Where to Stay in North Iceland

With dramatic landscapes, lush farmlands, and charming villages, North Iceland has much to offer travellers. It’s fantastic for outdoor activities, culinary experiences, and cultural exploration and in terms of lodgings, it’s most definitely not lacking. But with a myriad of enticing options, finding a place to stay in North Iceland can be a challenging quest. But don’t worry – whether you’re after the cottagecore vibe or a city stay, family-friendly, luxury or budget, we’ve got you covered. 

In Akureyri

Staying in Akureyri is a great option for those who want a city break or are going skiing in Hlíðarfjall mountain. Due to how easy it is to get there without a car, it’s also excellent for those who want to explore the North without having to drive. You can simply take the bus or go by plane, and book North Iceland day-trips that leave from Akureyri. Northern lights, geothermal baths, whale watching and major attractions are all on the table. You can even book a tour tailor-made for you!

For a classic city stay, Hótel Akureyri ($$ – $$$) has three fabulous central locations in town. First, there’s Dynheimar, housed in what used to be Iceland’s firts movie theatre. It’s a quaint hotel on Akureyri’s main street, perfect for those who want something modern and eclectic. For a more classic and sophisticated design, go for Skjaldborg (use Hótel Akureyri when searching). The house was built in 1924 by the sobrietry social group Good Templars and later transformed into a printing factory. Lastly, there’s Akurinn Residence, a stately villa with the same classic design as Skjaldborg that can house up to 17 people. 

Ideal for skiers, Hótel Hálönd ($$) is situated at the base of Hlíðarfjall mountain, only a five-minute drive – or a 40-minute walk if you want a warm-up – from Akureyri’s skiing area. You’ll have access to a hot tub after your adventures on the slopes and a chic, modern room to rest up in. There’s no restaurant at the hotel, but the city centre is only an eight-minute drive away.

People skiing on a sunny day in Hlíðarfjall, Akureyri.
Photo: Golli. People skiing on a sunny day in Hlíðarfjall, Akureyri.

On a budget

It must be said that finding cheap accommodation in Iceland is not an easy task. With a high cost of living, hotels and guesthouses tend to be on the more expensive side. On the bright side, the standard of accommodations in Iceland is relatively high, so in most cases, you’ll be getting your money’s worth. Even so, some lodgings have a below-average price tag whilst also keeping up the good ratings. 

Guesthouse Svínavatn ($) by Svínavatn lake is a small and friendly shoreside accommodation offering rooms with shared or private bathrooms. The lake is popular for fishing, an activity guests can enjoy free of charge. The guesthouse is also conveniently located within an hour’s drive from popular attractions such as Kolufossar waterfalls in Kolugljúfur, Kattarauga pond, and the historic Glaumbær turf house.

A 15-minute ferry ride or a short flight away from the mainland, you’ll find Syðstibær Guesthouse ($) on Hrísey Island, also known as the Pearl of Eyjafjörður. It has a retro vibe and a fantastic location, which allows you to experience the island life. You can take a stroll around the island on four different trails or book a sightseeing tour by tractor. Hrísey also has a bring-you-own-discs disc golf course, a sport that has taken Iceland by storm in the past few years, a small swimming pool and a museum (open by appointment; email [email protected] for inquiries).

The Hrísey lighthouse during summer.
Photo: Páll Stefánsson. The Hrísey lighthouse during summer.

Salt Guesthouse ($) in Siglufjörður is simple, comfy, central, and has historical roots. The house was built as a hotel during the boom of the herring era, and the name ‘Salt’ pays tribute to that history. It’s within five minutes’ walk from the bakery, grocery shop, pharmacy, information centre, and several bars and restaurants. Guests on Booking have noted that the guesthouse is not clearly marked on the outside. Look for a flag hanging above the entrance and the marking ‘Hvanneyri 1935’. This is the name of the house and the year it was built.

Right in the centre of Akureyri, there’s Hafnarstræti Hostel ($-$$), which offers a unique, spaceship-like capsule experience, and Akureyri Backpackers ($), a more typical hostel with a slightly cheaper nightly rate and a sauna. These are great if you want a budget accomodation in the town centre, or if you just really enjoy the more social hostel life. 

