A pleasant city with a cool climate, Reykjavík—Iceland’s capital—is home to a variety of locally-owned coffee shops, each with its own unique culture, charm, and clientele. Whether you are a casual coffee-drinker or a coffee connoisseur, the world’s northernmost capital has something to offer even the pickiest of palates. After their horse-riding tour was canceled due to a sudden winter storm, London residents Omid Pakan and Sophie Camp decided to grab their morning coffee at Café Brennslan, a popular two-story coffee house on Laugavegur, Reykjavík’s busiest shopping street. Despite the unpredictable weather, these two vacationers had a memorable three-day adventure in Iceland, one that they would highly recommend to prospective visitors.
Enjoying the Winter Snow
Although the weather slightly altered their itinerary, Omid and Sophie, who planned on departing later in the afternoon after we spoke to them, thoroughly enjoyed their time in Iceland, insisting that the December snowfall simply enhanced the holiday spirit.
“There’s something quite beautiful about it,” Sophie, who works for a media outlet back in England, explains with a smile. “It’s very Christmassy, even if it’s not ideal driving conditions.”
Omid and Sophie chose to rent a car during their stay so that they could take the Golden Circle tour and visit the Blue Lagoon independently, a decision that was both liberating and, at times, slightly perilous. “We didn’t get stuck in the snow, thankfully,” Sophie recalls. “We did see other people get stuck in the snow, though. We were out driving, and just as Omid was remarking that the locals seem to know how to drive in this weather, someone drove directly into a snowbank on the side of the road!” Using caution and following proper roadway safety procedures, Sophie and Omid arrived safely at Gullfoss, Iceland’s most spectacular waterfall—which proved to be one of the most rewarding parts of their stay. “It was amazing, but it was freezing and really windy,” Sophie proclaims, laughing. Omid, who works in law enforcement, was equally impressed by the waterfall’s imposing beauty, in spite of the -6˚C (21˚F )weather. “You’re not going to see waterfalls like the ones in Iceland anywhere else in the world,” he explains. “It’s a really beautiful place, and it’s well worth taking a short break to come visit.”
A Clean and Modern City
In between their countryside excursions, the couple explored the city of Reykjavík as much as they could, gladly partaking in the capital’s luxurious culinary culture. “The food’s been really nice,” Omid explains, sipping his coffee. “We ate at Grillmarkaðurinn and tried a few other local restaurants. They were really good—I just don’t know how to pronounce their names!” Sophie found the city’s many fresh fish options especially delicious and highly recommends them to anyone who visits. Sophie, who volunteers and makes balloon animals at a children’s hospital in her spare time, also appreciated Reykjavík’s quaint atmosphere and its perfect balance between bustling and easygoing. “There’s not a cramped, touristy feeling here that you get from other cities,” she explains, looking around. “It’s a very clean, modern city. We weren’t hassled by anybody during our stay, which was really nice.” Having never heard the language spoken before, the couple expressed interest in Icelandic and the ancient Nordic tongue’s future preservation. “We just read in one of the local papers this morning that the Icelandic language is changing and potentially dying out, which we found interesting,” Omid explains. Sophie nods and adds, “We encountered a lot of people from London and the U.S. while we were here, though, so I guess with the tourism industry it’s not too surprising.”
A Friendly Environment
While the Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle tour, and Reykjavík left a positive impression on Sophie and Omid, interacting with Icelanders also proved especially pleasant and enjoyable for them. “Everyone here has been really friendly,” Omid says of the people they met during their travels. “And they’re all so happy to speak to you, which has been really wonderful.” Sophie agrees, explaining that if their flight happened to be delayed by weather, they’d be perfectly content to stay an extra day.