After returning from an incredible trip to Iceland (yes, we were all a little bit jealous), SuperBreak’s Kathryn shares with us her top 7 must-dos on a short break in Iceland.
Guest Post by Kathryn Coe.
1) Enjoy some seafood
Fishing is one of Iceland’s main trades, so it’s only sensible to sample some of the amazing fish that is on offer while you’re there. As an established seafood-lover I absolutely relished having the opportunity to try some new dishes. During my trip I enjoyed everything from traditional fish and chips to lobster, langoustines, wolffish and catfish. My boyfriend – being a lot braver than me – even tried fermented shark. There is an incredible selection of seafood restaurants to choose from in in Iceland, but the fish and chips from the Icelandic Fish and Chips, by the harbor were our favourites. The Scandinavian restaurant in the main high street was also amazing for some quirkier choices for those feeling brave.
2) Take in the scenery
One of the greatest pulls to Iceland for us was the fantastic scenery and landscape. I would highly recommend trekking out of Reykjavik to explore even more of the fantastic scenery for your self.
3) Marvel at the views from Hallgrímskirkja Church
For the best views in Reykjavik head up to the top of the iconic church. Standing at 73 meteres tall in the city centre of Reykjavik it would be impossible not to spot it. You can also head inside the church, free of charge, and take in the impressive expressionist architecture.
4) Let your hair down with a night out
When in Iceland be prepared to go out late and stay out late. The locals don’t go out until around 11:30 at night and they keep going until 4-5am. It’s not only club-goers who party through the night, socialising in bars until the early hours of the morning is the norm in Reykjavik. We managed one night out and sampled a lot of the local beers – I’d recommend Viking and Kaldi. Our favourite bar in Reykjavik was Kofinn bar, which is situated on the main high street and has a lovely cosy and quirky atmosphere.
5) Sip some soup at Svarta Kaffid
The soup at Svarta Kaffid was so good that it gets it’s own special mention. The family-owned cafe prepare two soup specials a day, which come served in delicious bread bowls. If you’re not a soup fan, there are other options on the menu, but the soup is the main attraction. We both had leek and potato and and it was the perfect warming retreat from the cold.
6) Go whale watching
Although unfortunately we didn’t get to see any whales on our tour the scenery in itself still makes the boat trip an incredible experience. Looking back on the city from the sea allows you to take in a different view of the beautiful city, and if you’re not planning on leaving Reykjavik it’ll be the best opportunity to see a section of the fijords. The tour guide was very informative and we learned a lot about Iceland and the city as well. One fact we learned was that if you find a beached whale, it’s a law that you must share it with the entire town as the whale is considered a great source of food which you were fortunate to find.
7) Embark on some dog sledding
If like me you have a love for dogs, then dog-sleddimg should be on your bucket list! I got to tick it off in Akureyri, dog sledding for 5k with three adorable and very strong huskeys across the snow. It was a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend anyone who is in Iceland to give it a go. You can book tours that will take you out sledding from Reykjavik – they tours are very popular so if this is a priority on your trip try and get it organised as soon as you can!
8) Visit Phingvellir
We hadn’t initially intended to visit any part of the golden circle, but on our long drive back from Akureyri we decided to go and see the meeting of the tectonic plates. The views are absolutely stunning and learning about the Icelandic history was very interesting. If seeing where the tectonic plates meet is at the top of your Iceland to-do list you can scuba dive between them if you book on a tour from Reykjavik.
9) Relax in the Hot Springs
One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Myvatn Nature Baths in Akureyri, on the North East side of Iceland. The experience was the epitome of relaxation, and my skin has never felt so soft! You can also find the famous Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, for a day of relaxation or go for a dip in one of the seven geothermal pools in the city.
10) Hit the shops
Iceland is home to some really quirky shops that demonstrate exactly what Iceland is about. There are also plenty of tourist shops where you can get your hands on an adorable cuddly puffin (I wasn’t allowed one), and pick up plenty of Icelandic souvenirs and gifts.
11) See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are undoubtedly for most people the main reason to visit Iceland – it was certainly the initial attraction for us, and it didn’t disappoint. We were very lucky and managed to see the Northern Lights one evening for four hours; we were mesmerized and felt very special to have been able to see them. If this is the main reason you’re visiting Iceland there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights on your Iceland break. Visit Iceland when the nights are at their longest and there is a new moon as this provides less light meaning the chances of seeing the lights is higher. November to January is the best time to visit Iceland if you want to see the Northern Lights. Once you’re there make sure to pick a pitch black location to view the lights from, and if you can see a star-studded sky then you have won half the battle – just be patient.
Our trip to Iceland truly was magical and we’d love to do it all again. If you’re planning an Iceland break make sure to add some of our top tips to your to-do list.