Hotels, guesthouses, and even hostels can be quite expensive in Iceland. For two people, you can expect to pay about 8,000-15,000 ISK for basic accommodation with a double bed, bare-bones kitchen, and maybe free internet and breakfast. If you want something a little more stylish or with more service options, the price just keeps on climbing. For travelers on a smaller budget, the high price of lodging (like everything else in Iceland) can be daunting.
But, if you’re willing to try something a little less ordinary when it comes to hotels, you can save quite a bit and have an unforgettable experience.
Outside or Reykjavik, there are few traditional hotels. Instead, you can stay at farms, rural guesthouses, and small country hotels. At most of these, you’ll definitely want to have your own wheels; many of these rural accommodations are located outside of nearby towns with no public transportation options. The Icelandic Farm Holidays agency can help arrange overnight stays and provide you with itinerary ideas.
For a lower price, some of these farm lodges also offer “sleeping bag accommodation.” For about 3000 ISK per person, you can stay in a dorm-style room with shared bathrooms; you just have to provide your own bedding.
If you are visiting rural areas (rather than staying in Reykjavik only) and looking to camp, check out the Iceland Touring Association, which owns a number of huts around the country that are available for use by hikers. Each one must be booked individually in advance, and you’ll need to come prepared with your own linens and pillows, but the prices are quite low.
There are also dozens of campsites in Iceland, including at Thingvellir near Reykjavik. There’s even one closer to the city (about 3km away) open from May 15 to September 15. The Reykjavik Campsite starts at 1000 ISK per person, with additional costs for optional add-ons like electricity, internet use, and breakfast. There are also cabins available for 7000 ISK per night. Cabin-dwellers and tent campers share bathroom facilities.
If you want the freedom to go where you want, don’t want to shell out for a hotel, but aren’t set on camping, there is another option – you can travel by camper van. Happy Campers offers campervan rentals for 30,000-55,000 ISK per day. The most basic sleeps two and includes running water, a small fridge and a gas stove. Others also include linens, unlimited miles, and can drive on mountain roads. Add-ons include tents, bikes, grilles, and picnic tables. The major drawback: no showers or bathrooms. You’ll need to use public restrooms and shower at the local pools.
Couchsurfing is also popular in Iceland and it’s not too difficult to find a local willing to take you in for a few nights and show you around, especially in Reykjavik. Outside of the capital, it’s still possible, but pickings are slimmer. In summer, the more adventurous can also camp in the wild for free, but won’t have the luxury of any bathroom facilities or electricity.
Photo by eri@si