From Iceland — How The Icelandic Coupon Book Saved My Life

How The Icelandic Coupon Book Saved My Life

How The Icelandic Coupon Book Saved My Life

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Published November 7, 2017

I stand at BSÍ, a recently arrived tourist to Iceland. What is Iceland? Where am I? Does God exist? How did Donald Trump become president? Why did RuPaul’s Drag Race not win an Emmy? These questions swim in my head and I become confused. I faint, but the cool stone of the bus terminal snaps me back to consciousness. Get it together Hannah. You can do this.

How do I know I can do this? Well, on the Icelandair flight, I bought the Icelandic coupon book, which is filled with deals on food, drinks, shopping, and activities all over Reykjavík. Not only that, but it also comes with a SIM card, which I use to guide myself to my hotel.

The book costs 1.000 ISK, but I’m certain it will quickly pay for itself. As I am an avid watcher of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” I know this is possible. I’ve seen people get shopping carts worth of groceries for nothing, so surely I can make my Iceland trip unforgettable on my limited budget.

With my Arctic gear on—hey, my guide book told me to be prepared for anything—I feel ready to take on the city. Armed with my coupon book, I’m ready for war. Watch out Iceland.

Café Haiti

To wake up, I grab a coffee and a muffin at Café Haiti. With my 15% discount, the pastry goes from 600 ISK to 510 ISK. What a deal! It’s a lucky one, because according to my online search of the Grapevine database, the café has some of the best coffee in Reykjavík. There’re not lying—I’m very satisfied with my flavourful joe and moist muffin, and so relaxing at their outdoor tables on the harbour, I sip and laugh gleefully while watching boats. (In this scenario I’m from some Godforsaken landlocked state/country, so I find boats very exciting).

While the boats float aimlessly, the harbour itself is misty and solemn. There’s barely a soul about. Apparently the day has not yet begun in Reykjavík and looking at this, I can’t help but think: Jesus it’s 10:00, no wonder this country doesn’t have a space program with all these slackers. That said, I try to get in the spirit of “island time” so armed with my trusty dark brew, I mindlessly swipe right on Tinder to find a nice boy to spend my coupons with.

Whale Watching

As stated before, I am from some god-awful place like Idaho or Liechtenstein, so I ventured to Iceland with one thing in mind: friendly marine mammals. Luckily, my coupon book offers 15% off whale watching with Reykjavík Sailors. The normal price is 9.900 ISK, but I stealthy pay only 8.415 ISK.

With my warm floatation overalls safely fastened—safety first guys—I bask in a beautiful day on the water. The boat even has free Wi-Fi, so I start an Instagram live video to show my loser friends what they are missing. As the likes start pouring in, the whales start coming out. I’m feeling really confident in my social media savviness and begin to imagine my life as an Icelandic whale. Having people pay lots of money to follow you on a boat sounds quite nice. That said, Icelanders eat whale, which is kind of fucked up, so maybe it isn’t that relaxing of an existence. Pros and cons man.


Happy with my jaunt on the open sea, I head to Harpa’s nearby Smurstöðin café for lunch, where I get a 30% discount. For the real Nordic experience, I opt for the Icelandic shrimp, soft boiled egg, and dill mayonnaise open faced sandwich. While normally 1.900 ISK, my special price is 1.300 ISK. More and more I’m feeling like an Icelandic whale, aka an in-demand local celebrity.

The sandwich itself is exactly what I needed. Fresh, tasty and filling, I’m starting to feel comfortable in this alien volcanic country. The windows of Harpa glitter while soft soothing music puts me at ease. I pull out my book—Halldór Laxness’s “Independent People” obviously—and savour my opera house experience. This must be exactly what Maria Callas would feel like had she visited Iceland before her untimely death. On that note, fuck you Onassis. Callas was a once in a century talent, while Jackie O was just a widowed first lady. I hope you’re happy in hell you stupid Greek.


After my brief Callas-fuelled mental breakdown, I decide to trust my coupon book and walk over to the Icewear store on Bankastæti for a real Icelandic souvenir. Immediately, I’m like hell yeah Icelandic coupons book. Icewear’s designs are stylish, but still nuanced and practical—things I could wear both to a sheep shearing session as well as a stylish bar downtown, which I will obviously be heading to later.

I try out a few Icelandic sweaters—“lopapeysa” as locals call it—and decide that despite the hefty price with my discount it’s within my budget. I get 3,749 Isk knocked off the 24.900 asking price. I also opt for the black Reynisfjara wool hat, which comes out to 3.391 ISK with my 15% discount. A splurge, for sure, but hey, I’m still high on my whale watching venture, so I’m willing to dole out for some fancy wool.

Pulling off the tags, I take a stroll down Laugavegur with my new headpiece. I can just feel the glances—wow, “she’s so stylish,” “she totally looks like a beautiful Icelandic aryan,” I wish I had swiped right to her on Tinder. Even more ecstatic now, I decide it’s definitely time to start drinking.

Skúli Craft Bar

Now I consider myself somewhat of a “beer person”. Throwing around words like “IPA”, “hops”, or “Wow, what a subtle apricot undertone” comes natural to me. I also consider myself somewhat of a functioning “vacation alcoholic” and as it is late afternoon, pumping my veins full of legal highs seems like exactly what I should do.

Skúli Craft Bar is the natural next stop. Their menu is almost scarily long, with a ton of fancy looking beers on tap and even fancier looking ones in bottles. I go for an IPA named Úlfrún. The normal price is 1.300 ISK, but I swipe it for a 1.105 ISK with my 15% discount. The attractive man working the counter tells me it has tropical pineapple and mango notes due to fancy Citra and Mosaic hops. These words mean very little to me, but the beer is delicious.

Sæta Svínið

A little tipsy, I’m definitely feeling the munchies, so I take a short stroll to gastropub Sæta Svinið. The restaurant has a cosy atmosphere with soft lighting and dark wood furniture—the perfect place to stuff a lot of food in my mouth. Plus, my whale watching guide told me this place had the best burger in Reykjavík, and while in real life I am a vegetarian, as an imaginary tourist I’m not.

At only 2.312 ISK with my 20% discount, the meal is totally affordable, and damn my whale watching guide was not lying. The burger is amazing, with a yummy meat-to-fat ratio. It is the perfect choice to break my cruelty-free lifestyle—just don’t tell my vegan yoga buddy Becky.


Properly fed, I’m ready to “djamma”, as the Icelanders would say. Kaldi, which I’ve heard is a sophisticated spot off the tourist trek, is my party destination. Walking in, I’m instantly transported to a hip spot filled with all the big-wigs of the city. Is this real life? My coupon book gives me 2 for 1 beers—an incredible deal at a ritzy joint like this.

Toting my Icewear hat and winning smile, I am the life of the party, chumming it up with the most influential and famous peeps of the Iceland. Hello Mr. President. Hello Ms. Famous Pop Star. I have arrived. As if things could not get better, from the corner of my eye I spot a Tinder match from earlier in the day. His name is Þór and we are clearly soul mates. A very rich and important man, we are married by the next day.


All in all, my Iceland coupon book ensured that my day in Reykjavík was prolific as well as affordable. I saved a bundle of money–over 10,000 in fact–while still enjoying all the comforts of vacation, I also met the love of my life and am now pregnant with what I can only imagine will be the future first winner of Eurovision for Iceland. As I sit in my new house in Garðabær, I can only think, thank you Icelandic coupon book.

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