Jul 26, 2011

Travel guide: Iceland chic

Author: Elle Canada

Jul 26, 2011

Travel guide: Iceland chic

So Iceland may not be high on your wish list of places to travel. But we ask, why not? The island is surprisingly fashionable, has some of the most delicious delicacies around, stunning scenery and a spa experience that is worth the flight in and of itself. Here are our top reasons why you should make Iceland high on your travel list now.

It’s super easy to get to

Iceland seems like a far-off destination, but it’s really only a 5-hour flight away. Iceland Air now offers more flights in and out of Toronto and Halifax … so a quick 5-hour flight will get you on the island early in the morning, perfect to get your Iceland adventure started. It’s also an ideal stopping place en route to Europe (Iceland Air has many connecting flights to Europe, including London, Copenhagen, Barcelona and more). That way you can stop in Iceland, get your Blue Lagoon fix (read on to find out more) and jet on to Europe, soothed and relaxed.

Reykjavik is a must-see
The main city in Iceland is hip, fashionable and filled with quaint and charming restaurants, cafes, galleries and bars. A day or two in the city is definitely a must. Start by visiting some of the local designers and shops along the streets Laugavegur and Skolavordustigur. You’ll find amazing designs made with furs, wool (sheep are a hot commodity in Iceland – from the delish lamb dishes they create, to the cozy and super warm wool that is in much of the clothing). A must-stop (even if only to admire the funky creations) Kron Kron. Designer Hugrún’s richly textured, brightly hued shoes will set your heart a flutter – there’s something so Icelandic and so retro about the shoes, you’ll want to buy a pair for fun occasions.

To get an over all feel of Icelandic design, be sure to stop by Kraum – a shop on one of the oldest houses in Reykjavik that is home to more than 30 Icelandic designer’s works – from décor, jewellery, bags made from fish skin leather and wool clothing. A trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without a peek into 66 North – the spot to get any warm outerwear. Icelanders know how to keep warm and the iconic brand has a huge store, with loads of selection – we suggest buying a parka in a chic, bright colour, for those long Canadian winters.

For delicious eats in Reykjavik go to the next page ...

Where to eat

There are endless places to dine in Iceland, especially in Reykjavik. You can stop by the island’s most famous and popular restaurant -- believe it or not it’s the local hotdog stand that serves up traditional lamb hot dogs with Icelandic toppings. Or pick from a more formal and casual affairs.

The Seafood Cellar
For a true taste of what makes Iceland’s cuisine so amazing, book yourself a table at the Seafood Cellar in Reykjavik. You’ll nibble on some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever find in an upscale, high-end dinning experience. Think traditional, home-cooked Icelandic food with an elegant and super modern twist.

If you need a break from seafood (we wonder how you could since it’s so delish, but we won’t judge) don’t fret, there are options. One of the best being Caruso’s for those who love pasta and all things Italian. The heaping portions are big enough to share, and hey, you can even add some fresh seafood if you wish. The location is prime too, right on the main strip, Laugavegur.

The Lobster House
Another upscale dining option is The Lobster House. Located in a beautiful building in the heart of the city centre, this resto has long been known as one of the best gourmet spots to dine in Iceland. It goes with out saying the shellfish is beyond tasty, but explore the menu and maybe try something you wouldn’t normally test out.

Silfur Restaurant
Inside the hip Borg Hotel (which is also where you should plan on staying in Iceland for its comfy, cozy, elegant rooms) is an equally luxe spot to dine. Feasting on traditional dishes and modern fare is an ideal way to spend an evening.

You have to (have to!) check out the bars in Reykjavik ... all the details on the next page ... iceland.jpg

And don’t forget the bars and pubs. The best time to get involved in the lively Reykjavik action is during the weekend. You’ll catch the cool music scene, and get the chance to hang with the locals. Our recommendations:

A local hangout where you’ll fit in with the artsy crowd (and you’ll love the floral wall paper décor). You might even actually hear a woman singing opera at the table next to you (true story, this happened to me).
Laugavegur 28b

The British pub
Just as you suspect – typically British but serving up Icelandic beers along side the usuals. Plus they have live music each night.
Austurstræti 12

A trendy hangout that’s close to shopping, food and other pubs and bars.

Bar at 101 Hotel
This hotspot is the place to see and be seen in the city. Sip on cocktails and hobnob with local musicians, artists and designers.

One more reason to go to Iceland ... the Blue Lagoon on the next page ... blue-lagoon.jpg

The Blue Lagoon

We could write an entire story on this gem. Let’s be honest, it is one of the main reasons why people go to Iceland (but it clearly shouldn’t be the only one!) and it’s not a long drive from Reykjavik. The geothermal spa draws in not only tourists from around the world, but also locals who truly know the benefits of the healing waters.

Seawater from 2000 meters below the surface gets pushed up through the ground collecting all the valuable volcanic minerals that Iceland is known for. The result is a slightly warmer than lukewarm (37-39°C) pool of the palest blue water, flowing with good-for-your-skin minerals such as silica. The waters sooth away dry skin and can also help with skin conditions such as eczema and medical skin ailments. But beyond the pure benefits of the waters, the pools are divine to slip into during a frosty days and the warm temps mixed with the thick steam rolling off the pools is one of the most relaxing experiences. Need to unwind even more? Opt for an in-pool water massage. It’s sheer bliss.

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Travel guide: Iceland chic