Despite its chilly name, Iceland is a nature-loving couple’s dream honeymoon destination.
Photo by Melissa Varnadoe
Less than a six-hour flight from New York, Iceland is closer than you think and probably much greener than you imagined. Only about the size of Kentucky, this small European country’s landscape is as diverse as its people and offers some of the world’s most spectacular natural sights.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Did your geography teacher ever tell you “Iceland is green and Greenland is ice?” Well, they knew their stuff. Iceland enjoys a fairly mild climate with chilly, but not frigid, temperatures throughout the year. The high season is from June through August. The rest of the year offers lower costs, but accommodations and tours are much more limited.
Iceland has the only openly gay head of state in the world, and its Parliament unanimously voted to legally recognize gay marriage in 2010. Remember Bjork’s Oscar dress in 2001? Well, that’s a prime example of Icelanders’ high regard for individuality. Far more than being tolerant, Icelanders actually celebrate and delight in people’s differences. Even with a population hovering just above 100 thousand people (that’s a third of the entire country’s population), Reykjavik hosts an annual Pride festival and is even home to a couple of gay clubs—although everyone is welcome everywhere.
Photo by Melissa Varnadoe
Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel Located in the heart of Reykjavik, this four-star hotel is mere steps from all the sights, restaurants and shops this quaint capital city has to offer. Modern design and clean lines dominate the renovated historic building and their friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to assist you in booking transportation or tours prior to your arrival. The hotel’s own 1919 Restaurant offers classic Nordic cuisine with a modern twist in a chic environment.
WINE & DINE:
You may find you’re the only tourists in the intimate dining room at 3 Frakker restaurant, and that will be your first clue as to how good it will be. Located on a quiet residential street, this popular local dining destination has an ever-changing seasonal menu. If you’re feeling adventurous, they usually offer some purely Icelandic appetizers, like reindeer. If not, don’t let that scare you off. The chefs take full advantage of Iceland’s long seafaring tradition and have beautifully prepared fish and seafood dishes. The atmosphere is so charming you’ll want to be sure to leave room to linger over coffee and one of the delectable desserts.
Translating to “the best hot dog in town”, this hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, is an institution in Reykjavik and has been since 1937. Their hot dogs are a great budget lunch choice or a perfect late night/early morning snack after enjoying the Reykjavik nightlife. Order like a local and get it “with everything” which means sweet mustard, ketchup, remoulade, raw onions and crispy fried onions.
To say the menu is eclectic at Café Oliver would be a gross understatement. Burgers, sandwiches, salads, ribs, pasta, steaks and offerings from Mexico to India are just a few of the choices that fill the menu. Surprisingly, no matter what you choose, they deliver a well-executed and yummy dish. Café Oliver is a great place for lunch or dinner and also offers a couple of brunch dishes on the weekends.
Stop in at the cozy Svarta kaffið for some of the famous homemade soup served in a fresh baked bread bowl. If you’re not hungry, it’s also a great place to just grab a coffee and a seat by the window for some prime Icelandic people watching on Laugavegur Street.
If you and your spouse are having a difficult time sleeping when it’s still light outside, you can always do as the locals and make the most of the bright nights. At Q Bar, you’ll find one of the best dance floors in the city, a fun array of cocktails and even tapas at this “straight-friendly” bar in downtown Reykjavik.
Photo by Melissa Varnadoe
SEE & DO:
Blue Lagoon You may think it unwise to plan an excursion directly from the airport after a long international flight, but a trip to the Blue Lagoon just after landing is definitely in order. You can grab a bus directly from the airport and in just 20 minutes, you will be soaking those cramped muscles in the healing waters of this otherworldly lagoon. Located amid green moss–covered lava rocks, this ethereal blue body of water is actually geothermal seawater, which is rich in silica, a natural exfoliating mineral. The Blue Lagoon Spa offers everything you’ll need from towels to robes; just don’t forget your swimsuits. If you want to extend the relaxation, they also offer accommodations and a host of spa treatments and massages.
Golden Circle Considered the quintessential tour of Iceland; whether you rent a car and drive yourselves or take an organized bus tour, it is a perfect introduction to both the natural phenomena and history of Iceland. Included in the “golden circle” is the Þingvellir National Park, where the world’s very first parliament was founded and the amazing meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, the incredible Gullfoss waterfall and Iceland’s two spouting geysers, Geysir and Strokkur, located in the geothermal valley of Haukadalur valley.
Northern Lights If your wedding falls between September and April, don’t miss the chance to see one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful spectacles, the Aura Borealis. Huddle with your honey and watch these amazing colors and shapes dancing above you in the clear Icelandic skies. It is unlike anything you have ever imagined.
Whale Watching From April through September is prime time for spotting the many species of whales that visit the waters off Reykjavik. During the summer months, you can enjoy the long stretches of daylight and take a night tour when the waters are calmer and you can still see the majestic Mink and Humpback whales, dolphins and a myriad of seabirds.
Glaciers Adventurous couples won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a walk on the icy side with some glacier hiking and ice climbing. Tours are available year round, where experts will safely guide you through the astonishing terrain of ancient ice on one of Iceland’s glacial tongues. Less daring couples can still enjoy the beauty of the glaciers with a relaxing boat tour through the incredible glacial lagoon, Jökulsárlón.
|Photo by Melissa Varnadoe|
PERFECT FOR COUPLES LOOKING FOR:
Nature at its most unique, adventure, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
DAYS TO STAY:
With so much to see you’ll want to stay at least five to seven days, but you can find tours that last up to two weeks.
OH, AND BY THE WAY:
The Icelandic language is one of the most unchanged languages spoken today, and Icelanders can literally read Old Norse text from the 12th century. Lucky for you, most Icelanders speak English, as well as quite a few other languages.
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