Vibrant two-toned houses covered in corrugated aluminum siding dot the cobblestone streets of Reykjavik, brightening the ancient Viking town even during the longest of dark days. Like a cross between a 1940s Monterey and a 21st century Paris, Reykivik's small town fashionista charm is unfortunately clouded by the downright ridiculous cost of food and drink.
Beer at the bar will run you $7-10 a pint, on average, while a 4-pack of Icelandic pounders costs $14 or more. Do you like Jack Daniels? Well, expect to pay $50 for a fifth. And dining out is equally expensive; most plates at restaurants – yes, even the cafes and dive-looking establishments – begin at $10. Burgers, pizza and hot dogs – a national staple in the country – are the cheap eats, ranging from $3 for the dog to $12 for a 12-inch mediocre pizza.
While Reyjkavik (and Iceland for that matter) have limited budget options, one of the best ways to ease the strain on your pocketbook is to pitch a tent at the city's only campground.
Camping at the Reyjkavik City Campground is the best way to see the capital city while saving a little money to see the country's beautiful glaciers, waterfalls and black sand Atlantic beaches. Located 15 minutes – walking time – from the downtown area, the campground has clean showers, bathrooms and an abundance of hot water for under $9 a person if you bring your own tent, or you can rent one from them for an additional $9.
The campground, which is in run in conjunction with the Reykjavik City Hostel, offers free WiFi at the reception area (the hostel does as well). One additional perk: it’s located next to one of the city's finest geothermal pools. For about $2.50, you get all-day access to Laugardalslaug, the city’s largest pool. The complex contains a 50-meter outdoor pool, two water slides, an outdoor children's pool, numerous “hot pots,” steam bath, gym and a mini golf course.
All in all, the Reykjavik City Campground is a great budget option for couples, groups or the independent traveler who may want the social atmosphere of a hostel at a fraction of the cost.