Gluten Free in Iceland and driving the Ring Road – The Sightseeing Coeliac

Visiting Iceland in June 2021 as our first international trip after over a year of covid and lockdowns felt amazing! A trip that we were undecided about right up until the last minute, but one that we were so glad we took. Visiting the spectacular scenery of Iceland without the crowds was incredible.

We had been to Iceland before in 2013, a winter trip that included a few days in Reykjavik with friends seeing the sights, doing the Golden Circle Tour and going snowmobiling on a glacier but sadly no viewing of the Northern Lights. We also drove the South Coast to Jokulsarlon and back. Daylight was roughly 10am – 4pm and some of the driving conditions were horrendous.

This time we were visiting in summer which meant the opposite – almost complete daylight. This gives much more time to fit in activities and also allows you to see the puffins. Having visited in both seasons, I would recommend the complete ring road being done in the summer. For winter trips, I would stick to Reykjavik and winter activities and trying to see the Northern Lights! Of course that may not work for you in reality, so if you’re driving the ring road in winter make sure you give yourself plenty of time for delays due to adverse weather conditions and limited hours of daylight.

At the time of our visit only vaccinated passengers could visit Iceland but we were some of the few vaccinated in our age group due to health conditions. It was also the only green list country for U.K. travel so people in the country weren’t travelling abroad at this time. We were going to visit some of the coast in the U.K. due to nice weather, but prices had gone crazy and it was busy. Instead, as we were looking at pricy accommodation in the U.K. we figured it would be a good time to pay for Iceland instead and we were so pleased with our decision. We were really worried about getting a plane for the first time but due to the lack of travellers the flight was only a third full. On arrival we had Iceland pretty much to ourselves and only saw people really as we reached the Golden Circle and Reykjavík and on a boat trip at Jokulsarlon.

When we travelled there was mandatory covid testing on arrival and up to 24 hours of quarantine until you got the results at an approved hotel. There were no restrictions on how far you could travel though to the quarantine hotel providing you didn’t stop so we decided to travel a few hours to Hvammstangir to get some of the drive out the way and use the time more efficiently. If we had stayed in Reykjavik/driven anti clockwise around the Ring Road we would have been at our hotel pretty quickly and not used the time at all. This is what made the decision for us on which direction to travel the ring road but of course you can do the whole thing in reverse.

Car hire: Lava

We hired a car through Lava, found through Northbound recommended by Chelsea (Cheap Holiday Expert) in her blog. We had to take a mini bus from the airport as being a cheaper option they didn’t have a desk in the arrivals hall, but a short distance away.

Hotel: Laugarbakki

We had emailed the hotel in advance and requested early check in due to our early flight and to check whether they had gluten free options as we booked it solely based on being the only hotel in the area approved for quarantine. We ended up not needing the early check in arriving about 2:30pm and they did cater for gluten free so it suited our needs.

The hotel was Hotel Laugarbakki which looked really bleak from the outside and we were initially worried! Inside though it was nice, modern and clean with a comfy bed and it cost £158 for the night. I’d taken a gluten free noodle pot as an emergency dinner in case we couldn’t go out for dinner, but we got our negative covid results about 4pm so we could leave the hotel. We didn’t leave though and used the time to nap and relax from the early flight straight after a busy work schedule so it was nice to have a bit of downtime and also just ate at the hotel in the evening.

I didn’t need a translation card at all for dinner, the staff spoke perfect English. The menu was pretty small and made up of Icelandic dishes, some of which were naturally gluten free. Paul had a lamb dish whilst I played it as safe as I could with the cod and mash. The cod was large with a nice buttery sauce and a pop of flavour from some capers. The main issue was the texture, it was all a bit slimy! The two dishes with a Pepsi and a beer came to 10400kr/£59. We skipped the icecream based desserts in favour of hot chocolate and biscuits in the room that we had with us.

So much of my trip planning and travel is based around food, and most travel guides I write are based around restaurants and amazing gluten free finds. However, driving around Iceland is very much about the road trip and scenery. Restaurants and food were based around what was convenient for the itinerary and I have written this post based on our travel and what we did and how we managed finding gluten free options rather than them being the focus.

