Summer houses, a family and Iceland. An ideal combination. So you can travel around at your own pace, build in the necessary breaks with teenagers and stay in accommodations that offer enough space? Well, consider summer houses. We planned, together with Nordic Travel, a trip of three weeks enjoying the best of Iceland. We stayed in decent summer houses, some cozier than others. Want to know more? Just read this blog. And for more tips on Iceland, read my blog ‘5 fantastic things to do in Iceland’.
Why summer houses?
Our starting point was very simple: how can we explore Iceland with 4 teenagers in a comfortable and affordable way with enough ‘room’ for everyone in the evenings? A hotel, camping or driving around in a camper were no options. Not enough space (the hotels and the camper). Or simply too much hassle (setting up a tent each night after a day full of activities, not for us -:)). And we also wanted to have the possibility to sometimes cook ourselves or at least store food and drinks – with a family of 6 you always seem to be in need of these. So, I explored the world wide web and found the solution: summer houses. And a travel agency that offered this type of trip – not a lot seem to do so.
We booked this trip with Nordic Travel, a local Icelandic travel agency with a Dutch website (not to confuse with Nordic, another well known Belgian travel agency). Nordic Travel offers a lot of ‘summer houses’ trips. There is a variety of options. You can choose the number of nights (from 10 to 21), which has, of course, an influence on the locations of the houses. The houses accommodate 2 tot 6 and sometimes even 7 persons. And there is room for extra’s (whale tour in Husavik, Info the Langjökull glacier, …). The booking comes with an extensive travel itinerary per day, outlining all ‘must sees’ and, of course, outlining the exact location of the houses (a must, since some of them are in a not so obvious location). Our contact, Karolina, was not only very helpful in planning our stay, she guided us also through the maze of always changing corona measures in the summer of 2021.
From Borgarnes to Selfoss
We made a round trip Keflavik – Keflavik International Airport with a first stop in Borgarnes and a last one in Selfoss. We stayed in 5 summer houses. This enabled us to travel around Iceland mainly following Ring Road 1, visit the main tourist attractions and build in some necessary breaks in between.
|1||Borgarnes||Flight Brussels – Keflavik|
|Bleikulag 38 cottage, Skorradalur Borgarnes|
|2||Borgarnes||Snaefellsness round tour – Snæfellsjökull National Park||Bleikulag 38 cottage, Skorradalur Borgarnes|
|3||Borgarnes||Langjökull – Into the glacier||Bleikulag 38 cottage, Skorradalur Borgarnes|
|4||Borgarnes||Borgarnes Settlement Museum – swimming pool||Bleikulag 38 cottage, Skorradalur Borgarnes|
|5||Husavik||Borgarnes – Grábrók – Vidimýrarkirkja – Hvammstangi (seals)- Hvitserkur – Akureyri – Husavik||Solkot cottage, Stekkjarhvammur, Reykjahverdi, Husavik|
|6||Husavik||Whales boat tour Husavik (whales, dolphins)||Solkot cottage, Stekkjarhvammur, Reykjahverdi, Husavik|
|7||Husavik||Hverir – Krafla Crater – Viti Crater – Myvatn lake – Myvatn Nature Baths – Grjótagjá cave – Dimmuborgir rock formations||Solkot cottage, Stekkjarhvammur, Reykjahverdi, Husavik|
|8||Seydisfjördur||Husavik – Dettifoss – Seyðisfjörður||Tungata 15, Seyðisfjörður appartment|
|9||Seydisfjördur||Hike Budararfoss waterfall – city center||Tungata 15, Seyðisfjörður|
|10||Seydisfjördur||Green vending machine – Borgarfjordur Eystri (puffins)||Tungata 15, Seyðisfjörður|
|11||Seydisfjördur||Hike Brimnes||Tungata 15, Seyðisfjörður|
|12||Kirkjubajarklaustur||Seydisfjordur – Dettifoss – Jökulsárlón gletsjer lake -Kirkjubæjarklaustur||Nordic Travel Summerhouse Haedarsel, Hæðargarður, Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|13||Kirkjubajarklaustur||Skaftafell National Park||Nordic Travel Summerhouse Haedarsel, Hæðargarður, Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|14||Kirkjubajarklaustur||Kirkjubæjarklaustur – Vik & Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – Lava Center – Selfoss||Nordic Travel Summerhouse Birkisel, Selfoss|
|15||Selfoss||Golden circle: Gheysir – Gulfoss – Pingvellir – Reykjavik||Nordic Travel Summerhouse Birkisel, Selfoss|
|16||Selfoss||Landmannalaugar||Nordic Travel Summerhouse Birkisel, Selfoss|
|17||Selfoss||Hike vulcano Fagradalsfjall (Reykjanes)||Nordic Travel Summerhouse Birkisel, Selfoss|
|18||Selfoss||Flight Keflavik – Brussels|
The week before the start of our trip, we stayed, for quarantine purposes, in GreenKey House B 16 in Keflavik. This is a spacious house for 6 persons. An ideal basis for a short stay in Iceland and, for example, visit the Golden Circle.
