Going Local with Icelandic Farm Holidays
Magnificent waterfalls, lunar lava fields and massive glaciers- Iceland is on many traveler’s bucket list for good reason. When planning my first trip to Iceland I found a few options to get a taste of the country in the four days I would be there. Plenty of people choose Reykjavik as a base and visit south Iceland’s popular sights on day trips with organized bus tours I knew I wanted to experience Iceland with the freedom that only four wheels and the open road can provide. While I am always up for a new adventure I did find the prospect of planning my Icelandic road trip a little daunting- this would be my first time driving in another country, let alone one with famously unpronounceable towns, a rugged lava-hewn landscape and the occasional volcanic eruption that will disrupt European air travel for weeks. On the recommendation of a good friend I decided to enlist the help of Icelandic Farm Holidays.
Icelandic Farm Holidays has a collection of over 170 hotels, B&Bs, farm stays and cottages throughout Iceland as well as connections with most of the popular sightseeing activities. Because I only had 4 days and it was my first time in Iceland they directed me towards their Amazing South self drive tour. This package included stays at my choice of charming country guesthouses and Reykjavik city hotels as well as a rental car with GPS. While I opted for to use them just for my accommodations and rental car Icelandic Farm Holidays can also arrange nearly any tour or activity in Iceland.
From the very first email communication with Icelandic Farm Holidays was fast and seamless. Arriving at Keflavik airport early in the morning we headed straight for the rental car counter and received a packet with all of our accommodation vouchers,maps, guidebooks and even a discount card for gas-basically everything we would need for our trip. Our first stop would be Efsti-Dalur II , a family-run dairy farm with modern updated cabins located near the Golden Circle attractions of Gullfoss and Geysir. The cozy cabins, like many of the homes in Iceland, were warmed with in-floor radiant geothermal heat which felt like our own personal little sauna (this was quite welcome after a particularly chilly and rainy day and getting soaked at the Gullfoss waterfall). A generous breakfast buffet is complimentary for guests but the restaurant serves lunch and dinner all day as well. If you’re in the area be sure to stop by for some of Efsti-Dalur’s delicious homemade ice cream, regarded by many to be the best ice cream in Iceland.
Our next farmstay was the welcoming Guesthouse Steig. This working farm is located a short distance from the town of Vik making it a convenient base for visiting the waterfalls, glaciers and black sand beaches that south Iceland is famous for. As soon as we arrived we were quickly greeted by Guesthouse Steig’s furry canine welcoming committee. Set against the beautiful Myrdal mountains, you can see the cliffs of Dyrolaey on a clear day. Each morning of my stay I’d head out to watch the sheep and lambs frolic before enjoying the ample breakfast buffet. Rooms here are large and bright and there is a shared kitchen available if you prefer to make your own meals.
After three days exploring the rugged beauty of south Iceland we would end our trip in the charming capital of Reykjavik where we traded cozy farmstays for a sleek urban hotel. Fosshotel Reykjavik, Iceland’s largest hotel, is located in Reykjavik’s business district and is a quick walk from the shops and cafes of Laugavegur. Modern Nordic design can be seen throughout the hotel and rooms on higher floors have stunning views over Reykjavik’s Harbor
This was also my first time using a tour company to help arrange our travel and I’m happy to say our experience with Icelandic Farm Holidays, from the first email to the last checkout, was flawless. Their service and the ability to get a more local, in-depth experience made my first trip to Iceland both worry free and memorable. I would recommend Icelandic Farm Holidays to anyone looking to get a taste of the real Iceland.