Staying Local In Iceland: The Icelandic Farm Holidays Experience

My partner and I recently returned from a much-anticipated second visit to Iceland, one of our favorite countries in the world. For no particular reason sometimes places just click, and Iceland has for us. This time though I wanted to do things a little differently. Although I had a great experience on my first trip, I didn’t just want to stay in Reykjavik and do day trips. I wanted to get out into the countryside and explore and learn a lot more about Iceland, its culture and her people in the process. Then I found it while chatting with someone on Twitter, the perfect way to achieve my local-living goals in Iceland: Icelandic Farm Holidays.

Sure, it’s a company and I swear I’m not shilling for them, but it’s more than just a business. Through a collection of 170 farms, B&Bs rural hotels and cottages around Iceland, they really are the foremost source for putting together a well-rounded trip in Iceland. Ok, now this really sounds like a commercial, but I swear it’s not. Instead, it is a post about my experience with them and why I enjoyed it so very much.

The Process

It’s easy really, this company does as little or as much as you want them to. I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, how long we’d be there and the fact that we wanted to self-drive, but that was about it. Hunting around the Icelandic Farm Holidays web site, I found a number of tour options, inspiration really, that sounded great. For self-drivers like us, the recommendations are just those obviously, recommendations. You do have to be cognizant about what is and isn’t possible, but in general the open road is yours. The self-drive packages include rental car and accommodations at whichever property you want. You can add in more or less, but for us that was the perfect level of involvement we wanted from them. I love great road trips and I frankly wanted to be left alone to do my own thing. Picking a hotel sight-unseen is always hard, but I was pleased with the way in which the Farm Holidays people presented the options. Their members are the real deal; most are working farms that also have a hotel or bed and breakfast attached as part of their business. It’s a wonderful way to get closer to the community and the land, but with some conveniences as well.


The Experience

As an overplanner, I had a fairly detailed itinerary of what I wanted to see and do during my stay in Iceland. I spent far too many hours staring at road maps, trying to figure out the best routes to maximize our time in Iceland. This level of excessive planning probably wasn’t necessarily, but I did feel like I better understood our options after we picked up our rental car and hit the open road. Driving in Iceland is easy, once you’re outside of Reykjavik there isn’t much traffic, although the weather in winter can be tricky at times. Spending a full day of driving around looking at waterfalls and geysers, we arrived at our hotel tired and frankly really curious to see what it was like. True to their word, Hraunsnef is a country hotel and I was thrilled when I first saw the cows and sheep on the property. But it was also a really nice hotel as well. I had low expectations to be honest, expecting a very rustic experience. Those are also available if that’s your thing, but it’s not mine and I was anxious. But the hotel itself, the restaurant and most importantly our room were all excellent, comfortable and oozing with the hospitality of the owners. It was a lovely experience and staying there quickly became a highlight of our trip. From the hotel we made day trips to the areas suggested by Icelandic Farm Holidays, all easily manageable and just as beautiful as the photos promised. Everything worked like clockwork, and the experience itself really couldn’t have been better.

The Results

I am typically loath to use a service or company for our personal travels. I love travel planning and frankly just prefer to do everything myself. But after I saw the experience a friend of mine had with Icelandic Farm Holidays, I decided I wanted something similar. I wanted to be out in the country, gazing up at the Northern Lights and petting fuzzy Icelandic horses. That was the Iceland I wanted to see, experience and learn more about and you know what, I did. I sat and chatted with the hotel staff, got to know more about them and their lives. I drove into and out of the nearest town so many times I felt like a local. I pet the cows, nuzzled a fuzzy horse and yes, one night I looked up and did see those amazing Northern Lights. It was the experience I had hoped it would be and so much more. Sure, we saw and did everything on our list, but there was a certain added benefit, an intangible one that happens rarely, but is so special when it does. I call it travel umami, a rare travel sensation that occurs when all the travel stars align perfectly, as they did for us in Iceland.

My experience with the company Icelandic Farm Holidays was so positive, I had to share it. Because more than coordinating hotels and cars, they put together a truly memorable Icelandic experience for us. An experience that can’t be bought at any price but which is certainly something I will always remember.

Please let me know if you have any questions about my experience!

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

3 thoughts on “Staying Local In Iceland: The Icelandic Farm Holidays Experience”

  1. Hi Matt,
    this sounds like such an amazing experience! We’d love to do that as we are quite fond of actually experiencing the country we’re visiting as well.

  2. I used Icelandic Farm Holiday in 2009 and absolutely loved the experience as well! I too am an over-planner with detailed itinerary for most trips and the voucher system was just enough reassurance that we’d have a bed to sleep in while leaving some nights an adventure to discover where we’d be hunkering down.

    I’m so happy this post led me to your site – so much good insight for my future planning. Peru is next!

  3. Thank you so much for all of your posts about Iceland. I’m taking my twin daughters for their Sweet 16 from September 17 through 25. I have sent emails to Farm Holidays about planning a self-drive tour but haven’t heard anything back. I’m so nervous about this trip as this is our first time outside the US! I don’t know why they’ve both been fascinated by the idea of Iceland for so many years but I want this trip to be a good one. I’ve purchased every guide book and the one video I could find to help me plan this trip, but now I’m just overwhelmed!! The Icelandic Farm Holidays sounded like a great way to let go and let the locals help me. Do you have any pull with them?? Maybe you could suggest another self-drive tour operator? Or do you think I could just rent a car and a GPS and explore on our own?? I’m starting to freak out that maybe we should have gone somewhere less intimidating! Any help would be so greatly appreciated!

    I subscribed to your blog and look forward to following more of your amazing journeys around the world and close to home.I hope Hong Kong and Queensland are great experiences for you!

    Happy travels. Be well.

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