1. Icelandic Street Food
This spot was amazing! It was our first stop after we landed in Iceland and we were not disappointed! Lovely little restaurant with a limited menu but the food was so good! I had lamb bread bowl soup and my boyfriend tried the seafood bread bowl soup. The seafood soup had many scallops in it, both were warm and wholesome, which made it perfect for the cold islandic weather we had just landed in. The soups are free refill which is great if you come with an appetite. They also serve ‘Fisherman’s favourite’, their equivalent of a fish pie, stewed saltfish and potato served with sweet rye bread and butter! If I am able to return I will definitely try it.
Staff are very friendly and full of character; they love to know where all their customers have travelled from. Service was quick for us but apparently its common for there to be a long queue out the door. Also option for FREE waffles with chocolate spread for desert ! A definite must have when visiting Reykjavik. 10/10
2. Walk around Reykjavik
In a city which can take a toll on your wallet, a self guided tour offers the perfect solution. All the best things to do in Reykjavik are all within an easy to walk area. As the weather can be unpredictable cold and windy, don’t feel like you need to do all the suggested places in one go.
Standing 74.5meters high the Hallsgrimskirkja church grabs your attention as soon as you arrive in Reykjavik. There is an option to get up high and view Reykjavik from a different perspective, looking out over the city and water. Unfortunately when we visited Reykjavik during the ‘Winter lights’ festival in February, the weather didn’t reveal this wonderful view to us.
Reykjavik is unlike any other European city, it is not bursting with centuries old unique architecture, most building look concrete and grey. This is not surprising once you visit and experience the remote and harsh conditions most Icelandic people live in you begin to appreciate the buildings unique forms. The most impressive looking building is Harpa which is situated on the waterfront. Like Hallsgrimskirkja church, its design is based on the basalt rock columns found throughout Iceland. It is a concert and conference building, the building is free to enter, however, shows are ticketed. Be sure to check your luck to see if any free shows are on.
As you continue to explore the city, any cross roads parallel to the sea will surprise you with breathe taking views. The Old Harbour is an up and coming area bursting with excellent food and beer. This is also where most of the whale watching & scuba diving/ snorkelling tour providers operate from. There is also a Kronan supermarket which, like Bonus, is a Icelandic budget store and is usually one of the cheapest places to buy food. Kronan also has a section for people with dietary restrictions eg no gluten. We managed to find extremely cheap vegan burgers in the Kronan old harbour store.
3. Go Skiing/Snowboarding
Located 30minutes from Reykjavik Blafjoll ski Resort is the only ski resort in Southern Iceland. Unfortunately UK apps like Snow Forecast are not updated and will constantly say this resort is closed. To find if the resort is open you need to look on the Facebook page shown below.
This page is in Icelandic therefore you will need to google translate, but it is updated daily and provides the most up to date information on the current conditions. Both ski and snowboarding equipment is available to rent at the resort, and it is super easy to do so. I would recommend having good thermals and windproof jacket as the weather in Iceland can be hostile. The easiest way to get to the resort is to drive. If you do this, I recommend taking a big helping of lunch/dinner with you to refuel once you are done.
4. DIY Northern Lights Hunt
For this you will need to have access to 4×4 car so you can reach as many places as possible while you are on your hunt. Car hire is the only cost associated with this activity.
Northern light season in Iceland typically runs from late September to late March, while the nights are dark. The second thing to consider are the clouds, if it is overcast the clouds will cover the aurora even if they are present. To check the predicted cloud forecast, check Icelandic Meteorological Office website to see which parts of the country show little or no cloud coverage. Also download and check Aurora app, this app is built for tourists and experienced Northern Light hunters, providing you with information on the likelihood of you seeing the Aurora Borealis. This app also has an amazing feature which alerts you if there’s a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights within the next hour! So you don’t miss that once in a lifetime experience!
Lastly, drive to remote places outside of Reykjavik & Akureyri to reduce city light and increase your chances of seeing them. Think of remote places which still have accommodation close by, for example Reykjanesbear and Grindavik down by the airport or Selfoss in the centre of the Golden Circle.
5. Kerið Volcano Crater
The volcano is now inactive which means in the winter the water on top forms an Ice lake. Kerid is privately owned and costs ISK 400 to enter, this is used to maintain the area. As you will find once visiting Iceland ISK 400, isn’t that much and it is worth paying the entrance fee to witness the exploding variety of colours this volcanic crater has to offer. You can walk around the top of the crater & it is possible to walk down to the lake itself. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of us down by the lake as my phone couldn’t handle the crisp cold winter air.
6. DIY IKEA Pizzas
After long days exploring Iceland or long nights searching the skies for the Northern Lights a cheap enjoyable activity which can be done in the warmth of your accommodation is pizza making. For this you will need to be staying somewhere with oven access. Pizza dough, sauce and toppings can all be purchased from IKEA, which is just outside of Reykjavik.
(TOP TIP: Whilst at IKEA, don’t forget to visit COSTCO petrol station which is next door for cheaper fuel rates. For this you will need to be a COSTO member and have your membership card with you, just like in the UK)