(Update: Many things have shifted since my 2012 visit. Check my 2016 Update for details)
For several years, Iceland has been on our to-do list. I’d been there several times on layovers on trips to Europe via Icelandair, mostly checking out Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon. A nice dabble, but certainly that did nothing but giving us the briefest taste of Iceland. And one of Carol’s college professors had great tales of a 1990s trip around the Ring Road. So for several years, we kept telling ourselves we’d go see Iceland “for real, this time.”
Well, after several years of putting it off, this year we finally made it happen. I booked a 12 day trip to Iceland. Three days of it (one on arrival, two on departure) were in Reykjavik. The rest? A 2600 km driving trip around the Ring Road, visiting most of the major sites of Iceland aside from the Western Fjords (hey, have to leave something for a return trip…)
At least from an American perspective, Iceland doesn’t show up on a lot of peoples’ radar, despite the fact that from Boston it’s only a 4.5 hour flight (making it closer than a substantial fraction of US destinations), and airfares are relatively cheap (indeed, that’s how I first discovered Iceland, since Icelandair is a pretty cheap way to get to Europe, and you break up the trip into two shorter segments). What most people do know is that the country has few trees (true), and very good scenery (very true), and terrible food. The last of these is terribly, terribly false. Sure, a few key Icelandic items have a reputation for being foul (oh, the jokes I heard about Brennivin and Hakarl before leaving…), but the real truth of the matter is that I found Icelandic food, particularly fish and lamb items, to be amongst some of the best food I’ve eaten.
So, despite Iceland being approximately the size of Ohio, with half of the population of Vermont, I found over a dozen places worth blogging on this trip, for reasons including excellent food, novel presentations, odd locations, or just plain quirkiness. So, if you want a nice survey of the state of Icelandic cuisine, check out some of these articles (from the list below, the map at right, or a list of all of my Icelandic reviews):
- Grái Kötturinn: a perfect little breakfast spot for jetlagged visitors
- Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: Iceland’s most popular restaurant is… a hot dog stand
- Tapas Húsið: Icelandic ingredients meet Spanish-style Tapas
- Landnámssetur Íslands: Traditional Icelandic Cuisine
- Krua Siam: Thai food in Iceland’s second-largest city
- Pylsukoffin: Hot dogs at the edge of a lava field
- Vogafjós Cowshed Cafe: It’s a cow shed. It’s a restaurant. It’s a B+B. It’s all of these!
- Gamli Baukur: A nice pub in Husavik
- Gamli Bærinn: Another nice pub, this time in Reykjahlíð
- Fjalladýrð: Waffles, at one of Iceland’s most remote locations
- Humarhofnin: Excellent lobsters in Hofn
- Systrakaffi: Icelandic Pizza
- Skógafoss Country Wagon: Hot dogs and waterfalls
- N1: Icelandic petrol station dining at its finest!
- Sjávargrillið : Seafood in Iceland’s capital
- Noodle Station: Excellent Asian soup
- Rub 23: Closing out the Iceland trip in style