For the avid angler, we have bucket lists of places we hope to go and fish. Recently I had the opportunity to check off another destination from my list; Iceland! My time in Iceland was a blend of fishing and exploring. As much as I love fishing from sun up to sun down on a destination fly fishing trip, sometimes you have to slow down, enjoy the culture… and the touristy places. Here is my ode to Iceland: more than a trophy fishery.
Travel stress is well known to all. Making sure you have your I.D., your passport, your visa information should you need it, making sure you packed every single item that you could possibly need, standing in the security line, etc. Covid-19 has added even more steps to the already long list of stressors. Steps for traveling to Reykjavik, Iceland as of August 2021. Things are ever changing, you can click here for the most up to date travel requirements.
Traveling to Reykjavi, Iceland from Salt Lake City, UT:
- Flights – Most travel websites base the prices off of your search history and location. By deleting your cookies and searching flights incognito on Google Flights, you are being provided unbiased prices and find the best deal. On Google Flights for the first flight search Salt Lake City, UT to Denver, CO. Be sure to choose an early flight with plenty of lay over. Having to go and grab your bags from baggage claim and then check your bags into your Iceland flight as well as do all your covid documentation takes time. Lessen your stress and give yourself a decent layover in Denver. For the second leg of your flight I found the best deal purchasing directly from Icelandair.com as a non-stop flight from DEN to KEF. Its a longer non-stop flight, around 7.5 hours, but the leg room and overall quality of Icelandair is phenomenal. Try to choose a flight that arrives in Iceland around 6am in the morning so that your time spent going through customs is less. Following this, you could find a flight from SLC to DEN to KEF for around $477 RT.
- Covid test – Required for all international travel. The U.S. requires a rapid or PCR test no more than 72 hours before your flight from a country outside the U.S.. You’ll want to check, double check and triple check the requirements for each country. Iceland’s specific requirement for entry into the country was a rapid or PCR Covid test no more than 72 hours from the destination entering the country. So that means if you leave Salt Lake City, and connect to your Icelandair flight from Denver, 72 hours starts from the time your Denver, CO flight departs.
- Arriving in Iceland – The Keflavik International Airport is the largest airport in Iceland. When you arrive to the airport you’ll come into the main building where flights are departing and arriving. It’s a little hectic and overwhelming and the signage of where to go next is limited. You can expect getting through customs, grabbing your rental car and stopping at the duty free shop, to take about to take about two hours if you arrive early AM. If you arrive in the afternoon you can expect 3-4 hours from what I heard from other travelers. To make your arrival day less stressful, do not plan any adventures. Enjoy the process of entering the country, lol.
- Rental Vehicle – This will be specific to your adventure of course. I suggest reading up on the travel camper vans if you want to explore the whole island. I do not suggest that you rent a compact or economy car if you plan on going anywhere outside of Reykjavik. The highlands and some of the other areas have rougher roads and having that little extra clearance is worth it. If you’re renting a SUV or crossover, I HIGHLY suggest that when booking your rental car you go with Hertz and NOT Europcar. Hertz was more expensive but I the line was shorter and that could cut some of your time down.
Top Touristy Things to do in Iceland:
Fly Fishing in Iceland – Since this article is less about the fly fishing and more about the adventure and exploring the island, if you have interest in knowing more about guided fishing trips, give us a call at our Fishwest Kamas shop. We hope to offer guided trips through Fishwest Travel and can get you more details.
Scuba Diving in Lake Pingvallier National Park – Touching two continents at the same time! The Silfra Fissure was formed by earthquakes which caused the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates to separate (they continue to do so at about 2cm/year!). It’s filled by glacial meltwater from the Langjökull glacier. It takes YEARS for the water to filter through underground lava before reaching the fissure. That means it’s incredibly pure, clear, and cold! You can literally take a sip of the 39 degree water before you start your dive! The cold waters mean that you have to dive with a dry suit and it requires a special certification, but if you’re headed to Iceland for a once in a lifetime trip its worth the certification. Plan ahead, get certified before you go. There’s no wildlife to see aside from trolls hair moss (and the other divers) but we did see ONE fish that had ventured from Lake Thingvellir! If you’re thinking of booking a scuba dive tour, I recommend Dive.IS, our guides Anna and Rami helped us in this foreign space and made a very new experience extremely comfortable and stress free. Another cool thing we learned from our dive guides was that Pingvallier National park was the first parliament, the vikings would meet there about 2 times a year. We decided after our scuba dive trip to eat our sack lunch with the vikings.
Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa – This is the more private way to experience the Blue Lagoon and even though it’s a little more expensive, it’s WORTH it. For about $500 USD you get 5 hour exclusive entry to the Retreat Spa and:
- Access to 8 Subterranian spaces – rooms with a fireplace, a rain room, floating beds (ie; nests), wet sauna, dry sauna, cold dip tank, etc.
- Access to the Spa Restaurant – The beef tenderloin is a must!
- A Drink of Your Choice – I recommend their signature Mimosa.
- The Blue Lagoon Ritual – salt scrub, silica and algae your body for ultimate detox. Takes about 45 minutes to do the whole “ritual”.
- Private Changing Room with wristband that magically slides open your dressing room door. Excuse me while I continue to geek out on that feature alone.
Waterfalls – Make sure you pack lots of rain gear, even if it’s not raining the mist from the waterfalls will get you wet!
- Seljalandsfoss – is the most visited waterfall and trust me when I say, you must see this waterfall. You can actually walk behind the waterfall for epic pictures. A short walk down another trail will take you to a cave type waterfall. Give yourself about an hour here to walk around, explore and take pictures. When I was there they had a cafe cart that you could buy hot coffee, tea and hot chocolate to warm up!
- Gullfoss – is known for an erie legend. During the first half of the 20th century and some years into the late 20th century, there was much speculation about using Gullfoss to generate electricity. The owners, Tómas Tómasson and Halldór Halldórsson, were duped by foreign investors that planned to turn the waterfall into a hydro power plant. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson, was determined to preserve the waterfall’s condition and threatened to throw herself down the falls if the investors didn’t give the waterfall back to her father. The investors gave the rights back to the original owner but not because of the threat, the investors’ attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money. Regardless a fun story and the falls themselves are beautiful. They have a shop up the hill that you can buy souvenirs and have some of the best asparagus soup and panini’s.
Black Beaches & Puffins – While the sands found on most of the world’s beaches are golden in color, black sand beaches are more rare. Sand is created when rocks are eroded down into tiny fragments. The reason for the sand at Reynisfjara being black is that it is formed from heavily eroded volcanic rocks. The most well-known volcanic rock found in Iceland is basalt, but there are at least 25 different types on the island, including olivine, gabbro, rhyolite, and tholeiite. If you go during July/August you may have your very own chance of seeing nesting puffins. A rare site in itself. Puffins live out at sea for the majority of their life. Only coming to land to nest.
Food – I had people tell me not to expect much from the food, but I was very surprised. Local food such as puffin, whale, reindeer, horse and lamb are staples for the Icelandic people. I was only brave enough to try the lamb, so I can’t offer much on the other dishes, but I can definitely suggest trying the lamb. A few notable places to try:
- Brikk brauð & Eldhús, Norðurbakki 1b, 220 Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Try everything. The breads, sauces, soups, coffee and pastries.
- Krisp, Eyravegur 8, 800 Selfoss, Iceland. Try their Crispy Chicken Burger, Steamed Bun and a draft of Einstok Icelandic White Ale.
- Sushi Social, Þingholtsstræti 5, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Try their Fried edamame beans, Grilled asparagus,, Volcano Roll and the Amazing dessert platter!
- Sæta svínið, Hafnarstræti 1-3 / 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Try their Bangin’ Brocolli, Waffle Fries,Traditional Icelandic Flatkaka, and/or Oven Baked Lobster Tails. Some noteworthy cocktails are the Reykjavíkurnætur: Brennivín, Chambord, rhubarb liqueur, plum syrup, lime, sprite and the Crowberry: Tequila Anejo, crowberry, wild thyme syrup, lime
Culture – Walking around any small town or in the heart of downtown ReykJavik. You will experience their culture. Talk to people, ask for other reccomendations around town. Enjoy the art district and see the sites of the Largest Phallic Museum and the HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA church. Stop at OmNom Chocolate factory for one of their spectacular ice cream concoctions. Explore, explore, explore.
If you have any other questions about Iceland, please feel free to reach out to me, Brooke.