Planning a trip this summer, and looking at going to Reykjavik for a few days.
Just wondering if anyone has any tips for Iceland - hotels, shopping, things to do, etc.
Planning a trip this summer, and looking at going to Reykjavik for a few days.
Just wondering if anyone has any tips for Iceland - hotels, shopping, things to do, etc.
Do a super jeep trip into the interior, especially out to Mt Hekla (you’ll see ads at any hotel). There is some absolutely spectacular scenery as you go inland.
Rent a bicycle and ride around Reykjavik. There are tons of interesting shops and galleries all over the place. We thought this was a great restaurant:
I don’t know if this is still true (or even if it was at the time), but we were told that Iceland does not allow importation of fresh produce, so they are dependent on whatever they can grow during their short, cool growing season, and on extensive use of geothermally heated greenhouses. All the restaurants we went to served the same three or four fresh vegetables (carrot, zucchini, tomato, and something else).
This was a great little hotel, and there are some good waterfalls and hikes nearby. It’s only 20 miles or so outside of Reykjavik:
If you’ve got more than a couple days, take the ferry over to Heimaey for a day and hike up to the top of the hill with the antennas on top. Incredible views of the Atlantic and in summer there will be loads of puffins all over the place within arms reach.
Have fun- Iceland is a fantastic country. They punch way above their weight in creative output too, considering they only have 300,000 people or so. We spent a couple weeks there in 2001 and did a lap around the ring road.
i’m thinking about heading there for a few days, maybe even a week. I’m living in the UK for a while, just need to find some cheap airfares…
Can I come with?? Iceland is a wonderful place. I’ve traveled in Asia, South America and Europe and Iceland really stands out. I was blown away by how different the land was there.
You should definitely do the “golden circle” drive out of Reykjavik. This can easily be accomplished in one day and you see three major highlights: Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and the site of Iceland’s first parliment. All three are worth it in my opinion.
I really like food stuff when traveling. We had a free sample of Iceland’s famous rotten shark to eat down at the flea market (open one day a week only, not sure which day). This is right on the water on the North side. Otherwise you could try it elsewhere. I really wanted to eat puffin as well but never got the chance. You can also eat horse and whale there. They aren’t big on unique veggies or fruits (explained in previous post). They do love their hotdog stands. We survived on these while there : ) Look for the word Pylsur.
Within Reykjavik is their famous HallgrÃmskirkja church. That is worth a look. It was completely covered by scaffolding when I was there last Sept. but hopefully it would be done by now. Hallgrímskirkja - Wikipedia
If you go there, when you exit the church, across the street to the left is a decent sculpture garden and museum. We only went to the garden in back so I can’t comment on the Museum, it was closed. Some interesting work by Icelandic sculptor Einars Jonssonar. skulptur.is
We also spent a couple nights resting in one of the local public pools/hot spas. That was great. Kind of like a YMCA but with a lot of outdoor pools, all heated geothermally. A nice soak. We didn’t go to the blue lagoon.
Most of my favorite spots were outside Reykjavik. If I had to pick just one, it would be the VatnajÃ¶kull glacial pool we visited. All this fresh water melting off the largest glacier in all of Europe (by volume) flowing out and crashing against the incoming waves of the ocean. Volcanic beaches. Ice chunks the size of your house. Etc.
Okay I better stop. Hopefully something here helps. Have a great time. I went just before their economy collapsed so hopefully prices will be down. If you buy an Icelandic sweater, the best place to get it is at the Handknitting Association of Iceland store, right in Reykjavik. handknit
Thanks for the links, all! I’ve found some of the same places in my research, but always good to get the word of someone who has been there/done that.
went to iceland last sept
Did a week of hiking from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork in the south (world famous hike), the landscape was amazing - like your on another planet - just a thick green moss and smoke coming out of the ground randomly, there are no trees except for in Thorsmork (Thors forest) even then their very small - if you get lost in an icelandic forest, just stand up .
Also spent a few days in ReykjavÃk - very small town about 45min bus ride from airport (catch a bus out front - one arrives for every plane) ReykjavÃk has a homely feeling, great cafes, bars really friendly people and the music scene is on another level, u must go see a local band play at one of the bars on the main stretch.
I was on a budget when i was there - beers were 14euro a pint but things have changed since then - eating out etc was also very expensive although buying your food from the supermarket was the same as anywhere else in europe.
There were a few design/photography exhibitions when i was there, icelanders have a great eye for design - just go to the info centre (only one in center of town) theres a free tour as well, the guy is a little crazy but sums up the city really well.
