The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Random Question Unrelated to Food: Iceland Advice?

I have at least two posts in the works. And by "in the works" I mean "tucked away in the folds of my brain meats, mostly unrealized outside of my skull, aside from a crappy sentence or two that I'll have to rewrite anyway."

But I have time to post this quick, random question: Do I have any readers who live in/have been to Iceland? I know Ulla, fellow NYC-based food blogger, has Icelandic roots. And I think that's as close as I've gotten to Iceland. Aside from going to Norway. Instead of bothering just her though, I'd rather bother THE WHOLE INTERNET.

Travel partner-in-crime Diana and I are considering visiting Iceland in March for a week. Alas, we have no contacts to bum off of like in Weegieland (that I know of...unless you are which case I will pay you handsomely with big, fat chocolate chip cookies), but I've heard that there are nice places we can stay at that won't gouge our wallets. Of course, we will have to eat tasty things as well.

This idea is very tentative seeing as we don't know how much this trip would cost. But if we're ever going to cross Iceland off our "To Visit" list, now seems to be a good time. If you have any advice that would push us towards Bjork Land before we consult faceless guidebooks and websites, please leave a comment or email me ( Thank you!

Bologna: Day 1
Spring Break in Paris: Day 1
This is Norway


Heidi / January 21, 2009 3:31 PM

Hey, at this economic time it's perfect to go to Iceland as it's normally really expensive! Haven't been there, but would definitely like to. You absolutely must swim in a hot spring and go to see some geyshirs (sorry, probably wrote that wrong).

I couldn't find any Icelandic food suggestions from my food magazines which aren't too dated, but at least in 2007 there were many interesting restaurants near a place called Apotek. I'm sure fish is a must in Iceland and I've heard/read it's food culture is good. They have this specialty snack which is dried fish. :D

But sorry that I can't help you with acomodations or such things. But if you ever want to come to Finland, just contact me! :D

Sarah R. / January 21, 2009 4:29 PM

Hey Robyn,
I was in Iceland once, maybe six-ish years ago. It was incredible. My dad has a few friends in the food and travel world there, and so I will shamelessly plug the restaurant that he opened up in Reykjavik a few years ago, called Icelandic Fish and Chips. I haven't been, but he's made me the food that they serve there and it's delicious. It's just fish and chips (except the fish is fried in spelt batter and the chips are oven roasted potatoes), and apparently it's not expensive.

You should go to The Blue Lagoon, which is a big spa built around these natural hot springs. It's very beautiful and relaxing. I remember also snowmobiling over a glacier. I'm not exactly sure how you can schedule that for yourself but it was really really fun once I stopped thinking that the volcano the glacier was on was going to erupt.

I had some of the best candy I've ever had in my life there, so eat plenty of Icelandic candy. Then again, I was maybe ten then, so all candy was just great. And eat plenty of skyr! It's super rich yet totally fat free yogurt that they now sell in America (I know they didn't just a few years ago but now I can find it at my grocery store across the, but it's probably infinitely better in Iceland.

Hope that was helpful! Good luck.

Yen / January 21, 2009 5:41 PM

You should go! I loved it when we went several years ago. It's not super cheap but we managed to stay in a lot of hostel type places in some of the wee small towns in the Western fjords.

One evening we got to a small town where the hostel was closed for the winter season so someone told us to drive up the road to this farm where the woman who owned the farm put us up in her own house.

Can't wait to hear about your travels if you end up going!

Kathryn / January 21, 2009 6:07 PM

Gah! No joke, a friend of mine and I have been hypothetically planning a trip to Iceland for months. Reykjavik is beautiful, but you must must must go look at (if not stay in) the ice hotel. I can't remember where it is off the top of my head, but it looks amazing; it'd be my first stop. =) Have fun!!

Christian / January 21, 2009 6:21 PM

Swimming park heated by geothermal activity. Water slides into heated, steaming water!

I'd also recommend trying to take a trip out to a glacier. Seeing more of the country than Reykjavik is a good idea.

