TIISTAI, 14. HEINÄKUUTA 2020
The world’s most northerly capital combines colourful buildings, quirky, creative people, eye-popping design, wild nightlife and a capricious soul.
You can get a full primer on Icelandic history right in central Reykjavík, from its Settlement Exhibition built around the unearthed Viking longhouse of the area's earliest inhabitants to the enormous National Museum, keeper of the country's most precious artefacts. In the Old Harbour you can enthrall the kids at a high-octane Saga Museum, or learn about the area's maritime history. And, as you make your way around, try to slip behind the shiny tourist-centric veneer to find today's people, who mix aesthetic-minded ingenuity with an almost quaint, know-your-neighbours sense of community.
Food & Nightlife
Reykjavík is strikingly cosmopolitan for its size. It's merely a town by international standards, compared with London or Paris, yet it's loaded with captivating art, rich culinary choices, and cool cafes and bars. The capital has seen a recent surge in restaurant openings, many of the highest standard, and expressing all manner of culinary creativity. Cafes by day turn into restaurants and bars at night. Tapas-style dining, high-concept Icelandic cuisine and burger joints all rub shoulders. Then join the late-night party. The music scene is epic: excellent festivals, creative DJs gigging and any number of home-grown bands.
Art & Design
The capital's art museums, shops and galleries are a perfect insight into contemporary city life. They include outstanding exhibition spaces, such as the Reykjavík Art Museum and National Gallery, as well as shops featuring cutting-edge Icelandic design. Edgy contemporary art galleries such as those in the Marshall House showcase emerging and internationally famous Icelandic artists. Reykjavík also presents the chance to see Icelandic cinema with English subtitles. Or, wander the streets photographing creative graffiti and public art installations, like the ever-popular seaside Sun Voyager sculpture, which changes guises along with the light.
Even if you come to Reykjavík for a short visit, be sure to take a trip to the countryside. Tours and services abound, and understanding Reykjavík and its people is helped by understanding the vast, raw land they anchor. The majority of Icelanders live in the capital, but you can guarantee their spirits also roam free across the land. Absorb what you see, hear, taste, smell – all part of Iceland's rich heritage. Take Reykjavík, then add its snow-topped mountains, churning seas and crystal-clear air, and the chances are you'll fall helplessly in love, heading home already saving to return.
BEST TIME TO GO TO REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
The best time to visit Reykjavik is from June to August. Not only can you enjoy the balmy temps (for Iceland, at least), but you'll also experience long days (think: up to 21 hours of sunlight ... a phenomenon dubbed "midnight sun").
Spring (March through May)
Humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel very cold. Highs range from 52.1°F (11.2°C) and 31.5°F (-0.3°C) with warmer temperatures in the later months. Spring is the slowest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for deals.
Summer (June through August)
The middle-year months have cold weather with high temperatures that are still jacket weather. June – August is the second busiest season for tourism in Reykjavik, so lodging and other accommodations may cost slightly more.
Fall (September through November)
Fall daily highs range from 52.1°F (11.2°C) and 34.2°F (1.2°C), which will feel chilly given the humidity and wind. Tourism is fairly slow during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be lower priced.
Winter (December through February)
Weather is far too cold this time of year in Reykjavik to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 40.4°F (4.7°C) and 31.5°F (-0.3°C). These times of year are the busiest with tourists.
WHERE TO GO IN REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
Inevitably, most people get their first taste of Iceland at Reykjavík, rubbing shoulders with over half the country’s population. It may be small, but what Reykjavík lacks in size it more than makes up for in stylish bars, restaurants and shops, and the nightlife is every bit as wild as it’s cracked up to be: during the light summer nights, the city barely sleeps. Reykjavík also makes a good base for visiting the Golden Circle: Geysir, the original geyser, the ancient parliament site of Þingvellir and spectacular waterfalls at Gullfoss. You can also easily access the famous and sublime Blue Lagoon. Beyond Reykjavík, Route 1, the Ringroad, runs out to encircle the island, and the wilder side of Iceland soon shows itself – open spaces of vivid green edged by unspoiled coastlines of red and black sands, all set against a backdrop of brooding hills and mountains.
