At first glance, Laugavegur Trail may seem physically daunting, but many might find it even more financially intimidating. After all, Iceland has a reputation for being one of the most expensive countries in the world. There’s no doubt that it’s not a cheap place to travel, but those on a budget need not despair. In fact, trekking the Laugavegur might be one most affordable ways to see the best of Iceland, if you know what you’re doing.
We tend to travel on the frugal side, as we enjoy the simplicity and authentic experiences that go hand in hand with this type of travel. That being said, we’re not claiming the most hardcore budget travelers out there; we certainly allow ourselves to indulge in things that bring value to our experience, such as a post-hike beer or a hotel room on our rest day. Below we’ve outlined what we spent on our 2019 Laugavegur adventure, as well as some tips for keeping your expenses down. We hope that by sharing this information, our fellow hikers will be able to plan and budget more accurately for their own trip. Additionally, you might find that an experience like the Laugavegur is more within reach than you originally thought, if you just make a few intentional decisions when planning your travel. So grab your tent and get out there!
We chose to camp along the Laugavegur Trail and we highly recommend it to others for a number of reasons. First, there is camping available at every hut along the trail, making easy to customize your itinerary. Unlike the huts, you don’t need to reserve your campsite in advance, affording you flexibility while hiking. The campgrounds provide drinking water, sinks, toilets, showers, and small shops, making them quite convenient and mildly luxurious. We also preferred the privacy of our tent versus the dorm-style sleeping arrangements of the huts. Sleeping outdoors in such spectacular surroundings became a highlight of our trip. And of course, the price of camping can’t be beat! In you decide to stay in the huts instead, expect to pay a bit more. However, many hikers who’ve chosen to stay in huts have found it to be well worth the extra money for a warm, dry place to end the day and for the ability to carry a much lighter pack. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for either accommodation:
- Average Hut Price: 9,000 ISK (per person)
- Average Camping Price: 2,000 ISK (per person)
- Shower at huts: 500 ISK (5 minutes)
- Hostel in Skogar: 6,500 ISK (per person for dorm bed)
- Average mid-range hotel in Reykjavik: 18,000 ISK
- Round-trip transport between the Laugavegur Trail and Reykjavik (via the Reykjavik Excursions “Hiker Pass”): 14,000 ISK (per person)
- Strateo (public) bus between Skogar and Reykjavik: 5,640 ISK (per person-one way)
- Strateo bus from Keflavik Airport (KEF) to central Reykjavik: 1,880 ISK (per person-one way)
- Private Transfer from Keflavik Airport (KEF) to central Reykjavik: 3,449 ISK (per person-one way)
Be sure to read our Laugavegur Trail Logistics article for detailed information on getting to and from your trek.
We strategically used credit card points and miles in order to fly on IcelandAir from Chicago to Geneva, with a free week-long stopover in Iceland. Check out our entire Travel for Free series to learn more.
Airline Taxes and Fees: $150.00 + 27,500 Alaska Airlines miles* (per person)
*Alaska Airlines is a partner with IcelandAir, thus allowing us to use their miles to purchase our tickets. Unfortunately, the amount of miles required for this trip has increased since the time we booked our flights.
Food and Drink
Iceland’s reputation for being expensive is largely due to the pricey nature of food and drink. While preparing for our trip, we came across tales of tourists bringing extra suitcases full of food from home and of people swearing that you couldn’t find fresh produce anywhere in the country without paying a king’s ransom. These reports are certainly unfairly dramatic. In general, you can find decent prices on necessities at the grocery stores in bigger cities, such as bread, cheeses, and other staple items. We found that Budget and Krónan stores had the best prices. Produce is expensive, but once again, you can find reasonably priced items if you’re willing to keep it simple and be somewhat flexible.
However, since you can’t buy much food along the trail anyways, you may want to consider bringing some of your hiking foods from home. This will ensure that you’ll have a better selection and more predictable prices. Obviously, you can only bring sealed, packaged items through customs, but that jives well with nonperishable hiker foods anyways. We brought all of our meals for the trek from home, and it definitely saved us some money. If you choose to buy your food once you get there, be sure to stock up on as much as possible while in Reykjavik. The huts (with the exception of the restaurants at Álftavatn and Þórsmörk) do not provide meals, which is helpful on the budget since eating out in Iceland tends to be insanely expensive! Most huts have a small shop stocked with candy, chips, soda, beer, and sometimes ramen, but you’ll still need to cook it yourself and the prices at these shops are quite high. This is understandable, considering the effort it takes to get a Twix bar from the point of production to a remote location in the far reaches of the Icelandic wilderness! Below we’ve listed what you can expect to pay for a variety of items along the trail and in Reykjavik in order to give you an idea of what things might cost:
At a grocery store in Reykjavik:
- Loaf of sandwich bread: 350 ISK
- Bag of muesli: 800 ISK
- Block of cheese: 400 ISK
- Package of noodle soup: 500 ISK
At a shop in the huts:
- Beer: 1,300 ISK
- Bag of chips: 500 ISK
- Candy bar: 400 ISK
- Cup of noodles: 700 ISK
- Meal at Álftavatn or Þórsmörk: 3,500 ISK
- Stove Fuel: 1,500 ISK
- Laundry: 500 ISK for wash + another 500 ISK for dryer
- Guidebook (We recommend Brian Zimmer’s The Laugavegur Trail: A Hiking Companion to Iceland’s Famous Trek): $17 on Amazon
- Luggage storage (medium sized locker) at the BSI Bus terminal in Reykjavik: 990 ISK per day
While there’s no escaping the high costs of some essentials, in general, one can experience the Laugavegur Trail on a modest budget (and have an amazing experience while doing so). Obviously, you’ll also want to factor in the cost of hiking gear that you’ll need to purchase prior to setting off on your trek. Check out our packing list to get an idea of what you might need to purchase ahead of time. Also, our Backpacking Gear on a Budget article has some helpful ideas for keeping your costs low when putting together your backpacking kit. Whether you choose to splurge or keep it simple, we feel confident you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime.
Ready to keep planning your Laugavegur trek? Be sure to read our entire series on the Laugavegur Trail to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for this incredible adventure!
- Guide to Camping on the Laugavegur Trail
- Laugavegur Trail Packing List – Be sure you’ve got everything you need!
- Laugavegur Trail Photo Gallery: Get inspired!
- Laugavegur Trip Report- Know what to expect on the trail!
- The Laugavegur Trail | Map, Routes, and Itineraries-Plan and customize your trip!