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Category: Iceland

The Best of Icelandic Cuisine: 15+ Dishes You Must Try

Iceland, “the land of fire and ice”, is famous for its many natural beauties. Most tourists visit so they could see its stunning volcanoes and lagoons from which you can…

Iceland, “the land of fire and ice”, is famous for its many natural beauties. Most tourists visit so they could see its stunning volcanoes and lagoons from which you can see the Aurora Borealis. Along with the untouched nature, Iceland’s greatest treasures are its friendly, warm people and their hospitality.

However, Icelandic cuisine is not as well known as some others in Europe. That’s why many foreigners have a problem when it comes to picking what to eat once they’re in Iceland. If you’d like to explore the most famous dishes and get to know the eating habits of Icelanders, continue reading!

Although fish and other seafood are very common ingredients, Icelandic cuisine is much more diverse. It’s also based on lamb, dairy and delicious mouth-watering pastries and bread.

Here’s an overview of the things that the majority of Icelanders enjoy eating:

Icelandic Breakfast

Many Icelanders have the habit of eating breakfast at home. Although it keeps becoming more common to grab something on the go, they prefer preparing breakfast in their own kitchens.

One of the most common dishes is hafragrautur. The more simple and well-known translation would be – oatmeal! Icelanders usually sprinkle it with brown sugar and raisins and prepare it with fresh milk.

Another frequent option is skyr, a traditional dairy product. Although it has the consistency and appearance of Greek yogurt, technically, it is considered cheese. It can be eaten plain, but also with fruit, sugar or mixed into oatmeal. It’s a must!

You should know that Iceland is full of amazing bakeries that prepare fresh goods in the early morning hours. Some of the most famous dishes are kleina (donut-like pastry), fresh sourdough bread and sandwiches with smoked salmon or herring.

Iceland is famous for its very high consumption of coffee, so you should definitely enjoy a cup while you’re here. What better time than breakfast? If you’re not a coffee drinker, try the Icelandic moss tea!

Icelandic Lunch

Lunch is often served in the form of smörgåsbord – a Scandinavian buffet that serves both hot and cold dishes. Many restaurants offer this buffet, although you can also order à la carte.

Cold fish dishes are always available on the buffet, such as harðfiskur (wind-dried fish) and hákarl (fermented Greenland shark). These can also be consumed as snacks, between meals.

Be careful with the fermented shark – it has a strong taste that won’t appeal to everyone. Some absolutely love it and some hate it. The famous chef Anthony Bourdain called it “the worst thing he had ever tried”.

Icelanders often eat warm, hearty soups for lunch, as well. The traditional ones are the fish soup (fiskisúpa), meat soup (kjötsúpa) and langoustine soup (humarsúpa). You’ll find them in every restaurant and they are often the cheapest meals on the menu.

If you’re on the go, grab a hot dog. Although they’re not originally a product of Icelandic cuisine, they are incredibly delicious here. The key is in the toppings, which include crunchy fried onions and brown mustard.

Another great Icelandic version of a popular foreign specialty is fish and chips. The locally caught fish (usually cod, salmon or haddock) is fresh and full of flavor. Also, some of the dips are made with the Icelandic skyr, which gives it a unique taste.

Icelandic Dinner

Just like in many western countries, dinner is the main meal of the day for Icelanders. Icelandic cuisine offers a variety of authentic specialties that you must taste at least once while you’re there!

The star of Icelandic cuisine, besides seafood, is the lamb. The Icelandic sheep is a local breed that is grass fed and not given any hormones, which guarantees great quality meat. The lamb is usually slow cooked or roasted, although it can be made into a stew as well.

They also eat some parts of the sheep that aren’t commonly eaten, like the head. It is a great delicacy in Iceland, especially when it’s smoked. If you want to try some of the more controversial specialties you can start with this one.