Just wonder the streets and take it all in, grab a beer, watch a band and meet some of the great locals
Its all about the wizzed on fermented shark meat guys!
A few years back now but we travelled the west coast from keflavik up to stykkisholmur, round langjokull and down into selfoss. For such a small section of the island words cannot describe the epic-ness. I would definatley reccomend geysir and gulfoss as leaderbean says, you can walk down the actual crack where the tectonic plates separate at thingvellir. Tourist in a good way. The BlueLagoon is definatley reccomended, albeit pricey. The white gunk at the bottom of the water is like magic. If you can stand the heat check the sauna cave to the left for a volcanic sweatfest. The Perlan building above reykjavik is beautiful, sits on geothermal tanks with a revolving restauraunt and indoor geysir.
On the drive up from reykjavik somewhere below arkanes the road takes you past some massive rock formations, not sure of the exact location but there is some fantastic walking up to the cliff egdes. Must be a good 1000 ft sheer drop from the top looking down over the coastline.
Cant quite remeber the name of the guy in arkranes who does boat trips around some of the smaller islands, (think the boat is called Jonsnes) if you can i would take a look at some of the rock formations for a bit of 3D geekout. Take a hook and a line and get some fresh fish at the same time!
Miunte in comparison to vatnyajokul but snafellsyokul on the snafellsness penisula is stunning. Quite lush and green and the base of the glacier, we hired some snowmobiles and went for a roost up to the top but im pretty sure you can drive/walk up the majority.
To be fair everywhere you look is simply breathtaking. One thing i would definatly reccomend though is a decent hired 4x4 with a winch, bar the main highways the ‘roads’ are hairy. Saying that though there is nowhere else i would rather get stuck again!
mmmmmm… * sigh *
I went last year on a Geography school trip - absolutely amazing.
Because the Airport is so close to the blue lagoon you could probably make a stop there first. We had been travelling all night and to land and basically jump straight in was great.
Other highlights were Heimaey on the Vestmann Islands. We took a tiny plane ride over there in the roughest weather imaginable, then got a guided tour up the active volcano and felt the warm soil etc
There is also Seljalandsfoss and SkÃ³gafoss waterfalls to visit. We also went to a Black glacier which I can’t remember the name of, we were allowed to hike up it and we had lunch up it and of course a visit to the Geysers is a must.
Ours was an all-inclusive 5 day trip, including flights, accommodation, food and coach around the Island. We paid Â£620 but obviously this was a school trip offer. I would recommend an organised tour because you can fit a lot more sites into a smaller visit. We went to Reykjavik for a few hours but I found it underwhelming - probably because it was a bank holiday and hardly anything was open!
I second all that was said by those above. My Girlfriend and I spent 4 days in Oct - just as their economy crashed and off season - so it was fairly inexpensive to go and stay (3-4 star hotel for $20 a night & free good beer tickets at the airport). Basically it was an extended long weekend trip.
We did everything out of ReykjavÃk; A lava tunnel exploring, Ice climbing on a glacier, Northern light tour (a bust- too early in the season), and the “Golden Circle” tour. It is an all day tour where you ride Icelandic horses (can do 5 types of gaits VS. 4) in the AM and then stop and see geysers, waterfalls, and the fault line that is growing the island by 1" a year. It was worth doing if you are there for a short time. To a certain degree the standard fare for an Iceland trip. FWIW, most tour companies will pick you up from your hotel.
Walk, don’t ride around the city. It’s small enough that you can easily get around. Try the local foods. Let me know how the rotten shark is - didn’t get around to that one. Look out for cool art (graffiti, art pieces and such) around town. Not all of it is on the main drag and major places.
We did the uber tourist thing and went to the famous Blue Lagoon hot springs (tours are set up to stop on the way to/from the airport). Funny as it is effectively runoff from the local geothermal plant. Again it was off season so there were very few folks there and so pretty cool. I can only imagine how the throngs of tourists change the feel of the place. If you want to do what the locals do go to the thermal baths in town.
What we didn’t get to do was take the ferry from Ireland to the eastern coast, then work our way across the island to ReykjavÃk. The ferry only runs in the Summer. Also didn’t get around to diving on the fault, or visiting any local islands, well truly visit anything outside the city.
Watch out for the spontaneously exploding Range Rovers in ReykjavÃk. I heard it’s not that rare these days as they can’t make the payments so they seem to catch fire for unknown reasons.
