Reykjavik, Iceland | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland and with an urban area population of around 200,000, it is the home to two-thirds of Iceland's population. It is the center of culture and life of the Icelandic people as well as being one of the focal points of tourism in Iceland. The city itself is spread out, with sprawling suburbs. The city center, however, is a very small area characterized by eclectic and colorful houses, with good shopping, dining, and drinking.

History

When it started to develop as a town in the 18th century, Reykjavík had already been inhabited for almost a thousand years. Legend has it that the first permanent settler in Iceland was a Norwegian named Ingólfur Arnarson. He is said to have thrown his seat pillars into the sea en route to Iceland and decided to settle wherever the pillars... Read more

Reykjavik, Iceland

Destination:
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland and with an urban area population of around 200,000, it is the home to two-thirds of Iceland's population. It is the center of culture and life of the Icelandic people as well as being one of the focal points of tourism in Iceland. The city itself is spread out, with sprawling suburbs. The city center, however, is a very small area characterized by eclectic and colorful houses, with good shopping, dining, and drinking.

History

When it started to develop as a town in the 18th century, Reykjavík had already been inhabited for almost a thousand years. Legend has it that the first permanent settler in Iceland was a Norwegian named Ingólfur Arnarson. He is said to have thrown his seat pillars into the sea en route to Iceland and decided to settle wherever the pillars were found. The pillars washed up in Reykjavík, and so that was where he set up his farm.
Although the story of Ingólfur Arnarson is not widely believed to be true by modern historians, it's clear that Reykjavík was one of the very first settlements in Iceland. Archeological remains confirm that people were living there around the year 871, and for the first few centuries of Icelandic settlement, Reykjavík was a large manor farm. Its fortunes steadily waned as other centers of power increased in importance. By the 18th century, the farm of Reykjavík was owned by the king of Denmark (under whose domain Iceland fell at the time). In 1752, the estate was donated to a firm, Innréttingarnar, led by Icelandic politician Skúli Magnússon. Innréttingarnar were meant to become an important industrial exporter and a source of development in Iceland, and their main base was in what is now the heart of Reykjavík. Although the company didn't achieve all its high ideals, it did lay the foundations of Reykjavík as it is today. In 1786, Reykjavík got a trading charter and it soon started to grow in importance.
The year 1801 is when Reykjavík went from being the largest town in the country to its capital. That year a new supreme court, Landsyfirréttur, was set up in the city after the abolition of Alþingi (which no longer had any legislative functions). The same year the office of the Bishop of Iceland was founded in Reykjavík, merging the bishoprics of Hólar and Skálholt. In 1845, Alþingi was re-founded as an advisory council to the king on the affairs of Iceland, located in Reykjavík and in 1874 it regained legislative powers. As the sovereignty of the country grew, so too did Reykjavík, which by the beginning of the 20th century had been transformed from a small trading and fishing village to a fully fledged capital.
The Second World War was a boom era in Reykjavík. The city wasn't directly affected by the many horrors of the war, but the occupation of Iceland by first the UK and later the US provided increased employment opportunities and inflows of cash that enabled the rapid expansion and modernization of the Icelandic fishing fleet. Reykjavík was a leader in this development and it grew very rapidly in the years following the war. New suburbs were built and the city started to reach across municipal limits, subsuming various surrounding communities. The city continued expanding until the financial collapse of 2008.
Due to its young age, and in particular its rapid expansion in the late 20th century, Reykjavík is very different from the other Nordic capitals. It lacks their grand buildings and the picturesque old quarters. Instead, it has come to resemble American cities with their sprawling suburbs and big motorways, as was recommended by the urban planners of the post-World War 2 era. Nevertheless, Reykjavík has a charm of its own, quite unique, shaped by the dualistic nature of this place which still doesn't seem to have made up its mind on whether it's a small town or a big city.