For families and groups

With tons of family-friendly adventures, North Iceland is a fantastic place to bring your family! From horseback riding and nature exploring to interesting museums and swimming pools, there’s a lot to discover. Finding suitable lodgings for the whole family might be the hardest part, but following are some that accommodate up to seven people and have nearby activities for kids. These are also ideal for groups that don’t want to split themselves up in hotel rooms. 

Brimnes Bungalows ($-$$$), located by Lake Ólafsfjörður, are classic family cottages that sleep up to seven people. They are fully equipped with a kitchen and bathroom, as well as a hot tub on the veranda. Guests also have access to boats to row on the lake, a great activity for the whole family. Ólafsfjörður Swimming Pool, which has a waterslide, is only a six-minute walk away. The price per person depends on the number of guests, as there is a flat rate for the cottages.

Stóra-Ásgeirsá Horse Farm Stay ($-$$$) offers guests a true Icelandic farm experience. As Brimnes, it accommodates up to seven people, making it perfect for family vacations. The kids can run around the fields, interact with the friendly farm animals, and even take part in farm chores. It’s also possible to book horseback riding, an activity that most children love. At Mjólkurhúsið pub, you can buy drinks and traditional Icelandic meat soup, a hearty dish that will fuel you up after a long day. The price per person for this accommodation depends on the number of guests, as there is a flat rate for the rooms.

Hotel Kjarnalundur ($) in Kjarnaskógur forest, one of the relatively few in Iceland, offers accommodation for up to six and is located in an area that is immensely popular with families. It stretches across 800 hectares of land and is filled with fun trails, playgrounds, volleyball courts, covered grill areas, sledge slopes (during winter), and more. You might even spot some rabbits hopping around. It’s a superb area for family adventures and picnics.

Cottagecore

If hotel rooms and apartments are not your vibe, and you want something a bit more country, perhaps the numerous cottages available in North Iceland sound more attractive.

For nature lovers, Hestasport Cottages ($-$$$) in Varmahlíð, surrounded by fields of grass and mountainscapes, perfectly capture the countryside feeling. They offer a serene atmosphere and an excellent opportunity to experience both the magnificent winter sky and bright summer nights. The price per person depends on the number of guests, as there is a flat rate for the cottages.

There is also Vegamót Cottages ($-$$) in Dalvík, which has an old-fashioned village feel to it. You can choose between a small cottage with a private toilet (no shower) and kitchenette or a slightly bigger cottage with a private bathroom, full kitchen and living room. It does have a three-night minimum stay, but if you’re not in a hurry, it’s a good base location for day trips to Siglufjörður, Akureyri, Grímsey, Húsavík, and more. The price per person depends on the number of guests, as there is a flat rate for the cottages.

Romantic and luxurious

There’s also plenty to pick from on the other end of the spectrum. If you’re on the hunt for romance or luxury, North Iceland will certainly not disappoint you. Whether it’s to get the ultimate relaxation, celebrate an anniversary, pop the question, or just to treat yourself, you won’t have any trouble finding the right accommodation. 

Brimslóð Atelier ($$) is situated in the oldest part of Blönduós village. A small, farmhouse-style hotel right by the sea, it’s well suited for a couple’s getaway. Breakfast is included, and those interested in a Nordic culinary experience can dine at the in-house restaurant, which serves “Icelandic heritage food with a modern twist” from locally sourced and natural ingredients. They also offer a cooking workshop where participants learn about Nordic nature and cuisine.

For something striking a balance between nature and city, try Sigló Hótel ($$$), an outstanding hotel located by Siglufjörður’s harbour. Its classy, romantic design, paired with the marina hot tub and sauna, is perfect for a romantic stay or relaxing after a tiring day. A continental breakfast is included in the price. The hotel also runs three restaurants, offering guests dinner and lunch options ranging from fine dining to burgers and pizza. 

Three people enjoying the view of a snow-covered Siglufjörður from the marina hot tub at Sigló Hotel.
Photo: Golli. Three people enjoying the view of a snow-covered Siglufjörður from the marina hot tub at Sigló Hotel.

