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Reykjavik, and Iceland in General

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#1 ustreetguy

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 12:22 PM

Perhaps this is a longshot, but does anyone have any restaurant recommendations for Iceland - preferably in Reykjavik?


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#2 Al Dente

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 01:04 PM

I can't remember the name of any of the joints I went to, but I did have some good eats. Two tips: bring lots of money as everything is pricey as hell, and don't even bother going out boozin' until at least 11pm unless you want to drink alone. Also, I hope you're single-- more babes per square foot than any city I've been in. :unsure: ;)
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#3 Mark Slater

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 01:19 PM

Perhaps this is a longshot, but does anyone have any restaurant recommendations for Iceland - preferably in Reykjavik?

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#4 lackadaisi

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 03:56 PM

A bit outdated, but a few years ago Jlock and I had an amazing dinner at perlan. I don't knwo whether it was just the night, or how much the view and overall coolness of the place affected our opinion of it, but it always comes up whenever we try to list the best meals that we have ever had. http://www.perlan.is/

ETA: I just went to the website to which I linked, and I am a bit creeped out. I have never seen a restaurant advertising their funeral receptions so gleefully.
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#5 squidsdc

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:48 PM

Having just gone to Reykjavik in May, I can tell you our group of 9 had a very nice meal at Laekjarbrekka Sorry my memory is too short to remember many details but the service was wonderful, the atmosphere like a quaint european chalet, and the food was delicious. Here's a helpful link:Reykjavik City Guide/Restaurants.

Cafe houses are everywhere, and do not overlook them...the coffee is fabulous. Have an Icelandic Hot Dog--(mmmm. lamb ;) ) It's the goo that makes them great, though. The best place to get one is down by the water here at "Bæjarinn's Bezta Pylsur, or Town's Best Hot Dogs."

As an aside, there's a really great musuem that opened in mid-May housing the ruins of an original Viking longhouse from around 930 AD. I highly recommend checking it out--the technology used in displaying the information is amazing. "Reykjavik 871+/-2 comes from the dating of the “settlement layer” of volcanic ash, formed in an eruption in 871 +/- 2 years."

Make sure you sleep lots before you go...'cuz the partying really doesn't start 'til around midnight. Maybe that's why the coffee's so good :unsure:

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#6 agm

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 02:41 PM

Having just gone to Reykjavik in May, I can tell you our group of 9 had a very nice meal at Laekjarbrekka

That's it! I've been trying to remember the name of that restaurant (a co-worker might be stopping in Reykjavik) It's been eight years or so, but we had a great meal there. Love that Icelandic lobster - small, sweet, and delicious. I'll gladly second this recommendation.

Otherwise, lamb or seafood will be good just about anywhere. Some of the more traditional Icelandic foods can be somewhat challenging. If you have the palate for it (and the stomach), go for it - rotten shark is a bit beyond me.

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#7 ustreetguy

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 04:20 PM

If you have the palate for it (and the stomach), go for it - rotten shark is a bit beyond me.

Ahhh yes - the infamous hakarl (pronounced how-karl). I actually bought some at the market to share with a few buddies. It tastes like a cross between strong blue cheese and ammonia. I'm the only one that swallowed it [insert dirty joke here]. And no, I don't think I feel the need to try it again.

But you know, it's not so bad if you chase it with a shot of Brennavin - an Icelandic spirit/scnapps made from potatoes and caraway seeds.
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#8 astrid

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 10:07 AM

Just came back from a nice Iceland vacation.

The restaurants –

Seafood Cellar (in the same building as the Reykjavik tourist center) continues to cook at a very high level. The food was really fresh and creative, I particularly liked their cod cheek appetizer and house seafood soup. It’s practically a bargain at the current exchange rate.

Fish Company (#1 on TripAdvisor) was uneven. The sushi was pretty lackluster and the salt cod dish was way too salty. The ambition is there, but the execution was lacking and the flavors didn’t always go well together.

Tapas Barinn was okay. The puffin with blueberry sauce was good. The lobster related dishes we ordered were not good.