Day 2: Hvammstangi to Akureyri

Day two started with a hotel breakfast and I was pleasantly surprised by a gluten free tray of items that they brought out for me even if it was just cereal, crisp bread and jam to supplement the skyr and fresh produce it still helps and shows understanding by having the jam stored away safely.

On the way out of our hotel as we hadn’t been able to stop anywhere yet we bought four small bottles of water which cost us 1000kr / £6 (but now know we could have just drunk the tap water).

From the hotel in Hvammstangir we drove the two hour drive around the Vatnses peninsula. Paul loved the drive as the roads were more fun than some of the ring road, but most of the tourist spots were closed due to it being bird nesting season so we couldn’t go near the cliffs. A scenic, fun drive but it can be missed if travelling in the summer due to nesting season, or if you’re short of time or want more time in Akureyri. We also missed the seal centre at the start of the drive as it didn’t open until 10am.

Hvitserkur, Vatnes Peninsula

After the Peninsula, we rejoined the ring road briefly before stopping for the first waterfall of the trip, Kolugljufur. If you don’t drive the Vatnes peninsula then make this your first stop!

We then stayed on the ring road until turning left at road 75 to take us to the coast and Vesturosinn. I mean, name a better spot for a packed lunch (ours was brought from home due to not yet visiting a supermarket but if not make sure you’ve stopped off at a supermarket in Reykjavik!) The black sand beach with a mountain backdrop and blue skies was absolutely picture perfect, and we had it all to ourselves.

Vesturosinn

After lunch we did make a stop at North restaurant to buy a bottle of Coke (369kr / £2) – and to use the restroom of course! We then made a last minute decision to drive the Trollaskagi Peninsula and carried on round to the pretty town Siglufjordur. I highly recommend this stunning drive off the ring road if you have time! It’s beautiful and I’m so glad we drove this way.

Siglufjordur – one of the most beautiful towns we visited in Iceland

Kjorbudin Supermarket

This was the first supermarket we came across driving anti clockwise around the ring road and after the quarantine period. It wasn’t that large but had some gluten free staples available.

Siglufjordur was beautiful, and we absolutely loved this day of road tripping (and the feeling of freedom after lockdowns!) If you have time for a longer trip, plan in some extra time if you want to hike/do activities on the peninsula/fjords and I would highly recommend giving yourself time to drive the scenic routes rather than sticking to the ring road, but you could remove this day if you are tight on time and drive straight to Akureyri. We drove the 111km onto Akureyri, the second largest town in Iceland located in the north reaching the town about 5pm (and don’t forget there’s about 23 hours of daylight in Iceland in June, resulting in time for dinner and evening sightseeing, this itinerary is not practical in winter).

Akureyri

Moe’s Food

I’m sure being gluten free/coeliac means you have to seek out gluten free breaded options everywhere you go and still get excited! Gluten free fish and chips was definitely one of my most exciting finds in Iceland.

Found thanks to the find me gluten free app, I checked out Moe’s Food Truck that is right in the Centre of Akureyri. Everything can be made gluten free, and the fish and chicken are gluten free as standard but not advertised to put normal people off. The van isn’t 100% gluten free and had normal bread for burgers etc but I had fish and chips as everything in the fryers was gluten free and then this was served straight into the boxes so thought this reduced the need to touch the surfaces. The owner said he can’t guarantee no cross contamination due to serving gluteney food but he was 99% confident. He was wheat intolerant (which he said was tricky with gluten free wheat starch being used now in gluten free products) and said his ex was extremely intolerant to gluten so he seemed to know his stuff. I ate there with no ill effects whilst chatting about being gluten free pretty much the entire time that the food was being cooked.

The fish rather than being battered was in a seasoned crumb and it was really good, which I had with chips and tomato ketchup.

I would never have tried to eat here myself, and there were no signs or boards or anything really advertising the food. Just a white van with some laminated signs so pretty easy for people to walk past (gluten free or not) so I’m glad this was posted on the app! I haven’t noted the price but I think it came to £28 for two portions and two cans of drink.

