Iceland, is a country of wild landscapes, mystical mythical traditions and warm hospitality. Reykjavik, the capital, is a buzzing city. With the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church, the Harpen Concert Hall and the main shopping street Laugavegur being the major landmarks……but look a little further and visitors can broaden their minds at the Icelandic Phallological Museum which holds the largest display of penises and penile parts (Icelandic’s are proud of every inch!). Let’s not forget The Icelandic Punk Museum situated in the heart of the city in a former underground public toilet.
Food and Drink
The cost of living is high in Iceland, so eating and drinking out can be pricey.
Top tip: keep your eye out for the Happy Hours, generally early evening and a number of bars will offer 241 between these times.
A must when visiting Reykjavik, especially in winter, is to have lunch at Svarta Kaffið situated along the street of Laugavegur. Their specialty is soup served in a bread roll, if you are lucky the “Soup of the Day” maybe Reindeer which is delicious and always super popular.
Some of the more unusual delicacies are Fermented Shark, Puffin and Black Death, which is Shnapps made with fermented potatoes and caraway….not for the faint heated!
Things To Do
If travelling during the winter months, a trip out of Reykjavik to see Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is a must. There are a number of excursions either by coach or by Superjeep, if the budget permits the Superjeeps are well worth it. The guides are professional and will help you take the ultimate photo of the natural phenomenon, off roading in the dark and snow is an exhilarating experience never to be forgotten. Top Tip: Always book your Northern Lights trip on the day of arrival, that way if Mother Nature is having an off day and your excursion is cancelled you have the rest of your stay to rebook.
The most popular excursion is the Golden Circle, head off in the morning to see the sunrise at the Pingvellir National Park, the national park is a UNESCO Heritage site where two tectonic plates meet, the North America plate and Eurasia. Pingvellir, which translates to ‘The Fields of Parliament’ and parliament first was held in around 930AD. You will then visit the spectacular Gullfoss Falls which means Golden Falls. The power of the water that is fed from the Langjokull Glacier cascades over two levels the first being 11 meters high and the second 21 meters, the water gushes into the Gullfossgjufur Canyon. From here you can add additional activities such as Ice caving and snowmobiling at the Langjokull Glacier. The last part of the Golden Circle tour and one of the most popular tourist reasons for visiting Iceland are the Geysers, as soon as you arrive you can smell the sulphur which adds to the drama of the exploding steamy water erupting from the earth. Walking through the geothermal field is one of natures most captivating moments and must be experienced in a lifetime.
Bathing in a geothermal pool, there are a number of options to do this and it really comes down to personal choice. The famous Blue Lagoon, is very polished offering spa treatments, a meal in a nice restaurant, stay at the hotel, upgrade packages including bathrobes and slippers additional mud masks and a glass of bubbly. Or the Secret Lagoon, which is a more simple, natural experience with a mini geyser next to the thermal pool. Both are well worth visiting, along with a number of other Geothermal pools around Iceland.
In the summer months, Iceland transforms in to the land of the midnight sun and is a Mecca for beautiful marine wildlife such as Humpback Whales, Minke Whale, Harbour Porpoise, White Beaked Dolphin and if you are very lucky the world’s biggest animal the Blue Whale. The best place for whale watching is from Husavík in the North East of Iceland, we strongly suggest hiring a car and incorporating Husavik in a self-drive tour.
Where to stay
Iceland is a country that offers natural beauty rather than bling, so you won’t find fancy opulent hotels. However, if you are looking for something with a touch of class, the Hotel Borg was built in the 1930’s and offers an Art Deco ambience. Or the chic Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre the hotel has a café with record library of over 1000 LP’s which guests can play on the hotels numerous record players.
A fantastic hotel to see the Northern Lights is from the Hotel Ranga in Southern Iceland, without any surrounding light pollution this hotel is the perfect spot to photograph awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis at its best. If astronomy is your thing, 150 meters east from the main hotel you will find the Ranga Observatory between April and September a local astronomer is invited to guide guests through the night sky.