Reykjavik on a Budget

Reykjavik on a Budget: How to Visit Without Breaking the Bank

There are a lot of words you could use to describe Iceland but “cheap” certainly isn’t one of them. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t visit though because it’s an awesome country and there’s a lot to see and do. During my recent visit, I was trying not to jump on the spendings treadmill too much so I decided to compile this list of tips and cheap things to do to help you prepare for your own visit. If you use a few of these tips then you should be able to enjoy a great visit to Reykjavik on a budget without having to sell one of your kidneys to pay back your credit card!

Reykjavik on a Budget: How to Visit Without Breaking the Bank

There are a lot of words to describe Iceland but cheap isn't one of them! Here's a guide to visiting Reykjavik on a budget - no kidney selling required.

Get the City Card

Reykjavik offers a really great City Cardย which allows you a lot of bargains when it comes to restaurants, museums, public transport and public pools to name a few. You can pick one up for 24, 48 or 72 hours ranging from $35 to $56USD depending on which one you get. If you’re going to be seeing sights around the city these are well worth it! I had one of these for 24 hours and did all my city sights while I had it and it was a great way to save money! The full list of the discounts and freebies can be found here on the Visit Reykjavik website and you can also see the long list of places to buy one on that website as well.

Visit the Local Pools

Entrance to the Blue Lagoon starts at $50USD and goes up from there and that doesn’t include your transport to get there – it’s 45 minutes outside of the city. The local pools on the other hand are sprinkled all around the city so you could walk to one easily, or catch the bus which would be free if you got the City Card. Sure, no cameras are allowed and they’re nowhere near as ‘instagrammy’ but entrance to the local pools is a fraction of the cost at only $9USD and is also free if you use the City Card. At the pools they have geothermal tubs, ice baths, pools and kiddie areas as well as steam rooms so there really is everything you need to relax. Before you visit, be sure to read more about the local pools and the pre-swim process that you need to follow in this post.

Reykjavik on a Budget

The Saga Museum entrance

Eat on a Budget

This one might be something that people already do when they’re traveling to save money but in my opinion it was especially important in Reykjavik because everything was quite expensive. I went to a convenience store near my hotel in the morning and got a muesli bar and protein shake for breakfast, had lunch on the road while I was out exploring then went to the same convenience store for a dinner of a hot dog, drink and snack. I splurged on a hotel breakfast and of course had to try the famous lobster soup at Saegriffin but most days I stuck to this basic routine to save money. If you’re looking for convenience stores near you then this post has a great guide.

Join a Bus Tour

Ok, so this one isn’t in Reykjavik specifically since the bus tour would probably take you outside of the city but it’s a great way to see a lot of sights and natural wonders without having to burn all your cash on car rental, insurance and fuel. It’s also a cool way to just relax and let someone else focus on driving and navigating while you soak in all the beauty of the landscapes. I did two bus tours with Bustravel Iceland (and wrote about them here if you are interested) and I think they are great value for money.

Use the Bus or Your Legs

The city is pretty small and it’s easy to get around on foot so unless you are doing a drive around the country, you don’t need to rent a car. You could easily see a lot by walking or bussing it around the city and surrounding areas then using a bus tour for day trips to see some of the amazing nature outside of the city. Remember to download the city as an offline area to Google Maps on your phone and you’ll be set! If you forget then you can pick up a city map from most hotels.

Free Things To Do

Admire the Sun Voyager

On the edge of the water sits the Sun Voyager statue. It’s easy to walk to and is a nice place to visit not only for the large, impressive steel monument but also for the scenic views of mountains against the water. Best seen at sunset in my opinion.

Reykjavik on a Budget

The Sun Voyager

Walk Along the Water

While you’re there, after getting some pictures of the statue you can take a walk along the scenic path besides the water. It’s a popular trail for joggers and even though the weather was so cold while I was there, I saw a good amount of dedicated people doing their evening exercise! With the view along the path, I can’t really blame them to be honest.

Visit Hallgrimskirkja Church

Another spot that is easy to walk to (and very hard to miss to be honest) is the Hallgrimskirkja Church. They do have tours if you want to pay to take the elevator to the top, otherwise you can visit for free and see the ground level. Don’t forget to check out the statue ofย Leifur Eiriksson who stands out the front of the church.

Reykjavik on a Budget

Hallgrimskirkja Church

Relax at Tjornin Pond

Whether you want to sit and reflect, have a picnic or check out all the birds, Tjornin is a really pretty spot to visit. When I was there I saw so many birds! There was a huge group of ducks, swans, geese and pigeons all vying for the attention of the humans on the edge and hoping some bread would be thrown their way I’m sure.

Admire the Street Art

As you walk around Reykjavik you’ll quickly notice that impressive and interesting street are is a thing there. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk around and be sure to check the sides of buildings (it’s like seeing a walking, free art show!)

Reykjavik on a Budget

Street Art

Cheap Things To Do

Visit a Museum

The Saga Museum, Penis Museum, Art Museum, National Museum of Iceland and The Settlement Exhibition are just a few of the museums on offer and many entrance fees are discounted or free when you use the City Card.

Head to the Beach

Yes, you read that correctly! Even though it is cold you can soak in the geothermal heated water or hot tubs at Nautholsvik or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, jump into the non heated section! Entrance is free in summer but $5USD in winter.

Reykjavik on a Budget

Tjornin Pond

Join a Walking Tour

A good thing to do when you first arrive is to join aย free walking tour with Citywalk to see a little more and learn a thing or two about the city. It’s technically a free tour butย runs off donations so your fee is tip based.

Tour Harpa Concert Hall

For about $16USD you can get a 45 minute guided tour of the Harpa Concert Hall. This building is such a pretty sight to look at from the outside and doing the tour allows you to flip the point of view and see it from a performers perspective.

Reykjavik on a Budget

Harpa Concert Hall

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