For those wanting the best of the best, Deplar Farm ($$$$$) is a remote hideout that offers a highly luxurious experience of the Icelandic wilderness. Surrounded by mountains, fields, and rivers, with nothing else in sight for miles, it’s ideal for recharging. It has a Nordic and minimalist style and offers a range of activities, both in summer and winter. With nightly rates starting at around ISK 600.000 [$ 4.500, €4.100] and a minimum stay of three nights, it is one of the most – if not the most – expensive hotels you can book in Iceland. However, it’s also one of the most exquisite, making the 2023 Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List as one of the “Best Hotels in the World”. 

One with nature

If you’re going to North Iceland to breathe in the exquisite nature, you can enhance your experience by choosing the right place to stay. Although a great deal of the available accommodations in North Iceland are, in fact, surrounded by nature , there are several that really stand out from the crowd in regards to location or design.

Fosshótel at Lake Mývatn ($$$), designed with nature in mind and in perfect harmony with its surroundings, is an excellent choice for those wanting to immerse themselves in Iceland’s beautiful landscapes. Sitting in the magnificent lava fields of Mývatn and facing the lake, the enormous dining hall windows offer an unobstructed view of nature. The hotel has a first-class continental breakfast and an in-house restaurant perfect for those wanting to try the famous Icelandic lamb or fish

Sky sighting Iglúhús ($$) takes the closeness to nature one step further. With cosy and rustic, dome-style cabins that have windows across the roof, you’ll have an unrestricted view of the night sky while you lie in bed. This is a unique way to experience the midnight sun of summer and the northern lights of winter. Located in Árskógarsandur, it’s in the same area as The Beer Spa, quite literally offering their guests to bathe in beer whilst also drinking beer. A cheaper alternative is Hauganes beach baths, where you can refresh yourself with some sea swimming and relax in the ocean-view tubs. If you’re easily disturbed by light while you sleep, this is a place you should visit in fall, winter, or early spring while the sun isn’t up half the night. Note that there are no showers at the accommodation.

Iceland Yurt ($$ – $$$) takes camping to the next level, offering guests a traditional Mongolian wool-insulated and wood-fired yurt. Wake up to the birds singing or the sound of raindrops on the tent and connect with nature in a new way. Five minutes from camp is the Gaia god/dess temple, where you can book conscious movement and dance sessions, as well as deep relaxation. The tents accommodate up to five people, and included in the price is a yummy breakfast stored in cute little cooler boxes.

Camping and campervans

Should you be travelling in a camper van or with a tent, you need to find an established campsite ($) or get a landowner’s written permission to camp on their property. You should be able to locate a campsite easily, as plenty of them are around, but here are some of our favourites. 

People setting up camp.
Photo: Golli/Morgunblaðið. People setting up camp.

Hamrar in Kjarnaskógur, the same one mentioned above, is one of the most family-friendly campsites in Iceland. The campsite, situated in a woodland area just outside the city, is large and offers amenities such as picnic tables, playgrounds, volleyball courts, a bring-you-own-discs disc golf court, mountain bike trails, and covered barbecue facilities. There are also 12 km [7.5 miles] of gravel tracks to walk on, as well as ungravelled trails and tracks.

Ásbyrgi, located in one of Iceland’s national parks, is a curiously shaped glacier valley and a popular attraction. It has strong ties to Old Norse Mythology, which states that the horseshoe-shaped canyon was formed by Sleipnir, Óðin‘s eight-legged horse. The campsite is an ideal base for nature exploring, as there are several trails of various lengths in the area, which will lead you to a handful of natural attractions. If you have the time, you can even plan a multi-day hiking adventure. On the campsite, you’ll have access to electricity, a washing machine and dryer, toilets, showers, and a playground.

Situated in a small forest, Hólar in Hjaltadal has plenty of quiet and secluded corners and beautiful meadows, described by a Google reviewer as “one of the best campsites”. If you want a true old-school camping experience, this might be the place for you. At the Hólar campsite, there is no electricity, bad internet connection, and limited amenities, all of which are part of the attraction for those wanting a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are bathrooms and sinks with (mostly) cold water but no showers. 