We ate the food about 7:30pm before having a wander around the town and visiting the small botanical gardens that were open until 10pm. It’s amazing what you can fit into a day when it is mostly daylight!

Hotel: The Centrum Hotel

We stayed at The Centrum Hotel for £90 and it was more on the Travelodge end of the scale of double rooms but a hostel kind of set up with a basic shared kitchen if you wanted to cook. Definitely nothing fancy (and wouldn’t cost £90 in most places for this level of room) but it was central and clean.

Note: Parking in Akureyri is a different system to anywhere we had been before requiring you to get a clock for your car, but it didn’t cost us anything only charging between 10am and 4pm.

Day 3: Akureyri to Lake Myvatn

We loved day three in Iceland driving the Diamond Circle in the North of the country. You really must do this as the scenery is spectacular and it’s much quieter than the Golden Circle which for us meant having the locations pretty much to ourselves.

Our first stop of the day after some cereal on the go, was Godafoss arriving about 08:45am where we walked both sides of the beautiful falls.

Netto, Husavik

Our second stop of the day was Husavik where we made a quick stop in Netto. A larger supermarket than Kjordburdin that had a larger gluten free section as well as a good range of dairy free milk and cheese (the gluten free and dairy free items were very pricy though and I was glad to have brought bread from home). We bought sandwich fillings, gluteney bread, snacks and skyr.

If you haven’t heard of Skyr then you must try this, a local staple that is sold everywhere and luckily gluten free – I ate it every day!

Husavik is the home of whale watching in Iceland. Definitely book if you want to do this! We were there just after 10am and the 10:30 whale watching and puffin tour was fully booked despite the low number of tourists. We’ve been whale watching before and I knew we could see the puffins in Reykjavik but if you’d be gutted to miss it book in advance. You will also need to factor in 4 hours for the tour or 2.5 for a speedboat tour.

We then drove onto Asbyrgi Canyon which is a place that was like nowhere else I’ve ever seen, stunningly beautiful and the photos do not get the scale of the place – it was a must visit stop! It’s also worth noting the weather as this was travel in June that still required winter clothing – I have a huge fleece under my rain jacket.

After Asbyrgi we had a picnic lunch, where I ate my favourite travel product – Genius pitta breads with some locally bought cream cheese.

Next up was Dettifoss and the photos don’t do this waterfall justice either, especially as the spray kept getting all over my phone lens. However the largest waterfall in Europe by volume of water is an impressive sight! It’s about 1000m walk to the falls from the car park.

Selfoss waterfall, located right near Dettifoss was up next on the Diamond Circle!

From Selfoss we headed to Hverir geothermal spot which is just outside Lake Myvatn where we stayed overnight for our third night in Iceland.

Lake Myvatn

Vogafjos Farm Restaurant

We had dinner at Vogafjos – a farm that has a restaurant & accommodation so you could stay there for convenience too. We just visited the restaurant as they said they could cater for me and most of the menu was naturally gluten free. I couldn’t have any of the bread, or the barley dish but other than that it was pretty much ok. I selected the mozzarella starter (pricy Iceland was made even £££ by the time I didn’t have the geyser bread with it so starters were not the best value, but meant I could eat with Paul whilst he tried some incredible smoked lamb. We’ve never had anything like it, the Smokeyness was insane!)

For the main I had the lamb with garlic butter and wedges and it was amazing! Everything is locally produced, and there are cows behind you in the restaurant! The food was good, and I found evening main meals better value in Iceland than other food on the go – probably as I’d pay more for fish and lamb out at home. Service here though was really slow, and the new waiter tried to offer me the vegan burger. Luckily there were other staff around to help explain the menu – hopefully the service will improve as the new staff settle in!

After dinner we headed to the Myvatn Nature Baths, a smaller version of the Blue Lagoon and we loved it. It cost us £45 pp (£10 of which was for a dressing gown upgrade). Two tips would be though don’t bother paying the £10 for dressing gowns as the lagoon is too small to need them and they were a total waste of money and don’t drink & drive, may sound obvious but Paul was very glad he’d only had soft drinks all night when the police were breathalising everyone on the main road as they left – at 10pm in our case.

