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The Perfect Weekend in Iceland

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For a country that is just under 40,000 square miles (that's smaller than Kentucky), Iceland provides an immense amount of pleasure. The perfect weekend requires a rental car to make it easy to go from hiking lava fields and up to waterfalls to soaking in the Blue Lagoon's geothermal pools to an event at the Harpa Concert Hall followed by an innovative dinner made with local ingredients. Fly into Keflavík International Airport in Reykjavík and you'll be on your way.
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Sturlugata 5, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík’s Dill restaurant, run by chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason and sommelier Ólafur Örn Ólafsson, is the first venue in Iceland to win a coveted Michelin star. It specializes in New Nordic...
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Iceland
One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavík, this dramatic and scenic rift valley is both the historical site of Iceland’s Viking parliament and a geological wonder in its own right. Among the highlights are the...
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Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Bæjarins beztu pylsur, which humbly translates as "the best hot dog in town," is a simple stand in central Reykjavík whose popularity over the decades has given it a kind of cult status. Almost everyone in the country has eaten...
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Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
Iceland’s largest and most famous geothermal spa lies around an hour outside Reykjavik, quite close to Keflavik Airport. With a dramatic setting amidst large black lava boulders, the steam-filled, creamy-blue pool area is a striking and...
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Þórsgata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
This French-style bistro is a perennial favorite for locals, who come here for breakfast, brunch, dinner, or just drinks. The menu has a Scandinavian focus with some international offerings—hence regular dishes like catch of the day and a...
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356, Íþróttahús Snæfellsbæjar, Engihlíð 1, 355 Ólafsvík, Iceland
About a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, Hotel Budir’s remote location makes it popular with visitors hoping to spot the Northern Lights. Situated near a windswept beach beside the mighty Snaefellsness glacier, the property’s raw natural...
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Laugavegur 20b, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Not so long ago, Reykjavík’s restaurants focused almost exclusively on meat and fish dishes. Nowadays there are a growing number of vegetarian and even vegan spots, plus several places with a focus on healthy eating—such as the...
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Vogafjós, 660 Myvatn, Iceland
Situated close to the otherworldly Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland, this unique café and restaurant—heralded by a simple wooden sign on the roadway—is located in a glassed dining room inside a working...
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Gilbakki, 360 Hellissandur, Iceland
This charming, unassuming café in Rif is marked with a simple wooden sign, befitting its authentic decoration (laminate floors, wooden tables) and small and traditional—but fantastically tasty—menu. The two women who run the...
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Most of Reykjavík’s bars are unpretentious affairs to say the least, with dress codes being almost unheard of. Almost. Enter Loftið, which serves high-end cocktails in a chic and breezy upstairs lounge. The...
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1-3,, Naustin, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
One of the city’s most venerable underground nightspots, Paloma has a breezy and slightly unpredictable vibe that, combined with a great music policy, makes it a hit with visitors and locals alike. The pub-like upstairs bar usually has a...
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Mýrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Located down on the harbor and hidden inside the chic Reykjavik Hotel Marina, this vintage-cool bar is run by master mixologists who create dapper cocktails from fresh, local ingredients and house-made syrups. Behind the handsome wooden bar there...
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Tryggvagata 17, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
The Reykjavík Art Museum comprises a trio of buildings that have been constructed around the collections of three of the city’s most famous artists: the painters Erró and Jóhannes Kjarval and the sculptor...
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4, 110, Kistuhylur, Reykjavík, Iceland
This impressive open-air museum was once a functioning farm as well as a popular resting place for people on their way to and from Reykjavík. It was transformed into a museum in the 1950s in an attempt to preserve something of an old...
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Reykjadalur, Iceland
Reykjadalur means "Steam Valley"—a perfectly apt description of this pleasant geothermal area close to the town of Hveragerði, a 40-minute drive south from Reykjavík. Formed from a now extinct volcano (Mount Hengill), the valley...
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Eyrardalur, 420 Súðavík, Iceland
The Arctic Fox Center, tucked away in the tiny Westfjords village of Súðavík, is dedicated to the only land mammal native to Iceland. The nonprofit research institution and exhibition center was set up in 2007 by a...
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Vesturgata 4, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Run by 11 female artists, Kirsuberjatréð (the cherry tree) is an innovative, inviting, and inspiring design shop where you pretty much can’t fail to find something you'll like. Spanning local artworks, ceramics, and other beautiful handmade...
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Aðalstræti 10, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
The oldest house in Reykjavik (built in 1762) is home to the latest in Icelandic design, from books, clothing, and jewelry to a stool upholstered with lamb’s wool and a Blue Lagoon–like glass bowlby Kristín Sigfríður Garðarsdóttir.
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Skólavörðustígur 15, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
12 Tónar is one of Iceland's longest-serving record stores and is also a local record label. Housed in a traditional wooden house in downtown Reykjavik, it's the best place to find all kinds of Icelandic music—from classical and pop to rock and...