Why Should You Stay In an Icelandic Hostel?
As you may have noticed from your research so far, Iceland is expensive. Which is mainly why hostels are a good choice when traveling here. Their benefits?
- Hostels in Iceland are family-friendly, couple-friendly and usually have common spaces where friends can gather.
- They are cheaper than the regular hotel you will find around the country, even though it may not seem that way at a first glance (a double room for a hostel in Iceland will usually cost you more than a luxury hotel room somewhere else in Europe),
- Almost all the hostels have a kitchen where you can cook (may come in handy when a meal in a restaurant will take you down 100 Euros for two persons).
- Sleeping in a hostel will make it easy to meet people and exchange travel tips, and even find a ride to your next destination.
- You are more likely to meet and talk to someone living on the island.
- Hostels in Iceland generally have great locations.
What You Should Know When Booking a Hostel in Iceland
Before delving into some of the best hostels in Iceland, here are some booking tips we gathered (sometimes the hard way) while traveling in Iceland:
- Book early, some of the hostels become fully booked for the summer season with one year in advance.
- Consider becoming a member with HI Hostels and save about 7 Euros/person for every booking you have within an HI Hostel around the island.
- Bring your own sheets/sleeping bag. Yes, this is a strange one. Some of the hostels will charge you extra for sheets, blankets and towels. And some charges go up to 15$ per person, which is something to consider when doing a final budget estimation. Bringing your sleeping bag is a good option, though not every hostel owner will agree to that. Better to check/call in advance if you can not find this information online.
But enough details. After one year of time spent on this magical land, here are our top favorite hostels in Iceland:
#1. Fljótsdalur Hostel, South Iceland
Fljótsdalur Hostel is one of the smallest and most peaceful hostels in Iceland, situated around 30 km away from the Ring Road (the only road that surrounds the country). To get here, take road no. 261 from Hvolsvöllur. The last 8 kilometers are on a gravel road, but suitable for 2WD cars (except for the last 100 meters up the hill to the hostel).
If you are a fan of quiet places with stunning landscapes, this hostel will surely fulfill your expectations. The reinvented turf house is very simple in comparison with the modern standards and the shower is placed in the garden. From the house you will be able to see the splendor of two ice-caps: the world-famous Eyjafjallajökull, and its bigger neighbor Mýrdalsjökull, with the massive Katla volcano underneath. From the hostel there is a hike for everyone from less than an hour to 2 days. The most popular is the 4-hour round trip up the mountain Thórólfsfell.
Inside the house, there is a real haven for bookworms: a collection of over 2000 books and papers on Iceland, mainly in English.
Prices start from around 40$ per person in a dorm.
Please note that the hostel is not bookable online and you need to call or email to make a reservation. More information and contact you can find here.
#2. Heradsskolinn Boutique Hostel, Laugarvatn, South Iceland
Héradsskolinn Boutique Hostel is located in Laugarvatn, in the heart of the famous Golden Circle. You probably know this is a popular route for tourists that stretches around 300 kilometers from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back.
The cozy hostel has a magnificent location overlooking Lake Laugarvatn, Hekla Volcano (still active) and the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier (this complicated name may also ring bell; the glacier covers the volcano that erupted back in 2010, causing havoc in air traffick worldwide).
Héradsskolinn Boutique Hostel can be a memorable stop along your Golden Circle tour, after visitng Thingvellir National Park and Gullfoss Waterfall situated 38 km away. Laugarvatn Geothermal Bath is right next to the property and some say it’s good alternative to the Blue Lagoon.
Set in a beautiful 1920s former school building, Héradsskolinn offers both private rooms and dorms. All interiors feature bright décor, lake or mountain views and access to a shared kitchen and TV lounge. Guests can choose between rooms with private or shared bathrooms. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at Héradsskolinn’s bistro. Prices start from 45$ per person for a bed in a shared dorm.
You can find more information on Héradsskolinn and its booking fees here.
#3. Hafaldan, Seyðisfjörður, Eastfjords
Hafaldan Old Hospital is located in the center of Seyðisfjörður, a beautiful town nestled in the mountainous area of the Eastfjords. The name of the town might sound familiar to some of you, as it was the place where the internationally acclaimed television series Trapped was filmed.
We feel we need to insert an Iceland travel tip: if you have some spare time on your hands when traveling South, but for some reason you decide to only drive all the way up to Höfn, you may want to reconsider. Seyðisfjörður is well worth the trip, especially from June to September.
During summer, the town hosts many cultural events, especially arts festivals. It’s also the season when the Norröna ferry docks every week from Denmark and the Feroe Islands.
Hafaldan Hostel is just 10 minutes walking away from the Seydisfjördur Harbour and is hosted in the historic former hospital building (brought by ship from Norway). This is one of Iceland’s most charming hostels, with cozy interiors likely to make you extend your trip here. A newly added “SPA” awaits for guests who want to enjoy a sauna and relax after a busy day of sightseeing the Eastern Fjords.
The hostel offers a variety of different rooms both with private and shared bathrooms. It is also ideal for families, couple or large groups of friends.