We paid 200 euro per night per summer house, linen and towels included. This is a very reasonable price for one night’s accommodation for a family of 6 persons.
The GreenKey house was about 1142 € for six nights, linen and towels also included.
Our experiences with summer houses
On the plus side, we found that summer houses
- can be located in a variety of locations. Ours were usually located in a quiet and somewhat remote, beautiful area (Borgarnes, Husavik, Selfoss), which we liked a lot. We stayed in houses with a beautiful garden, near a river with sheep, a small lake, … In Seyðisfjörður we had an apartment in the middle of the town, which was also very handy (walking distance to the restaurants). The same goes for the house in Keflavik.
- are mostly pretty spacious so enough ‘room’ for a family.
- are very homey. Most of them are holiday homes owned by Icelandic families. They often do not only have a fully equipped kitchen (yes, with dishwasher cubes) you often also find a washing machine and even a dryer (here too with the products at hand). Next to a small supply of thee, coffee, sugar, oil, herbs. And for the children even books (yes, in English), board games, toys and DVD’s.
- sometimes have a hot tub. Nothing more relaxing after a days’ hike.
- come with the necessary bedding and towels. You don’t want to run around with sleeping bags, do you?
- very clean
What we didn’t like?
- A clean holiday house implies the houses need to be cleaned. And since they are mostly fully booked and the owners were not around, that was up to us. Not the most pleasant thing during your holidays.
Icelandic summer houses: our conclusion and recommendations
Summer houses are certainly a good way to explore Iceland with a family. You don’t have to change accommodation every night, the houses are often located in beautiful places, homey and, mostly, quite spacious.
Holiday accommodation, and in particular summer houses are scarce in the peak season. So book really well ahead. It’s also not so obvious to find decent summer houses in a good location, so we recommend booking through an agency. You can also combine holiday homes with a hotel, for example in the beginning or at the end of your journey.
Should you wish to book yourself, we have the following tips
- Plan your itinerary well in advance. The possibilities are endless. You can follow Ring Road 1. We believe you need at least 18 nights to travel the full ring road and have sufficient time to visit the main touristic attractions and build in some breaks with the kids. You can also only opt for the West Coast, north and south. Or go for a couple of days and only visit the Golden circle in the south.
- Decide whether you will stay exclusively in summer houses or combine these with a hotel, for example at the start or end of your holiday.
- Make sure you spread the summer houses well throughout your itinerary. Distances don’t seem far in Iceland, but all travel takes quite some time and Google maps does not always reflect reality. A cottage 10 kilometres from a town means a lot of driving back and forth. Is it OK to be a bit remote from a town or do you like to be close to restaurants in the evening? There is one advantage: even at 11 pm it’s still light, the ‘midsummer light’, remember …
- Make sure there is enough time to change between cottages.
- Check whether the summer house matches your requirements. Be aware there is no ‘standard’, every home is unique. So you don’t know upfront the quality, which might differ quite a lot. But you can check the basics. Are there separate bedrooms or is there a combination of a bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room? Is there a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer? Would you like a hot tub? Note that the owners of the cottages are often not in the neighborhood but only a phone call away.
- Make arrangements around the cleaning, unless you don’t mind it of course.
- Stock up enough supplies if you want to cook occasionally. You find large supermarkets (Netto, Kronan, Bonus, …) in the big cities (Keflavik, Reykjavik, Husavik, Akureyri, …) but certainly not in all the tourist places. Between Höfn and Kirkjubæjarklaustur are no supermarkets and even in Kirkjubæjarklaustur there was only a small one with the basics.