Iceland has been on my hypothetical “interesting/someday” travel wish list for a few years now. Although, my obsession with Icelandic culture started with Leif Erikson — original Viking bad ass — in the 3rd grade (Erikson was quickly followed by a brief obsession with Abraham Lincoln… where were we? Ah yes, Iceland…). After finding an Icelandair deal for $438 roundtrip in July, I didn’t do much planning other than grinning at pictures of Icelandic horsies, dreaming of the Blue Lagoon, and listening to Sigur Ros.
One of the perks of working for a travel company, is that after chatting about Iceland to a coworker who writes our Iceland travel guide, you might see your very own custom 5-day Iceland itinerary pop up in your RSS reader a week or two later. Thanks Katie! :) So without further ado here are…
10 things I loved about my trip to Iceland:
#1. Icelandic ponies horsies
Ever since I saw pictures of the uber-adorable Icelandic horses, I knew I would be riding horses while in Iceland. They’re like life-size My Little Pony dolls, and they tölt. If I was a horse, I would totally be one of these little hearty creatures. Yeah, I identify with Icelandic horses… le sigh…
#2. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon exceeded my expectations. I’d heard more than a few times that the Blue Lagoon was a little over-rated and expensive, but was looking forward to it anyway. Visiting the Blue Lagoon was one of my favorite things in Iceland. With 6 hours of daylight and freezing temperatures, it was fun to bliss out in the lagoon for a few hours. Highly recommended.
#3. Meandering about Reykjavik
Reykjavik looks like a tiny toy town from the Hallgrímskirkja church tower. The downtown area is a walker’s paradise. After a day of wandering, I felt like I pretty much knew my way around, and I had a great time just meandering about town during the 5 days… poking into shops, visiting the Sun Voyager sculpture, getting lattes (my favorite cafe for lattes was a tiny little place called Grái Kötturinn — Grey Kitten? I’m assuming), window shopping at 66 North, popping into a design shop or two…
#4. Brewery tour & duty-free alcohol
I hadn’t really thought of doing a brewery tour in Iceland until I heard about it from my coworker. It ended up being a lot of fun to hear about the history of drinking in Iceland, quite a few drinks were included, and we got drink vouchers to use back in town for $5 beers instead of $9 (yes, $9!). And one of my favorite Iceland tips: if you’re going to have at least a few drinks while in Iceland, stop at duty free in the airport and snag your drink of choice. Alcohol and the tax on alcohol is very expensive in Iceland.
#5. Seeing the last 3 songs of a random Icelandic band
I love catching local (or not so local) music while I’m traveling. So after hearing a band playing while walking down the street, we wandered into a pub for the last few songs. I have no idea who it was or what the pub was called. A fun mystery. :)
#6. Golden Circle – Golfus & Geysir
After considering renting a car and driving the Golden Circle, we decided to take the easier and cheaper route and take a half-day tour. I think we picked the coldest day of our trip too, as apparent by the cold cringe in a few of my pictures. It was fun to get out of Reykjavik again and into the outdoors, and really made me want to return in summer.
#7. Frozen pond sliding
We stayed near the pond in Reykjavik, and noticed people ice skating and playing on the ice, so after a few days of walking past the pond, we stopped for some fun. I’m tempted to post a brilliant video of someone falling on the ice, perhaps another time…
#8. Bæjarins beztu pylsur (hot dog stand)
Hey remember that time I ate a tarantula in Cambodia? Yep, all bets are off when I travel (Lie. Sometimes true at home as well). Although I consider myself a pescatarian, I’m not dogmatic about it, and I’ll try almost anything once, because life is short — and really it’s more fun to eat strange things while traveling! Back to Iceland… and hotdogs — one of their most popular dishes, Bæjarins beztu pylsur is Reykjavik’s most famous hotdog stand. I got one “with everything” and loved the fried onions, mustard sauce, and remolaði. Tasty. So you probably won’t find me snagging a 99-cent hotdog at IKEA, but it was fun to check out Iceland’s most popular dish. Baaaah!
#9. $$$ dinner
Although I consider myself a budget traveler, I like to splurge every once in a while on a trip. We decided on Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish Market) and it didn’t disappoint.
Skyr is like Greek yoghurt on crack. It was the first and last thing I ate in Iceland. I’ll probably be hitting up Whole Foods way too often for my Skyr fix.
I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention something else epic that I love about Iceland, but for now this is my <3 list. And I can’t wait to go back in summer! Or maybe go to Iceland Airwaves! 2012, anyone?
AndiJanuary 23, 2011 at 11:17 am
Awesome pics!!! I looooved Iceland too!
SusanJanuary 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm
What a great trip! I’ve always wanted to go, especially since all those Icleandair deals.
FengJanuary 6, 2011 at 10:28 am
Totally agree with your # 10 and # 5. Skyr is really delicious, I try the one they sell at Wholefood, but it didnt’ really taste the same to me. The music scene is always amazing. I also love me some Icelandic sweater. I will totally join you on the Airwave, hopefully it’s also a time to see some North Light!!
JessicaJanuary 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm
Dude! Awesome trip! I’ve always had Iceland on my top 25 list, but after this, it may be bumped up to the top 10! And I’m so jealous of this airfare you found; I NEVER find cheap airfare. What is your secret?