GETTING TO REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
BY PLANE - Flying is the fastest way to get to Iceland. Virtually all international flights land at Keflavík International Airport, about 31 mi (50 km) from Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. As of today, over 25 airlines operate scheduled flights to Iceland. Typical flight times are 3-4 hours from Europe and 5-6 hours from the U.S.
BY BOAT - If you wish to take your own vehicle to Iceland, car ferry transport from Denmark is a great alternative. Norröna Ferry (operated by Smyril Line) sets sail once a week from Hirtshals, Denmark and travels to Seyðisfjörður in eastern Iceland. Along the way, the ferry stops in the Faroe Islands, giving you the opportunity to explore the archipelago either on your way to or from Iceland.
CRUISES - Iceland is fast becoming a popular cruise ship destination, especially for transatlantic journeys. Passengers who dock in Iceland have the option to take shore trips that usually last a day or two. Cruise lines like Holland America Line, Hurtigruten, Princess Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line stop in Iceland.
GETTING AROUND REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
Foot - The best way to see compact central Reykjavík.
Bus - Excellent coverage in the city centre and environs, and runs 7am until 11pm or midnight daily (from 11am on Sunday). A limited night-bus service runs until 4.30am on Friday and Saturday.
Bicycle - Reykjavík has a steadily improving network of cycle lanes; ask the Main Tourist Office for a map. You are allowed to cycle on pavements as long as you don’t cause pedestrians problems.
Boat - The Viðey Ferry to Viðey island takes five minutes from Skarfabakki, 4.5km east of the city centre. During summer, two boats a day also start from Elding at the Old Harbour and the Harpa concert hall. Bus 16 stops at Skarfabakki, and it's a point on the Reykjavík hop-on, hop-off tour bus.
Car & Motorcycle - A car is unnecessary in Reykjavík as it’s so easy to explore on foot and by bus. Car and camper hire for the countryside are available at both airports, the BSÍ bus terminal and some city locations.
Taxi - Taxi prices are high. Flagfall starts at around 700kr. Tipping is not required. From BSÍ bus terminal to Harpa concert hall costs about 2200kr. From Mjódd bus termimal it's about 4300kr. There are usually taxis outside bus stations, airports and bars on weekend nights (huge queues for the latter), plus on Bankastræti near Lækjargata.
WHERE TO STAY & EAT IN REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
This Viking-themed hotel is housed in the same building as the West Nordic Culture House, in the seaside town of Hafnarfjordur. Parking, WiFi and access to a sauna and hot tub are all free. Décor and furnishings in Hotel Viking’s guest rooms are inspired from Iceland’s history and culture. Satellite TV and a coffee/tea maker are found in each room. Some also offer sea and harbour views. Traditional, regional cuisine is served in the cosy Valhalla Restaurant. An old-fashioned Viking feast can be enjoyed in Viking Restaurant. Hotel Viking also offers a cold, Icelandic breakfast. The Keflavik International Airport shuttle bus stops directly in front of Viking Hotel. Reykjavik’s city centre, 10 km away, can be reached in less than 15 minutes by bus.
- Camp Boutique - Original North
Camp Boutique - Original North is quietly situated on the countryside in Húsavík, on the bank of the Skjálfandafljót river. It provides accommodation with free WiFi access and a garden. The daily breakfast offers continental options. The property offers a terrace. Húsavík is 32 km from Camp Boutique - Original North. The nearest airport is Húsavík Airport, 23 km from the accommodation.
