmers’ market that pops up here occasionally.

It’s really worth saving some money to venture beyond the city when in Iceland. It’s the 'land of ice and fire' after all, and it has natural wonders galore. Extreme Iceland runs some 'budget' day tours to the Golden Circle (which includes Pingvellir National Park, thundering Gullfoss falls and Stokkur Geysir). You can also go whale-watching in summer, or out to chase the northern lights.

If you can’t plump for a northern lights tour, head to the Aurora Center in the city. No, it’s not the same, but if you’re broke, lying on a yoga mat and watching the lights dance across a huge, cinema screen is close enough.

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**Follow Jacqui on Twitter **@JacquelineAgate

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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