With a name like Iceland, you’d expect a bit of cool weather on a trip there. We went in October, which is considered the off-season. The temperature usually ranges around 2 and 7 degrees Celsius. It’s cool, verging on cold, especially in the evenings. With […]
Iceland isn’t necessarily known for being a food destination. Because it’s an island, and there’s not much arable land, they have to ship a lot of food in. That’s reflected in the prices. It’s not super cheap to eat dinner out, that’s for sure.
Here’s what I ate in Iceland:
Pizza and a Hot Dog – Hlemmur Mathöll
Hlemmur Mathöll is a market hall with a handful of food stands in an old train station in the heart of Reykjavik. We thought this was the perfect place for our first Icelandic meal, because there was so many different options. I got a pizza from the Flateley Pizza stand which was 1,800 ISK. Ethan got a deal from SKÁL! It included an Icelandic hot dog, a beer, and a Prince Polo chocolate bar for 2,000 ISK. We shared the two, and it was a really good meal. The hot dog was bomb.
Mexican Chicken Soup & Red Hot Lava Soup – The Soup Company
Because we felt like we were racing the sun on our south shore drive, we didn’t really stop for lunch. We were planning on waiting to eat until we got to The Soup Company in Vík. We had heard good things from friends who had visited and reviews online. It was the perfect meal after a long, chilly day. I had the Mexican chicken soup (1,890 ISK) and Ethan got the Red Hot Lava Soup served in a bread bowl (2,390 ISK). The Red Hot Lava soup is there specialty. It is rich, meaty, and a little spicy. It is served with a dollop of yogurt.
Is this expensive for soup? Sure. But this soup is refillable. You can have as much as you want. There was also bottomless bread. The bread was so good. There were pots of volcanic rock salt butter which was just perfect. We also shared a beer here, which I think was 1,000 ISK.
Powdered Jelly Donut – Supa Restaurant
The Supa Restaurant at the Geysir Visitor’s Centre was a nice little place to stop to eat while touring the Golden Circle. We had brought lunch for ourselves this day, so we were just looking for a snack. We each got a donut and we shared a tea. This came to 7,50 ISK. This was a really delicious donuts. We shared Ethan’s the next day and it still tasted fresh.
Burgers and Mozzarella Sticks – Hraunberg
We discovered Hraunberg one night on the hunt for a late night snack. Note – the grill was not open for that late night snack. We did go back for a late lunch a few days later though. The burgers were a delicious hand-pressed patty with lettuce, cheese, and a sauce that was kind of like a Big Mac sauce. The burgers were really tasty. I also just love mozzarella sticks so we got some. Instead of marinara sauce, they were served with salsa which was surprisingly delicious. This meal with a bottle of coke was 2,700 ISK.
Fish and Chips – Reykjavik Fish Restaurant
I was really in the mood for some good fish and chips, and after wandering around Reykjavik, this seemed like a good place to stop. There is a couple locations of Reykjavik Fish and Chips in the city. This one is just off of Laugavegur.
I got the fish and chips (1,980 ISK), Ethan got a chicken sandwich (1,640), and we shared a beer (1,000 ISK). The chicken sandwich was battered like the fish, so at first we thought it was a fish burger instead. The chicken burger was really good. My fish and chips were great too. Super tasty and not overly greasy. This was probably my favourite meal of the trip.
Lobster Soup – Sægreifinn
The lobster soup at Sægreifinn was recommended to me by a friend who knows I love seafood. They said the lobster soup was to die for, and many reviews said it was the best in the city. It was fairly decently priced as well. I got a lobster soup that came with bread and a coke for about 1,500 ISK. The soup was good. It was hearty and rich with a lot of nice chunks of lobster.
Volcanic Salt Chocolate Ice Cream – Valdís
I guess the chilly weather made me crave an ice cream? Anyway, we stopped in Valdís. They had a ton of different flavours, so it was hard to choose! I just got a one scoop for 500 ISK. I thought it was great, but I love sweet and salty flavours together. Ethan however was not a fan.
Icelandic Hot Dog – Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
It seemed fitting that our last meal in Iceland was one of the most famous. We couldn’t leave the country without trying a classic Pylsur. “One with everything” includes raw onions, crispy onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and a remoulade. The hot dogs themselves are a lamb, pork, and beef mixture. Each hot dog will only set you back about 400 ISK, making it one of the more affordable meals in Iceland. I think they deserve the hype. They were really tasty. I was a big fan of the brown mustard. If we had tried these earlier in the trip, I don’t doubt we would have been back again.
Other Things We Ate
To cut down on costs a little bit, we went to the grocery store! There was a Krónan pretty close to our Air BNB. We spent about 3,000 ISK for some skyr yogurts, bread, ham, mustard, crushed tomatoes, a couple cans of coke, and a bag of chips. From this, we made a couple sandwiches for lunches. We had the skyr and a couple granola bars I brought with us for breakfast each day. With the crushed tomatoes, we made pasta with some penne I brought. This was a good choice for us. The sticker shock in Iceland is real, this helped keep us on budget.