Northern Lights Inn. Homestyle cooking. We got the langoustines and lambs, both were tasty and amply portioned (as they should be at almost $50 per entrée). The service was really negligent though.

Eldsmidgan. Good pizzeria, nice thin crust baked in a wood fired oven.

Other stuff –

Blue Lagoon – 4900 ISK per person! And a cliché and super-commercial to boot. But kinda fun to go once with friends, hang out in the milky blue water. Remember to put lots of conditioner into your hair before getting into the pool.

Ferðafélag Íslands tours and huts – Awesome. Seriously consider Iceland for your next hiking trip. No bears, no bugs, no view blocking trees, flush toilets and warm huts, and really nicely equipped kitchens. We had wonderful guides – enthusiastic, knowledgeable, patient, and kind.

Grayline AKA Iceland Excursions – Not recommended, they’re basically bus drivers that contracts out all of their tours, with minimal quality control. We had one decent coach tour and one tour that was almost a complete waste of time. In our experience, their bus drivers are not as nice or responsive as Reykjavik Excursions bus drivers.

#9 B.A.R.

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 10:57 AM

Can you post a link to the tours and huts place? I don't want to go to the beach next summer, and I can't even type that word into the Google machine!

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#10 astrid

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 12:26 PM

http://www.fi.is/en/tours/

#11 washingtony

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 08:19 PM

Eldsmidgan. Good pizzeria, nice thin crust baked in a wood fired oven.


I actually just got back from Iceland too--and can definitely echo the good things to say about Eldsmidgan. My wife and I got a pie to go on Saturday and sat outside eating it while watching a band during culture night. They're putting what little wood there is in Iceland to good use!

As for outside Reykjavik, I have to say, I found the little hot dog cart in Stykkishólmur to be even better than Bæjarins beztu in Reykjavik. Their secret blew me away in its non-obvious simplicity: a spoonful of baked beans under the dog. Everyone loves baked beans with hot dogs but I've never encountered it in bun-form. Genius!

#12 MBK

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 11:48 AM

This is going to be a long-shot, but has anyone been to Iceland in December? I'm considering a few days there this December, but am not sure whether to be scared off by the 4 hours of daylight...
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#13 Rieux

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 01:21 PM

I have! It was great. Lots of cozy time in cafes and museums, short excursions out to the countryside, the blue lagoon. It was fun, and I was even solo on the trip.

But, man, food was expensive!

#14 astrid

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 10:15 AM

Based on my experience about a year ago, I think the food prices are pretty comparable to DC (considering that tax is included in the price and tip is purely optional) on the middle to high end, maybe 50% pricier on the low end. Fish, lamb, and game are all really good. Lots of musuems and clubs were built during the pre-2008 boom, so there's lots to do indoors. The sights in the Golden Circle (the three key attractions near Reykjavik) will not take too long and are relatively close together, so you should be able to see them all in daylight (Gullfoss and Stukkur definitely, Thingvellir depends on how much walking around you wish to do).

#15 washingtony

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:52 PM

I just returned from my second trip to Iceland, although this one was sadly too brief. MBK, I wouldn't worry about the short daylight because there's still plenty to do even when it's dark, such as museums, live music, hot pots, and if you get lucky and have clear weather, you'll get a shot at the northern lights at night. And like astrid said, you can see a lot of the nearby scenery during the 4 hours of light or so you may have.

I had a spectacular dinner at Grillmarkaðarins. The restaurant is right in the heart of downtown, just down an alley off of Austurstæti (near the intersection with Lækjargata). You can't tell from the street, but the restaurant is enormous, where even the basement has probably 20-foot ceilings. It's very stylish and inviting, with lots of wood for a country with few trees. Also, the downstairs bar area has more Eames chairs than a Herman Miller factory.

