Nothing like starting out a new week with a new travel adventure, right?
We’re off again — this time hitting up destination #2 of my 2017 wanderlust list. (Have you checked out my TULUM TRAVEL GUIDE yet?) I hope you packed your warmest coat and hat, because this spot is just a ‘bit’ chilly this time of year. Prepare yourselves for minimal sunlight, waist deep snow, beautiful landscapes, delicious food and some of the most unique accommodations you’ll find on this planet.
Let’s go to Iceland!
Thing to Know Before You Go:
Surprisingly, the capital and largest city in Iceland, Reykjavik is only a 4.5 hour flight from NYC area airports. High season is June through August when the weather is a bit more temperate, daylight lasts almost a full 24 hours and a number of music festivals entice visitors from all parts of the world. Low season is the rest of the year and quite truthfully, when I would want to go… mostly for one reason: the Northern Lights!
Your chances of spotting those magical, rainbow-colored, magnetically charged lights are much higher during the coldest months of the year. They’re completely otherworldly and for this science geek, a bucket list experience that can’t be missed. What you’re actually seeing are the electrically charged particles emitted by the sun, entering the earth’s atmosphere and colliding at our planet’s magnetic poles.
Currently, the Icelandic currency (Krona) is not quite as strong as it has been in the past. While the country is far from a “bargain,” you should take advantage of the stronger dollar conversion. Credit card transactions (vs. cash) reign supreme in all parts of the country.
What To Pack:
Layers… lots and lots of layers.
Ultimately, you should consider your Iceland wardrobe from the outside-in. Focus on high quality performance outerwear to ensure you enjoy all of the magic of the country without frostbite! From waterproof and lightweight down-filled coats, to true snowboots with sturdy tread to keep you upright on the ice — good quality gear is important. Use bright and fun accessories to give your cold-weather style additional personality!
Oh, and no matter the time of year, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit. THE BLUE LAGOON is absolutely a must-do when you visit. The silica content in the water turns the naturally-occuring, geothermal pools into this etherial shade of blue. It’s simply stunning… and popular. Make sure to book your tickets in advance and get to the spa early for the most-relaxing experience.
Here’s what I’ll be packing:
Where To Stay:
If you’re truly looking for a full Icelandic experience and to explore the small ice-covered country, this 12-room lodge (a former working sheep farm!) located on Iceland’s Troll Peninsula is a MUST. With a spa, a sauna (located inside a building straight out of the The Hobbit) and heated outdoor pool — Deplar Farm is all about luxury pampering with an outdoor adventure twist. You can ski pristine terrain, snowmobile, motorboat through fjords and whale-watch… just to name a few! The high-end design and accommodations are pretty awesome, too.
This hotel is an Instagram magnet, as its design features and prime location just minutes from THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK make it highly photogenic. About an hours drive from the city of Reykjavik, this small hotel built on a lava field attracts folks looking to take in the beauty of the country, explore the nearby mountains and treat themselves to quality food, cocktails and service.
For the city dweller, this hotel is located on prime real estate in the center of Reykjavik. Walking distance to many of the city’s best restaurants and bars, this gem of a property is ideal for those of you looking for an easy, long-weekend Iceland stay. A member of the Design Hotel Group, expect to be surrounded by modern art installations and visually inspiring designs.
What To Eat:
A travel-blogger favorite, both for the food as well as the ambiance, Reykjavik’s Laundromat Cafe offers an indulgent menu perfect for an upbeat brunch while in the city. The really cute ambiance doesn’t hurt either.
If you’re making a trip to visit the the soaring spire of the HALLGRIMSKIRKJA CHURCH, which offers a stunning panoramic view of the city from its observation tower, make sure to stop into this French inspired bistro. Located in the picturesque neighborhood of Skolavorduholt, with many coffeehouses and quaint shops Snaps Bistro known by locals for its jovial atmosphere and fresh food.
Located in Reykjavik, Dill is best known for serving “New Nordic” fare, promoting its local food culture and seasonal ingredients. Expect classic Nordic ingredients with a modern, gourmet twist. The dinner options include a 3, 5 or 7-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings prepared by the in-house sommelier. You will NOT be disappointed.
While these restaurants are all based in the city of Reykjavic, you’ll be able to find many under-the-radar and delicious spots as you travel through the country. Many hotels and inns found in the more rural parts of Iceland, offer high quality bars, restaurants and cafés for their guests in-house, as the roads are not always accessible given the extreme weather conditions.
All part of Iceland’s magic!
Next week, we’re wrapping up this travel inspired series with a stop at one of the most beautiful (and recently quite newsworthy) cities in the world. I’l leave it at that…
(header image via)