Mánárbakki is the ideal place for a romantic camping experience. Situated on the Tjörnes peninsula, right by the sea, you’ll have an amazing view of the sunset right from your tent. The campsite, which offers washing and cooking facilities, toilets, showers, and electricity, has an exceptionally good rating of 4.8, based on 791 reviews.

Although it is possible to book some campsites in advance, you generally don’t need to. Most campsites are open from sometime in May into September, but this is different for each place, so be sure to look into that beforehand. If you need help finding a campsite or general information about them, Tjalda.is has a list and map of all campsites in Iceland. 

 

Record Number of Overnight Stays in Iceland in February

Tourists hiking to Sapphire Ice Cave.

A record number of overnight stays were registered in Iceland in February or 575,300. This is a 45% increase from 2022 and a 9.4% increase from 2018, the previous record year.

Hotel accommodation increased in all parts of the country

As noted by Statistics Iceland, a record number of overnight stays were registered in Iceland in February or 575,300. This is a 45% increase from 2022 and a 9.4% increase from 2018, which was the previous record year.

The number of overnight stays in February by foreign tourists accounted for ca. 79% of the total, or around 455,100. This is a 55% increase from February 2022 (i.e. 396,400). By comparison, the overnight stays by Icelanders were ca. 120,100, which is a 15% increase from February 2022 (104,500).

Statistics Iceland also notes that of the 575,300 total overnight stays, 435,700 were spent in hotels and guesthouses and about 139,600 in other types of registered accommodation (apartment accommodation, holiday homes, campsites, etc.). The estimated number of foreign overnight stays in home accommodation, outside the traditional overnight registration, in February was around 75,000.

Overnight stays in hotels in February were 371,900, which is a 37% increase from last year (270,900). Hotel accommodation increased in all parts of the country compared to February 2022. Foreign tourists accounted for 304,900 of overnight stays in hotels, or 82% of the total, while the number of nights spent by Icelanders was 62,300 (18%). The overnight stays of foreign tourists increased by 46% and the overnight stays of Icelanders by 8% when compared to last year.

Lastly, the availability of hotel rooms in February increased by 5% from February 2022. Room occupancy in hotels was 65.9% and increased by 14.9% from the previous year.

Lockout Affecting 20,000 Workers in Iceland Approved

Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson SA Icelandic Confederation of Enterprise

Members of the Icelandic Confederation of Enterprise (SA) have approved a lockout of some 20,000 workers set to begin on March 2 at noon, RÚV reports. CEO of SA Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson has called it a “last resort” to force the conclusion of a collective agreement with Efling Union. Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir says SA is using a lockout to force the government to step into the conflict.

Vast majority vote in favour of lockout

Nearly 88% of companies in SA voted on the lockout, with 94% voting in favour. During the lockout, Efling workers would not be permitted to show up to their employment. As such, they would not receive wages, accrue leave, or receive pension payments. Exceptions would be granted for workers in healthcare and other essential jobs, according to SA. Efling is Iceland’s second-largest union and the lockout would greatly impact the entire Icelandic economy.

In a press conference yesterday, Halldór Benjamín stated that the lockout was a response to Efling workers’ ongoing strikes, which led several hotels to temporarily close their doors. While those strikes are ongoing, Efling has postponed further strikes scheduled to begin on February 28, of additional workers in security companies, cleaning companies, and hotels.

Lockout is an attempt to involve government, Sólveig says

“This play is aimed at the government,” Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir told RÚV when asked about the lockout. “Because Halldór Benjamín cannot make a collective agreement with Efling, he’s is waiting for the government to come and release him from the predicament he’s gotten into, and of course, we will wait and see if that happens.” Both Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Labour Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson have stated it is in SA and Efling’s hands to reach an agreement.

When asked whether the dispute could be resolved without government intervention, Sólveig answered: “I believe at this point in time that nothing is more obvious than the fact that SA does not intend and does not want to enter into a collective agreement with Efling.”

The pending lockout could leave Efling members in a tight spot as the union’s leaders appear to disagree on whether to make payouts to affected workers.

