On day two, we took an organized tour to see the Golden Circle which is a 300km loop of popular destinations (geysers, waterfalls, hot springs, etc) starting and ending in Reykjavik. To read more, check out this blog, Expert Vagabond (includes beautiful photos and up close shots of the hairy horses).
Here is a photo album of Golden Circle highlights:
It was a lovely day! Some pros and cons to the organized tour, I’ll start with the cons, so we can end on a positive note.
- You can’t go at your own pace (some places we would have enjoyed to spend more or less time)
- No food/drinks on the bus (would have been nice to have a hot tea on the road), drinks and food at the visitor centre’s were not a bargain by any stretch of the imagination. If you take the tour, I recommend you bring your own food and eat at the visitor centre
- I can’t vouch for all Golden Circle tour guides, but ours was a sweet old man who loved to talk about animals (even though we only saw about 2 animals the whole time), and he didn’t teach enough history (in my opinion)
- You had to pay to use the toilet at one of the stops (but don’t worry, they take credit card)!
- It was a long day and a lot of people took naps between stops which you can’t do if you’re driving
- You don’t have to plan the details of the roadtrip
On day three, we had a bit of downtime in Reykjavik. John and I went to the museum to get a better idea of Iceland’s history and hear more about how the Viking’s settled Iceland. In the afternoon, we all packed up and went to the Blue Lagoon, once of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations! The water was a beautiful ice blue color (even though it was hot, about 39°C). At your feet, you can feel bits of volcanic rock and patches of a white-looking clay (maybe this is sulfur or other minerals?). We left so relaxed.
Day four was definitely the highlight! We got back into nature, at our own pace, and road tripped down the south coast toward Vík. Here is an album of our highlight day!
I promised some friends I would review the food… so here it is!
Style: as you would expect, there is a lot of fish, lamb and dairy in Icelandic cuisine (and even Puffin!)- it’s a true reflection of the resources available to them. Most produce is imported in as not much grows through volcanic fields! The best cuisine we experienced were at the restaurants with with edgy and modern tasting menus. There is a certain artisan culture in Reykjavik that is also very apparent in the restaurant scene.
Price (this is a big deal if you’re planning a trip to Iceland): The food in Iceland is very expensive. If you find a pre-made sandwich somewhere in a cafe, it could be $20. So, either plan on paying a lot for food, or plan a trip to the grocery market (we bought groceries and minimized eating out). The groceries can also be very expensive, but you may be able to get a pre-made sandwich for just under $10, instead of $20. As you know now, Reykjavik has quite a few amazing restaurants – but oddly enough, eating a fancy dinner out is not much more expensive than what you’re used to (if you’re from the states). So, definitely plan a few nights out!
On our last night we had incredible food at Sjávargrillið (thank you Jon Liu for the recommendation- it was the best)!! I highly recommend this. John had an incredible fish dish, and Bobby and I had a seafood pasta which had scallops, king prawns and langoustine. If you’ve never had langoustine, basically it’s looks and tastes like lobster, but imagine even more flavorful and tender… so yeah, it was unreal! The first night we were in Iceland we ate at Reykjavík’s newest Gastropub, Sæta svínið (top right photo). The food was creatively prepared… we were blown away! I was geeking out at the beautiful interior design of both restaurants. I highly recommend both!
We had an amazing time in Iceland! Next up… the next morning we island hopped over to the Faroe Islands! Stay tuned.