The food highlight of the trip was a delicious Belgian waffle truck, but that's no longer a novelty for nyc dwellers...

In other news, the country is basically bankrupt, so you should be able to get decent deals.

Alex / January 21, 2009 6:26 PM

friend just came back yesterday. i'll get you her itinerary and input. she had a blast! and it's super cheap right now

mansae / January 21, 2009 6:40 PM

i used to date an icelandic women in college. i ate a lot of gravloks on baguettes with a smear of butter. was always super tasty.

kim / January 21, 2009 7:29 PM

I was just there last week! Winter isn't really the best time go. The sun comes out at 11am and everything opens at 10am and closes around 5. That said, local people are very nice and the nature part is definitely stunning. I would advise you to go during the summer for more activities, but that would also translates to more tourist traffic and higher costs.

Moriah / January 21, 2009 10:16 PM

GO TO ICELAND! You'll love it!

Book your tickets now, stay at Room with a View, rent a car and drive around the Golden Circle. Eat hot dogs, skyr, hakarl, licorice, hardfiskur, and lamb. Ride a horse. See the northern lights. Swim in a hot spring. Buy a sweater and a Seabear cd.

I was just there in November, and in the off-season everything is cheaper, though some places are inaccessible (like the interior of the island).

You can even use my guidebooks!


Marika / January 22, 2009 3:52 AM

I second other peoples' suggestions to go to the Blue Lagoon and also ride a horse, if you're open to that kind of thing. Icelandic ponies are the coolest little things! :-) When I was there several years ago I remember eating some really good fish and open-face sandwiches.

mia / January 22, 2009 8:26 AM

Oh, i can't wait to follow this adventure! For no reason known to me.. for the past few months I've decided I want go to iceland SOME day.. how strange when I'm in NY with 27 bajillion feet of snow and ice in my drieway. Go figure.

Alda / January 22, 2009 8:49 AM

I see someone has posted a link to my blog. Thanks!

A couple of misconceptions to clear up: the ice hotel is not in Iceland but in Sweden (and Finland) and the sunrise/sunset times apply to the darkest part of the winter, around the winter solstice, i.e. December 22. In March the days are 'normal' length. (Can't recall off the top of my head, but in my archives I have posts from March in which sunrise/sunset times are posted).

And, incidentally, I did NOT have a good experience with Icelandic Fish and Chips ( ;)

Hope you enjoy your visit!

Ian / January 22, 2009 1:31 PM

Robyn, Moriah and I went in November. It was awesome - totally worth the trip. Everything's cheaper in the off-season, and also in the economic collapse, I bet. We ended up spending mostly New York prices for everything.

Room with a View was a great place to stay, but as I recall we had some trouble booking with them. It's worth emailing a whole bunch of times and/or calling if they don't get back to you right away. If I went back though, I might try to stay somewhere out in the countryside - Reykjavik itself is great, but pretty small.

If you do stay in Reykjavik, though, you should rent a car for a few days and drive around, catch some fjords, lava fields, trolls, glaciers, etc. We did the Golden circle tour but rented a car to do it ourselves instead of taking one of the tourist buses. It was really nice.

12Tonar was a good quiet-show-worthy record store (i was into Borko and Evil Madness, as well as Seabear), and we had dinner one night at Við Tjörnina, which was fantastic. And right next to the parliament building and the big lake (tjörn) in the center of town. Oh, and the hot dog stand down by waterfront is really, really, really good. We got some of these recommendations (and more) from a friend, I'll forward you her email.


Ulla / January 22, 2009 9:55 PM

Oh Iceland is amazing in the winter and SO much cheaper! I love going in February it is soooo beautiful. The light is special, because it is so cloying in the winter, a three hour golden pink sunset. In terms of food you have to have fish, and the Icelandic hotdog with the works or everything. There is a new pan Asian place that is getting good reviews---it is all seafood. I can not remember the name, i will find it though. You guys also have to do the art scene, I think you and Diana would love it. Icelanders are all artists(or maybe that is just my family).
Their food is very elemental but because it is so clean all the elements are delicious. Like we boil everything but is still so fresh and great. My favorite Icelandic food is boiled fish with melted butter. SO GOOD!
oh and you have to go to a grocery store and get yogurt! it is all grass-fed, sorta organic and amazing! i love the pear and apple soooo yummy. skyr is of course famous and really delicious.

