Cartogramme’s Must Lists are mercilessly vetted micro guides to places we’ve been. It’s what we send our friends when they ask, “Hey, got any recommendations for [fill-in-the-blank]?” Heck yeah, we do. Our cheat sheets are never influenced by advertisers or freebies; everything we include is something we believe is genuinely awesome and worth your time.
A tempestuous heather gray and navy sky, swirling ominously above a sea of pink and red and orange roofs. Beyond the city, the ring road is enveloped by fields of lava, lush valleys, and rushing waterfalls. Depending on the time of year, there may be bumper-to-bumper traffic and a snarl of selfie-snapping tourists. Or there could be nothing for miles but snow-capped mountains and a blanket of fog. You already know Iceland. You’ve seen it in magazines, on Instagram, and in Justin Bieber videos. Yet nothing prepares you for experiencing it in the flesh. Intense doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Wind: 17mph E
UV index: 1
WHEN TO GO
Most travelers visit between June and August for longer days (up to 21 hours of sunlight) and pleasant sweater weather (mid-40s to mid-50s). Summer also means higher room prices and herds of tourists cramping your style, especially at the must-see sights lining the Golden Circle. Visiting in the spring (March and April) and fall (September and October) brings slightly lower hotel rates. The temps aren’t bad if you dress properly: lows in the 20s, highs in the 40s. Winter is a bear with its rain and snow and long stretches of darkness, but the upside is you’ll get a fat discount on your hotel.
Extra precautions should be taken when exploring the country by car in winter and during the shoulder seasons. For real-time updates on road conditions, check Vegagerdin, operated by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, and download the IRCA’s free trip-planning app.
And here’s a tip for scooting around: If you don’t mind driving a slightly older but still reliable rental vehicle, consider a loaner from the locally owned Sad Cars fleet. The family-run business offers all the usual options (economy, intermediate, 4WD, and camper vans) at a lower cost than Hertz, Avis, etc. They have automatics for folks who can’t drive a stick and you can pick up/drop off the car at the Keflavik airport or another point of your choosing.
Festivals are a big deal in Iceland. Notable music happenings include Dark Music Days in January, Sónar Reykjavík in February, Iceland Airwaves in February and November, and Secret Solstice in June. For experimental theater, there’s the Reykjavík Fringe Festival in September. For the style-conscious, Reykjavík Fashion Festival in March. The Stockfish Film Festival shows in February and the Reykjavík International Film Festival takes place in September/October. The multimedia Reykajavík Art Festival happens every other year, with the next installment scheduled for June 2018. An extensive list of annual events is posted here.
Note: If the Northern Lights are a priority, remember that they’re only visible between September and April—and even then, never guaranteed. The intensity of the display depends on your weather, cloud cover, solar activity, the fullness of the moon, and other factors. More on that later.
THINGS TO DO FOR FUN
❇︎ The joke among locals is that 90 percent of the people who go to the Blue Lagoon are tourists—and the other 10 percent are Icelanders with family or friends in town. Whatever. You should go at least once. If you get a rainy day, do it then. The lagoon will be at a fraction of its usual capacity and the crap weather makes for more atmospheric photos. Once you’ve checked that box, scope out one of Reykjavík’s many other geothermal swimming pools. They’re cheaper and less crowded than the Blue Lagoon, and some have bonus features like groovy light installations, hot tubs, waterslides, and steam baths. The 50-meter Laugardalslaug is the city’s largest, but you can find a full, detailed list of public pools here.
❇︎ At 244 feet, Hallgrímskirkja is the tallest church in Iceland. The Evangelical-Lutheran tower took 41 years to build and was widely criticized for its unusual melding of architectural styles. The cathedral is imposing but photogenic, especially with explorer Leif Eriksson peacocking out front. For 900 Icelandic kroná ($8.35 USD), it’s worth taking the lift to the observatory for panoramic views of the city (those colored roofs 😍). Bring a jacket. Even in summertime, it gets crazy windy up there.