Climate

The weather in Reykjavík is notoriously unpredictable. One minute the sun may be shining on a nice summers day, the next it may change into windy, rainy autumn. Temperatures in Reykjavík are quite bland: they don't go very high in the summer, nor do they go much below zero during winter. It follows that the differences between seasons are relatively small compared to what people experience on either side of the Atlantic.
January is the coldest month and usually has some snow, while there is frequently no snow on the ground during Christmas in December. Summer is without a doubt the favorite season of most Reykjavík inhabitants. Many of them seem to imagine their city is slightly warmer than it really is and it takes little to get them to start wearing shorts and t-shirts or to go sunbathing in parks. Don't think too much about how silly it may seem, just join them in enjoying the season!
Wind is the main problem with the Reykjavík weather. The city is quite open to the seas, and the winds can be strong and chilling to the bone. Windy spots generally feel significantly colder than those with more shelter.

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Reykjavik, Iceland: Port Information


Reykjavík has two seaports.
Smaller ships dock at the Old Harbour near the city center. However, usually, liners dock at Sundahöfn in the east city which is the largest cargo port in the country. Sundahöfn is situated about 2 miles from the city center. There are a shuttle service and convenient tourist facilities in the port.

Get around Reykjavik, Iceland


On foot

Walking in Reykjavík is highly recommended, the downtown is very compact and many attractions are within walking distance from most hotels. The city is very beautiful, and the sidewalk and pathway system is first-rate. Reykjavík drivers are in general very friendly, and will sometimes stop for you even when there is no crossing facility.
Unknown to many tourists a very long and scenic pathway for walking and cycling circles almost the whole city. A good starting point is anywhere where the city touches the sea. The path leads by an outdoor swimming pool, a sandy beach, a golf course, and a salmon river.

By bus

Reykjavík has a public bus system that is clean and reliable, called Strætó. There are several different methods of payment:
Single rides can be paid in cash. If you need to switch buses to get to your final destination, ask the driver for an exchange ticket (skiptimiði), which is valid for the next 75 minutes on any bus.
Single rides can also be paid for through the Strætó app connected to your cr card.

Hlemmur and Lækjartorg are the main bus interchanges in central Reykjavík, with busses that can take you to any part of the city. The Strætó system has buses going all the way east to Selfoss and north to Akranes, the former leaving from Mjódd and the latter from Háholt. Both of these stations can be reached from Hlemmur.
Note that while most areas of Reykjavík and the neighboring towns are accessible by bus, the last buses leave around 11 PM and the city has no night buses. Also, on Sundays, there are no bus services before noon.

By taxi

The main taxi companies in Reykjavík are Hreyfill-Bæjarleiðir (+354 588 5522), BSR (+354 561 0000) and Borgarleiðir (+354 422 2222). All taxis are metered and most are very clean and comfortable, but be warned that traveling by taxi is one of the most expensive ways of getting around Reykjavík. Paying by card is not a problem, nor is splitting the bill. You can either order a taxi by phone or find one at a taxi rank, of which there are several in the city. In central Reykjavík, there is one rank by Lækjargata and another by Hallgrímskirkja.

