Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland with a population of 117,706. The greater Reykjavik area has a population of 196 564 and the majority of Iceland's total population.
Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland. It is the center of culture and life of the Icelandic people. It is also the tourist capital of Iceland. Reykjavík is a city that wasn't built up for tourism, so tourists can get a nice view of tourist things at the same time experiencing how Icelanders live their lives.
, Keflavík International Airport is Iceland's main international airport, and is located 30 miles (50 KM) from Reykjavík in the town of Keflavík.
, Located in the center of Reykjavik and mainly used for domestic air traffic
Icelandair is the main international airline of Iceland. Nonstop flights on Icelandair are available from the U.S. and Canada, with gateways in New York City, Boston, Halifax, Toronto, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando (Sanford), and, beginning July 22nd, 2009, Seattle. Destinations beyond Iceland include most major European cities (i.e. Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Helsinki, London, Oslo, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Bergen and Gothenburg), with Icelandair's hub-and-spoke network connecting via Keflavik in Iceland. (Please note that some destinations are seasonal.) You can also stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare on your way to or from Europe.
The main domestic airline, Flugfélag Íslands (Air Iceland ) has daily domestic flights to Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, Ísafjörður and Vestmannaeyjar, including international destinations to Faroe Islands, Kulusuk, Narsarsuaq, and Constable Point.
SAS also has flights to Iceland from Scandinavia
There are rental car services all over Iceland, and many in Reykjavík such as Hertz, Avis, and National Rent-a-car. The cheapest car at the cheapest dealer you may find would average out to about 5500 ISK each day. If you intend to just stay in Reykjavík, renting a car is not necessary as the bus system is great and it is easy to walk around. But if you plan to leave Reykjavík to the countryside, then renting a car is the best way to experience Iceland.
Once you have landed at Keflavík, the most common way to get to Reykjavík is by the FlyBus (Coach). Its first stop in Reykjavík is the main bus terminal, called BSÍ (45 minute ride), which is within walking distance of the city centre. The coach then takes you into the city and drops people off at the major hotels. It is neccesary to tell the driver that you are intending to go to a specific hotel before the bus leaves from Keflavík. If, for some reason, the FlyBus does not stop at your hotel, you can take local buses nr. 1, 3, 6, 14 and 15 from just across the street from the BSÍ bus terminal (which is only a terminal for the nationwide bus system, not the capital area bus system, called Strætó).
If you have an abundance of time, it is possible to take the Smyril Line (a cruise company based out of the Faroe Islands) from Bergen to Seyðisfjörður (a small town on the east of Iceland), via Tórshavn. This service is on the expensive side, and puts you on the other side of the country. However, it offers the possibility of bringing a car, which can be one of the best ways to travel around Iceland, and Reykjavík.
Walking in Reykjavík is highly recommended, as many attractions are within walking distance from the hotel area. 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 through an outdoor swimming pool, a sandy beach, a golf course and a salmon river.
Driving in Reykjavík is the preferred method for most residents there. As a tourist though, a bus card wouldn't go astray as you can take it almost anywhere in the capital area despite their latest change to routes. Driving is recommended though for travel outside of Reykjavík and its suburbs. Compared to most other modern European cities, Reykjavík actually manages to have a reasonable amount of parking spaces, especially for a city that boasts the most cars per capita in the world.
Reykjavík has a public bus system that is clean and reliable. Single rides cost 280 ISK. If you're staying outside the city served by a bus route (the hostel + campground) it's best to get a Reykjavík Tourist Card, which allows unlimited access to the buses, along with free museums and free internet at the hostel. The tourist cards are available at the Tourist Information Center near the main square, and also at some hotels. A one-day card costs 1200 ISK, two days costs 1700 ISK, and three days costs 2200 ISK.
Depending on the frequency you use the bus system, Strætó , you might want to buy a bus pass. Bus passes may be purchased at all Reykjavík bus stations (Lækjartorg, Hlemmur, Mjódd etc.) The bus system is very fast and very reliable. Most areas of interest in Reykjavík are accessible by bus.
It is easy to get around Reykjavík by bicycle. There is a relatively good network of bicycle paths linking different parts of the city together and it is easy to cycle on the streets or pavements. Cycling is not very popular with locals and so you should be aware that drivers are not very used to cyclists on the road. A map of cycling routes can be found here: . Bicycles can be rented at the following locations:
The Old Town is easy to walk around. The houses in Reykjavík have very distinct features, most notably their brightly colored corrugated metal siding. Plan to spend at least a couple hours just wandering around.
The Perlan (The Pearl) has fantastic views of the entire city and has a rotating restaurant on top of the water towers. You don't need to dine there to access the viewing platform. It's open to the public, but the food is recommended and good. The views are fantastic.
The National Cathedral, located next to Althingi and is a very small church.
