I’ve now travelled to Iceland 3 times, the first two times have been on press trips – the first being an action packed weekend of excursions and the next a gourmet food tour. So, why have I decided to go back this time? Purely for the love of the country and to re-do some of the things I haven’t been able to shut up about. If you’re planning on heading to the land of fire and ice, follow this must do list, trust me!
I’ve also included a list of healthy places to eat and train if you’re wanting to keep it clean while away!
Fly with Wow Air
Stay at the ION City Hotel but I also recommend checking out ION Adventure for a night or two if it’s not booked out!
What I packed for winter…
So many layers, I know we’re Irish and we’re well adjusted to the cold but this is another level of freezing. If you’re planning on taking lots of snaps get some thermal gloves with E tips, these are key for any Instagram boyfriends :)
The tour guides seem to have a general joke with tourists in that it’s not cold your just not prepared so pack the Puffa coats and thermal long sleeve tops, thick socks, and tights for under your pants! Plus, bring boots with a good grip for the icy walk ways around the waterfalls.
I shoot most of my pictures on my IPhone and some on my Canon 5DMark III. There are handy waterproof cases you can pick up for your mobile online and some phone shops if you want those lagoon snaps.
Where to visit…
Firstly, definitely do some sort of Golden Circle tour where you visit Pingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall and the Geysers (the cafe here is actually a great spot to have a hot chocolate or lunch) – there’s loads of tour available. These are great stops to learn about the landscape and get some amazing views however, below is my must do experiences and perfect stop offs during your stay and totally do-able in a 3-day weekend window!
For tour guides, I used these guys for a full Golden Circle tour with snowmobiling in one day!
Fridheimar Tomato Farm. I came here before and I have probably told everyone about this place if I’m speaking to you long enough. It is one of the most unique food experiences you’ll have. The restaurant is a greenhouse where they grow tomatoes (obviously. They serve up a buffet of the best tomato soup you’ll taste along with olive bread and many other variations but don’t get too full on the starter! You have to order the tomato tortilla and tomato cheesecake – trust me! I would return to this place a million times over and never get tired of the experience. Make sure you ask a waiter or staff to fill you in on the running of the greenhouse, it’s really cool.
If you are driving, it’s about 75 min drive from Reykivek.
Ok I am like the milkman from father ted driving one however, if you want complete freedom and an ultimate movie moment, snowmobiling on the glacier is it! You get all the gear you need when you arrive on site (be prepared to look like the Michelin man) but it’s worth it because you won’t be cold. You go off road to get to the glacier so worth getting a tour guide to drive!
We booked through mountaineers.is you can get a group bus or a private monster jeep!
It’s one of those just do it things and don’t over think it! I feel the cold really easily but I’m so glad I did it and the tour guides will make you feel like a big baby if you complain J
You snorkel in Pingvieller National Park between the tectonic plates and I can promise you, you get so distracted by what underneath the water you forget you should be cold. It’s worth staying at the front with the guide as he feeds the group information and also great for some Instagram snaps, he gets loads of underwater shots! They have all the gear there for you and they also fill you up with hot chocolate and biscuits to help you feel normal after your swim.
What a really good idea is to plan a trip to the thermal pool after the dive
We went with dive.is; from IS17,990/€123pp
So, the obvious is the Blue Lagoon, however I will strongly suggest the Secret Lagoon for a less touristy version. The water may not be ice blue but it’s just a less crowded spot. But if your heart is set on a mud mask selfie be sure to book your tickets in advance online!
Lastly, an easy one but a must is to climb to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church! Its bang in the middle of the city centre and you have no excuse not the trek up to see the city sites. I would aim to go around sunrise (11.30 in winter to get the best pictures).
Where to eat…
Tomato Farm http://fridheimar.is/en/restaurant
Try the Skyr here http://efstidalur.is
- Salva Valka for their hot chocolate and fish of the day served with sweet potato.
- Glò, perfect for a veggie option and you must try their healthy desserts!
- Messin, where they serve great for fish and has vegan options
- Kol, modern Icelandic cuisine and good atmosphere
- Sushi social, the sushi is epic and order the avocado fries!
I trained at the hotel gym and World Class Gyms which are all over the city.
Check out my Iceland article for the independent on adventures here