❇︎ With its bright white exterior, dramatic arches, and saturated stained glass, Kópavogskirkja is another good-looking Icelandic church. Built in the late ’50s/early ’60s, it’s the oldest in Kópavogur, a municipality about 10 minutes southeast of Reykjavík. Sweet views, too.
❇︎ For travelers keen on wandering lonely, old cemeteries, the 7.4 -acre Hólavallagarður graveyard in Suðurgata, west of downtown, fits the bill nicely. It dates to 1838 but some of the headstones look 500 years old. Gnarled trees and blankets of creeping moss add to the mystique.
❇︎ Feed the eiders, geese, mallards, and seagulls that congregate at Lake Tjörnin. The placid pond sits smack in city center, ringed by churches, museums, and Reykjavík City Hall. Tossing crumbs to the birds is such a popular activity, locals call Tjörnin the “biggest bread soup in the world.” City officials discourage feeding the wildlife, but nobody listens.
❇︎ The Reykjavik Art Museum has three separate exhibition spaces: Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir, and the Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum. Hafnarhús is small but has a full floor devoted to poppy postmodern artist Erró. General admission is 1,600 kroná (about $15 USD) and your ticket is good for 24 hours. Parking is free at Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn and metered at Hafnarhús.
❇︎ The nearly 40-year-old Living Art Museum stages some cool, abstract, experimental performances, exhibitions, screenings, and lectures. Check their calendar to see what’s on during your visit.
❇︎ Catch an independent movie, documentary, repertory film, or experimental short at art-house cinema Bíó Paradís, the first theater of its kind in Iceland.
❇︎ Flex your coinage at Freddi, a retro arcade bar with pinball machines, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, and rental consoles for NES, Nintendo64, Nintendo Gamecube, and Playstation4. It’s open daily from noon until midnight.
❇︎ Dicks in jars. That’s what you’re in for at the Iceland Phallological Museum. And yes, that includes human specimens.
❇︎ Searching for the elusive Northern Lights? (1) Good luck, and (2) Your best bet is getting to a very dark spot outside the city. The less light pollution the better, especially if the Aurora isn’t in much of a dancing mood. If you can’t go far, join the rest of the stargazing populace at the Grótta lighthouse on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula or head to Arnarhòll, the statue park near the Harpa concert hall that was designed in collaboration with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Climb to the top of the hill and look up. Still nada? Eh, just admire Harpa then. Its shimmering light installations and honeycomb glass are spectacular in their own right.
❇︎ While we’re on the subject, check the events calendar at Harpa when you get to town. You’ll find theater shows, symphony performances, chamber music, film screenings, and more. It’s a good bet for a taste of Icelandic high culture.
DIVERSIONS FARTHER AFIELD
❇︎ Reykjavík is a fantastic town, but no one goes to Iceland to just sit in the city. However short your trip, it’s essential to carve out a little road trip action. The best thing to do when you’re pinched for time—or a first-time visitor—is head for the Golden Circle. The super-duper-mega-popular tourist route covers three major sights in southwest Iceland: Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall, and the Geysir hot springs. These are all within day-tripping distance. Although many companies are happy to organize Golden Circle tours for you, we prefer renting a car and traveling at our own pace. That way, we can add extra stops along the way, like the dramatic Faxi (Vatnsleysufoss) waterfall in Skaholt, Kerið volcanic crater in Grimsnes, or the Fontana Geothermal Baths (with Finnish sauna!) in Laugarvatn.
❇︎ If snowmobiling or ice caving around the Langjökull glacier is at the top of your fantasies list, book a tour. Into the Glacier offers several well-reviewed packages.
❇︎ Ditto snorkeling between two continental plates at the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir. It’s too cold for aquatic life to survive in those otherworldly blue-green waters, but it has some of the clearest visibility in the world (up to 300 feet). For underwater excursions, Iceland Adventure Tours comes recommended.
