A Long Weekend In Reykjavik

It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, and the weather cooperated for all but one day. We went with very little agenda, other than to explore Reykjavik and a little bit of the island {I was really pulling for some glacier sightings}. We did not come prepared to backpack although, it’s the perfect place to do that, but we did want to explore the countryside and get a hike in. 

We stopped at the Blue Lagoon on our way to Reykjavik. It’s a short drive from the airport so most people stop either on their way from or to the airport.  The Blue Lagoon has been on my list for a few years, and despite being a huge tourist destination, it wasn’t as insane as I thought it would be.  The lagoon itself is massive so you’re not rubbing elbows with random people and the facilities are beautiful and clean.  

The Blue Lagoon

We soaked for an hour, indulging in the complementary mud mask and smoothies before getting dinner at one of their restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that both (add names) have a very seasonal and local focus. 

We spent a lot of time roaming around downtown Reykjavik. It’s a large but quant city with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants that are worth popping into. {Naturally I scoped out a handful of restaurants and coffee shops which I’ve included at the end of the post.}  

Downtown Reykjavik
Hotel Borg

My personal favorites were Te og Kaffi, Reykjavik Roasters, Coocoo’s Nest {the chef is from California – small world} and Slippuran or Dill for a nice dinner out.  

We attempted to venture outside of the Reykjavik one day, but weren’t wildly successful. We drove from Reykjavik to Vik {along the Golden Circle} with every intention of stopping and hiking along the way, but didn’t give ourselves enough time to do so. Instead we half hazardly gazed at waterfalls as we drove by them and ate our picnic lunch on a black sand beach with hundreds of other tourists. 

Black Sand beach

I’m sure the Golden Circle has a lot to offer, but from my experience, it was a lot of tour buses and people.  It was still nice, just not what I had imagined.  I would have much preferred to scope out a few sites closer to where we were staying and had the time to explore and experience Iceland in nature instead of a car.  Lesson learned: plan ahead or give yourself more time than you think you need {tales of a person who is chronically late}. 

Having spent our second day in the car, I was eager to get at least one hike in before flying home. We woke up early and drove 25 minutes north of Reykjavik to hike part of Mt. Esja.  Outside of the fact that I was sucking wind and really need to hike more in Oregon, it was absolutely beautiful, and totally deserted. We saw a handful of people on the trail. Well worth the 6am wake up call {I mean the sun had already been up for three hours so why shouldn’t I} to squeeze it in before our flight home to Portland.

It was a short trip, but all we needed to explore a new city and country.  I would absolutely go back, but not with out a bit more planning and better gear to explore the great outdoors. 



A few fun facts about Iceland that I learned from my trip

  • There are Joe and The Juice’s everywhere. There are at least 3 or 4 or in the airport and another 3 in downtown Reykjavik.
  • Decaf coffee is practically non-existent outside of two places {Te og Kaffi and
  • Oatly and oat milk is practically everywhere, which in hindsight makes sense because it originated in Scandinavia.
  • If you want to see the Northern Lights then don’t go in the summer. {I knew this going into the trip, but it’s worth noting.}
  • Always get the homemade sourdough – it doesn’t disappoint. 
  • Bring an eye mask – it never gets dark {at least it felt that way} and there’s roughly 20 hours of daylight. 
  • Always check your rental car windshield…it’s a long story. 
  • Moderate difficulty on a hike in Iceland is the equivalent to a difficult hike in the US. Those inclines are no joke. 

Top Food Recommendations

  • Coocoo’s Nest
  • Dill Restaurant
  • Te og Kaffe
  • Slippuran
  • Kaffihus Vesturbaejar
  • Glo
  • Burro
Kaffihus Vesturbaejar
August 26, 2019