- Reykjavik Road Hotel by Nordurey
Situated just 15 minutes’ drive from Reykjavik in the town of Hafnarfjordur, this hotel offers bright guest rooms that are soundproofed. There is also a lounge and bar area on site. Both WiFi and private parking are free. Guests at Norðurey Hotel Reykjavik Road can choose either guest room or studio accommodation. All include a private bathroom, cable TV and a work desk. The area surrounding Norðurey Hotel Reykjavik Road provides golf and horseback riding opportunities, as well as indoor and outdoor swimming pools. The on-site tour desk will gladly arrange area tours. A local bus stops directly in front of the hotel, while the Blue Lagoon is a 20-minute drive away.
Situated off the Route 1 highway, Fosshotel Nupar offers panoramic views of Vatnajokull’s lava fields, mountains and glaciers. Skaftafell National Park is 45 km away. Each heated guest room at Fosshotel Nupar has a work desk and private bathroom with shower. Some rooms include a seating area. Guests can enjoy Icelandic dishes at the in-house restaurant. The bar is ideal for a relaxing drink in the evening. Staff can help arrange guided area tours during summer. A supermarket, petrol station and geothermal outdoor pool are 25 km away, in Kirkjubæjarklaustur village.
Located in the coastal town of Mosfellsbaer, this hotel is just off Iceland’s scenic Ring Road. Central Reykjavik is 10 minutes’ drive away. Both Wi-Fi and on-site private parking are free. Each guest room at Hotel Laxnes features a seating area, work desk and TV. Some also have a kitchenette and a balcony with scenic views. The spacious rooms are simply, yet comfortably decorated. Daily specials, light meals and refreshments can be enjoyed in Laxnes’s restaurant and bar. Staff will gladly help to arrange area activities such as horse riding, fishing and kayaking. Whale watching tours and jeep safaris are also common.
Featuring a golf course and outdoor hot tubs, this contemporary hotel offers unique opportunities to relax among the lush landscape of Húsafell. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a TV, a minibar and cable channels. Featuring a bath or shower, the private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer and free toiletries. Extras include a desk, safety deposit box and bed linen. At Hótel Húsafell you will find a 24-hour front desk, a garden and bar. The in-house restaurant offers an array of nordic and international dishes. Other facilities offered at the property include meeting facilities, a tour desk and luggage storage. Relaxing in geothermal pools, hiking, cycling and horse riding can be enjoyed in the surroundings. Thingvellir, a UNESCO listed national park, is 105 km away. Borgarnes is 65 km away. Reykjavík Domestic Airport is 130 km away. Keflavík International Airport is 174 km away.
Located in Selfoss, Hotel South Coast features a restaurant, fitness centre, bar, and free WiFi throughout the property. Each accommodation at the 4-star hotel has city views, and guests can enjoy access to a spa centre and a sauna. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, a concierge service and organising tours for guests. Guest rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel each room is fitted with a private bathroom with free toiletries. A buffet breakfast is available daily at Hotel South Coast. The nearest airport is Reykjavík Domestic Airport, 58 km from Hotel South Coast.
This award-winning, eco-friendly hotel is on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, 6 km from Iceland’s famous Snæfellsjökull glacier and volcano. It offers free Wi-Fi, along with hiking, horse riding and glacier tours. Flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, private bathrooms and mountain or sea views are standard room features at Hotel Hellnar. Hellnar’s restaurant serves traditional Icelandic dinners and organic wines and beers. In warmer weather, guests can sit out on the terrace and admire the clear waters of Faxaflói Bay. The library lounge offers a chance for rest and reflection. Snæfellsjökull National Park Visitor Centre is next to the hotel. Hellnar Hotel is a Green Globe-certified property, committed to environmental sustainability.
- Hótel Fransiskus Stykkishólmi
Set in Stykkishólmur, Hótel Fransiskus Stykkishólmi has a bar, shared lounge, terrace, and free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. All guest rooms come with a TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a shower, free toiletries and a desk. At the hotel, all rooms are fitted with a seating area. Guests at Hótel Fransiskus Stykkishólmi can enjoy a continental or a buffet breakfast.
