Many visitors to Iceland stay only in Reykjavik; the city contains most of the country’s lodging options and it’s convenient to many of the attractions of the southwest. But after four trips to Iceland, I contest that those people are missing on out so much of what makes Iceland so special. After all, it’s the country’s amazing landscapes, adorably fuzzy horses, multi-colored mountains, rugged coastlines, charming small towns, and endless skies (beautiful even on cloudy days) that have kept me coming back time and again. Spend some time in the capital, of course, but then get out in the countryside. And for an authentic look at life in rural Iceland, there’s no better way to book than with the expert help of Icelandic Farm Holidays.
Icelandic Farm Holidays connects travelers to unique accommodation throughout Iceland – from isolated self-catering cottages in the remote northeast to lively bed and breakfasts in charming small towns in the southwest. They work with more than 170 b&bs, small inns and guesthouses, self-catering accommodations, and – my choice – accommodation located on working farms throughout the country.
You can book accommodation only, or go with one of their pre-set itineraries; if you aren’t sure where your travels will take you, you can even book a self-drive option that includes vouchers for a set number of nights. Armed with a map, you can simply stop at whatever property you like; they’re easy to identify thanks to green and white flags and most indicate on their sign if rooms are available that night or not. Car rentals are included with tours and you can also book day tours and activities, making it a true one-stop planning resource. There’s also 24-hour customer service and the company, founded in 1991, is Gold certified from EarthCheck.
I chose to explore Iceland’s southwest coast and booked four nights in one place. The accommodation I chose, Lambastadir, is an eleven-room guesthouse on a working farm 45 minutes from Reykjavik in the country’s southwest, outside of the town of Selfoss. Opened in 2012, it has a simple farmhouse aesthetic but all the modern amenities. Each room has a private bathroom and shower and there is free Wi-Fi internet access and an outdoor hot tub filled with geothermally-heated water.
My room had a double bed with comfortable duvets and pillows, a simple shelving unit for clothes and luggage, two end tables with bedside lamps, and a small desk. My bathroom was equally simply but homey, with adequate storage space and a walk-in shower. My window, which had blackout shades for use during summer’s long daylight hours, opened to a view of the surrounding farmland.
Outside of the rooms, the guesthouse is compact, with the rooms accessed via a long hallway lined with bookcases and black-and-white photos of the area surrounding the farm, many dating back several decades. At the end of the hallway, a small deck contains the hot tub. There’s a cozy sitting room in front, with a sofa and chairs and books available for guest use. Beyond that, a communal dining room is always open for guests to help themselves to tea or coffee. In the mornings, a hearty breakfast spread including cheese, meat, pastries, jam and make-them-yourself waffles is served and in the evenings, my husband and I joined other guests to use the room as a communal space for card games and a glass of wine.
While the guesthouse is lovely inside, it also offers an authentic farm experience outside. Horses live on the property all year round and guests are welcome to access the field and make friends – one of my favorite aspects of staying on a farm was my post-breakfast visit with my four-legged friends. The farm is also home to sheep (which live in the fields in summer but which I was able to visit in the barn during my winter stay) as well as chickens and a rabbit. Touring the property with the farmer gave me a greater understanding of life in Iceland’s countryside, and the location was perfect for exploring beyond the main tourist sites of the southwest.
Icelandic Farm Holidays can arrange a variety of trips throughout the country, based on your destination and travel preferences. Tours start at 3 nights, including car rental, or you can arrange accommodation on its own for one night or more.
My stay was hosted by Icelandic Farm Holidays, but all opinions are my own.