There is a restaurant/bar in ReykjavÃk that has a mix of good jazz and rock bands. Can’t think of the name but it is on one of the side streets off the main drag (you’ll know it when your on it).
Didn’t do any really shopping but there seemed to be the expected mix of local handmade goods (many wool items) and lots of imported stuff. Sat night is the night in ReykjavÃk - bars & clubs until 5am.
Look out for elves, trolls, ghosts and other invisible people, something like 60% of the pop believe in them and you can see ‘signs’ of them. The government even has a department to make sure they are not offended when they are do public works in the countryside.
I’m from Reykjavik, though not living there right now.
I’d be happy to help you make the most of your stay, I’ll write you when I get off work.
I just read through the replies, and I’m happy to see how many visited my little island, and even happier to read how much you enjoyed it.
All the points above are good and valid. And just going by them you’ll have an amazing trip.
There a lot to see and do in Reykjavik, but I’d definitely recommend a daytrip to the countryside, even staying overnight. It doesn’t really matter which way you go, you’ll catch beautiful scenery pretty much anywhere. I’d say keep your options open and follow the weather, it’s usually sunny on the north part of the island when the wind blows from the south and vice versa. All of the excursions mentioned above are really nice.
The market where you can get some of the traditional food is called Kolaportid, it’s open saturday and sundays.
You should go to the swimming pools, Laugardalslaug is a pretty big one, SundhÃ¶llin is a real nice indoor swimming pool with hot tubs on a terrace, it was opened in 1937, and has really nice original changing rooms, it’s pretty centrally located as well.
The restaurant/bar at 101 Hotel is set in a really cool space overlooking the cityand the harbour, go there for a meal or a drink. http://www.designhotels.com/101hotel
Also good places to eat, aforementioned Apotek on AusturstrÃ¦ti is another sort of trendy place, as is B5 on Laugavegur.
GrÃ¡i KÃ¶tturinn on Hverfisgata, across the street from the National Theater is a great little breakfast spot, go for the Truck.
Down by the harbor is a little place called the Sea Baron, you will get the best lobster soup you’ll ever try there, also, try the whale kebab.
BÃ¦jarins Bestu is the city’s oldest and most popular hot dog stand, also close to the harbor, those are really really good.
If you want to go bar-hopping, friday and saturday should both be good, there are lots of places along the main strip, called Laugavegur. Don’t make the mistake of heading to your hotel before 2 am, thinking it’s a slow night, that’s when things start to pick up. My favorite spots are Kaffibarinn and Prikid.
As for shopping, you can probably get a lot of stuff really cheap right now because of how weak our currency is, walk the main strip as well as adjoining SkÃ³lavÃ¶rdustÃgur, the one that leads up to the big church. You’ll both see shops carrying world famous brands as well as shops selling local design. Check out Naked Ape store for some Icelandic design clothing and KronKron carrying both International and Icelandic designer clothing, they even got their own footwear label now.
Man I’m feeling homesick
As far as exhibitions and such I haven’t really been following what’s going on, let me now when you’ve booked your trip and I’ll see if there are any exhibitions or concerts that I can recommend.
And don’t hesitate to ask me questions, I’m happy to help out.
Wonderful bleak landscapes in this Sigur Ros movie here.
awesome advice from all. SindriP, I esp. appreciate the advice from an Icelander (is that the right term?).
I’ll be there June 27-30 and for one more day in Kerflavik on the 7 of Jul.
FWIW, I found a great apartment to stay in for the longer stay, right downtown in 101 area.
they don’t show many pics online, but they emailed me a bunch and looks pretty sweet. All kinda designer furniture and huge apartments (110M2) with full kitchen, living room, TV, wireless, etc.
So far my plan is to spend 2 days of the 3 around town in Reykjavik, then maybe 1 day elsewhere touring around the country, booking something while I’m there (I assume I don’t really need to book those things in advance?), and can keep it loose depending on the weather, etc. I’m possibly even thinking of doing that tour day by renting a car, though they seem very expensive (like $1000/day!).
For sure I’ll be printing out all these recommendations and links before I go!
Thanks so much for all, I’m super looking forward to it. The great powers of the core77 forums have once again come in handy!
maybe we should organise a core77 field trip : )
when i was in iceland last year i didn’t get the chance to check out if there where any industrial design companies or similar. I’ve done a few google searches and on coroflot but it all seems to be very vague and leads no where.
if anyone has any info on design companies based in iceland.
also looking at masters courses if anyone has any feedback in regards to quality.