Tjörnin Lake (also known as Reykjavík Pond) is where you can find Reykjavík City Hall. The young and old gather to feed the ducks here, too. Don't forget to bring some bread.
Alþingi, that is the parliament, is located by Austurvöllur, a green spot in the middle of downtown Reykjavík close to the pond, it is a big stone building with a new extention (c.a. 2005).
, The National Museum has a restaurant with a good view of the city.
, This can't miss attraction towers over the city on top of a hill. In front is a statue of Leif Ericsson, the Viking 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. As of June 2008, the church was undergoing renovation, obstructing the view from the front (downtown) of the tower.
The Culture House (**Þjóðmenningarhúsið**) , +354 545 1400, Everyday from 11am to 5pm, Hverfisgata 15, The great museum has 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, it is to back the island's campaign to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is fully interactive and a great introduction to the geological hot spot that is Iceland.
Reykjavik Museum of Photography , 10-16 (Mo-Fr) and 13-17 (weekends), Grófarhús, Tyggvagata 15, 6. Haed. 101 Reykjavik, 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.
Horse riding is a very popular activity amongst locals as well as visitors. Many companies offer one hour to week long trips. Short trips (1-2 hours) are also offered for people with no previous riding experience . The Icelandic Horse is very well suited for novice/first-time riders.
Whale watching/sea Angling sightings of whales, dolphins and puffins (depends on season) are frequent around Reykjavík. Trips can be booked directly with companies at Reykjavík Harbour. Trips usually last about 3 hours and cost about 4000ISK. Tourists office often provides discount flyers. Trips usually run from April to October as weather is too unpredictable in Winter.
White water rafting/watersports watersports are available from April to October.
Snowmobiling/Dog sledging snowsports are available from end of October to April.
Outdoor Geo-Thermal 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 , +354 411 5100, +354 411 5100, Sundlaugarveg, In the same complex as the National Stadium. Near campsite and youth hostel, The city's largest pool with extensive facilities, situated in Laugardalur Valley. It has two large pools for swimming, several hot-pots, a steam bath, and 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 centre.
Árbæjarlaug , +354 411 5200, +354 411 5200, Weekdays: 6:30am - 10:30p, Weekends summer: 8am - 10pm, winter: 8am - 8:30pm, Fylkisveg, 110 Reykjavík, A brand new complex on the outskirts of the city, it has nice views over the city centre 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 favourite with families and is perhaps the nicest of the city's pools. Buses run here from central Reykjavik.
Sundhollin Swimming Centre , +354 411 5350, +354 411 5350, Weekdays: 6:30am - 9pm, Weekends: 8am - 7pm, Baronsstigur, 101 Reykjavik, Located a few minutes from Hallgrimskirkja, The city's oldest and only indoor pool (with outdoor hot-pots), located in the city centre. Has a more municipal feel than the other pools, but has a very central location.
Vesturbæjarlaug , +354 411 5150, +354 411 5150, Weekdays: 6:30am - 10pm, Weekends: 8am - 8pm, Hofsvallagata, 107 Reykjavik, Located a few minutes from Hotel Saga and the University of Iceland, The city's oldest outdoor pool. Located in a residential area but within a walking distance of the city center.
Nautholsvik Thermal Beach , 511 6630, 10:00 to 20:00 from 15th May until 15th September, To the south of the domestic airport, 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 20ºC. 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.
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.
Try one of the Hot-Dog places that are found everywhere. This German import has become thoroughly Iceland-ized. A dog should set you back 260ISK (August 2009). Ask for "Eina með öllu", a hot dog with everything on it. Deeeeelicious.
Bæjarins bestu, 24/7, Hafnarstræti 17, by the harbor, The name of this popular hot dog stand literally means
10-11 is a chain of convenience stores with plenty of ready-to-eat items such as sandwiches, wraps, and surprisingly enough, tacos. 10-11 is always open but is considered expensive by Icelanders, that's why you see most Icelanders shop for food at BONUS (open 10-18) which offers the cheapest prices you can find.
Even better, you can find a fish shop which will sell you some ridiculously fresh and absolutely delicious fish, at a very reasonable price, and cook it yourself with some potatoes and vegetables. It'll be really nice. The fish shop could be in Kolaportid, a downtown market which only opens on weekends, or alternatively you could look up one of the many fish shops (fiskbúð) all around town.
There are tons of cafes everywhere in the city that are relatively inexpensive and a great place to sit, relax, and warm up. You can also check your e-mails if you bring your computer, as there is free Wi-Fi in most of them. Kaffitar and Te & Kaffi are comparatively large chains and serve great barrista style coffee, that might however be on the expensive side.
In addition to its restaurant, Perlan also has a cafe. You can eat with (almost) the same view and a much cheaper price!
