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Chasing a Dream - Part I "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost

Iceland Recommendations

ICELAND | Saturday, 13 February 2016 | Views [579]

Recommendations:

Restaurants: We ate at several different places and I’ve listed the stand-outs; in general go for fish, it’s caught fresh and is cooked to perfection (no tough rubbery fish here). Most mains ran in the range of 3,500ISK to 5,500ISK, with appetizers not being much cheaper, but keep in mind there is no tipping.

Old Icelandic - our top pick: intimate atmosphere, good presentation, amazing fish soup, and all around most flavorful fish and meat dishes from the places we visited.

Resto - Offers a great 4 course menu, good wine selections, and large portions for their mains. Make reservations in advance.

Sandholt - bakery and pastry shop, great place to get a to-go sandwich for a long tour.

The Noodle Station - for a quick, cheap, steaming bowl of Pho like soup head here; you’ll be surrounded by young locals.

Tiu dropar - cozy basement cafe and a great place to get out of the cold and enjoy a hot cuppa. They also serve food; I didn’t order any food, but I did see some nice looking brunch plates go by.

Things to Do:

Golden Circle Tour - A must do it you enjoy scenic vistas and nature. If going in winter, book a tour as the roads can be icy. We book a private tour with Geo Tours ([email protected] or +354-893-9169). During the summer, it’s probably most convenient to rent a car and do it independently; the roads are well marks and the major sites easy to find. Pick up a sandwich at a cafe like Sandholt for the road, as the dining choices are limited to Cafeteria like places at over-inflated prices.

If you want to see the northern lights, I recommend looking for a smaller group tour or booking a private tour. The giant bus tours offered by Gray Line and Reykjavik Excursions are not pleasant.

Blue Lagoon - If you're going in winter, get the Premier package; the robe is nice to have and it's not much more than the basic. Plus you get a lot of extras, like free drinks, take home spa samples, and a much shorter line to check in (the standard line was out the door).

Visit a local thermal pool - if you have a free evening or day, visit one of the local thermal pools scattered around Reykjavik; the entrance fees are inexpensive, and it a nice way to wind down after a day of sightseeing.

Stroll along Laugavegur and its side streets, browsing shops and pop into one of the many cafes and restaurants if you need to refuel or rest.

Visit the Hallgrimskirkja church and pay for an elevator ticket to the top; you will get the best views of Reykjavik from here.

Hotels:

In Reykjavik we stayed at Stay Einholt in a large 2brm apt; it was simple, clean, inexpensive, and walking distance to many shops and restaurants. Stay also operates several other Apartment Hotel also in good locations. Because they are apartments keep in mind they offer no amenities or services, but that is reflected in the price. If you are two or less, then you can likely find a good hotel deal. If you are traveling in a group, or on a budget, apartments are the best bet because you can self cater and save on the cost of expensive meals out.

In Grindavik we stayed at Geo Hotel. it’s modern; with small, clean rooms, and they have a free shuttle to both the Blue Lagoon and airport.

Souvenirs:

Icewear - Icelandic outdoor clothing brand; hats or headbands make great gifts and are reasonably priced. They have several shops, the Austurstraeti location (downtown) is three floors and also carries many other local goods in addition to clothes and accessories. Downstairs has local food items like jams, chocolates, teas, and salt. Iceland has great flake salt, and I picked up several boxes. The Nordursalt brand has a 250g box of flake salt for 650 ISK, which is half the price of the Saltv brand 125g box that all the other shops were carrying.

Helpful Apps:

Aurora - up to date info on best days to see the Northern Lights

NorthernLights - take great pictures of the Aurora using your phone camera, and can be adjusted for intensity.

Skyscanner - best search engine for finding cheap one-way Air tickets to plan an Iceland stopover on your way to or from Europe.

 

Tags: iceland tips, reykjavik restaurants recommendations

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