❇︎ You’ll notice petite Icelandic horses with rock star hairdos as soon as you bust out of the city. Want to ride one through volcanic landscapes? Make a reservation with the horse farm Íslenski Hesturinn.
❇︎ Two and a half hours northeast of the capital is Snæfellsjökull National Park, home to both an enormous glacier and an active volcano. Some companies run tours here in the summer, but you’re on your own in the colder months. For a self-driving map of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, check out this piece from I Heart Reykjavík.
❇︎ Two hours east of the capital is the Westeros stomping ground of Þjórsárdalu Valley, lousy with tumbling waterfalls, lava caves, rock cliffs, and reconstructed Viking-era settlements. Plug the 400-foot-tall Háifoss waterfall into your GPS, making sure to stop at the fairytale valley of Gjáin en route. The road out is pretty bumpy; a 4×4 is recommended.
❇︎ Two hours southeast of Reykjavík is one of the most stunning waterfalls we’ve ever seen: Skógafoss. It’s 82 feet wide and 200 feet tall—simply majestic. It kicks up a big spray, making rainbows common. Those unafraid of heights can climb the narrow, winding, no-rail staircase to the top. Just watch that you don’t slip in the mud and drop your camera (ahem). Skógafoss is accessible via the ring road, which runs the entire perimeter of Iceland.
❇︎ Continue east from Skógafoss another three hours and you’ll hit Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, a sub for Siberia in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lagoon bordering Vatnajökull National Park; and the Vatnajökull Glacier itself. That last one boasts the country’s biggest, most dramatic ice cave, which goes by many names: the Crystal Cave, Skaftafell Ice Cave, Vatnajökull Ice Cave, and Breiðamerkurjökull Ice Cave, among others. In addition to caving (a winter-only activity), popular excursions include glacier walking (May 1st to October 31st) and ice climbing (summers only). Glacier Adventure gets high marks for organizing outings in this region.
❇︎ Got all the time in the world to explore? Lucky you! Consider driving up to Iceland’s rugged Westfjords, to the picturesque northern town of Akureyri, or to faraway East Iceland. Domestic flights are available via Air Iceland, Eagle Air, and Norlandair, but pity to think of how much you’ll miss en route.
WHERE TO SHOP
❇︎ Hrím Hönnunarhús might be the happiest housewares shop in Iceland. It’s fun to browse because every shelf reveals something new. For the kitchen, there are Scandinavian trays, tea towels, and hand-thrown mugs. For the office, pen racks and sketchbooks. It has a fine selection of goods from Icelandic makers, too, including Angan salt scrubs, Erla Gísla scented candles, and bean-to-bar Icelandic milk chocolates from Omnom. The wrappers alone make them pretty enough to gift.
❇︎ Geysir is the tourist-friendly go-to for contemporary Icelandic clothing—and who wouldn’t want one of their cheerfully patterned wool blankets? For more avant-garde style, all NYC hardness meets Nordic chill, pop into Kiosk, run by four Icelandic designers. The featured labels include EYGLO and milla snorrason. In a similar vein, Kirsuberjatréð is a collective of 11 female artists selling fish skin purses and delicate bowls made from radish paper.
❇︎ Orrifinn is the goldsmith studio and jewelry shop of talented local design team Orri Finnbogason and Helga Gvuðrún Friðriksdóttir. Edgy pieces, unisex appeal, exemplary craftsmanship.
❇︎ Kraum is a solid pick for thoughtfully designed pillows, stationery, gloves, socks, and souvenirs for people you don’t know that well.
❇︎ Farmers & Friends is a hip boutique in Grandi, the old harbor area of Reykjavík. The space has high ceilings, loads of natural light, and artistic merchandise displays. Go here for skinnier-fit Icelandic wool sweaters in 50 shades of gray, plus handsome household items like carved wooden spoons. A second shop opened downtown in May 2017.
