Iceland Weekend Visit - The Sugarcubes Concert
November 14, 2006 8:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to visit Iceland for the Sugarcubes concert this Friday. I'm looking for some recommendations for the rest of my stay in Iceland until Sunday afternoon. Definitely would like to see the Blue Lagoon, but not sure what else and how to get there in the first place. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
posted by oferhalevi to Travel & Transportation around Iceland (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do the 'Golden Circle' tour. There are plenty of operators doing that tour - search on the web in advance or get to the Tourist Information when you get there. You shouldn't have a problem booking. Not sure how good it will be given the lack of daylight at this time of year, but it should give you a great taste of Iceland.

Also, considered whale watching? Not sure if that goes in and out of season though.
posted by edd at 9:17 AM on November 14, 2006

Why, perhaps the Icelandic Phallological Museum ...
posted by General Zubon at 9:26 AM on November 14, 2006

I lived in Iceland for almost 3 years and loved every minute of it.

If you manage to survive the bar and club scene in Reykjavik on Friday and Saturday night, find a tour operator that offers the "Golden Circle" tour which will enable you to see all the main sites in one trip. This covers the Thingvellir National Park (home of the worlds first parliament), Gulfoss waterfalls and the Geysir hot springs area. It is very expensive there so forget about renting cars or anything like that. Icelanders are great and really know how to party and you will see some of the most stunningly beautiful women in the world there.

Want to see something really weird in Iceland? Go to the geothermally heated hothouses outside of Reykjavik where they actually grow bananas!

Check out this site for good info in Reykjavik :

The Reykjavik Grapevine Online
posted by 543DoublePlay at 9:32 AM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Phallological Museum is great, but it's disappointingly small (the museum that is - the actual contents of the museum come in varying sizes of course).

Worth heading to if you're spending an afternoon in Reykjavik but you'll need to pad out your day with a bit more than just that.
posted by edd at 9:46 AM on November 14, 2006

I'll second a Golden Circle tour. Generally I hate tours, but in this case, it's totally worth it. And I went in December and the lack of light was fine: you just might be a little more rushed. On the other hand, because it was December I was the only person on my tour, which was great because the pace was as I chose.
posted by dame at 9:51 AM on November 14, 2006

Oh, I forgot to mention the hothouses were on my tour: blue lagoon > parliament plain (thingvellur, maybe?) > waterfall > volcano > geysir (which is of course a geyser) > hothouses > home. It cost about $70 and was easily woth twice that.
posted by dame at 9:53 AM on November 14, 2006

Another vote for golden circle!
Also, in Reykjavik, theres a tiny little corner kebab place that's really amazing. I went to Iceland 7 years ago and I still miss those kebabs. Make sure you have fish, all the time, beacuse it's the only thing not imported, and thus, the only thing you will be able to afford:)
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 9:58 AM on November 14, 2006

One more thing to throw in, try the local delicacy of Lamb Dogs. They are hot dogs made of lamb meat, and they are served not with ketchup or mustard but with a white sauce that I CANNOT remember the name of.
Anyway they are delicious, especially when you are bar hopping.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 10:16 AM on November 14, 2006

Where is the concert? Sadly the Phallological Museum has moved to Husavik, which I discovered after looking for it in Reykjavik for most of a morning!

I also vote for going on some kind of tour. I spent a week in Reykjavik and when my leg got a bit busted I just booked two and a half days' worth of bus tours via the desk at the youth hostel. I don't remember the names, but one took me out to Geysir, one took me by the coast and to a glacier, and one was just me and this other guy in a 4 wheel drive going up and down volcanic rock hills. Thumbs up! I never would have seen all that on my own.

I also really enjoyed the National Museum of Iceland - it was very well-designed and I learned a lot.
posted by cadge at 10:48 AM on November 14, 2006

Bring a warm waterproof windproof coat, hat, scarf. It is windy, windy, windy everywhere in Iceland and you'll be doing a fair amount of walking.

It is incredibly expensive in Iceland. Mentally prepare yourself to spend a lot, and then you won't ruin your once in a lifetime visit by worrying about cash.

Bring a guidebook and print up a map of Reykjavik. It's a pretty compact city (disregarding the suburbs), so if you know where you're going you won't need to take a cab.

Nearly everyone speaks English (non-English speakers are usually in more remote areas than you'll be visiting), but nearly all signage is in Icelandic. Lookswise, it really is true: he women are mostly beautiful, the men are mostly "meh".