By bicycle

It is easy to get around Reykjavík by bicycle if you can deal with sometimes strong headwinds and a few hills. There are not many dedicated bicycle paths and so most cycling is done on the street or on the sidewalk (both are legal). When cycling on the street you must obey the same traffic rules as cars. When cycling on the sidewalk it's important to be considerate of people who are walking there, they have the right of way.
Where there are specially marked paths for cyclists these are frequently shared with pedestrians, with a painted white line indicating the division between the two forms of transport. In these cases, the narrower section is the bicycle path. Dedicated bicycle paths are a new phenomenon in Reykjavík but their number is increasing every year. These mostly link the city center with the suburbs.
Bicycles can be rented at the following locations:
  • Bikecompany (Hjólafélagið), Faxafeni 8, ☎ +354 665 5600, e-mail: info@bikecompany.is. M-F 9:00-17:00; Sa 9:00-16:00. Bikecompany offers guided bike tours around Reykjavik in varying degree of difficulty. They also operate one of the largest bike rentals in Reykjavik at various locations. Flexible opening hours and they even have tandem bikes for rentals. 
  • Borgarhjól, Hverfisgata 50 (the same street as the national theater and other important buildings), ☎ +354 551 5653, e-mail: borgarhjol@simnet.is. Weekdays: 8:00-18:00, Sa: 10:00-14:00.
  • Puffin Scooters, Ægisgarður by the Reykjavik harbor (Bus 14), ☎ +354 6153535. May: open every day from 12 - 16 except Mondays, June 1st - 5th of September: open every day from 11:00 - 19:00. Scooters allow you to explore Reykjavik on your own terms or just roll around downtown. Puffin Scooters is a friendly scooter, electric bike, rollerblade, and fishing rod rental. 
  • Reykjavik Bike Tours (Hjólreiðaferðir um Reykjavík), Ægisgarður 7 (next to the Life of Whales Whale Watching ticket booth at Reykjavik's Old Harbor), ☎ +354 694 8956, e-mail: bike@icelandbike.com. Open every day, flexible opening hours by appointment. Bicycle rental - city and mountain bikes, children's bikes, scheduled guided city tours by bicycle and day tours by bicycle. Private tours are available. Bicycle delivery to hotels and guesthouses available. 
  • SeasonTours (Árstíðaferðir), Vættaborgum 104-112, ☎ +354 863 4592, +354 820 7746, e-mail: info@seasontours.is. 9:00 and 16:15 all year round.

What to see in Reykjavik, Iceland


Reykjavík's old town is small and easy to walk around. The houses have some very distinct features, most notably their brightly colored corrugated metal siding. Plan to spend at least a couple hours just wandering around, taking in the city. And for further feasts of the eyes, there are several museums and art galleries in the city, most of them within easy reach of the downtown area.

Parks and open areas

  • Tjörnin

    (The Pond). A small lake in the center of the city where young and old often gather to feed the ducks. The Icelandic name, Tjörnin, literally means "The Pond". Tjörnin is mostly surrounded by a park called Hljómskálagarðurinn (Music Pavilion Park) which gets very popular in good weather. The southern end of Tjörnin links it to the Vatnsmýri swamp, a small bird reserve with paths open to the public except during egg hatching season. Built into Tjörnin on the northern side is Reykjavík City Hall. 
  • Austurvöllur. A small park (or square, depending on definitions) in the heart of Reykjavík. It's many locals' favorite place to spend sunny days, either at one of the cafés lining the north of the square or simply having a picnic on the grass. The parliament and the national cathedral both stand by Austurvöllur.  
  • Klambratún. Klambratún is a park just east of the city center on an area which remained farmland while the city was built up around it. The area was later converted into one of the largest public parks in the city and often hosts various events. One of the houses of the Reykjavík Art Museum, Kjarvalsstaðir, is inside the park.
  • Reykjavík Botanical Gardens (Grasagarður Reykavíkur), In Laugardalur. The Reykjavík Botanical Gardens are not large, but they're nice for a short stroll and a good place to see some of the plants that grow in Iceland. Free. 
  • Viðey. Viðey is a large island in Kollafjörður, the fjord to the north of Reykjavík. It used to be inhabited, and in the early 20th century it had a small fishing village. Nobody lives there anymore apart from the birds, but it's a popular way to get away from the city without actually leaving it. During the summer, a café is operated in one of the houses on the island. The building was built for Skúli Magnússon, an 18th-century politician often called "the founder of Reykjavík" and designed by the same man as the royal palace in Copenhagen - although it is not quite of the same scale. Among its more modern architecture, Viðey is home to the

    Imagine Peace Tower

    by Yoko Ono (see below). To get to Viðey you must take a ferry from Sundahöfn, some distance from central Reykjavík (on bus route 5). The schedule and prices can be found here.
  • Grótta. At the far western end of the peninsula on which Reykjavík sits there is a small island. This island, called Grótta, is connected to the mainland on low tides and open to the public most of the year (closed May 1 thru July 15). Just make sure you don't get stuck on the island when the tide comes in!

