From a girl that has been lucky enough to train for a marathon in this beautiful city, here are some top tips to help you stay hot, hip and healthy on your break away.
Embrace the arctic:
The most invigorating experience to kick start your day - and circulation - is to head to Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Not only is this a natural wonder due to the hot spring underneath, which you can see bubbling away, but it is the most inviting and idyllic setting for a venture into the sea.
With a warm pool for a dip, you really couldn’t have a more welcoming start to your wade in. The locals don proper wetsuit boots, gloves and variety of headgear. Luckily the very friendly changing facilities had some spare.
The water temperature was at minus one so I didn’t last longer than a few strokes but for me that still counts as a sea-swim. You can then warm up in the hot pool. In fact we got so hot in there we went a couple more times!
Don’t miss the steam room and coffee scrub to enjoy the full energising experience.
Wrap and run:
One of the most efficient ways to discover a new city is to run around it. On a good day, you’ll be treated to a beautiful blue sky and on a snowy or wet one the locals still head out in high-vis. You can wrap up and also buy spikes that you can add on to any pair of shoes for grip in the ice/ snow.
A route to capture the main sites includes heading down to Harpa, the concert hall, around the harbour, along the seafront and then up to Hallgrímskirkja church and down the main shopping street, Laugavegur.
If you are a little more adventurous, head to the Southern point of the peninsula and there is a lovely track by the ocean. You pass Nauthólsvík geothermal beach, so there is really no excuse not to stop for a dip!
Get up and go:
There is a huge cafe culture in Iceland with a lot of the nation big fans of coffee. To kick start your day head to one of the many coffee shops, three of my favourites:
Ida Zimsen: Is a must visit for a cup of coffee and inspirational start to the day. There is an impressive selection of books and gifts as well as comfy seats to enjoy the passers go by
Mokka: Take a step back in time and enjoy the art deco style, this is historically the most significant coffeehouse in the country. It opened in 1958 and was the first place to serve espressos to a population who had only tasted brewed coffee
Reykjavik Roasters: Relaxed and friendly this light and well situated café is known to offer the most speciality coffee in town
Reykajvik is increasingly offering specialties in dietary requirements including vegan and vegetarian restaurants. One of the most popular being Glo. Serving lovely vegetarian mains with a varied selection of salads.
Ostabudin, a specialist cheese shop, branched out into a restaurant and serves delicious food using the produce from the neighbouring deli. The gluten-free chocolate cake was adorned with fresh clementine and definitely worth a visit for. (The fish soup there was also the best I have tasted in Iceland!)
The healthiest diet in the world:
According to Channel 4’s documentary, The World’s Best Diet in 2014, the show stated that due to the island’s combination of fresh fish, high quality meat and dairy products this led to landing the top spot.
The traditional Icelandic diet is lamb and potatoes or fish (cod or salmon). As a vegetarian recently trying to eat fish, this is definitely an amazing place to do it, everything is so fresh! Icelandic fishing companies even send their catch via cargo freight with Icelandair and it is available in the U.S. and central European cities the next night.
I haven’t tried the lamb but I can tell from watching the expressions of those round the tables I have shared that for any meat-eater it would definitely be the dish to order.
You can’t visit Iceland without trying their diary speciality, Skyr. High in protein, it tastes like a thicker yoghurt but a milder flavour. It is served at breakfast and has high-end cuisine is taking off in deserts, ice-cream and some savoury dishes.
Top three places to for traditional Icelandic dining:
Kol: A trendy restaurant at the top of town which is a favourite with the locals. Affordable dining experience with a lively atmosphere. The cocktails are nearly as impressive as the cod.
GrillMarket: The tasting menu at this modern with a take on the traditional style is a brilliant way to enjoy a range of delicacies that Iceland has to offer. They work closely with local farmers and have an extensive menu, with some dishes offering a mini tasting menu of their own
Bergson Mathus: This stylish healthy eating joint serves fresh and Icelandic brunch and breakfast to be enjoyed at anytime of day. In fact I experienced bread with peanut butter and jam at about 5pm after a long day out in the cold!