Where to eat/what to do in Iceland?
March 28, 2017 4:00 PM   Subscribe

So my dear friend is heading to Iceland next week for a week. Staying in an Air BnB outside of reykjavik. She will have a rental car for half a week. Where should she go? Where should she eat? What is she do? No food restrictions. Both adventurous hikers and eaters.
posted by Suffocating Kitty to Travel & Transportation around Reykjavík, Iceland (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would definitely recommend a day trip to Thingvellir (about 40 min from Reykjavik) and Gullfoss (about a 1.5 hr from Reyjavik). Eyjafjallajokull (aka the unpronounceable volcano) is also about 1.5 hr to the south of Reykjavik.
posted by basalganglia at 4:46 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


We really loved our south coast drive from Reyjavik to Vik and back. It was a long day but we saw a lot.
posted by misseva at 4:53 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


The drive to Vik is truly gorgeous. I spent about half of my time in Vik when I was there in 2012. It's got a lovely little hostel with chickens and a view of the harbor and it's a great jumping off point for many sights on the south coast of Iceland. Don't miss the Blue Lagoon; even though it's a hugely popular tourist spot, it's worth all the hype. You can stop there to or from the airport and leave your luggage safely. God I can't wait to get into that hot sulfury water again!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:51 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


In Reykjavik, I loved Sandholt Bakery (breakfast, awesome breads) and Dill (fancy, fancy dinner). Humarhöfnin was my favorite place for langoustine (near Hofn, I think). Hiking around the northeast, around Myvatn and Krafla caldera was cool.
posted by inevitability at 6:25 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Get a hot dog with everything at the hot dog stand kinda near Harpa. Ask around. Someone will direct you.
posted by baseballpajamas at 8:13 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


We had a great meal at Resto - fresh fish and Icelandic lamb.

You need to spend a few hours at the Blue Lagoon - yes, it's full of tourists, but make a reservation, get one of the upgraded options (ours included a glass of bubbly after soaking in the lagoon), and just relax and enjoy yourselves for a few hours.

(I also second the drive mentioned above - waterfalls and geysers - AND enjoying one of the local hot dogs.)
posted by tmharris65 at 2:27 AM on March 29


As for food in Reykjavik: Dill has great food if she can get a table there. Lækjarbrekka is good for things like puffin and whale. I'm fond of Public house gastropub as well, although it can get noisy. Sandholt bakery is also worth a visit. And remember to have coffee and a bun at least once a day.

Other stuff: People talk much about Blue lagoon (get a reservation, remember to hydrate), personally I'd recommend trying out a public bath in and around Reykjavik as well (at a fraction of the price, but sadly without beer). I used to favour Sundhöllin behind the Hallvardskyrkja (best changing rooms ever!), but Vesturbæjarlaug is also a great place. Remember to wash properly before getting in- and naked unless you want to face the ire of the Icelandic washing attendants!

For hiking: Esja is probably one of the most popular mountains close to Reykjavik to hike, but I like the area around Hverdagerði ( http://www.hveragerdi.is/English/Things_to_do/ ) Remember a swimsuit!

The golden circle - Þingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss is a classic, and driving there yourself is an easy day trip.
Driving along the coast to Vik is also a good idea, and don't hestitate to taking sidetrips along the way either.
If the weather is good and the car is sturdy, Landmannalaugar is a nice trip as well, although be careful, because the roads aren't paved. Actually be careful goes for all of Iceland. Bring warm, waterproof and windproof clothes (and swimsuit) - all the time.
posted by mummimamma at 4:39 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


The Blue Lagoon hot springs sound cheesy, and sort of is, but is also sort of amazing.
The Fish Market is expensive but worth it.
posted by adamrice at 5:45 AM on March 29


As a frequent visitor to Iceland, I'll second what a few other people are saying.