Four Hotels Shuttered as Wage Negotiations Drag On

Strike efling hotel workers union

As the ongoing wage dispute between the Efling union and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) drags on, managers decided to shutter four hotels yesterday. Two additional hotels will be closed tomorrow – and the seventh on Saturday. The Chair of the Association of Companies in Hotel and Accommodation Services (FHG) hopes that the wage dispute will be resolved sooner rather than later.

Heartbreaking having to close again

“It’s an incredible situation in which to find oneself. We have just reopened the hotels after a two-year closure due to the pandemic. The fact that this is happening to us again is heartbreaking,” Kristófer Oliversson, Chair of the Association of Companies in Hotel and Accommodation Services (FHG), stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið.

At the end of January, Efling union members working at seven hotels in the capital area voted in favour of a strike beginning on February 7. After two weeks of strikes, the first four of seven hotels targeted by the first round of strikes were shuttered yesterday. These include Hotel Reykjavík Saga and Hotel Reykjavík Grand, which offer, in total, over 400 rooms.

“It’s admirable that the managers of these hotels have held out for such a long time. They’re trying to keep the other three hotels open,” Kristófer stated. Companies within the hotel and hospitality industry are worried about the consequences of the ongoing Efling strikes and further strikes that are impending.

People will be on the streets

According to an announcement from the Icelandic Tourist Board, a decision has been made to close two additional hotels tomorrow – and a third on Saturday. These are Berjaya Reykjavik Natura Hotel, Hilton Reykjavík Nordica, and Berjaya Reykjavik Marina Hotel. The three hotels offer over 600 rooms. Yesterday morning, an emergency phone line was opened for hotel guests who may require assistance or need help with rebookings.

“People will be out on the streets as the week progresses. That is the situation with which the Icelandic Tourist Board is trying to deal,” Kristófer stated.

He also suggested the establishment of a mass-aid centre on the rationale that it was difficult to stop the flow of visitors. He does not see how to transport a large group of people from one place to another.

“The big booking engines don’t provide us with the necessary information so that we can contact guests directly. They keep this information to themselves so as to sell additional services to the guests. This means that it’s unclear whether visitors can be notified of the closures.”

Barring any unforeseen developments, all Efling members who work in hotels and guesthouses will be on strike at noon on Tuesday. Kristófer told Morgunblaðið that there are currently no plans to close hotels that will be affected by these latest strike actions.

“Of course, we hope that the wage dispute will be resolved,” Kristófer Oliversson concluded.

Hotel Workers Vote in Favour of Strike

Efling hotel strike approved 2023

Efling Union members working at seven hotels in the capital area have voted in favour of a strike that will begin on February 7, RÚV reports. Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir stated that 66% had voted in favour of the strike. The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) believes the strike is illegal and has plans to file a lawsuit against Efling in the Labour Court.

Efling is Iceland’s second-largest workers’ union, with some 20,000 members. Only the workers at the affected hotels were permitted to vote on the strike, just under 300 members. According to Efling, the strike was approved with 124 votes cast in favour and 58 against. Seven voters did not take a stand on the matter. If Efling and SA do not reach an agreement by February 7, an indefinite strike will begin at the following hotels:

  • Fosshótel Reykjavík
  • Hótel Reykjavík Grand
  • Hótel Reykjavík Saga
  • Hótel Reykjavík Centrum
  • Fosshótel Baron
  • Fosshótel Lind
  • Fosshótel Rauðará

“We are, of course, proud of our work, but we are also proud of the members who went to the polls and managed to rise up, despite having been subjected to relentless illegal election propaganda, illegal, from the Icelandic Confederation of Enterprise; constant threats and interference from their employers and then of course this unprecedented and illegal mediation proposal by the state mediator,” Sólveig Anna stated. “Nevertheless, these people stood up for themselves and voted to strike in order to push for a better collective agreement.”

See Also: Efling Demands Labour Market Minister Intercede in Negotiations

Efling is the only union to have not yet finalised a collective agreement with SA in the latest round of negotiations on the Icelandic labour market. The union represents many of Iceland’s lowest-paid workers and has been particularly militant in its recent negotiations, citing the impact of inflation and rising costs of living on workers.

