Iceland is a beautiful country with many places to discover. In this article, I share the best things to do in Iceland on a budget, along with tips and tricks. Get inspired to explore Iceland with our Iceland Travel Guide.
1. Taking a road trip
With the famous Ring Road, Iceland is a popular place to do a road trip. There are several Iceland itineraries, but the most popular ones are Golden Circle and a road trip to Southern Iceland.
Although there are Ring Road tours or Vik tours, it’s the 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 doing road trips on your own, you can save lots of money on tours.
>> Book your car in advance with Rentalcars.com with several pick-up locations.
There are things that you should consider on the road in Iceland as well. For example, some roads are closed in the winter, and some are prohibited, or only get permitted to enter by specific vehicles. Therefore, you must check carefully before driving.
>> With Rentalcars.com you can book your car with several pick-up locations.
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 really 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, hiking around the area and exploring the nature.
Tips: You should bring a waterproof jacket when visiting waterfalls.
Time needed: 3.5 – 4hours
3. Observing the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights is always on the bucket list of things most visitors in Iceland would like to experience. From September to middle of April, when the sky is dark, you may see Northern lights when traveling to Iceland.
It depends on the weather, on the clouds, on your luck if you can observe the auroras. Thus, you should check the aurora forecast and cloud forecast to check it in advance.
Search for cheap flights to Iceland with Skyscanner
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 view through it.
Especially, in the late afternoon, when the sun is going down, 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 in the South Coast of Iceland in 1973.
There’re 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 really impressive to observe the current state of the plane wreck and see the impact of time on it. Wandering around the area is great as well.
Time needed: 3 hours
6. Going to the hot spring
Visiting the hot spring is great 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 winter time.
7. Exploring the Glacier and Iceberg
One of the best things to do in Iceland on a budget is exploring the Glacier. I felt like I visited 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 fallen as well.
Time needed: 2.5 hours
> Book your car in advance with Rentalcars.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 if you don’t 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 back sand originated from the basalt lava that covers much of the area.
There are several small rocks on the beach, so it’s quite fun to play with them. Below is my picture at Vik.
10. Trying Icelandic food
Iceland is expensive, and so is the food. However, don’t let it stop you from trying Icelandic specialties. There are many dishes that you should try in Iceland, from the lamb soup to the dried fish. Read this article to know more.
Although eating in Iceland is not budget-friendly, but you should definitely try their traditional food when visiting Iceland.
>>Read about what to eat in Iceland
11. Observing midnight sun
If you travel to Iceland in 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 really long. The sky at 10 pm in May 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 adapt to the environment.
12. Playing with Icelandic pony
The Icelandic Horse is a breed which was 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.
There are several horses farms that 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 another cute creatures that you can find in Iceland besides Icelandic ponies. From the middle of April to mid-August, you can find 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 easily get a lift. Also, there are many travelers in Iceland going on a road trip, they may share a seat with you as well. Iceland was the first country that I tried hitchhiking, and I had a great experience with it.
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 and simple. You just 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 very nice. At first, I thought that it’s 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 a good way to travel to Iceland on a budget because you don’t need to spend much money on accommodation.
16. Visiting the capital
Although the nature in Iceland is attractive, you should not miss Reykjavík – the capital of Iceland. There are several things free things to do here, from walking along the river, chilling at the park, to visiting the market.
Reykjavík also has several iconic houses, buildings, and areas. If you’re into photography or just simply want to have some Instagrammable pictures, you should check out the center of the city.
Also, there are several tours from that you can do from Reykjavik as well, from Golden Circle tour to South of Iceland in one day.
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* This article was updated on June 15th, 2018.
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