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Rye Flatbread newly baked

Rye Flatbread is a traditional Icelandic food and definitely one of the top ten foods to try in Iceland. Every time I ask Valur if he needs anything from the store the answer is always flatbread. He really loves it and actually, so do I and our three year old. It‘s a part of our every day diet. We have it with butter and cheese or butter and smoked lamb. I had it once with both and that really got Valur going. Cheese and smoked lamb together – how could I! Well honestly, that and so much more is excellent on flatbread. Restaurants are starting to appreciate it in greater numbers, offering it with various salads, smoked salmon and more.

In our Reykjavik Food Tour, we stop by Reykjavik Flea Market: the Kolaportið, if the tour is on during the weekend (As the flea market is only open from 11am to 5pm on Saturday’s and Sunday’s). You can read our blog about the Kolaportið here. There we have rye flatbread with butter and smoked lamb and you can also buy some in the food stalls, as well as many other traditional Icelandic delicacies.

Rye Flatbread is the poor man‘s bread. It is a thin rounded bread traditionally made only with rye and water. Sometimes barley or moss instead of rye. Rye has little gluten and lacks lifting qualities making the bread only about 2 millimeters thick, which explains the name flatbread. Prior to modern cooking methods, the bread was baked in a pot or directly on a stove. The bread is round shaped and is normally cut in half or four pieces. Today other ingredients have been added such as flour, salt, and even sugar.

The Icelandic Rye Flatbread goes back centuries  – even back to the settlement of Iceland in 874 AD. The Icelandic climate is not favorable to growing corn so bread was not a big part of the Icelandic diet. People had butter on dried fish, not bread (and we still do sometimes!). But Rye can be grown in cold climates. That is why flatbread was so common and has very strong roots in our culture. For example, it plays a big part in the Thorrablót, the Icelandic mid-winter festivals. The festivals are held across the country throughout the month of Thorri, which begins on Husband’s Day in January and ends on Woman’s Day in February.

If you like to try it just pop into the next grocery shop. With a bit of luck, you can find it in some cafes and restaurants. Or simply join our Reykjavik Food Tour!

20 free todo's in Reykjavik

Are you coming to Iceland and discovering how much everything costs here ? 🙂
– With the Icelandic Krona getting stronger each day it’s not getting any better

Well here are 20 free things to do in the greater Reykjavik area for you to enjoy so you can save some Icelandic krona to
come with us on our Reykjavik Beer Tour 🙂