We also ordered Dominos twice. I know, I know, going to a chain restaurant is not great. But one night there was nothing else open, and it was so good we got it again another night. We did try an Iceland specialty on pizza – cream cheese. It was delicious. The pizzas were really great. The crusts were garlicky. There are daily deals as well, so it can be a pretty decently priced meal.
Iceland is one of the most geologically interesting places on earth. Because of it’s location on the mid-Atlantic range, the geothermal activity is rampant. This is why there are so many volcanoes, lava fields and hot springs throughout the country. One place you can see […]
One of the ‘can’t miss’ things to do in Iceland is the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle consists of a few prominent sites, including Þingvellir National Park, the Gulfoss Waterfall, and Haukadalur Geothermal area. There are a few other stops you can make. One we made was at the Kerið volcanic crater.
Because we rented a car, we didn’t have to book a bus trip to see these famous sites. Looking into those, they seemed pretty pricey. Those all leave from Reykjavik at 9am. Knowing that information, we left our Air BNB at 8:30am, hoping to be able to beat the crowds a bit.
The whole drive, including stops, took us about 4 hours.
Þingvellir National Park
Pronounced “Thingvellir”, this national park is just 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik. Iceland’s parliament was founded at this site in 980AD. It’s also one of the sites where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plated meet.
There’s a nice look-off here, and you can do a little hike to a waterfall. We skipped the hike based on a recommendation from a friend, that this was the least impressive of all of the waterfalls we would be seeing. We didn’t feel any regret in skipping this.
When we were driving to the next site, we found another beautiful lookout from the other side of the lake.
Haukadalur Geothermal Area – The Geysers
The geyser was the thing I was most excited about seeing along the Golden Circle. When we were getting close, we did see the geyser go off. We got to the site, and we stood watching what we thought was the geyser for a while, until we heard another one go off behind us. The Strokkur geyser goes off every 5 to 10 minutes. We stood there for about 25 minutes and we watched it go off 3 times (4 if you include the time where we were busy staring at something else!)
I had at great time at the geyser! We both could have watched it all day. Hot tip – there’s a cafe and restaurant at the geyser.
Gullfoss, AKA “golden falls” is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. It has a really cool duo waterfall thing going on. In the warmer months, you can get pretty close to the falls. But when we visited in October, this walkway was already frozen over.
Kerið Volcanic Crater
Our last stop on the Golden Circle was the Kerið Volcanic Crater. In the warmer months, the vegetation around the crater gives a really cool rainbow effect. It cost ISK 40 to get into the crater area, and you can walk around the top and then down into the crater.
The water was frozen, but they do not recommend walking on it. Listen to that! The water is pretty deep and you don’t want to risk falling in. We saw people doing some pretty dumb stuff, like trying to climb up and down the crater. Maybe don’t do that??
I also saw this great bird with fuzzy feet.
We enjoyed the Golden Circle, but I’ve got to be honest in saying we didn’t love it. The geysir and Gullfoss were really cool, but the other sites weren’t our favourite. I’m not really sure why. We enjoyed our south shore drive a lot more.
- If you’re driving, fill up your gas tank before leaving on your journey. Gas stations along the way are few and far between.
- Bring lunch! There aren’t a whole lot of restaurants on the route, and the ones you find tend to be geared towards tourists.
- Use the free bathrooms when you can! Þingvellir and the geysers had free bathrooms.
- These aren’t the only stops along the Golden Circle! Do some research and find a few hidden gems.
What inspired us to take a trip to the Northern-most capital in the world on the verge of winter? Not sure. I wanted to take an island vacation, and this is where we ended up.
In reality it was always a dream to visit Iceland. We had a great time, but both Ethan and I agreed that we were happy we went but we’re not dying to go back.
Anyway, here’s what we got up to in Reykjavik.
On the day of our arrival, we got to our AirBNB and immediately crash for a nap. We both loved the AirBNB we stayed at. It was pretty roomy, not too far from downtown or any of the major highways. We also rented a car, and the apartment had free parking. After our nap, we headed downtown.
Our first stop was the famous Hallgrímskirkja. If you’ve seen photos of Reykjavik, you’ve probably seen this church. It’s probably the most famous landmark in the city.
We also paid the 1000 ISK (about $10 CAD) to go up the elevator to see the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja. We were happy we did that. It might not be worth it for everyone, but it was for us.
Over the 6 days we spent in Iceland, we visited Reykjavik a handful of times. We mostly wandered around the downtown core and along the water front.
We also couldn’t miss the shopping along the main street, Laugavegur.
Downtown Reykjavik was easy to get to from our apartment. We never took the bus in, but we didn’t have much trouble finding parking. After the first day when we parked in the P1 section (which has the most expensive parking), we learned to park a little farther for cheaper parking. We parked at Hallgrímskirkja one evening, because the parking is free, and it’s easier to find a spot later in the day.
We had a good time exploring the city, and we loved how easily walkable it is. You can probably carve out a day in your trip to see everything you want to see in the city.