Grai Kotturinn aka ‘The Grey Cat’ serves up brunch favourites like eggs, pancakes and bagels alongside great coffee in a dimly-lit book shop-style-café. The perfect place to sit back, relax and read the excellent English language entertainment listings newspaper Grapevine and decide on the day’s plan. Coffee is done properly in Reykjavik - as the Icelander’s take their caffeine fix very seriously. So ditch that tea habit and team your espresso with a delectable whipped cream and jam smothered waffle at Mokka-Kaffi, where the space doubles as an art gallery. Or take some grounds home with you as a delicious souvenir from Reykjavik Roasters.
Kolaportid flea market is a vintage and foodie lover’s heaven. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm, it’s awash with stalls selling traditional Icelandic ingredients and snacks, ideal for lunch on the go while out exploring.
Most tourist attractions while fabulous, don’t offer a menu at reasonable prices to match. But Lava rips up the rule book. After a relaxing soak at the famous Blue Lagoon, a series of natural geothermal pools about 45 minutes from Reykjavik, throw on your robe and head up for the sumptuous buffet lunch in the summer, and an a la carte menu in the winter months with out-of-this-world views of the steaming milky pools below.
The best antidote to the chilly weather, Saegreifinn by the marina serves a no-frills lobster soup, eaten school dinner hall style squished up next to strangers on long benches. Trust us, it’s worth it.
After a few drinks, join the inevitable queue at Baejarins Beztu for a juicy pylsur – that’s a hotdog to you and I. Best served ‘eina meo ollu’ (with all the trimmings) including fried onions, remoulade, mustard and ketchup. An Icelandic staple, the unassuming cart opened in 1937 and has been named the best hotdog in the world. And we’re not going to argue with that. It’s estimated that over 70% of the country’s population have eaten here.
At Kaffibarinn, a hip pub owned by Blur’s Damon Albarn, cheese boards and waffles are free, so long as you are buying a drink. What’s not to love?
If you’re a fan of burgers (who isn’t?) you’ve come to the right place. Kex Hostel’s Saemundur gastro pub serves up juicy free range Icelandic beef patties in a converted old biscuit warehouse.
Meanwhile, Lebowski Bar offers them up alongside a list of lip-smacking sides and over 30 to-die-for milkshake variations.
After a bargain bite? Vitabar does the famous Forget-Me-Not Burger – complete with lashings of blue cheese and garlic sauce.
For a burger with a difference, head to Grillmarkadurinn for the mini sliders sampler menu featuring whale, puffin and lobster. This fancy Michelin starred dining spot also serves up the tenderest steak we’ve ever tried – albeit horse not beef – in uber-swish surroundings.
If you fancy splashing out, there’s no better place than Dill. Opt for the delicious tasting menu full of foraged, local ingredients such as Arctic char with pickled vegetables and baked beetroot for the full Icelandic gastronomic experience.
Beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989 – so it only seems right to make up for it with a hop-tastic bar crawl. The main strip of Laugavegur is awash with coffee shops, bars and restaurants – ideal for refuelling after all that walking. Check out hipster havens Bar 11, Bunk Bar and Micro Bar in our very own CenterHotel Plaza – a craft brewery with an extensive tasting menu.
For something a bit more special, head to Slippbarinn in the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina where cocktails are the order of the day. Bar Apotek, a former apothecary sees award-winning ‘pharmacists’ serve up imaginative tipples whilst Perlan, a grand glass domed revolving building houses a chic cocktail bar with stunning panoramic views across the city.
Alcohol prices can be high in Iceland but most bars offer happy hour discounts. Download the Appy Hour app to let you know where the best deals are. A great souvenir to take home is Topas or Ópa, local liquorice liqueurs. Much better than a fridge magnet.
They’re not for everyone, but it’s all about immersing yourself in the local culture when travelling, right? Take a break from the hotel buffet and sample all the local delicacies in bite-size portions (perfect if fermented shark isn’t usually your bag) at Tapasbarinn where the tapas style menu lets you sample 7 courses including puffin, whale and traditional skyr yoghurt for dessert for just £44.
And if you’re feeling really brave try Hakarl (fermented shark) at Café Loki, washed down with a shot of Brennevin, a local aniseed infused spirit.
The Grand Hotel Reykjavik - 2 excursions included is situated on the outskirts of Reykjavik and has great views of Mount Esja. It’s also just a 25-minute walk away from the city centre.
Klettur Hotel - 2 excursions included is close to the capital's scenic harbour, and comes with its own friendly little bar stocked with Icelandic beers.
Before you check out the Northern Lights, check into the stylish Alda Hotel - 2 excursions included in the centre of Reykjavik. Guests can even borrow a smartphone, making it easy to navigate the streets.
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