❇︎ Herrafataverzlun Kormáks og Skjaldar is a dapper menswear store with the prices to match. Brands are Icelandic and international, but always of a kind. Think: pig skin flat caps, waxed duffel bags, and beard oil.
❇︎ Into the dark arts? Swing by Dead, the gallery/studio/shop of Icelandic painter Jón Sæmundur. Everything this dude does is grim, from the monochromatic oil-on-wood landscapes and Brian Jonestown Massacre posters to the haunting skeleton watercolors he sells for 90 Euros a pop.
❇︎ 12 Tónar is Iceland’s top indie music shop. It opened in 1998 and the record label followed five years later; to date, it has released more than 70 albums across myriad genres. The two-story shop—with free espresso, a library of rock writing, and bands playing in the garden on select summer Fridays—has been a hangout for Björk, Sigur Rós, and múm. Less than a mile away is the decade-old Lucky Records, which trades in new and used CDs and vinyl. The Icelandic music section is impressively comprehensive. Finally, try to drop by Mengi, a four-year-old experimental music space with its own micro-label and events on the weekends. Vinyl and art are sold in the tiny shop, which is open Wednesday to Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.
❇︎ For a super selection of groovy winter furs, gold chains, platform boots, and the occasional Man O’ War hoodie, get thee to Spúútnik Fatamarkadur .
❇︎ Bokín, a.k.a. Bókavarðan, is a B-A-N-A-N-A-S antiquarian bookshop: musty, dusty, and chaotic with towers of titles creeping toward the ceiling. It takes a fuckton of patience to wade through it all, but you won’t find a better selection of rare and out-of-print books anywhere in Iceland. Old Hollywood ephemera hanging from the ceiling and papered to the walls adds to the ambience.
WHERE TO EAT + DRINK
❇︎ Like the Blue Lagoon, some touristy spots are worth the hype. Bæsurjarins Bezlu Pylsur is one of them. The snappy hot dogs are as tasty as everyone says—and cheap.
❇︎ Icelandic Fish & Chips is a cute, low-key bistro perched on the waterfront. They serve the best fish and chips we’ve ever had—probably because they’re using organic spelt and rape seed oil for the light-as-air batter. The fish changes daily, depending on what’s been caught. For dessert, order a glass of creamed skyr with berries and cinnamon-roasted walnuts. You won’t regret it.
❇︎ The best sit-down breakfast in Reykjavík is at Bergsson Mathus. The spreads change daily but usually include house-baked sourdough, cheese, meat, and a soft-boiled egg. Sister restaurant Bergsson RE focuses on sustainable seafood.
❇︎ The Laundromat Cafe is a Danish import, good for hearty English-style breakfasts, burgers, soups, salads, avocado toast, and the like. Basic fare, a bit pricey (what isn’t in Iceland?), and a playful environment. And hey, there is a working self-service laundromat on site.
❇︎ Doing the Golden Circle? Stop for lunch at Friðheimar Farm in Selfoss. The geothermally powered green house grows its own tomatoes and cucumbers and bakes dense black bread in a geyser. The family that runs the farm also breeds Icelandic horses. Shows run May through September, but the stables are open year-round.
❇︎ Get your coffee fix at Reykjavík Roasters, which has two locations (including one conveniently en route to Hallgrímskirkja). The founder studied roasting at the respected Coffee Collective in Copenhagen. Cafe Haïti imports beans from Haiti and roasts them out back, but the coffee menu is global in scope (Australian flat whites, Turkish coffee, Swiss mocha, etc.). For an old-school espresso or cappuccino, pop by Mokka-Kaffi. It’s been hissing and foaming since 1958. There’s contemporary art hung on the walls but the red leatherette booths are the same as they’ve always been. The waffles with cream and jam are a lovely afternoon treat.
❇︎ Speaking of treats, the bakery case at Sandholt wows. Pastries, cakes, and croissants, oh my!
