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What Ought to We See (and Eat!) In Iceland?

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I’m not sure what the reason is why we haven’t made it to Iceland yet. It’s been on our radar for a long time, and it’s definitely in our top five for places to go this year. That being said, we want to hit all the usual top sights and attractions people recommend, but we also want to focus on more unique activities, like diving or snorkeling in Silfra and seeing Puffins on Heimaey Island.

Puffins in Iceland

And, obviously, we want to eat our way through Iceland! We’ve done some initial research, but we’re looking for additional recommendations on unique activities in Iceland, and specific foods or restaurants you’d recommend.

Icelandic Foods to Try

A couple of the foods on the top of our “must eat” list include:

Fish, Fish, and More Fish (All Seafood Welcome!)

Salted fish, Iceland.is Media photo

Obviously, fish is a huge part of the Icelandic diet, and thankfully, we both love seafood! We want to try it all – fish and chips, dried fish (jerky), and whatever else we can find. I know that lobster, or Icelandic langoustine, is popular with gourmands as well. One of the top recommendations seems to be a langoustine soup — and with the cold temperatures, I could go for a delicious soup! I’m hoping to try a variety of seafood dishes in both casual and more high-end dining establishments.

However, before anyone suggests it, I don’t know if I am mentally prepared for fermented shark! We have tried some pretty bizarre things around the world, including fruit bat in Palau, Fugu in Osaka, ant larvae in Tulum, and fish sperm sac in Taiwan. I love the smell of stinky tofu, but I can’t handle the stench of durian — some people say fermented shark ranks right in between.

Icelandic Hot Dogs

I love a good hot dog as much as the next person, but it’s not necessarily something I would seek out on my travels. However, it seems we would really be missing out if we didn’t try one in Iceland! Since the dogs contain lamb, I’m told they have a unique flavor, but that’s not what makes them so popular. The sauces are where these dogs shine – they’re served with ketchup, raw onions, sweet brown mustard, fried onions, and a special sauce made with mayo, mustard, capers, and herbs. And, the most famous place to grab one is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, located in downtown Reykjavik.

Rye Bread

The “black” rye bread you find in the Baltic states has become my favorite bread in the world. I first had it in Riga, Latvia, but it wasn’t until we were in Vilnius, Lithuania, that I became obsessed. Needless to say, when we hit Tallinn, Estonia, for the first time, I had already dedicated a portion of my luggage space to bringing back a few loaves!

I’ve read about the dark rye, or “rugbraud,” from Iceland that is buried in the ground near a hot spring, and that is definitely one of my “must eats”. And, yeah, I’d be willing to pay extra for more baggage allowance just to ensure I have enough space to bring some back!

Fine Dining in Iceland

It may sound odd to some, but one of the things we’re looking most forward to in Iceland is checking out the fine dining scene. I see some posts about specific foods, but there’s not a lot written about the higher-end restaurants. We recently learned Iceland has its first Michelin star restaurant too!

Some of the Reykjavik restaurants on our radar include:

  • DILL: DILL was awarded its first Michelin star in 2017, and focuses on New Nordic cooking. It’s only open for dinner, and offers a daily tasting menu only.
  • Matur & Drykkur: This is a relatively simple restaurant that focuses on older and more traditional Icelandic recipes. Matur & Drykkur is named after a famous Icelandic cookbook and was mentioned in the 2017 Michelin Guide, receiving a Bib Gourmand award.
  • Gallery: Although Gallery’s focus is classic French cuisine, it’s earned a lot of praise, including for its cured salmon recipe that dates back to 1966. It’s located at the Holt Hotel, and said to be the island’s oldest and most highly-regarded restaurant.

Things to do in Iceland

When it comes to things to do in Iceland, we want to cover the typical “must see” sights like geysers, waterfalls, Northern Lights (if the skies cooperate), the Blue Lagoon, etc. But, what do else do you recommend we try to do?

Iceland Food Tours

Surtur Nr. 30 Icelandic Beer, Photo: Brett Domue, Our Tasty Travels

We’d like to take an Iceland food tour or two. Top choices include a walking food tour of Reykjavík and an Icelandic beer tour that pairs several local beers with Icelandic cuisine. Brett’s tried several local craft beers, including Surtur Nr.30, which a smoked Imperial Stout that utilized dried sheep shit to make the fire!

Snorkeling and Diving in Iceland

This will be quite a different experience from snorkeling and diving in warm waters like we’re used to, but what a cool experience to see the American and Euro-Asian plates! This brings back so many memories of my college studies in Anthropology and Geology.

Iceland Ice Caves

If we visit in the winter, we’d love to explore an Ice Cave, but if we’re there during the summer, we want to check out an ice tunnel at the Langjökull glacier.

Explore the Inside of a Volcano

Iceland is said to be one of, if not the only place, where you can explore a volcano from the inside. The journey to get there is a crazy one, but what an experience. You are lowered into the crater by use of an elevator crane. Thrihnukagigur Volcano is also a summer-only experience, so it seems we’ll likely need to make multiple trips to cover everything on our “must do list”.

Animal Adventures

Aside from seeing Puffins, we hope to try dog sledding for the first time, and also do some whale watching. In Iceland, you can try dog sledding year-round, so this is definitely high on my list!

What else would you recommend we do? And, where or what should we eat? Let us know in a comment, or feel free to send us a message with your suggestions!