Sólveig Anna Confident That Strikes Will Be Approved

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir Efling

300 employees at Íslandshótel hotels are set to go on strike if action is approved by the Efling union. Efling’s Chairperson is confident that the strike will be approved. Tourism advocates are surprised that the strikes are being directed towards a single employer, RÚV reports.

Efling survey indicates willingness to strike

Efling union members will begin voting on strike action today. If the first wave of action is approved, three hundred employees of Íslandshótel hotels (i.e. custodial staff) will go on strike. Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chairperson of Efling, told RÚV yesterday that, based on conversations with hotel workers, she expected union members to approve strike action.

“A strike notice has been accepted, and voting will begin tomorrow at noon. The strike action applies to union members employed by Íslandshótel hotels. These are approximately three hundred people, custodial staff, who have the opportunity to vote on whether they are prepared to strike in order to push for better contracts: Efling contracts for Efling people.”

“And you expect union members to approve of the action?” a reporter with RÚV inquired.

“Yes, I expect that the action will be met with approval. The results of a very extensive wage survey conducted by Efling indicate that a very large group of Efling members are prepared to quit their jobs to fight for better conditions. Representatives from our negotiating committee have also been visiting these hotels to speak with union members. It’s gone very well, and we had a meeting here yesterday, which also went very well,” Sólveig Anna observed yesterday.

Tourism advocates surprised

Tourism advocates are surprised that the strike action is being directed at a single employer. Kristófer Oliversson, the Director of the Association of Companies in Hotel and Accommodation Services (FHG), told RÚV that it was “unbelievable” that these strikes were being directed against almost “a single ID number, a single hotel owner.”

“It’s been just over six months since we were properly up and running, and now another setback. And it’s always the same custodial staff that’s being asked to strike. This is about five per cent of Efling members here in Reykjavík who are being asked to take up the fight, again and again. I find it quite incredible,” Kristófer stated yesterday.

Sólveig Anna added that this was only the first step. “At the same time, we’ve been working on a bigger and more comprehensive plan, which will then go to a strike vote if no wage agreement is negotiated in the near future,” Sólveig Anna observed.

Kristófer told RÚV yesterday that the tourism industry was in “a tight spot” after a difficult time during the pandemic.” There are good months ahead; February has now become a good time to visit Iceland.

When the views of tourism advocates were put to Sólveig Anna, the Efling Chair stated that she did buy the argument. “I find it incredible that people who are willing to keep these companies going, to profit from the work of others, lack the decency to pay those same people a living wage.”

When asked if she expected that further action by Efling would be directed against the tourism industry, Sólveig refused to answer. “I’m not going to answer that at this time. Ultimately, this is for the negotiating committee to decide. We make all our decisions during meetings with the committee, and I discuss them when they’ve been made,” Sólveig Anna remarked.

When asked if any specific groups within the union had refused to strike, Sólveig responded thusly: “No, no groups have refused to go on strike, not at all.”

September Recording-Breaking Month for Tourism

tourism industry iceland

In a report by Statistics Iceland, overnight stays in hotel accommodations in Iceland are shown to be 7,144,400 for the year so far. This represents a 2% increase from 2018, the previous record-breaking year before the global pandemic.

Should the trend hold, 2022 could be the busiest year ever in the Icelandic tourism industry.

In September of this year, some 853,500 overnight stays in hotel accommodations were recorded, representing a 27% increase from September 2021. Approximately 81% of these overnight stays can be accounted for by foreign tourists, or around 691,000 stays. Icelanders and residents of Iceland accounted for the remaining 19%, at around 161,000 overnight stays. Compared with September 2021, this represents a slight decrease in the amount of domestic tourism, when Icelanders were generally more represented during the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

 

tourism industry iceland
Hagstofa Íslands

Not surprisingly, the region of Iceland with the largest yearly increase was the capital region, with an 11.8% increase in overnight stays from September 2021 to September 2022. Following the capital region were West Iceland and the West Fjords, with an 8.3% increase in the same period.

The region least affected by the recent upswing was East Iceland, with a negligible 0.5% increase in overnight stays year-on-year.

