Baking bread with lava? It’s a thing. While Iceland is widely known for serving up tasty hot dogs — made mainly from lamb instead of the typical pork — or skyr — a dairy product that’s like a thick yogurt — there’s another memorable dish that’s worth sinking your teeth into.
In the town of Laugarvatn, travellers can devour rye bread after it’s been baked in the ground for 24hours from heat generated by a volcanic hot spring. Now, it doesn’t get much fresher — or more Instagram-worthy — than that.
Of course, the culinary options across the island don’t end there, but for most visitors, food takes a backseat to the incredible scenery that’s found across a destination dubbed as being the land of fire and ice. And while Iceland is known for its remarkable natural beauty, my first order of business is something that’s very unnatural.
I’m on a mission to reach the wreckage of an abandoned DC plane on the black sand beach at Sólheimasandur. The story goes that back in 1973 a US Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the sand. Thankfully, all onboard survived and today the site is a popular attraction along the scenic South Coast of Iceland.
The sign in the parking lot warns that the journey is a seven km trek that takes three to four hours to hike both ways. Undeterred, I venture forward realizing quickly that the flat landscape is in fact deceiving and the shoreline is way further away than it initially appeared to be. It’s all worth it the moment I eventually make out the outline of the wreckage, in under an hour to boot.
The plane reflects the morning sun and stands out prominently against the dark sand beach with the coast behind it. From the other angle, glacier covered mountain peaks provide a picturesque background to the plane, which sits in stark contrast to its surroundings. The nose is cut off and wires dangle from the debris. It’s an unusual sight to see.
Insider tip, if you get up at the crack of dawn you’ll virtually have the location to yourself.
With its black sand beaches and mesmerizing waterfalls, the South Coast offers an abundance of stunning natural sights to explore as well. Spectacular options include Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls, and Seljalandsfoss, which allows visitors to get a unique perspective from behind the falls.
The black sand beach of Reynisfjara, surrounded by basalt stacks, caves, crashing waves and intriguing rock formations, is another must.
For those with a limited time in Iceland, the Golden Circle tour is a fully loaded day trip that makes it easy to soak up some of the iconic sites near the capital city of Reykjavik, including the impressive Gullfoss waterfall. A highlight for many on my tour was the Strokkur geysir, which dramatically shoots up water up to 30 metres high every five minutes or so viewers won’t miss the display.
After a long day of exploration, scenic spots to unwind include the relaxing waters of the Blue Lagoon and the Sky Lagoon, an inviting geothermal spa. And for a local tipple, Sæmundur makes a Mango Pale Ale that’s quite refreshing.
My time in Iceland was short as I had a cruise to catch, but skimming the surface of the country’s beauty made me vow to return soon.