We ordered the Christmas tasting menu which is nine courses of modern takes on traditional Icelandic holiday dishes. There was no written menu (we were told it changes frequently) nor explanation of what the courses were that night so we just hoped for the best and were not disappointed. There were a lot of surprises--for example, pickled herring served in a jar beside a deepfried, hardboiled egg topped with salmon was like an Icelandic deviled egg. Goose with a chocolate sauce and a side of roasted potatoes covered in caramel was nearly shocking in its ability to balance salty and sweet without going overboard in either direction. I did not expect to see a turkey dish (though I was more impressed with the bacon mustard that came with it). Two tasting menus and two beers came out to $160 (including tax and gratuity, of course), which I consider a pretty good deal (and helps show how Iceland is not as expensive as it once was--it's no Norway).

I haven't had much opportunity to experience this new Nordic movement that everybody seems to be talking about during the last few years but I think this meal really helped me get what the fuss is all about.

#16 porcupine

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 05:45 AM

Does anyone have recent updates?  Restaurants, things to do, places to see. etc.


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#17 sheldman

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 06:04 AM

I was there in August for only about 40 hours or so, and absolutely loved it.  No particular restaurant suggestions, but if you have time I suggest doing a day tour of the "Golden Circle" - geyser, waterfalls, astounding beauty, tectonic plate action, history (including the hill where they started having their annual parliament in something like 930 AD!).  Very very cool. 

 

Also there is an alternative weekly newspaper, in English, that should give you some clues about where to eat, where to see music, etc - link


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#18 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 07:58 AM

Does anyone have recent updates?  Restaurants, things to do, places to see. etc.

High End Restaurants - Grill Market, Fish Market, Fish Company

Forage/MG Restaurant - Dill

Things to do - reserve in advance for in water massage at Blue Lagoon

Tours - Golden Circle, Northern Lights (by boat or by bus), Whale Watching

If you're going in winter, I suggest you stay in central downtown (i.e., near Grill Market or within a few blocks).

 

You can look at Fodor's or Frommer's online to see what other attractions there are.  There are a couple of free walking tours of Reykjavik that you can participate in.


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#19 Simul Parikh

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 08:25 AM

Get lobster stew and whale skewers here

There was a really tasty Indian place with puffin and other Icelandic meat dishes that I can't find, maybe it closed.

Try the hakarl because they love seeing foreigners eat it, it's probably the grossest thing I've ever had, like urine in gelatin form. 

There is a great comedy show that tells the history of iceland. 

 

What a great little country! There are good city tours, too, and they will tell you all about the hidden people.


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#20 Al Dente

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 10:42 AM

What a great little country! There are good city tours, too, and they will tell you all about the hidden people.

 

As I recall, the road from the airport to the city has a lot of curves despite the flat openness of the landscape to avoid disturbing the residences of any fairies, or elves, or whatever. Imagine being the person who mapped out where the road should go.


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#21 DonRocks

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 11:27 AM

I'd also to like to *strongly* recommend watching "Cold Fever," regardless of whether or not you go to Iceland - it's a wonderful film.


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#22 astrid

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 02:51 PM

If you have time to spare, rent a car and take an overnight trip to Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon. The combination of volcanoes and endless ice fields is breathtaking.
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#23 sheldman

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 09:25 PM

Another thing I forgot to mention, and it will sound silly unless you have done it:

 

Be sure to remember to look out the airplane window while passing over Greenland.  Holy moly.


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#24 porcupine

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 06:05 AM

Wow, thanks for all the recommendations!  Don, we are going; the trip is already booked.  4 1/2 days in January, for my birthday. Ericandblueboy, we are staying in downtown Reykjavik.  Astrid,  I don't know that we'll be able to fit an overnight outside Reykjavik, but the plan is to go back in mid-June for the summer solstice.  Depending on what we discover in January, we might do a longer trip in summer.  And sheldman, I remember doing that when we went to Scotland many years ago.  I think my face was glued to the window for half the trip.  I couldn't get over the long, long, long sunset.

 

My idea of the perfect vacation: get up early to beat the crowds to someplace stunning for a nice hike/photography, go back to a reasonably lux hotel for a hot shower, eat a really good but not formal dinner; repeat.  Maybe a museum when the weather sucks.  Check out local contemporary art scene when there is one.  Spend an afternoon in a local area where there aren't many tourists, trying to blend in.