When it comes to seafood, there are different ways to prepare it. It is either boiled, grilled or fried. You should try the freshwater trout (silungur), Arctic char (bleikja) and monkfish (skötuselur), as well as shrimp (rækja) and blue mussels (kræklingur). All are beyond delicious!

Icelandic Desserts

Although Icelandic cuisine features rather healthy food, Icelanders have quite of a sweet tooth! They have many traditional desserts, some similar to other Scandinavian sweets, but with a unique twist.

Snúður is essentially a cinnamon bun topped with melted chocolate or caramel. Eat it alone or with a cup of coffee, as true Icelanders would!

Pönnukökur and rúgbrauðsís are some of the most famous desserts in Iceland. Pönnukökur are Icelandic pancakes topped with sugar, similar to French crepes. On the other hand, our recommendation is rúgbrauðsís – rye bread ice cream, available only in Cafe Loki in Reykjavik!

Vegetarian Food in Iceland

Although it might seem like fish and meat are impossible to avoid, that’s not the case. There are plenty of vegetarian options that are just as delicious and filling.

For starters, skyr should be on your list, whether you’re vegetarian or not. You can customize it by adding different toppings, sweet or savory, or by adding it to salads or veggie dishes. It’s very refreshing and quite healthy.

Many restaurants have vegetarian and vegan menus. Vegetables can be rather expensive in supermarkets, so sometimes eating out won’t cost much more than preparing veggies at home.

Make sure you take advantage of the country’s amazing whole wheat bread. It’s vegan and incredibly delicious.

Icelandic Food Recipes

If you’re going through post-travel nostalgia, you should consider making some Icelandic cuisine gems in your own kitchen! Except for some exotic ingredients, you can find most of them in large grocery stores pretty much anywhere. Have fun recreating the most authentic food from this beautiful country.

Click here for recipes of some of the most delicious Icelandic specialties.

 

 

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Things To Do in Iceland During Winter

The best season to visit Iceland is between May to September, although Winter can have its perks too. The flights are cheaper and the country offers numerous activities and festivals….

The best season to visit Iceland is between May to September, although Winter can have its perks too. The flights are cheaper and the country offers numerous activities and festivals.

Here are just a couple of things to do in Iceland during winter;

Skiing

Iceland has well-equipped ski resorts that are open from November to May. Skiing in Iceland is good for beginners as the slopes are not downhill enough. Cross country skiing is especially popular. Although skiing in Iceland cannot be compared to the rest of Europe, here you will get a real sense of remoteness and beautiful scenery.

Snæfellsjökull

Photo: Snæfellsjökull by fran-42 on Flickr under CC

Snowshoeing

You might be asking yourself what snowshoeing is? It’s the fastest growing winter sport in the world! It’s just like hiking but with snowshoes. Imagine walking through the vast snow, passing the active volcanic zones and admiring the landscape. Obviously, Iceland is an ideal place for that. If you love walking you should consider a walking holiday in Iceland.

Hollyburn snowshoe

Photo: Hollyburn snowshoe by kcxd on Flickr under CC

Ice Caves and Glacier Hiking

The ice caves in Iceland’s glaciers are another beautiful natural phenomenon. Vatna glacier was formed thousands of years ago and is the largest in the country. The blue light seeping through the ice gives it a unique feel that you’ll remember for a lifetime. You also have to try glacier hiking in Iceland! Walking on ice that formed thousands of years ago, is another popular activity for adventurous buffs, but this requires a professional guide and equipment.

Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike

Photo: Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike by Justin LaBerge on Flickr under CC

Iceland Airwaves Festival

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Iceland is the nature and a number of different activities the country offers. Iceland is in fact known for its prominent music scene as it is a birth place of many talented artists, most famous one being of course, Bjork. In an effort to cultivate its youth and support local artists, there are a lot of different festivals and cultural events. Maybe the most popular one is the Iceland Airwaves Festival. This year the festival will host acts such as Santigold, Warpaint, Bjork a festival native, and many others. You can see this year’s full lineup here.