Blue Lagoon is great, otherworldly (like the rest of Iceland), but it's a bit touristy. Go there for sure, but also maybe go to one of the local hot-tub / public pools. There's one you can walk to easily in Reykjavik; wherever you're staying should be able to point you there. They are like local bars, everyone (old men, moms and kids) goes there in the early evening like stopping at the pub on the way home. Note that you take a complete shower, with soap, before getting in the pool. There are different levels of heat in the different pools. Stay in one until you can't take it, then jump out and go for a dip in the regular pool. Hot- cool - hot- cool; it's great.

In Reykjavik, there are a number of stores that sell woolens. The Handknitting Association is a very good reputable place to go, and it's right near the historic area downtown as I recall. Knitted Icelandic sweaters, awesome warm colorful (super-warm) blankets. Unless you're built big, go for the blankets over the sweaters.

There's a giant flea market that we didn't get a chance to go to.

Notice that in every town, the weirdest most science fiction looking building is the church.

Try the yogurt, skyr. One of the best things I've ever eaten. There is -- or was a few years ago -- a great vegetarian restaurant in the pedestrian part of Reykjavik.

On the dicey-foods front, try fish jerky, if you dare; for authenticity eat it with butter. (Snakk bittafiskur was the kind we tried) There's also the legendary hakarl, rotten shark/fish; I can't speak to whether it's a good idea to try this. Brennivin is along the same lines; famous national drink, but from reports it's an acquired taste.

If it were not winter, you should try to go to Vestmannaeyjar/Heimaey. Probably this is not a great option for a short trip in winter, though.

Read up on how to take pictures of the northern lights.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:58 AM on November 14, 2006

I was about to say that the Phallolgical Museum had moved to Husavik (which is in the northern part of Iceland). I was there in August, and it was really kooky. I also went whale watching there, and it was fun... but I nearly froze my ass off.

And I'll cast another vote for the Golden Circle. We rented a car, and made the tour ourselves. It was really lovely. And the Blue Lagoon rocked. Really, next time I fly to Europe, I might fly through Reyjkavik just for that.

Here's my Flickr set of the trip, including the penises and the whales (and the whale penises).
posted by kimdog at 11:00 AM on November 14, 2006

Yep, the museum has definitely moved to the north of the country and is far to far to travel from Reykjavik if only going for a weekend and even if you are going for longer because the roads may have closed already.

There have been quite a few questions on Iceland in the past and my flat mate wrote this very detailed post back in 04 after our trip, but it would still apply. Check out the rest of the thread too.

Have fun!
posted by floanna at 11:07 AM on November 14, 2006

Vegetarian restaurant? Go to the Lobster House and eat some horse carpaccio, some whale sashimi, or some puffin! Embrace your inner animal.
posted by norm at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You guys are just great. Thank you for your straightforward and honest advise. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'll post a comment when I'm back from Iceland.
posted by oferhalevi at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2006

Also, if you do the Blue Lagoon on your way back to the airport before coming home: be sure to wash/rinse off much more thoroughly than you think you need to. The water is super-mineraly and will coat your body and hair in a way that can make a plane trip uncomfortable. There are dispensers of liquid soap/shampoo in the locker rooms.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:18 PM on November 14, 2006

Usually the weather in Reykjavik is pretty tempered, but not this week. It's freezing and with high winds so it's essential that you bring (or buy here) something very well insulated. Icelandic brand 66°North is very good, with similar stuff on offer as North Face. They're not cheap, but definately worth the money, and pretty cool too.

There's a Sufjan Stevens concert in a tiny church the night after the Sugarcubes concert, it's sold out, but if you try hard you might find a ticket.

As for nightlife, small bars are where it's at. Kaffibarinn is quite famous (co-owned by Blur/Gorillaz singer Damon Albarn), and nearby Sirkús is good too. The nightlife is packed into a pretty small area, so if you're going out you just need to get yourself to the lower part of Laugavegur street and you'll find something to your taste.

If you want to try the weirdest local food around, BSÍ (The long-haul bus depot near the center of town) has a dining room wich sells "Svid", which is basicly a sheep's head. It looks creepy as hell but it's really tasty, if you manage to get over how creepy it looks. Brennivín and Shark on the other hand taste awful. I also reccomend icelandic candy, especially Draumur, Tópas and Ópal.

And since you're a Sugarcubes fan, Smekkleysa/Bad Taste, the Sugarcubes' owned record label, runs a Record store / museum in a street just off Laugavegur, the main shopping street. There you can check out some björk/sugarcubes/sigur rós things on display and buy all kinds of good stuff on cd and vinyl. The 12 tónar record store is also good.
posted by svenni at 3:46 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

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