When the Fagradalsfjall volcano suddenly erupted earlier this year in Iceland, locals and tourists alike descended on the mountain to party like it did in 1999. Or 1239. Anyway, that was the last time. that there had been volcanic activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula (about an hour’s drive south of Reykjavík). Hot dog vendors moved in as the lava continued to flow for months. There have even been reports of distant bars broadcasting the whole thing live. The magma has cooled since then, but the volcano is still a success. Park the car, walk on the black rocks and pretend you are on the moon. This is what makes Iceland unique: it is alive and constantly evolving.
Call Iceland the Greater Outdoors, a frozen playground of epic road trips and midnight summer hikes where, after a long day in nature, you will be rewarded with a Michelin star meal and a pain-relieving geothermal bath. . And with flights still well below capacity these days, Reykjavík is the perfect last-minute escape. Here’s how to get Björked.
Last minute travel guide to Reykjavík, Iceland
The first stop
Any colleague who has been to Iceland will give you the same tip: go straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, until your hotel room is ready. This is (one of the reasons) why the Blue Lagoon is full of tourists. Avoid the crowds and head to Reykjavík’s newly opened Sky Lagoon, an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with a glass-walled sauna overlooking an active volcano. Of course, the whole thing looks like something The single person, but the thermal waters are very hot and the beer is ice cold. In addition, it is open until 10 p.m. If the sky is clear, you can float under the Northern Lights.
The day trip
If you’re short on time, plug the Golden Circle into your rental’s GPS and tick three places on the list of things to do in a day: Geysir Hot Spring (the largest in Europe), Gullfoss Waterfall ( meaning ‘golden waterfall,’ largely due to rainbows forming in the spray above the falls on sunny days) and Dingvellir National Park, where the Vikings apparently had their parliament. The best part? You can always come back to Reykjavík for a late-night drink at Kaldi, a local bar with an impressive collection of gin.
The road trip
This seven-day trip is called The Ring Road for obvious reasons: a historic “highway” that surrounds the perimeter of the island. You’ll stop at Skógafoss Waterfall, Langjökull Glacier (home to the world’s largest man-made ice tunnel), and Kirkjufell (an arrowhead-shaped mountain). But you’ll also have time for more unlikely places like the volcanic deserts of Húsavík on the north coast, where NASA once sent American astronauts to train in the 1960s.
Gunnar Karl Gíslason, founding chef of Restaurant Dill, has made a name for himself adopting local ingredients and artisan techniques with a modern twist. For example, take dried cod, shred it in a blender, and mix it with burnt butter and white beer vinegar. The choice to go hyperlocal was intentional, but also necessary: the restaurant opened following a financial crisis that crippled Iceland and it couldn’t afford to import much. The bet paid. Dill was hailed as a temple of new Nordic cuisine, winning the country’s first Michelin star in 2017, only to be retired two years later. What is Icelandic for ruh-roh?
Chief Gíslason (who had briefly decamped to New York to open Agen) returned to Reykjavík as a possessed man, quickly redeeming some of his early investors and moving Dill to a new location on the city’s main drag. He put the emphasis on a strong tasting menu on Nordic vegetables, sustainability and (lately) wild geese. The restaurant regained its Michelin star in 2020. Naturally, the chef is now getting a second.
If you want to know where to eat after hours, ask a chef. Dill’s frontman recommends the hip No Concept, where he reports that the kitchen is open late and the pizza (of all things) is killer. He sprinkles it with a gin martini, light on the vermouth, with a lemon zest. But you can ask for the choice of reseller.
EDITION’s Reyjkavik outpost opened this fall, and while the design is predictable and sleek, the views are the main draw. The hotel sits on the waterfront and looks out over Mount Esja, Snæfellsjökull Glacier, and the glass-walled Harpa Concert Hall designed by Olafur Eliasson (where Björk sometimes hangs out at the cafe). Don’t fight jet lag. If you get up early, grab a coffee at Reykjavík Roasters and walk to Brauð & Co. for the still hot cinnamon buns (a hangover from Icelandic Danish history).
How to stay warm
The Icelandic heritage mark 66 ° North was established in 1926 to protect local fishermen from the extreme elements. Like other high-end outerwear suppliers, the company uses Gore-Tex and Polartec fabrics (among others) to keep you warm. But it is the construction that makes 66 ° North worth mentioning. The Jökla Parka costs $ 1,200, steeper than Everest. But the design was engineered by some of Iceland’s true search and rescue teams. You won’t feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man when you put it on.
What to watch on the plane
The Icelandic series Katla premiered on Netflix in the summer of 2021 and, despite the almost constant sunshine, everyone was locked inside gorging themselves on this chilling mystery. Katla play like an icelandic Lost; a year after a catastrophic volcanic eruption, a long-lost woman emerges from the ashes exactly as she did 20 years ago. And she is not alone. Sinister. Pro tip: Download the entire eight-episode series before lift-off, and you’ll be wrapping up right when you walk through the door.
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