Planning your next trip to Iceland, read what the expert recommends on the most desirable hotels, the posh and chic restaurants, and the places you should visit in Iceland.
Here are 12 things to know before visiting Iceland and make sure to take some notes.
Antonio Mitag works at the Iceland Tourism office, “Booking What’s On,” in the Reykjavik location. As a Tourism Assistant, he arranges tours, advises on affordable hotels, and hottest places to hang out.
The Tourism Office should be your first stop once you land at the airport. The Assistants are knowledge to help you with planning your stay. The office will hold your luggage while you’re waiting to check-in in your hotel or leaving for your flight. If you have any concerns about safety, they are the ones to address them and make you feel at ease.
The Reykjavik Tourism Office is a bustling place, especially during the mid-morning and in the middle of the afternoon. Get there very early, and grab a cup of coffee while you stand in line. While waiting for assistance, browse the weekly event calendar to find free events, outdoor concerts, or a place to meditate.
Leaving Croatia about two years ago to come with his girlfriend to Iceland, Antonio immensely enjoys helping visitors have the best experience during their stays. He created a fantastic itinerary for me, and I had one of my best travel experience in Iceland.
Antonio suggested going on the private guided Snaefellsness tour. Since learning about the culture is essential to me, he recommended carving out half a day to visit the museums and attend the Icelandic Sagas performance at the Harpa Concert Hall.
As a Croatian living in Iceland, his unusual perspectives of Iceland and the people are infectious. I was curious to find out more about him and some his favorites things to do during his pastime.
Interview with Antonio Mitag
I am profoundly grateful that Antonio took the time from his busy schedule for this interview.
BlackgirlZen: So, tell me about yourself.
Antonio Mitag: There is not too much to say about me. Nothing exceptional! I love my job and helping visitors enjoy everything about Iceland. When I am not working, I love a good Dungeons & Dragons session and watching sci-fi movies. And my favorite cartoons are Big Rick and Morty, which I immensely enjoy. You will always catch me watching them on Television.
BlackgirlZen: What are your favorite restaurants and why?
Antonio Mitag: Not sure, there are too many to pick one. But if I had to choose, it would be a choice between Messinn and Smakkbarinn. I like Smakkbarinn because it is very cozy and located in the center of the city. They offer many small delicious tapas plates, and the most delicious Icelandic dishes.
Messinn has the best Icelandic seafood in Iceland, in my opinion. If you love seafood, that is the place to go. This restaurant is only one year old, and they get fresh fish daily. The dishes are to-die-for and very flavorful. Make sure that you try their pan-fried fish cooked in Icelandic butter with roasted potatoes and a side salad.
You will be happy to know that they serve vegetarian dishes too.
BlackgirlZen: Where are the best places that the locals hang-out?
Antonio Mitag: The best places are: The Pond, downtown, or the grassy slopes of Arnarhóll. The slopes of Arnarhóll has a great view of the Harbour and the Harper Concert Hall. It is a great area to have a picnic with friends or with your significant other.
While relaxing at the park, you learn a piece of history of Iceland. The statue of Ingolfur Arnarson, who is considered the first permanent settler in Iceland. He also named the city Reykjavik, which means smoke cove, because of a bunch of rising steam from the hot springs.
BlackgirlZen: Can you tell us a couple of non-touristy places that you would recommend people to visit?
Antonio Mitag: There are precisely zero non-touristy towns. For a small country, every area is a tourist heaven. I would guess my dentist office may be the only non-touristy place. smile
BlackgirlZen: Why do you think Iceland has become a popular destination, with 40% increase over last year?
Antonio Mitag: Iceland has an incredible natural beauty, friendly locals, Eyjafjallajökull eruption and weird customs. When visiting Iceland, you cannot miss the stories about legends and thralls. It is also a photographer’s paradise. The landscapes provide them to take some of the most amazing pictures
BlackgirlZen: Can you tell me an interesting piece of history of Iceland?
Antonio Mitag: Not being born in Iceland and only been living here for little over one year, this question would be better suited for someone from here. But this place has many great histories, and I am looking forward to learning more about the Vikings.
BlackgirlZen: What makes Iceland so different than other countries?
Antonio Mitag: Iceland is a special place. What other places in the world have the perfect summer weather, which is not too hot. Yes, the weather is very unpredictable. But, you can guarantee beautiful weather during the Summer months. Besides, which countries have tiny fishing communities, that have different characteristics and charms.
BlackgirlZen: Name two hotels in the city that you would want to stay for one night?
Antonio Mitag: If I could stay in any hotel, it would be the Radisson Blue Saga Hotel Reykjavik because it is in a great location and offers many excellent amenities. The restaurant, the “Grillid,” has delightful authentic dishes and a friendly atmosphere.
My other choice is the Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik city center. It is a beautiful hotel in a lovely area. If you want to be spoiled and fully relax in Iceland, you will not be disappointed staying at the Canopy by Hilton.
BlackgirlZen: Why should tourists visit the Tourism Office?
Antonio Mitag: It is way easier to set up your holiday with someone who works in the industry and knows how to organize time, departures, and which tours to take to maximize your short stay. Also, it’s nice to have someone help you out if you missed your pickups or have any questions.
BlackgirlZen: Do you recommend visitors taking tours or rent a car and drive around to explore alone?
Antonio Mitag: Tours all the way! Seeing things on your own is impressive and beautiful, but I’d always use tour guides mostly because of all the wisdom and stories they share during the trip.
BlackgirlZen: Thank-you, Antonio for the fantastic interview.
Antonio Mitag: You are welcome!
Again, I sincerely appreciate Antonio for taking the time to do this interview. It is always wonderful to get the perspective of an expert.
He is a wonderful person – friendly, helpful and patient. I highly recommend people visit the Tourism Office because the staffs are incredibly knowledgeable about the country. The office opens at 8:00 AM and closes at 8:00 PM.
Next time you pass by a Tourism Office during your vacation, stop by to say hello and pick up some brochures and ask about free concerts and tours.
Tell us what you like about your visit to the Tourism Office.