Buildings

Reykjavík has a very eclectic building style, which is mainly the result of bad (or no) planning. Many of the oldest houses still standing are wooden buildings covered in brightly colored corrugated iron. Don't be surprised to see that the next buildings down the street are an ultra-modernistic functionalist cube followed by early 20th century neoclassical concrete. Some of the most interesting buildings you'll see in Reykjavík are those you find wandering about. Some deserve a special mention, however.
  • Alþingi, Kirkjustræti (by Austurvöllur). On the southern edge of Austurvöllur is a small building of hewn stone, but don't let its size fool you. This is the building of the Icelandic parliament, known as Alþingi. The institution has in fact long since outgrown the building which was built in 1881 for a nation of a little over 60,000. Today the upper floors of most houses on the north and west sides of the park also house parliamentary offices. The Alþingi building today houses only the debating chamber of the unicameral institution and the party meeting rooms. When Alþingi is in session it is possible to go up to the viewing platforms and follow the debates, otherwise, it is necessary to be part of a group to see the building from the inside.  
  • Reykjavík Cathedral 

    (Dómkirkjan í Reykjavík) (by Austurvöllur). The church beside the parliament is Reykjavík cathedral, the head Lutheran church of the country. Similarly deceptive in size, it has been beautifully renovated both inside and out to reflect its original 18th-century architecture.  
  • City Hall (Ráðhúsið), Tjarnargata 11 (on the northern edge of Tjörnin). One of the best examples of late 20th-century architecture in Iceland, built into Tjörnin (The Pond). On the ground floor, which is open to the public, there is a large relief map of the whole country as well as a café and an exhibition hall.  
  • Hallgrímskirkja, Skólavörðuholti, e-mail: hallgrimskirkja@hallgrimakirkja.is. Mass: Sunday 11:00; Church tower open daily 9:00-20:00. This can't miss attraction towers over the city on top of a hill. In front is a statue of Leif Ericsson (Leifur Eiríksson in Icelandic), the Norse explorer who sailed to North America in the 10th century. The United States gave this statue to Iceland in 1930, in honor of the 1,000th anniversary of the Althingi, the Iceland parliament.
  • Harpa, Austurbakki 2, ☎ +354 528 5000. Open daily 10 AM-12 AM. Harpa is a new concert hall and conference center at the heart of Reykjavík. It is the new home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and regularly hosts to other acts as well.  
  • Perlan (The Pearl) (on the top of Öskjuhlíð). 10 AM - 9 PM. An iconic building on top of a wooded hill called Öskjuhlíð, to the southeast of the city center. Perlan is built on top of five hot water storage tanks and offers fantastic views of the entire city both from a viewing platform open to the public and a rotating restaurant at the top. If the restaurant is too expensive for you (it is for most), there is also a small cafeteria on the same floor as the viewing platform.  
  • Imagine Peace Tower, Viðey Island. Yoko Ono's memorial to John Lennon, projecting a "tower of light" into the air that can be seen from around Reykjavík. The tower is turned on October 9-December 8, December 21–28, December 31 and March 21–28.

