A common stopover country, Iceland’s popularity with tourism has been on the rise for the past couple years. And if you’re looking for a unique and breathtaking getaway (and you have a decent chunk of change to spend) Iceland is absolutely your place.
Being an island, just about everything in Iceland is imported, so prepare yourself for a pricey vacation. I don’t want it to take you by surprise when you see beers ranging from $12-$20 USD, cocktails around $24, and a decent meal being at a bare minimum $25.
Given that, though, there are amazing things to do in Iceland, especially if you’re an adventurous and outdoor-loving person. Here are my top suggestions for a quick trip to the Land of Fire & Ice:
P.S. As always, visit my Instagram for more reasons to go to Iceland!
- Frost And Fire (Hveragerði) – Notably nicknamed the land of Fire & Ice for it’s varied landscapes, Iceland has numerous hikes that take you around some of the natural geothermal hot spas. There are ropes that block you from getting too close to the hot spot but if you decide to get a little closer anyway, be cautious as these natural hot spots can get up to 250 degrees Celsius ( 392 Farenheit!)
Golden Circle- The Golden Circle tours which are offered by tour guide companies many times everyday, takes you through three of the main tourist spots in Iceland: Gullfoss, Geysir and Þingvellir. The Gullfoss waterfall is a breathtaking site and an immense waterfall. Wear a raincoat for that one! The Geysir is an incredulous geysir that goes off approximately every 7 minutes or so. Þingvellir is a national park with huge significance in history and geology. There are two submerging rifts which you can even scuba dive between (if you’re certified)!
- The American Bar
- Icelandic Bar – a low key local spot, this bar doesn’t attract many tourists and you won’t find the typical raging young crew here. Instead you’ll get a taste for the locals and it’s also a great spot to try out the black death shot.
- English Pub (are you noticing a trend?) Icelanders tend to be straight forward, and this goes for their bar names as well.
- The Big Lebowski– A fun, disco-like bar, this is where you want to go for groovy lights and music and a yummy breakfast reminiscent snack (drink). Live out your favorite movie with the famous white russian cocktail with cocoa pebbles on top. Yummm.
- Kex Hostel. Yes I realize this says ‘hostel’ which typically means 100% tourists. However, the bar in the lobby of this ultra hipster hostel is a hot spot with the locals as well. There is plenty of space to work, meet new people, and get a few local Icelandic beers.
- Austur– Now this is place you want to end your night. Since Icelanders party hard and late, you want to head to this night club around 3 or 4 am and ride out the rest of the night dancing in a crowd full of sweaty people while probably getting alcohol spilled on you.
Food & Drink
- Fermented Shark. While it’s not a real staple of an Icelandic diet, it is something that basically all locals have tried. It’s honestly pretty putrid, so you should really have a shot of black death ready to wash it down with.
- Black Death. Exactly what the name sounds like, this clear liquid will surely lead to the demise of your evening. I hope you have a high tolerance if you take more than one of these shots.
- As you can imagine, fish a huge part of the Icelandic diet. Dried fish (think fish jerky) is a must when trying the local seafood.
- Skyr is a type of yogurt that is famous in the country. It is similar to Greek yogurt, and with the plethora of dairy farms and cows in Iceland, it is quite possible to get it seriously fresh! If you want to have a legitimate dairy farm experience visit the Erpsstaðir creamery, detailed below.
- For an affordable breakfast, try bergesson mathus a small hidden cafe where you can get a smörgåsbord of a European breakfast. For a cool $24 USD, you can get a hardboiled egg, bacon, potatoes, melon, pineapple, proscuitto, cheese, bread, and yogurt with granola.
Other Tourist-y Things
- The Erpsstaðir creamery is a dairy farm in Northwest Iceland, run by farmer Thorgrimur Einar Gudbjartsson and his family. You can see the cows and try lots of fresh whey protein, Skyr, and ice cream!
- Blue Lagoon- perhaps the most famous tourist spot in all of Iceland the Blue Lagoon is a natural hot spa that is massive in size and attracts around 700,000 visitors every year. Cure your hangover from the night before by getting a algae or clay mask from the Mud Bar and then heading over to the swim up bar for a refreshing vitamin packed juice smoothie – or a Bloody Mary if you’re ready for that kind of commitment.