If you’ve never been to Iceland, you’re probably intrigued by the country’s natural beauty — or Bjork. If you’ve already been there, then you’re probably dying to go back. Iceland is a little left field, and somewhere that packs in a lot of magic. The predominantly snowy climate makes the smattering of cozy taverns and indie boutiques particularly welcoming. And you’ve a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights if you visit between November and February.
Hallgrimskirkja is a stunning Lutheran church and also has one of the most striking views of Reykjavik’s rooftops. Be sure to stop by for a twilit vista.
Sure, the Blue Lagoon maybe one of Iceland’s most famous tourist destinations, but Fontana Spa is a gem you really shouldn’t miss. Enjoy a soak in its geothermal pools and then sweat it all out in its natural steam rooms, before enjoying a spa lunch complete with bread baked while buried in the ground.
Reykjavik is full of idiosyncratic stores that will probably wrench your credit card from your wallet on a regular basis. Make those hard-earned dollars count and head to 66° North for homegrown stylish outerwear that will keep you snug – even in the ball-shriveling Icelandic chill.
For Nordic heritage-style menswear, the Farmers Market store in the Fishpacking District is a must-visit. The store is more like a showroom and you’ll want to browse for hours.
EAT & DRINK
Caffeine freaks should head to Prikid. Once inside, traditional Reykjavik feels omnipresent in the dark wood-clad walls and latté-coloured booths. The coffee is pretty epic too. If ‘Cheers’ had been based in Iceland…
Head to the city’s old harbour hub and you’ll find MAR. We are die-hard fans of this unique fusion restaurant that serves up scrumptious Mediterranean food in an ode to the old harbor setting. The wood panels that line the walls are painted black to resemble the Icelandic harbor houses of yesteryear and the food is IN-SANE. We recommend the prosciutto wrapped monkfish – you won’t be disappointed.
Owner and chef de cuisine Ylfa Helgadóttir put together a menu at Kopar that is filled with elevated Icelandic cuisine, made from the freshest ingredients from the land and sea. Start out with something like the grilled horse before moving on to an Icelandic filet of crispy lamb.
Head down to the water in Reykjavík over to Saegreifinn for its traditional lobster soup, which is satisfying and tasty. You can also find menu items like grilled whale, but that’s a touchy subject.
The winding streets of this small city are peppered with intimate bars and public houses where locals can be found escaping the cold, night after night. Our favorites are Boston, a cozy black-hole of a bar that hosts regular gigs and Micro Bar – its vast range of beer will make you giddy.
Situated right on the water, Icelandair Marina Hotel offers Nordic design sensibility in a homey setting (Yes it looks like Ikea exploded in here, but in a good way). Plus, their bar/restaurant, Slippbarinn, is one of the most fun in town.
Another place to hit the hay is the amazing Reykjavik Lights Hotel. The design of this recently opened concept hotel is based on the ever-changing light of Reykjavik’s sky. As a result, each of the 105 rooms is based on a different recorded shade of light from the ancient Icelandic Rímtafla calendar. Located in central Reykjavik, this hotel is minimal, fun and a little Sci-Fi.
We think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that you’ve probably never spent the night in a working lighthouse. Dyrhólaey Lighthouse is a historic remote lighthouse crowning the top of Dyrhólaey peninsula-an island of volcanic origin. With naturally spectacular views, the lighthouse is situated at the southern most tip of the country. A local guide will be on hand to give you a tour and the history of the lighthouse. Also, the kitchen is fully stocked for a hearty breakfast, so cozy up in a locally made wool blanket and BYOB for a spectacular stay.
Additional reporting by Jodie Kharas and Cator Sparks.