❇︎ Grab an unfiltered Czech-style beer at Kaldi Bar. It’s brewed by Bruggsmiðjan, the oldest microbrewery in Iceland, in the small northern town of Árskógssandur. Bruggsmiðjan opened in 2005, which demonstrates just how late Iceland was in joining the craft beer party. The best spot for sampling small Icelandic brews—like Alpha Acid Bomb Test, a New England-style IPA from Gæðingur brugghús—is the aptly named MicroBar. Note the wall art; those murals were drawn by Icelandic cartoonist Hugleikur Dagsson.
❇︎ 64° Reykjavík Distillery is Iceland’s first micro-distillery. The forager liqueurs and schnapps are made with crowberry, rhubarb, wild bilberry, juniper, and other botanicals. Foss Distillery makes both a liqueur (Björk) and a bracing schnapps (Birkir) with fresh-picked Icelandic birch. Brennivín, a.k.a. Black Death, is perhaps the most vile spirit on earth. The neon-green, caraway-flavored schnapps is paired with hákarl (fermented shark) and consumed almost exclusively by tourists. Don’t be a tourist… but do take a bottle home for your best frenemy. All of the above are sold at Vínbúðin, Iceland’s state-run liquor stores, and at the Keflavík Airport.
WHERE TO STAY
Let’s just get this out of the way: Iceland is too expensive. Food is expensive. Tours are expensive. And hotels are definitely expensive. We’ve stayed at a few corporate spots in Reykjavík over the years, none of them particularly memorable. The 18 hotel rooms at Hlemmur Square (from $187), a former natural history museum, are pretty nice by comparison—modern and well-appointed. The location is walkable to many downtown attractions and we appreciated the private balconies, luxurious bedding, and C.O. Bigelow bath products. On a tight budget? Hlemmur Square also houses an upscale hostel. A spot in a 14-bed dormitory with shared bath starts at $33/night. Note: There is no parking lot here; travelers with a rental will have to park in the street or pay for a garage.
Kex is a biscuit factory turned high-class hostel. It offers dormitories and single, double, twin, and family rooms. The lowest-priced beds in the most undesirable season start around $64/night. In addition to a popular gastropub (Sæmundur í Sparifötunum), the building is equipped with guest kitchens, a gym, laundry room, and an old-fashioned barbershop in the basement. To really suck down the Kex Kool-Aid, book a tour with its trip-planning outfit Kexland.
Prices for renting a well-reviewed, centrally located private room in Reykjavík on Airbnb are around $70 to $100 a night. A private apartment costs a little more—ballpark $100 to $130. Guests also rave about the serviced apartments at Black Pearl Reykjavík, but they’re pricey, starting at $375/night for a standard suite. The well-reviewed studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom serviced pads at REY Apartments are cheaper (from $212/night) and more customizable based on group size. The 24-room Kvosin Hotel also looks promising: 280-square-foot junior suites have kitchenettes, Sóley Organics Icelandic toiletries, and Icelandic art on the walls. Rooms start around $185/night.
To stay overnight somewhere along the Golden Circle, consider Efsti-Dalur II. It’s a dairy farm/bed & breakfast where you can try your hand at milking the cows and enjoy the fruits of your labor—or someone else’s—with skyr for breakfast. Rooms start at $111/night.
Lastly, if you’re fortunate enough to explore Snæfellsjökull, book yourself a room at Hótel Buðír, two hours north of Reykjavík. This might be the most Instagram-friendly inn in Iceland. You’ll understand why when you glimpse the unbeatable landscapes, complete with glaciers, mountains, lava fields, the Atlantic Ocean, and a moody black-and-white church. The hotel’s smallest room, a Loft Double, starts at $258/night in the dead of winter and goes up and up (and up!) from there. Book as far in advance as possible—this place is really popular, especially with newlyweds and their photographers.
THE HUNCH LIST
On every scouting trip, there are places we don’t make it to—mostly because we run out of time or we learn about a potential spot after we’ve left. So here, we present to you the places we haven’t been ourselves but still have a pretty good feeling about. Some have been recommended by in-the-know locals; others came from traveler friends whom we trust implicitly.
