Monday, April 20, 2015

A Last Winter Escape To Iceland

Spring has finally arrived, but we wanted to reflect on our favorite winter getaway this year - a journey to the northernmost Island in the world to see the Northern Lights, Iceland! 

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland has witnessed a tourist boom over the last several years, with new affordable tours on the internet in search of the Northern Lights. Only five hours by plane from East Coast cities like NYC, this is a great weekend getaway that is unique and special. When I first visited Reykjavik almost 10 years ago, this was a relatively unknown city with few tourists. Now it is hard to cross the street without seeing several organized walking tours, souvenir shops selling Puffin dolls and Golden Circle tour buses. Despite the changes, Reykjavic is still an incredible place to visit with unique foods to eat like fermented Shark, great pubs and surreal landscapes to witness outside the city.

Reykjavik is nestled around an old fishing harbor with most building and homes small and quaint. We stayed at the Centre Hotel Arnarhvoll, right on the harbor with stunning views of the landscape. This hotel includes a wonderful buffet breakfast and a relaxing spa that you can enjoy 24 hours a day. We took advantage of the Sauna and hot tub every day!

Some views on our walk in the city- Hallgrimskirkja, a historic church and tallest structure in the city and some of the newest architecture, Icelandic Opera house across our hotel.

There are usually long lines for this famous hot dog stall Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, a must for everyone visiting + creative displays at some local boutiques!

More wonderful sights and sounds while exploring the city. Icelandic record stores, unique fishing restaurants where you can try Whale and Seafood soup, pubs serving beer flights included Lava beer and a great selection of Vegetarian restaurants serving farm to table cuisine. For evening, we went to a highly recommended restaurant called Dill. This small restaurant is top rated, the chef was wonderful and greets you and the dishes are beautifully presented and creative!

Outside the capital city, the landscape is stunning and peaceful. We loved taking a tour of some of the best sights of Iceland; there are many tour buses that run 2-3 times a day. Iceland is all about nature, so we had some fun in the snow! Icelandic horses have short legs and long hair to protect them for the cold winters, we had a fun time feeding them! Geysers are a highlight of the Golden Circle tour - hot water shoots up out of craters every several minutes.

There is a great deal to see at night as well! We took a private Jeep tour with Iceland All the Way, in search of the Northern lights. After several hours of driving across the glaciers, the lights finally revealed themselves across the night sky and we watched in awe as they danced for us among all the twinkling stars.

We also loved meeting some of the most creative fashion designers Iceland had to offer. There are great shops along the main road Laugavegur, including vintage shops like Sputnik and boutiques like Kron, which features great independent designers. The designers actually work in the shops so you can meet them in person as they tell about their designs. Innovative fabrics, cuts and silhouettes make for great Icelandic designs that are one of a kind.


Finally, a visit to the Blue Lagoon is a must! This outdoor hot spring is a great way to relax after all that exploring; with several saunas, free salt scrubs for body and face and a bar to drink a beer or wine while soaking it all in. You can buy a bus pass which includes the hot springs and ride to the airport for your return back home. We had an amazing time in Iceland and recommend this beautiful country for some new adventures and experiences.

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