Museums

There are several museums of art and of history found around the city.
  • National Gallery of Iceland (Listasafn Íslands), Fríkirkjuvegi 7 (by the eastern bank of Tjörnin), ☎ +354 515 9600, e-mail: list@listasafn.is. 11 AM-5 PM daily, closed Mondays. The national art gallery with a large collection of contemporary artworks by Icelandic 19th and 20th-century artists, both paintings and sculptures.
  • Reykjavík Art Museum - Hafnarhús, Tryggvagata 17, ☎ +354 590 1200, e-mail: listasafn@reykjavik.is. 10 AM-8 PM Thursdays, 10 AM-5 PM all other days. By the old harbor in Reykjavík, Hafnarhúsið hosts rotating exhibitions of the work of Icelandic artist Erró and temporary exhibitions often showcase other local artists.
  • Reykjavík Art Museum - Kjarvalsstaðir, Flókagata (in Klambratún park), ☎ +354 517 1290, e-mail: listasafn@reykjavik.is. It is safe to say that Jóhannes Kjarval (1885-1972) is the single biggest name in Icelandic painting. Kjarvalsstaðir hosts a collection of his work, as well as hosting other temporary exhibitions.
  • Reykjavik Museum of Photography (Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur), Grófarhús, Tyggvagata 15, 6th floor. 10-16 (Mo-Fr) and 13-17 (weekends). A very small museum with a nice library and reading room where you can find some older (but good) books about photography and current and past issues of photography magazines. It also has a huge collection of Icelandic photographs.  
  • National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafnið), Suðurgata 41 (Bus no. 1,3,4,5,6,12 and 14 stop in front of or near the museum), ☎ +354 530 2200, e-mail: thjodminjasafn@thjodminjasafn.is. This museum, located right by the University of Iceland campus, takes the visitor through the history of a nation from settlement to today. Includes a café and a museum shop.
  • Reykjavík City Museum (Árbæjarsafn), Kistuhyl (Bus nr. 19 from Hlemmur), ☎ +354 411 6300, e-mail: museum@reykjavik.is. 10 AM-5 PM daily between 1 June and 31 August. During winter there are guided tours at 1 PM Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In the suburb of Árbær, and frequently called Árbæjarsafn (Árbær museum), this open-air museum contains both the old farm of Árbær and many buildings from central Reykjavík that were moved there to make way for construction. The result is a village of old buildings where the staff takes you through the story of a city. The staff is dressed in old Icelandic clothing styles and trained in various traditional techniques, for example in making dairy products or preparing wool. 
  • 871±2 (The Settlement Exhibition), Corner of Aðalstræti and Suðurgata, ☎ +354 411 6300, e-mail: museum@reykjavik.is. 10 AM-5 PM daily. Run by the Reykjavík City Museum, this exhibition in central Reykjavík was built around the oldest archeological ruins in Iceland. As the name indicates, these ruins date to around the year 870. This interactive exhibition brings you the early history of the area that today forms central Reykjavík.  
  • The Culture House (Þjóðmenningarhúsið), Hverfisgata 15, ☎ +354 545 1400, e-mail: thjodmenning@thjodmenning.is. 11 AM-5 PM daily. This grand building, previously housing the national library, is today home to two world-class exhibitions. On the ground floor is one of the most important collections of medieval manuscripts in the world, including many of the oldest copies of the Icelandic Sagas. The top floor has an impressive exhibition on the Volcanic island of Surtsey, backing Iceland's campaign to get it recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is fully interactive and a great introduction to the geological hot spot that is Iceland.
  • The Icelandic Phallological Museum (Hið Íslenzka Reðasafn), Laugavegur 116 Reykjavik, ☎ 868 7966, e-mail: phallus@phallus.is. 11 AM-6 PM daily. A museum dedicated to Phallology, the study of penises. This museum features phalluses of numerous animals from various whales to a human specimen.  
  • Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant (Hellisheiðavirkjun), Bæjarhálsi 1 (on Suðurlandsvegur half way to Hveragerði). 09:00-17:00. Get a tour of the geothermal power plant that provides Reykjavik with heating and hot water.

Other attractions 

  • Þingvellir National Park is located about an hour and a quarter's drive to the east of Reykjavík, here you can see the canyon caused by the Eurasian and North American plates moving apart. It is also home to the original Alþingi (Parliament) and several other cultural treasures. These factors have seen it added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Gullfoss. A spectacular waterfall (which translates as Golden Falls) and one of the nearest big waterfalls to Reykjavík.
  • Geysir. Geothermal hot spot.
  • The first three are normally all included on the Golden Circle tour, a one-day circuit which can be done by coach trip or hire car.
  • Hafnarfjörður is a town just outside Reykjavík.
  • Blue Lagoon (Bláa Lónið in Icelandic language) is a famous and amazing geothermal spa with the water temperature around 40 °C all year round, even in freezing conditions, located south-west of Reykjavík, not far from the main airport at Keflavík.

What to do in Reykjavik, Iceland


There is a lot to do in Reykjavík, despite being a small city. There is a vibrant music scene with concerts most evenings in the center of the city. For theater enthusiasts, the city boasts two main theaters staging around 10 plays a year each, both domestic and foreign, as well as a number of smaller theater groups specializing in different kinds of modern theater.
There are a number of opportunities to experience at least a bit of Icelandic nature without leaving the city itself, and outdoor activities in the immediate vicinity of the city are easy to find. And no visit to Reykjavík would be complete without going to at least one of the geothermal pools.