T10 Hotel Iceland is set in Hafnarfjördur, 8 km from Reykjavík and 31 km from Keflavík. Guests are offered free WiFi, parking and breakfast. There is a public bus station only 200 m away. The rooms have a flat-screen TV. Some units have a seating area for your convenience. Each room comes with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hair dryer. There is a shared kitchen and lounge at the property. Public bus tickets and tours can be purchased at the hotel tour desk. The nearest airport is Reykjavík Domestic Airport, 6 km from T10 Hotel Iceland.
This design hotel is located in Fáskrúdsfjördur village in Iceland’s Eastfjords region. It offers free parking and tastefully decorated rooms with a flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi access. A work desk and private bathroom with shower and hairdryer feature in all rooms at Fosshotel Eastfjords. The harbour-front hotel has a restaurant located on a floating pier. Refreshing drinks can be enjoyed in the bar. Reydafjördur village is a 20-minute drive from Eastfjords Fosshotel. Egilsstadir village is 50 km away.
Hótel Vellir is situated on the outskirts of the capital city and only 38 km from the airport. Near to mountains, lakes and possible views of the Nordic Lights, this hotel features a bar and free WiFi. Keilir Golf Club is located along the coastline, and is a 5-minute drive away. Only few meters from the hotel is the biggest thermal pool in Iceland. Rooms here offer a satellite flat-screen TV and parquet floors. Each has a private bathroom with a hairdryer and free toiletries. Guests can go swimming at Ásvallalaug Thermal Pool Centre located 350 m away, where a fitness centre is also found. Buses stopping next to Vellir Hótel link with the centre of Reykjavík. Keflavik International Airport is 39 km away.
Featuring free WiFi and a restaurant, Arnarstapi Hotel offers accommodation in Snæfellsbær. The Cliffs of Arnarstapi and the village port are just a few minutes' walk away. Snæfellsjökull National Park Visitor Center is just 10 km away. For your comfort, each room has a private bathroom with free toiletries and a hairdryer. A breakfast buffet is served daily at the property between March and October. The rest of the year guests can enjoy a breakfast bag. Gatklettur rock formation is 220 m away from the hotel. Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss Statue is 400 m away. Ólafsvík town centre is 37 km away from Arnarstapi Hotel.
- Hvassahraun Cabin by the Sea
Located in Vogar in the Reykjanes region, Hvassahraun Cabin by the Sea has a patio and garden views. This villa features a garden, barbecue facilities, free WiFi and free private parking. The villa is equipped with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen with dishwasher and microwave, and 1 bathroom with a shower, a hairdryer and a washing machine. A terrace is available on site and hiking can be enjoyed within close proximity of the villa. Reykjavík is 23 km from Hvassahraun Cabin by the Sea, while Keflavík is 29 km away. The nearest airport is Reykjavík Domestic Airport, 25 km from the accommodation.
Situated by the sea in the fishing village of Stykkisholmur, Hotel Stykkisholmur offers free Wi-Fi and brightly decorated rooms with a TV. Stykkisholms Golf Club is 100 m away. All the guest rooms at Stykkisholmur Hotel have a work desk and a private bathroom with shower. Many rooms have impressive views of the ocean. The in-house restaurant offers sea views and often serves the daily local catch, such as monk fish, cod or halibut. A Scandinavian breakfast buffet is served each morning. The mineral baths at Sundlaug Stykkisholms can be found right next to the hotel. Guests can experience fjord sightseeing trips with boats leaving from the harbour, 700 m away.
Located in Hrafnabjorg, Litlabjarg Guesthouse features a shared lounge, garden, BBQ facilities, and free WiFi. Featuring a shared kitchen, this property also provides guests with a terrace. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. At the guest house, each room has a desk, a flat-screen TV and a shared bathroom. Guest rooms include a wardrobe. Guests at Litlabjarg Guesthouse will be able to enjoy activities in and around Hrafnabjorg, like hiking. The nearest airport is Egilsstaðir Airport, 28 km from the accommodation.
