Create your own long-weekend saga in this Nordic world away—just a quick flight from the East Coast.
Get Outdoors: The 14-mile Fimmvörðuháls Pass hike is one of the world’s most picturesque. You’ll ramble along the Skógá River, passing a series of waterfalls, glaciers, even a volcano—while ascending more than 3,200 feet. The trailhead is just two hours by car from Reykjavík.
See a Show: It’s no surprise that artist Ólafur Elíasson designed Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall & Conference Center, with its kaleidoscopic glass façade. The performance we’d gladly wait in line for: How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes, in which actor Bjarni Haukur Thorsson lovingly pokes fun at his country’s language and customs (sour sheep balls are just the beginning).
Book a Room with a View: Made of glass, aluminum, and poured concrete, the 45-room Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel ($$) is surrounded by hot springs in a lava-field landscape. Ask for a room facing Thingvalla Lake, Iceland’s largest, and remember to caffeinate—the northern lights are most active between August and May, from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Soak It All In: Need a quieter alternative to the overrun Blue Lagoon? Steep in the hot springs at Laugarvatn Fontana, a spa set in the center of the Golden Circle—all waterfalls, geysers, and more waterfalls. One unexpected perk of all that geothermal heat: steaming loaves of rye bread that are baked daily in earth ovens.
Sport the Icelandic Look: Designer Bergthora Gudnadottir and her husband, musician Jóel Pálsson, conceived Farmers Market as a sustainable-fashion brand. Local wool and recycled yarns and silk are spun into everything from skivvies to the country’s iconic patterned sweaters. The flagship store is located in a former fishery in Reykjavík’s historic harbor; make sure to peruse the albums from popular Nordic bands.
Dig In: Owned by an international husband-and-wife duo (he’s from Iceland; she’s Korean-American), the newly opened K-Bar (354/571-6666; $), in Reykjavík’s busy shopping district, is inspired by Korean, Japanese, Californian, and—yes—Icelandic street food. To order? Miso-marinated cod sliders with pickled onions and seaweed salsa verde, or lamb pops with kimchi béarnaise.
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