When Alex and Amy came back from their Iceland trip last year gushing about what an amazing country it was, we knew we had to go. It has been on our ‘must see before heading home’ list for quite some time.
After booking our trip several months back, April 2nd finally rolled around and it was our turn to head North. We were expecting something incredible, something amazing, after hearing the glowing reviews from Alex and Amy.
After seven days travelling around Iceland, I can say that it totally exceeded our expectations. I have never been as consistently in awe as I was in that magnificent country. Every corner we turned there was something magical. The landscape is so dreamlike. I imagined my favourite fairy tales as a child and tried to recall the backdrop that I gave to those fairy tales in my mind’s eye. I realised that those imaginary sceneries that I dreamt up as a child do actually exist. It’s called Iceland.
I know you’re probably reading this and thinking, “Wow, she’s bonkers. She’s really exaggerating this time”. But in all honesty, nothing can prepare you for how surreal a trip to Iceland is.
It’s not just the beyond stunning panoramas that take your breath away that have made us feel this way. The people of Iceland are some of the kindest, most down to Earth people we have ever met. They are the perfect representation of how mankind should live; humbly, truthfully, kindly, happily.
And then to top it all off, there’s the food. Wow! No matter where we ate, from hotel restaurants, road side stalls and even petrol stations, the food was sublime. Because of its isolated location, almost all the produce comes from Iceland. This meant that everything we ate was ridiculously fresh and flavoursome. Each dish was put together simply, but with much thought. I struggle to think of what my favourite dish was, as they were all as good as each other.
The only dilemma that one is faced with in Iceland is that everything is crazy expensive!! And I mean CRAZY! As we were on a budget, this meant we limited eating out to once a day (which is still pretty great!) It was Ryvitas and cheese (and the odd potato salad) every lunch time. This may sound a little boring, but it tasted so much better overlooking the ice bergs at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, or beneath the waterfalls at Skogarfoss!
As we only had seven days in Iceland, and with countless things to see and do, we were keen to make it count. On the advice of Alex and Amy, we did a self drive tour, starting from Reykjavik.
Rather than ramble on in detail about our adventures, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. As usual, the photos never do it justice but it will give you an idea of just how incredible the place is.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur- Tryggvagotu 1, Reykjavik 101, Iceland
The name of this roadside stall in Reykjavik translates to "The best hotdogs in town" and indeed, they were. As I was doing my food research for Iceland, this little hotdog stand kept popping up. Icelanders absolutely love their hotdogs and this stand churns out some very tasty ones! The special thing about these hot dogs is that they are actually made with lamb. The casings are all natural and give a lovely 'snap' when you bite into it. Topped with crunchy fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, sweet mustard and remoulade and costing a mere 400 kronas (about £2) it's one of the best value (and tastiest) meals you can eat in Iceland.
Noodle Station- Skolavordustigur 21a, Reykjavik, Iceland
The day we arrived in Reykjavik was one of the coldest days we had in Iceland. After exploring the town in the blistery wind for a few hours, we were keen to get warm. When we saw Noodle Station, a cosy cafe with a small but delicious soup menu, we headed straight in. I had read rave reviews about the place and it certainly lived up to its reputation.
They have a simple menu, offering three kind of noodle soups; chicken, beef or vegetable. You choose what you want and then it's topped with toasted nuts, chilli flakes, spring onions, bean sprouts and a spicy chilli oil (you can choose how hot you want it). The chicken was mighty tasty but the beef soup was soup-er! It was melt in your mouth tender with delicious flavour. The broth was so flavoursome and extremely enjoyable. We had quite a bit of chilli on our soup and were shedding our scarves, hats and gloves in no time!
Hotel Framnes- Nesvegur 8, 350 Grundarfjörður, Iceland
We were wary of dining in a hotel restaurant, but as nothing else in the town was open when we arrived in the evening, it was our only option. Oh my, were we glad that the sleepy little seaside town had shut down for the day. Although the meal was on the pricier side (most things in Iceland are) it was an absolutely flawless dinner. We both opted for seafood as we were right on the water and everything is local. I ordered the cod, Kristian went with salmon. When the food came out it looked impeccable but we thought that maybe there were too many elements on the plate. A few dollops of different aioli, hazelnuts, several different salad leaves and more, but every single ingredient on the plate worked perfectly, not at all overpowering the fish and providing beautiful textures and flavours that worked in harmony. This was one of our favourite meals in Iceland.