Reykjavik Dance Festival

If you happen to be in the Icelandic capital during November, be sure to check out the Reykjavik Dance Festival. You can see performances, take part in workshops, lectures, formal discussions and go to thematic parties. It’s one of the festivals that are a must for anyone, you don’t need to have a dance background or a special interest in dance, it’s just as interesting for newfound lovers of the art.

The Christmas Village

A little town near Reykjavik called Hafnarfjörður hosts nice Christmas Village during Advent. As every year they have a Christmas market open on the weekends, starting November 28th till Christmas. Take your family to Hafnarfjörður to experience true Christmas magic. Walking through its Christmas market and enjoying the warm hospitality of its locals, makes you feel as if every second you’re going to wake from a perfect dream. You can try traditional Icelandic delicacies, check out items for sale such as hand-knitted hats, hand-painted ornaments, wooden decorations etc. If this doesn’t hold your interest, the town also has some interesting museums – the most famous one is the Museum of Local History.

Northern Lights

Iceland is a great place to see the Aurora Borealis. Iceland’s popularity is never going to diminish for that sole reason. The only downside is that nobody can guarantee you that you’ll be lucky enough to see the extraordinary weather phenomenon. It is very important to do some research beforehand about the weather forecast for the days that you’ll be spending there, to find out if you need to hire a car and drive outside of the city for a better view etc. The best time to see Aurora Borealis is between September to April, although weather here can be very unpredictable and it depends on different factors. Dark skies and clear weather is necessary and the longer you spend the time in the country, higher the chances are that you will see them. Take this into account if seeing Northern Lights are one of the primary reasons of your visit.

Aurora borealis, Upper Geyser Basin

Hot Springs

The country is famous for the geothermal activity and the large number of hot springs and geysers. The most famous one is Blue Lagoon near the capital Reykjavik. The Blue Lagoon is something that cannot be missed. If you’re in Iceland you shouldn’t dare to miss it! The hot spring is located inside of a lava field offering a view of fantastic scenery. Also a side note, it has a reputation of having healing qualities and is rumored to cure many skin diseases, as psoriasis i.e.

Snowmobiling

If you’re a fan of adrenaline and love a good ride you might want to consider a snowmobile tour. You can race on the snowy plains and enjoy the surrounding landscapes. These tours are usually mixed with sightseeing so they are a great way to see some attractions and at the same time have fun.

Photos: Iceland.Is and Flickr under CC

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7 Must Sees on an Icelandic Road Trip

I don’t like bucket lists and I don’t think I ever had one. However, I do like to add certain adventures and destinations to my Pinterest board as ideas for…

I don’t like bucket lists and I don’t think I ever had one. However, I do like to add certain adventures and destinations to my Pinterest board as ideas for future travels. Icelandic road trip is one of them!

Driving itself is enjoyable for me but when you add activities that include seeing active volcanoes, icebergs, waterfalls and other natural beauties, it’s logical why Iceland is a dream trip for many of us.

Of course, to be able to do this you need to rent a car in Iceland. Also, be sure to bring good photography equipment. Here are some tips for mobile photography, if that’s what you prefer.

So here are some highlights that make road trip across Iceland one of the best road trips that you can possibly take;

Thingvellir National Park

This park has a great geological importance and is one of the most popular attractions in the country. It is located in a valley which marks the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is a tectonic plate that separates the North American and the Eurasian plates. The largest natural lake in Iceland is also located here and it’s popular as a diving and snorkeling location. You can also see many geysers and amazing Gullfoss waterfall.

https://vimeo.com/13842607

Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls

Seljalandsfoss is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland. It’s located just by the famous Ring Road. It drops from 60 meters and visitors can walk behind it. Skógafoss on the other hand has a width of 25 meters and is famous for a rainbow formation due to the amount of spray the waterfall produces. Amazing photo opportunities await!

