Iceland’s Arctic Coast Way: Q&A with writer Felicity Cloake

Monday, 28th June 2021

Pam Forrest

north iceland digranesviti lighthouse near bakkafjordur nitb

Well-known food-writer, Felicity Cloake, travelled to Iceland with us in May 2021 to enjoy the food experiences of North Iceland’s Arctic Coast Way – a 900km touring route showing off some of the most spectacular scenery in North Iceland. She also rounded of her trip with an unforgettable visit to the Fagradalsfjall volcanic eruption in south west Iceland.


Felicity Cloake – writer, Guardian ‘How to Make the Perfect…’ and New Statesman columnist, winner of the Guild of Food Writers’ Food Journalist of the Year and New Media awards 2011, and author of Perfect: 68 Essential Recipes for Every Cook’s Repertoire (Fig Tree, 2011), Perfect Host: 162 easy recipes for feeding people & having fun (Fig Tree, 2013), Perfect Too (Fig Tree, 2014) and The A-Z of Eating (Fig Tree, 2016).

“I’d describe my trip as absolutely spectacular — north Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.” 

felicity cloake iceland1

With Iceland on the UK’s green list, Felicity travelled soon after stage 3 of the government easing of lockdown came into effect on 17 May 2021. We asked her a few questions about her experience.

What did it feel like to be travelling again?

Genuinely exciting — I even enjoyed the airport.

Was this your first visit to Iceland?

Yes but I hope it won’t be my last.

Did you feel safe at the airports and on the flights?

Very — not only were they very quiet but people seemed much better at observing social distancing, mask wearing rules etc than on other UK public transport.

How long did you have to wait for the results of your PCR test on arrival?

About five hours (but that included getting from the airport to the hotel, so I was probably only confined for three and a half, which actually is no hardship in a nice hotel room).

Did Iceland live up to your expectations?

It exceeded them — I’d seen pictures of the highlights but nothing prepared me for the spectacular scenery just driving around the north coast.

You headed north to explore the Arctic Coast Way – what were the highlights?

Every drive was a highlight, genuinely, because the scenery was just jaw dropping. I also really enjoyed the whale watching — I’ve been out before elsewhere, but never seen animals so quickly.

What was your best meal of the trip?

Hmm, that’s a tough one because all the food was pretty good, but I really loved the simple lunch prepared for me by Gísli Egill Hrafnsson at the Brimslod Atelier — not only is he a great cook but so knowledgeable about local ingredients and culinary history.

You were lucky enough to witness the erupting volcano (Fagradalsfjall)… what was it like to see it for real?

Incredible — we flew over it on the aircraft but being able to get close enough to touch the (cooled!) lava fields was amazing.

The brand new Sky Lagoon was also on your itinerary… would you recommend it?

Definitely — it’s so beautifully designed it felt like a very swish bar which just happened to be located in a geothermal pool. The view from the sauna in particular is stunning.

Our weather here in the UK during May was awful – surely it was even worse in North Iceland?

Surprisingly no — I had brilliant sunshine almost every day (pack sunglasses if you’re driving!), and even in May, it was still light well after dinner, which meant you could pack a lot into each day.

Finally, if you had to convince someone hesitating about booking a holiday to Iceland, what would you say?

Go — it truly feels like escaping to another world!

The Arctic Coast Way

Peppered with the sort of extraordinary features that define Iceland, this waymarked touring route was opened in 2019. Connecting Hvammstangi on the northwest coast to Bakkafjordur in the northeast it lets visitors explore more remote parts of the country, away from the crowds.

Designed to be an immersive exploration of less well-known areas in Iceland, this coastal route suits a go-slow spirit of exploration with plenty of opportunity for adventure along the way.

Flexible touring

The Arctic Coast Way is open year round, though the winter route is abbreviated to allow for more challenging weather conditions. During the summer, the days here are the longest in Iceland, with the northerly coast almost glancing the Arctic Circle.

You can also opt to drive sections of the route and combine with other highlights of the north such as the Diamond Circle.

north iceland arctic coast way route nitb

Plan your own road trip

For anyone looking to travel during the long days of summer, take a look at our 11-night Arctic Coast Way – North Coast Highlights self-drive. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to visit in northern lights season, then our 7-night Winter Highlights itinerary might be for you.

Talk to our Travel Specialists on 01737 214 250 or if you prefer a virtual face-to-face, request a video chat when you send an enquiry.

If you are planning to travel this year, read our comprehensive travel advice outlining what you need to know before, during and after your trip to Iceland this summer.

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