Myvatn Nature Baths after they were closed

Hotel – Iceland Air

In Lake Myvatn we stayed at Iceland Air Hotel and we really enjoyed the stay. It was funky and comfortable, and the room cost £140 so not a cheap rate for room only.

Day 4: Lake Myvatn to Djupivogur

In Lake Myvatn get on the road early as it’s a long day. We picked up some coffee, apple juice, skyr, fruit and a pastry for Paul on top of our cereal and started the day with some of Lake Myvatns sights.

We briefly visited Grjotagja (thermal caves); Dimmuborgir (lava fields) and Skutustadagrig pseudo craters. Note: There were restrooms at Dimmuborgir for 200kr use.

Skutustadagrig pseudo craters

We made them quick stops due to time, but add in an an extra night in Lake Myvatn for more activities, downtime or for hiking in this area if you have the time to. We instead started the long – and snowy – drive to the south. Road tripping in Iceland sees the weather changing constantly, and why you need to allow some extra time to what Google maps shows for journeys! Visibility was pretty low at some points of this day, but it did clear up as we got to the stunning scenery at the coast.

We stopped at N1 service station in Egilsstadir for petrol and I found some sweets actually labelled gluten free (you have no idea how many sweets and chocolate I scanned on Google translate that were coming up as may contain so these were a more exciting find in Iceland than they would have been in the U.K.! If you like sweets on a road trip I would recommend packing a couple of bags to bring with you!

At Egilsstadir we ate our packed lunch, before turning off the main road to detour to Seydisfjordur, passing waterfalls on the way – we passed many over the two days travelling to the South. We stopped at Folaldafoss just off the main road but skipped another waterfall as it was a walk to get to it and the rain was pretty much sideways by this point.

Folaldafoss

We visited Seydisfjordur, one of the most instagrammable spots in Iceland! In reality this meant me taking selfies in the rain whilst Paul went to buy additional hot drinks (our Chillys bottles for hot drinks were one of the best things we packed for Iceland) as he refused to take photos of a rainbow road in the rain. The weather was so miserable at this point that we just drove around the town before heading back to the ring road! The scenery was beautiful but the long day of driving and poor visibility meant we didn’t appreciate it enough!

Accommodation: Bragdevillir Cottages

We spent our fourth night just outside Djupivogur, staying in a small one bedroom chalet type accommodation which were basic but these were perfect for us as they had a kitchen so we could cook a couple of meals ourselves. We chose to cook unless we were in the bigger cities or near a highly recommended gluten free location – both a cheaper and less stressful option of constantly having to find gluten free food. This room cost £153 for a night on hotels.com, but we saved money from not eating out and they have great views!

Bragdevillir Cottages

If I know I am going to be self catering at any point in a trip I pack Morrisons Dino pasta to take with me from the U.K. as they are 250g bags and I find Schwartz mixes really useful for these scenarios as it means you have everything you need. If not though I carry very small cosmetic sample pots filled with a few basic spices. By having pasta and a spaghetti bolognaise mix I only had to find (and pay Icelandic prices) for the fresh ingredients and vegetables. These (plus milk) cost 1568kr /£9 at Bonus.

Day 5: Djupivogur to Vik

We started the day by going slightly back on ourselves to Djupivogur (you could visit on day four but we’d had enough of driving). We instead headed there to see the sights and to grab a coffee in the morning.

Our first stop of the day in Djupivogur were the to see egg sculptures art work (and lighthouse). This for us only needed a quick stop, especially as the reality was that most of it was a building site complete with cranes and diggers!

From Djupivogur we headed to Vestrahorn, but we had to make many stops to take photos! The weather was starting to get brighter than it had been and the country is just breathtaking.

The Vestrahorn mountain at the black sand beach at Stokknes (900kr per person entry charge at Viking cafe which had restrooms) is a must visit stop for photos and to see the spectacular scenery for a view back over the mountain that you don’t get from the road. The turning for Vestrahorn at Stokknes is a sharp left turn after the Vestrahorn tunnel and it takes you down to the black sand beach. You can also do hikes from here if your time allows.

