Iceland Culture: The Summerhouse

Imagine yourself, after a long week of work, heading out of the city and retreating to a cabin in the middle of the mountains. Nothing to do but relax, be with family or friends, and enjoy the Icelandic wilderness. This, my friend, is the summerhouse.

Sounds like a perfect weekend escape, right?!


A summerhouse is the Midwest equivalent of a cabin. Sumarbústaðir or summerhouse translates to “summer dwelling.” Contrary to the name, it’s not only used in the summer. Icelanders visit their summerhouses year round.

And this weekend I was able to experience these summerhouses I had always been hearing about.

Before I get too far into this post I’m going to tell you a really sad story so that you don’t have to find a way to tell me “uh Jeannie, your photos are looking awful.”

This weekend my exploring partner (aka my husband) was out of town. My adventuring spirit wasn’t about to just sit around…there’s too much to see! So I grabbed my camera and the tripod and headed out. I was meeting up with a friend, but I knew there would be some good photo ops along the way.

Stop number one was absolutely beautiful, so I set up the tripod to get some great shots.

Now this is Iceland and I was in the middle of a large lava field, so I should have known better. But all of a sudden, a HUGE gust of wind came and blew the tripod over – the camera took a nose dive right onto the lens. Cue the pit in my stomach as I picked up the camera to see if I just got myself into a very expensive blonde moment. Camera still functioning, lens destroyed. Cue the crying.

I was determined to not let it get me down. Learn from my blonde mistakes and move on. Good thing the iPhone has a decent camera as a backup! Bad thing is now I have to wait a month to get a replacement lens.

So naturally I stopped for ice cream…which is basically the cure for a broken lens/anything ever. Not to mention this view wasn’t a bad way to enjoy a delicious dark chocolate dipped cone.


As I’m driving to my destination, I’m checking out my surroundings and taking in all of the beautiful nature that Iceland has to offer. The sea on my left, driving past waterfalls on my right, mountains straight ahead. No wonder Icelanders are always looking forward to heading to their summerhouses for the weekends, this is the place to be!

When you pull into the summerhouse area, you know you are in the right place because there’s a BUNCH of adorable houses with bright colored roofs nestled into the base of the mountain.

READ MORE:   8 Things I love About Iceland


As I pull in the driveway, I literally shout with excitement. WHAT?! This is where we are hanging out?! This is like something straight out of a movie. I am not leaving.


As I get the tour around the place, I notice a hot tub with a view straight to the mountains, a front porch with anti-gravity chairs, and a fireplace. Oh ok, don’t mind me, I’ll be right here.


I guess the next question is how can I buy one of these places?! I would be there every single weekend.


In Iceland the growing season is extremely short, so greenhouses are very common. Here they have planted apples, plums, herbs, and strawberries! Love it.


You know it’s getting warmer in the Arctic when flowers start sprouting out of the ground. And the grass is starting to turn green! Hooray, spring!


Some things that you can expect out of a weekend at a summer house:

  • complete relaxation
  • laughing with and enjoying the company of your family or good friends
  • soaking in the hot tub
  • eating and drinking
  • reading a book
  • having a fire
  • casual walks or hikes around the area discovering beautiful things
  • amazing views

Sounds incredible, I know. This is what a few hours of my weekend looked like:

Even though the weather was chilly, there was NO wind, which makes it a perfect day in Iceland! It was a great day to be outside, the crisp mountain air was so refreshing.

After a delicious meal and some lounging time, we decide to take an evening stroll. Can we take a minute to look closely at the dog?! He’s taking a walk in the fresh mountain air, tail bouncing in the wind. He is so happy.


Doesn’t every walk take you through a mossy lava field?! With the mountains surrounding us, I was in landscape heaven.


Of course no Iceland adventure would be complete without a waterfall or two! They may be small, but they are still beautiful. Anytime there are mountains and water, I am one happy girl!


Basically, Icelanders are doing it right. Relaxing weekends enjoying nature with family. What could be better? This weekend was the best.

Like the idea of the summerhouse and want to book one of your own? You can! A lot of places are family owned, but some people rent out their properties to guests. Check this website for summerhouse listings and availability. Rentals offered throughout Iceland.

Question:  What’s your idea of a perfect weekend?





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Learn one of the most wonderful and lovely things about the culture in Iceland - the summerhouse. A place to relax and enjoy nature on the weekends. | Life With a View

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  • Van (@snowintromso)
    May 3, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Norwegians are crazy for their cabins too! Only difference might be that it’s less of a summer but more of an all-year house 😉

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Icelanders call them summerhouse but they also go year round. I tell ya, the Scandinavian countries know what’s up!

  • Cynthia
    May 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Looks like you have a fantastic weekend! I am forever jealous of the little weekend houses (or ‘chata’) that the Czechs have…. I have seriously looked at real estate listings and then been all like “no! what am i doooooing?” It would probably be the most wonderful thing in the world…. ever…. 🙂

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:22 am

      Right?! I’m seriously considering looking into buying one of these gems! I would go every.single.weekend.

  • Kelley Lumbard
    May 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Just the cutest little house ever, that looks amazing! So so sorry about the camera, babes! That’s the SADDEST! Thank god for iphones and Justins. 😀

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:20 am

      LOL. Ah girl you know me too well, Justin is my lifesaver 😀

  • Wendy
    May 3, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Love it!! Your Grandma and Grandpa found their “Summerhouse” on the Mississippi River. Now you know how Dad and I feel every weekend from April-October when we are able to be up at Red Cedar!! 🙂 Priceless!!

    PS. We need the hot tub

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:20 am

      I thought of you several times when I was there! It has a very similar feel to the river cabin. Your love for relaxing cabins in the woods is rubbing off on me! Yes, next up – hot tub 😀

  • Kristy
    May 3, 2016 at 3:36 am

    I want a summerhouse!!

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:17 am

      It is actually my goal in life right now to buy one. I will live in my car during the week if I could have a summerhouse to go to on the weekends!

  • Jasmin Charlotte
    May 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Ah this looks totally amazing – what an awesome trip. We have the same things in NZ which they call the bach!

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Oh wow, sign me up for a bach in NZ anytime 🙂 Weekends away are the best!

  • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki
    May 2, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    I just love the Icelandic summerhouse tradition. Us girls need a weekend away in one! Boo about your camera, but your pictures still look gorgeous!

    • Jeannie
      May 11, 2016 at 8:15 am

      Yes, a weekend in a summerhouse NEEDS to happen! I’m all for it, that would be so fun.