- Kirkjufell Guesthouse and Apartments
Kirkjufell Guesthouse and Apartments is offering accommodation in Grundarfjordur. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge.
Situated in the heart of Husavik town centre, Fosshotel Husavik offers free parking and guest rooms with satellite TV. The whale watching boats depart from Husavik Harbour, 1 km away. All guest rooms at Fosshotel Husavik feature a seating area and a private bathroom with shower. Some rooms include marine-themed décor. Guests can enjoy the in-house restaurant. The hotel has a 24-hour reception for guests’ convenience. WiFi access is also available. The tour desk can help with different excursions. Lake Myvatn is a 45-minute drive away. The Dettifoss Water Fall is a 1-hour drive from the hotel.
Featuring a bar and a restaurant, B59 Hotel is located in Borgarnes. This 4-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and free WiFi. Impressive sea and mountain views can be enjoyed from the hotel. Guest rooms in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. The private bathroom is fitted with a bath or shower. A buffet breakfast is served each morning at the property. A spa and fitness centre are found on site. Reykjavík is 67 km from B59 Hotel.
Fosshotel Reykholt is only a few minutes’ drive from the hot springs of Deildartunguhver and the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls. It offers free parking and WiFi. All rooms at Reykholt Fosshotel have a desk and a private bathroom. Some include a seating area. Traditional Icelandic cuisine and international dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients are served in Fosshotel’s restaurant. Attractions such as the Ice cave at Langjökull Glacier, the Surtshellir lava caves and the Hallmundarhraun lava field are all close by from Fosshotel Reykholt. Borgarnes is 30 minutes' drive away.
ACTIVITIES TO DO & PLACES TO GO IN REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
There are plenty of ways to save money during your visit to Iceland, including during your stay in the cozy capital city of Reykjavik. Home to just 125,000 people, Reykjavik is a small city that is bustling with life and activities all year round. It’s artsy, cute, fun, and just filled with an awesome energy! Whether you’re visiting Reykjavik on a weekend city break or planning to head out and explore the entire country, there are plenty of ways to save money during your stint in the city!
To help you do that, here are things to do & places to go in and around Iceland’s awesome capital:
Iceland is surrounded by ocean, and for tourists, whale watching is one of the most popular things to do. The excursions provide up-close encounters with humpback and minke whales. You will likely see other wildlife on the tours such as dolphins. Several tour companies, including Elding, Special Tours, and Whale Safari, run regular trips out of the Old Harbour. Depending on the time of year that you visit, there could be specialized tours available, like those offered during months where there is midnight sun (June-August) with trips that depart late at night.
One of the best ways to start a trip to a new city is to take a walking tour. You’ll get to see the main sights, learn some history, and acclimatize to the culture. Plus, you have a local expert who you can ask questions to, which is an invaluable resource in and of itself!
The Silfra Rift is one of the best scuba diving spots on Earth, if you're not a certified diver don't worry! You'll be able to experience water at its clearest on a snorkeling excursion in Silfra! Snorkeling excursion in Silfra is designed for everyone. You just need to feel comfortable in the water and be able to swim. Being ready for a fantastic snorkeling adventure is a plus. This amazing outing in Silfra will allow you to swim between two continental plates. Get ready to be surrounded by the astonishing clarity of the water and the breathtaking colors of this underwater world. If you are staying at Reykjavík the guides can pick you up at your accommodation, or you can choose to meet them at Thingvellir National Park. If you decide to ride with them, on the one-hour drive, your guide will share all the background info. about the unique geology and cultural history of Silfra as well as the surrounding area of the Thingvellir, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once you've reached Silfra, your guide will provide you with all the equipment you will need: a wetsuit, a mask, and a breathing tube. Your guide will then explain to you how to use this equipment and how to stay safe and comfortable during your 30 to 40-minute snorkeling outing in the Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon. Snorkeling in Silfra will allow you to explore the four main parts of Silfra. Big Crack, Silfra’s narrowest section is where the continental plates are so close you can almost touch them! The fissure then widens into Silfra Hall where the full spectrum of Silfra’s colors and clarity become clearer. If you take some time to find the perfect angel, you'll be able to see all the way to Thingvallavatn, over 150 m. away. Further on, and almost reaching Thingvallavatn, you'll enter the Silfra Cathedral as the depth reaches 23 m.! The amazing outing will have its end at Silfra Lagoon.
