Following our epic week in London, we took advantage of Icelandair's stopover feature and stayed three days in the beautiful Nordic island nation. When the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted back in 2010 & messed up European travel for days, Iceland totally took advantage of being in the world's spotlight and launched an aggressive tourism campaign. Nowadays it seems like every white millennial Instagram photographer has perfect photos of Iceland's many picturesque landscapes. I can't knock them though - if I were a photographer, Iceland would be a dream destination!
Anyway, we landed in Keflavik, two hours from Heathrow and an hour back in time zone, got our rental car and headed on the 45-minute drive to the nation's capital, Reykjavik.
Reykjavik is a postcard city sitting right on the harbor in northwest Iceland. I heard there are about 300,000 people living in all of Iceland, and I'd be willing to bet that a good half of that is based in the city.
Airbnb is thriving in Reykjavik, and since we'd be spending most of our time outside the city, I chose a small studio just a 5-minute walk from Laugavegur, the main street in the city. My friend Taylor happened to be in town with his mom, so the four of us met up for dinner at Reykjavik's healthy restaurant, Gló. You'd think that mango chicken with generous helpings of two sides would have us full, but we still managed to have tea at Joe & The Juice and a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.
Hold up. Did you say hot dog?
Bæjarins beztu pylsur is Icelandic for "best hot dog in town," and when I asked my friends for recommendations, it was the single most recommended thing to have. I thought it was weird to go halfway around the world to eat a hot dog, but it didn't disappoint. That remolaði sauce needs to be a thing in the U.S. because it's bomb. Two young gentlemen run the little stand next to the harbor, and the one there that night was really nice to us. The hot dog & soda combo is easily the best deal in all of Iceland, where the krona is tiny against the dollar but everything is marked up like crazy.
You can walk around downtown Reykjavik in an hour and see most everything. It was cool to see the Harpa concert hall lit up at night. Jacob almost lost his damn mind trying to buy all the books at Penninn Eymundson bookstore cafe. We ended our first night with drinks at Dillon Whiskey Bar, a cozy bar right in the midst of Laugavegur. It was pretty cold at night when we were there, so it was nice to warm up with a pint before bed.
Shopping in Reykjavik is mostly found on Laugavegur (like most everything else.) It was a little strange in that every single store sold pretty much the same things. Same skeins of wool, same wool accessories, screenprint shirts, lopapeysas and stuffed vikings from the same brands at the same prices in every store. The one store Jacob and I both really liked was My Concept Store, which reminded me a lot of former Seattle boutique Blackbird (RIP.) If you absolutely have to have a lopapeysa, the Handknitting Association of Iceland was recommended.
Dinner options in Reykjavik are plentiful (aside from hot dogs.) After a full day on the road, we stopped at Noodle Station for some takeaway soup to have back at our Airbnb. On our last night, I tried to take Jacob to Dill Restaurant, but we accidentally found ourselves upstairs at Mikkeller and Friends and then at the unnamed pizza place in between the bar and Dill. The pizza was unexpected but delicious!
We spent our last moments in Iceland relishing in Reykjavik, with breakfast at Sandholt Bakery (to die for), and a cold but leisurely stroll up to Hallgrimskirkja. The church is the most visible landmark in the city; all of the major roads lead up to it. Jacob had an iced coffee at Reykjavik Roasters (iced coffee was so hard to find in Iceland, and my very Seattleite fiance was feenin) while I paid to take the elevator up to the very top of Hallgrimskirkja. Up there, on top of the church on top of the hill, is one of the best views of the city. Such a nice way to end our time there!
Read more of our adventures in Iceland here.