Earlier this week I published Part One of my reflections on our holiday to Iceland. In that post I described the trips we went on, including whale watching and a visit to The Golden Circle.
Today’s post is all about the things I enjoyed most in Reykjavik itself: the hotel, restaurants and museums.
We stayed in the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina, which is right on the harbour in Reykjavik beside a working shipyard. The hotel is packed with quirky, colourful details and has an onsite bar called Slippbarinn, which is popular with trendy locals and offers lush cocktails. I especially liked an orangey drink that I think was called a Reykjavik Summit.
The hotel rooms are individually decorated to incorporate the sailing theme and have cute cabin like bathrooms concealed behind sliding frosted glass doors. This hotel is industrial meets designer and achingly cool.
We came across Svarta Kaffi whilst wandering around the city on our first day. Ready for a rest and something to eat, we caught sight of the sign advertising the cafe’s most famous dish, which is basically traditional soup – served in a bowl made of bread! It tasted as good as it looks too, with hot, thick soup inside the hollowed out crusty bread. They even give you the dugout bread for dipping. Soup flavours change regularly, when we visited they offered leek and potato and a chicken curry concoction, which were both delicious.
Icelandic Fish and Chips is an organic bistro opposite the harbour that serves a range of fresh fish and accompanying dishes. It’s a slightly more upmarket version of the traditional English meal, but delicious and not too expensive.
The Laundromat Cafe was on my pre-trip list of places to visit, thanks to its quirky decor and counter decorated with colour coded books. We called in for brunch before going caving and I loved the mix of healthy and indulgent food on the menu. There is also a working launderette in the basement, if you’re travelling and need to freshen up your stuff. One of the waiters also works at Icelandic Fish and Chips and remembered us from the night before – a bit embarrassing as we were both wearing the same outfits!
Hallgrimskirkja is Reykjavik’s modern Lutheran parish church and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland, which makes for some fantastic views across the city and out over the harbour, should you fancy visiting the observation deck at the top. It’s definitely worth it and as the church has a lift there are no stairs to climb, so you’ve got no excuse!
Another of Reykjavik’s unusual architectural masterpieces, Harpa is the concert hall built along the harbour. It’s a patchwork of coloured and reflective glass that catches the light and changes to reflect the weather. I love this review from The Guardian that describes the building as ‘a little bit disco’. It’s a great place to wander around, climbing the dramatic staircases and watching the way the angles and surfaces affect the light.
We also paid a visit to The Icelandic Phallological Museum. That’s right; Iceland is home to what might be the world’s only penis museum. We called in just before it closed and spent a childish fifteen minutes giggling at the exhibits, which include certain anatomical items from a range of mammals. I found it slightly disturbing standing beside a pickled whale penis that was taller than me, but that’s a story for another day!
Definitely a bizarre place to visit, it’s good for a laugh and actually kind of interesting. As I’m off to a hen party this weekend, I was very tempted to turn up with a lamp made of whale scrotum from the gift shop, but somehow I didn’t fancy carrying it back through customs…
Our trip to Reykjavik was absolutely amazing and allowed us to create a memorable first anniversary. One of the great things about Iceland is the sheer number of excursions available, places to see and things to experience. I was fortunate to see pretty much everything I wanted to on this trip, but there are many other places I’d love to visit.
So we’ll certainly be returning to Iceland, hopefully in the winter so we can experience the magic of the Northern Lights, which you can’t see in June as it is only dark for about three hours a night. In fact, I don’t think we saw darkness the whole time we were there – except during our caving trip!