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Iceland offers a range of accommodations, from basic and budget (well, about as budget as you can get in Iceland) to swanky and with a price tag to match. Like most European cities, hotel rooms may be smaller that what you’d find in the US and at mid-range prices, double beds tend to be composed of two twin beds pushed together. As with the rest of the world, for budget travelers in Iceland, hostels are often the best way to go. You’ll meet like like-minded travelers, there’s generally a shared kitchen, and internet access is often free.
Most of your options for lodging will be in Reykjavik. It’s Iceland’s only city and is home to nearly 2/3 of the country’s total population. Here you can choose from hostels and guesthouses with access to a kitchen (a huge money-saver in Iceland) or opt for a full-service hotel. During off-season (October to May) you can roll into town with no reservations and easily find accommodation, but during peak times you’ll want to arrange for a room in advance. If you’re traveling without a car, you’ll want to stay in the 101 so that you can easily get around by walking and taking the bus.
Outside of Reykjavik
Once you get out of the city, hotels tend to fall into one of two categories. On the one side of the spectrum you’ll find posh, pricey resorts that offer everything you need for your holiday, including gourmet meals and jacuzzi hot tubs under the stars. On the other end, you’ll find self-catering cottages and guestrooms in a local’s home. In smaller towns, you’ll find more middle-of-the-road options, but the further you get from civilization, the fewer your choices. For the most part, you’ll want to arrange for your accommodations outside of Reykjavik in advance. During summer, many of these smaller places (which only have a few rooms) book up. During winter, many of them shut down for the season. And you don’t want to get left out in the cold in rural Iceland.
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The Iceland Touring Association also owns a number of huts that are scattered all over the country and are available for use by hikers. You’ll need to book at least a month in advance, pick up your keys in Reykjavik and bring all your own gear and sleeping bag. Prices vary for each hut. Other organizations also own huts around the country; each has its own set of rules and availability.
Camping, Couchsurfing, farm stays, and driving a campervan are other alternative accommodation options.
Photo by Alex J White