Investigate Iceland Travel
By Janine Silver and Lesley Reider
If it’s not already on your radar – Iceland is somewhere you really need to include on your bucket list. It is the home to a beautiful and varied landscape – glaciers, waterfalls and volcanoes – some less than an hour’s drive out of the capital city of Reykjavik.
The whole country houses just over 300,000 people who are known for being warm, friendly and welcoming – with colorful personalities (many of them still believe in the existence of elves). Icelandic mythology is packed full of wondrous creatures, and elves play a lead role in tales of mischief – if something in your home is out of place – you’ve probably had a visit!
Iceland is colloquially known as the “Land of Fire & Ice” – all of its energy comes from their wind farms and the geothermal power gifted by the volcanic activity in the region. “If you don’t like the weather – wait 5 minutes” is a common phrase because Iceland has intense and variable weather that literally changes by the minute.
There is also a much more indulgent benefit that can be experienced from the island’s geothermal properties – mineral-infused hot springs and pools are abundant. Their healing and relaxing properties are world-renowned, making them a popular destination for visitors and locals alike…
Feed your wanderlust with our guide through some of the Instagram-worthy natural phenomena; fresh flavors and cozy accommodations of Iceland – you cannot afford to miss out on visiting this gorgeous country any longer! Feel free to thank us later!
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Reykjavik on Laugavegur Street, the Alda hotel is a short walk from all of the local city attractions.
Upon check-in, each guest is given an Android operated mobile smartphone – complete with 4G internet access (free wifi access is also available throughout the hotel) to help you get around, or you can always call the friendly concierge for advice.
Each room is clean and spacious with a 180 cm double/twin bed covered with Egyptian sheets as well as a comfortable sleeping sofa. In addition, there’s a walk-in shower, a work desk, and a 40″ Samsung HD TV.
Stop in the lobby for a drink at Barber Bar, which serves local chocolates and specialty cocktails, as well as an assortment of Japanese-style dishes available on their happy hour menu. You can also treat yourself to a haircut in the barber shop/salon, that’s housed in the lobby.
Make sure you take the time to relax in the Alda hotel’s sauna and outside hot tub on the ground floor. The hotel provides a small fitness room for guests to take advantage of, if you want to stay fit whilst on the move.
Make the most of your stay by exploring some city highlights including Reykjavik Chips, which is known to have the best french fries (known as “chips” throughout Europe) in the city; Harpa, a beautifully designed concert hall; and Hallgrímskirkja, a captivating church in the heart of the city. The hotel is situated on the main shopping street – don’t forget to pick up one of the intricately patterned Nordic sweaters that Iceland is famous for!
Comfort, convenience and cleanliness make the Alda a top choice when visiting Reykjavik.
Alda Hotel Reykjavik
Laugavegur 66- 68
+354 553 9366
Northern Lights Inn
This charming Inn is a true gem. Not only is it the ideal spot for sneaking a peak of the elusive Northern Lights, but it’s also a great location to enjoy the quiet countryside. Rooms are spacious with double and twin beds, with warm and fluffy down comforters.
If you fancy a drink, the hotel offers an Honesty Bar. Simply take whatever you’d like at the unmanned bar, and write your room number down to be charged for it later. By trusting their guests, the Northern Lights Inn bar effectively has no closing time, and you can enjoy a nice drink from the evening into the early morning without worrying about the dreaded last call.
Cozy up next to the fire or play a game of chess in the lounge. The inn is minutes away from the Blue Lagoon and they even provide a free shuttle to and from. Enjoy the view of the Icelandic mountains and possibly the Northern Lights from the inn’s sky room.
Guests can make their own waffles and enjoy complimentary tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies in the lobby throughout the day – providing a charming and sociable atmosphere.
When temperatures drop, stay inside and enjoy a meal at their in-house restaurant, Max’s. The exceptional wait staff and gorgeous dining room, make Max’s a place to be in itself. There are plenty of hearty dishes and opportunities to explore traditional Icelandic cuisine, sourced from the surrounding fjords and fields. For the less adventurous traveler, simple and colorful dishes such as the Chicken Breast and the Beef Tenderloin are sure to hit the spot. Don’t leave without sampling one of their delicious homemade Icelandic ice creams. You’re in for a real treat!
Famous Icelandic Ice cream Dessert
Northern Lights Inn
Northern Lights Road 1
240 Grindavik, Iceland
+354 426 8650
Located in The Falcon House, in the middle of Austurvöllur Square, Uno is as rich in history as it is great cuisine.
