Iceland adventures: Our essential guide
After an unforgettable adventure in Iceland last Christmas, Snow+Rock Senior Developer Peter Harris offers advice on the boots and clothing you’ll need to stay warm, dry and comfortable in this extreme environment, plus inside knowledge on the best places to eat, relax, and admire the arctic landscapes:
I recommend Superjeep for great adventures. They take six passengers and the drivers are Icelanders experienced in all-weather conditions, so that you’re in safe hands. These mini monster trucks are more fun than the big coach tours too.
As well as taking you to all of the classic sites like geysers, bubbling lakes and other natural wonders, they venture off-road into the deepest snow (the jeeps roll around all over the place, so take motion sickness tablets if you get queasy).
The jeeps and super-skilled driver got us to the top of a mountain in bleak conditions. They go up some really steep inclines, often taking several runs for an amazing rollercoaster ride (you’re all strapped in, so just sit back and enjoy it). If you’re a daredevil, you can also try snowmobiling at the mountain base.
Make sure that the jeep is out of view for your summit shot so you can tell your mates you climbed it!
The Blue lagoon is a relaxing must for any trip to Iceland. You must book in advance and get picked up from your hotel (you might face a long wait or not getting in at all if you just turn up).
Go for the premium option so you won’t have to queue; you get a towel, robe, selection of creams, face mask and slippers. I also recommend booking a private, 30-minute massage and reserving seats in the outstanding Lava Restaurant for lunch (you can stay in your robes for this).
There is a bar in the lagoon where you get a free drink with premium entry and you can pay for more using your wristband.
When you come out of the changing rooms, rather than enter the lagoon through the front door which is extremely cold, you can wimp out and turn left so that you can get in and out of the water through a side door.
You will notice the pool is not very hot when you get in but there are hotspots around the lagoon if you like it toasty. The bottom of the lagoon is natural rock rather than super smooth like a pool, so lift your feet and walk rather than skim along to avoid stubbing toes.
To fit all of this in, arrive at 9am, go to lunch at 12pm, book your massage for 1.45pm and return on the 3pm Grey Line.
The Gullfoss Waterfalls are an inspiring and immense force of nature. Wrap up well here as it gets very cold, especially when you climb the stairs to the top, which can be very windy.
There are many restaurants and cafes in Reykjavik that range from pizzas and burgers to fine dining, with puffin, whale and reindeer on the menu.
- Mikkeller and Friends. They have a varied menu of small plates and pizza. I would recommend the small plates of smoked lamb and the bar with over 20 different beers.
- Apotek. This fine dining establishment features chefs from the famous elBulli, the best 3-star restaurant on the planet until it closed in 2011. It’s pricey but worth it with very generous portions that will leave you full and satisfied. They also have a great cocktail menu.
- Kaffislippur. Walk along the harbour for views of the mountains and try this cafe for a cosy fire, books to read, amazing hot Omnom Chocolate, and avocado on toast.
- Café Loki. You may also want to check out Loki in front of the church at the top the hill on the main high street for authentic Icelandic food where the locals eat.