Tiny Iceland Cottages

On my way back from Copenhagen, I stayed for a few days in cold and dark Iceland. This fascinating and stark island in the North Atlantic is fast becoming one of the top places to visit in Europe — with or without Eyjafjallajökull blowing it’s top. Reykjavik is stylish and easy to get around in and the rest of the country is a mix of mountains, seaside, towering cliffs and, of course, hot springs like the famous Blue Lagoon. It’s interesting how the Icelandic tourism industry has turned this essentially inhospitable land into a place that is comfortable to stay.

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While most Icelanders live in modern homes and apartments, even up until the 1940s, many lived in tiny houses called turf homes. Since wood was so hard to come by on this nearly treeless island, farmers scavenged driftwood from the black sand beaches, marked the wood with a brand to show that they belonged to his family, and planed them down to build small homes. These homes were then surrounded with turf as insulation. These homes were not heated as there was a real fear of fire burning down the precious driftwood homes, so a separate “fire house” was built to hold a fire and cook food.

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While there are some beautiful hotels in Reykjavik and the main touring areas in the south and east part of the island, I kept seeing tiny cottages nestled up against the volcanic mountains topped with creeping glaciers. Many of these cottages are available for rent all year long and feature small kitchens and amazing views.

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Hvoll Cottages

The Hvoll Cottages near the small town of Vik is about two hours from Reykjavik. “Vik” means “bay” in Icelandic and these cottages have access to several black sand beaches, rock outcroppings and many of the waterfalls and parks in the south. Vik has become more famous since becoming the setting for many scenes in the Games of Thrones TV series. Also near Vik are the Hotel Laki cottages. These little cottages are for two to three people and have simple beds, cooking facilities and showers. Most of these little cottages are heated with steam or power from local geothermal power plants.

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Hvoll Cottages

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Hvoll Cottages

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Hotel Laki Cottages

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Hotel Laki Cottages

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Hotel Laki Cottages

If you want to get closer to the highlands in the interior or the Golden Circle for its geysers and waterfalls, the Cottages Lakethingvellir are located near Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. The nearly 400 square feet cottages have two bedrooms, a small kitchen and dining area and views of the lake. They are named Ármannsfell, Arnarfell, Miðfell and Búrfell.

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Cottages Lakethingvellir

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Cottages Lakethingvellir

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Cottages Lakethingvellir

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Cottages Lakethingvellir

What’s nice about these cottages is that they are away from most city lights and if you come to Iceland in the winter and are lucky enough to have a clear night, keep your eye on the north part of the sky around midnight for the Northern Lights. They are like nothing you’ve ever seen in your life.

Photo of Iceland turf houses by Wilder Wolf

14 Comments Tiny Iceland Cottages

  1. Shelly

    Absolutely fabulous, I live in a tiny home too & I love it. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Iceland – fascinating!

    Reply
  2. Nice

    Been meaning to hit Iceland for years. Was going to go last year but went to Japan, instead. I hope Iceland’s not become too dang touristy. Sure, I am a tourist and I won’t deny it but that doesn’t mean I want to hang out with a bunch of tourists. Never have liked that much.

    I like the turf homes shown here and the lakethingveller (lake thing?) cottages, quite a bit. The others, especially the laki, just look like tool sheds. There are so many tool/garden sheds out there being passed off as “tiny homes”. You see them on this website all the time. No style, imagination, or appeal.

    Reply
    1. Above the Fog Line

      Iceland as a spot to visit is on my bucket list. Discovered Icelandic Air as one of the best, fastest, and most economical air-carriers to get from the West Coast to Europe. They showed us that they want our business and that they still understand what it takes to attract repeat customers.

      Your comments about the low design and construction quality of so many of the featured “homes” is spot-on. Code and health conflicts are all too common.

      I really worry about health and safety issues found in some of the DIY creations, especially when small infants and children will occupy the spaces.

      Operating a blog must be a big chore and sometimes it may be necessary to mix the wheat with the chaff just to have something posted every day.

      Reply
      1. Nice

        Thanks for the info on Icelandic air! I’ll check that out, for sure.

        I completely agree with your observations regarding shoddy workmanship and safety concerns, and I think you’re right in stating that one must take the good with the bad if you’re going to present fresh content on your blog. I’ve seen many “homes” on this site that, were they mine, would no longer exist, as I’d tear them down and start over.

        Reply
    1. Marie H

      I was in Iceland this summer and the zoning planners are somewhat concerned because as the reforestation process is ongoing, fire become a hazard. Not too many hydrants.

      Reply
  3. Judith Rosenberg

    I’ve been to Iceland twice,once in the 1980s with young children and then alone about 10 years ago. The biggest difference I noticed in the Golden Circle area was the addition of a gift shop near Gullfoss. But the road between Reykjavik and Thingvellir was as empty as ever: no signs, no houses, no electrical or telephone lines, just the road and the occasional sheep or Icelandic pony.
    As for deforestation, the Vikings with their goats and sheep did in the forests; even thought they were at a similar latitude as their home country of Norway, they didn’t realize that the winds would keep the trees from growing back.
    By the way, these kind of small holiday cottages can be found all over the Scandinavian countryside and many of them are available for rent.

    Reply
  4. carrie

    BTW to those critiquing on the ‘shed’ Take a look at the gardeners shed in the vineyards of Spain: 2 young men turned it into their home. It is STILL my all time FAV small house….Alex showed it about 1 1/2 yrs ago..It’s on Faircompanies too. YES >>>>>>> these Icelandic beauties are adorable…Where is the wood stove for heat and ambiance?

    Reply
  5. J

    The Turf Homes would not have had to be heated as there is enough soil on/around them to take advantage of passive heating concepts. If they faced south they could also take advantage of solar heating. I saw a link to how to do this not too long ago but I can’t find it at the moment. If the fire house was in the same line of houses, they could easily put a pipe between the houses to transfer heat and help retain heat in the soil as well.

    Reply
  6. Cheryl C

    How would a tiny cabin camp ground sound to folks? I’d love to own, operate such a business. Wondering how tiny accommodations would be received in vacation areas.

    Reply
  7. TomLeeM

    I those are really nice. I would not mind renting one of them.

    Cheryl, there is something similar to what you are thinking on the coast of New Jersey. The small house there is part tent and part small house. :) people rent them during the summer.

    Reply

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