Lifestyle & Parenting

Ice, Ice, Baby

November 29, 2016

Iceland’s quirky, arts-and-culture obsessed capital city, Reykjavik, has just been named the number-one travel destination for 2017, and we’re not surprised. We recently grabbed our Granted sweaters and Canada Goose jackets and spent eight days experiencing the best off-season activities the area has to offer. The result? We left dreaming of warm, candle-lit windows, windswept lunar landscapes and the magical Huldufólk, and hope this savvy winter visitor’s guide inspires you to head there early and beat the rush. —Kelsey Klassen 


Do: Take a tour. The roads can be hazardous in winter, so invest in a guide that can unlock the wonders of the countryside, from black sand beaches and thunderous waterfalls, to awe-inspiring glacier lagoons and mystical geysers. The award-winning Kensington Tours company offers comprehensive, privately guided multi-day itineraries that celebrate the diversity of the landscape, from cosy Northern Lights excursions (observed from the comfort of a hot tub), to restful Blue Lagoon spa visits, to epic dry-suit snorkelling expeditions in Thingvellir National Park. Kensington Tours. 1-888-903-2001.

blue lagoon 2

Savour: Like any remote island nation, Iceland’s cuisine evolved to make the most of its natural bounty (fermented shark, sheep’s head and puffin being among the unique local offerings). But somehow, the humble hot dog has ascended the ranks to become one of Iceland’s must-eat foods. Queue up at a simple Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stand and order your steamed lamb sausage ein með öllu, or “one with everything”, to load up with the customary ketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade, crisp fried onion and raw onion. Meanwhile, the country’s most delectable lobster bisque is tucked away in an equally nondescript harbourside seafood shop called Sægreifinn. Sægreifinn. Tryggvagata, 101 Reykjavík. 354-553-1500.


Stay: The city centre is close-knit and highly walkable, so it’s hard to find a bad location to rest your head. For a larger group we recommend renting one of the elegant Luna Hotel Apartments, complete with kitchen, laundry service and incredible skyline view. For pure glam, though, book a suite at 101 Hotel. Rated one of the best luxury boutique hotels in Reykjavik, its black-and-white art-hotel aesthetic perfectly mirrors the snowy heaths quilting Iceland in the winter. 101 Hotel. Hverfisgata 10, 101 Reykjavík. 354-580-0101.

101 hotel lobby

Shop: No visit to Iceland is complete without picking up one of the iconic lopapeysa sweatersfrom artisan makers like the Handknitting Association, or more modern designers like the au courant Farmers Market. Then, take in some of the best fashion and design that Europe has to offer (we’re talking to you, Kiosk and Hrím) along Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main shopping street. Bonus, at night it’s also home to some of the city’s coolest bars. Farmers Market. Hólmaslóð 2, 101 Reykjavík. 354- 552-1960. 

farmers market

Don’t miss: The monolithic Harpa Concert Hall is the jewel of Reykjavik’s pristine waterfront. A soaring glass homage to Iceland’s basalt landscape, be sure to treat yourself to a performance by one of the many classical music companies like the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, that call its expansive corridors home. Then, for something a little more adventurous, sign up for a day tour with Ishestar Riding and take one of the country’s winsome horses out trotting across the tundra. The beloved breed is unique to Iceland and is known for possessing a distinct, gliding gait called the tölt. Ishetar Riding. Sörlaskeiði 26, 221 Hafnarfirði. 354 555-7000.

concert hall

iceland horses

Images: iStock, Farmers Market, 101 Hotel


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