Ron and his daughter riding Icelandic horses named Concert and Mon (pronounced Mn).

Craft beer has enthusiasts in countries all around the world. I had a chance to discover that recently on a trip to Iceland with my daughter. This is our story…

During the past decade, Iceland has received growing interest from tourists around the world because of its pristine and unique natural beauty.  The country has a population of 380,000, with approximately two-thirds of them living in the capital city of Reykjavik. Going back to 2000, Iceland welcomed about 200,000 tourists per year; in 2022, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 1.7M tourists. Iceland is approximately 40,000 square miles, which is about the same size as Ohio. The country’s foundation has developed over the centuries based on volcanic eruptions, so the ground is mostly hard, black gravel. Since the soil is not favorable for growing things, I could just about count the number of trees in Iceland on both hands. Seriously.

After an overnight flight on Icelandair, we started our adventure with three days in Reykjavik. Temps during our stay were in the mid to upper 40s, and we came prepared with layers of clothing. 

Shortly after arriving, we were on the outskirts of the city riding Icelandic horses. My daughter is an avid horse enthusiast and rides every week, so we wanted to include riding as part of our experience. It was an amazing 1.5-hour ride through rugged terrain. All horses in Iceland are purebred Icelandic horses based on a regulation established in 982 A.D. protecting the bloodlines. If an Icelandic horse leaves the country it may never return, and other horse breeds are prohibited from entering.

The second day we took a day trip out on a peninsula NW of Reykjavik. There was some incredible coastline featuring volcanic rock formations and we were constantly looking forward to what might be around the next corner.

Cliffs and rock formations along the west coast of Iceland.

Thingvellir National Park was a highlight on our final day in the capital. We ventured out on a four-hour hike, surrounded by mountains and a glacier.

Haerra Imperial West Coast IPA with Reykjavik in the background.

After the hike, we took an urban hike to RVK Brewing near the center of town. The vibe and beer list were similar to craft taprooms in the U.S. I tried Haerra Imperial West Coast IPA, being drawn in by graphics depicting the Northern Lights. Beers on tap included a Lager, Belgian IPA, Hazelnut Red Ale, and several more.

Taproom and Beer List at RVK Brewing in Reykjavik.

The biggest highlight for me came on the first day after leaving Reykjavik and driving to the south-central part of the country. Along the way, we stopped at Skogafoss Waterfall, which is fed by Myrdalsjokull glacier. We climbed up 465 stairs to the observation platform and then hiked another two hours along the river that fed the waterfall.

Skogafoss Waterfall and the river flowing toward it, fed by the glacier in the background.

On our final day of the adventure, we explored the black sand beach at Dyrholaey. To preserve the natural landscape, the beach is not accessible except via guided 4-wheeler tours, so we hiked along the cliffs above and enjoyed the scenery.

Black sand beach at Dyrholaey.

After the hike, we stopped at Smidjan Brugghus, a craft brewery in the town of Vik. Vik has less than 400 residents but is growing with new hotels, apartments, shops, and restaurants as a result of the tourism boom. One of those additions has been the craft brewery, which opened in 2018. At Smidjan Brugghus, I enjoyed a Milk Stout called Stuck At Home, which can occur during winters in Iceland. 😊

Front of the building and a pint of Milk Stout at Smidjan Brugghus.

Overall it was an amazing trip. Most importantly, the time spent with my daughter was priceless.  We experienced so many highlights in a country that felt like being on another planet. Prices for food and lodging were similar to other European countries. If you’re looking for an overseas vacation destination, Iceland is worth considering. Skal!