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#25 Simul Parikh

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 06:26 AM

Oh oh oh ... Go to a local pool / hot pot, if you want a local experience. That's their "third space" like a pub or Starbucks. But, instead of drinking, you just hang out in the pool or a hot pot, which is like a jacuzzi. There are a bunch in town, even the smaller cities in Iceland usually have one. You pay admission, shower, and then just relax with the Icelandic people. Laugardalslaug is one of the bigger ones. 


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#26 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 08:17 AM

Reykjavik Excursions for most of your touring needs.  The 3 must sees are: Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon & Northern Lights.  Many people go out on multiple nights to get a good glimpse of northern lights.  The northern lights by boat is 3 hrs, they just bob in the middle of Reykjavik harbor (and it's cold).  The northern lights by bus I heard is 6 hrs, and they drive to wherever is the best spot to see northern lights.  The Golden Circle tour has lots of options for add-ons, you can have dinner, or stop by a spa for example.  The Fontana spa is quite nice if you want a great view in a serene environment.  As for the Blue Lagoon, go early otherwise it gets crowded.  The in-water massage is a unique experience. 

 

In town, you can go see the big church, take a free walking tour, do a city tour, visit some museums.  Try some puffin and minke whale, they're delicious.


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#27 PollyG

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 08:55 AM

Does anyone have recent updates?  Restaurants, things to do, places to see. etc.

The Blue Lagoon is expensive and set up like a very high end tourist trap.  Go anyway.  We went during spring break 2 years ago and it was not crowded; the tourist scene during the summer is not the same as the tourist scene during cooler weather.  Try the local chocolates.  For a country of under half a million people, they have quite a few confection companies.  Chocolate and licorice together in a bar sound weird, but it works.  Reykjavik itself is surprisingly warm due to the gulf stream and bay effect; when it is 11 degrees here in Herndon in January, it is 39 in Reykjavick.  Once you leave the immediate environs of Reykjavik it will be much colder.  Layer and splurge on a ridiculous Icelandic wool hat. 

 

We rented a car and found parking conveniently 1 block from our hotel in the downtown area.  With 3 of us, being able to drive ourselves rather than pay for the bus tours was a significant cost savings.  Be warned, you need a roadmap even if your car has a GPS.  Our GPS-equipped car had some problems dealing with Icelandic characters and the transliteration into a 26 letter alphabet is not consistent.  On one occasion, we had to aim for a town NEAR one of the national parks, expecting, correctly, that as we approached, we would see signs directing us to the park. 

 

The tunnel between the Reykjavik area and Akranes is an engineering marvel and well worth the toll just to drive through.   We ended up going through it on our northern lights quest; there is a web site that shows in great detail where the cloud cover is expected to be on a given night, as well as an activity level forecast.  

 

Expect outstanding lamb and salmon, and damned little in the way of fresh vegetables.  The hot dogs really are superior and worth a try. 


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#28 astrid

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 09:14 AM

For January, I would second Eric’s recommendation for Reykjavik Excursion (not to be confused with the not-so-good Iceland Excursion).  The roads would not be fun to drive on that time of the year.  You may want to consider adding on a glacier sledding experience to your Golden Circle excursion, we had friends who did that and really liked it.  The day will be very short, maybe only 3 hours of light, just glancing the horizon. 

 

I suspect bumping into fellow tourists won’t be a problem outside of maybe a few at Blue Lagoon, taking advantage of the free Iceland Air layovers.  Check out the schedule at the Harpa (their ultra modern concert hall and take a camera if you go, the building is a trip.  I think there’s a city pass that will get you into all the musuems at a discount – definitely worth looking into as their museums are excellent.

 

Alcohol is incredibly expensive there, check the current liquor allowance and bring that.

 

Never went in winter but I suspect the land based northern lights tour is better.  It gets really windy and cold on the water sometimes, and the bobbing would not be good for long exposure shots. 

 

I also suggest staying at Northern Lights Inn for your first or last day, and combine it with the Blue Lagoon.  I stayed there 4 years ago, but remember it being comfortable and reasonably priced.  The dining room offers good dinners and a nice breakfast buffet.  Best part is that they offer free transport to nearby Blue Lagoon and Keflavik, which can streamline things when you’re car-less.  RE runs buses from Reykjavik to Keflavik, which will stop there if you ask.