Icelandic and Mediterranean traditions are combined with a few extra influences from around the globe, to create an entirely new cuisine. Try one of their fresh cocktails. Two popular choices are Romeo Killer (Vodka; Amaretto; lime juice; sugar syrup; cranberry juice) and Grapefruit Code (Reyka Vodka; Sour Grapefruit liqueur; Creme de Cassis liqueur; lime juice; sugar syrup; grapefruit bitters; ginger ale). You cannot leave without a taste of the Kyjúklingpasta, their homemade chicken pasta tossed with bacon and mushrooms in a luscious garlic and cream sauce.
101 Reyekjavik, Iceland
+354 561 1313
Forrettabarinn is a favorite spot among natives that’s situated along Reykjavik’s marina. Executive Chef Róbert Ólafsson offers appetizer-style dishes and very quick service. The intimate setting is perfect for bringing a date, or enjoying a meal with old friends.
One of the smaller dishes that stand out is the Braised Beef Brisket Quesadillas – the black bean & coriander salsa that comes with this is truly delightful. For dessert, you simply can’t go wrong. Choose from the indulgent Chocolate Cake with white chocolate, kumquat mousse & vanilla ice cream, or the Warm Apple Crumble with cinnamon ice cream & caramel sauce – both are heavenly.
Fresh, well prepared food and a trendy yet cozy atmosphere make Forrettabarinn a must-visit for anyone looking for a distinctive and delectable meal.
101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 517 1800
If you’re a fan of The Big Lebowski, you cannot pass up a visit to the Lebowski Bar. The bar makes references to the 1998 cult classic with its carefully designed menu and décor, which includes a jukebox and a whole bowling alley displayed along the wall. Be sure to try one of the bar’s amazing flavors of White Russians such as a White Chocolate Russian, Dirty Russian, Royal Russian or The Other Jeffery Lebowski aka Black Russian.
Lebowski bar keeps an American 1950s diner feel while still staying true to the movie. As with all great diners, hamburgers and fries reign supreme. Try ordering the Lebowski, a basic cheeseburger or the Donny, a béarnaise burger, piled high with French Fries on the side.
Regardless of whether you’re a hardcore Lebowski super fan, or if the movie is still waiting your Netflix queue to be discovered, this quirky fun bar has something for everyone.
101 Reykjavík, Iceland
The lagoon is a calming oasis with a beautiful backdrop of the Icelandic mountains. It holds six million liters of geothermal seawater, all of which is renewed every 40 hours. The origin of the geothermal seawater is from 2,000 meters beneath the earth’s surface. The water is meant to have healing effects with its mineral mixture that includes silica and sulfur. The spa-like temperatures run from 99-102 degrees Farenheit, ideal for unwinding and letting your stress melt away in the soothing, natural, pale blue springs.
The Blue Lagoon is also home to the Lava Restaurant, where you can relax and dine whilst taking in the gorgeous views of the lagoon and the surrounding lava walls. Legend has it that the builders of the restaurant encountered multiple setbacks whilst construction took place – they were told that destroying the lava walls was angering the local “huldfólk” (the Icelandic elves). As a compromise, they decided to work around the natural rock formation. Suddenly, all of their issues disappeared! The efforts made to appease the elves have given the restaurant a secondary benefit, providing a really unique and organic feeling. The building is now one with the landscape and you get to experience the wonder of nature both inside and out.
The resort also features a spa, sauna, steamed baths, a swim-up bar and a skin care bar where you can put on silica face masks and algae masks (for an additional cost) to exfoliate, cleanse, and rejuvenate the skin.
The easiest way to get into Reykjavik from the main airport is by cab or bus. To save yourself time and money, book a trip on Fly Bus either online or at the airport itself. With dozens of buses operating each day, the wait time is limited. Simply hop on, enjoy the free wifi and drink in the moss-covered landscape, while the friendly driver brings you to your hotel in town.
Reykjavik Excursions feature once-in-a-lifetime experiences to see the very best of Iceland. They have knowledgeable guides that take you on different trips to popular destinations such as The Golden Circle – which includes Fridheimar Greenhouse, Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park. Tours allow plenty of time to take photos, while still providing allowing the opportunity for breaks on difficult terrain. Guests are encouraged to ask questions about the attractions and Icelandic culture whilst traveling between the destinations.
Explore Icelandic Culture and Art
There are always many things to see and discover in this beautiful country.
One Icelandic artist worth checking out is Halldóre Ingi Emilson. He’s inspired by nature and paints landscapes of Reykjavik and the Icelandic countryside. His colorful paintings play with shadows and light and will give you a creative interpretation of the surrounding area. Make sure to check him out, his art is a great way to see Iceland through the eyes of a painter.
Signe Emdal creates elaborate woven and knitted artwork that is beautiful to look at, Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer are photographers with a poetic eye – instead of singular images they create symbolic photo stories and add lots of texture and color.
Spring and Summer is a good time to visit Reykjavik and check out the local art scene. The city is host to “Design March,” the country’s biggest design event, showcasing the work of some of the most exceptional artisans in Iceland.