The most prominent landmark in Reykjavik is Hallgrímskirkja church in the city's center. Since it can be seen from almost anywhere in Reykjavik, it is an easy way to navigate and it should be one of your first stops. The national monument is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. It was built as a tribute to Icelandic poet, Hallgrimur Petursson. The magnificent 25-ton pipe organ inside the church is one of its most notable features. Construction on the Hallgrimskirkja church took more than 40 years, and it has become a symbol of Reykjavik. After you explore the main chapel, buy a token in the gift shop and ride the elevator up almost 74 meters to the steeple. This is the best view of the city.
- Stroll Around Downtown Reykjavik
Plan some time during your visit to Reykjavik to explore the downtown area. It is unlike any downtown scene you have ever experienced. Instead of kitschy souvenir shops, you will find independent boutiques selling unique items, like Icelandic wool clothing and volcanic rock pottery. Take your time to enjoy the shops and fine eateries serving up traditional fare. Let your stroll take you to the waterfront walkway to feel the ocean breeze and observe the fine art and architecture in the city. In the late afternoon, position yourself near the waterfront Solfar sculpture to enjoy one of the most majestic sunsets you will see in Iceland.
Even if you do not attend a concert at the Harpa concert hall, this extraordinary landmark is one of the best places to visit in Reykjavik. The award-winning architecture of the building is uniquely artistic. The honeycomb exterior is eye-catching in the daylight and mesmerizing at night as the windows change in a rainbow of colors. There are two restaurants inside serving authentic Icelandic food, and the small gift shop sells unique gifts, many from local artists. If you can catch a concert in Harpa, plan on extra time before or after to enjoy dinner and a stroll by the water around the venue.
One of the top things to do in Reykjavik is to relax in the public thermal pools. The 17 pools located around the city are filled with Iceland's natural geothermal water. The thermal pools are Reykjavik's community meeting spots that provide a natural therapy for the mind and soul. These communal pools are an important part of the Icelandic culture and one way for you to truly immerse yourself in the customs of the country, not to mention the healing qualities from soaking in them. If you have time, be sure to take a day trip to the Blue Lagoon for the ultimate thermal pool experience.
- The Settlement Exhibition
One of the best ways to acclimate yourself to Icelandic culture is with a visit to The Settlement Exhibition museum. The museum is operated by the Reykjavik City Museum, but it is located in a separate building and requires a couple of hours to visit. Guided tours are available, but the museum layout makes it easy to explore on your own. Learn about the first Vikings settlement in Reykjavik through preserved archaeological artifacts. Digital interactive displays take you back several centuries to experience primitive Icelandic life and give you a new appreciation for the Viking influences that you will see throughout the city.
The majestic presence of Mount Esja in the distance of Reykjavik is one of the best day trips you can take during your visit. Enjoy Iceland's fresh air by hiking one of the main trails around the mountain. Each path up the mountain is marked with signs indicating the level of difficulty. Mount Esja is suitable for both casual hikers and extreme day trippers. You can hike to the top, at 914 meters, and sign the guestbook, or turn around at the more common stopping point just short of the peak at a rock called Steinn. Take note that the path beyond the Steinn is rather difficult, so only experienced climbers and hikers should attempt it.