For tourism, if you've only got one or two days, the Golden Circle tour is a good day trip, as is the drive along the southern coast... although don't underestimate drive times, much of the route is 60 km/hr, so the driving times are a bit longer than you'd think for the distance (and don't speed, Icelandic traffic fines are harsh). Skaftafell is truly awesome (heck, almost worth it just to see Svartifoss), although getting out there and back will make for a long day

The recommendation for the Blue Lagoon is also good. It's a tourist trap (and one that has some drama at the moment due to remodeling), but, oh, what a tourist trap. Do get reservations, since they often get booked solid. But the in-town places are kind of neat as well, and I rather like Laugardalslaug, the main public pool east of downtown. For the more adventuresome, the Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach (A moderate walk from downtown) is pretty awesome as well, they dump geothermal water into the ocean to warm it up, so you can actually go swimming in the ocean (I'll warn you, though, it's still not "warm", just lest hypothermia-inducing), and then warm up in a hot pot afterward.

Food: It's pretty much obligatory to hit up Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur for an Icelandic Hot Dog (almost the same as a Danish hot dog). Dill is very good high-end food. Sjávargrillið ("Seafood Grill") is another, and one of my favorites. In fact, if you like seafood, make sure you go there or Fiskmarkadurinn, since Iceland has some truly great fish. Just south of Harpa is "Pizza with No Name" which is actually pretty good, and if you really like beer, the Mikkeller and Friends bar upstairs is an outstanding beer bar (as is Micro Bar downtown).

Other random stuff: A fun place to hang out for light food and beer is Kex. It's a hostel built out of an old biscuit factory, but it's a pretty neat place to check out. Do the trip up the belltower in Hallgrimskirkjia. And also go nearby to Reykjavik Roasters, one of my favorite coffee shops anywhere.

Hiking: One that's rather neat and not too far out of the way: go to nearby Hveragerði, go to the north end of town, and take the hike up to Varma (the "Warm River"). Neat river, since it's fed at various spots by both volcanic springs and coldwater springs, so parts of the river are at different temperature between "bone chilling cold" and "near-instant death" (I'm not kidding on the latter, some of the bubbling water is bubbling since it's actually boiling, so test the water temp before getting in and pay attention to the caution signs).

For other food places, I'll plug my blog

Otherwise, enjoy. It's quite a novel and different country, especially for a destination so close to both Western Europe and the US.
posted by kaszeta at 6:20 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


A good alternative to the Blue Lagoon (if you, like me, aren't really into spa nonsense and tourist trapiness) is the Secret Lagoon. Also a geothermally heated pool, but cheaper and you can get just a basic entry without any packages or other stuff included.

Another cool one is the Hveragerdi River trail. It's a pretty easy 1.5 hour or so (1 way) hike to a geothermally heated river. There are basic changing facilities so you can change into your swimwear and dip in the river before hiking back. Having to hike a bit to get there makes it less crowded. The nearby town didn't have much open when my husband I went there in the off season, but there was also a restaurant focusing on geothermal cooking.

My favourite day on our trip last fall was a drive up the westside of the island with no particular goal. It's really easy to drive and just find spectacular sites. Literally, we could stop anywhere and there would be gorgeous rock formations, waterfalls and views.
posted by Kurichina at 7:53 AM on March 29


We loved Dyrholaey, which is near Vik, I think: it's so dramatic, with the black sands and the high winds, and puffins you could practically reach out and touch. (You'll have to double-check on whether the puffins are around next week or not, though.)
posted by praemunire at 8:32 AM on March 29


Oh, to me, the Blue Lagoon is fine if you specifically want that experience, but it's not something I would seek out on its own.
posted by praemunire at 8:34 AM on March 29


If the Blue Lagoon sounds interesting (we loved it, going all-in on massages and a delicious lunch in the restaurant) but you're wary of the tourist-trap situation, consider a smaller spa such as Fontana. We also went there, as part of a bus tour that hit Fontana on the way back to Reykjavik following a Golden Circle tour. It was early October and the weather was rainy, but soaking in the heated pool while being pelted by raindrops was pretty refreshing.

We wish we'd learned this before our trip, but Fontana geothermally bakes its own bread, burying pots of dough in the ground.

We stayed in Hlemmur Square, a combination hostel and hotel. There's good food and great beers at the restaurant and bar inside the hotel.
posted by emelenjr at 10:00 AM on March 29


Seriously - thank you everyone. I shared this link with my friends and they were beyond thrilled with all the options you guys laid out. MeFites are the best.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 9:31 AM on March 30


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