The total supply of hotel rooms has also risen since last year. This summer saw an acute shortage of accommodations in Iceland, driving many prices up. Statistics Iceland reports now an 8% increase in hotel capacity, with an average occupancy over the year of around 79%.

 

Investment Firm and Local Council Announce Plans to Revitalize Blönduós

blönduós town centre

Local council leaders of Húnabyggð municipality and investment firm Info Capital have announced plans to renovate the old town centre of Blönduós, a town in North Iceland.

150 year-old pearl

In an interview with Vísir, local councilman Guðmundur Haukur Jakobsson called the town centre “an old pearl” that has remained largely hidden to tourists. Built 150 years ago, the settlement is a historical site, once the site of a bustling community. However, since the completion of Route 1, Blönduós has been reduced to a place where one refuels and grabs a hot dog. 

The new investment plans intend to change this, transforming the town into a historical destination in its own right, with hotels, restaurants, and other amenities. 

Thriving business life

The investment company is reported as having already purchased property in the town. Guðmundur stated, “We want to have a thriving cultural and business life here […] There is so much history here. We are polishing the future plans, and we hope to start building soon.”

Several members of Info Capital’s management have roots in the community as well, such as Reynir Grétarsson, owner and chairman of the board. Considered “an old local,” Guðmundur stated in the interview that it was a natural choice for them to work with a community they already have such a connection to.

More Overnight Stays Booked This June Than Pre-Pandemic

Icelandair Marina Hotel

Foreign tourists booked 405,000 overnight stays in Icelandic hotels in June 2022, which is an increase of 6%, or roughly 23,000 more stays than were booked in June 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Túristi reports that there was also a jump in hotel bookings among Icelanders, with just over 91,000 overnight stays booked in June 2022, as compared to 38,000 in June 2019.

These were among the findings in a new report issued by Statistics Iceland on Friday.

Americans have had by far the most overnight bookings in Iceland over the years: 127,163 in 2019 up to 140,651 in 2022, for an increase of 11% between the years. Icelanders had the second most overnight bookings in June 2022, or 91,388 to be exact. Percentage-wise, this is the most significant increase by nationality since the pre-pandemic years. Germans had the third most bookings by total in June 2022: 58,453, or a 27% increase from the 46,170 overnight stays they booked in June 2019. In terms of percentage increases, however, Italians had the next highest increase in overnight June bookings after Icelanders: 11,728 in June 2022, or an increase of 89% from 6,200 in June 2019.

The new figures show that between June of this year and last year, 2021, occupancy rates around Iceland went up from 40% to 78.8%. Regionally, the biggest jump in hotel bookings was, unsurprisingly, in the capital region, with 5,400 hotel rooms booked in 2022 versus 3,277 in 2021. The second largest increase was seen in the Southwest: 1,017 in 2022, up from 880 in 2021. East Iceland has seen the least change in overnight stays in the last year, with only two more overnight stays booked in 2022 (441) than in 2021 (439).

Take a look at a summary of Statistics Iceland’s new overnight stay data on their website, in English, here.

Sharp Rise In Demand and Price of Hotel Accomodation

Icelandair Marina Hotel

The Statistics Office of Iceland reports that overnight stays in Icelandic hotels have nearly tripled since the same time in the previous year.

The primary driver of this increased demand came from the tourism industry, with tourists making up some 79% of overnight stays. The largest increase has been recorded in the capital region.

Increased prices have accompanied the increased demand for accommodation. In a recent article in Fréttablaðið, Icelandic traveller Þorsteinn Gunnarsson stated that just a three-night stay in Akureyri would have cost him some ISK 263,000 ($1,974 / €1,888). Þorsteinn claims that these prices raise questions of ethics and greed, and he regrets that Icelanders cannot tour their own country, choosing instead to vacation in Tenerife, for example.

Snorri Pétur Eggertson, managing director of Kea Hotel’s sales and marketing division, did not dispute Þorsteinn’s claims but attributed the rise in price to the global pandemic, supply chain shocks, inflation, and increased numbers in tourism.

According to the Statistics Office, there were already 558,000 overnight stays in Iceland in May, with more projected for the coming summer months.