There are a lot of cheap Thai restaurants around the capital, often run by Thai families. You will usually get large portions at a good price.
There are many fantastic fish restaurants in Reykjavik. The more expensive ones are down by the harbour or in the centre, if you're not so rich try heading towards the old town. Við Tjörnina is always a good choice. Plan on at least 2,000 ISK for any meal not in a budget/fast-food restaurant. Seriously.
Vegamot, Vegamótastíg 4, Reykjavik ph: (+354) 511-3040 (email: mailto:email@example.com) A decent fast food restaurant during the day and a happening nightclub after hours. The age limit of 22 on Friday and Saturday nights is somewhat of a buzzkill even for those of legal drinking age here. The Lobster pasta is the restaurant's signature dish and well worth tasting.
Þrír frakkar hjá Úlfari (3 Frenchmen (or overcoats) at Ulfar's), Baldursgata 14. A nice seafood restaurant. Serves big meals for a moderate price. Their lunch plokkfiskur special is legendary. They serve whalemeat, both raw (as sashimi) and cooked, to those willing to try. 2700ISK is a normal price for just the main dish. This is a convenient price; whale is less expensive in other port towns. They serve a strange (and delicious) cake, skyrterta, made from the Icelandic skyr, this cake alone is worth the visit.
Kaffi Reykjavik , 552 3030, 552 3030, Vesturgata 2, A good central restaurant, aimed a little more toward the tourist crowd it does however deliver decent food. The lamb is good. Also contains an ice bar.
Austur India Fjelagid, Hverfisgata 56, Reykjavik ph: (+354) 552-1630 One of few Indian restaurants in Reykjavik. It serves very good food though and can be compared to the top tier Indian restaurants in London.
Saegreifinn (Seabaron) , 10:00-18:00, Verbúð 6, At the harbour, near the whale watching kiosk, An extremely authentic place, serves a wonderful lobster soup and offers grilled cod, whale, shrimps, salmon, etc. Excellent atmosphere, a must-see!
Shalimar. A little Indian restaurant packed into a tiny building just near the main square. Delicious food, and a very friendly wait staff.
Indian Mango , 5517722, 17.00 till late, Frakkastigur 12, just off laugavegur downtown(mainhopping street), Indian Mango is a Gourmet Indian Restaurant with Gluten Free food(all main courses),Amazingly healthy vegetarian options including Lactose Free courses are available as well. They also use Icelandic lobster, Scallops, Lamb, guillemot, Artic Char, Monk Fish and Duck. Four seasons presentation skills! Do try their mouth watering desserts, A must is their Indian Mango Cocktail among other things. Great press reviews they have earned incl.
Sjavarkjallarinn, Adalstraeti 2, Reykjavik ph: (+354) 511-1211 (email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) A great seafood restaurant, a must for those who prefer fish. Be aware though that it is very popular so reserving a table is probably required.
Perlan ph:(+354) 562 0200 (email: mailto:email@example.com, fax:(+354) 562 0207) A better bet would be to head to the top of the hill and dine at the amazing restaurant here (which also has wonderful gelato at the cafe below where you can walk outside the Pearl and see full 360 degree views of Reykjavik below). Perlan is an expensive place to dine but of course it's pretty unique and gives you a second-to-none view over Reykjavik so it's understandable how they can push the prices up. Plenty of Icelanders seem to like to dress up and go for a posh meal there so it's not just for tourists. If you dine at the Perlan be sure to have the lamb, absolutely fantastic.
Hotel Holt , 552 5700, Bergstaðastræti 37, A staple of the city's up-scale dining landscape. Thick carpets, art over dark wood panels, french cuisine, an extensive wine cellar, the country's most expansive collection of single malts.
Considered to have some of the best nightlife in all of Europe, it can be almost guaranteed that you haven't really "partied" until you've done it here. That fact is proven by the amount of celebrities who come specifically for it.
Drinking is expensive - expect to pay between 600 and 900 ISK for a draft pint at a bar. Bottled beers and mixed drinks are more expensive, and 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 until about 1AM (at least). Some bars charge a cover of 500-2,000ISK after midnight on weekends.
Bars are open until 1AM on weeknights, but most will stay open until 7AM on Friday and Saturday. On the weekend, live music is easy to find in some of Reykjavík's bars.
There is an ice bar in Restaurant Reykjavík where all the furniture and the bar are made from glacial ice. This seems like an interesting place to go, however, as a warning, you will be charged 1300ISK for entry which includes a single vodka-based cocktail in what is effectively an atmosphere and music-free deep freezer. You cannot bring in or buy more drinks, if you are keen for novelty it is good, otherwise perhaps not worth the money.
Club 101, +354 551 0022, Hafnarstræti 1-3
Café Cultura, +354 530 9314, Hverfisgata 18, Café Cultura, on the ground floor of the Intercultural House in downtown Reykjavík, is a Café by day, restaurant by evening and club by night. It has a very international crowd, is popular with exchange students and other foreigners living in Reykjavík.