 

I wouldn’t call whale delicious myself.  It’s livery and I hate that taste.  Most seabirds taste like a combination of squab and anchovies/sardine.  Guillemot might be the best of the bunch for taste.

 

Skip Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon.  They’re much better in summer.  Skaftafell is full of gorgeous day hikes of various lengths and the ones we hiked were not difficult and had good footing.


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#29 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 09:42 AM

The day will be very short, maybe only 3 hours of light, just glancing the horizon. 

 

 

I wouldn’t call whale delicious myself.  It’s livery and I hate that taste.

 

Actually, the day isn't that short.  You get sunlight from about 10 to 5 (towards the end of January) and there's light that lingers from reflection off the snow.

 

Maybe it depends on the cut of the whale.  I thought it tasted like tuna sashimi. 


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#30 DonRocks

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 09:47 AM

I'd also to like to *strongly* recommend watching "Cold Fever," regardless of whether or not you go to Iceland - it's a wonderful film.

 

I can't believe nobody has said anything about "Cold Fever!" I know I shouldn't be repeating myself, but this is a *must see* if you're going to Iceland, and a *should see* even if you're not.

 

It's a (mildly dark) comedy, and was billed (tongue-in-cheek) as "The Best Icelandic-Japanese Road Movie of 1995." Find it and watch it with your mate - it's a great film to watch with someone.

 

(I'll move this into the Film Forum, alongside our newest addition, "First Blood," but I wanted to make sure people here saw it first. Plus, I want to watch the entire movie again.)


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#31 Simul Parikh

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 09:51 AM

Are you going to force the users to listen to Bjork, too????


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#32 astrid

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 08:50 AM

Actually, the day isn't that short.  You get sunlight from about 10 to 5 (towards the end of January) and there's light that lingers from reflection off the snow.

 

Maybe it depends on the cut of the whale.  I thought it tasted like tuna sashimi. 

 

Perhaps I should stick to raw whale next time.  We had it in kabob form at Saegreifinn (The Sea Baron) next to the harbor.  It’s a fantastic little joint with good atmospherics, but I would not recommend their whale kabobs as food (I would recommend it if you just want to say you’ve eaten whale, it’s probably amongst the cheapest options for trying whale). 

 

Good to know about the surprising amount of winter sunlight in Reykjavik – now I’m going to go check Iceland Air prices for February. :D 



#33 astrid

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 09:42 AM

And please do write about your winter experiences.  WOW is running some pretty attractive fares for mid winter, so I am actually seriously considering this.

 

And please enjoy yourselves.  Iceland is gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Of all the places I've been to, only New Zealand would come ahead of Iceland for sheer gorgeousness.  


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#34 Skysplitter

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 09:50 PM

Reykjavik has some pretty great food, but as others have pointed out, it IS expensive, especially the alcohol. That being said, I didn't have a bad meal there. I wrote up some reviews over on Trip Advisor, but my favorites were Kitchen Bar (dinner), Slippbarinn (drinks), Saegriffinn (I found the whale sampler enough to get a taste for it, and opted for arctic chard otherwise), Cafe Haiti (breakfast or lunch) and Reykjavik Roasters (coffee). Trip Advisor, while somewhat useless for other locales, was pretty handy for food and planning excursions. I think there's an app for happy hours, aptly named Appy Hour, which can dial you in to what's on at the bars. Iceland has a good craft beer scene now that's legal, and some are quite good.

 

I highly recommend Extreme Iceland for bigger excursions, and yes, the Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap, but it's also worthwhile and relaxing. Don't forget to take a walk on the trails around the Blue Lagoon, especially if there's snow on the ground (quite beautiful with the volcanic rock and such). My trip report/guide that I've punted off to a few friends is here. Have a wonderful time, but be flexible with your schedule. While we were there in January, there was a massive wind/snow storm which shut everything down for a day, so we had to juggle some things around :)


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#35 porcupine

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 05:57 AM

Skysplitter, I love the details in your trip report - thanks so much for linking to it!