The Perlan Museum of Icelandic Natural Wonders is a stunning building with new, state-of-the-art exhibits focusing on the many natural wonders of the country, from the cliffs and volcanos to the sea life around the island. One of the most impressive exhibits is a replicated ice cave that you can explore at a chilling 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The glacier exhibition examines the history of glaciers in Iceland, as well as the future outlook for these natural wonders. The Perlan planetarium is an immersive audio-visual experience where you can experience the Northern Lights even if you do not get to see them in the countryside during your visit. When you visit Perlan, head to the observation deck for a 360-degree panoramic view of Reykjavik.
Strolling through the Old Harbour area of Reykjavik gives you a true sense of Icelandic culture. This section of the city has some of the best views of the bay and Mount Esja. It is also the departure point for whale watching tours and puffin excursions. Many of the vibrant colored buildings in the Old Harbour district are renovated fishing sheds that are repurposed into stores, cafes, and restaurants. There is an eclectic energy in the Old Harbour from the collision of historical Scandinavian influence and a hip and modern flare.
The Arbaer Open Air Museum is a small village with more than 20 historical Icelandic homes for you to explore. Walk the grounds to see how village homes were built over the years and take a peek inside for a glimpse of authentic Icelandic life. This is an interactive way to learn about the unique history of Iceland as you walk through this restored village and farm. After exploring the exhibits, stop by Dillon's House for a cup of coffee and take a minute to enjoy the surrounding landscape.
The allure of Videy Island is almost too difficult to resist. Thankfully, you can visit the island and enjoy a spectacular view of the Snaefellsnes peninsula and the mainland. This island is significant because it was one of the first areas settled in Iceland. The natural elements, from wildlife to vegetation, are abundant, making this a favorite spot for photographers, artists, and those looking to soak up the peaceful natural beauty of Iceland. There are several trails available for both pedestrians and cyclists. A point of interest during your visit to Videy Island is the Imagine Peace Tower artwork by Yoko Ono.
You do not have to go far to experience one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Iceland. The Bruarfoss waterfall in Reykjavik showcases natural blue water in a color that does not seem real. The full waterfall is a series of cascades from converging springs. It is not surprising that the Bruarfoss is a popular waterfall to photograph. If you plan to visit, carve out time to get there because depending on weather conditions, the trails may be slippery and navigating is sometimes difficult. Pack a pair of sturdy shoes and you should be fine. The view of the waterfall is worth the extra room that the shoes will require in your suitcase.
The small Grotta Lighthouse on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula in north Reykjavik is a great spot to take in a sunset or just go for a morning walk. The lighthouse has been here since 1897, erected on farmland. It is a popular place for tourists to visit, mostly because of the views, but there are also great bird-watching opportunities. If you plan to visit the Grotta Lighthouse you will want to take into account the timing of the low and high tides.
A small and quirky museum in Reykjavik that is worth visiting is the Volcano House. In the land of fire and ice, the presence of volcanos is an important part of life and history. The Volcano House is a great museum to learn about volcanic eruptions, which happen on the island about every five years. The Volcano House has mineral and geology exhibits, as well as a Volcano Cinema, where the fiery eruptions come to life. Be sure to stop into the gift shop where you will find minerals and lava jewelry for sale.
- Reykjavik Maritime Museum
With so much of Reykjavik's history reliant on the maritime industry, a visit to the Reykjavik Maritime Museum puts much of the present-day culture into perspective. The museum is appropriately located in the Old Harbour. You will see exhibitions that showcase how early Icelandic settlers relied on fishing as their main industry. You will also see stories and artifacts that relate to the lives of Icelandic fishermen and women who cultivated this important industry for the country.