  1. A visit to Hallgrímskirkja church
    It’s a must visit to check out this beautiful landmark of Reykjavik.
    You can optionally go for the beautiful view from the churchtower but it costs a
    900 Isk ticket to be able to go up the elevator to the tower.  And as you are in the neighbourhood..
  2. Go to the museum garden of Icelandic master sculptor, Einar Jonsson
    He truly is a master and there are many wonderful sculptures to be admired in his garden.
    http://www.lej.is/en/
  3. Check out the beautiful Harpa concert hall.
    This magnificent structure opened up it doors in May 2011 and has won
    many awards for both architecture and being one of the best concert and conference halls in the world.
    It houses both the Icelandic symphony orchestra and the Icelandic opera
  4. Have a run/jog along the beautiful coastline from Harpa concert hall to the sculpture museum
    of Sigurjon Olafsson.  This is a 3,5 km one way route and you can even run/jog back if you are up for more activity :).
    Which brings me to a nice artwork which is on this route…
  5. Sólfarið or The Sun Voyager is a beautiful sculpture / artwork by Icelandic artist Jon Gunnar Arnason.
    It’s located close to the Harpa concert hall and has a resemblance of the old Vikings ships.
    Supposed to be an ode to the sun this beauty is a favourite for many photographers visiting Reykjavik.
  6. Go visit the environmental artwork Þúfan in the Reykjavik harbour.
    It’s in the west entrance to the harbour, directly opposing the Harpa concert hall.
    This is one of the biggest artworks ever made in Iceland, standing 8 meters talls and around 26 meters in diameter.
    On top there is a small hut designed for drying fish (More on that on our Reykjavik Food Lovers tour)
  7. The Reykjavik museum of Photography
    It’s always fun when downtown to visit this museum and check out the ongoing exhibition.
    It focuses on Icelandic photography but also exhibits works of foreign photographers
    http://borgarsogusafn.is/en/reykjavik-museum-of-photography
  8. People watching in the one and only Reykjavik flea market.
    This is the place to see Icelanders from all walks of life.
    you can rent a booth there to get rid of old stuff and frequently Icelandic celebrities do just that.
    You can also sample all kinds of Icelandic traditional food and even candy there in the small food market.
    We sometimes visit this market on our fun food tour
    Unfortunately it’s only open during the weekends from 11 am – 17 pm
    http://www.kolaportid.is/Index.aspx?lang=en
  9. The Reykjavik City Library
    A great place to relax a little with nice seating available throughout the library.
    It even has a really nice kids area on the second floor so if you have your whole family with you then that’s a nice option
    http://borgarbokasafn.is/en
  10. Go Graffiti / house artwork hunting in central Reykjavik
    There are many beautiful artworks to be admired and here are a couple to start off with.
    The names are purely fictional and from my mind
    The fisherman, Monroe & co, The fist, The sea
  11. Go for a walk around the beautiful Reykjavik pond and maybe feed the birds if you have some bread to spare
  12. A visit to Grótta Lighthouse
    Especially during sunset or sunrise
    It even has a nice bonus of you being able to have a nice hot foot bath close by
    Just be careful about going out to the lighthouse itself when it’s possible because the tide rises quickly and
    people have got in trouble when crossing over to the lighthouse.
  13. Visit the 2 malls in the greater Reykjavik area and go people watching
    There are 2 big (for Iceland :)) malls in the greater Reykjavik area = Kringlan and Smáralind
    What we are suggesting here is that you just go people watching and resist the temptation to buy anything ..
    There are plenty of seating areas for the weary feet, I especially like the leather seats in the middle of the 1st floor of Kringlan 🙂
  14. Go for a nice walk in some of the public areas available in Reykjavik
    Elliðarárdalur is a really nice tree filled valley with a salmon river running through the center and there is a really nice 10 km circle you can enjoy there.
    You can also have a picnic in the center surrounded by trees which shield you from the always reliable wind in Reykjavik.
    Laugardalur is another option, this is a 30 minute walk from the Reykjavik city center. and there you can see where the women of Old Reykjavik did the  laundry which brings me to
  15. The Botanic garden of Reykjavik
    Situated in Laugardalur (hot spring valley), it’s always nice to take a stroll through the garden and  if you can spare it
    grab a coffee in the small “secret” coffehouse in the middle of the botanic garden.
    http://grasagardur.is/
  16. Go hiking up Mount Esja (The mountain of Reykjavik)
    This guardian of Reykjavik rises to 914 meters and it’s very popular for hiking.
    Easily accessed by bus and even by bicycle.  The summit Þverfellshorn offers a great view of the greater Reykjavik area.
    The hike takes around 2 hours up and down for average hikers.
  17. Drink the Icelandic water
    It’s free, we have plenty of it and it’s the best water in the world
  18. Check out the great view over the greater Reykjavik area from Perlan
    This glass dome was built on top of 6 huge water tanks which houses the hot water storage for the eastern part of Reykjavik,
    each tank contains about 4 million liters of water averaging 85°C (185°F).
    The great viewing area on the top floor takes full advantage of the panorama enjoyed from the hill of Öskjuhlíð.
    Just take the elevator to the top and walk outside.  And because you’re in the area…
  19. Check out the one and only geothermally heated beach of Reykjavik, Nauthólsvík
    You can go out for a swim in the sea (Like the Vikings still do) and then heat up your body again in the small hot tub available there.
    The admission to the beach, hot tub, changing rooms and toilets is free during the summertime but in wintertime the admission is 600 ISK.
    http://www.nautholsvik.is/desktopdefault.aspx
  20. Most Icelandic people believe in hidden people so why not visit the Elfgarden of Hafnarfjordur, Hellisgerði ?
    They have elf translators who go for guided walks with people but what I’m suggesting is you just show up, maybe have a picnic and
    just see if you don’t get a glimpse of Elves or fairies in the garden.
    http://www.alfagardurinn.is/I used Google maps for all locations so you would find them more easily.
    Hope you get some ideas here  of what to do for free in Reykjavik but please comment if you can point out
    more options so I can add them to the pack.

BlueLagoon1

Most people travelling to Iceland visit the Blue Lagoon, and no wonder, it is a pretty unique place. The lagoon has a unique composition and consists of three active ingredients, Silica, Algae and Minerals, all supposedly good for you, particularly your skin. The Blue Lagoon is surrounded with dark sandy mountains and fields of lava which creates a beautiful contradiction to the blue bright colour of the lagoon.

  1. The Blue Lagoon is only 20 minutes from Keflavik Airport. If you are arriving at daytime its perfect to visit before heading to Reykjavik. You can store all your luggage there for 4€.
  2. It can get pretty busy so make sure you book tickets in advance. It would be a real disapointment to show up and not get in.
  3. The Blue Lagoon affects your hair. Depending on your hair type and how sensitive you are about it, you might want to use a shower cap or just keep your head and hair out of the water. The Silica in the water is not harmful to your hair but it can get stiff and difficult to manage. There is conditioning in the showers to help but it might take a few washes though.
  4. The rules are clear, you have to wash without your bathingsuit before entering the lagoon. The same thing applies in all swimming pools in Iceland. We locals get really upset when tourists don’t follow these rules so please – don’t be a dirty tourist!
  5. You can rent a towel and a bathingsuit in case you don‘t have your own for 5€ each. You can also rent a bathrobe for 10€ and slippers for the same price.
  6. If you are travelling with children, make notice that children under the age of two are not allowed in the lagoon. For children the age 2-13 entrance is free and teenagers (14-15 years old) do not pay full price.
  7. Make sure you don‘t wear any jewlery when going in. You will have to polish them up afterwards and if you loose it, it’s highly unlikely that you will find it again. The water is thick and you can barely find your own feet.
  8. There is no public transport to get to the Blue Lagoon but various companies offer pick up including entry fee, guided tours which include the Blue Lagoon or just a return ticket.
  9. Finally, take a deep breath, cover yourself in Silica, and relax. That‘s what the Blue Lagoon is for!

On a different note, here‘s a fun fact for you. The Blue Lagoon is actually not blue, its white. If you poor the water in a cup you will see its real colour, but because of the daylight the lagoon appears blue.

Now you go enjoy yourself and hopefully we will see you in the city.