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#36 iolaire

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 08:39 AM

We had a perfectly pan fried red snapper (like) fish dinner at Café Haiti a few years ago.  Its more of a coffee shop with food but that fish was perfectly crusted and the highlight of our food well in Reykjavík.  (We did go for high end food.)  If I were to return I'd hope for a repeat so I'm happy to see it mentioned by @Skysplitter.


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#37 Al Dente

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 09:08 AM

Unfortunately there's no indication of which restaurants some of these dishes come from, but here's some good Icelandic food porn:

 

http://imgur.com/a/pkC1H


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#38 Pool Boy

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 08:05 PM

Another thing I forgot to mention, and it will sound silly unless you have done it:

 

Be sure to remember to look out the airplane window while passing over Greenland.  Holy moly.

Absolutely! It is ridiculously stunning from the air.

 

High End Restaurants - Grill Market, Fish Market, Fish Company

Forage/MG Restaurant - Dill

Things to do - reserve in advance for in water massage at Blue Lagoon

Tours - Golden Circle, Northern Lights (by boat or by bus), Whale Watching

If you're going in winter, I suggest you stay in central downtown (i.e., near Grill Market or within a few blocks).

 

You can look at Fodor's or Frommer's online to see what other attractions there are.  There are a couple of free walking tours of Reykjavik that you can participate in.

I regret not doing this. I will next time. I actually plan on staying at their hotel for one night, too. It is a tourist trap, but it is amazingly relaxing, even with the crowds (they do manage the number of people in a given slot, sort of). But I am told going early or late is best. I want to be there when it is dark so I can look up at the amazing sky (assuming there is sky to see, when we were just there (last week) it was overcast.

Isafold Restaurant in Centerhotel Thingholt was actually quite good. Some of the best lobster soup (with perfectly cooked langoustine and shrimp gilding the lily) I have ever had.

Get seafood while you are there - lots of it. Drink beer, they have only had (legal) beer there for around 25 years but there's been an explosion of local brewers. Besides, the price of wine there is outrageous. In general, the whole country it expensive, probably as expensive as Switzerland. Oy.

Sadly, this trip we were there for about 40 or so hours, so we did not get to see much (other than the Penis Museum - which was a hoot, but also kind of fascinating - ever seen a whale penis?!).


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#39 stevem

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 08:07 PM

We are off to Iceland next week. So appreciative of this forum!

#40 lggl

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 04:57 PM

We are off to Iceland next week. So appreciative of this forum!

 

Ditto!  Trying to decide whether to take advantage of Iceland Air layover special and this is pushing me over the edge!



#41 Skysplitter

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 03:57 PM

Someone mentioned my little 3 day Iceland guide was useful, but the link I posted is dead, so here's  new link. Iggl, just do it!


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#42 porcupine

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 03:58 PM

First, a hearty thank you for all the recommendations.

 

Iceland is wonderful. Also, Reykjavik is somewhat warmer than DC at this time of year (on average), and there's less snow [typing while on break from shoveling out of historic blizzard]. There's so much to say I don't know where to begin. So this will be rather random.

 

Flybus, operated by Reykjavik Excursions, is a good way to get from Keflavik to Reykjavik. Buy your pass on-line and print it -this will save you from a long line at their booth at the airport.

 

The day is short in January but is preceeded and followed by more than an hour of civil twilight. The sun never gets more than 5 degrees above the horizon, making the quality of light extraordinary, with hours of alpenglow.

 

One thing I never saw mentioned in any guidebooks or on-line: the street art. Wander around downtown and the older districts for a day, and look for color: bright doors, bright roofs, and big damn paintings on the sides of buildings.

 

The coffee scene is good. I think the best I had was at Reykjavik Roasters, but I also had good cups at Kaffitar and Bakari Sandholt.

 

The latter is a lovely stop for breakfast, or lunch. Sandholt made probably the best croissant I've ever tasted, and ever other pastry was fantastic, too. A small quiche (actually a fritatta) made for a nice light dinner before a northern lights tour.

