How to Eat for Cheap in Iceland:
The quickest and easiest way to blow the lid off your piggy-bank in Iceland (other than alcohol consumption) is by eating out. We found that even the most inexpensive menus would typically run you a minimum $15-$18 (USD) per plate.
“But I want to try the traditional Icelandic cuisine!” – are the fatal last words for any budget traveler.
Historically speaking, due to its harsh climates and primarily volcanic landscape, Iceland’s never really made the map for culinary diversity. In fact, it wasn’t until not too long ago that Thai and Japanese influence seemed to spice things up a bit along Reykjavik’s main strip, Laugavegur. With this being said, one of the easiest ways you can ensure the longevity of your dollar here is by simply cooking your own food. I know it seems like too much work for vacation but keep in mind – you’re going for the scenery! Just follow these simple rules of thumb and you’ll be sure to keep both your stomach, and your wallet full when visiting Iceland!
Skip The Diet – If you’re trying to follow a strict, healthy diet prior to leaving for Iceland, take a break! I know this sounds like hell to all you vegans and veg-heads out there, but choosing between a strict diet and a strict budget is a decision you’ll unfortunately have to make. Better to come to grips with it now, then suffer the shock-and-awe upon realizing the reality of your options… Local produce isn’t exactly in abundance, so prices certainly reflect the scarcity.
Buying Groceries – In our own experiences, we found that the two best grocery stores were Kronan and Bonus. Both are highlighted by bright colors (Yellow & Pink) and are plotted all around the city of Reykjavik. Keep in mind that the bigger stores tend to have better deals for stocking up over long periods – more similar to that of a Sam’s Club, Kosco or BJ’s. So if staying for a longer period of time, be sure to locate one of these bigger stores for your best bet on bulk-purchases.
Even the ‘super-budget’ traveler can find his/her typical selection of Top Ramen for just pennies on the dollar. But luckily for us, we were able to make due with PB&J’s and more penne pasta than an Italian potluck. The sacrifices we make for budget travel…
All together, we managed to feed 3 of us for an average total of $14 per day – simply by shopping/cooking as opposed to eating out!
For those of you college dropouts as bad at math as I am – that’s roughly $4.70 per person, per day!
So yes, it is possible budgeteers!
Eat The Hot Dogs – If you are going to eat out in Iceland, your cheapest bet (by far) is a good ol’ $3 Pylsur (Icelandic hotdog). With more of these little stands in the city of Reykjavik alone than Waffle Houses in the south, it serves as a quick and easy bet without breaking your budget. Besides, once the ov
er-abundance of pasta and rice has your gut shootin’ blanks, it may be a good idea to start incorporating a little meat and grease to your diet.
Bring Texas Pete – Okay, so it doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be Texas Pete hot sauce, but whatever your poison for adding a little flavor to your food – bring it! Food in this country is incredibly bland, so it never hurts to come prepared with your own little 8oz bottle of flavor!
*Additional Tip – Try your best to steer clear of the typical American fast food chains around the city (i.e. Taco Bell, KFC, Subway, etc.). They may seem like an easy alternative, but both the taste, as well as the prices seem to hold a slight hint of Icelandic flavor…
However, if you’re craving some good old fancy American cuisine, then you’re in luck! Dominos Pizza’s are located all around the country with a few special deals that (surprisingly) serve as quite the budget-saver. We found a deal for two – large specialty pizzas, and a large order of cheesy breadsticks for something like $18 USD! Not too bad of a deal upon reaching your breaking point. And the taste (although different) wasn’t too bad either.