Iceland has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, but somehow I always end up on a tropical destination far far away from Denmark - so, this Fall after seeing endless of beautiful pictures on Instagram and my all time favorite timekiller GOT (Game of Thrones), I decided to give Iceland a try. Even though I always wanted to travel to Iceland during summertime because of the weather, it still has it perks to go there off-season and if you're lucky, you can experience Aurora Borealis (northern lights)! But traveling to Iceland during winter season is also much cheaper, less touristy and there is something magical about Iceland during wintertime - maybe because we're in the Arctic circle?
The best way to visit Iceland is on a self-drive road trip, but if you're time is limited or if you don't have a drivers license, then I can recommend you to book some really nice trips from: https://www.likealocalguide.com/reykjavik - where you can go on small bus trips to the main attractions on the Iceland.
Where to stay
For such a small city, the amount of things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland is truly incredible. Whether you’re taking a road trip to catch the Northern Lights, enjoying some natural healing in one of Iceland’s many hot springs, or simply checking out some architecture and food spots in the city, the list of things to do in the world’s northernmost sovereign capital is truly endless. Likewise, the amount of Reykjavik hotels is surprisingly vast as well, from upscale minimalist European towers to posh lodges off the beaten path.
I always use either booking.com or Airbnb when I do some research for accommodation, and I quickly found out that there is practical only one area to stay at in the quirky capital of the North: the centrum of Reykjavik. Make sure to stay close to Laugavegur, which is the main walking street of Reykjavik and you're practical close to everything. Reykjavik is a little city with everything within the walking distance and I guess you'll see it all within 24 hours.
Where to eat?
I was actually quite surprised to see how vegan-friendly Reykjavik is. I found vegan options almost everywhere and it was easy to find the vegan sections in the different supermarkets around the city. There is one main street in Reykjavik and from there you'll find most of the food spots that offers vegan friendly meals. Unfortunately I was only in Reykjavik for couple of days, so I didn't try much, but here is my 5 top picks:
This little quirky cafe which is also a record-shop, is actually the only all-vegan option in town. Its a popular hang-out spot for the local cool cats and every weekend their house-dj spins records while you can enjoy an Icelandic beer or a black bean burger! Their menu offers are limited because they change the menu after seasons and to reduce food-waste (win-win)! I ordered myself a black bean burger for lunch which was a bit dry, but tasty anyways and a cookie with coffee the next day, The cookie was really sweet and went really good with my almond milk latte, YUM!
This little noodle joint was located next to my hostel and the menu offer is simple: a big bowl of noodle soup! It comes in three variations and one of them is a veggie one made on a vegetable broth. It won't come with fish sauce, but make sure anyway to mention without fish sauce at the counter as there is always a line and everything goes fast. Can I recommend it? YES! The portions are big and prices are small. It almost feels like you're in Hong Kong and not in little Reykjavik.
Location: Laugavegur 103, 101 Reykjavík
Gló means to glow in Icelandic and this vegan-friendly food spot was definitely my favorite one on the list. Their menu consist mostly from different vegan bowls with all kinds of toppings and dressings, different burritos and mix your own salads. Everything is seasonal, fresh and tasty. Beside food they also have a range of juices, kombuchas, beers and vegan cakes that you can enjoy with your meal.
Location: Laugavegur 20b, 101 Reykjavík
MAT BAR is a restaurant, bar and deli in one. The cuisine is a seasonal combination of Nordic and Italian gourmet, making it a special experience from the first bite. They have a whole vegan section with starters and main course marked with a (V). Start or end your dinner with one of their delicious cocktails. You can always enter their website to see what is on the menu the following day and I would recommend you to make a table reservation in the weekends or during peak season (june/july/august). I had myself a wild mushroom tart with spinach and wild Icelandic herbs.
I loved their modern kitsch interior with the green walls, bold monochrome floor tiles, mirrors with rounded edges and circular brass ceiling lights that clearly reflected the history of the 1960's building. The service is spot on and they prepare the vegan food separate from the meats.
Location: Hverfisgata 26, 101 Reykjavík // www.matbar.is
Yoga Food is a new restaurant in Reykjavik with the focus on creating healthy nutritional food that stimoulates and help to balance your chakras (A chakra is a center of energy. Originating from Sanskrit, it literally means “wheel” by association with its function as a vortex of spinning energy interacting with various physiological and neurological systems in the body) - The menu is simple and mostly raw and they do seven fresh juices, each representing the colors of the Chakras.
Location: Grensásvegur 10, 108 Reykjavík // www.yogafood.is
Iceland is a truly magical country and this is definitely not the last time im going there. As I mentioned before the easiest way to travel around and see the beautiful nature on the island is to rent a car, but if you do not have the option to do that, then I would recommend to preorder a guided tour. You'll get the insight in the Icelandic culture, history, mentality and some fun facts. Tours I can recommend:
- Golden Circle (8 hours): The three primary stops on the route are the Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geyser and Strokkur. Other stops include the Kerið volcanic crater.
- Blue Lagoon (4-6 hours): this geothermal spa is a man-made lagoon and is probably Iceland's most visited tourist attraction. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F) and is rich in minerals like silica and sulfur. You have to prepay the tickets online before enter the spa area: www.bluelagoon.com
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (12 hours or more): This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and the trip itself to this point were AMAZING! You will pass Skógafoss waterfall, Eyjafjallajökull volcano (the one that erupted in 2010), Vík black sand beach and lava fields caused by one of the biggest eruptions in the worlds history that covered 40% of Iceland with lava and made Europe go sunless for almost 4 years ( !! ) - but the icing on the cake was definitely the Glacier Lagoon and Diamond beach. Diamond beach get its name because of the huge ice lumps that are washed up on the shore. The sand is totally black and it is an amazing sight to see the deep blue ice lumps as a contrast to the black sand. This can only be experienced during winter season.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Right: Thingvillir National Park // Left: Harpa Concert Hall
Road trip through Lava fields
Right: Kerið crater // Left: Blue Lagoon
I hope you enjoyed my vegan foodie guide to Reykjavik and if you have any questions, please feel free to write me in the comments and I'll get back to you as soon as possible,
Love from Katia