We then continued our drive of the south coast to Jokulsarlon, a Glacier lagoon. We did the 15:10 boat trip out into the lagoon, something we had previously done in 2013 and whilst it was more impressive then (probably due to being winter) it’s still a must do for me!

The boat trip into the glacier was 5900kr/£35 per person. Masks are mandatory on the boat. This was one of the very few places where we were near a lot of people on our week in the country but everyone wore masks.

There was a small shop at Jokulsarlon, where Paul spotted gluten free beer being sold whilst he was getting us some drinks although he cut the price off in the photo.

From Jokulsarlon you can walk over to the black sand beach, Diamond Beach where the glaciers are washed onto the beach and makes for an impressive sight! We did this whilst waiting for our boat after buying the ticket (I think you may need to book the boat trip in advance during busier periods). You should also check out the ice cave tours available at Vatnajokull glacier. We visited the glacier in 2013 so didn’t stop here but this tour looks awesome!

Accommodation: Paradise Cottage

We stayed in Vik, both on this trip and in 2013. For that trip we stayed in a hotel (Hotel Kria which was fab), whilst this time we stayed in another self catering chalet just outside Vik so that we could cook and booked Paradise Cottage through air b n b for £110. This was clean and modern, and ideal for a night stay.

This time, we really made a mistake of not stopping in Hof at a supermarket for supplies and ending up buying some pork and tinned mushrooms at a petrol station so a bit random, expensive and not advised! However, it was fine for us in the end as I had a Thai Green Curry kit that we had brought from the U.K., again something that just needed a couple of fresh ingredients to make up the whole meal. I do recommend stopping at supermarkets in large towns for anything you need as there aren’t really supermarkets outside of that especially if you need gluten free staples.

In the evening we made a couple of drinks to have at the chalet. I save all my minis that I get as samples or for Christmas for travelling and in Iceland it meant not paying for alcohol! If you’re bigger drinkers than us I’d still bring alcohol, just bigger bottles or at the very least buy some from the airport duty free as buying a lot of alcohol on your trip will quickly add up. (A couple of minis will also fit in your liquids bag and hand luggage for anyone without a checked bag or who would like a little drink on the plane without the cost!)

Day 6: Vik – Reykjavik

This day was long, definitely add in another day if you can for the Golden Circle to be done without rushing (we’ve been to Reykjavik and done the Golden Circle before so less of a priority for us, but if not this day would have been too much!)

We started the day early at Vik beach and also make sure to go to Reynisfjara beach the other side of the cliffs. We parked initially at KR supermarket to stock up some more skyr, sandwich fillings, and snacks. They also had basic gluten free supplies.

From Vik we headed to Dyrholaey cliffs for insane views over Reynisfjara with a lighthouse at the top, so I really recommend this stop. We spotted two puffins too in the cliffs here before they flew to the sea!

We drove from Dyrholaey cliffs to Skogafoss. If you’re adding a day to your itinerary you can add in a stop at Solheimasandur, a plane that crashed in 1973 on the black sand beach when it ran out of fuel. Everyone survived but the plane was abandoned. However, the walk to the crash site said it was about two miles each way so we skipped it due to lack of time and reading it wasn’t that impressive. However, I did read reviews of it being worth it at sunset if you can make that work for your itinerary.

For us, the next stop was Skogafoss, an impressive waterfall with 28 flights of steps to the view at the top of the falls and a must visit location.

We then continued to the falls Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall that you can walk behind. We had a quick packed lunch in the car before getting out to see the falls (side note the Warburtons super soft squares and brioche squares are amazing – especially when filled with Icelandic smoked salmon and cream cheese!)

There is another waterfall nearby, Gljufrabui but that advises that you get wet and you’ll need waterproof shoes/trousers to get to it so we skipped it as we didn’t have those and didn’t want to be wet for the rest of the drive but if we had these with us we would have definitely done this so travel prepared!

We carried on to do the Golden Circle with the need to reach Reykjavik for 7pm for the football as it was the England v Scotland Euro game which Paul really wanted to watch, so it made for a pretty rushed last day of driving. We would 100% recommend 2 days for this segment!Once we reached the Golden Circle we visited Geysir and Gulfoss. Gulfoss falls are incredible!

