Iceland in the fall
September 30, 2022 5:19 AM   Subscribe

I'll be spending a week in Iceland in mid-October and would love some recommendations!

We'll have a 4x4 rental car and plan to spend time mostly in the south and southwest, but nothing booked so far other than the first couple of nights in Reykjavik. We have a guidebook and are familiar with most of the major tourist sites, so looking for advice specifically on
- hikes that are particularly nice with the changing colors (up to about 20km / 1000m)
- vegetarian-friendly restaurants
- thermal pools (public pools with a nice local flavor or more wild/natural ones to hike to)
- amazing nature (this one seems hard as this basically describes the whole country!)
- quirky/off-the-beaten-path places (music, cozy cafés, bookshops, etc)
- cool places to stay, like farm stays, mountain huts, etc

posted by orchidee to Travel & Transportation around Iceland (12 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
There's a public pool right near Hallgrimskirkja, in Reykjavik, that's just wonderful - outdoor, rooftop pools. Do that all day long, walk to the Braud & Co bakery, enjoy.

In the south, there's a hike in the Reykjadalur valley to some thermal hot springs that I did in the winter - extremely cool and low-traffic (at least in January!).
posted by entropone at 5:26 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Buy some gloves and a hat while you are there. I've not been able to find gloves as thin or as warm any where else...
posted by NoDef at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

We were instructed to buy rain pants before our trip to Iceland several years ago and we were thankful for them literally every day.

Braud and Co and Reykjavik roasters we’re a great combo we hit up more than once. (This is probably the exact opposite of ‘off the beaten track’ but its worth it). Our friends who recommended rain pants also recommend BakaBaka for bakery - we didn’t go but they know what’s up.

We did the hike to Hveragerdi hot springs which is close to town but was steeper and longer than we expected. The hot springs themselves were pretty basic, there were some barriers to change behind once you were up there. It was beautiful.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:15 AM on September 30, 2022

Seconding Braud & Co, and if you like black licorice, they had strawberry and licorice muffins that were out of this world (as a black licorice lover).

Also, this hike and soak in the river was one of my favorite things.
posted by Ms. Toad at 6:53 AM on September 30, 2022

You may be able to see the Northern Lights; activity is up, and you'll have enough darkness.
posted by theora55 at 7:18 AM on September 30, 2022

I feel like Dyrhólaey isn't considered in the very top tier of tourist attractions, but aesthetically it's one of the most vivid memories I have. And the puffins are, like, right there in the midst of all the drama.
posted by praemunire at 7:51 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's been about six years since I've been, but my family still talks about the soup we had at Svarta Kaffið on Laugavegur in Reykjavik. Do you know how good soup has to be for a 19 year old to be talking about a bowl she'd eaten when she was 13?! Vegetarian friendly, but not exclusively.
posted by yamel at 10:18 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you go to Borgarnes, the Settlement Center is really entertaining, but the most incredible thing it has is this absolutely amazing vegetarian lunch buffet. The food is incredible. I had a ton of people from all different parts of my life telling me to go there and I thought “I mean, this is a weirdly specific recommendation for a museum lunch buffet, it can’t possibly be THAT great but okay?”. It was, in fact, THAT GREAT. There’s also a super cute coffee shop & cafe in Borgarnes that is very charming and quirky (among many other pieces of random decor, there is a nude portrait rendered in… needlepoint). Borgarnes is small, so if you go there, you’ll find both easily.

I also thought that Dyrholaey was an undersold and very gorgeous place.

My favorite thermal pool was Gamlalaugin. Super super chill and cozy, fits well in a day with stops at Geysir, Gulfoss, Kerid.
posted by amelioration at 2:26 PM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I went in November of last year and recommend checking the Kp forecast for your dates if you’re interested in seeing the Northern Lights. Also hope for no rain! A fun place to go is the Yoda Cave. It’s on the way back to Reykjavik if you go to Skaftafell Glacier. Also recommend the Big Lebowski Bar if you like drinking White Russians!
posted by lovelygirl at 5:37 PM on September 30, 2022

It looks like the veggie burger I loved is no longer on the menu, but The Laundromat Cafe in Reykjavik still has plenty of vegetarian options.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 11:59 PM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you’re coming from North America on a night flight, and your budget allows, going to the Blue Lagoon straight from the plane is an amazing luxury. A great way to destress from the plane, and it’s the quietest time, plus you get to see the sun come up! That said, it is a total tourist trap- but in this one instance, worth doing. At any other time it’s not, as you have to trek out to almost the airport and back, and it will be rammed , and the public pools are already fantastic.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:38 PM on October 1, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for all the wonderful answers! We weren't able to fit in all the great suggestions, but particularly enjoyed the Reykjadalur Valley hot springs, Dyrhólaey (too late for the puffins unfortunately), the Reykjavik swimming pool, and the cinnamon rolls at Braud & Co (no strawberry & licorice muffins this time, too bad since I love licorice), and the Yoda cave was a fun stop too.

Here are a couple of other hikes we really enjoyed if anyone else is looking at this question:
- Kristínartindar, depart from Skaftafell with a stop at Svartifoss (the columnar basalt waterfall), 18km and 1000m elevation
- Austurafréttur Range trail (yellow) with views of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, depart from Þakgil (about 15km of not too difficult 4WD road from the ring road near Vik), 17km and 600m elevation
posted by orchidee at 6:36 AM on November 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

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