Iceland 101 – Part 1: Where to Stay
Most of you all know that both Vicki and I LOVE Iceland. Each visit, we’ve tried to do something differently: we’ve camped; drove the entire ring road; ventured off in the magnificent West Fjords; hiked and ice climbed on one of many glaciers; explored cities and small fishing towns; swam in pools and hot rivers; and ate local or touristy delicacies. The first time we went, 2 days into the trip, we knew that we wanted to be back! The people, the scenery (oh the scenery!) and the lifestyle just made us love it… except for the fact that the when we went, I didn’t book a car rental until the 3rd day of our time there AND I booked our AirBnB 8km from the city center thinking that 8km isn’t far at all. Ridiculously unprepared, we took a bus at night through gusty winds, hail and rain, and had NO CLUE how to get to our Airbnb by bus. We got off the wrong stop and tried contacting our host with my Canadian phone + plan and my texts or calls barely connected us. We learned a lot (and quickly) after so that the next time around was a cakewalk!
This is a lengthy yet concise guide. We will be sharing with you everything we know about Iceland so you can plan your next Iceland trip, like a boss – without breaking the bank too!
Hotels and guesthouses in Iceland generally range from about $100CAD – $200+ CAD during high season. Most of the hotels, guesthouses etc. will have very minimal amenities especially the further you are from the city center. For example, we’ve helped our good friend, Brian Chan and his family find a place around Vik. We found him a great cottage but it was 2km inside a local farm. The cottage was well equipped with a bbq and a small kitchen to prepare any meals – the kids were also able to play with the animals nearby! We found the place through a great and handy website called Icelandic Farm Holidays. The website controlled and licensed by the Icelandic Tourism Board and contributes profits back to the Icelandic economy and local farmers / owners while allowing visitors a taste of the local lifestyle– it’s a win-win for everyone!
We’ve also had really good experiences using Airbnb in Reykjavik. Most places are well equipped for couples, families and large groups. We’ve managed to rent out 4 apartments for our wedding party throughout the city and they’re setup in a way that if you’re arriving at really odd hours, you’d be able to get in on your own without having the host bring you in using lock boxes (though not all have it so check with the host first.) We’ve only stayed in hotels maybe.. Once. We stayed at an Icelandic hotel chain called Hotel Edda in Skogar when we were really worn down (borderline feverish) and wanted a break from pitching tents – It was great! The one we stayed at was a converted school house so the rooms were compact yet comfortable. The toilets and showers were shared. The price for the room was fairly steep, especially for a place with shared facilities, came up to about $230.. Ouch! At least I was able to earn some Saga points for Icelandair. Haha I’ve listed out a few places below to give you an idea of the range / types of accommodations they have available in Reykjavik & surrounding areas.
Hostels and Guesthouses
They’re not the usual type of hostels like you would think in a European city. They’re fairly straightforward, some more character than others. Few are party-type hostels. The age range vary from young adults to older people. All offer private rooms with washrooms.
Good, reliable hostel.
It was converted biscuit factory. Has a really cool looking bar. Younger crowd.
HI Hostel Downtown Reykjavik
Can be found throughout Iceland. We’ve only stayed in the HI Hostel located in the Vatnsnes peninsula, near the Hvítserkur sea stack. It was nice, cozy place but the only downside is that there’s no groceries nearby =(
They are a good reasonably priced hotel chain managed by Icelandair
If you are looking for budget accomodations, this is about as budget as you could get. There’s 2 types of camping: wild camping and camping at sites. In Iceland, you’re free to camp anywhere for free as long as you’re not on private property. If it is private, you could simply just ask the land owner if they’re ok with it. Its surprising how crazy big people’s lands are. Campsites range from $25 CAD / night. You’re given a permit sticker which you simply attach to your guy lines or tent poles. There are showers and toilets available and some have a kitchen center with wi-fi. Really simple open pitch where you could park your car beside your tent. Depending on how busy it is, privacy may be an issue. If you plan to camp throughout your trip, you may want to look into a Camping Card which allows you to camp in various sites throughout Iceland for a single cost – great if you’re planning out your trip budget beforehand!
A neat way to travel is by camper van. It can be small or as big (and rugged) as you want it to be. Bedding and a working kitchen / stove is available for you so if you plan on driving around Iceland, this is a good option to use if you don’t plan on lugging around your entire camping gear. There’s alot of places to park and camp out for the night or you could park these guys at a campsite. Check out the companies below:
Kuku Campers – bit quirky but good reviews!
Whatever type of traveller you are, Iceland has something for you! Share your Iceland experience with us, we’d love to hear it and give us ideas for our next stint back to Iceland!