We missed out Thingvellir having done it before and being tight on time, but should be added if it’s your first time in Iceland as the scenery is unique and fascinating (compared to anywhere we have visited). We would also have visited Kerid Crater if we had more time for the Golden Circle.

We ate in Reykjavik but if you do stay an extra night somewhere to split this day in two – which you should – consider working Hendur i Hofn restaurant into your itinerary as I’ve read that it’s owned by a coeliac and everything can be made gluten free. Sadly the location didn’t work for us so I didn’t verify this.

Day 7: Reykjavik

Messinn

Dinner when we arrived in Reykjavik was at Messinn, a seafood restaurant. I tried to book Tapas Barinn and Apotek restaurant that are both highly recommended for gluten free but they were fully booked for the Saturday night so you do need to book in advance if you fancy either of those! Messinn turned out really well for us though as we both like seafood and the meal was incredible.

I had the only gluten free starter – the cured salmon whilst Paul had a lobster soup.

For the mains there were two gluten free choices – a salmon or artic char dish. We both had the artic char and it was so so good topped in honey and almonds. I need to try cooking fish at home with these ingredients – Sweet from the honey and crunchy from the almonds made the most delicious crust without being overpowering.

Iceland is notoriously expensive. This meal cost £100 in total, but for two courses of seafood with two beers for Paul and a glass of wine for me I didn’t think it was that bad considering we can pay that for nice meals out in the U.K., especially when it includes seafood. We also thought the fish portion was generous.

The meal was served in the one pan that it was all cooked in too which is always reassuring too for less chance of cross contamination. Gluten free or not though, this restaurant is definitely all about fish so don’t go if you’re not a fan!

Reykjavik Chips

Our last day in Reykjavik was the only day that we had lunch out, rather than eating a packed lunch in the car – it’s just so much easier on a roadtrip and helps keep costs down when in Iceland.

In Reykjavik there were a few recommendations for Reykjavik Chips as their chips are gluten free and cooked in a separate fryer. They were also really helpful and knew which dips were gluten free, including the sweet mustard Mayo which was amazing. However, it should be noted that reviews online are for when they were more of a street food cart selling only chips. Now they sell much more which is not all gluten free so do triple check and ask about cross contamination measures.

They did made for a great quick lunch (or more like snack) stop though ahead of visiting the puffins but it was pricy. I know, I know everything is expensive in Iceland. However for me its easier to justify in my head spending £100 on a two course dinner that includes seafood/steak/lamb with alcoholic drinks, that would also be expensive at home, more than I can spending approximately £26 on two portions of chips, a can of 7up and an Oreo milkshake!

Joylato – 100% Gluten Free

I was left disappointed by the fact that 100% gluten free icecream parlour Joylato was closed for my trip and looked like it had been for a while. It shows as being open online but there was a handwritten sign in the window that it’s closed until further notice. Hopefully it does reopen in time. Fortunately though we passed it, before walking out of our way and discovering this fact!

Sightseeing in Reykjavik

We had a lovely day with the morning spent wandering around Reykjavik, spending in the souvenir and outdoor shops (don’t go in the outdoor clothing shops if you’re trying to stick to a strict budget and can’t window shop!) We also saw the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral, but didn’t go up it having done that in 2013 but otherwise we would have.

In the afternoon we went on a puffin tour. The speed boat puffin trip was lots of fun, just make sure you leave plenty of time to make your way to the meeting point. We went to the wrong place, googlemaps just seemed to pick up somewhere completely different and we also got stuck in the one way systems from road works. It was worth the stress though as seeing the puffins was an awesome experience, try and time your trip for puffin season if you can if you’re visiting in the summer. You are taken to a couple of places to see the puffins, one where you pull up near an island with them on land and then a second location where there must be thousands flying around.

Note: People didn’t have masks on for the boat ride but were wearing the free buffs given out by the tour operator.

Supermarkets in Reykjavik

If you don’t have to do what we did and quarantine for 24 hours definitely start your trip at the large supermarkets in Reykjavik and stock up on anything you can for the rest of the ring road.

