Winter Vacation On A Budget In Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik city in Iceland is one of the world most beautiful winter getaways and interesting tourist places to visit. The island nation is only an hour plus flight away from UK and Europe.

  • Recently Updated: February 2022 

The Land of Fire and Ice is a must-go tourist destination where waterfalls crash down within hand’s range and geothermally heated rivers beckon you to jump right in.

While it’s no secret that visiting Reykjavik may be an expensive vacation spot but there are tons of ways to cut costs and enjoy the city on a shoestring budget.

Tourist places in Iceland isn’t cheap, but Reykjavík is one of the world’s best places to travel for visitors especially in winter.

Icelandair has a flight route that allows you to visit the capital of the Northern Lights and the Golden Circle for less money.

The famous Northern Lights requires darkish and slightly clear skies to be seen, but they’re difficult to spot because they’re so infrequent.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t see the aurora borealis or Northern Lights on a budget in popular tourist places especially in Iceland. 


Before you start exploring, pick up a free copy of Iceland Magazine or The Reykjavik Grapevine for additional suggestions and local secrets.

There are offers to make your vacation in Iceland more cost-effective before you arrive, especially through North America or Europe.

Once you’ve landed, there’s one simple method to save money right away: don’t take a cab from the airport. Because of the high cost of gasoline, a 45-minute journey may cost over $200.

Flying between one of Icelandair’s 34 US destinations and one of its 37 European destinations, for example, you may take advantage of the Icelandair Stopover deals which enables travelers to remain in Iceland for up to seven nights without incurring additional ticket costs.

Reykjavik downtown is less expensive than you would expect. When you see posters advertising Happy “Hours” that continue all day, you’ll start to wonder whether Icelanders tell time differently. 

Pubs, restaurants and hotel bars all do it, giving half-price drinks from 11.00a.m. to 8.00p.m. Whatever the reasoning, it’s another way to save money in a city where a pint of Viking beer can cost up to 1200kr (about $15).

And if you spend more than 6000kr (about $70) on any one shopping item, Iceland will offer you a going-away present at the airport which is a VAT refund.

fly bus reykjavik

Keflavik Airport To Reykjavik

When planning a short getaway to Reykjavik, keep in mind that Keflavik is home to the international airport. Bear in mind that your ticket booking will reflect Keflavik airport or KEF (shortcode). The cheapest means of transport is with Reykjavik airport bus to city service.

Book an airport shuttle on Viator fly bus Reykjavik online to avoid the que upon arrival for 3000kr (approximately $35). The only Reykjavik shuttle airport bus service is totally reliable even if your flight is delayed.

You won’t have to worry about securing a seat because your reservation ensures your seat are allocated upon confirmation. KEF airport to Reykjavik bus ride will take approximately 45 mins and there’s free WIFI onboard as well.

reykjavik public transport

Reykjavik Public Transport

There are no subways or train lines in downtown Reykjavik. However, only Straeto city buses operate in Reykjavik and the neighborhood area.

The well-maintained public buses can be easily spotted by their bright yellow colors. Bus-stops are plentiful in the city and bus services are a breeze to board.

You can use the Straeto app or go to their website to type in your itinerary. The bus stops are pretty tiny like a a extra large phonebooth with a small bench. 

Reykjavik bus tickets are paid in cash and a single trip goes by minutes (75mins).You can transit anywhere as long as you are in the time frame.

Best Time To Visit Reykjavik

The Polar Nights are a phenomenon that occurs in mid-winter when there is no sunshine and darkness dominates. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen during this time of year.

September to November are a great time to visit Reykjavik because there are fewer tourists visiting the country for the winter vacation, so airfare prices are significantly lower.

Your travel cost will increase drastically during Christmas vacation season. Bare in mind that during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, several businesses may have shortened hours.

Reykjavik In Winter

The days are long and the nights are short but because of its amazing outdoor activities. It’s a place unlike any other tourist destination and that’s why I consider Reykjavik one of the best winter getaways to go from Europe. 

Another totally awesome feature of Reykjavik in winter is its diversity of unique tours that only happen throughout December.

Natural ice caves, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and all of the other wonderful activities that will be available in winter but aren’t available during the summertime.

You’ll notice Christmas decorations all over the tourist spots. There will be skating rink, Christmas markets and shoppers galore popping up everywhere.

If you are dreaming about a white Christmas, this is the perfect vacation destination for couples to be. You should book well in advance, especially if you are traveling during the winter season.

For affordable accommodations, you can check out online services like, which is extremely useful for tourist destination like Reykjavik and other cities in Iceland.


Reykjavik Day Trips

Reykjavik isn’t only costly for tourists, it’s also expensive for locals, which is why the city is bursting at the seams with second-hand and vintage stores.

You can buy hand-knitted Icelandic sweaters for a discount at Spuutnik on Laugavegur 28, Reykjavik’s main street or one of the three Red Cross shops.

Avoid the overpriced “puffin shops” on Laugavegur for souvenirs or presents and instead stroll down to Hverfisgata for some good deals.

Because Reykjavik is a UNESCO City of Literature, you may take self-guided literary walks to discover sites related to Icelandic crime fiction or LGBT literature using the free Reykjavik Culture Walks app.

Reykjavik is very walkable after you’ve arrived in the city. It’s small and safe (contrary to what Nordic noir crime books would have you think), especially in the summer when there’s almost 24 hours of sunshine.

There are also safe walking tours conducted for free by residents, many of them are university graduates. (tips accepted) Icelanders appear to be pretty well-educated and hospitable people.

Then, there’s the Reykjavik City Card, which grants free admission to art museum and geothermally heated swimming pools as well as discounts at establishment like Bio Paradis. A 24-hour City Card costs 3700kr (about $45).

Places To Go Near Reykjavik

Self-driving in Iceland is the ideal way to see the spectacular waterfalls that are scattered near Reykjavik.

You don’t want to waste your money on booking tour where you might be cramped in a minivan especially in this post pandemic time.

If you wish to see the falls on the ring road, rent a 4×4 rather than a passenger vehicle.

Check out my related article post on the most captivating waterfalls near Reykjavik.

Here’s 10 best places to score affordable tasty eats

Budget Places To Stay


  • Hotels in Reykjavik may be pricey, especially if you’re traveling alone and during the summer. Staying in one of the city’s new hostels is one method to get around this. 
  • Forget about bedbugs and noisy roommates. The hostels in Reykjavik, like others in northern Europe are clean, green, and trendy. The guests are mostly friendly and sociable.
  • Hlemmur Square and the quirky new Oddsson, even have hotel rooms as well as hostel beds, giving you privacy, a friendly vibe and free or affordable activities such as communal dinners for as little as 1100kr (about $12)
  • Alternatively, rent a place with a kitchen and stock up on supplies to prepare your own meals or you find an accommodation on a budget.
  • Costco is an all-under-one-roof American supermarket, one out of every eight Icelanders apparently signed up for a membership before it even opened.

This is your affordable store to stock up on everything you need. So yeah, you can stay in a hostel, room etc and not worry about groceries in Reykjavík making this destination the best winter getaway from Europe. 


Get Updates Direct To Your Inbox!