Ulla / January 23, 2009 12:49 PM

my last comment is a total stream of consciousness. i have a really nasty headcold! i might do a blog entry with Icelandic recommendations because so many people have been emailing with advice. it is almost easier to just write it once!

Library Chick / January 23, 2009 9:06 PM

I was in Iceland in March of 1997. I recall that fish & chips were plentiful, cheap and delicious. Paired with local Icelandic beer, it was an inexpensive meal. I think lamb was also cheap and available in abundance. If I remember correctly, anything that didn't have to be shipped in was plentiful and inexpensive...obviously. I enjoyed my trip there, although nothing in the food category really stands out in my memory. However, I was not an adventurous foodie then, so my perception may be different if I went now. Have fun!

Jason / January 26, 2009 11:14 AM

I went to Iceland a few years back (and then flew into the Faroe Islands... totally random, I know... you'll probably want to look up the Faroe Islands at some point). Iceland is beautiful, but very expensive.
One thing I never found in ANY guidebook is that you actually don't fly into Reykjavik (the capital). You fly into nearby Keflavik (where the American military base is). So, you'll want to plan on saving some money to rent a car or take a shuttle into the capital. However, for a real adventure, rent a car and drive AWAY from Reykjavik. To the East lies the real Iceland!
Everyone will tell you to go swim in a geothermal pool. Yes, that's true, it's amazing, but really you need to go hiking or go for a walk. The nature is too breathtaking to pass up!
During the day, Reykjavik is a total bore. Nothing happens. At night the city comes alive, and people stay out *all* night.
I wish I could recommend some food, but it's been too long. The dried fish is... interesting. Similar to fish flavoured Pringles, I'd say. If you're adventurous, try a slice of raw whale blubber. Seriously. It's strange, but not too bad! Rhubarb soup, if you can find it, is also tasty! And pannekuchen (I don't know if I spelled that right) makes for a great dessert... pancakes, jam, and icecream! YUM!

Liz / January 27, 2009 11:06 PM

I just went to Iceland (Reykjavik) over the December holidays and I can honestly, completely say that it is THE most naturally stunning and beautiful place I have ever seen. The landscape inspires and I just never got tired of mouthing all the Nordic words that I had no idea how to pronounce :)

Food can be quite the adventure if you have the money. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to eat everything I wanted to, but try to get yourself some puffin (the official national bird and dish), elk, and of course the usual Scandinavian stuff like skyr (it's just yogurt, but you should still try it), dense rye bread, and dozens of variations on pickled herring. There's this hotdog that all the guide books rave about, but it's nothing special.

I found prices to be about the equivalent of NY prices, so don't expect it to be super cheap.

Also, don't be afraid to do the tourist-y things, like visit Blue Lagoon (b/c it is a good experience, IMO) and go on an Iceland Excursions tour. I think it's a comfy and easy way to get around; you can always rent a car and try to navigate the maps yourself.

Can you tell I'm dying to go back again? Hope the trip pans out!

ply / January 31, 2009 3:44 PM

Thanks for the post request, I am voracious for Iceland info too! All the comments are great.

My friend and I are going mid-February for a week and we're still planning what to do. For now, we're set on Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, and trying to see the Northern Lights. We're also debating some ice hiking, ice climbing, or snowmobiling but not sure how difficult it may actually be.

And I'm soooo excited to try Icelandic food. We made reservations at Sjavarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar) and Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market). I'm also psyched to check out the infamous Icelandic hot dogs as well as the grocery stores for the produce, yogurt, skyr, snacks, etc.

I think the daylight hours are about 9 to 6 in February but will definitely be longer in March if you do decide to go. If you do go, try to lock in some prices now. We booked our flight and hotel in October and have seen them steadily rise the past few months.

Something random from the archives