Restaurant Lindin Bistro Café- Lindarbraut 2, Laugarvatn 840, Iceland
We came here on the recommendation of Alex and Amy. And boy, are we glad we did. We both opted for the reindeer burger. The chef has garnered much attention in Iceland and beyond as he only serves wild seafood, game and lamb. He goes hunting regularly and brings back his catch for the restaurant. The flavour of the meat was delicious. You could tell that it was wild game but it wasn't at all 'gamey'. Similar tasting to venison but not quite as strong.
The highlight of this meal however, was the chocolate mousse that we had for dessert. Several different, very interesting, layers that went together perfectly. The base was the creamiest, smoothest chocolate mousse I have ever had. The middle layer was raspberry coulis with small pieces of diced watermelon (it sounds unusual, but it really worked). It was topped with a superb warm, white chocolate foam. These three layers eaten together, spoon by spoon, really did make the perfect dessert! Absolutely amazing!
Halldorskaffi- Vikurbraut 28, Vík í Mýrdal, Vik 870, Iceland
This quaint little café has such a cosy setup you will feel right at home. We ate here twice during our stay in beautiful Vik. Both times were equally delicious. I opted for the locally caught artic char, grilled to perfection with a lovely crispy skin. It came with a simple side salad. The fish was extremely fresh and flavoursome. Our second time at Halldorskaffi was afternoon tea and we knew what we would get before we even arrived.
They have a lovely array of homemade cakes and desserts on display. Naturally, we couldn’t resist the Skyr cheesecake.
Skyr is the most delicious Icelandic dairy product that is like a really fluffy, creamy yogurt with a mousse like consistency. The process for making it is actually how you would make cheese, but is not at all heavy as it is made with skim milk. We were addicted during our week long stay in Iceland, fitting in as much Skyr as possible!
The Skyr cheesecake at Halldorskaffi was sublime. Not at all heavy like most baked cheesecakes that use cream cheese, but very light and creamy. If you ever find yourself in Vik, be sure to make a pit stop at Halldorskaffi, even if it’s just for the cheesecake!!
Vikurskali- Route 1, Vik, Iceland
This small cafe, that actually adjoins a petrol station, is proof that you really can't go wrong with food in Iceland. We shared a delicious, hearty bowl of Iceland lamb soup and grilled lamb fillets served with grilled vegetables. We couldn't believe how fresh and flavoursome our meal was, considering it came from a petrol station! Of course, the setting is not quite as 'romantic' as some other places around, but it is good food at an affordable (for Iceland!) price.
Kjot & Kunst- Breioumork 21, Hveragerdi, Iceland
Iceland is a country full of natural resources and the people make every effort to harness these natural energies in their day to day life. At Kjot & Kunst, the food is cooked using geothermal energy. Cakes, soups, breads and meats are all cooked with hot steam piped straight from the ground into the kitchen!
This geothermal energy is so powerful it can cook very large cakes within fifteen minutes in their steam oven! They offer a delicious soup buffet that Kristian and I both went for. Several big pots of hot, steaming soup are on offer and you can help yourself. It also came with the most DELICIOUS Icelandic rye bread, banana bread and herb breads that the chef makes daily, as well as a very tasty lamb pate. The lamb soup was delicious, as were the mushroom and vegetable soups. It really is difficult for me to pick a favourite!
The rye and banana breads were delectable and I had to demonstrate much self control from eating the whole loaf!!
Naturally, we had to try their famous steamed chocolate cake. Two layers of fluffy, chocolatey goodness filled and covered with a choc-banana ganache. The steam makes the cake so ridiculously moist and addictive we almost didn't stop at one piece!
Only 45 minutes from Reykjavik, 'Kjot & Kunst' is definitely worth a visit!
I'll leave you with this beautiful Icelandic song by Sigur Ros, 'Hoppipolla', the title almost onomatopoeic in its meaning: 'Jumping Into Puddles'. This is exactly what we did the whole trip (lucky we invested in those water proof hiking boots!)