Iceland Mag

3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Reykjavík on a budget … or not!

By Sara McMahon

  • Ó Reykjavík! Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, has much to offer, whether you are a king or a student on a budget. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Iceland has a reputation for being an expensive country to visit, but fret not, you can enjoy all the country has to offer on a budget too. And we’ll even tell you how. Here are three travel options, one for the budget-minded, another for those who want to live just a little, and a third for those who really wish to spoil themselves rotten.

The budget

Stay: In and around Reykjavík there are many good hostels that offer affordable accommodation. One of those hostels is the über-trendy Kex Hostel, located on Skúlagata. Another option is to rent an apartment or a room through Airbnb.

Eat: Local food trucks offer good meals for reasonable prices. However, should you prefer to eat your meals inside, try dropping by some of Reykjavík’s finest restaurants at lunchtime – the food is great and the price is more affordable during lunch hours.

Food truck, taco

Drink: Many bars now try and lure in thirsty patrons with the promise of low-priced beverages during Happy Hour. And most of us are more than happy to oblige. Quench your thirst during Happy Hour, or, if you are really skint, stock up on local craft beers or a nice bottle of vino at the Off Licence to enjoy at home, or in Austurvöllur park during a particularly sunny day.

Enjoy: If there’s one thing in abundance in Reykjavík, it’s swimming pools. And every single one is fantastic! They’re like mini spas, so make a day out of it. Enjoy lounging about in the hot tub, then jump into the sauna and release all the stress from your body.

See: Tuk Tuk Tours will take you all around the old city centre and give you a little insight into the city’s history, architecture, and daily life for 3,500 ISK per person.

Love: Take a casual stroll around Grótta nature reserve; take in the stunning views, breathe in the fresh air, and end your walk by resting your tired feet in the small geothermal pool located by the seashore.  


The in-between

Stay: Book one of Kex Hostel’s private rooms. They’re reasonably priced, chic, and well located.

Eat: Bistros are the way to go if you don’t want to spend a fortune but still feel like dining out. Snaps (Þórsgata 1), Restó (Rauðarárstígur 27-29), and Matur og drykkur (Grandagarður 2) all offer fantastic food for good value.

Drink: Check out Kaldi, a small, cosy bar with a homey feel about it, and four different types of local micro brews on tap. The beers have no added sugar or preservatives and taste pretty damn delicious. Be extra thrifty and drop by during Happy Hour.

Enjoy: Treat yourself to some pampering at Sóley Natura Spa, located in hotel Natura. After enjoying a relaxing massage, head to the swimming pool and take advantage of the Float products available to spa guests. They allow you to float weightlessly in the pool and leave you feeling completely relaxed and calm.

See: Why not experience Icelandic nature the “old-fashioned way” – on horseback? Íshestar offers riding tours around Heiðmörk, one of Reykjavík’s most stunning outdoor areas, for 125 euros per person. 


Photo/Andri Marinó Karlsson

The Icelandic horse is hardy, sure-footed, long-lived, and can display two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and gallop. One is a four-beat ambling gait called tölt, which guests are given a chance to experience during the tour.

Love: Rent a bicycle (for example at Kex Hostel) and explore all that Reykjavík has to offer in a stimulating and economical manner. Investigate Reykjavík’s suburbs and outdoor areas or cycle along the ocean front to the geothermal beach in Nauthólsvík, near Öskjuhlíð hill, and enjoy lunch at Kaffi Nauthóll.


The splurge

Stay: Stay at one of Reykjavík’s many elegant hotels, where the staff will cater to your every whim.

Eat: Since you’re indulging, why not go all out and enjoy a full-on culinary experience at Dill restaurant (Hverfisgata 12). The restaurant specialises in New Nordic cuisine and guests can choose between a three, five, or a seven-course meal. The set menu changes regularly throughout the year and in accordance with the seasons. You could also treat your taste buds to Fiskmarkaðurinn’s (Aðalstræti 12) mouth-watering tasting menu. They’ll love you for it.

Drink: Beer connoisseurs are advised to pay Mikkeller & Friends (Hverfisgata 12) a little visit. The beers don’t come cheap, but they’re darn tasty! Cocktail aficionados are encouraged to drop by Loftið (Austurstræti 9) and try their colourful cocktails.

Enjoy: Spend a day in the Blue Lagoon. Arrive early and relax in the comfortable water and stunning surroundings. 

Blue Lagoon, bláa lónið

Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Then head over for a full body massage while still submerged in the warm, pale blue water, followed by a delightful lunch at Lava restaurant and some more R&R.

See: Experience Reykjavík from above with Norðurflug helicopter tours. The Reykjavík Summit tour will fly you over the capital, giving visitors a completely new perspective of the city, before landing on a nearby mountain top for the perfect photo op. If you are feeling exceptionally lavish, bring a bottle of bubbly along on the trip.

Love: Whale watching in Faxaflói bay is an exhilarating experience and the memories will last you a lifetime. Sail from Reykjavík harbour out into the bay and encounter curious minke whales, playful dolphins, and magnificent humpbacks. The local guides have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to marine and bird life in the bay. 

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