Before you make plans for Iceland, take a good look at the costs: because Iceland is now one of the "in places to go", it has become one of the most expensive places in the world. When we stayed at a hotel in Reykjavik in 2015, the room cost just over $200 a night. Today, that same room costs $400 a night. Check menu prices at local restaurants. A friend of mine went to Iceland last year and had sticker shock over the food costs. Iceland is a great place to go (I'v been there twice) but you might be better off waiting until someplace else becomes the "in place" and prices in Iceland get back to normal.
I just spent the past week in Iceland. Iceland has not become expensive because it's popular. It has ALWAYS been expensive because of its remote location and the fact that most things have to be brought in from far away. I didn't find our hotel to be any more expensive than most other European cities - we paid about $250 per night and the three places we stayed were very nice. Food is expensive no matter where you go. Soup with two slices of bread cost anywhere from $14 - $23, burgers cost $19 and up, beer was about $9 and up. A fish dinner in a mid-range restaurant was $28 and up. Paid $10 for a slice of apple pie. T-shirt souvenir $40. Icelandic wool socks for my husband $26. Icelandic sweater $160. Breakfast buffet at one of our hotels was $29. 1/2 tank of gas for our Suzuki SUV was about $60. Just be aware before going and budget accordingly!
To reply to Anita, in 2015, you could get 135 Icelandic krona for a U.S. Dollar. Today, you can only get 98 krona for a dollar. Effectively, prices in Iceland have gone up for U.S. travelers by nearly 40% in only three years- an astonishing figure. If you want value for your money, it is very tough to find it today in Iceland. You might be better off checking out countries such as the U.K. where, four years ago, it cost you $1.80 to get a pound but today in only costs $1.40.
There's that, but there's also that this is when we can afford to travel. If we choose our destinations, accommodations, food, etc, carefully, knowing what we are getting into, then we can enjoy it on our own terms.
Jean - Based on what you said, the cost of visiting Iceland isn’t because it’s popular, it’s due to the strength of the dollar or weakness of its currency. You use the Uk as an example, a number of years ago it was $2 for a pound, for the last couple years the exchange rate has hovered around $1.24, now it’s $1.40. In2000, it was 84 cents for every Euro. Back in 2007 or so that had changed to $1.65 and now it’s about $1.23. Europe and the UK haven’t become more or less popular, it simply the strength of the dollar. I get the point that there are less expensive places one can visit, but If I wanted to go to Iceland, I’ll pay the prevailing exchange rate. I don’t remember the exchange rate when I went to Iceland in2013, but we got a package deal through Icelandair; air, hotel, and tour.
Yes and no. Food and gasoline were pricey. Lodging was pricey simply due to small supply. But our flights over were cheap (new Icelandair route) and kids are free at many things (Blue Lagoon for one) or heavily discounted at others. Also so many gorgeous natural sights - waterfalls, lagoons, geothermal areas, etc. without entrance fees. We went to a few pool complexes and those costs are very reasonable. We also swam in a free outdoor pool. So we spent less on activities/entertainment/entrance fees than we would somewhere else.
We spent two weeks on Iceland, July 2016 and circumnavigated the country driving about 1,800 miles. We elected to camp every night and that was very affordable, about $20.00 a night with great restrooms and hot showers and no reservations needed so we could stop when we wanted or stay longer in an area we liked. We purchased food at local markets and went out a few times in some of the small villages. The last two nights we stayed in the capital and stayed at the same hotel that we stayed in two years prior and it was about $145 a night which included a buffet breakfast and only a three minute walk to the waterfront. The only major expense was the 4X4 rental, (for the highland river crossings) and round trip airfare. Lovely place, plan on taking a week next time for the highlands, then visit the Westman islands and other parts in the North Fjord areas that we didn't make it to.
because Iceland is now one of the "in places to go"
This is not a new phenomenon, it has been that way for many years (even back when I went in 2004 for the first time). The tourism has only grown tremendously during the past decade and more when carriers added new flights (when I went to Iceland, WOW Air didn't fly there and I'm not sure it even existed). I think the demand on lodging especially during summer (peak season) is what pushes the prices up so high (there's a big differential between peak and non-peak hotel pricing), even though I believe they've had a building boom and added to their stock of lodging places (Airbnb and others are also additions that weren't available when I was in Iceland). Yes, the food is expensive as it is on any other island due to imports but local food (fish, yogurt, lamb, etc) is very high quality so the prices reflect that. I definitely spent more in Iceland than any other country I've been to on a "per day" basis.
Iceland may not get a competitor anytime soon because it's marketing machine is in overdrive (see new Rick Steves book as an example) and it's somewhat unique with limited substitutes, so I wouldn't count on the emergence of some alternative to divert people away. Most of the tourists I saw there were Brits because it's close and well-known to them. The Icelandic tourist infrastructure is also very fine-tuned. So I see only a few options for folks who want to go there: 1) go off season when it gets dark at 4pm or earlier, 2) take advantage of alternative lodging arrangements not smack in the center of the commercial street in Reykjavik, 3) buy some food at local markets instead of eating out all the time, 4) try to economize on sight-seeing trips (those guided tours can get really pricey too), 5) consider skipping the Blue Lagoon as there are many local geothermal pools that are less known and touristed, 6) take advantage of the cheap budget flights via Iceland Air or WOW with the layovers included, 7) consider Iceland Air vacation packages as their pricing can be quite competitive even though you'll stay in business type hotels a bit on the outskirts of Reykjavik, and 8) try to go when exchange rate is relatively more favorable, if possible (it makes a big difference for any country, but Iceland especially).