Dillon Rock Bar , +354 5782424, Laugavegur 30, Serving drinks at moderate prices, Dillon Rock Bar has become quite the attraction for the Icelandic music industry, rockers, hipsters, students, businessmen, family folk and famed Hollywood actors over the past decade. During the summertime you can enjoy a cold one in the sun in Dillon´s Beergarden and catch outdoor festivals over the summer. Catch a live band, have a chat with the friendly staff or join the mixed up group on Saturday nights when the 60 year old DJ Andrea rocks the joint and join the family of friends at this century old house of fun. Hours: Mon-Thu 16pm-1am Fri-Sat 14pm-3am
The Celtic Cross, +354 511 3240, Hverfisgata 26
Be warned that there is very little in the way of affordable lodging in Iceland, particularly if you are traveling with a family.
Laugardalur Campsite Sundlaugavegur 34, 105, +354 568 6944 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +354 588 9201) open May 15th - Sep 15th. The cheapest place to stay in Reykjavík, and approx. 30 min walk from the city centre, or a short bus journey. The campsite is big and offers decent washing and cooking facilities and people often leave their leftover camping stove fuel for others after leaving Iceland! (Fuel is really expensive in Iceland!) On cold and rainy days, Iceland's biggest pool is situated right next door! Clothes can also be washed at the neighbouring youth hostel.
Reykjavík Backpackers Laugavegur 28, 101 +354 5783700 (''email: email@example.com Reykjavík Backpackers is a brand new hostel in the heart of Reykjavík City. It´s run by travelers and adventures with hopes of creating a great place for other travelers and adventurers to sleep and relax as they visit Iceland's capital city! Reykjavik Backpacker is the backpackers choice for accommodation in Reykjavik. The hostel is located on Laugavegur, the main shopping street right in downtown Reykjavik.
Reykjavík City Hostel Sundlaugavegur 34, 104, +354 553 8110, (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +354 588 9201) Open all year. The only youth hostel in the city, with excellent facilities. Dorm beds start at 1500ISK during the winter, rising in the summer. Private rooms also available. Book early.
Reykjavík Central Guesthouse Bólstaðahlíð 8, +354 552 2822, Open all year. Offers single, double, triple and quadruple rooms as well as dorm beds that are actually cheaper than the City Hostel. Dorm beds start at 1800ISK and a single room at 3600ISK.
Guesthouse Andrea Njardargata, +354 899 5597, (email: Siggi on email@example.com) Great location in the city centre, relatively small, extremely nice and clean. Also offers low-budget accommodation in dorms.
Guesthouse SunnaThorsgata 26, +354-511-5570, great guesthouse located in one of the most iconic places in Reykjavik--right across the square from Hallgrimskirkja. Very clean, very comfortable, with friendly service, and internet. They also include breakfast in the morning, with fresh bread baked on the premises. A little on the expensive side--11600 kr for a single room. Another great feature is their airport/tour bus service.
Laugavegur, the main shopping street, has many funky boutiques, with both Icelandic and international designs. Skólavörðustígur, which runs up to Hallgrimskirkja, has a range of souvenir and craft shops where you can find a perfect gift for the family.
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. Though keep in mind, 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.
Sales tax is always included in the sticker price. All foreign visitors are entitled to claim back the tax if they spend 4,000 krona or more in one shop in one day. Iceland is not a member of the European Union, so visitors from all European countries are entitled to sales tax refunding. Icelanders living abroad are also entitled to sales tax refunding.
Iceland is considered one of the safest countries in the world. Just be sure to avoid the fights that break out amongst the most intoxicated partiers in bars and most often on the street on weekends. However most people are incredibly friendly and 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 more 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.
The winos 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.
Though Icelandic is the official language, English is spoken quite fluently by almost everyone you will meet and you should have no problems when it comes to communication.
Even though Reykjavík doesn´t have a large population, traffic during rush hour (16:00-18:30) can be a nightmare. This is due to the exploding car population, along with a narrow street system. If you are planning on going somewhere by car or bus, try to do it after around 16:00-18:30 as this is when most of motorists arrive home from work. The same goes for the mornings (07:45-09:00).
If you can bear to be asked by almost every Icelander you meet "How do you like Iceland?" you're all set for the trip.
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 (Blaá Lonið in Icelandic) is a famous geothermal spa south-west of Reykjavík, not far from the main airport at Keflavík.
By booking a trans-Atlantic ticket on Icelandair with a free "stop-over" of up to a week in Reykjavík, you can follow a visit to Iceland with a visit to London, Paris, Glasgow, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or another city in Europe, or to Washington, D.C., Boston, Orlando, New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, or another U.S. city.
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