Get in touch with nature

If you want to experience some of Iceland's nature but don't have time to leave the capital for too long, don't worry, you have several options to get a good feel for nature and the countryside without actually leaving the city.
  • Whale watching (most ships sail from Ægisgarður in the old harbor). With the exception of Húsavík in the north, Reykjavík is actually one of the very best places to go whale watching in Iceland. Whales frequently come into Faxaflói, the large bay which Reykjavík sits by and on a typical trip of around 3 hours you can almost be guaranteed to see at least some minke whales and possibly even a humpback. The companies offering whale watching mostly occupy a small area in the old harbor called Ægisgarður, close to the whaling ships. All sail out to the same bay but since conditions there change make sure you are on a good ship.
  • Puffin Safaris. The same companies that offer whale watching, also offer puffin safaris, about one to one and a half hours in length. A little boat takes you next to islands some 15 minutes out where puffins nest, swim around and catch fish. They have binoculars onboard to borrow so you can get a good look of the birds. 
  • Hiking. The immediate vicinity of Reykjavík offers some good hiking opportunities. By far the most popular among these is Esjan, the mountain that dominates the view to the north from much of the capital and is easily accessible by bus nr. 57. It's a relatively easy hike although there is a steep patch early on and at the tops, there are some cliffs to climb. You can estimate 4-5 hours to get to the top and back again, although experienced walkers will be quicker. Another popular place to experience nature is Heiðmörk, a green belt to the southeast of the capital. Heiðmörk mostly flat and there are many paths crisscrossing the area, but getting there may be difficult without a car.  
  • Reykjavík Domestic Animal Zoo (Fjölskyldu- og húsdýragarðurinn), Hafrafell v/ Engjaveg (in Laugardalur), ☎ +354 57 57 800, e-mail: postur@husdyragardur.is. This small zoo, in the middle of Reykjavík, is a place where city children can come and get in touch with some of the farming heritage of the country, with most species of domestic animals found in Iceland represented. They also have some non-domestic animals including reindeer and seals.
  • Aurora Borealis (Northern lights) watching. Iceland is very favorably located within the aurora belt and chances of observing the beautiful atmospheric phenomenon are rather high between September and March even in the vicinity of the capital; in summer months lack of darkness is the limiting factor. To boost your viewing chances commons sense suggests escaping from the city lights. Due to the tree-free character of the Icelandic countryside, only clouds can obstruct your view then. A valuable tool for getting prepared for your observation is the local meteorological office's Aurora site, forecasting both auroral activity and cloudiness. If you don't have a car available, there are plenty of agencies organizing short trips who pick you up at your hotel.  
  • Inside the Volcano. 08:00-17:00, every hour. Descend into the magma chamber of the Thrihnukagigur volcano. Transport provided from the city for the 30-minute drive to the starting point, or you can drive yourself.

Horse riding

One of the most popular tourist activities in Iceland due to the special nature of the Icelandic Horse. Although by definition more of a rural activity, there are several companies offering riding tours on the outskirts of Reykjavík, this can be a good option for those not planning on traveling far from the city.
  • Islenski Hesturinn, ☎ +354 434 7979. Operated by a small group of friends and family, Islenski Hesturinn offers excellent service and tours with hotel pickup. Riders of all skills are welcome and matched to horses of their ability and personality, and various tours are available through Icelandic lava fields.

