OOOH, Iceland! I went there in June and loved it. You’ll love it, too
First thing to note is your questions about the temperature - I learned on a tour that it actually doesn’t get that cold in REK in the winter. If our guide is to be believed, it’s colder in NYC in January than it is in REK, if that’s any comfort. So it’ll be cold, but not as cold as you might think.
Next thing is re: food. Plan to pay a lot for it. Food for two people for a week in REK was more expensive than the Airbnb was. Of course, that could have probably been managed better, but food is just plain expensive there, so be sure to budget a lot for it. Pick up breakfast stuff at Bonus if you’re able to - that’ll help save a bit of $.
As far as specific recommendations go, I would suggest:
- Booking a Golden Circle tour. It’s tourist-y, yes, but the sites are so beautiful. You could also rent a card and go see them yourself without the guide, but I personally prefer to have someone doing the work for me (research, driving, etc.). Tourism is a big industry in Iceland, so the guides are typically top-notch.
- I’m not sure if it will be too cold for this at this time of year (probably), but if you happen to catch a warmer day, a whale watching tour is really cool. We saw so many whales!
- Definitely get a hot dog from this vendor: http://www.bbp.is/ So good, and the only cheap thing we had the whole trip!
- REK has a lot of really good bakeries - they seem to take baked goods very seriously (my kind of people). I’d suggest this one - I think there’s more than one location: http://www.braudogco.is/
- This is going to sound weird, but this hostel has amazing food and a cool vibe, and they do some happy hour deals (at least, they were during the World Cup): http://www.kexhostel.is/
- Visiting as many hot springs as you can! They’re such a special thing about Iceland, and so relaxing.
I’m blanking right now on some of the other restaurants we went to, but will follow up as I remember them!