iceland: budget + itinerary for a 5-day DIY trip


Budget and Itinerary / Items to Bring / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5

Iceland. An alien part of the earth filled with rugged landscapes, boundless horizons, and home to the four seasons in one long drive. We had the greatest pleasure to get to know this otherworldly place and we had our Iceland adventure last October 2018! Sharing below to you guys so that you can be inspired putting it in your bucket list and ticking it off! And nope, this is not sponsored in any way. 😊

Planning Period

We’ve decided to go to Iceland a year before the actual trip. It was a casual, “Hey, let’s go to Iceland” joke that turned out to be real especially when we received a random Facebook message from a college classmate asking if anyone’s going to Iceland. It was a commitment the moment we replied to that message. In the following months, we’ve read and watched tons of resources before our trip – how to do a budget trip, where to go, what to bring, what clothes to wear, how to survive the changing weather. It was an awesome year of anticipation!

Trip Date

In the end, we decided to go in October 2018 for a good chance of seeing the aurora borealis in a bit warmer weather (at least compared to Icelandic winter), and because the sun sets at around 7PM that time. We had gone for 5 full trip days and 2 flight days to Iceland from our destination. We dedicated a day each for our flight to and from Amsterdam.

Flights

We bought our tickets to Iceland with Icelandair in April which is 6 months before our departure. It is quite expensive at PHP 21,500 (USD 410 or EUR 360) but we got to choose our seats and it includes a 23kg baggage allowance which perfectly matched our long-haul flight allowance with KLM (Amsterdam – Manila).

There are other airlines you can book going to Iceland like Wow Air and Scandinavian Airlines but it depends on you, where you will be coming from and what your preferred convenience is (time or money). Tip: You can check Skyscanner for flights and compare with the airline’s direct website.


Season and Weather

October is still Autumn/Fall but the temperature ranged from -3 to 8 degrees Celsius when we were there. The temperature is one thing, the wind is another. You may check online what the forecast is for that month while you’re still deciding which date to go, and you may conveniently check your phone weather app for your outfit for the day.

Sunset and Aurora Forecast

We found going in October pretty convenient cos 1/ it’s not yet winter, 2/ the sun sets at 7PM which gives us plenty hours of sunlight to drive around, and 3/ the aurora borealis forecast is good for the month. You may check online for these and we hope you find the best month to go for your preferred activities!


Currency and Credit Cards

Iceland uses the Icelandic Krona = PHP 0.45, USD 0.0085, EUR 0.0075.

I did not exchange any cash knowing that using cards is convenient in the whole island. I didn’t have any problem. My friends, though, exchanged cash EUR/USD at the money changer inside the airport.

If you’re planning to use cards, make sure that they are PIN-ready.

SIM Card and Internet Connection

As always, I reloaded my SIM2Fly and it didn’t disappoint while in Iceland!

Travel Insurance

A must-have when traveling. You just don’t leave the country without one.


Car Rental and Gas

We were Iceland first-timers so we planned to stick and do the Ring Road. We didn’t book with any travel operator for the trip and decided to do it DIY, so we rented a car with Blue Car Rental. We chose an automatic Toyota RAV4 4x4 for 5 people and it cost us PHP 7,000 (USD 134 or EUR 111) per person and it already includes car insurance. We used the car for 7 days.

From the airport, there is a shuttle going to the car rental buildings and once you get your rented car, you’re ready to roll and explore. On our flight day back to Amsterdam, we arrive early at the airport and the boys returned the car to Blue.

With everything in Iceland, gasoline, even diesel, is gold. Costs a fortune! It cost us PHP 4,500 (USD 85 or EUR 75) per person for 7 days. Tip: Please bring PIN-ready credit cards cos none of had any. We couldn’t use our cards directly at the machine so we needed to find stations where we can pay over the counter.


Accommodation

There are still only a few accommodation options in Iceland, so we booked 5 months ahead in May. Since we were 5 people, we booked whole apartments in Airbnb with the exception of the inn in Hofn. Please feel free to check the accommodation we used. All are recommended, and this is not an ad!

Day 1
Reykjavik
PHP 2360 (USD 45 or EUR 39) per person

Day 2
Vik
PHP 3905 (USD 74 or EUR 65) per person

Day 3
Höfn
PHP 3460 (USD 66 or EUR 58) per person

Day 4
Akureyri
PHP 2960 (USD 56 or EUR 50) per person

Day 5
Helgafellssveit/Stykkisholmur
PHP 2609 (USD 50 or EUR 43) per person

This one is a highlight! It’s located right smack in the middle of nowhere and this is where we saw the aurora borealis in its clearest! It was MORE THAN AMAZING. I highly recommend this place.

Day 6 (same apartment as Day 1)
Reykjavik
Private and Cosy Aparment in Down Town
PHP 2360 (USD 45 or EUR 39) per person


Groceries

It’s a fact that Filipinos LOVE eating so we planned even for our food in Iceland. We bought pasta and sauces from home, canned goods, even bread, and other snacks that we ate while on the road. Food is so expensive in Iceland that even buying in the grocery does not help on saving costs. We were 5 people so we bought food for dinner and snacks per person to cook and share.

We did go to the grocery store called Bonus in West Iceland cos we ran out of dinner and we wanted to try the famous Icelandic yogurt called Skyr. Per Wikipedia, “it is an Icelandic cultured dairy product. It has the consistency of strained yogurt, but a milder flavor. Skyr is technically classified as cheese, although widely regarded as yogurt.” We tried different flavors and since we Filipinos have strong food flavors preferring sweet and salty tastes, we didn’t like it as much. But it was good to try!


Food

Did I mention that everything in Iceland is expensive? Ever ate a regular hotdog in a bun for PHP 750 (USD 14 or EUR 13). Like literally A REGULAR HOTDOG IN A BUN. The most expensive gas station food I’ve ever eaten!

We didn’t bring food for lunch from the Philippines cos we really planned to eat hot food on the road, therefore the gas station food per day and the good thing about it is that you’ll find one to stop at every day if you’re touring the Ring Road. If you’d like to do it like us, please prepare around PHP 1000 (USD 19 or EUR 17) per lunch meal. Savor it while eating. 😋

Blue Lagoon

We did Blue Lagoon on our last full day to treat ourselves with a relaxing way to end the trip… And we booked ahead of time too cos the resort has a maximum capacity of people per day or time slot. The price also varies on the time you go. You may check it out in their website!

Itinerary

Flight Day
Day 1: Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss, Skogafoss, Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
Day 2: Reynisfjara, Vik, Black Sand Beach, Svinafellsjokull, glacier, Jokulsarlon, glacier lagoon
Day 3: Dettifoss, Grjotagja Cave, Godafoss
Day 4: Snæfellsjökull National Park, Kirkjufell Mountain, Djúpalónssandur Beach
Day 5: Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon
Flight Day

*****

We added all our expenses up for this DIY trip and came up with the total…

TOTAL BUDGET without long-haul airfare
PHP 90,000 (USD 1715 or EUR 1505) per person

Cheap! Of course compared if you book group tours. 😉 We’re super, SUPER happy with our trip!

Whew, didn’t expect this guide to be this long. Next up will be what to wear and the day itineraries! Please bear with me. HAHA!

*****

Here are our travel videos! It's an understatement that we had a GRAND, AWESOME TIME!





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