Geothermal Swimming Pools

Outdoor geothermal swimming pools are an important part of Icelandic culture and a visit to them is a great way to relax with Icelanders. In fact, it is not stretching the truth too far to suggest that because drinking is so expensive the hot-pots at these pools serve the same role that pubs and bars do in the rest of Europe.
  • Laugardalslaug, Sundlaugarveg (In the same complex as the National Stadium. Near campsite and youth hostel), ☎ +354 411 5100, e-mail: laugardalslaug@itr.is. Weekdays: 6:30 AM - 10:30 PM, Weekends: 8 AM - 10 PM. The city's largest pool with extensive facilities, situated in Laugardalur Valley east of the city center. It has two large pools for swimming, several hot-pots, a seawater bath, a steam bath, and a water slide. It is a well-used large complex that is starting to show its age a little but it is still the best option in the city. 
  • Árbæjarlaug, Fylkisvegur, ☎ +354 411 5200, e-mail: arbaejarlaug@itr.is. Weekdays: 6:30 AM - 10:30 PM, Weekends summer: 8 AM - 10 PM, winter: 8 AM - 8:30 PM. A brand new complex on the outskirts of the city, it has nice views over the city center and is a nice place to watch the sunset. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, a waterslide, several hot-pots, and a steam bath. This is a favorite with families and is perhaps the nicest of the city's pools. Buses run here from central Reykjavik.
  • Sundhöllin, Baronsstígur, 101 Reykjavik (Located a few minutes from Hallgrimskirkja), ☎ +354 411 5350, e-mail: sundholl@itr.is. Weekdays: 6:30 AM - 9 PM, Weekends: 8 AM - 7 PM. The city's oldest and only indoor pool (with outdoor hot-pots), located in the city center. Has a more municipal feel than the other pools, but has a very central location.  
  • Vesturbæjarlaug, Hofsvallagata, 107 Reykjavik (Located a few minutes from Hotel Saga and the University of Iceland), ☎ +354 411 5150, e-mail: vesturbaejarlaug@itr.is. M-F 06:30-22:00, Sa-Su 08:00-20:00. The city's oldest outdoor pool. Located in a residential area but within a walking distance of the city center.  
  • Nautholsvík Thermal Beach (To the south of the domestic airport), ☎ +354 511 6630. 15 May-15 Sep 10:00-20:00. Here you can swim in the Atlantic because they pipe hot water into the ocean. A beach of golden sand has been created and a “pool” has been enclosed nearby, where the water temperature is about 20°C. There are several hot-pots. Refreshments and various services are available at the beach.
It is possible to hire swimsuits and towels at all the pools. As Icelandic pools have very minimal amounts of chemicals in them it is very important to shower thoroughly naked beforehand and pay attention to the notices and posters that highlight hygiene issues.

What to eat and drink in Reykjavik, Iceland


Eat

Food in Iceland can be expensive. In order not to break the bank, you'll need to be smart when eating. On the budget side, you're mostly looking at international-type fast food options common to what you'd find in Europe and America. Alcohol, in particular, is expensive in restaurants.

There are many fantastic fish restaurants in Reykjavik. The more expensive ones are down by the harbor or in the center, if you're not so rich try heading towards the old town. Though generally not listed here, most bars serve some food, often better than what you would expect from the look of the place but generally with relatively uninspired menus. Expect to see a few burgers, a pasta dish or two, some salads and maybe a burrito.

If you're willing to spend the money, you'll have no problem finding world-class dining in Reykjavík. In addition to some great fish restaurants, most of the world's popular cuisine is represented in Reykjavík's up-scale dining in one form or another.

Drink

​Reykjavík is considered to have some of the best nightlife in all of Europe and it can be almost guaranteed that you haven't really "partied" until you've done it here. This fact is proven by the number of celebrities who come specifically for it.
Drinking is expensive. Bottled beers and mixed drinks are more expensive, sometimes outlandishly so. Despite the cost, going out in Reykjavik is a fun experience. Since alcohol is expensive at Reykjavík bars and clubs, Icelanders usually buy their alcohol at the government-owned liquor stores (Vínbúðin, called Ríkið by locals) and stay at home drinking until about midnight (or later), then they will wander to the bars. Do not expect bars and clubs to become crowded during weekends until about 1 AM (at least). Cover charges are very rare in Reykjavík unless there is live music or some other sort of event going on. Note that although the legal age for entering clubs is 18, the legal drinking age is 20 and many places set higher entry age limits themselves.
Bars are open to 1 AM on weeknights, but most will stay open until 6 or 7 AM on Friday and Saturday. The clubs and bars themselves are mostly found in a very small area of the city center, it's easy to just walk around and follow the crowds. You're sure to find somewhere to go, but if you're not sure, groups of drunken Icelanders will usually be eager to help a tourist out! During weekends, live music is easy to find in some of Reykjavík's bars. During the day, be sure to pick up the free English-language magazine The Reykjavík Grapevine for information on live music events for that evening. It is easy to find in shops, restaurants, and bars around the city.
There is an ice bar in Restaurant Reykjavík where all the furniture and the bar are made from glacial ice. If you are keen for novelty it is good, otherwise perhaps not worth the money.

