Iceland – what an amazing place. From its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, glaciers, geysers and black sand beaches to the cosy coffee shops, bars and Scandinavian homeware stores – it has everything I love!
We stayed in Reykjavík, the world’s most northerly capital, although I thought it had more of a town feel to it than a capital city, with narrow shopping streets decorated beautifully with warm white fairy lights, bright coloured houses, striking mountains and some amazing places for food.
If you’re going for a short stay in Reykjavík, I recommend spending time experiencing the city itself, but also hiring a car so you can get out and explore Iceland’s nature – I don’t think a trip would be complete without doing both.
Eat & Drink
Reykjavík Fish Restaurant
Joff and I are foodies and no trip is complete without finding a good coffee shop and eating great food. For a very relaxed, friendly vibe, great food and a reasonably priced meal this place was great! We had fish, chips and a beer and it was tasty, light, refreshing and the best battered fish I’ve ever had. It was served in a bowl lined with newspaper, which felt rustic and a bit different from when you order it back home.
We stayed a couple of doors down from Reykjavík Roasters, so each morning went there for coffee and granola for breakfast. It doesn’t get light until after 11am at this time of year, so this was the perfect cosy place to spend part of the morning. We sat on vintage chairs, listened to the record player and read books. It was dimly lit in the mornings with only a couple of warm lights, so you could still gaze out the window at the twinkly fairy lights which lined the dark streets.Hi Noodle Reykjavík
This was fun! This tiny noodle bar only has a few seats and five ramen dishes on its menu, but you really don’t need any more choice than that, I loved not having to decide for ages! The food was amazing, the portions were great and the price was surprisingly cheap – this place is good value for your money! Joff loves noodles so he picked to go here, and whilst I was reluctant as I’m really not great at eating with chopsticks, I was blown away with how much I enjoyed it. Such a great little find!
Braud & Co
Only a few yards from the coffee shop is Braud & Co, a small artisan bakery. Iceland is expensive, so we filled up on pastries whenever possible (that was our excuse, anyway!). If you go you’ve got to try their Vínarbraud – words cannot even describe how good it was!
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
This hotdog stand has been located by the harbour since 1937 and is well known in Reykjavík. If you’re wondering around the area and need a quick bite to eat, it was the cheapest thing we found and eating a hotdog in the pouring rain was a surprisingly fun experience too!
I couldn’t do a post about Iceland without mentioning the beautiful shops we found. I love the Scandinavian style, it’s so simple, effortless and stylish. If you have a wonder around Reykjavík you’ll find lots of lovely stores, but my favourite was Geysir Heima, an absolutely stunning homeware shop which was so aesthetically pleasing!
Þingvellir National Park
We stopped off here on our way to Geysir. Even in the dark this place astonished me, it was so interesting. This park marks the crest of the Atlantic ridge and is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic pates meet. You can literally walk between the two plates! The geography lover in me found this pretty awesome!
Geysir Hot Springs
The day we went here was so cold and wet, yet it made the atmosphere all the more amazing. This geothermal area is full of little hot springs which bubble away, steam which rises from the ground and the geyser called Strokkur which erupts around every 7 minutes at a height of around 30m. Watching the earth steam and bubble away like this is really quite something. You’ve got to see it!
Just wow. The sheer size of this waterfall is breath taking. The waterfall has two stages, the first drop is around 11m and the second is 20m. You can get such a good view of it from the car park, so if it is too icy to get up higher you’ll still be able to appreciate its vastness. If you can get up those steps I highly recommend you do, the higher you go the more amazing it gets.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
The area of Vik on the south coast is worth the two and a half hour drive from Reykjavík. The Reynisfjara black sand beach is where you can see the Basalt column cave, and ten minutes down the road the beach of Vik is a little quieter if you’d prefer to see less tourists. The black sand is stunning and is nothing like I’ve ever seen. We got there at sunset and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life (and coldest!) Huge waves crashed onto the beach whilst the pink sky reflected onto the water. The Bassalt column cave towered over us and the Dyrhólaey Arch could be seen down the other end of the beach.
On our way back to Reykjavík we used the very last of the light to visit this spectacular waterfall. This waterfall is situated on the cliffs of the former coast line and is just shy of 200ft. You can see this waterfall from the main road, but I recommend driving closer and getting out to appreciate its size and beauty, even if there isn’t much light.Blue Lagoon
You can’t have a trip to Iceland and not visit the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is located in a lava field, so you’re surrounded by black rock and rising steam. This hot lagoon has the most incredible atmosphere, and I found the contrast in air temperature and the lagoon so refreshing and relaxing!
If you’re planning on visiting Reykjavik, I recommend this book. Joff and I found it in the coffee roasters and read it in the mornings to help plan our day. It’s very beautiful with lovely recommendations and imagery, and makes a stunning coffee table book when you get home from your travels!