Iceland is an amazing place to see some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. The Gullfoss waterfall is truly epic. Hiking the mini canyons of Þingvellir National Park was a bunch of fun. The blue glaciers at the glacier lagoon are incredible and worth the long drive out of Reykjavik. If you like nature and outdoor adventures, Iceland is incredible. Dress warm, and prepare for a lot of wind.
Beyond the nature, I thought Iceland had a vibrant food scene. We had an incredible meal at Dill in Reykjavik, which focuses on new Nordic cuisine. The amuse of pickled carrots with sour cream and caraway was eye opening given the simplicity and commonality of the ingredients. The herbed lamb fat instead of butter served with the bread was delicious. All 7 seven courses plus 6 “snacks” were complex, fascinating, at points slightly challenging, but overall delicious. Sticking with the Champagne theme, we did enjoy some of Christophe Mignon’s delicious Brut Nature, along with 7 more natural wines paired with the food. I highly recommend it.
After we visited the blue glaciers we went to the village of Höf and found a delightful, and some what touristy, langoustine restaurant called Humarhofnin. Piles of langoustine served with a local beer that has artic thyme in it. Well worth the stop, just skip the langoustine pizza. Back in Reykjavik, we also managed to track down some of the native meats of Iceland, puffin and minke whale. I’m glad I tried them, but I can’t say as I’d rush back for more, and given the scarcity of them on Icelandic menus I’d say the Icelanders feel the same. Puffin was a bit like duck, but gamier while minke whale was like ahi tuna crossed with duck.
We did make it to Bæjarins beztu, the famous hot dog stand of Reykjavik. The dogs were pretty tasty, all lamb meat served with a nice collection of sides including fried onions which gave great texture. We enjoyed the hot dogs sober, but I have a feeling they’d be better late night food with some booze on board. For morning time, and pre-driving trip stop at Sandholt Bakery in Reykjavik, fantastic pastry, bread, and sandwiches.
The soaking pools and hot springs in Iceland are not to be missed! We went to a variety pack from neighborhood ones to fancy tourist ones. All were great and really helped make me feel better after long hours in a plane or car. The neighborhood ones were very affordable, just a few bucks to soak and steam with towels available for rent. The touristy ones were nicer, but didn’t give me the same feel as hanging out with all the natives and realizing that soaking is part of everyday life for them. Makes me wish we had a lot more of this in the states. The other nice thing was there was little to no body shame, people of all ages and sizes were all soaking and not feeling self confident about it.
A few other observations, Icelandic wool is not soft. The Reykjavik Cathedral is amazing for its stark simplicity rather than the stain glass and carving of the ones in continental Europe. During summer hours it never gets dark, sunset is around 11:30pm, but its still light until sunrise. You really can burn the midnight oil there. We were out playing and doing things until we were too exhausted to do anymore.
I would highly recommend Iceland, particularly as a stop over to Europe. Iceland air is perfectly fine, and its nice to have a shorter flight and a layover of a couple days rather than one long haul flight.