Ok, so I’m hanging out in England right now (working hard on the Podcast), but I want to continue my trend of updating on past trips, so I have the memories written down!
I feel like it may be getting a bit old to hear me go on and on about how much I adored Iceland. But I’m probably not going to stop until everyone I know has been to this amazing country.
I’ve written about Iceland before, including about our magical Christmas Day trip to the Blue Lagoon. We stayed in Reykjavík, the capital and largest city in Iceland, so we spent most of our time there.
Reykjavík is a small place, but packed with unique experiences. I didn’t do the same amount of research for this trip as I typically do, because I really wanted to just roam around and organically discover the city.
We touched down, grabbed some snacks and a coffee (Reykjavík Roasters daily) and changed over some money, got a crash course in living with minimal daylight, and were finally off!
We stayed at Reykjavík Lights, which was a really cool hotel. Jeremy even made a joke about thinking we’d walked into some sort of photography shoot, because literally every single person working at this hotel was outrageously good looking. (Turns out, the entire country is painfully attractive and has that simple, yet hip, Scandinavian style down pat. Jealous!)
Our first stop was Hallgrímskirkja, the huge cathedral that’s the tallest church in Iceland. It’s one of the city’s best known landmarks, even though it’s got a bit of a weird look.
We explored the inside, where they were growing plants (under hot pink lights!) and were priviledged enough to hear the massive organ play.
We also took the elevator to the top, where there was a big wrap-around observation deck with an amazing view over the city.
We stopped for lunch at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which is Iceland’s most famous restaurant. Popualar with locals and tourists alike, this HOT DOG STAND (yes!) is insanely good. When you serve a good product, why make more than one thing? This stand only makes hot dogs but they make a hell of a hot dog. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what’s on it, but I do know we went to the hot dog stand probably 5 times in 7 days.
The first time we stopped for dogs, we heard yelling down the street. A guy driving a truck was calling out his order. He stopped at the traffic light, and the hot dogs were ready and bagged up for him before the light turned green. As someone who would also go to great lengths for food, I named this driver my spirit animal.
After a shameful number of hot dogs, we went over to the Reykjavík City Hall. Never did I expect to find a city hall building so interesting, but they had a huge 3D map of Iceland, and the building was modern and shiny with gorgeous clean lines and light streaming in. Architecture heaven.
By this time, I was hooked on Reykjavík. Even in the minimal light (only about 3 hours of sunlight per day, and even then, it’s a muted sunlight, like 3 hours of dusk), the city felt vibrant and romantic. I loved stopping mid-stroll to try and pronouce the Icelandic words.
We strolled up and down the main street, Laugavegur, stopping for coffee and shopping. Cafe culture is big in Reykjavík and there was cafe after cafe to tuck into and escape the cold. Most offer free wifi and unlimited drip coffee. (BRB moving to Iceland)
We stopped in every shop we came across, including some really cool vintage shops. Everyone was so nice, first thinking Jeremy was German (we got a lot of guten tags!) and when they realized we were American, telling us with pride how amazing Iceland is (as if I didn’t already know) and how happy they were that we’d come to visit.
To work off the hot dogs, every day we’d walk along the Scultpure and Shore Walk, which winds along the coast.
The views were unreal and I loved the unique Sun Voyager structure, looking out over the water and the islands of Engey and Viðey (and actually, if you have the time, take the ferry to Viðey and explore!).
The walk takes you down by Harpa Concert Hall, which is the new home of the national opera and symphony. Another example of architecture heaven, with it’s iridescent honeycomb-like exterior. Jeremy dreams of seeing the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men in the Harpa.
We had the most wonderful time just strolling. Since it was cold and dark, we stopped anywhere that had heat (and Christmas decor!).
When people ask me about Iceland, I most often use the world “other-worldly”, which I’ve heard others use as well. The country is insane. It’s like every inch is unexpected and wild, which means you’ll really need to go check it out for yourself.
Also, I apologize for the abundance of hot dog related photos. I can’t help myself.
A Note: I love food, but I’m not a “foodie” by any means, so I’m not the best source on that subject. I don’t typically plan out restaurants, I usually just find a place I like aesthetically and pop in, or take recommendations from people I meet in the city. If you want a really stellar list of places to dine, check out Aspiring Kennedy’s guide to Reykjavík. She’s one of my favorite bloggers and a super reliable source.