 

Other places to get small meals: Icelandic Fish and Chips made great fish and decent chips, as well as a hearty tomato-fennel soup. The fish is fried in a spelt batter, making it incredibly crispy.

 

The infamous hotdog stand (Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur) is an experience. The hotdog is good, not worth going out of your way for, but a great snack if you're nearby.

 

Forréttabarinn serves mostly small plates. Mr. P struck out with his duck quesadilla (I think), but I had a double-play: beef carpaccio with pesto and parmesan, and cured wild goose with reindeer terrine and pear chutney.

 

Speaking of cured wild goose, we found a lovely little cheeseshop, Ostabú∂in, that also had cured wild goose (hot-smoked), as well as cured lamb filet. Some of these, an Icelandic cow's milk cheese, and a package of crackers made for good snacks/quick lunch on a day-long Golden Circle tour.  Also, it pays to do your homework: we were able to bring some goose home.  Legally.  (OK, actually, it pays to have a savvy friend do your homework for you.  We brought a piece back for him, too.)

 

Most days we had breakfast at Bergsson Mathús. The breads there were fantastic. Actually, the breads almost everywhere were fantastic. Bergsson had decent coffee, and straightforward but tasty and filling breakfasts.

 

One dinner was at Einar Ben, rather old-school looking but not at all stuffy. I had a delicious lobster soup and cod filet with feta and olives (I think).

 

The big deal dinner was at Dill. Although everything we ate - and we ate everything, getting the seven-course tasting menu - was delicious and perfectly prepared, the experience left us cold. I'm not sure if it was a communication issue with the waiter or what, but he was absolutely inflexible about anything. It's as if the entire experience is choreographed with no room for improvisation. So you can opt for five courses instead of seven, but you don't get to choose which ones. Also, even though I told him that I can only drink a little bit of booze without getting sick, he kept trying to sell me another glass of champagne. It was to the point where I wanted to say "please don't ask again". The meal was almost three hours long. So, despite the cool ambience and David Bowie tribute soundtrack, we felt rather stiff and constrained and unable to relax. Still, I'm glad I tried it once.

 

We did a private golden circle tour with Extreme Iceland. Our guide, Ingolfur, was personable, knowledgeable, and flexible. It's a lot to see in one day - kind of a tasting menu of famous natural sites - and we were somewhat rushed because we added snowmobiling to the itinerary.

 

Snowmobiling on a glacier in Iceland in January has to be one of the coolest things I've ever done.

 

There was more - art museums and so on. The highlight for me, and the reason I wanted to go, was to see the northern lights. We tried one evening on a private tour with no luck, but our guide did take us on a moonlight hike to a frozen waterfall. A few nights later we tried again, with Superjeep, an outfit I highly recommend. There were 6 people per jeep and 5 jeeps in a convoy, and the guides knew what they were doing. Be warned, you aren't guaranteed to see the lights, and they don't look to the naked eye like they do in pictures. The camera sees them much, much better. Unless they are very strong, they look like white mist with occasional flashes of color. For that reason, bring a camera (and tripod and remote shutter release...). I shot more than 150 photos in an hour, and although my intent had been to enjoy the experience without making a photo shoot out of it, I would have missed a lot without the camera.

 

There's more, I could write pages. If anyone wants specific recommendations, feel free to post here or send me a message. To sum up, I'd say January is a fine time to visit, and Reykjavik is a small but civilized and deleightful city.

 

I can't wait to go back.

 

Oh, one more thing - we didn't use any cash the entire time we were there. Everything that can be purchased can be purchased with credit cards. It's an almost cashless society.


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#43 porcupine

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 04:05 PM

ps please visit my photo galleries at http://ermiller.smugmug.com/.

 

I'd post more here but I have to cut the resolution in order for them to post on this site.

 

Attached Thumbnails

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#44 DonRocks

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 04:12 PM

Are you going to force the users to listen to Bjork, too????

 

 

(The bass of this is in Locrian Mode, btw - that's why it sounds so unresolved (it reminds me of the music from T2)).

 

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