Mosha's Ultimate Guild To Iceland
Since my stint living in Iceland, my wedding in Reykjavik, and the multiple trips I am lucky to get to make back every year, I’m frequently asked by everyone from friends to complete strangers to share my tip sheet.
The below are a series of indispensable notes that have lived on my phone for a few years now. If I really like you, I may have shared it with you already, though it’s an ever-evolving document.
Indeed, each time I return to Iceland, the list gets amended, with former favorites dropping off and new additions making the cut.
As you might know, I am very discerning with anything I recommend and take my role as a part-Icelandic ambassador very seriously. Iceland is the place I feel the most happy, healthy, and creatively charged. No promises it will have the same effect on you (especially if you do not dress the part in warm coats, hint hint), but here is what I recommend to make the best of this remarkable place.
Off the airplane
Joe & The Juice for green juice and shot of ginger
Go straight to the Blue Lagoon – book as much in advance as possible. Get massages and have lunch there. It’s an amazing place, you will love. It's expensive and touristy but totally worth it. The waters are incredible. You want to go on way from or to airport and not in the middle of your trip.
Most of the best places are right off the main drag, Laugavegur (pronounced Lay-grr-vay-grr). Best shopping around there too. Just explore.
Reykjavik Roasters (get the oat milk latte)
Te & Kaffi (their version of Starbucks)
Kaffihús Vesturbaejar (my favorite)
Braud & Co for the most amazing Danishes (try the blueberry liquorice if you dare)
Snaps (also great for dinner)
Glo (vegetarian amazingness)
Joe & The Juice
Reykjavik Roasters at Asmundarsalar
Hlemmnur food hall (Skál inside is amazing, as is the ice cream shop)
Matur Og Drykkur is my favorite of all. Make reservations.
Kex Hostel - Cool place to hang out, eat, drink, people watch. Kind of their Ace Hotel or Soho House equivalent.
Dill restaurant – book a dinner in advance. Iceland’s best chef. Not fancy but incredibly innovative tasting menu. Only Michelin star in the country.
Hotel 101 – great spot for drinks, where I stay (wedding was next door).
Kaffibarinn (classic and always good),
Petersen’s (amazing rooftop in my wedding venue, really good vibes, within Gamla Bio)
Other fun things to do:
Lagurdalsalag World Class Swimming Pool (where all the locals go, Joe & The Juice next door)
http://reykjavik.is/stadir/laugardalslaug or any of the other pools in Iceland, they are all amazing. The one in the west of the city (kaffihus vesturbaer across the road) and the newly renovated one in the center of town are great too.
Harpa – most beautiful building in the city, book tickets to the show How To Be Icelandic In 60 Minutes https://tix.is/en/harpa/buyingflow/tickets/281/ (not sure if it works for your dates, but still visit the Harpa regardless, the Ólafur Eliasson facade is breathtaking)
Speaking of, go to the Ólafur Eliasson studio, incredible Icelandic/Danish instillation artist.
Perlan – don’t bother, super overrated
Whales of Iceland museum is incredible. In a cool newer part of the city worth exploring and admission includes tea.
Geysir home store
Yeoman boutique (Scandi designers)
Ravens (incredible Greenlandic handicrafts)
Icelandic Handknitting Association (the best store for Icelandic wool products, their big blankets are just as good as Hermes at a pretty fair price too)
Sputnik (fun vintage)
Madison Ilmhús (frangrance shop, be sure to try Andrea Maack Icelandic scents)
Noor11 (cool furniture)
Hrim for Scandi home goods
Epal for home goods
Scintilla for home goods
Fisher for fragrances
To see the Northern Lights and get out of Reykjavik:
I recommend 1-3 days
Book a self-drive excursion through the circle line via Iceland Travel
Driving guide that covers the sites you can see along the way: http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2014/12/drive-it-yourself-the-golden-circle/
Hotels I recommend outside of Reykjavik near Selfoss:
Ragna and Stacta. Ragna has incredible restaurant for dinner.
Site seeing (gulfoss, geysir, Thingvellir national park/old parliament, town of Vik)
Uniqlo HeatTech turtlenecks, leggings etc
Jeans and cargos
Warm waterproof boots and sneakers with traction. It gets very slippery. (mainly in winter). But please find chic options and no loud touristy color combos that mar the scenery!
Anorak, serious winter coat, fleece.
People dress up for nights out in Reykjavik FYI. You don’t have to wear heels, but definitely don’t wear trekking gear. Dress nicely, not like you are about to traverse a glacier. Also: they love a bit of glitter.
Upon leaving, get to airport early as there is amazing food shopping past security. I recommend stocking up on the following, which they will pack in a cooler bag for you:
Smoked salmon, butter, liquorice (lakriss is my favorite, you must try all the chocolate covered licorices there even if you are one of those strange people who does not like black licorice), capers, skyrr, codfish, rye/brown bread, cheese.
At DutyFree they also have an Icelandic skincare brands called Sóley Organics and BioEffect which is lovely and herbaceous.