Glacier Hiking

Another amazing activity for the adventurous buffs is hiking on the glaciers. This requires a professional guide and equipment but it is well worth it considering that you can walk on ice that formed a thousands a years ago. Sounds awesome to me! 🙂

Ice Caves

If you think that walking on glaciers won’t please your hunger for adventure, well in that case, you can go inside them! Vatna glacier is the largest in Iceland and it covers more than 8% of the territory.  These caves are famous for its atmosphere as the blue light is seeping through the ice giving it a unique feel. It’s another activity that requires a professional guide but you can check out Trip Advisor to help you with the search.

Northern Lights

Iceland is obviously a great place for hunting Aurora Borealis. Driving in the night can increase the chances of seeing them so you can stop anytime and watch this amazing natural phenomena. Dark skies and clear weather are necessary and Northern and Eastern parts of the country offer some good spots.

icelandic road trip

Northern Iceland

Northern parts of the country also offer some amazing natural attractions. One of them is Krafla which is a caldera and Hverir – a geothermal area with boiling mudpools and fumaroles. Krafla had 29 eruptions in its history. Akureyri is the biggest city in the North and a good starting point for hunting Aurora Borealis. The area around Akureyri is also famous for whale watching. The season lasts from June to October.

Reykjavík

Reykjavík is the capital city which offers vivacious cultural scene, eclectic architecture and is surrounded by many natural wonders in its vicinity, such as the Blue Lagoon. You can relax, enjoy the warm waters and be in awe of this beautiful setting. The lagoon is famous for its healing activities and attracts visitors from the country and abroad.

icelandic road trip

These are just some out of many beautiful attractions this country offers. For more ideas and suggestions you can visit the official website of the Icelandic Tourism Board.

Photos: iceland.is

 

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Why You Should Pack Up And Escape to Iceland

My fascination with Iceland began from a very young age. Whether it was its picturesque scenery, the remnants of old pagan beliefs (such as believing in the existence of elves)…

My fascination with Iceland began from a very young age. Whether it was its picturesque scenery, the remnants of old pagan beliefs (such as believing in the existence of elves) or its rich culture; there was always something about this small, mystical island and its inhabitants that lured my daydreams up north.

Here is a list of reasons why Iceland should be renamed Wonderland:

The beauty of Iceland, among other things, lies in its diversity. It was dubbed as the Land of Fire and Ice for its spectacular mixture of volcanoes (about 130 of them!), geysers and glaciers. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Lake Mývatn, black sandy beaches, Vatnajökull glacier, hot springs, the Fjords…the fairytale scenery will inspire even the biggest couch potatoes to become avid hikers. You can also look for the cheapest car rentals in Iceland and have a road trip around the country. As you can see you have an array of choices, so choose freely as it’s impossible to go wrong.

Coastline, Isafjordur

Gufufoss, Seydisfjordur

Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa near Reykjavik. It is one of the most visited sites in Iceland. You can relax, drink cocktails, enjoy the warm waters and be in awe of the otherworldly setting (the spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík). Besides being famous for its natural beauty, Blue Lagoon is also known for its healing abilities. A lot of people from all over, come here to seek treatment for various skin diseases.

Blue Lagoon

Reykjavik is the capital and actually the only city in Iceland. Surrounded by many natural wonders that give Reykjavik an almost magical backdrop – it’s a city with a vivacious cultural scene and eclectic architecture. There are many things that make the capital of Iceland worth a visit: places of historical significance, landmarks, their budding nightlife and very interesting restaurants. Icelanders have a very specific palate and most likely you’ll have to train your taste buds in order to truly enjoy their traditional Icelandic cuisine. Make sure not to miss a free tour of Reykjavik (with a history grad) and to go for a swim in one of Reykjavik’s many public pools.

