Looking for a special place to stay in Iceland

Read on for Iceland’s best country retreats, boutique hotels, next-level camping and unique stays. Some can only be reached in summer but others can be enjoyed in all seasons. All prices listed here are during the peak season. 

A white house by the volcanic coastal cliffs of Arnarstapi in Iceland
Locals love their “summer houses” where they can get closer to nature © Uhryn Larysa / Shutterstock

Best country retreats in Iceland

Icelanders love their sumarbústaðir, or “summer houses,” which can be found in forests and other sheltered areas around the country. However, these are often owned by families or labor unions and not available for tourists. Luckily there are other options which offer tranquility and closeness to nature for visitors to stay. 


From US$193 per double room per night

In one of the narrowest of the Westfjords, Mjóifjörður, between Hólmavík and Ísafjörður, lies Heydalur, a farm turned adventure land for tourists. Choose between en suite bedrooms, studio apartments, summer houses of various sizes and a campsite. The beds are comfortable, the food hearty and homemade, and the surrounding nature a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can take walks, go horseback riding, kayaking, fishing, wildlife watching or northern lights hunting – and after a day packed with activities, relax in one of the pools, hot tubs, or natural hot springs.

Selá Retreat

From US$139 per double room per night

About 30 minutes north of Akureyri in North Iceland is Selá. The old farmhouse and stable have been beautifully renovated and turned into one- or two-person bedrooms with access to kitchens, bathrooms and washing machines. Guests can also take advantage of the meditation loft, fireside lounge and workshop area in the old barn. There’s a hot tub, too, perfect for enjoying long summer nights or stargazing in winter. A short walk will take you to the hamlet of Hauganes with whale-watching tours and beachside hot tubs and from neighboring town Árskógssandur you can take the ferry to Hrísey island. Dalvík with its superb ski resort is a 10-minute drive away.


From US$214 per double room per night.

Outside the East Fjords town of Eskifjörður are little red cottages with comfy accommodation for small groups or families and a wonderful view of the fjord. There’s also a cozy guesthouse in a renovated house from 1895 with single and double rooms and access to a bathroom. Guests have access to a hot tub in an old boat, sauna, showers and laundry room. It’s also possible to book guided walks and other tours. Nearby is Helgustaðanáma, an Iceland spar mine now under protection, and Oddsskarð ski resort. Randulffs-sjóhús is a museum and seafood restaurant in an old Norwegian herring station, open in summer.

Best boutique hotels in Iceland

While Iceland’s boutique hotels are often located in urban areas – and highly fashionable – there are a few smaller and less flashy establishments with a special and intimate experience. 

Hotel Akureyri

From US$248 per double room per night

A micro-hotel highlighting sustainability, family-run Hotel Akureyri in the oldest part of the North Iceland town offers compact comfort. The hotel operates the Urban Farm in an old box factory, growing herbs year-round. The crops are sold at the hotel’s store and used by the chefs at NORTH, the little sister of Michelin-starred Dill in Reykjavík.

Hótel Kríunes

From US$390 per double room per night

Offering the best of both worlds, Hótel Kríunes is a family-run countryside hotel by the lake Elliðavatn on the outskirts of Iceland’s capital – a 15-minute drive from Reykjavík city center. Enjoy the lake view from your beautifully designed room, and access to a hot tub and sauna. The hotel is right on the edge of Heiðmörk, a vast forested area popular for outdoor recreation. Light pollution is minimal: look out for stars and the northern lights.


From US$217 per double room per night

By the beach in Blönduós, a North Iceland town few stop to explore, is a secret sanctuary. Brimslóð Atelier is run by an artistic couple who are passionate about serving delicious local food and creating a sense of community in their guesthouse. There are no TVs, only a “slow TV” (a huge window to watch the surf and the mountains). Sometimes whales appear and the northern lights come out. 

Camping couple pitching a tent after hiking in Iceland's back country
You can pitch a tent and back-country camp or take it up a notch and glamp in Iceland © Maridav / Shutterstock

Best next-level camping in Iceland

Iceland has many fantastic conventional campsites, and to sleep in a simple tent is an intimate and powerful way of experiencing Icelandic nature. But why not take camping to the next level and book a glamping accommodation where everything you need is provided?

Glamping in Húsadalur

Fom US$207 per glamping tent per night

Volcano Huts are based in Þórsmörk Nature Reserve, a forested paradise in the southern highlands with adventurous hiking trails and breathtaking glacial views. In addition to regular camping and rustic lodges, you can rent stately glamping tents with made-up beds for two or three, heating and optional treats. It is open in summer only.


From US$392 per igloo per night

Why settle for five stars when you can have five million? In a forested area near Selfoss – close to the most popular tourist attractions in South Iceland – you can sleep in inflatable, see-through igloos. They are heated and have made-up beds and are particularly romantic in winter when you can look up at the stars from your bed and hope for a glimpse of the northern lights.

Fossatún camping pods

From US$85 per pod per night

In Borgarfjörður in West Iceland lies Fossatún, a self-proclaimed troll infested area. The trolls are friendly, though, and quite the attraction for adventurous children. There are regular cottages and wooden pods, which look a bit like hobbit houses, snug and cozy for families and couples. 

Blond Icelandic girl touches the nose of a pony
Book a uniquely Icelandic stay such as an old-fashioned farm house or a deconsecrated church © wanderluster / Getty Images

Best unique stays in Iceland

Across the country you’ll also find unique guesthouses, closely connected with Icelandic heritage and culture. While sleeping in one, you can almost breathe in the history of the place.


From US$39 per bunk per night

In the fishing village of Stöðvarfjörður in the East Fjords, you can sleep in a deconsecrated church from 1925. Kirkjubær hostel offers “sleeping bag accommodation” (BYO) or made-up beds – with access to a bathroom and kitchen facilities – all with good spirits. 


From US$222 per double room per night

At the innermost farm in Fljótsdalur in East Iceland, you’ll find an old-fashioned farmhouse from 1940, renovated as a guesthouse, museum and base for wilderness tours in all seasons. At the Wilderness Center guests sleep in a dorm, bed closet or private bedroom.

Möðrudalur á Fjöllum

From US$322 per double room per night

In the northeastern highlands, at Iceland’s highest-located farm, you can sleep in a turf house as Icelanders did for centuries, albeit with modern conveniences. It is run by Fjalladýrð, which in addition offers a range of highland tours. There’s also a campground and a hostel.

Airbnb policy

Private persons are permitted to rent out rooms or apartments for a maximum of 90 nights per year in Iceland, provided they have a license from the appropriate authorities. Locals are generally positive towards Airbnb businesses, but there have been some complaints of disturbances and overcrowding, especially in central Reykjavík.

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