Richard, yes Icelander goes, and super location on the apartment, it’s as central as you can get. You should know though that one of the downsides of living/logging centrally is the ruckus from the nightlife. The place you’ve chosen is next door to one of Reykjavik’s most popular night spots Kaffibarinn.
I actually used to work the door from time to time when I was in school, and though we tried to keep the music below a certain decibil, things tend to get out of hand.
So unless you plan to stay there until closing, I suggest getting earplugs to sleep with, and btw you might wanna bring a sleeping mask as well, cause the sun won’t set at all around these days.
Keflavik is a drab place, but if you have time on your stop, I’d recommend hitting the Blue Lagoon while you wait for your cennection, it’s only about 15 minutes from the airport.
Your plan seems pretty solid, hope you have a great time.
Will you be checking out the BBB between your Icelandic excursions?
nmills, there is one big company in Reykjavik that could be classified as industrial design, Ã–ssur is a leading company in Prosthetics, it outfits a lot of the Amputee athletes and has developed some truly amazing intelligent prosthetics. I actually worked there as well temporarily, and some of the stuff they make just blows me away, I’ll never forget the day I saw two above knee amputees kicking a football about (soccer, for you yanks), incredible stuff.
Icelandic design has had some tough time shaking of the arts and crafts stamp, there are from time to time exhibitions that feature some nice stuff from young designers along with knitting products from housewifes with too much free time on their hands.
There are a few independent designers that have been doing some good stuff.
As for the Master course, currently there is only BA in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, but there are plans to start the Masters course soon.
Hope this helps.
Our sole mode of transportation in Iceland was a rental car. I thought we got a great rate, paying $540 for 4-door Yaris over 8 days including insurance. We rented through this website:
The freedom of having our own transportation was great. We really enjoyed being able to spend as much, or as little time as we wanted at any destination.
It was also hilarious driving a tiny little Toyota Yaris over some of the worst roads and largest potholes I have ever seen in my life! I can’t believe that thing held up. There was a large map of Iceland attached to the steering wheel when we first picked the car up. All around the exterior of the country (ring road) were little car symbols indicating that we could drive there. The other 80% of the country was covered in text that read simply, “NO RENTAL CARS”. We got a kick out of that.
just got back and wanted to thank all here for the great suggestions. I think I did just about everything mentioned and had a great time in Reykjavik/Iceland.
Some highlights/recommendations for others going to Iceland-
Stayed at Apartment K. Super accommodation (bright, clean, good price, modern, full kitchen (which I didn’t use), balcony overlooking the main street and close to everything but not at all noisy). http://www.apartmentk.is/
Did all the shopping hot spots in town including the flea market open on Sat.
Did Hallgrimska church.
Did the Grey Kitten for brunch (cant remember the Icelandic name but was mentioned earlier).
Bought lots of Icelandic wool stuff (sweaters, hats, blankets, etc.) from the Icelandic handknit association place.
Had the “city’s best hot dog”. seemed like a regular hot dog to me though…
Had the Lobster soup at the Sea Baron place by the harbor. Tasty.
Eat at Vid Tjornina (Templararaundi 3) as recommended in the Wallpaper city guide. Great atmosphere but the food was not as good as I expected. Had the lobster…
Did Icelandic Fish and Chips by the harbor. Awesome.
Also found an awesome Tibetan/Nepalese restaurant on Laurgarvegur 60a that I’d highly recommend. Place is called Kitchen Eldhus.
Rented a car and did the Golden Circle stopping at all the places on the way (almost totaling my Yaris on some gravel roads). Ãžingvellir blew my mind. I’m not normally a nature/hiking kind of guy but walking in crevase between the tectonic plates and seeing the wide expanse of lava fields was amazing. Not to mention the gysers, waterfalls, random terrain and volcano craters…I think I might be a nature convert…
Had a very late (or early morning) time partying at Boston.
Did 2 full days at the Blue Lagoon… In itself was almost worth the trip to Iceland!
Did the settlement museum and a bunch of other touristy stuff.
Tried to go to SundhÃ¶llin but it was closed for renos
didn’t see any trolls or fairies…
All said, great trip. thanks for all the suggestions and help!
Hopefully will post some pics from Iceland and BB sometime soon…
PS. Also caught the Sigur Ros movie on the flight over. Great.
That sounds great. Thanks for the update.
I’ve never actually been there myself, have many intentions to do so but unfortunately time has not yet arisen!, but, various others i’ve spoken to have said that apparently hitch-hiking around the island is a good thing to do, as it’s safe and obviously cheap and you get to really see the ‘local’ side of the country.