Reykjavík, Iceland

Friday, April 21, 2017

It's finally time to come clean about my love affair with Iceland. 

It's been six months since our first trip there and as you can probably imagine, it was nothing short of spectacular. I've been desperately trying to find an excuse to go back since the moment we landed back home and I seriously hope that we can find the time in the next year or so to explore more of this incredible country. My co-worker is from Iceland so I'm about to just tell her that I'm tagging along on her next family reunion. (Hook me up, Hildur!)

The series of posts that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks have been a long time coming. I would've had them out sooner if we hadn't taken four million photos that required hours of sorting, organizing, and editing. That being said, I've broken our trip up into seven different posts in order to avoid overwhelming everyone by sharing everything all at once. I know what you're thinking. Whoa, seven posts? I know it’s a lot, but you’ll thank me later. 

Just as a side note, I've had quite a few friends message me with questions about our adventures in Iceland since they are now planning trips of their own. If you are on the fence about making the journey or don't know where to start, I hope some of these posts can help. I'll be doing my best to cover as many details as possible, but if you've got more questions about where we stayed, how expensive something was, or any other specifics, don't hesitate to comment below or shoot me a private message. Chances are, I've already answered the question for someone else!

Alright, enough already. Today, we're talking about Reykjavík, so let's get started!

Back in September, Mike and I flew overnight on IcelandAir into Keflavik airport which is roughly half an hour from the capital city of Reykjavík. This was Mike's first transatlantic flight in years, so he was super impressed with the service on IcelandAir. Side note number two - if you're trying to decide between IcelandAir and WOW Air, I highly recommend dishing out the few extra bucks for IcelandAir. Everything, including in-flight entertainment, comes standard with IcelandAir, whereas WOW is more of an a la carte airline. It's the Spirit Airlines of Iceland travel, if you will, and unless you're looking to get there for pennies with absolutely nothing included and willing to risk the delays, it's not worth the pain. Ya feel me?

We landed around 6:30AM local time and couldn't wait to start our adventure. For the first half of our trip, we rented a camping car (an SUV with a tent on the roof) to roam around in. I'll be covering details about the car in my next post, so stay tuned if you're thinking about camping in Iceland (spoiler alert: WORTH IT). The car company actually picked us up at the airport, so we didn't have to worry about transfers, but if you're planning to rent a car in Iceland, you can do so easily at the airport.

After we were set with our car, we headed straight up to Reykjavík to begin exploring. When we got there, shops were just opening so we went to Reykjavik Roasters to caffeinate and grab breakfast. I had heard great things about the place and it did not disappoint. The inside was cozy and trendy, and with a few pastries and a pair of lattes, it was the perfect way to wake up. 

We took the rest of the morning to wander around admiring the street art, taking in the view of the sea near the harbor, popping into a few shops, and scoping out stops for when we came back to Reykjavík later that week. Our itinerary had us passing through twice more, so we didn’t try to cram everything into that first day. We did manage to stumble upon a big flea market (Kolaportið) down by the harbor. It was popular with the locals, so we knew we couldn’t lose. There was an endless supply of handmade lopapeysa and wool blankets (which we definitely bought) as well as fresh fish and fermented shark (which we definitely did not). We did however try a few samples of dried fish with the creamiest butter I’ve ever tasted and it was quite the treat!

On one of our return trips through the capital city, we made sure to stop by Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic giant church in Reykjavík, and head to the top of the tower for the prettiest view. The line to get a ticket wasn’t too long, but since there was only a small lift taking you to the top, we had a bit of a wait as it only accommodated roughly six people at a time. Still, it was definitely worth the 6 Euro.

Now for my favorite part - THE FOOD. 

As I said before, we passed through Reykjavík a few times, so luckily we got to try several different restaurants. And aside from Reykjavík Roasters and the fish at the flea market, there are a bunch of awesome options!

First on the list is Saegreifinn - The Sea Barron. Several friends had recommended this place and it’s the perfect spot to grab some fresh fish and beer for lunch. It’s not at all fancy with its long wooden tables and giant barrels for chairs, which was totally our speed. When we wandered in, we were immediately greeted by the girl behind the counter who directed us to the case on our left full of fresh fish options. We each chose a cup of their famous lobster soup and giant salmon skewer, which they grabbed directly from the case and grilled up on the spot. The tables are a bit awkward since they’re all kind of crammed together so it’s not really a place to bring large groups. I hear that they do have alternate seating upstairs or outside, but for a quick lunch, it suited us just fine. 

Another great spot for local cuisine is Sjavargrillid (aka seafood grill). I read about this place on one of my favorite travel blogs and hands down, they’ve got some of the best dishes in town. It’s also the perfect little dinner spot to grab a cocktail and relax, so keep it in mind if you’re staying in downtown Reykjavík

Last up is Baejarins Beztu Pylsur and when I tell you what it is, you’ll probably shake your head think I’m crazy, but just trust me on this one. So what kind of place is this? Well, folks, it’s a hot dog stand. When I had first told people that we were planning a trip to Iceland, I was shocked by how many people kept raving about the hot dogs. “They’re incredible! You can even get them at gas stations on the side of the road!” they told me, at which point I immediately pictured a three-day-old greasy 7-11 hot dog rotating under a heat lamp. Ew. But then, I went to Iceland. And then, I tried the hot dogs. And then, I saw the light. I’m not sure what it is about them - maybe it’s the toppings (they traditionally come with remoulade, crispy onions, and pylsusinnep or sweet brown mustard) or the fact that they’re made from Icelandic lamb, but damn they’re good. So do me a solid and visit the stand and discover the magic for yourself. Just be prepared to wait. The line was around the corner when we went at 11:00AM.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any recommendations for hotels Reykjavík since we didn’t actually stay there, but many friends say that the airbnb selection is awesome, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a place. For us, the main draw to Iceland was the dramatic landscapes, so while we wanted to experience some of the city, we were more interested in spending as much time in the rest of the country as possible. So, if craters and waterfalls are your thing, be sure to swing by next week since I’ll be sharing all the details about The Golden Circle!


  1. The Travel Blogger in me is thinking three things- DYING because this looks like an amazing trip, YAY because breaking trips up into multiple posts is the way to go and OMG why don't you have a print shop because these photos are beautiful! Can't wait for the rest of your posts...and the video!!

  2. Great post!

    I went to Iceland for the first time earlier this year and agree with everything you said in your intro - it's so easy to see why everyone falls in love. I feel like I knew I wanted to go back while I was still planning the first trip! lol

    It looks like you had nice weather there and the photos are beautiful! I wish I could have caught that flea market (serial thrifter over here)

    Anyways, your photos are beautiful ! And I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the car camper because I was totally thinking that the next trip back I would want to just spent a month touring the whole island that way!!

    Looking forward to seeing more of your trip.

    - Lindsay