Iceland is a beautiful country with many places to discover.
Read this Iceland Travel Guide for the best things to do in Iceland on a budget, along with tips and tricks.
1. Taking a road trip
With the famous Ring Road, Iceland is a remarkable place to make a road trip.
There are several Iceland itineraries, but the most popular ones are the Golden Circle and a road trip to Southern Iceland.
Although there are Golden Circle tours or Vik tours, it’s best to travel on your own so you can have your own pace.
Taking the road trip, you can see how beautiful nature is and observe the changes in the landscape along the road.
Also, by going on road trips on your own, you can save lots of money on tours.
I always useRentalcars.com to compare the prices and services from different car providers. There are many filter options to choose from, so you can adjust them according to your needs.
Read more: How to rent a car in Iceland.
There are things that you should consider when driving in Iceland as well.
For example, some paths are closed in the winter, and some are prohibited or only get permitted to enter by specific vehicles. To learn more about this, please check my Iceland driving guide.
If you are traveling solo to Iceland, you should better book tours in advance to explore this land of ice and fire.
2. Hiking in Iceland
With many beautiful hiking trails, hills, and mountains, Iceland is a great place to go hiking.
However, as Icelandic weather is unpredictable, you might have problems with un-walkable trails and fogs.
Where to go hiking in Iceland?
There are several places for hiking in Iceland.
Hiking to Glymur waterfall, Iceland’s second tallest waterfall, is my favorite. I was there half a day, walking around the area and exploring nature. I also love the hike to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a breathtaking canyon in the South of Iceland.
3. Observing the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights is always on the bucket list of most visitors in Iceland.
From September to the middle of April, when the sky is dark, you may see Northern lights when traveling to Iceland.
It depends on the weather, the clouds, and your luck if you can observe the auroras. Thus, you should check the aurora forecast and cloud forecast to check it in advance.
Tips: I always useSkyscanner to compare flight prices and get the best deals.
4. Watching the sunset at Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the must-visit places in Iceland. In addition to the front view, you can walk behind Seljalandsfoss and have a great look through it.
Notably, when the sun is going down in the late afternoon, watching the sunset at Seljalandsfoss is one of the most incredible things to do in Iceland.
Tips: You should bring a waterproof jacket when visiting waterfalls.
5. Seeing the abandoned plane wreck
Visiting the abandoned DC plane on the black beach at Sólheimasandur should be on your Iceland travel list.
The United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel, and it crashed on the South Coast of Iceland in 1973.
There were tours from Reykjavík to Sólheimasandur, but I drove here by car.
After a long walk (around 3km) from the parking lot, you will be able to see this abandoned plane crash.
It’s awe-inspiring to observe the current state of the plane wreck and see the impact of time on it. Wandering around the area is excellent as well.
The time needed: 3 hours.
6. Going to the hot spring
Visiting the hot spring is excellent when the weather is cold outside.
Besides the most famous hot spring – Blue lagoon, you can find other natural ones when traveling in Iceland.
For example, you shouldn’t miss the Secret Lagoon when exploring the Golden Circle.
Created in 1891, this geothermal pool also has a small dining area and offers a great view of Northern lights during the wintertime.
7. Exploring the Glacier and Iceberg
The time needed: 2.5 hours
One of the best things to do in Iceland on a budget is explore the Glacier. I felt like I visited the Antarctic when I saw the Iceberg and the Glacier.
It was a great experience during my trip to Iceland. You can even hear the sound of when the Iceberg was falling as well.
You can your car in advance withRentalcars.com with several pick-up locations.
I drove here with friends, but if you would like to take a tour, here are some great options!
8. Visiting a crater
Iceland is the land of volcanos, so it would be a shame to not visit any volcanic crater during your Iceland trip.
If you’re on your Golden Circle trip, you should stop by Kerið – the volcanic crater lake and spend a couple of hours there.
You will need to pay a small entrance fee to visit Kerið, but it is worth every penny.
9. Walking along the black sand beach
The most famous place for the black sand beach is Vik, a lovely town in the South of Iceland.
The black sand originated from the basalt lava covering much of the area. There are several small rocks on the beach, so it’s pretty fun to play with them.
10. Trying Icelandic food
Iceland is expensive, and so is the food. However, don’t let it stop you from trying Icelandic specialties.
You should try many dishes in Iceland, from lamb soup to dried fish. Read this article to know more.
Although eating in Iceland is not budget-friendly, you should try their traditional food when visiting Iceland.
Read more: What to eat in Iceland.
11. Observing midnight sun
If you travel to Iceland in the spring or summer, you can see the midnight sun. The sun does not seem to come down, so the sky is not completely dark at night.
I visited Iceland in May, and the day was long. At 10 pm in May, the sky is still bright and clear and looks like it was still around the late afternoon.
It’s even brighter from June to August, so you may need to adjust to the environment.
Read more: Why you should visit Iceland in May.
12. Playing with Icelandic pony
The Icelandic horse is a breed brought to Iceland by the Vikings. They are smaller than usual and have pony size.
Icelandic horses are super cute thanks to their pony size and can be found in many places in Iceland.
Several horse farms offer riding tours and selling horses, but you can see Icelandic horses when taking a road trip in Iceland as well.
So, you don’t need to pay the entrance fee but still can pet them. Another tip for traveling to Iceland on a budget, right?
13. Finding puffins
Puffins are cute creatures that you can find in Iceland besides Icelandic ponies. From the middle of April to mid-August, you can spot puffins in some areas in Iceland.
Bonus point: It’s free to watch these cuties!
Have you ever tried hitchhiking?
If not, Iceland is a great place to start. As people are friendly and helpful, you can quickly get a lift.
Also, there are many travelers in Iceland going on a road trip, and they may share a seat with you as well.
Iceland was the first country I tried hitchhiking, and I had a great experience.
With hitchhiking, you can save lots of money on transportation, so if you’re on a budget trip to Iceland, you should consider it.
How to hitchhike in Iceland?
It’s very easy. You need to stand at one side, shake your hand and show a thump up. It took me less than 5 minutes to get a car there, and the experience was memorable.
At first, I thought it was not safe to hitchhike, but Iceland’s drivers proved to be the opposite. They are very friendly and helpful. So give yourself a try if you go there.
If you are not a big fan of Hitchhiking, you can book your car in advance with Rentalcars.com, with several pick-up locations.
15. Camping in Iceland
While during a road trip in Iceland, you can rent a van or a car and sleep in it.
Camping is an excellent way to travel to Iceland on a budget because you don’t need to spend much money on accommodation.
However, if sleeping in a car is not your cup of tea, camping in Iceland is also a great idea. You should know how to pack appropriately for your Iceland trip.
16. Visiting the capital
Although nature in Iceland is attractive, you should not miss Reykjavík – the capital of Iceland.
There are several free things to do here, from walking along the river, chilling at the park, and visiting the market.
Reykjavík also has several iconic houses, buildings, and areas. If you’re into photography or want to have some Instagrammable pictures, you should check out the city center.
Also, there are several tours that you can do from Reykjavik as well, from the Golden Circle tour to the South of Iceland in one day.