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Eat Cheap in Iceland

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What do you eat in Iceland without spending all your money?

Unless you want to eat hot dogs three times a day, restaurants in Iceland are expensive. Even the cheapest restaurant will set you back at least 8 USD for a single item meal (a hamburger, bowel of soup). As this is an extreme budget travel guide, I will only say that restaurants should be used sparingly, and will not review any here.

Instead of eating out at restaurants, most travelers with limited fund will cook their own food in their hostel or campsite. Surprisingly, essential items in Iceland are not really that expensive on a global scale, and, if you buy your food from a Bonus (discount supermarket with the pink pig as the logo), and cook for yourself, you can easily eat on well on around $10 per day. Go to How Much does it Cost to Travel in Iceland for more on expenses.

Hot dogs are sold all over Iceland, they are the cheapest prepared food you can get

Cooking your own food in Iceland

Cooking facilities come standard in hostels in Iceland, so if you plan on using this type of accommodation, your food strategy is set. If you are camping (the cheapest accommodation option in the country), you will often need to have your own cooking gear. While some of the nicer campsites in the country do provide kitchens, this is not the rule — especially if you are trekking or camping on the sly.

A good wind shield is almost essential for cooking in Iceland

The cooking gear that I observed travelers in Iceland using was highly varied, and it was common to see campers using everything from a full on butane grill to a little propane camp stove, to an alcohol burning tuna fish can. Most all camp fuels — including denatured alcohol — are common in Iceland, though they are often not cheap. One of the best vagabonding tactics for Iceland is to scour the campsites for left behind canisters of cooking fuel or discarded food. If you stay at the campsite in Reykjavik long enough you can easily collect enough left behind fuel to last your entire journey through the country.

Tips for eating cheap in Iceland

Coffee refills are free so when investing in a $3 mug of coffee make sure to fill it up again three or four times to get you money’s worth.

Make your beer cold without refrigeration by using this tip.

Beer in Iceland is extremely expensive, avoid drinking too much unless you want to run out of money.

Scavenge as much food as you possibly can from the campsite in Reykjavik before taking off into the countryside. This city is the entrance and departure point for most travelers to Iceland, and many campers leave behind the food, cooking gear, and other essential supplies that they don’t want to take with them out of the country in the “free” bins at this campsite.

Dumpster dive as much food as possible. The dumpsters are excellent in Iceland, so go behind the supermarkets and take your fill.

Expect your meals in Iceland to look like this tomato noodle soup

More information about finding cheap food when traveling

Read more about Iceland on the travelogue

  • Travelogue entries about Iceland

Iceland Travel Guide

  • Read more about Iceland on the Iceland Travel Guide

Browse more Vagabond Journey.com Travel Guides

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Filed under: Europe, Food, Iceland

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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