❇︎ OMG. OMG. OMG. So for 10,900 króna (about $102 USD), you can commission a badass portrait of yourself in chainmail and furs at Mink Viking Portrait Studio. These aren’t your usual cornball Six Flags dress-up photos; they’re beautifully shot, dark and dramatic, like a Game of Thrones press photo on steroids. (As it turns out, studio founder/photographer Guðmann Þór Bjargmundsson worked on GoT.) Single sessions take 45 minutes to 1 hour, including costuming; group sessions last up to two hours. The more people in your group, the cheaper the per-person cost, and each session nets six digital photos. Reservations essential.
❇︎ Reykjakík is home to the new Iceland Punk Museum. The collection, housed in a former public toilet, pays homage to the Icelandic punk and new wave scenes of the late ’70s and ’80s. Hours are so not punk-rock in their consistency: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.
❇︎ Elliðaárdalur Valley has been called the Central Park of Reykjavík. It’s central to the city and popular with locals, thanks to its abundance of biking paths, waterfalls, wildflowers, and grassy hillocks. Bring a picnic.
❇︎ For a fancy, multi-coursed dinner, food writers swear by DILL, but that’s been kicking around for some time. Kol is just as splurgy but newer—and popular with actors from Game of Thrones. For a nice evening out, but a good notch cheaper, consider the tasting menus at Apotek or Forréttabarinn.
❇︎ Need a break from sea buckthorn and the crystallized tears of baby puffins? Jordan Grill does classic chicken rice, shawarma, lamb kebabs, falafel, and more. Everything is made fresh-to-order and it’s a good option for takeout if you want to eat an easy meal in your hotel room, sans the outrageous room-service charges.
❇︎ Kaffi Vinyl is Reykjavík’s only 100 percent vegan restaurant. Mushroom soup, licorice buttercream cupcakes, spicy kombucha, and tangy kefir—this place is a rarity in such a meat-loving country. Diners can spin their own records while they eat or pick up a 7-inch to go from nanoscopic house label Bónus Plötur.
❇︎ Snaps Bistro is all up in that Instagram game with its greenhouse walls, terrarium-like greenery, rustic-chic furniture, and Frenchified Icelandic menu. Go around lunch for an open-faced sandwich, a gin-and-tonic (of which they offer seven varieties), and that precious natural light.
❇︎ Iceland’s bartenders have been getting wild with the cocktails lately. Music-themed restaurant and bar Geiri Smart is at the forefront with drinks like Living For the City (Brennivín, sherry, red beets, fennel, grapefruit, birch, whey, and bitters). They even do interesting mocktails: Play That Funky Music is a booze-free G&T made with juniper berries, snow peas, tonic, and cranberry juice.
❇︎ Two more super-casual, super-fun picks on our radar: (1) Hverfisgata 12, a serious pizzeria from Michelin starred chef Gunnar Karl Gislason (the guy behind the aforementioned DILL). Even the vegan pie is tempting with baked rutabaga, caramelized onions, walnuts, dates, rocket salad, and cashew cheese. For dessert, say halló to pine crème brûlée or skyr mousse with celery ice cream and oats. (2) Burro & Pablo Discobar has a full menu of raw tapas (like arctic char with beetroot sauce and avocado purée) and unusual cocktails like the Pippi Gonzales (Don Julio tequila, dill aquavit, cucumber, lemon, and dill oil).