Reykjavik

Iceland Airwaves is one of the most famous music festivals, annually held in November, it attracts thousands of tourists each year. They showcase Icelandic and international music. Over the course of five days of festivities, about 40+ bands and DJs perform. Musical greats such as Crystal Castles, The Kills, The Knife, Beach House and Father John Misty have performed there over the years. The festival is known for its party vibe and laidback atmosphere.

Airwaves Chill-out Party @ Blue Lagoon - Saturday°

Aurora Borealis is a beautiful weather phenomenon. The best chances of seeing the Northern Lights is if you have dark skies, clear weather and make sure to book a week-long stay. It’s risky to plan your whole trip only around the Northern Lights. It should be considered as an added bonus to your whole experience at Iceland. If you’re lucky and you see those bright stars accompanied with lights flickering and twirling in the dark skies, you’ll have that image etched into your mind forever.

Luces del Norte en Tromso Noruega

You don’t want to waste a single day in Iceland – it’s such an intriguing country that it won’t let you feel inertia. Your curiosity will awake a desire to interact and explore your surroundings and you’ll feel as a child that discovers something new each day. As many others before you, you’ll keep coming back in a futile attempt to try and comprehend the magic of Iceland. Or their elves.

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Five Reasons To Visit Iceland Now

Iceland is a place where culture, nature and historical heritage ideally complement each other, making it a destination that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Here are…

Iceland is a place where culture, nature and historical heritage ideally complement each other, making it a destination that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Here are just a couple of reasons to visit Iceland now;

Scenic Road Trip Opportunities

The Ring Road is Iceland’s most popular road trip that circles the whole country and offers some fantastic attractions. This main national road allows you to see the city of Reykjavik, hot springs, Vatnajokull National Park, the East Fjords, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and much more. This is a great option for an active holiday as not only you’ll be able to admire amazing natural landscapes but also hike, relax in the Blue Lagoon’s thermal spa, explore the capital city etc. For all these reasons, Icelandic road trip is very high on my bucket list. If you plan to spend several days in the country and you’d love to do this scenic route, the first thing to do is to look for cheap car rentals in Iceland. If you don’t plan to spend too much time in Iceland another alternative is a Golden Circle which is a popular day trip for the visitors.

IJsland / Iceland

Interesting Culture and Customs

Iceland is rich in history and culture, therefore the country offers many museums especially in the south. Culture has always occupied an important place in the life of Icelanders. That explains so many art exhibits, concerts, folk dance groups etc. Choirs are especially important as one in three Icelanders is an active choir member. Also, reading seems to be the most popular activity as the country is a place where one in ten people will publish a book.

Iceland

The Northern Lights

One of the best places to see this interesting natural phenomenon is Akureyri- a small town in Northern Iceland. Many companies specialize in Iceland trips, among them the Northern Lights. The north of the country also has a number of the historical sights and museums related to the Viking age. Traditional country architecture in a form of turf houses is well presented which makes an interesting ambiance.

Stars over Iceland

Winter Adventures

This doesn’t come as a surprise but if you are a Winter type and into active holidays, Iceland offers some great opportunities, especially in the North. Besides skiing you can go whale watching or you can immerse yourself in a culture that blossoms during cold winter months. The country hosts a festival called the ‘Days of Darkness‘ that intends to brighten up dark and short days.

Iceland Winter photos, 2015

Amazing nature

Iceland’s north-west corner which is the westernmost point in Europe amazes with its unspoiled wilderness. There are great places for hiking and from here you could even see Greenland on a clear day. Natural hot springs are pretty common and this area is perfect for biking. West Iceland is home to the Snæfellsjökull National Park which is very famous primarily due to the novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in which the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the world is right here. The Reykjanes Peninsula which is a continuation of the mid-Atlantic Ridge is a famous geo park. Here you’ll be able to experience nature at its best with 100 different craters, lava fields and black sand beaches.

Iceland

Is Iceland on your bucket list? Or is there anything else you have to add? Feel free to comment below.

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