Shopping in Reykjavik, Iceland


Laugavegur is the main shopping street of Reykjavík and has many funky boutiques, with both Icelandic and international designs. Skólavörðustígur, running from Laugavegur up to Hallgrimskirkja, has a range of souvenir and craft shops where you can find a perfect gift for the family. Record shops and bookstores are also located on these streets, where you can find Icelandic music and literature as well as a wide range of foreign music and books in English. European plug adapters are available at the Eymundsson bookstore on Laugavegur.
Reykjavík has one flea market, Kolaportið, located in a warehouse by the harbor and open 11 AM-5 PM Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to stalls selling clothes, antique furniture, old books, and other typical fleamarket wares, there is a food section where you can buy many Icelandic specialties as well as cheap and fresh fish and potatoes.
If you yearn for international chains such as Zara and Debenhams, then head to one of 2 malls in the capital area; Kringlan in Reykjavík and the newer Smáralind in neighboring Kópavogur. But keep in mind that everything in Iceland probably costs more than it does back home. Items can be as much as 3-4 times the price in neighboring countries, mainly because of taxes (24.5% sales tax on products, 7% on books), import duties and so on, though there are exceptions to this rule.

ATMs are found throughout the city, and they should accept any foreign cards. Currency exchange is mainly done at banks, there are very few special currency exchange shops. Icelanders themselves make very little use of cash, paying for even the smallest of things with their cards. Foreign cards will generally be accepted in stores and restaurants, although there may be problems with American Express in some places. A chip-and-PIN system is being introduced, so make sure you remember your PIN number. Minimal Icelandic cash is needed for a visit to Reykjavik.
Be aware that Iceland is one of only a few countries to actively participate in whaling and hunting of various marine mammals. Many shops have souvenirs made from seal pelts and sometimes even whale or dolphin bones. These are illegal to import or possess in most countries due to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (aka CITES) and attempting to bring back such goods might result in a hefty fine.
Please note that tipping isn't done in Iceland, not under any circumstances; not for any service, not for restaurants or for hotels, or any other place.

Safety in Reykjavik, Iceland


Iceland is considered one of the safest countries in the world. Just be sure to avoid the fights that break out among the most intoxicated partiers in bars and most often on the street on weekends. However, most people are incredibly friendly and the police are also friendly and very helpful.
Recently, however, petty thefts in Reykjavík have occasionally occurred. In addition, the female traveler would do well to exercise good judgment when walking alone at night. Rape is rare but occurs twice as often as in other Nordic countries, Still, even with these issues, Reykjavík is much safer than most other western cities, and certainly safer than the larger capitals of other countries.
Homeless people generally hang in the area around the Hlemmur bus station or on Austurvöllur park. They usually don't bother people, not even to ask for spare change even though they might seem to act strangely.

Language spoken in Reykjavik, Iceland


Icelandic is the official language. English, Norwegian, Danish, French, German, and other languages are also spoken. 

LOCAL TIME

10:26 pm
August 21, 2019
Atlantic/Reykjavik

CURRENT WEATHER

8.54 °C / 47.372 °F
overcast clouds
Fri

7.25 °C/45 °F
overcast clouds
Sat

9.73 °C/50 °F
light rain
Sun

7.87 °C/46 °F
light rain
Mon

8.48 °C/47 °F
heavy intensity rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

ISK

1 USD = 0 ISK
1 EUR = 0 ISK
1 GBP = 0 ISK
1 AUD = 0 ISK
1 CAD = 0 ISK

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