STUFF TOURISTS LIKE
The Golden Circle. The Blue Lagoon. Hot dogs. But you already knew that. In the city proper, most guides will direct you to the National Museum of Iceland; the Volcano House exhibition space and screening room, all about—you guessed it—volcanoes; the Perlan Museum, home to a man-made ice cave, planetarium, and observation deck; Nauthólsvík, a geothermal beach with an artificial lagoon and dense crowds in the summer season; and the Saga Museum, Icelandic history told through dramatically clothed wax figures. When it comes to shopping, someone will invariably tell you to check out the long-running Kolaportid Flea Market near the harbor. It’s mostly schlock but has some okay booths dealing in vintage ephemera. We scored a 1950s Icelandic race-to-space magazine there. For drinks, they’ll direct you to Slippbarinn in the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina, the city’s first real cocktail bar. For fussy fine dining, probably Grillið or Fiskmarkaðurinn. You do you.
THE ONLY MAP YOU’LL NEED
Everything we’ve mentioned above is plotted 👆. Sites are color-coded for quick reference, so you can scan everything at once or sort by activity (restaurants are purple, shops are green, etc.).
So Iceland used to be this really exotic place to travel—at least for North Americans. Then Icelandair started advertising its long-running stopover deal, which allows anyone flying from one of 34 cities in the U.S.A. or Canada to one of 37 destinations in Europe to spend up to a week in Iceland en route. The campaign was genius. Around the same time, Iceland’s tourism board kicked into high gear, flying in countless journalists to highlight its otherworldly landscapes and unique arts programming. The social media influencers and location scouts followed… and now everyone we know and their mother has visited Iceland. Is it still a worthwhile destination? Absolutely. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth, bar none. Just don’t go here thinking you’ll have it all to yourself, because you won’t. Many stories have been written about this, from Skift (“Iceland and the Trials of 21st Century Tourism”) to Wired (“Iceland Is Beautiful Except for the 2 Million Tourists”) to The Wall Street Journal (“Tourism Saved Iceland, but Now It’s a Headache”). Be prepared.
FIVE INSTAGRAMS TO FOLLOW
Nothing like a little armchair traveling before you touch down. These accounts document the wild landscapes that make Iceland famous, while hinting at the charms of Reykjavík.
There’s more to Icelandic music than Björk and Sigur Rós. Click ahead to watch videos from some of our favorite Iceland-based artists, including Kiasmos, Amiina, Of Monsters and Men, and GusGus.
❇︎ I Heart Reykjavík is an excellent local resource. It’s written by a cool Icelandic woman, Auður, and it’s a soup-to-nuts look at the best her country has to offer. She’s got driving guides, street art maps, and detailed info on visiting Seljavallalaug, one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools.
❇︎ For the latest art, culture, and restaurant news, plus a mighty events calendar, take a look at the Reykjavík Grapevine, the city’s largest English language paper.
❇︎ Guide to Iceland is the most comprehensive guide on the ‘net, compiling info from 1,000+ local vendors. It’s most useful when searching a narrow topic; just beware of native advertising, as some posts have a vested stake in where and what you book.
❇︎ In a 2017 issue of AFAR, Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote about getting off the beaten path in Iceland when all paths are seemingly beaten: “The Ideal Iceland May Only Exist In Your Mind.”
❇︎ Cartogramme editor Ashlea Halpern wrote about Iceland’s sustainable food scene and the country’s best food souvenirs for Bon Appétit.
❇︎ Life With a View has a good story on exploring stunning Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, a.k.a. the lava field waterfalls, about an hour and a half north of Reykjavík.
❇︎ ISO the DC-3 wreckage? Expert Vagabond has a thorough piece here on “How to Find Iceland’s Famous Sólheimasandur Plane Crash.”
❇︎ The New York Times Style Magazine published this quickie, “A Guide to Reykjavik, as Wonderfully Weird as Ever,” in fall 2017. The most recent 36 Hours ran four years earlier.
❇︎ Atlas Obscura penned an interesting piece about The Volcano Show at Red Rock Cinema. From the description: “A charmingly eccentric magma chaser presents his complete history of the island’s eruptions since 1947, in cinematic form, just for you…”
❇︎ Finally, for all you Throne-heads, here’s “Iceland’s Most Spectacular Game of Thrones Filming Locations,” courtesy of The Telegraph.