Budget Accommodation in Iceland

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Budget Accommodation in Iceland

Northern lights in Reykjavík
Northern lights over Reykjavík—they are sometimes visible from the capital too. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Q: We are looking to come to Iceland December 21-31. We are a family of five including two older children and a one-year-old baby. We are trying to keep costs low. We are wondering where best to stay? Reykjavík seems a good option but will ten days be too long?

Also, it limits our chance of seeing the northern lights. We will not have a car so if we stay elsewhere, where will we be too isolated? Would five nights in one location and five nights at another be best? If so, which place would be best for Christmas, December 24-26?

Many thanks for your help,

Dee Mason, U.K.


A: Home exchange, or house swapping, is growing in popularity among Icelanders and might be the best option for you. I’m sure there’s a family in Reykjavík or elsewhere in Iceland who would be interested in spending Christmas in the U.K. and would be willing to swap houses with you. You wouldn’t really be isolated anywhere except maybe in the countryside.

Here are some websites which organize house swaps: House Exchange, Love Home Swap, Sabbatical Minds and Exchange Zones.

In many instances people also swap cars, in which case you could make spontaneous day excursions to places where good auroral visibility is forecast (also forecast here), and other places of interest outside the capital region. Or, if you opt for staying in the countryside, drive to the nearest town for shopping for groceries, going to the swimming pool, etc.

It might be a good option to spend part of the time in Reykjavík and part of the time—over the holidays, for example—in a different location, for example at a farmhouse accommodation such as this one.

Hvalfjörður is close to Reykjavík—less than an hour’s drive—has beautiful scenery, including Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall, and is secluded enough to provide for good view of the northern lights if the weather conditions are right. It’s also close to the towns Akranes and Borgarnes too, with plenty of activities for tourists.

This particular farm, Bjarteyjarsandur, is good for people with kids, because it has a playground and visitors to are invited to meet the animals and observe farmers at work. I don’t know if they do pick-ups and drop-offs, or if they have any special services around Christmas, but you can always email them and ask: [email protected].

Here are some other options for farmhouse accommodation.

Here are links to related questions:

House Swapping in Iceland

Are you aware of any families in Iceland that would want to host a family from the USA for a week?

Do you know of any website or newspaper where it is possible to get in contact with a person or family from Iceland, who would be interested in house swapping?