We visited Netto and Kr to buy a few bits to take home with us and for some skyr in the morning, and cereal bars and snacks for the flight. These supermarkets had the largest selections of gluten free products than the smaller supermarkets around the country.

Hotel: Radisson Blu

In Reykjavik we stayed at the centrally located Radisson Blu in a superior room with breakfast for £189. My experience with the chain has been excellent in Scandinavian countries so I was looking forward to it. Well, what can I say? It was shocking. The only gluten free options were fruit, eggs and a slice of cheese and that was with advance notice. It was a total waste of money and staff had no idea about gluten free options but said they were looking at offering that and vegan in the future. It was also the only place I think we went that didn’t have Skyr!

They were doing renovations so possibly a scaled down menu as it looked nothing like the breakfast in the photos but the price didn’t reflect that and I would not recommend this hotel. I booked through Hotels.com which also stated there was parking which there wasn’t but that may not be the hotels error. We were left extremely disappointed with the hotel for the price paid and previous experience with the chain. I would however recommend the location if you can stay at a different hotel nearby.

Hilton Reykjavik Nordic

I can’t give you much of a review as we stayed at the Hilton on our trip in 2013 but I remember it being a good hotel and more reasonably priced at the time of our trip due to being located outside the centre of Reykjavik, but it had a bus stop right outside. to get to the centre.

Blue Lagoon

We had an early flight home from Iceland (Luton to Reykjavik in both directions did not have the best flight times!) so we decided to book an airport hotel. Rather than spend the evening at the hotel & their restaurant we booked a premium 6pm ticket for the Blue Lagoon and booked a table at the Lava restaurant there for the last sitting at 8:30pm. It was honestly the best decision ever and we had a lovely chilled evening (actually not so chilled as it was sunny & we were boiling in the thermal water!)

Lava Restaurant

This restaurant was the best meal we had in Iceland. Everything is gluten free naturally except the bread at the start & one dessert although that isn’t clearly advertised. Paul said the sour dough with the skyr infused butter was incredible & didn’t stop going on about it (so maybe not one for the newly diagnosed who can’t cope with people eating amazing bread in front of them!)

I had the langoustine soup, that was packed with flavour & I loved whilst Paul had the artic char.

For the main course I had the beef with potatoes, horseradish, grilled onions and mushrooms whilst Paul had the lamb. Not the most attractive of meals but it tasted amazing.

Due to the time, we skipped dessert and headed back to the airport hotel and to drop the rental car off. It had got pretty late especially as it took quite a while for them to seat us as they were so busy. Even though you book a time, I think they just sit you wherever is free which isn’t the most ideal for the last time slot!

The meal came to about £100 plus the alcoholic drink we each had that was included in the Blue lagoon package that we’d paid for separately. It was totally worth it, especially for our last night. A fantastic way to end a trip!

Some people seem to skip the Blue Lagoon in favour of Myvatn thermal baths if they’re visiting both locations. If you’re on a budget and that’s the only consideration you can get cheaper basic ticket there as it’s less touristy and smaller than the Blue Lagoon. However, I preferred it at the blue lagoon with drinks, dressing gown, flip flops and face masks included in the package, and the meal too made for a fantastic whole experience for the extra cost. It’s also the best way to end your trip due to its location, and awesome experience but it’s also a pretty good way to start it especially if you’re travelling long haul and going to be jet legged!

Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott

Airport hotels weren’t cheap but were convenient. We picked the Courtyard Marriott for a comfortable last night conveniently located next to Lava Car Rental, priced at £196. That didn’t include breakfast or airport transfers!

Summary of our 8 day Itinerary :

  1. International travel and drive to Hvammstangir
  2. Hvammstangir – Akureyri via Vatnes and Trollaskagi Peninsulas
  3. Akureyri – Lake Myvatn
  4. Lake Myvatn – Djupivogur
  5. Djupivogur – Vik
  6. Vik – Reykjavik via Golden Circle (consider combining days 4 and 5 to give you an extra day for the Golden Circle)
  7. Reykjavik and Blue Lagoon
  8. Flight home

9 day Itinerary in hindsight/post covid quarantine:

  1. International travel plus drive some of the north west pensinsulas I skipped to Hvammstangir.
  2. Hvammstangir to Akureyri
  3. Akureyri – Lake Myvatn
  4. Lake Myvatn – Djupivogur
  5. Djupivogur- Vik
  6. Vik – Golden Circle
  7. Golden Circle stops – Reykjavik
  8. Reykjavik and Blue Lagoon
  9. Travel home

Ideally I would still add days to the itinerary!