Artefacts from settlement to the modern age fill the creative display spaces of Iceland's superb National Museum. Exhibits give an excellent overview of Iceland’s history and culture, and the free smartphone audio guide adds a wealth of detail. The strongest section describes the Settlement Era – including the rule of the chieftans and the introduction of Christianity – and features swords, drinking horns, silver hoards and a powerful bronze figure of Thor. The priceless 13th-century Valþjófsstaðir church door is carved with the story of a knight, his faithful lion and a passel of dragons. Upstairs, collections span from 1600 to today and give a clear sense of how Iceland struggled under foreign rule and finally gained independence. Simple objects utilise every scrap of materials; check out the gaming pieces made from cod ear bones, and the wooden doll that doubled as a kitchen utensil. There are free guided tours in English at 11am on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Entry also covers admission to the Culture House.
The angular glass-and-wood Kjarvalsstaðir, which looks out onto Miklatun Park, is named for Jóhannes Kjarval (1885–1972), one of Iceland’s most popular classical artists. He was a fisherman until his crew paid for him to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and his wonderfully evocative landscapes share space alongside changing installations of mostly Icelandic 20th-century paintings.
WHERE TO SHOP IN REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
Formally the recording studio of Icelandic musician Jónsi, best known as the Sigur Rós frontman, this concept store feels like walking through an immersive exhibition. Perfumes, Icelandic herbs, hand-crafted soap bars and candles, ethereal music and visual artwork play with all of the senses. The clever concept was developed by Jónsi's three sisters Ingibjörg, Lilja and Sigurrós, and most of the items are made by members of the family. Jónsi, long an avid maker of perfumes, still has his perfume organ in the basement and a specially made perfume for sale.
Iceland’s premier outdoor-clothing company began by making all-weather wear for Arctic fishermen. This metamorphosed into costly, fashionable streetwear: jackets, fleeces, hats and gloves. Friendly staff can explain the different materials and their uses to help you make an educated choice. It has another city-centre store at Laugavegur 17. There are also boutiques in Kringlan and Smáralind shopping centres and Keflavík International Airport Duty Free.
This is where Reykjavík goes high fashion, with labels such as Marc Jacobs and Vivienne Westwood. But we really enjoy its Scandinavian designers (including Kron by KronKron) and the offering of silk dresses, knit capes, scarves and even woollen underwear. The handmade shoes are off the charts; they are also sold down the street at Kron.
Kolaportið is a Reykjavík institution. Weekends see a huge industrial building by the harbour filled with a vast tumble of secondhand clothes, old toys and cheap imports. A food section sells traditional eats like rúgbrauð (geothermally baked rye bread) and brauðterta ('sandwich cake'; a layering of bread with mayonnaise-based fillings).
Reykjavík's trailblazing farmers market sources its ingredients from all over the countryside, featuring treats such as skyr (Icelandic yoghurt) from Erpsstaðir, organic vegetables, rhubarb conserves, honey and meat. It also stocks a range of carefully curated international pastas, chocolates and wine.
Talented designers show their works at this long-running women’s art-and-design collective. Highlights include the bracelets and purses made from soft, supple, brightly coloured fish-skin leather, music boxes made from string, and, our favourite, beautiful coloured bowls made from radish slices.
Traditional handmade hats, socks and sweaters are sold at this knitting collective. You can also buy yarn, needles and knitting patterns and do it yourself. The association's smaller branch sells made-up items only.
One of the city's best bets for traditional Icelandic clothing and unique modern designs. Geysir's menswear store boasts an elegant selection of sweaters and other clothes, blankets, shoes and bags.
Orrifinn's subtle, beautiful jewellery captures the natural wonder of Iceland and its Viking history. Delicate anchors, axes and pen nibs dangle from understated matte chains. There are some workbenches here so you're likely to see the jewellers creating pieces.
A friendly, well-stocked independent bookshop with a strong selection of English-language books offering insights to Iceland. It also sells maps, CDs, games and newspapers and has a good cafe.
One of the city's better souvenir shops, Rammagerðin offers loads of woollens, crafts and collectibles. It also has branches at Skólavörðustígur 20, Bankastræti 9 and Keflavík International Airport.