My husband, sister, brother-in-law, and I are in the beginning stages of planning a two week road trip around Iceland (probably June of 2019 so mostly just daydreaming, not planning right now;). What I've read says that because of the increase in tourism, lodging has become more difficult to find outside of the capital. Any suggestions about how far in advance we need to get serious and start booking our lodging? We will be on a budget, so that will limit some of our options.
It really depends where you're going in the country and what month you're going in. Some of the small villages don't have much of an inventory at all. I would say start looking about 6-9 months in advance. June will be peak season. Obviously, if you have a car you can be somewhat more flexible as to where to stay. But given your trip isn't until 2019, it is wayyyyy too early to worry about lodging now (but it's never too early to start saving because Iceland is pricey!)
Well, it may be "too early to worry about it" but it's not to early to think about it. We had good experiences in guesthouses - many of which offer a more personal experience than hotels.
Thanks! Sounds about like I thought- that we should be ready to start booking this fall, about 9ish months out. Just wanted to double check from fellow travelers to make sure I wasn't unpleasantly surprised once I went to make bookings down the road. A few years back I took a trip to Germany and waited until five months out to book things for peak season travel. It ended up be rather difficult to find lodging in some locations.
For our trip in June of this year, we booked all accommodations in November of last year and didn't have a problem getting the places we wanted (all Airbnb). By January however they were starting to fill up.
Thanks Neil! That's helpful to hear recent firsthand experience. And it'll be good for our budget too:) I am taking my mom on a surprise trip to England this September to celebrate her retirement so I need to balance out the costs. This time frame will at least keep the spending on the trips from overlapping.
Two weeks in Iceland! Lucky, lucky you! We were there for ten days and wished we had had more time. Here are some suggestions for your trip:
Check out the website I Heart Reykjavik which has really, really good info on traveling in Iceland.
Skip the Blue Lagoon and go to the baths in the Lake Myvatn area.
Bring mesh head nets for the Myvatn area. The midges are really bothersome there unless there is a breeze. They don’t bite but there are tons of them that are attracted by your breath and will make you miserable. You can buy the nets there but they are a little less expensive in the US.
Hotel Eyvindara in Egilsstadir is a wonderful hotel. We used it as a jumping off point to visit Borgafjordur Eystri and the puffins. There is an easily accessible platform in Borgafjordur Eystri to view the puffins up close and personal without have to take a boat ride. It is a beautiful one hour drive from Egilsstadir (in good weather).
Fridheimar Farm near Geysir on the Golden Circle has a restaurant that I highly recommend. Their menu is all tomato based and delicious. You eat in the greenhouse. I would recommend a reservation if you would like to eat there.
The National Museum in Reykjavik is wonderful. Skip the phallic museum in Reykjavik. It is a waste of money.
Glaumbaer in the northern part of the country is a tiny collection of sod roof homes that you can visit to get a taste of what life was like in Iceland in the 19th century.
The botanical gardens in Akureryi are lovely.
Dress in layers. We found it very helpful to have waterproof jackets, rain pants and waterproof boots. We were blessed with good weather when we were there but there was a day and a half where it was very rainy and windy so the rain gear came in handy. Umbrellas would have been useless.
Get the gps that comes with the rental car. It uses the Icelandic alphabet. Our English based Garmin would have been useless there. Also take the extra insurance. Windstorms can strip the paint from a car, rocks kicked up on the road by another car can damage the windshield, etc. You are responsible for those damages if they occur. We had no incidents but didn’t want to take any chances. It was worth the peace of mind
Recommended reading - Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a fictional work based on the last public execution (of a woman) in Iceland in the early 1800’s. Beautifully written and impactful. It will give you insight into life there in that time period. This book has developed a cult like following and people visit the site of the execution. It sounds macabre but if you read the book you will understand. The axe that was used is in the National Museum in Reykjavik.
Iceland is expensive so be prepared.
You will love Iceland. I hope to get back there someday as we didn’t get to see and do all that is there. Have a fabulous time!
In terms of finding places, I have used AirBNB, Hotels.com, and Booking.com all in Iceland and had fine results there (it is worth checking all to see because sometimes the rates seem to vary between these sites). I'm sure there are others (Expedia, etc). Like has been mentioned, lots of the places outside REY are pretty small (and can fill up quickly) so better to reserve in advance.
Thanks Mary for the ideas. Many of your suggestions are things I probably wouldn't have thought of or come across on my own. Some of my best experiences on trips have come from other travelers suggestions on these forums!
Craig- I'll have to check out booking.com and the other site you suggested. I've mostly only used AirBnB in the past.
I'm heading there day after tomorrow and made all of my reservations in January...I'm still there a bit off season but didn't have issues getting reservations for the places we are visiting.
I was there in December, and booked my hotel in Reykjavik about 6 months before that.
There wasn't much choice in my price range even then!
I loved Reykjavik, but was only there four days.
If you can get places to stay with kitchens, buy food at the grocery store.
It's not a great selection there, but cheaper than eating out all the time.
i went to Iceland (Reykjavik and Akureyri) in June 2017, and booked our apts in July 2016--found fabulous deals in very convenient spots, very nice and clean. June is one of the busiest months for tourism in Iceland so don't wait!
So having returned from Iceland...here's what I observed. There are small guesthouses to be found EVERYWHERE around towns and natural sights like waterfalls and glaciers. They won't show up on the mainstream reservation sites online (the Expedias and Orbitz-like sites). I would recommend booking.com as I looked for quite a few of them I saw there and they were listed. As soon as you know your dates you should book...although there are quite a few of them they are small and once you are out of the areas immediately surrounding towns things become more and more sparse, few, and far between.