Prices start at 40$ per person in a mixed dorm. You can go here for reservations.
#4. Frezeer Hostel & Culture Center, Rif, Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The Freezer Hostel & Culture Center is situated in Rif, one of the smallest fishing villages in the country, in the north part of Snaefellsnes Peninsula (West Iceland).
In the past, the house used to be a traditional Icelandic fish factory. A few years ago, local theater-maker and owner Kári Viðarsson converted it into a fantastic cultural center and accommodation unit. The Freezer is now prepared to host culture-thirsty travelers during their exploration of west Iceland and the magnificent Snæfellsjökull Glacier National Park.
The hostel has dormitories with simple retro-style furnishings and each shares a bathroom. Guests can have a drink at the bar, relax in the lounge area and use the communal kitchen. During summer, Freezer offers a weekly schedule of performances or events like theater, live music, movies or game nights, and guests can join after they purchase tickets at the spot. There are also outdoor activities in the area including hiking and fishing.
Prices start at 29$ per person in a mixed dorm. More information & booking here.
#5. Kex Hostel, Reykjavik
KEX Hostel is housed in an old biscuit factory downtown Reykjavik, close to cozy cafés, museums, shops, bars, music venues and various attractions like Harpa Concert Hall or Laugarvegur shopping street. The place has an inspired combination of vintage industrial style and a contemporary touch, furnished with salvaged materials and objects found around Iceland.
The rooms have a nice ambiance and many offer a great view of the ocean and mountains on the other side of the bay. KEX can host up to 215 guests and it offers a restaurant and bar, lounge area with plenty of books, heated outdoor patio, tourist information desk, laundry room, old school gym, guest kitchens, meeting room, free WiFi and more.
Prices start at 30$ per person in a dorm. Go here for booking information and more photos of the hostel.
#6. Vik Hostel, Vik, South Iceland
Vik HI Hostel, one of our favorite hostels in the country, is placed above the beautiful village of Vik, offering a stunning view over the ocean. Staying here feels like being part of a large countryside family: you have friendly people, chickens running around all day long, a beautiful dog (named Panda) and handpicked interesting staff.
The hostel is located in the southernmost village of Iceland, in one of the most popular areas on the south coast. Some say it is the mysterious region where the Reynisdrangar cliffs arise from the tumultuous dark sea. Others simply remember the amazing sunlight that falls on the black sand beach.
Vik is the perfect place for bird watching (especially puffins!) or for transforming yourself in an imponderable being for a short period of time, while booking a thrilling tandem paragliding experience.
You can choose to sleep in a dorm, a private room, or rent a fully equipped small house with ocean views. The bathrooms are in the common areas and the kitchen has everything you need to prepare tasteful dishes. Do not miss the breakfast served in the morning! It will make you happy.
There are also day tours available from the hostel including trips to Mýrdalsjökull glacier, northern lights tours (in the winter and early spring) or visiting the first known viking tomb.
You can book you stay here. Prices start at Euros 50 for a single bed in a mixed 4-beds dorm.
#7. Loft, Reykjavik
Loft Hostel is located in the heart of Reykjavík, at the end of the main shopping street and steps away from most of the social areas and tourist attractions. This multi-awarded eco hostel offers one of the finest views in town with its large top floor balcony café over-looking the old center, a great spot to watch the Northern Lights during winter.
Loft is maybe the most culturally active hostel in the city, with a reach weekly program that includes music events, yoga classes, public readings, water painting, table football tournaments and other social events. The staff is very friendly and will gladly give you some tips on local restaurants, bars or help book trips and tours.
At Loft Hostel, guests can choose between guest rooms with a private bathroom or dormitory with shared bathrooms. Free WiFi, lockers and bed linen are included.
You can find more information and book your stay here. Prices start at Euros 90 for a single bed in a 6 beds-mixed dorm.
#8. When in the North: Akureiri Backpackers Hostel
We will be honest: the North of the Island isn’t the jolliest part of Iceland, especially if you plan on visiting it in winter, when there are 3-4 hours of ‘dark’ daylight. There isn’t much to do in these hibernating lands, except for taking in the untamed landscape and visiting a few museums. However, during our travels in late February, we’ve seen some of the most memorable Aurora dances up there, so if you have the time, it’s worth the detour.
Summer is a different story, with days getting bigger and warmer. Lake Myvatn and whale watching in Husavik are among the top reasons travelers venture so far from Reykjavik.
When in Northern Iceland, Akureiri (the country’s second largest town after Reykjavik) will probably become your base for exploring. Akureiri Backpackers is a great accommodation option in Akureiri if you are looking for a place with a lively atmosphere. Because it is large enough to host 100 people, chances are the its restaurant or hallway will be animated, even during the slow days of winter.
Prices start at $57 for a single bed in a mixed 8-beds dorm.
Guys, have you visited any other hostel in Iceland that blew you away because of its unique atmosphere, decorations, or location? Feel free to give us a heads up if so. In the mean time, enjoy the Auroras dancing and the fresh sounds of the blissful waterfalls ::)