A Comprehensive Guide to Free & Cheap Things to Do in Iceland

ice bergs and alp mountains facing calm body of water

Photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash.com

In my post last week, I wrote about all of the pricey things I did in Iceland– ice caving, glacier hiking, boat riding, kayaking, and snorkeling. While all of these experiences enhanced my connection with the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, there are just as many amazing things you can do and see while spending little– or no– money. Here are some of the awesome free & cheap things my friends and I did on our trip:

Penis Museum – $15

As a group of mature, college-educated adults, this was our very first stop in Reykjavík. It’s pretty small (one big room and a few smaller ones), yet contains one phallus from every type of mammal that lives in Iceland. Above, you can see my friends & I pictured next to the penis of a sperm whale– their largest specimen. I will say that it’s a strange place, a little disconcerting at times, but full of laughter and fascinating anatomy. The gift shop has a lot of hilarious trinkets, as you can see for yourself on their website.

Hot Springs – Free

I’m pretty sure there are more free/cheap hot springs around Iceland, but we found these ones near Hveragerði. It takes a very steep, very buggy 2-mile hike up a mountain, but is well worth the work for the gorgeous views and hot springs at the top. We went a little later in the day when it was less populated, which was a great choice.

Black Sand Beach – Free

Black Sand Beach was breathtaking– I had never seen dark sand contrasted with such clear water, nor had I witnessed such gorgeous and practical basalt structures. My friends climbed up to the top, while I decided to enjoy the nature by using it as the perfect seat that it is, and ate Doritos with Tori. You may see my groutfit and judge, but remember, there are no rules in fashion!

Iceberg Lagoon & Diamond Beach – Free

As someone who had never seen an iceberg or a glacier in person, I was in awe of the amazing formations. The lagoon is a very peaceful place with amazing colors in the water, ice, rocks, and sky, and Diamond Beach actually has broken pieces of the icebergs that float by and sometimes wind up on the sand. I could have sat there and watched the ice move downstream, flipping and colliding and getting washed up on shore, all day.

Camping – At most, $17 per person per night (replaces the cost of lodging)

This campsite at Vatnajökull National Park had a gorgeous view of the mountains and the largest glacier in Europe, of the same name. It also had amenities like showers, a laundry room (which saved our asses), and WiFi. It was the most expensive campsite we used, but was well worth it for the view and extras. 

This campsite in Thingvellir National Park was surrounded by a lake and mountains. It was a little buggy, but had the most amazing views. It was so pleasant just to walk around or sit by the lake, watching the birds. It included showers and only cost us about $11 per person per night.

Fjaðrárgljúfur – Free

This hollowed ground from Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You” music video is even more breathtaking in person– it’s definitely one of the places that makes you feel like you’re in a magical, alien landscape.

 

Just find some dope waterfalls as you drive! – Free (unless you go to a touristy one, you may have to pay a small parking fee)

These were some of my favorite places to go, because we would often have them to ourselves. They all have unique colors, patterns, and growths, and you can experience many of them up close.

Stuðlagil Canyon – Free

This might have been my absolute favorite free activity. The canyon is made up of curved basalt and has the most vibrant colors. Because it’s out of the way, you don’t run into many other tourists when you visit. Above, you can see my nutso friends as they took a dip in the freezing water, while I stayed high & dry, enjoying the view of the canyon and my crazy friends.

Dimmuborgir National Park – Free

This National Park surrounds a caldera, and features paths that twist around the natural volcanic rock formations. You can also read the signs and learn about Iceland’s Yule Lads, a charming and hilarious part of their holiday lore. As one of our tour guides put it: “You have one nice Santa in America. Iceland has thirteen Santas, and they’re all MEAN!” During the holidays, Dimmuborgir has thirteen actors come out, wear white beards, and play tricks on the visitors. 

Skarðsvik Beach – Free

What I loved so much about this place is that we just kind of stumbled upon it as we were getting hungry, and got to enjoy making dinner on our “private” beach. I recommend it as a stop to anyone, though, as the cliffs and water are absolutely perfect.

Ruins near Öndverðarnes lighthouse – Free

 

We got to these ruins as the sun was setting, making the area even more gorgeous and creepy. The ruins are remnants of fishermen’s huts and farms. The ground is mostly hardened lava, covered in moss that you have to be careful not to step on.

If you have any desire to go to Iceland, I strongly encourage you to budget and make it happen. As far as international travel goes, it’s one of the most inexpensive places to go– and it’s indescribably strange and beautiful.

If you’re looking for a simple, beautiful, and personalized way to budget to make your own travel dreams possible, click below to get my free budget template.

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