I always wanted to get a sense of how it feels like to be in the Arctic in winter? How cold can it get? And what would it be like to live there? Iceland was always on our list for the places we wanted to travel to mostly for two reasons: the northern lights and blue lagoon.
We traveled to Iceland in January 2017. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see the northern lights due to weather conditions, but we have explored other sites in extraordinary Iceland. In this blog post, I will try to share as much as I can about this unique country.
Travel in Iceland
Iceland is a fairly small country with population of around 300,000. They don’t have a railway network, so to commute between cities and attractions, you should either drive or get a bus. We hired a car from the airport for three reasons: 1) I always love to have the freedom of going wherever I want and stopping at interesting locations; 2) the rental price was very fair; and 3) you can experience driving on beautiful, snowy, countryside roads. The only consideration is to make sure you hire an all-wheel drive car because frozen countryside roads can be extremely dangerous and slippery in winter. If you don’t want to drive, there is a fantastic bus network, and all the busses are equipped with Wi-Fi.
Where to eat in Iceland?
Food and alcohol is so expensive in Iceland. Be prepared to pay £12 for a bottle of beer or £18 for a small glass of wine, although I admit the quality of the food is amazing. These are my recommendations:
A beautiful, cosy restaurant in downtown where you can expect amazing food—this is also the best place to try famous Icelandic lamb and also fresh seafood.
Bra & Co (£)
One of the best bakeries I have ever been to—if you go in the morning, you can try a cinnamon croissant, and it’s AMAZING. You can also find fantastic rye bread here that is freshly baked every day.
Baker Sandholt (£)
Another great bakery in heart of the town—they have a great number of options for pasties and also offer food.
Vio Fjoruboo (£££)
If you go on Golden Circle tour, this seaside restaurant is a great place to finish your journey with fresh seafood.
Sea Baron (££)
This is a great place in Reykjavik harbour, and you can select your seafood skewer from their display. Everything is super fresh. We bravely tried whale steak and loved it! The lobster soup is also a must-eat in Iceland, and this shop is famous for that.
BBP Hotdog (£)
There is a little stall in downtown that serves hot dogs that apparently is Bill Clinton’s favourite. If you want to have a quick bite, this is a great place to visit.
If you are bored of seafood and want to treat yourself to a naughty meal, this beautiful burger place is great to visit right in the heart of the town.
Places to Visit
1- Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a path full of jaw-dropping natural attractions. You can get a one-day tour to see everything; however, self-driving the Golden Circle rather than joining an organized tour allows you stop for photos anytime you want or head off to explore side roads. We hit the road early in the morning to be able to use as much of the daylight as we could. During winter, the sun is out from around 11 am until 4:30 pm.
Pingvellir National Park
The first place we visited was Pingvellir National Park. It’s beautiful park with mountains full of snow.
The second place was one of my favourites, called “Stroker Geyser”, which spouts water 30 meters (100 ft.) into the air every few minutes. There are multiple hot springs around. You can boil an egg in a hot spring and dig up rye bread that has been “baking” underground for 24 hours.
After Stroker Geyser, we visited Glossfloss, which is a beautiful, gigantic, breathtaking frozen waterfall. It’s all white. You can’t hear anything but the sound of the waterfall.
Along the way, you will see lots of horses that are just gorgeous. They are so friendly, and they love to be cuddled.
2- Blue Lagoon
I’m sure you have seen a picture of a beautiful blue lake that is in the middle of snowy lands. It can end up being an expensive experience, but it absolutely worth it. It’s so relaxing, and you can spend a couple of hours soaking your body in warm mineral water.
3- Reykjavik Downtown
Reykjavik downtown is full of beautiful, colourful houses and lovely shops to buy Icelandic souvenirs. Make sure you visit Brauo & Co bakery for fresh pastries and amazing rye bread.