  1. 10 day trip – Add a full day at Lake Myvatn
  2. 11 day trip – Add an extra day into days one and two for more time exploring the coastline off the ring road
  3. 12 or 13 days – Add full day each in Reykjavik and/or Akureyri, especially if you want time to go out drinking and enjoying the nightlife. If that’s your interests do this on a 10/11 day trip over the suggestions above.
  4. 14 day trip – potentially look at detours off the ring road to cover some of the centre of the country?

Tips for travelling in Iceland

  • Take warm clothing, rain coat, hat, gloves etc including in the summer. When we visited in winter we wore ski jackets and fleece lined water resistant winter trousers and base layers.
  • Don’t forget swimwear, a towel and flip flops for the thermal baths
  • This route is for the summer for long hours of daylight, and bear in mind we still had driving conditions of torrential rain and snow for some of the route. In winter do not do an itinerary that is tight on time as you can get days of roads being blocked by snow and awful driving conditions. When we visited in November we only had daylight from 10-4.
  • In the summer though take an eye mask due to the nearly 24 hours daylight in case you have poor blinds or curtains!
  • Make sure you’ve downloaded the road conditions map as honestly I didn’t think we would need it in the summer but road 864 to Dettifoss was closed and we had to turn around and head for the 862 instead.
  • If visiting in the winter plan lots of activities and a fun trip that is not reliant on only seeing the Northern Lights as we didn’t see them at all!
  • Whilst gluten free products are available I took enough gluten free bread, granola and snacks to make breakfast and lunch on the go without paying Icelandic prices. We then bought Skyr, milk, fruit, sandwich fillings and extra snacks whilst there.
  • We took our Chillys bottles, tea bags and hot chocolate and they were used daily for hot drinks on the go. Even in the summer the temperature was cool.
  • We took a pack of biscuits and wish we had packed more for hot drinks and biscuits in the evenings (again you can top up, just at Icelandic prices).
  • You can drink the tap water so take water bottles in addition to the Chillys bottles/thermos flask.
  • We ate out in the large cities or when somewhere was highly recommended for gluten free for a stress free trip. That meant we cooked in smaller cities which also helped reduce costs.
  • For meals we packed a 250g bag of pasta, Schwartz spaghetti bolognaise mix, cosmetic sample pots stacked with some basic spices, salt and pepper, and a Thai green curry kit complete with spices and noodles. It saves costs and buying huge packs of things when travelling especially in expensive countries when you only need to buy the meat and veggies.
  • If you’re only eating out for the occasional meal I would pick Moes Food in Akureyri and Lava Restaurant at The Blue Lagoon as the splurges.
  • We packed collapsible cereal bowls, cutlery, sandwich bags for lunches on the go and some foil, dish sponges and own wooden spoon for cooking with less fear of cross contamination.
  • We didn’t book anything in advance due to the lack of travellers at this point but you are likely to need to book boat trips, excursions and puffin tours in advance. We booked everything including hotels on the go as we needed them.
  • In winter I can highly recommend snowmobiling on a glacier!
  • We were going to get some cash out at Reykjavík airport (we hadn’t got any in advance due to it being such a last minute decision to go but it was £9 fee). I’m glad we didn’t pay that as we didn’t need cash anywhere and ended up getting none out at all, not a penny as everywhere took card.

Other Resources for Iceland :

We had the most amazing time in Iceland and despite the cost there are ways to spend less especially by cooking your own food making it ideal for someone with coeliac nervous about travelling as it’s a country your travel companions are less likely to want to eat out in all the time!

The scenery is breathtaking and a trip is 100% recommended, don’t let the price or coeliac put you off as it’s totally worth the effort!

Let me know too in the comments if you visit and there are any must visit restaurants in Iceland that I have missed!

Happy Travels!

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